Photo: Nik Stauskas loses bet to old rival, puts on Michigan State shirt


Go Green, Go White! Go MSU!

Originally posted on Big Ten Network:

Former Big Ten Players of the Year and rivals Draymond Green (Michigan State; 2012) and Nik Stauskas (Michigan; 2014) engaged in a fun Twitter battle during NBA All-Star Weekend.

It all started when Stauskas tweeted “I’ll be in Ann Arbor tomorrow to see my bros beat up those dudes from East Lansing” prior to last month’s Michigan State-Michigan game at Crisler Center.

Green got wind of the tweet, and the two went back and forth for several hours before finalizing a bet for the game that the Spartans won 80-67.

The photo above makes it pretty clear what the final bet was. Money exchanged hands, too.

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A Review of The Organ Takers by Richard Van Anderson

The Organ Takers

A Novel of Surgical Suspense
by Richard Van Anderson

First things first, this is book one of a trilogy. Even though there are quite a few loose ends, you don’t feel like everything has been left unresolved when you get to the end of the book. I like some sort of closure in a first book of a series. If I don’t get that, I just am kind of put off. The Organ Takers was interesting enough that I will read the next volume when it becomes available.

Dr. Anderson is a former heart surgeon and it shows in this novel. The surgical procedures are extremely detailed. He probably goes a bit overboard on the minutia, but that is his background, so I’m sure that it is accurate, and that is what feels right to him. Most readers will be skimming though some of it. He does a good job with his first novel.

The main plot-line of the novel is realistic and believable.  The basic idea, that there is a black market for stolen organs is a scary proposition, but rings true. Some of the sub-plots and character’s thought processes are a little far-fetched, but not inconceivable. The action drives the story and keeps you reading. You will finish The Organ Takers very quickly, because it is easy to get into and the prose is quite straight forward, and you won’t want to stop reading it.  Characterization was a little shallow, but that is what you expect in an action driven thriller.

All in all, The Organ Takers was an exciting, and engaging book one of a trilogy. The author draws you into the story, and when you finish it, you will be anticipating book two. I enjoyed it, but wish that I had known going in that The Organ Takers was the first book in a trilogy. It doesn’t say that anywhere on the book, or on the Amazon page, except in  the reviews. I think that the publisher needs to correct that. Some people don’t want to read a trilogy, and they should know up front what they are getting into.

Ignoring the trilogy issue, I thought that The Organ Takers was a good debut novel, and will try to read the next book. I give it 4 Stars out of 5, and recommend it to fans of Robin Cook, especially since there doesn’t seem to be many good medical thrillers out there lately.

I received a review copy from the publisher, White Light Press.

Book Description

The Organ TakersFor more than three decades, Robin Cook has used his experience as a physician to bring authority to his novels of medical suspense, and now, former cardiac surgeon Richard Van Anderson has done the same. Using his knowledge of surgeons, surgical diseases, and the operating room, Anderson brings the sinister world of black market organ transplantation to life in his debut novel THE ORGAN TAKERS (White Light Press; November 2014). Storylines are drawn from current medical topics and include human organ trafficking, transplant waiting list abuse, human stem cell research, tissue engineering, and organ fabrication.

Set primarily in lower Manhattan, THE ORGAN TAKERS opens with former surgery resident Dr. David McBride in exile from the surgical community. While under the mentorship of transplant surgeon and biomedical researcher Dr. Andrew Turnbull, McBride was coerced into manipulating the liver transplant waiting list, then failed to bring such an egregious violation of moral and ethical standards to the attention of his superiors. Both men were eventually discovered, subsequently fired, and lost their licenses to practice medicine. Turnbull moved his lab to rural New Jersey, while McBride settled for operating on rats in a surgical research laboratory at an uptown university medical center.

Down but not out, McBride never gives up on his dream, and after applying to nearly every surgical residency in the country, he is rewarded with a second chance to complete his training and pursue a career in surgery. But, as David stands on the threshold of a new life, the malignant underside of his fellow man intervenes. Under the threat of violence to himself and his pregnant wife, David is forced to perform illegal organ harvests, in a makeshift operating room, hidden within a dilapidated meatpacking warehouse. Interfacing with a spook known only as Mr. White, McBride is unaware that Andrew Turnbull is behind his recruitment as black market organ harvester.

Unable to resolve the excruciating moral dilemma faced each time he invades the body of an unwilling victim, David fights to free himself from the situation and finds himself increasingly isolated as the dangers mount. As NYPD detective Kate D’Angelo closes the net around him, and the organ-snatching conspiracy takes his wife hostage, McBride must find help, and he turns to a most unlikely source: a drug dealer whose life David had saved while still a surgery resident.

THE ORGAN TAKERS is an exhilarating medical thriller that has both the good guys and the bad balancing precariously on the edge of good and evil. The story not only entertains, but ventures below the surface to explore how men of intelligence, drive, and compassion sometimes choose, or are forced, to venture down dark paths.

Book Details

Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: White Light Press; First edition (November 17, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0990759717
ISBN-13: 978-0990759713
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces

About the Author

Photo by Chaucer Wells Photography
Photo by Chaucer Wells Photography

I’m a former heart surgeon turned fiction writer. I write what can be described as medical mysteries, medical thrillers or novels of medical suspense, but I prefer to think of them as novels of surgical suspense.

What is surgical suspense? Surgeons, surgical diseases and the operating room are inherently dramatic. As a former surgeon, I’ve experienced this drama first hand and thought it would make for good fiction. My surgery training took me from the “knife and gun club” of LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to the famed Bellevue Hospital in Midtown Manhattan. My education as a writer includes an MFA in creative writing where I was mentored by New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane, among other accomplished faculty.

I know a lot about medicine and surgery, I know a lot about writing and storytelling, and I believe that combining this vast and unusual right-brain/left-brain experience will make for interesting reading and discussion, so please visit often.

Author’s Website 
Author’s Facebook Page
Author’s Goodreads Page

A Review of MACDEATH: An Ivy Meadows Mystery by Cindy Brown

MACDEATH: An Ivy Meadows Mystery

by Cindy Brown

This fun, fast paced, theatre based book is a good start to a new year and a new series. I enjoyed the antics and the lively characters in Cindy Brown’s new book. She uses great dialog to create her story. The characters are quirky but believable at the same time. The humor is part of the story and doesn’t feel forced or artificial. Sometimes it heads toward slapstick, but that’s ok, because who doesn’t like to laugh.

Cindy Brown’s main character, Ivy Meadows, has to try to figure out why the male lead in Macbeth was found dead of suspected alcohol poisoning. The police are calling it an accidental death, but Ivy is sure that it was murder. Simon had quit drinking and had asked Ivy to help him out, to keep an eye on him. She feels like she let him down, and can’t let everyone think that he drank himself to death. But then other suspicious things happen. Is it the Macbeth curse, or something much worse.

This book would be classified as a cozy mystery, I guess. I only found out that cozy was a real genre last year, and I’m still not sure exactly what constitutes a cozy, but the publisher has Cozy showing up on the MACDEATH page.

This is what Wikipedia has to say, “Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Well, that certainly seems to fit MACDEATH. I like to read well-written cozies once in a while, and so I have to say that MACDEATH really fit the bill. I give it a solid 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! I look forward to reading the next book in the series (THE SOUND OF MURDER (#2) September 2015).

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description


MACDEATHLike every actor, Ivy Meadows knows that Macbeth is cursed. But she’s finally scored her big break, cast as an acrobatic witch in a circus-themed production of Macbeth in Phoenix, Arizona. And though it may not be Broadway, nothing can dampen her enthusiasm—not her flying caldron, too-tight leotard, or carrot-wielding dictator of a director.

But when one of the cast dies on opening night, Ivy is sure the seeming accident is “murder most foul” and that she’s the perfect person to solve the crime (after all, she does work part-time in her uncle’s detective agency). Undeterred by a poisoned Big Gulp, the threat of being blackballed, and the suddenly too-real curse, Ivy pursues the truth at the risk of her hard-won career—and her life.

Books in the Ivy Meadows Mystery Series:

THE SOUND OF MURDER (#2) September 2015

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you’ll probably like them all…

Book Details

Series: An Ivy Meadows Mystery
Paperback: 275 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (January 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940976693
ISBN-13: 978-1940976693
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces

About the Author

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

A Review of Cane and Abe by James Grippando

Cane and Abe

by James Grippando

This was a strange book. It was well written, and the characters were believable and well-developed. I just didn’t really like any of them. I didn’t connect, nor feel any empathy with them. I didn’t really care what happened to most of them. There was a mystery and some plot twists, but that didn’t really draw me in either. I kept reading because I hoped that something would develop to make it all worth while. After I finished the book, I thought “Well that ended with quite a twist”, but it wasn’t until I reflected upon the ending that I decided that it ended perfectly. Everybody gets theirs.

I know that this review doesn’t really give you much, but I can’t reveal the ending, and that is the whole point of the book. Cane and Abe nearly feels like an extended short story. The twist at the end justifies the whole thing.

Most people will probably like the story more than I did. It isn’t like these people in the book are disgusting perverts, or ruthless gangsters, or anything like that. I just didn’t connect, so the story didn’t connect. But I did love the ending.

I give Cane and Abe 3 1/2 Stars out of 5.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Cane and Abe 2A spellbinding novel of suspense from New York Times bestselling author James Grippando, in which Miami’s top prosecutor becomes a prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, which may have a chilling connection to the woman he can’t forget.

Unbelievable was the word for her. Samantha Vine was unbelievably beautiful. It was unbelievable that she’d married me. Even more unbelievable that she was gone . . .

Samantha died too soon. Abe Beckham’s new wife has helped him through the loss, but some say it was a step back to marry Angelina, a love from Abe’s past. Abe doesn’t want to hear it, and through the ups and downs, he’s even managed to remain a star prosecutor at the Miami State Attorney’s Office.

Then everything goes wrong.  A woman’s body is discovered dumped in the Everglades, and Abe is called upon to monitor the investigation. The FBI is tracking a killer in South Florida they call “Cutter” because his brutal methods harken back to Florida’s dark past, when machete-wielding men cut sugarcane by hand in the blazing sun.

But when the feds discover that Abe had a brief encounter with the victim after Samantha’s death, and when Angelina goes missing, the respected attorney finds himself under fire. Suspicion surrounds him. His closest friends, family, professional colleagues, and the media no longer trust his motives. Was Angelina right? Was their marriage not what they’d hoped for because he loved Samantha too much? Or was there another woman . . . and a husband with a dark side who simply wanted his new wife gone?

Book Details

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Harper (January 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006229539X
ISBN-13: 978-0062295392
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

James Grippando is a New York Times bestselling author of suspense. Cane and Abe is his twenty-second novel. Grippando was a trial lawyer for twelve years before his 1994 debut novel, The Pardon, and he now serves as counsel to Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. He lives in South Florida with his wife, three children, two cats, and a golden retriever named Max who has no idea that he’s a dog.

The book description and details are from Amazon. Cane and Abe

A Review of A Banquet of Consequences by Jake Rohrer

A Banquet of Consequences: True Life Adventures of Sex (Not Too Much), Drugs (Plenty), Rock & Roll (of Course), and the Feds (Who Invited Them?)

by Jake Rohrer

BoCJake Rohrer has a story to tell. It’s a story dominated by prison. It starts as he is going to prison on drug charges. He has been ratted out by an associate and will have to spend his time in a Federal prison. This is how A Banquet of Consequences begins. He tells us how he was arrested and then sent to prison.

Then Banquet of Consequences switches gears. He tells about his time in high school, and how he met the founding members of Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). This short period in his life has some consequences. He lives well, but when CCR ends, so does his high life. He ends up selling cocaine, which is why he ends up in jail.

Then the book jumps back further, to his childhood. Mr. Rohrer gives us some interesting glimpses into his actions and their consequences.  Consequences, as Mr. Rohrer uses it really means the effect, result, or outcome of something occurring earlier. It doesn’t mean that result is bad, just that it happened because of something that you did earlier in life. All life has actions and consequences. Everything is related. Whatever you do will catch up with you. 

This book was full of interesting stories, jail stories, music stories, drug stories, coming of age stories, stories of life and what happens as a result of his actions. He tells us that his life has been good through these stories. He sounds like someone who always has an interesting story to tell. Like one of those guys who always has a group around him, listening to his tales. He wants you to take his life as a lesson, whatever you do there will consequences. Mr. Rohrer makes a valid observation, I just don’t quite buy it.

I give this book 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. I enjoyed reading Banquet of Consequences, but I had hoped for more. I had hoped for a bit more insight into the music business, what really goes on behind the lights, but I guess that wasn’t this book. This book had a lot of interesting stories, that were told very well, and it had a message behind all the stories. Mr. Rohrer wants you to know that even though life is full of actions and consequences, you can survive and work though them, and then have the good consequences.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

On A Banquet of Consequences: “A moving story full of entertaining characters, experiences, conflicts and triumphs. Offered in a decidedly unpretentious and conversational style, the stories go well beyond the author’s association with a famous rock & roll band.” ~ William Greenleaf, Greenleaf Literary Services, Inc.

On the author’s association with Creedence Clearwater Revival: “No one has told the Creedence story as eloquently.” ~ Russ Gary, CCR recording engineer, independent TV producer (Los Angeles area)

On the business of drugs: “… [This is] beyond good. I’ve never read a clearer, more graphic account of the mechanics of the dope trade.” ~ Bruce Anderson, Editor/Publisher The Anderson Valley Advertiser

On Federal prison: “Colorful characters loom large on the page. Physical settings are vivid and detailed, and are smoothly woven into the memories, musings, and anecdotes.” ~ William Greenleaf, Greenleaf Literary Services, Inc.

From the author: “My life story (first half), at once confessional, embarrassing, and proud. Irreverent in some places, humorous in others, a little drama here and there.”

Book Details

Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Inkwater Press (September 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 162901138X
ISBN-13: 978-1629011387
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces

About the Author

Jake Rohrer lives with his wife in rural Upcountry Maui where they farm the land, maintain a recording studio, and administer their music label featuring the traditional music of Hawaii.

A Review of A String of Beads by Thomas Perry

A String of Beads

by Thomas Perry

A String of Beads Thomas Perry
A String of Beads Thomas Perry

I was disappointed with A String of Beads. I have enjoyed reading the Jane Whitefield series, and was really looking forward to reading this book,  but it left me flat. Jane had to come out of retirement to help an old friend, Jimmy Sanders, but I think that she never really came back. Something about the tone, or feel of the book was off. It kind of wandered around, instead of being tightly plotted. Jane didn’t have a plan, so she had to improvise, which can make for a good story, but this time it just felt like Jane’s head wasn’t really in it.

My wife says that I shouldn’t anticipate a new book in a series quite so much. That way it wouldn’t have to meet my high expectations, but I’m a fanboy, and I can’t help it. I think that a lot of readers look forward to the newest book in their favorite series, that’s why series books sell so well. Every series has ups and downs, some books are great, and some aren’t. So I will go though life hoping for the next great book, and then sometimes I get the low note. Oh, well.

I rate A String of Beads 3 Stars out of 5. I hope that if Jane Whitefield returns in another volume, she has her head back in it.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

After two decades protecting innocent victims on the run, and a year after getting shot on a job that took a dangerous turn for the worse, Jane McKinnon, née Whitefield, has settled into the quiet life of a suburban housewife in Amherst, New York—or so she thinks.

One morning as she comes back from a long run, Jane is met by an unusual sight: all eight clan mothers, the female leaders of the Seneca clans, parked in her driveway in two black cars. A childhood friend of Jane’s from the reservation, Jimmy, is wanted by the police for the murder of a local white man. But instead of turning himself in, he’s fled, and no one knows where he is hiding out. At the clan mothers’ request, Jane retraces a walking trip she and Jimmy took together when they were fourteen in hopes that he has gone the same way again. But it soon becomes clear that the police aren’t the only ones after him. As the chase intensifies, the number of people caught up in this twisted plot multiplies, and Jane is the only one who can protect those endangered by it. A String of Beads is an addictive, fast-paced thriller about how abandoning the past can sometimes be the hardest thing to do, even when your life—and the life of those you love—depends on it.

Book Details

Series: Jane Whitefield
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Mysterious Press (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802123295
ISBN-13: 978-0802123299
Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds

About the Author

Thomas Perry is the bestselling author of over twenty novels including The Butcher’s Boy, which won an Edgar Award. Metzger’s Dog was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Vanishing Act was named by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of their 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Twentieth Century. He lives in Southern California.

A Review of From a Killer’s Mind by Jason Helford

From a Killer’s Mind

by Jason Helford

From a Killer’s Mind was a very hard book for me to read. It was just too intense! I don’t really want to spend time inside a sadistic serial killer’s mind. Mr. Helford puts you right there, with all the horrific, and terrible thoughts and desires that are living inside of John’s sick, twisted mind. You relive his childhood abuse, and every page brings some new horror. There just is no relief.

If you can take such a vividly lifelike horror story and not have nightmares, and you want to feel the insanity of a totally crazed killer, then this is the book for you. Mr. Helford will grab your mind and twist it, pushing it to new depths of depravity and ugliness. He won’t let up.

Everything was perfect about this book. The writing was tight and convincing. John was portrayed as a completely horrible person. His life was a nightmare. Way too much of a nightmare for me. I could only read this book by day. So how do I rate this? If this is your kind of book, I bet that you will rate it a 5, but I could barely stand to finish it. So I guess I will compromise and come to a middle ground.

I’m going to rate From a Killer’s Mind 4 Stars out of 5. If this book sound like something you might like, you probably will eat it up.

I received this book from the author.

Book Description

From a Killers Mind - CoverThe prologue is a vignette that brings the reader into the tone and setting of the novel, giving a foreshadowing of the events that will unfold.  It starts with newlyweds on a happy day, looking at a prospective home, but ends in tragedy due to an evil resonance attached to the house.  This leads the reader to the beginning of John’s story.

John has been a successful serial killer for his entire adult life, committed to his craft without detection or disruption.  He’s spent years refining his process and meticulously planning out each kill, honing his abilities to horrible heights.  At the start of the novel, the reader is introduced to John going about the routine of his particular method of selection and abduction.  The plans are well-rehearsed, but his dark life is abruptly disrupted as something even darker wells out from deep within him.  What starts out as one dissociative lapse–a blackout on the road–turns into a series of uncontrollable blackouts, unraveling his carefully wrought control.  John tries to re-center his mind through meditation–a technique he taught himself as a young man, to quiet his chaotic thoughts–but while John is deep within himself, he finds unfamiliar dark voices, voices not his own.  They claw past his defenses and force themselves into John’s reality, manifesting from out of the depths of his subconscious.  John’s scarred psyche had manifested as grotesque physical representations, torturing his fragile mind and bringing his buried past terrors back to life.  Through a series of unbidden flashbacks to the abuses and defining moments of John’s past, and through his interactions with these manifestations representing his weaknesses and fears, the reader glimpses what set him on the path to being such a prolific killer.

The book is written with an emotional honesty that lays bare the killer’s soul for all readers to see, while also delivering a good scare.

Book Details

File Size: 451 KB
Print Length: 242 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
X-Ray: Not Enabled 
Word Wise: Not Enabled
Lending: Enabled

About the Author

Jason Helford is a first time author, having recently published his debut novel, From a Killer’s Mind, in July of 2013.  He’s a devoted husband and father, an avid comic book collector and an enthusiastic craft beer drinker.  Prizing originality and creativity more than anything else, his favorite authors are Hunter S. Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Robert Asprin and Albert Camus.  Please don’t be offended if you are an author and your name wasn’t mentioned, he probably likes you, too.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Bella, his daughter, Maddie, and his goofy dog, Sunset.

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