Thursday, January 20, 2022

Review: The Mary Jane Gambit by Sam B. Waite


Genre: Satire/Thriller

Description:

“This satire on crypto currencies sees a U.S. banking chain issue a marijuana-backed coin complete with credit cards and checking accounts as a true alternative to the U.S. dollar. The Mary Jane crypto appears headed for success until foreign powers issue their own stable coin intended not only to compete with the dollar but to crush it globally.

The dollar’s role as the primary currency for international reserves and invoicing gives the nation extraordinary advantage in the global economy, including its ability to impose economic sanctions for political reasons. Crypto currencies present a potential challenge that could play out in interesting ways. The Mary Jane Gambit was intended as a humorous look at what might become a quite serious issue.”

Author:

“Sam Waite spent thirty years of his career in Japan as a journalist for U.S. and Japanese financial news organizations and as a communications specialist for a global management consultancy. He joined the Marine Corps at age 18 and served one year each in Vietnam and Japan, where he began language study, which carried over to Asian studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has an MBA from Texas A&M International. His other works of fiction, under pen names, have been published by Virgin Books, in English and German translation.”

Sam is also one of the Pals at BigAl’s Books and Pals.

Appraisal:

Although satirical, I didn’t find the things that happened in this book to be too far over the top. I bought into what was happening the whole way. I not only got an intense and exciting thriller, full of unexpected twists, double crossing “partners” and globetrotting characters keeping me guessing about how it was all going to turn out, but learned a bit in the process.

In addition to the entertainment and tension I’d expect from a thriller, I learned a bit about cryptocurrency and how it functions. Those not familiar with the history of currency, the gold standard, and how that changed over the years will also improve their understanding of money as a means of value exchange.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

Monday, January 17, 2022

Reprise Review: Capturing Gabriel by Lyn Horner

 


Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense/World Mythology/Magical Realism

Description:

“What’s a handsome Colombian psychic with super-hero-power to do with a spirited Navajo beauty who invades his territory? Why, kidnap her of course.

Chopper pilot Josie Tseda served in Afghanistan, extracting soldiers from deadly situations. She knows how to take care of herself. But when she vows to find Gabriel Valdez, a Guardian of Danu, and deliver him to a gathering of the Council of Guardians, she may have bitten off more than she can chew.

Locating Gabriel in the mountains of Colombia is hard enough. Josie didn’t count on ending up his prisoner – or on falling for him.

Gabriel is battling Colombian drug traffickers and seeking revenge against the man who murdered his mother. He’s not looking for romance and doesn’t trust the feisty American female who wants to fly him off to the U.S. The message she conveys directing him to return with her, supposedly coming from the High Guardian, may be a lie to ensnare him and steal the precious scroll he guards.

Yet, he can’t help wanting her. Will he allow her to capture his heart or will the secret power he wields ultimately drive her away?”

Author:

“Lyn Horner is a baby boomer born in San Francisco, California, raised in Minnesota and now residing in Texas with her husband and an ever-changing band of cantankerous, beloved cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn first worked as a fashion illustrator in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and later as an art instructor for Art Instruction Schools… After quitting work to raise her children, she took up writing to save her sanity. This hobby quickly morphed into an obsession with historical research and plot building.”

Learn more about Ms. Horner by visiting her website or follow her on Facebook.

Appraisal:

Josie Tseda is totally out of her element on this mission to collect Gabriel Valdez from the midst of the Colombian mountains. Gabriel is busy fighting his own war in hostile territory and has no reason to believe Josie’s far-fetched tale of murder and intrigue. The action and tension start early in this story. Josie must learn to change her tactics and go along with Gabriel for her own safety; in the process she is able to learn more about the man who holds her captive. As her trust grows, Gabriel lets his guard down a little at a time.

As their mutual respect increases so does the passion neither one of them can deny. Showing that vulnerability, though, is another story for both of them. They are both warriors, so getting them to fight for a kindred cause at the same time is the biggest problem. Being a guardian of an ancient scroll complicates Gabriel’s quest to avenge his mother’s death against the local drug cartel. He is an honorable man and believes in both causes.

This book has it all; adventure, violence, sexual tension, magic, and a heart-rending family history to hold it all together. I think Gabriel is my favorite character so far, and it makes my heart ache for him at the same time for the burden he has to carry. What more could a reader ask for?

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Capturing Gabriel is book three in Lyn Horner’s Romancing the Guardians series, following Rescuing Lara and Decoding Michaela. I would recommend reading this series in order. This book does contain sexual situations that may offend some.

Original review posted September 2, 2016

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words

Friday, January 14, 2022

Review: The Devil You Know by Monique Singleton


Genre: Occult ESP

Description:

A rebellious “angel” and a murderous priest join forces to bring down “gods” stealing souls from Earth and selling them on slave markets in another dimension, presumably of the multiverse.

Author:

As the daughter of a British soldier and his Dutch wife Monique Singleton toured the world where she was exposed to the cultures of many countries. She settled in the Netherlands where she pursues a full-time career as a business consultant. Her series of books mix fantasy with “psychological suspense.”

Appraisal:

The Devil You Know launches at MACH speed. By the time I paused for breath, I was well into chapter two and facing that terrifying question: “What’s it all about?” Religion’s false promise? Free will? If free will is such a big deal, why is absolute obeisance demanded by major religions? What’s this about religious adherents’ slavery? Religious hierarchy behaving as gods? The novel might not have the philosophical rigor of, say, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, but it touches on many of the same questions and is massively more fun.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

British spelling with some strong language and several “F” bombs.

Format/Typo Issues:

A few, but not so many as to detract from the story.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words. 



Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Review: Boca by Moonlight by Brad Graber


 Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Description:

“Do men ever listen?

Are their friendships real?

How does a widower start over?

George Elden had it all. A lovely wife. Two beautiful adult children. A condo on the grounds of the Boca Raton Resort & Club. But when his wife dies, he's suddenly alone in retirement. A lost man. Sure, he has his golf buddies to console him, but when his friend Willy dies, George is caught off-guard. Why did Willy's family stay away from the funeral? Why did the check to the mortuary bounce? And why did George and his buddies have to pay to bury him? More importantly, what can George learn from Willy's life to escape making the same foolish mistakes?

From the award-winning author of The Intersect, After the Fall, and What's That Growing in My Sour Cream? comes a tale of redemption. The story of a man coming to grips with his mortality and the complications of human relationships. Told with the wit, humor, and emotional power that Brad Graber brings to his novels.”

Author:

Born in New York City with a career as healthcare executive in multiple cities across the US, Brad Graber currently lives with his husband in Phoenix, Arizona. He released three books prior to this one including another novel and an award-winning collection of essays.

Appraisal:

This book's blurb has a line that pretty much sums the book up in one sentence. It says that this is “the story of a man coming to grips with his mortality and the complications of human relationships.” Most of those complications that George, the protagonist of the story, as well as his best friends are experiencing are because they’re at a time of their life where things are getting shaken up. Adapting to retirement, deaths, evolving relationships with his children, and the discovery that some people weren’t what they appeared to be are a sample of the things George has to deal with. I enjoyed the read, wondering how it was all going to work out, pulling for George to figure things out and find the way to ta good ending.

While I think anyone could relate to the story at a high level because life is constantly changing for most of us in various ways, someone who is middle-aged or even a touch older would be most able to relate to George’s story as they’ll recognize things they’ve gone through or observed friends go through, or at least be able to see the possibility of the same kind of experiences on the horizon for them. I sure can.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 105-110,000 words

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Review: We Are but Warriors by Poly Iyer


Genre: Political Thriller, according to the author’s description

Description:

An Israeli newspaper publisher, whose editorials call for equal treatment of Arab citizens of Israel as well as a Palestinian homeland, is targeted for assignation just before his address to the U.N. A super skilled assassination is pitted against a security firm run by a former U.S. Army General.

Author:

Poly Iyer has published “ten books of suspense and four sexy romances she writes under a pseudonym. She started out as a fashion illustrator and storyboard artist, importer, and store owner before embarking on her fourth, and last, career as an author. Her novels include: Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, Kindle Scout winner Indiscretion, and four books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series: Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, Backlash, and The Scent of Murder.”

Find Polly at http://PollyIyer.com

Appraisal:

The author has strong opinions on Israeli politics and elements of the American Jewish community vis a vis Israel. Those ideas alone are worth the read. She describes a rightwing cabal fighting moderates in government. That sent me to an Internet search as I had thought Benjamin Netanyahu and his replacement Prime Minister Naftali Bennett would be rightwing enough for anyone. I found a Pew research report cited in The Times of Israel that said 79 percent of Israelis believe Jews should have favorable treatment over Arab citizens and that 48 percent favored expelling all Arabs from the country. I have a better understanding of the intransigence of the “Palestinian problem” thanks to Ms. Iyer. There are plenty of plot twists, and I expect enough romantic tension to satisfy a romance fan. As a political thriller, however, it is flawed. The author introduces an improbable plot twist at about the 80 percent mark. There is no set up, when it should have been central to the entire story. We are told that involvement of certain characters is needed for the new event, but without an explanation of why or how. Finally, political thrillers must nail the details. This story starts with a man whose leg is so badly mangled, he needs a cane just to hobble. Using his cane as a weapon, he disarms and defeats a highly trained assailant. Later, in a bar fight he renders three men unconscious. I was in the Marine Corps, Vietnam, have decades of karate training. It simply is not credible. In describing a kill by the assassin: “he threw his arm over the old man’s head, locking him in the crook of his elbow, and pulled tight against both carotid arteries until the frail body went limp.” Fine so far, but later the police report the victim had a broken neck. The choke described wouldn’t do that. As a sniper, the assassin loads armor piercing rounds into his rifle, but when he pulls the trigger, he shoots a hollow point bullet. Those are only some of the more obvious lapses in credibility. A pretty good story, but perhaps not for hard-core thriller fans.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Some strong language with a few “F” bombs.

Format/Typo Issues:

None worth mention

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 100,000-105,000 words

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Reprise Review: Arctic Dawn by Karissa Laurel


 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Mythology/Romance

Description:

“Alone and exhausted after her month-long sojourn as a shooting star, Solina Mundy flees to southern California to lie low, recuperate, and plot a survival strategy. The one person she trusts to watch her back is her best friend, Skyla Ramirez. But Skyla has been missing for weeks.

 

The arrival of a dangerous stranger and the discovery of a legendary weapon of mass destruction forces Solina out of hiding and back into the fight for her life. Solina knows she won’t last long on her own. She must find out what happened to Skyla and unite her contentious allies if she hopes to track down this devastating weapon before her enemies use it to burn the world to ash.”

Author:

“Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you'll find her on the slopes.

Karissa also paints and draws and harbors a grand delusion that she might finish a graphic novel someday.”

Find out more about Karissa Laurel on her website or Facebook.

Appraisal:

Ms. Laurel has stepped up her game in Arctic Dawn. The characters are more intense, the action is nonstop and the entire book is more heavily steeped in Norse Mythology. Solina’s powers have matured and she is fully focused on her mission at all times, even if she is not totally aware of what is going on around her. I love the way she challenges Thorin at every turn. And even though this vexes Thorin, you can tell he admires her spunk and tenacity as she is always honest with her feelings about the situations at hand. However, she continues to conceal her emotions and desires from Thorin. Her walls are cracking though, as are Thorin’s. I practically melted during a few touching scenes.

I was a bit worried I would be lost when I started reading this sequel considering it had been a full year since I had read Midnight Burning. But rest assured Ms. Laurel brings forward what you need to remember without bogging down the story. New people were introduced who fit well in the mix. I ended up reading late into the night until I couldn’t focus my eyes any longer, the book was that hard for me to put down.

Arctic Dawn is a fast-paced cataclysmic addition full of action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are several unexpected twists, which change the course of the plot. These give rise for more Norse mythology, which is incorporated into the plot. Ms. Laurel’s imagination and knowledge seems boundless. I would highly recommend Arctic Dawn to lovers of mythology, adventure seekers, and action lovers. For those who loath romance in their stories, I will add the romance is low-key and not what this series is centered around. The ending made me swoon, while I was cursing the cliffhanger. Well done, ma’am. Please don’t make me wait another year for more.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK

FYI:

Arctic Dawn is book two in The Norse Chronicles following Midnight Burning. I would recommend reading this series in order.

Original review posted August 12, 2016.

Format/Typo Issues:

I found no significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 100-105,000 words