Friday, July 3, 2020

Reprise Review: No One’s Child by Judith L. McNeil



Genre: Memoir

Description:

This memoir, set in Queensland, Australia, begins in January 1948 when the author was five years old and ends nine years later as fourteen-year-old Judith awaits a train to Brisbane with her family. To reveal the reasons for her being at that railway station, or to explain with whom she waited for the train would be an unforgivable spoiler. For the first time, but not the last in this review, I recommend you read No One’s Child and find out for yourself. You won’t regret it.

Author:

There’s not much in the way of publicity for this author. She wrote her life story in two books: No One’s Child and The Girl With The Cardboard Port. Her bio on Amazon offers this: Judith L. McNeil lives in Queensland, Australia. She is now retired after decades spent working as a caregiver for the aged, but volunteering in the community is still very much a part of her life. Her interests other than writing are breeding Shitzus, landscape painting, and reading.

Appraisal:

Like all the “Pals”, I’m no learned literary expert, and normally that causes me no qualm. I select Indie stories from BigAl’s list as they catch my eye, read them, and give an honest opinion — my opinion. Maybe something of what I say about a work will appeal and make you think, “Yes, that sounds like an interesting read.” Or maybe my take will be sufficient to convince you that the piece isn’t for you, and you’ll move on to the next story — there are many from which to choose.

I confess to feeling inadequately equipped to give this story its due. But here goes. As Forrest Gump said when he sat on that park bench waiting for the bus he didn’t need to catch, “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.”

And, for me, reading No One’s Child, selected by chance from Al’s list of 1500+ waiting works, was an extraordinary experience. I cannot express how happy I am that I didn’t pass it by.

In 1996, Frank McCourt’s memoir, Angela’s Ashes, became a worldwide best-seller and went on to win the Pulitzer for Autobiography. That story has many correlations with Judith McNeil’s memoir. In fact I can cut this review short for you: if you enjoyed Angela’s Ashes, you’ll enjoy No One’s Child. Mr. McCourt was raised in Limerick, Ireland, but the poverty and hardships endured and, more to the point, accepted as ‘just how it is’ by Frank and Judith (Judy) have a commonality that transcends the geographical separation of Ireland and Australia.

The staggering recall that both authors demonstrate is what sets these works apart. Personally, I remember only major incidents in my early years. Judy remembers the smell of the dirt dunnys (waterless, outside toilets). She remembers the feel of the air when the “willy whirlies” (miniature, and in some cases full-blown tornadoes) disturbed her world, or in one case wrecked the shanty town she lived in. She remembers the feel of a wild nanny goat who rubbed in friendship at her leg and allowed Judy to drink from its milk sac, and the sting of a snake bite as she picked wood from a pile to hand-build tomato boxes.

Risk was something she shared her life with, risk from the natural world she lived so close to, risk from friends who misunderstood her intelligence, and risk from the one constant from which she could not escape — her family. That she carried this risk on her own shoulders from such a young age might make you think her family was careless of her, but no, it was more that this was the way life was lived. Judy wasn’t a slave, but she was forced into a servitude of necessity.

Her story begins with a short chapter in which her mother, for the first time, opens up to her. The date is undefined, but Judith is clearly a grown woman at the time of the conversation. The hardships her mother endured, to an extent, put Judith’s own struggle in perspective. I wondered, after finishing the story, whether that chapter was her way of erasing some blame from her mother, of taking it on herself, as she had always had. Perhaps? In the story she quotes her mother saying, “(Once) I cried because I had no shoes, until one day I saw a child who had no feet.” In any case, although Judith had yearned to know her mother’s story, I found it poignant that when her mother finally opened up, Judy couldn’t wait to break the spell, to stop her mother talking, to escape from the knowing. Perhaps her heart had hardened too much in survival to allow the space for that level of forgiveness.

If you read No One’s Child (did I mention that I recommend you do?), prepare yourself for Judy’s honesty. In particular she lays bare her feelings toward her father, which fester like an infected wound, seeping, dangerous, and ever-present. But, without her honesty and her extraordinary memory, this story would lose its color, its depth, its layers. As with Angela’s Ashes, what makes this a compelling read is that, through all the hardships endured by the author, a love of people, of community, of animals . . . ,and of life, shines thorough.

I did not come away from reading No One’s Child feeling sorry for Judith McNeil, but rather, buoyed by her humanity, and humbled that she took the time to share her life with me.

To quote from the book’s short epilogue: “They say lilies rise from the mud. I know they do.”

I believe her.

In case I forgot to mention it, you should read No One’s Child.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Added for Reprise Review: No One’s Child by Judith L. McNeil was the WINNER in the Non-Fiction category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran November 10, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

No typos to mention. Australian dialect, but not an issue for comprehension.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Review: Makeover Murder by Barbara Silkstone



Genre: Cozy Mystery/Humor/Woman Sleuth

Description:

“Olive Peroni was having a tough day. Her makeover client died a mysterious death before the woman could attend her husband’s inquest—where she would explain why she ran over him as he stood in front of her car putting coins in a parking meter.

Now Olive is both a suspect in her client’s murder and a victim-to-be. Can the Cold Cream team from the shop on Starfish Cove Beach catch the shadowy killer before he strikes again—killing the last person to see the makeover lady alive—Olive?”

Author:

“Barbara currently lives in Central Florida with her eccentric kitty who adores Liam Neeson and chasing lizards (the cat, not Barbara).”

Ms. Silkstone is the author of several series, from Regency to contemporary cozy mysteries. She has a wicked sense of humor, her many series are light-hearted and her off-beat quirky characters somehow come across as real people. To learn more about Ms. Silkstone visit her website or follow her on Facebook.
   
Appraisal:

I do believe Makeover Murder is the best story of this series so far. When Olive’s home makeover client ends up dead, Olive ends up being the last person to see her alive, thus making her the prime suspect. Grams thinking she has the inside scoop for a story in the Starfish Gazette, submits her article which clearly paints a bullseye on Olive’s back for the shadowy killer.

Not having a bad enough day already, Olive has an unexpected visit from her ex-husband professing his undying love, and she accepts custody of the murder victim’s pet cat, Minette, who hates her. Puff isn’t too pleased with the situation either.

With no clues or leads, and two attempts on Olive’s life, Lizzy decides to turn her flirtatious banter and wiggle walk on the victim’s handsome neighbor. The plot moves fast with unexpected twists and plenty of surprises that leaves the reader guessing. The ending is a tense, edge of your seat finale with an unexpected turn of events, but highly satisfying. Olive or should I say Ms. Silkstone, has me convinced to carry around a can of aerosol hairspray, and not just for protection. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries you are sure to love these quirky but interesting residents of Starfish Cove. Each book in this series, Cold Cream Murders Mysteries, can be read as stand-alone. However, with Ms. Silkstone’s witty and easy going style of writing you might find yourself going back to read the whole series.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Makeover Murder is book 6 in Ms. Silkstone’s Cold Cream Murders Series and can be read as a stand-alone.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues
Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 35-40,000 words

Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: McKennas Path by Kasey Riley



Genre: YA

Description:

“Suzie McKenna has a desperate need to get away from her mom—and most importantly her mom’s creepy boyfriend. She comes up with the perfect way to escape, taking her beloved mustang mare, Gypsy, with her. She’ll ride to her father’s ranch. She has the knowledge, the maps, and the need; but does she have the ability?

Join Suzie and Gypsy as they make their way from Victor, Idaho to Dubois, Wyoming. Only the Bridger-Teton National Forest stands between them and the safety of her father.

When Gypsy is found loose and injured, can searchers find Suzie before it's too late?

Suzie's divorced parents, Mike and Sherry McKenna, share a burning need to locate their wayward daughter. Can they stand each other’s company long enough to get the job done? Ride with them as they answer this question and maybe even discover what tore their marriage apart.”

Author:

As an avid equestrian and lover of the outdoors, Kasey Riley is the author of several books. Those books are in multiple genres, but her interest in horses or the outdoors almost always figures into the story.

For more, visit Ms Riley’s website.

Appraisal:

This was a fun read. It had a lot of things going on. There was the suspense or thriller aspect of not knowing what is ultimately going to happen to Suzie, whether her parents will find her in time or not until it is too late, if at all. There is the storyline of Mike and Sherry, Suzie’s divorced parents, and the potential for partially mending their broken relationship or at least understanding better where things went wrong. Then for anyone familiar with the area where this story takes place, picturing the setting in your memory as the author describes it adds even more. (Although most people might not think an obscure town or two on the border of Idaho and Wyoming is anything they know about, the reality is that if you’ve been to Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks, you were close enough.) I’d recommend this not only to young adults, but also older adults as a change of pace, especially if you like the outdoors.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

A brief mention of something mildly sexual. (Nothing a teen in the target audience for this book hasn’t been exposed to in a typical school day.)

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

Friday, June 26, 2020

Review: The Bit Dance by Tilmer Wright, Jr



Genre: Science Fiction

Description:

What happens when millions of tiny minds find a way to work together? At what point do they become one? At what point are they no longer merely machinery, but actually alive?


Kayla Henry is a genius. She has a grasp of technology that far surpasses that of people three times her tender age of fourteen. She has mastered every skill she has attempted to acquire – except the ability to impress her father and appease his overbearing perfectionism.

The eBot is the newest offering from her father’s employer that will set the company’s course for as much as a decade. It is a revolutionary toy endowed with groundbreaking technology and an online community that will encourage consumers to share their experiences. Kayla is fascinated by it and longs to be a part of it in any way she can.

When an ex-KGB officer appropriates the technology for his own nefarious purposes, it responds in ways no one could predict – or even imagine.”
Author:


“Tilmer Wright, Jr. was born in Kingsport, Tennessee. He attended Florida State University where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science. The past three decades have seen him working in various roles within Information Technology at a variety of companies in three states. He currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. He enjoys guitar, piano, art, reading and - when he has the time - writing.”

Appraisal:

This is the kind of science fiction that I tend to go for. The science is beyond where we are now, but not so far in the future where it seems unrealistic. This is near-future. I couldn’t rule it out happening next week or next year. That the science involved here was computer science hit my sweet spot yet again. If you’re into imagining where artificial intelligence or robotics might take us in the future, this should be right up your alley.

I thought the hero of the story, Kayla, was a great character. Her family dynamics with dad, mom, and a brother, each with their own talents as well as faults, made for an interesting family dynamic that may feel familiar to some readers. The story itself was entertaining, intense (keeping me on edge, racing toward a hopefully good resolution), and also has some things to consider about technology and the future. I’ll go with the obvious description here and say it is thought provoking.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 95-100,000 words

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Reprise Review: Fusion by Imogen Rose



Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal

Description:

“This is the final book of the Portal Chronicles series. That, apparently, brings a conclusion to the time-and-dimension-hopping adventures of the two Arizonas, Arizona Stevens and her alter ego in another dimension, Arizona Darley.”

Author:

“Globetrotter Imogen Rose is Swedish by birth, went to college in London (where she received a PhD in immunology), and is now a Jersey girl. After her eight-year-old daughter insisted she write down her stories, Rose wrote the first of her Portal Chronicles series and decided to let it out into the world. The response was so positive that she’s continued with the series, and started two other series.”


Appraisal:

Since I became an avid reader at age 10, I have been a binge reader, and lover of series. Every free minute, weekends, and vacation time was devoted to reading as many books as I could fit in. This continued through my 38 years of teaching and first year and a half of retirement.  During the summer of 2010, I discovered the Portal Chronicles by Imogen Rose. I ripped through the first two books, and fell in love with the story and characters. I’ve always been intrigued with time travel stories, but had not read much YA or paranormal fiction.  I eagerly awaited the next two books in the series and ripped through those as well. Finally, in March of 2013, the last in this adored series was released while I was on vacation, and I had the same plan to read quickly to the end. That did not happen.

I read the prologue to Fusion and found myself stopping to think back on all of the characters…what they had gone through, how they had grown and changed, and what was going to happen to them in this final book. These characters had been living vividly in my brain for so long; they seemed real to me. I wanted to know the outcome, but was reluctant to reach the end and let them go. So, I stopped reading until I got home. Then, I read the first chapter and put it down again…contented to wait for more. I continued reading this way, until I finally finished the book two months later. I felt the way Lauren, Ms. Rose’s daughter, must have felt when she was waiting for the next installment of the story to be written for her. This is not to say that I won’t be prone to binge reading anymore, but I am glad to discover that reading can be just as satisfying done slowly over time.

I was disappointed that I did not finish the book in time to review it for the blog tour stop at Books & Pals; Al and ?wazithinkin’s reviews were an awesome double shot! It was a fitting and satisfying ending to this series, leaving the door open to some characters crossing over into one of Ms. Rose’s other series. I fell in love with Rupert, so I am hoping he is one to show up again. When I found out that there was going to be a supermoon June 23rd, it reminded me of the beautiful cover for Fusion, and prompted me to ask about a third review for the book to be posted. So, here it is; a review for a super series on the date of the supermoon. Thank you Ms Rose for leading me to a new way of reading, introducing me to such well developed, intriguing characters, exposing me to exciting paranormal events, and leaving me with the wish that I could find them all again.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Each of the books in this series relies on information from the previous book, so to experience the full enjoyment of the characters and understand the plot details, I recommend reading the books in order.

There is a small amount of adult language included.

Added for Reprise Review: Fusion by Imogen Rose was a nominee in the Young Adult category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran March 13, 2013

Format/Typo Issues:

None found.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Fredlet

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

Monday, June 22, 2020

Review: Keeper of the Winds by Russell Davis



Genre: Urban Fantasy/Occult/Coming of Age

Description:

“My name is Jenna Solitaire and everything I thought I knew about myself, my family, and my future is wrong. My life is not my own. It never has been. I just didn't know it―until now…

Nineteen-year-old Jenna Solitaire has lost her grandfather, who was her only remaining family. Going through old family belongings in the attic, she discovers a trunk, and in it a planchette made of bone and an ancient wooden board scorched by fire and covered in strange symbols. Thinking only to connect with some element of her past, Jenna attempts to use it, and soon there is a voice whispering long-lost secrets in her mind. Secrets about her family, and the role handed down through generations of Solitaire women: Keeper of the Board. Thrust into a world she doesn’t understand, Jenna will begin an adventure that will ultimately take her around the world, but first, she must master the Board itself, even as she faces forces of greed and power – those who will stop at nothing to take the Board for themselves. As the Board conjures devastating storms, Jenna struggles to find her footing and determine who she can trust. Events spiral out of control, and Jenna fights to protect those she still believes in: Father Andrew, the family priest who has known her since she was born, her best friend, Tom, and his girlfriend, Kristen. And then there is Simon Monk, shrouded in mystery and connected somehow to Father Andrew and the Vatican itself, who appears to have her best interests in mind, but frightens Jenna with his intensity. Jenna must conquer her doubts, her fears, and take on the mantle of Keeper of the Board and the Daughter of Destiny, or leave the Earth itself in peril.

Author:

Russell Davis uses the pseudonym pen name of Jenna Solitaire for this novel.

From Mr. Davis’ website: “Mercenary writer... novel and anthology editor... publishing industry jack of all trades, master of some... husband, father, and occasional player of poker. Best-selling author and editor Russell Davis has written and sold numerous novels and short stories in virtually every genre of fiction, under at least a half-dozen pseudonyms.”

If you’d like to learn more check out his website or follow him onFacebook.



Appraisal:

Jenna Solitaire has just lost her grandfather who raised her. She lost her parents as a young child and then her grandmother a few months after that. Jenna is a first year college student with very few friends she lets in her life. Her best friend from childhood, Tom, has firmly been relegated to the friend zone.

As Jenna is going through her grandparent’s attic she finds an intriguing box in the bottom of her grandmother’s trunk. Jenna can tell it is very old and has runes carved in the wood. Now it seems to be calling her, and she can’t stop thinking about it. She is having strange dreams infesting her sleep. Then someone breaks into the house and she notices men following her. This is all stressful and she has a right to have a short fuse. But, honestly she needs to cut back on the coffee, eat something, and reassess the situation. Her incessant whining is nerve-wracking and for a smart girl she sure shrugs her shoulders a lot. It almost seems like a tic.

Now, on to better things. Tom and Kristen are adorable as a couple. Tom is all reason and logic, Kristen is anything but. I loved her character and I think any reader will agree with me. Jenna thinks she’s an airhead. Simon, one of the men following Jenna, is a good guy and doesn’t deserve the way Jenna treats him. There is a lot more to learn about him though. Simon has spent years researching this ancient magical artifact and is trying to teach Jenna about the box and her new destiny as its new Guardian. As the weather around her town grows dark and rainy with the winds growing in intensity, Jenna refuses to acknowledge her moody emotions have anything to do with it.

Jenna is a selfish character and hard to like. It’s not often I run across a character that I consider TSTL. But she does live or there wouldn’t be a story. In between Jenna's pity party and stupid decisions there is a lot of action. Because of course there is a malevolent man, who seems to have unlimited resources with minions to do his bidding. He wants both the box and Jenna for his own evil purposes. On a more positive note there is an epic battle that comes to a satisfying climax as Jenna seems to find her moral compass during the devastating storms that almost kill her friends, of which there are four…

After all is said and done this novel was a bag of mixed nuts for me. If you like urban fantasy with a twist of occult you may really enjoy this novel and adore the characters. 

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

TSTL = Too Stupid To Live.

Format/Typo Issues:

The version of the book I read was a pre-release ARC, so I can’t judge the final version in this regard.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Friday, June 19, 2020

Review: Murder Bytes by Gayle Carline



Genre: Mystery/Woman Sleuth

Description:

“In this fifth and final installment of the Peri Minneopa Mysteries, Peri has had enough. She’s closing her business, marrying her detective boyfriend, and settling down to a life of ease–until her brother shows up, accused of a murder he swears he didn’t commit. Now she’s back in the thick of things, investigating the death of an engineer who may have been stealing techno-secrets from other companies. Her relationship with her brother is an icy one, at best, and she struggles with her ambivalence, as well as her desire to leave investigative work behind. Digging around in people’s lives is reasonably easy, but when the bullets start flying, will Peri be able to keep her promise?”

Author:

A native of Illinois, Gayle Carline moved to Southern California years ago. She’s written in magazines about her favorite hobby, horse racing, as well as a humor columnist for her local newspaper. After years of doing that she added novelist to her list, writing the first of her Peri Minneopa mystery series.

Appraisal:

This was my first time reading a book in this series so I can’t compare it to prior books, but I liked the character of Peri a lot. She’s more real than a lot of fictional detectives. She has plenty of doubts, both personal and professional, but they aren’t so bad as to prevent her from doing a good job of detecting. This story has a bit of a tech thriller kind of story line that’s intertwined with the main mystery, the murder of an engineer. Add to that a complication and additional story line due to Peri’s long-absent brother being in the middle of this mess. I want to call him her estranged brother, which might be a fair description, or maybe not. The strange part of “estranged” definitely fits their relationship though, which only complicates things more. Throw in Peri’s close relationships with law enforcement, including her fiancĂ©, other police officers and her friend, the coroner, and she’s able to get information a typical PI wouldn’t be able to. All in all, a fun, intense read with a lot of unique aspects I don’t typically see in a detective story.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

While the fifth book of a series, I haven’t read the prior books and felt that this story stood alone.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 75-70,000 words

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Review: Kludged Singularity by Tony L Joy



Genre: Technothriller

Description:

“Alan is wasting his time in technical support, dreaming of the future. Accidentally releasing an advanced computer worm wasn’t how he imagined it would start. Now he’s just trying to hold everything together with digital duct tape and wishful thinking.

His employer’s sinister secrets throw a wrench in those plans as he learns the technological singularity is imminent. When ‘working to live’ takes on a literal meaning Alan realizes the future may not be as bright as he’d hoped.
Alan fights to guide the future of humanity before control, and freedom, slip from his fingers forever.”

Author:

“Tony L Joy currently lives in Colorado and has spent his adult life explaining increasingly less comprehensible computer problems to similarly less comprehensible people in exchange for money. When not exchanging knowledge for currency, he writes stories and books”

Appraisal:

The primary reason I didn’t rate this book one or possibly even two stars more is that it is lacking in polish. The proofreader needed to take another pass or two through it as there were numerous minor errors that kept throwing me out of the story when I’d have to re-read a sentence after mentally tripping over the place where a small word was missing or a minor typo jumped out at me.

That said, if you’re not sensitive to those kind of issues (or you’re willing to overlook them) there is an interesting story here. It invokes some interesting questions about whether technology can be taken too far, morality and ethics in a changing world, and even what it takes to make something human. A good technothriller will have you excited about what technology can possibly do some day (and for my tastes it shouldn’t be too far out there, so seemingly plausible), but also provide a counterpoint, cautioning us to be careful. The story in Kludged Singularity hits that balance well.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

Way too many issues that should have been caught in copyediting and proofreading. None serious, but the sheer number was way more than is reasonable.

Rating: *** Three Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

Monday, June 15, 2020

Reprise Review: Tapped by Lynne Cantwell




Genre: Urban Fantasy/Contemporary/World Mythology

Description:

“Naomi Witherspoon, chosen by a Lakota Indian goddess to mediate a truce in heaven, is in the midst of a number of down-to-earth problems. She hasn’t heard from her boyfriend, Joseph, in weeks. She has also been attacked recently by a man channeling an Aztec jaguar god. Her best friend Shannon thinks she ought to get out of town for awhile – but what Shannon proposes is a road trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to track down Naomi’s father, who doesn’t know she exists. Naomi agrees to go, but the additional stress literally makes her sick.”

Author:

Ms. Cantwell is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited where she shares her knowledge about Indie publishing and promotion. Her Pipe Woman Chronicles include four volumes to date Seized, Fissured, Tapped, and Gravid. She is now working on the fifth book in this series Annealed. You can connect with her at her blog or on Facebook.

Appraisal:

I am inexplicably drawn to Native American stories and wolves. This story has both and so much more. As we join Shannon and Naomi on a working vacation, we are educated about the Pine Ridge Reservation, the battle at Wounded Knee, and how the wolf works in the Lakota tradition. I thought it all blended well as Naomi starts to feel connected to her own Native American roots. It is a heartwarming journey as she gets to know her extended family and we get to see into the process of her new mediating vocation as it is implemented into the judicial system on the reservation. She is excellent at her job, the Goddess has chosen well.

The plot takes a not so surprising turn into Celtic mythos; we were told Shannon was part fae in Seized. She is now taking on a larger role in the whole scheme as the confrontation with Jehovah draws closer. I love the way all belief systems are being blended together in this series, we are all one. I also liked the fact that George, Joseph’s friend, has now been drawn more into the story. It will be interesting to see if he takes on a larger role or if he is, as he seems, just a friend.

Jack, what can I say about Jack except that he is a tool? He needs to be watched and monitored constantly; he is not free of his demon yet. However, he does seem to have a conscience, every now and then, so perhaps there may be hope for him. There is exciting news announced in this installment and a turn at the end of this story that will hook you for the next book.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Tapped is book 3 in Lynne Cantwell’s, The Pipe Woman Chronicles. This series should be read in order. This book contains adult language and situations that may be offensive to some.

Added for Reprise Review: Tapped by Lynne Cantwell was a nominee in the Fantasy category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran April 8, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:

Excellent editing, I found no issues with editing or formatting.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 55-60,000 words

Friday, June 12, 2020

Review: Shadow of the Jaguar by D.V. Berkom



Genre: Thriller

Description:

“A lost civilization. A woman's abduction. The promise of unimaginable treasure.

Deep in the heart of the Amazon, an expedition finds evidence of a fabled lost city of gold. It isn't long before a ruthless drug trafficker learns of the possible find and kidnaps an expedition member, threatening to kill her and the rest of the expedition unless he's given the coordinates to the city.

Former assassin Leine Basso and her daughter are called in to rescue the kidnapped woman, who also happens to be a good friend’s niece. But in the jungle, danger lurks at every turn, and nothing is as it seems...”

Author:

“DV Berkom is the USA Today bestselling author of two action-packed thriller series featuring strong female leads: Kate Jones and Leine Basso. Her love of creating resilient, kick-ass women characters stems from a lifelong addiction to reading spy novels, mysteries, and thrillers, and longing to find the female equivalent within those pages.”

For more, visit her website.

Appraisal:

The Leine Basso books are based on a foundation that has no many layers that make for some intense stories. Leine currently works for SHEN, an organization that is fighting human traffickers all over the world, which has had her at different times involved in cases on several continents, urban areas in the US, or the not-so-urban Dakotas. Her past as an assassin, not necessarily doing good, is contrasted with her current life, where she might sometimes do things that most wouldn’t consider good, but she’s always doing them in a battle for good to overcome evil. This dichotomy in her past and present or sometimes even between her goals and her actions to move towards those goals are interesting and thought provoking (not to mention making for an action-packed story).

In this particular story, April, who is Leine’s daughter and has been training to follow in her mom’s footsteps, is assigned to the case along with Leine. This adds another layer of stress as Leine has faith in April’s skills, but things can always go wrong and she’s still April’s mother, so the push and pull of those things adds still more tension whenever things start to feel dangerous. As I’ve come to expect from the Leine Basso books, I was kept guessing as to what was going to happen, on edge, and couldn’t put the book down as I wanted to know how it was going to turn out. That’s what I’d consider the ideal reaction to a thriller.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 70-75,000 words