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BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker

BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker

BoneMan’s Daughters
Ted Dekker

ISBN: 9781600246043
ISBN: 1600246044
Unabridged, 9CD, 10.5hr
Center Street Publishing
www.teddekker.com

Hachette Audio
read by Robert Petkoff

*Special conversation with author @CD9”
Ted Dekker, author of 20+ best selling novels, beloved by a dedicated following..so how is it possible that many booklovers aren’t familiar with this incredible body of work? Because Dekker’s books have been classified spiritual or Christian – and that tag caused readers to leave the book on the shelf, thus missing out on some of the most prolific, character driven writing penned in recent years. BoneMan’s Daughters showcases Ted Dekker at his dark thriller best!

Good vs evil? Right vs wrong? That fine line that divides the two sides, the one that is usually so easily defined, can, in the right, or should I say, wrong set of circumstances, blur – when confronted by the unimaginable, the impossible becomes not only plausible, but almost understandable, maybe even excusable, right?

BoneMan’s Daughters opens somewhere in the Iraqi dessert, with Military Investigator Captain Ryan Evans’ convoy being attacked. Evans is taken hostage and held in a bunker by a man named Khalid. The newspapers would refer to the kidnappers as insurgents or radicals, neither is accurate. The truth, is far more frightening, Khalid, like Ryan was a father, and his child was killed by a Coalition bombing. The anger and resentment that grew within this man was palpable and he would force Ryan to experience “collateral damage,” first hand! Khalid presented Ryan with a choice, murder an Iraqi child or sacrifice his family in the child’s’ place.

The events in the desert changed Ryan Evans – he realized he had neglected his family, that it would take a long time to heal the wounds his absences had inflicted upon those he loved, but he returned to Austin determined to make things right with his wife, Celine and their adopted daughter, Bethany and move on with their lives. However, fate had yet another twist in store for Ryan Evans, it seems Celine had already moved on…and into the arms of the District Attorney. As for Bethany, well, at 16, with images of NY City and a new modeling gig dancing in her head, she wasn’t interested in Ryan’s new found Fatherly love. With horrific images from Iraq haunting him day and night, divorce looming and losing his daughter, Ryan is on the verge and retreats into himself. And then, the story heats up, shifting into overdrive and barreling straight into Ryan Evans heart.

And the hits just keep on coming…

News Flash – notorious serial killer, BoneMan released from prison on a technicality… BoneMan, that single word conjured up disturbing, hellish memories for locals. The name refers to his method of murder, meticulously breaking the bones of his teenage female victims, without perforating the skin. After a two year hiatus, a teenage girl is abducted…BoneMan’s quest to find the perfect daughter continues. It would seem all eyes would be on the recently released prisoner – but not so…some very well informed investigators see the two year lull coincides quite nicely with Ryan Evans deployment. But Evans doesn’t have time to be upset or offended by such outrageous accusations…BoneMan has his daughter, Bethany and if Ryan can’t find her in time, she will suffer the same fate as the six young girls before her, becoming forever one of BoneMan’s Daughters.

A spine-tingling tale of family, betrayal, suffering, and survival. The narrator’s use of strong inflections, varied accents and emotional tones and speeds breathes life into these fictional characters, making each feel not only real, but personally familiar. Dekker’s use of current events and headline worthy subplots adds yet another level of chilling realism to BoneMan’s Daughters. A well written, well delivered novel that demonstrates Dekker’s ability as a first rate writer and assures us (readers) we have a lot to look forward too.

Happy Reading!
Msg from RJ: "Live, Laugh, Love & Read!"
RJ McGill

follow @MrsRJ Have we met on Facebook?

Also available in Hardcover & Large Print Hardcover
BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker

“To sin by silence when we should protest makes cowards out of men.”
– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 

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Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst

Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy HearstPromise of the Wolves
Dorothy Hearst

ISBN 10: 1416569987
ISBN 13: 9781416569985
Hard Cover, Fiction, 352 pages

Simon & Schuster
www.simonsays.com

www.dorothyhearst.com

Available July 7, in Paperback

Dorothy Hearst’s debut, Promise of the Wolves takes you inside the realm of these beautiful, secretive and long ranging animals. Since the dawn of man we have been fascinated by the strength and charisma of the wolf – now, Hearst, delivers a heartwarming tale of friendship and adventure that will leave you longing to run with the pack!

A prehistoric fantasy, set 14,000 years ago, centering around the mythical society of the wolf and demonstrating that even at this early stage of organization and communication, mans impending effect on the ecological and environmental systems were showing. Part legend, part lore and all heart, Dororthy Hearst has struck fiction animal fantasy gold.

A young member of Swift River pack, Kaala is finding acceptance in her adoptive family elusive. The moon-shaped mark on Kaala is thought to be a sign of bad luck and therefore, Ruuquo, the leader, doesn’t trust her. And her desire to be with and interact with humans breaks the most important law…”never associate with humans.” However, the more alienated Kaala becomes -from the pack, the stronger her need to be with the humans grows. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kaala is guided by a spirit-wolf that obviously shares her desire to bring the humans and wolves together, so that they can coexist peacefully. With the help of her pack-mates, a silly raven named Tlitoo and otherworldly guidance from Spiritwolf, Kaala learns the value of friendship and that the future cannot depend solely upon the legends of the past, that there are no absolutes and that survival may well depend on their ability to embrace change. But can she convince the Greatwolves? Or will her need to bridge the divide between wolf and man destroy both of them?

Well researched, historically accurate, but more importantly, the animal personalities and respective voices are so point-on, you can’t help but wonder if Hearst consulted Dr. Dolittle while writing this book. Laying the foundation for such an imaginative trilogy can be cumbersome, run long and become overly factualized, however, Hearst manages to sidestep each of these pitfalls and deliver an interesting, invigorating story that familiarizes the reader with the characters and concepts, yet holding enough back to keep us wanting to know more. I look forward to continuing this series and for a few hours, embracing the fantastical!

Happy Reading!
RJ McGill, resident indie reviewer, 3Rs Den
-RJ McGill

Follow @MrsRJ


Paperback available July 7, 2009

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Year of Disappearances by Susan Hubbard

The Year of Disappearances
Susan Hubbard
ISBN 10: 1416552715
ISBN 13: 978-141655710
Simon & Schuster
Fiction, 304 pages
www.simonsays.com

www.susanhubbard.com

Susan Hubbard delighted vampire lovers with her morally refined, deeply emotional tale of a young girl, half human, half vampire and wholly exiled from both cultures for the first thirteen years of her life, in her debut novel, “The Society of S.” The sequel, Year of Disappearances, reunites us with Ariella Montero and takes us inside her search for that ever elusive sense of normalcy.

Ariella’s story is a voyage through adolescence, with a vampire twist – struggling to find your place in the world is hard enough as a teenager, but trying to secure a spot in two diametrically opposed cultures, simultaneously, spells trouble with a capital T. After the death of her best friend, Ari left New York, moved to Florida with her vampiric mother, where she learns more about her unusual genealogy, makes new friends, is targeted by sinister forces and becomes a murder suspect. And if this weren’t enough to give Ari premature wrinkles, her father falls ill, the water is contaminated, honeybees are dying or disappearing, a vampire is positioned to run for president and her old nemesis Malcolm lurks in the darkness.

Hubbard’s ability to imagine an incredibly detailed environment and fill it to the brim with really cool concepts has been a bit overdone in Year of Disappearances, there’s simply too much going on, especially considering the age of the main character, Ariella. There are several creative ideas that really grabbed me, unfortunately, my excitement was short lived,  as many of these ideas were reduced to not much more than an introduction… To see such innovative, fresh narrative twisting in the wind was disappointing and I hope these concepts will be revisited in future novels and fully fleshed out, utilizing Hubbard’s unparalleled story-telling voice.

In a nutshell, Year of Disappearances is a good read, that will hold your attention and give you something to talk about around the water cooler, however, when compared to Hubbard’s stellar performance in Society of S it falls a bit short. That said, I am looking forward to the next installment in this unique series, because when  Susan Hubbard has her finger soundly on the vampire jugular, her novels grab you by the throat and barely allow you to breathe.

Happy Reading!
RJfollowontweet

Check out Susan Hubbard’s first novel in this series,
The Society of S

also available in paperback

Read the Review of Society of S


 

A Carrion Death by Michael Stanley

a-carrion-death-by-michael-stanley
A Carrion Death

Michael Stanley
ISBN: 0061252409
ASIN: B0010W500K
Fiction, 480 pages
Harper Collins
www.harpercollins.com

www.detectivekubu.com


Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, writing as Michael Stanley have penned an impressive debut novel, recognized as a Debut Dagger and 2008 Minnesota Book Award Finalist. These two African adventurers have enjoyed numerous safaris and are well versed in the ways of the bush. Extensive experience and distinctive writing flair combine to make A Carrion Death a good read!


Stanley introduces readers to the main character, the Assistant Superintendent of Botswana’s Police Department, David Bengu, aka “Kubu.” An appropriate nickname, considering his size and insatiable appetite, as Kubu is Setswana for hippopotamus. A strong, tenacious man, that loves his wife Joy and cares for his aging parents. He doesn’t mind going against the tide and still believes in the old-fashioned values of honor, respect and justice. It is these qualities that will endear Kubu to readers, because he’s a believable, three dimensional character, with strengths and weaknesses we can all relate too.

Detective Kubu is called out to the desert, where a group of scientists on a field trip , discovered a badly decomposed, dismembered body that has also been ravaged by wild animals. Kubu instinctively recognizes he’s dealing with a murder, which is later confirmed by the medical examiner. Investigating this death is compounded by decomposition and what appears to be specific mutilation, meant to hinder any attempts at identification. The search for information on this John Doe leads the detective to Botswana Cattle and Mining Company (BCMC), headed by Cecil Hofmeyr, who just happens to be a golfing buddy of Jacob Makabu…who just happens to be Kubu’s boss! And the plot thickens…

The tense dynamic within the Hofmeyr family is in stark opposition to the loving, warm relationships within the Bengu family. It’s soon revealed that Cecil Hofmeyr’s days running BCMC solo are numbered, as his niece and nephew, Dianna and Angus, will inherit their father’s share of the company on their 30th birthdays and he is concerned his many questionable deals will soon be uncovered. As the investigation continues, Kubu is reunited with old friends, begins to question the motives of some of those close to him and watches, seemingly helpless, as one after another of his contacts is found murdered.


A Carrion Death crisscrosses two genres, thriller and mystery, which at times seems to cause the story to run long and be unnecessarily complex, which is not unusual for a first installment. However, where this series differs is with the strength of their main character, as well as, the incredibly detailed and authentic African scenery, which set this debut apart, leading me to expect great things from Detective Kubu in the future.

Happy Reading!   😉
~ RJ
3Rs Reading Den
©


FYI:
From Wikipedia
*Carrion (from the Latin caro, meaning meat) refers to the carcass of a dead animal. Carrion is an important food source for large carnivores and omnivores in most ecosystems and plays an important role in the circle of life. (Ex. Hyenas, Vultures, Black Bears, Bald Eagles, Raccoons, etc.)

An example of carrion in literature can be found in Julius Caesar, Act 3 scene 1, “this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial”, in which the word carrion implies that the bodies are rotting and infected with disease and bacteria. Another example: Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, when the title character kills an unknown bird for food but finds “its flesh was Carrion, and fit for nothing.”

Read the Complete Text online or download PDF – click here for Robinson Crusoe

 

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Fourth Watcher by Tim Hallinan **


The Fourth Watcher by Timothy Hallinan

The Fourth Watcher
A Novel of Bangkok
Timothy Hallinan
ISBN-10: 0061257257
ISBN-13: 978-0061257254
Harper Collins Publishing
www.harpercollins.com

www.timothyhallinan.com

To say that Timothy Hallinan’s second installment in the Bangkok series starts off with a bang is…well, exactly what it does…from that initial blast to the closing words you are immersed Poke Rafferty’s world, where nothing is what it seems. Whether you’re an international traveler, well versed in Asian cultures or a homebody like me, The Fourth Watcher brings Bangkok to life. The vivid, lush imagery, believable characters and high stakes plot line will keep you turning pages. Hallinan utilizes every tool at his disposal to deliver a complete reading experience. Even the chapter titles add flavor to this remarkable read!

Poke is an ever-so- likable character you simply can‘t help but cheer for! He‘s quick witted and absolutely devoted to his fiancee’ Rose and their eight year old, adopted daughter Miaow. Determined to provide a better life for his two best girls, he decides to write an espionage thriller. Realizing he needs to be familiar with the topic in order to be authentic, he hires Ex-CIA Agent Arnold Prettyman to assist him with his research.  Stumbling upon information concerning a recent flood of counterfeit money from North Korea puts Poke and Rose in the Secret Service’s crosshairs. However, the plot thickens when Rose is accused of passing the fake bills through her cleaning business.

If this weren’t enough to complicate their lives, Frank, Poke’s estranged Father re-enters the picture after years of silence…and he isn’t alone. Poke is apprehensive, but Rose encourages him to give his father a second chance. As usual, where Frank is concerned, trouble is not far behind and this time his connections to the underworld have endangered Poke’s family too.

Throughout the novel Miaow is nothing short of a subtle hero. The adorable, street wise Miaow displays a degree of maturity that is far beyond her tender years. This child’s ability to rise above all the tough, lonely times she endured is amazing, but to do so without becoming jaded is a testament to the power of the human spirit and the healing power of love. The Fourth Watcher is masterfully written, highlighting Hallinan’s knowledge of the culture and his genuine affection for its people. Rich, alluring details draw the reader in, providing a deeply satisfying read. The characters have been assembled with the care of a loving parent and the scenic imagery is worthy of a spot in Louve. I recommend this book to all who enjoy an intriguing story with memorable characters, some easy to love, others, very easy to despise. And with the third book in the series releasing this summer, now is the ideal time to get to know Timothy Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty.
In a nutshell the title of chapter 14 says it best, “It’s not coming from the direction you expect.”

Happy Reading!
~ RJ
3Rs©


😉 A Nail Through The Heart (book 1, Bangkok series)

A Nail Through The Heart by Timothy Hallinan

CLICK HERE to read our review.


Check out both books in this Bangkok series!

Check out both books in this Bangkok series!

 

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Curse of the Bayou by Mary Cunningham (YA)

Cynthia’s Attic series – book #3 – from author, Mary Cunningham
Cover Image

Cynthia’s Attic, Book#3: Curse of the Bayou
by Mary Cunningham
ISBN 10: 1590805755
ISBN 13: 978-1590805756
Echelon Press Publishing

www.marycunninghambooks.com

Curse of the Bayou, Cynthia’s Attic series book #3

The third time really is the charm for author Mary Cunningham, as her latest installment in the Cynthia’s Attic series is the best of the trio. While books one and two are delightfully entertaining, within a few pages of book three, it is apparent that the writer has grown right a long side her two main characters. Blending parallel universes with very real human issues while allowing the reader to suspend the need for reason is a huge undertaking, and one that Cunningham has met and far exceeded with Curse of the Bayou.

On the edge of thirteen, in the year 1964, best friends and time traveling companions, Cynthia and Gus are at it again, drawn to the old trunk in the attic that magically melts the seams of time. The girls land in the year 1914, deep in the Louisiana swamp and quickly find they aren’t swimming with dolphins…it’s alligators! But, this is to be only the first of many heart stopping thrills as they search for Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau Connor, who was last seen traveling down the Mississippi River to sell produce.

The girls receive helpful hints from old friends and stern warnings from new ones. It seems the Mississippi River is home to the meanest, most orneriest pirate ever…one Buzzard Jack LaBuse. A long the way our gutsy tweenies find themselves facing off with shifting plants, scheming baddies and a thieving parrot, just to name a few. Traveling back and forth in time, the girls land in Southern Indiana, on the old Connor farm, where they discover a link between Beau Connor and pirate Jack. Could a family curse be the cause of Great Grandpa’s sudden and mysterious disappearance?

Curse of the Bayou is the ultimate stage for Cunningham’s cooky cast of characters to act out their story. Just as the most intricate web begins with a single strand, so it is with a good series…there’s a basic idea upon which each individual story is built. And while each must stand alone, it must be linked to the original. With three complete books in the series, the supporting cast and their respective back stories can get quite confusing, especially for the target audience, for this reason I would love to see a character list included with future installments.

There are so many directions the author can take with these characters and an endless list of issues, both real and imagined that can be filtered in, that not even the sky can limit this series…Kudos to author Mary Cunningham for delivering a good old fashioned family story, with all the sci-fi perks and jigs to light the imagination of today’s young reader.

Happy Reading!

– RJ

 

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Searching 4 Mr.Right.com

 Cover Image

Searching4MrRight.com
Rene D. Schultz
ISBN 10: 0979203031
ISBN 13: 978-0979203039
183pp
Light Sword Publishing LLC

 www.searching4mrright.com

 Searching4MrRight.com by Rene Schultz

 Things sure have changed, dating in the 21st century requires much more than a cute outfit and a winning smile – a mix of computer geekism, nerves of steel, the confidence of high powered, Wall Street wheeler-dealers, the patience of Jobe and the ability to laugh as hard at yourself as you most assuredly will at others. In her debut novel, “Searching4MrRight.ComRene Schultz shares her personal journey from frightened divorcee to online dating extraordinaire.

Married at the tender age of 19, Rene’s portrait of wedded bliss was developed inside TV studios, on the sets of family hits, such as “Leave it To Beaver and Father Knows Best.” Back then there was a ‘formula’ for a successful union…Dad goes off to work every morning and Mom stays home, happily cleaning, cooking, shopping and caring for the children. It is important to keep in mind that during this time the emotional side of marriage was a non issue. Hind sight being 20/20 it is easy to see that failing to include the mental health of the marriage in the formula led to many divorces. Such would be the case for Rene, after 24 years and two wonderful children, her marriage ended.

Rene compares her experience to that of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz – divorce being the tornado that spun through her life, destroying her well manicured facade, ripping her from her comfort zone and propelling her into a strange, new world. After a few months of self imposed isolation, she was absolutely sure of one thing…that she was not prepared to spend the rest of her life alone! Rene wanted to find someone, the next question was where? Friends encouraged her to get out there and meet new people, however, none of them knew any single men, so blind dates were crossed off the list. Of course there was the whole bar scene, but she wanted to avoid that – seeing as how alcohol severely blurs both the vision and one’s moral compass. Then there was the computer, for the fast-paced, hurry and hustle single, the Internet was quickly becoming the must have tool for dating in the 21st century. From the privacy of her own home she could surf, sort and select potential dates from literally thousands of single men, now that sounded like a win-win and Rene decided to dive into the wild-wide-world of Internet dating head first.

It is her dating experiences that comprise the meat and potatoes of this insightful and heartily entertaining book. From the log-in Id’s to the individual dates, everything is presented as it was experienced. Beginning with the introductory email, the reader absorbs the dialogue and is immersed in the story, step by step with Rene. The anxiety and excitement, as well as, nervous apprehension and old self-doubts, that fill the atmosphere of any first date are related so well that the emotion transcends printed words and is felt the reader.

Straight-forward, unabashed and unapologetic, you can’t help but root for Schultz to find her prince charming, while at the same time, the novel is so entertaining you secretly hope she’s taking notes and keeping a diary of all the frogs she had to kiss a long the way and that she will share those in “Searching4 part two.” Candid, heartfelt and humorous, Rene Schultz has delivered a genuinely good book. Pick up a copy, get comfy and enjoy!

 Happy Reading,
    – RJ  🙂 


Low prices on books

 

 
NOTE FROM YOUR RESIDENT REVIEWER:
   “Don’t judge a book by the cover” has never been more true than with this book. Although most would never admit it, many readers will pass on a book simply because of the cover art…to do so with Searching4MrRight.com would mean missing out on a truly entertaining, personable and well written novel.

Cover Image

Searching4MrRight.com by Rene Schultz

 

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Paddington Here & Now

Cover Image

Paddington Here and Now
by Michael Bond
Hardcover: ISBN: 0061473642 ISBN-13: 9780061473647
ISBN Library: 978-0061473654
ISBN Trade: 978-0061473647
176 Pages
Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
HarperCollins Childrens
www.harpercollinschildrens.com

Paddington Here & Now by Michael Bond

Official Paddington Bear Website


Review
Paddington Bear is celebrating his 50th birthday the only way this lovable, adventurous little bear would…with a delicious marmalade sandwich…and his first new book in 30 years, Paddington Here and Now! For those of us who have enjoyed reading the stories of Paddington’s escapades, this book is a welcomed return to good ol’ fashioned literature.

The book opens as the eternally optimistic and oh so innocent little Peruvian bear returns to the curb to find his shopping cart has been towed away. Confused and in a state of dismay, nearby stall owners offer their support, as well as, a few gruff opinions. Paddington had been shopping at Portobello for the Brown family for years and nothing like that had ever happened before. Dealing with grumpy neighbors and the always eager tabloids, Paddington has his little paws full, but this is just the beginning of his misadventures. Later, Paddington is arrested and taken to the police station where he is questioned about his citizenship and exclaims, “I’m not an immigrant.” Thus moving us to the crux of the story…is home still where the heart is?

The foundation for this particular story line was laid many years ago when Paddington’s Aunt Lucy decided to move into the Retirement Home for Bears in Lima and helped the little bear stow-away on a ship bound for England. And although the Brown’s adopted the homeless bear after discovering him among stacks of mailbags at Paddington Station, he doesn’t have the proper paperwork, therefore, technically, Paddington is an immigrant…or even an illegal immigrant. Author Michael Bond infuses the story with Paddington’s trademark sense of humor and naivete and in doing so addresses such serious personal questions as how do you define home? And how does one decide where they belong?

Paddington Bear stories transcend the page…dealing with contemporary issues, yet delivered with that special bump and bungling comical narrative, that fans immediately recognize as the classic Paddington style and new readers will undoubtedly find irresistible. The story is well written, entertaining and filled with many “ahh’s and oohs.”

Reliable, family friendly and a true original, Paddington Bear Books are as sure as a PB & J sandwich to illicit smiles from youngsters. And parents that utilize a combination of the two are pretty much assured a few minutes of free time! I can easily and without reservation recommend Michael Bond’s new book, Paddington Here and Now and not just for the kids, even the adults that grew up reading these stories will enjoy spending some time with this old furry friend.

Happy Reading!
-RJ

HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY PADDINGTON BEAR!!!

Paddington Here & Now by Michael Bond

 

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New from Brad Thor

* * * COMING JULY 2008* * *
Cover Image

From Simon & Schuster Publishing

Visit Brad Thor’s high-tech website click here

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Earthly Pleasures by Karen Neches

Readers should be prepared for an experience like no other…Earthly Pleasures is a little taste of paradise, right here on earth!   8)

Earthly Pleasures
Karen Neches
Fiction/320 pages
Simon & Schuster; 1 edition
8)
ISBN-10: 0743292480
ISBN-13: 978-0743292481
www.simonschuster.com

www.karenneches.com

Karen Neches’ new novel, Earthly Pleasures is a light, fun read that is filled equal amounts of humor and heart.  At the conclusion of this wonderful novel readers are left to hope that the eternal forever place will be as lovely, fun filled and exciting as Neches’ brilliantly designed and thoroughly developed fictional paradise.

As the story begins we are introduced to Skye Sebring, a greeter in Heaven’s Hospitality Division. Her assignment is to help Earths recently departed through the transition. Meaning, she meets and greets all the newcomers, takes them on a tour of their new ‘home’ and answers their questions. While the main objective of Skye’s fellow angels is to return to Earth, Skye is quite content to remain right here in Heaven.

That is until the day a motorcycle accident brings Ryan Blaine to Heaven. Son of a former president, attorney, star of Heaven’s reality show Earthly Pleasures, Blaine is popular, handsome and engaged. Skye is immediately taken in by Ryan, so when he is jolted back to his physical body on Earth she becomes almost obsessed with the show and with finding a way to be with Ryan. There was something between them…he appeared to know her…how could she remind him of someone? Skye was a ‘new soul,’ she had never been on Earth or had she?

The story takes off from the first chapter and soars right through to the conclusion. There are techno-gadgets that have their basis in reality, but Neches has souped them up. There’s a little of everything, but not so much of any one thing that it over-powers or detracts from the main theme. Well written, fleshed out and delivered with a passionate voice that commands the readers full attention. Earthly Pleasures will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart with a cast of clever characters carefully navigating multiple story lines that co-mingle perfectly to keep you guessing, wishing and hoping. Karen Neches has penned a truly original story that is absolutely brilliant in its’ creative simplicity. Delivering an interesting novel that maintains its’ entertainment level from beginning to end, allows readers to pass the time quietly turning pages…a pleasure, that to a book-lover, sure feels a lot like Heaven.I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel.

Happy Reading!
   – RJ

 

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Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files: A Novel 
Lisa Lutz
ISBN 10: 1416532404
ISBN 13: 978-1416532408
Simon & Schuster
Feb 12 – 2008 (reprint)
Fiction/384 pages
www.simonsays.com 

 www.lisalutz.com

Lisa Lutz’s first novel, “The Spellman Files,” introduces readers to the lovable, albeit highly dysfunctional Spellman family. Be prepared to adore this zany cast of characters, that will butt their way right into your heart and have you laughing a long the way. A strong female protagonist with a meddling family may, at first glance, seem a bit blase’, but don’t be fooled, the writing, narrative and perspective work together like a well oiled machine generating the ideal reading experience…

Secrets, scheming and sneaking are all part in parcel of a good days work for a private investigator. Albert and Olivia Spellman have been spying on people for a living since shortly after they wed and their three children have been immersed in this environment all their lives. Even though David, the Spellman’s oldest son, left the family business to pursue a career in law, he can’t avoid occasionally being lured into one of his parents schemes. The youngest daughter, Rae, has been honing her spy skills from the tender age of six, when she convinced her parents to allow her to tag along during surveillance operations. Now a mischievous teenager, she utilizes this unique knowledge to conduct “personal surveillance,” on her friends.

Isabel, 28, is the stereo-typical middle child still trying to rebuild the bridge of trust destroyed during her rebellious teens. A sure-footed investigator, with sound judgement,  when it comes to business; however, the same cannot be said for her choices in men. Criticized by her perfect older brother, emulated by her younger sister and hounded by her parents, Izzy’s life borders on the edge of insanity, which she desperately wants to escape.

Sharp-tongued, Izzy Spellman has even reduced her failing love life to a list of wise-cracking facts- name, age, relationship length and ‘famous last words.’ Izzy discovers potential ‘ex-boyfriend #9’ while working the case of Daniel Castillo. Izzy is quite smitten with the Guatemalan dentist and knows the importance of keeping her family in the dark about her new love interest. And in a family of snoops that’s impossible! When she discovers her parents have Rae following her, it is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back and Izzy quits.

Of course, this hard-nosed, scheming family isn’t going to just wither-up and go away, so they offer Izzy a deal…solve this one last case and she is free of her contract. Catch? Oh certainly- there’s a big catch…The case they choose is that of a missing teen from Marin County that disappeared near Lake Tahoe some twelve years ago. Izzy hoped her grit and determination would light a fire under this cold case and thus dissolve the contract that had held her hostage in the family business. So she literally throws herself into this decade old case. However, while digging into the unsolved case, her little sister, Rae goes missing. She seems to have vanished into thin air and although Izzy and Rae bicker, as do all sisters, she loves the nosey little hellian and will stop at nothing to find her.

Sassy, witty and loaded with sarcasm, this fast-paced story swirls around the outrageously dysfunctional Spellman Family. Even in a house where it’s normal to find triple locks on bedroom doors, the Spellman’s hide their fair share of secrets. Lisa Lutz’s debut novel, “The Spellman Files” explores the inner workings of the family dynamic, from Izzy’s perspective. Revealing how just below the surface stuff… the snooping, scheming and wire taps, there’s a deep, heart-felt sentiment. Cleverly layered throughout the story is that familiar “something” we can all recognize…that “thing” bonds and unites families despite all the shortcomings and misunderstandings. “The Spellman Files: A Novel” is an entertaining read that unfolds with deliberate precision. Kick and crunch action is followed by off-the-wall, whip-smart punch lines that will have you laughing out loud more than once. Original, kooky and delightfully dysfunctional, Lisa Lutz gives readers a fresh new way to enjoy comedic crime novels. And readers can rejoice, there’s more zaniness to follow. So get acquainted with the Spellman’s and settle in for a truly enjoyable series.

Happy Reading!
   ~ RJ

 

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The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman (youth)


The Trouble Begins at 8:
A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West

ISBN: 978-0061344312
Ages 9-12
Grades 4+
224 pp
http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com/

http://www.sidfleischman.com/

A thorough, detailed, beautifully written book about one of the most beloved authors of all time, Samuel Clemens, but we know him as the master-writer of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer… Mark Twain. Sid Fleischman has once again taken a topic that causes most kids to run screaming in the opposite direction – and made it interesting, intriguing and most importantly – Fun! You will thoroughly enjoy the wisecrack for which the book is named…”The Trouble Begins At 8.”

The life of Mark Twain has been written about by some of the brightest minds, however, knowing these texts are written with a dialogue that will never reach children, Fleischman targets the young minds with his books. Not an easy task and yet he has been able to deliver the absolute perfect mix of educational information and entertainment to keep youngsters turning pages and parents happily observing. Sid Fleischman writes with an elegant, well informed simplicity that immerses the reader, breathing life into the pages of the book, so much so that at the conclusion it feels more like you have spent time with these people as opposed to having read a book about them. Every character, as well as, each stage of Clemens’ journey contributes depth and richness to the story and has been beautifully captured in this unique, highly entertaining biographical book that reveals the creation of Mark Twain. From his early days in Missouri, through his quite interesting personal adventures; as a steamboat pilot, mining for gold, dancing the ‘kangaroo’ in San Francisco, just to name a few.

While you may think you know all there is to know about Mark Twain you have never had the pleasure of reading anything quite like this. Complimenting the narrative are numerous black and white photographs that truly bring the legend to life.

Often referred to as a ‘gentlemen of leisure,’ Mark Twain’s life was above all, interesting. Sid Fleischman has captured the essence of this free spirited writer that today is one of only a handful of authors counted as true masters of the pen. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in literature, regardless of age. Sid Fleischman is a talented writer and his ability to continually breath new life into old stories is unparalleled. This is an exceptionally well written and highly enjoyable read – Don’t Miss it!

In today’s high-tech, highly competitive market, I commend Harper Collins for delivering such unique, educational, fun titles!

*The Entertainer & the Dybbuk – also by Sid Fleischman

Happy Reading!
   -RJ

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CYOA – Volume One

golden-path-book-1.jpg
Golden Path Volume 1
Into the Hollow Earth

by Anson Montgomery
Youth Adventure/Fiction
ISBN 10: 1933390816
ISBN 13: 978-1933390819
Chooseco *(CYOA)

Some may find it hard to imagine how, with a printed book, the reader can actively participate in the adventure…but it’s true. The popular Choose Your Own Adventure has been revamped, re-energized and relaunched, to the utter delight of parents and young adults everywhere. With this ingenious series, the reader has the opportunity to make multiple choices throughout the novel, which changes the plot twists, the characters that you will meet and at what stage you will interact with each. The right choices will lead you, as one of the main characters, into a secret world that exists beneath the Earth’s crust.

As one of the main characters, you (the reader) are, quite literally caught up in the action and your choices effect the other characters and the progression of the story. The Golden Path: Volume One opens with an interesting, scientific prologue, which sets the tone for the scenery, ideologies and difficulties that the people in author Anson Montgomery’s future face on a daily basis. The first chapter opens with a scene every student can relate too…three friends, in the library, studying for a big exam. And through the creative imagination of CYOA, you (the reader), are one of the three. The heart of the story revolves around your parents archaeological dig at Carlsbad, New Mexico and a very odd shard of pottery your friend Peter found outside the dig site. Convinced the artifact once belonged to a culture that predates the American Indians and utilizing the individual talents of each of your friends, the three of you receive special permission from your teacher to work together on the AP History project. It’s true that history effects the future, but you and your friends had no idea how that piece of pottery would devastate your present and put your future in jeopardy.

When you receive a frightening, cryptic email from your Mom, sent from a dead letter drop, you are given the first of many choices…do you follow the instructions from your Mom or go to New York City? Of course your selection will alter the story’s progression, as will each of the decisions you make throughout the adventure. What began as a quest to find your missing parents, quickly spins into a web of questions, that has government officials hot on your trail and could well be the difference between life and death for you all.

Choose Your Own Adventure is an entertaining adventure series that engages reader, however, flipping back and forth, skipping numerous chapters only to go back to them later may be confusing for younger readers. A mix of ancient history, futuristic adventure, scientific learning and creative imagination, woven around three best friends who must use their individual strengths to solve problems together. Utilizing age appropriate narrative, the book deals with family issues, friendships, loss, jealousy, grief and ultimately survival, understanding and healing. I would recommend this book (*& the series) to children who enjoy a book that doesn’t fit the normal definition of “book.” The characters are believable, with just enough futuristic karma to grab the attention of today’s high-tech kids. With four story lines developed to move from Volume One to Volume Two, your individual choices play-out before your eyes. I think parents should be made aware that it is necessary to purchase both volumes, because without the second volume some “choices” are not available, thus changing the outcome. With the website, more information should be available and it allows the kids to participate in activities related to the stories. Definitely worth reading, a solid 3.5 and destined to get better with each new installment.

Happy Reading!
-RJ

 

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Gentle Axe by R.N. Morris –

Cover Image

Gentle Axe
by R.N. Morris (aka Roger Morris)
ISBN 10: 0143113267
ISBN 13: 978-0143113263
Penguin Group USA
March 2008
Paperback, 352pp
Historical Fiction/Crime Novel
http://us.penguingroup.com/

Also available in Hardcover, Audiobook-CD, MP3 CD

For readers that have been yearning for a book that speaks with an older, wiser voice, written in a long forgotten style, with a classic fluidity that can only be penned by a select few…Here ya’ go! R. N. Morris has delivered a novel that embraces the historic elements of a true masterpiece, indulges the nostalgic desires of the quintessential reader and satisfies even the most discerning contemporary suspense-thriller lover!

Fyodor Dostoevsky first introduced readers to criminal investigator Porfiry Petrovich, in the 1866 novel Crime & Punishment. The book is centered around the murder of a pawnbroker and her half-sister by a deranged, impoverished student, named Raskolnikov. It is a year after this mind-numbing case that Morris picks up the story and takes the reader deep into the investigator’s life and of course, a brand new murder mystery.

Searching for firewood in St. Petersburg’s Petrovsky Park, a woman stumbles upon a dead body hanging from a tree. Nearby, a second body, that of a dwarf, is found in a suitcase. A laundry list of items were initially left at the scene, however, by the time investigator Petrovich is alerted, via an anonymous tip, anything of value is missing, thus complicating an already difficult case. The search for answers will take the rotund detective through many facets of Russian society, from the dark, dank squalid apartments of the slums to the elegant, sprawling homes of the sophisticated elite. As the Park investigation continues, other, seemingly unrelated murders occur, forcing the investigation in a surprisingly new direction. To solve the Park case, Petrovich will have to think outside the box…connecting the dots of this disturbing case will prove to be even more difficult than the case that had defined him.

Morris unravels the layers of St. Petersburg and its residents, slowly, like a delicious, blooming onion, allowing the reader to savor the flavor and enjoy each and every bite. There are strong, no-non-sense characters and those that bring a lighter, at times, humorous element to the story, thus eliciting a myriad of emotions from the reader. Gentle Axe is not littered with red herrings and preemptive spoilers, instead it is based on a clever plot, written with artistic flair. The characters are drawn with the kind of intimate detail one ascertains from a photograph and the settings are constructed with the artistic eye of a painter. The author took a significant, yet calculated risk- borrowing the lead character, setting and back story from the famous work of a beloved writer, which could easily garner a host of negativity. However, creating a sequel that feels Dostoevsky-like, that reads like a true Morris original,  is a note-worthy accomplishment, indeed!A spell-binding novel that will definitely keep you up late…reading! And you’ll want to share this one with friends and coworkers –it’s really that good!

Happy Reading!
  – RJ

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Egrets to the Flames by Barbara Anton

Cover Image

Egrets to the Flames
Barbara Anton
ISBN 10: 1933515112
ISBN 13: 9781933515113
Fiction/Social Commentary
301 Pages
Oceanview Publishing
www.oceanviewpub.com


***
Eaton Literary Award Winner
Best Books Award Finalist!
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Molly Monkey by John Rosano (children’s)

Farmward Bound
Molly Monkey: Farmward Bound
written by John Rosano
illustrated by Nathan Smith
ISBN 10: 1601310137
ISBN 13: 978-1601310132
Children ages 3-8
24 Pages
Three In A Tree Publications

www.3inatree.net

Molly Monkey: Farmward Bound, introduces readers to a spirited little monkey named Molly as she travels from her home in the jungle to join her adoptive family on their farm. Beautifully written and expertly illustrated, this is first book in a new children’s series that will follow Molly through a variety adventures.

After reading this delightful story you will be surprised to learn that Molly Monkey: Farmward Bound is John Rosano’s debut into the wonderful world of children’s literature. Rosano has concocted a winning recipe with this character driven story that is loads of fun for everyone. The rhyming words are easy to read and follow a rhythmic flow throughout the book. The story itself demonstrates to children the importance of following your dreams, not allowing fear of the unknown to hold you back and meeting new friends is very exciting. Rosano’s remarkable accomplishment with this adorable story is how well he has disguised these lessons as part of Molly’s adventure. The illustrations compliment the story and bring each page to life with entertaining scenes that capture and hold even the youngest child’s attention.

This is a wonderful storybook to share with your children, for young readers to enjoy independently and with the promise of future installments, parents and children alike will look forward to following this fun-loving, energetic character through whatever adventures creator, John Rosano imagines.

Happy Reading!
-RJ
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