Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Review of Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time: A Charlotte McNally Novel

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time is the first book in the Charlotte McNally series. It was originally published in 2007, and won the Agatha Award for best first novel of 2007. The whole series is being reissued this year.

Charlotte McNally is an investigative reporter with a Boston TV station, as is the author, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Since Ms. Ryan knows the business, everything about Prime Time smacks of reality. A lot of authors follow that old adage, “Write what you know.” That usually works. Most of the time the author is able to tell a story that could really happen, but that doesn’t mean that they can write a story that is worth reading. Ms. Ryan is that exceptional writer that can grab the reader with engaging, realistic characters, and an exciting, authentic plot filled with unexpected twists.

You really believe in Charlie. She is a TV reporter trying to get that next big story that will guarantee that she has a job for another few months. You want her to figure out what is going on, and expose the powerbrokers before they can eliminate her.

I give Prime Time 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their Mysteries blended together with a touch of romance and humor along with a heavy dose of reality.

I received a copy of this book from the author.

Book Description

Prime TimeSeasoned investigative reporter Charlotte McNally knows that in the cutthroat world of television journalism, every story could be your last. There’s always someone younger and prettier to take your place, always a story more sensational to drive ratings through the roof.

When Brad Foreman’s widow demands to know why Charlie never answered his email, Charlie is confused. She never received his message. What did Brad, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company, want to tell her? As she searches through her computer, she finds an innocent-looking email in her junk mail folder that may turn out to be the biggest story of her career.

Is the encoded email–and the ones that follow–linked to Brad’s “accidental” death? Charlie’s investigation leads her to Brad’s friend, professor Josh Gelston, who is charming and exceedingly helpful–perhaps suspiciously so.

Charlie must decide if she can trust Josh…before a multimillion-dollar fraud ring with murder in its arsenal makes her the next lead story.

Book Details

Series: Charlotte McNally (Book 1)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (February 9, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765384752
ISBN-13: 978-0765384751
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

hank-ryan-crop-pressHank Phillippi Ryan is the bestselling author of eight award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Her newest book, WHAT YOU SEE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2015, an ANTHONY and AGATHA Award nominee, and a Top Pick!, dubbed “exceptional suspense.” It received a starred review from Library Journal which says: “Readers will find themselves racing to the finish!”

Her 2014 book, TRUTH BE TOLD, won the AGATHA Award for best mystery, and is a Library Journal Best of 2014. It received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, which says, “Drop everything and binge read!”

THE WRONG GIRL has the extraordinary honor of winning the Agatha Award and the Daphne Award, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller and Anthony Award nominee.

THE OTHER WOMAN won the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, Suspense Magazine, and The Boston Globe, won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was the only novel nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Daphne awards for Best Novel of 2012.

Her first four mysteries, beginning with the Agatha Award-winning PRIME TIME, feature Charlotte McNally, a Boston television reporter. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were both Anthony and Agatha Award nominees for best novel of 2009 and 2010. They are now available in all new editions.

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. In addition to 33 EMMYs and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime.

Learn more about Hank at http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.

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A Review of Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel

by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton make a good writing team. I have enjoyed reading all of their collaborative series. Curious Minds is the beginning of what promises to be another fun one. I got the same vibe from this book as I had when I read some of the Lizzy and Diesel books. I’m not saying that the characters are much alike, just that I get the same feeling.

Emerson Knight doesn’t have any of the same mystical powers that Diesel has, but, then again, there might be a little something going on there, and Riley Moon is not anything like Lizzy. She is nearly the exact opposite of Lizzy. Riley is a fiery redhead from Texas and once she lets loose, you better not be in her way.

But Emerson and Riley work well together. They have some of that classic Evanovich heat going on between them too, but we have to wait until the next book to really see where that goes.

Curious Minds had me engaged. I had trouble putting it down. The characters were fun and the action was fast. What more can you ask for?

I give Curious Minds 4 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! I think that Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton have another winner.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the Publisher.

Curious MindsJanet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of mysteries featuring Emerson Knight and Riley Moon, a dynamic duo with instant and undeniable chemistry.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moonthought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

Book Details

Series: Knight and Moon (Book 1)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Bantam (August 16, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553392689
ISBN-13: 978-0553392685
Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Authors

Janet Evanovich 2Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg, the Knight and Moon series, and the Lizzy and Diesel series as well as twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, Troublemaker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author.

Phoef SuttonPhoef Sutton was born in Washington DC. He cut his eye teeth as a playwright, but first made a living as a writer in TV. He worked on the classic NBC series CHEERS for eight years, and went on to write movies (THE FAN, MRS. WINTERBOURNE) and also serve as consulting producer and writer for BOSTON LEGAL and TERRIERS. He lives in South Pasadena, CA and Vinalhaven ME with his wife and two daughters.

A Review of Inevitable Ascension by V. K. McAllister

Inevitable Ascension

by V. K. McAllister

Inevitable Ascension is all over the place. I mean it never stops moving. Violina and Lux hop across time and run into trouble no matter where or when they are. The whole book has nearly a video game feel to it. You don’t have any idea what is coming up next, because you don’t know whether this time and place is going to exist or not. Much of the plot is based on the idea that time travel to the past may change the present, but maybe not, because maybe the present already reflects the fact that time travel had already happened, or is going to happen. Try to get your brain around that idea. I was intrigued by this premise. It kept me interested.

Is Inevitable Ascension great literature? No, but is a very different book, and fun to read. Will you like it? I don’t know, I did. Sometimes I got a bit confused, but I always found my way back. I enjoyed the concept and the action. The writing was a bit hit and miss, at times, but it worked for me. Overall, a unique and fun book. Kind of a YA, Steampunk, Fantasy, Time Travel, Action Adventure. If that sounds like your kind of book, then I think that you will like it.

I give Inevitable Ascension 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up!

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

1Violina, a girl polarized by love and loathing, finds herself thrown into a post-apocalyptic world with mankind on the brink of extinction. Discovering the means to travel back in time, she sets out to save the world by preventing the events leading up to the apocalypse. But as her quest advances, she becomes increasingly disgusted by the evil inherent to humanity and seeks lethal justice against all who wrong her—a list that grows exponentially until it encompasses all of mankind.

What was it that gave people the right to live?  Was it simply being born?  No. Everyone is born to no credit of their own. It’s the choices people make that determine whether they deserve their lives, and by that standard, everyone Violina knew deserved to die — everyone except for Lux.

Book Details

File Size: 706 KB
Print Length: 236 pages
Publisher: KZA, LLC (September 12, 2015)
Publication Date: September 12, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B015AS2FTA
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Who is V. K. McAllister?

We’re a husband/wife duo with a unique approach to writing. We work simultaneously and in secret before combining what we come up with, resulting in dramatic and unexpected twists! Crazy? Yes, yes it is, but it’s surprisingly fun and effective. 🙂

A Review of Cascadia by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

Cascadia

by H.W. “Buzz” Bernard

Do you like blockbuster disaster movies? Do you ever read a typical “beach book”? If you say yes to either one of these questions, then Cascadia by Buzz Bernard is the perfect summer read for you.

As I was reading Cascadia, I kept saying to myself, “This could make a perfect movie script without any changes at all.” I could picture all my favorite stars in the main roles, and even as some of the minor comic relief characters. This would be a lot of fun. I hope it actually does happen, because this disaster could happen at any time, and the general population should know about the potential danger.

Mr. Bernard has done his research. There is a real danger to the people in the Pacific Northwest, and Cascadia is a warning. He shows what could possibly happen in our lifetime. Maybe it won’t happen this year or next, but sometime within the forseeable future, a major earthquake will happen just offshore and result in a tsunami. This will cause massive damage and kill many people. Is there any way to predict when that will happen? Science can’t, at this time, but maybe there is something else that can send that warning. That is what happens in Cascadia.

I really enjoyed reading Cascadia. It felt a bit formulaic, but so what, most disaster movies are too, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them. Like any good action book, it starts off slowly, and then it ramps up exponentially as you approach the climax. The characters are likable, if somewhat predictable. But I liked them, and didn’t want any of them to die in the tsunami. Overall, a perfect summer beach book.

I give Cascadia 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up.

I received an Advance Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Cascadia-home-cvrAccording to ancient legend, when Thunderbird is sated, he is harmless.  But he always grows hungry again…

Rob Elwood knows what the thin layer of sand buried in tidal marsh mud is telling him: it’s been a little over 300 years since the Northwest coast was mangled by a megaquake and the tsunami that followed. As a geologist, Rob knows that all the evidence suggests that it will happen again, though he doesn’t know when. And his academic training can’t help him decide what to do with an irrational premonition that a modern megaquake will hit on the 4th of July.

Neahkhanie Johnny doesn’t need science to tell him what he knows in his bones. For more than a decade, he has regularly returned to the same section of the coastal mountains, driven by an unshakeable faith that their legendary buried treasure is more than legend. He is indifferent to the bears, unstable scree, and the people who take his conviction for lunacy. Nothing can shake him from the hunt, except the very ground beneath his feet.

Through the entwined stories of a visionary scientist and his son, a quixotic veteran, a lovely but mysterious anthropologist, and a retired fighter pilot with amends to make to a former lover, Cascadia tells a story about faith and conviction in the face of an unimaginable reality.

Book Details

Release: July 11, 2016
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
ISBN: 978-1-61194-679-6
Price: $15.95
Kindle Price:  $7.55
Pages: 234
Distribution: Amazon/Ingram
eBook Distribution: Kindle, Nook
Publicity Contact: MindBuck Media

About the Author

BERNARDH.W. “Buzz” Bernard has written four previous suspense stories, which have risen to number one in the Kindle store and won multiple Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition awards. Before becoming a novelist, Buzz worked at The Weather Channel as a senior meteorologist for 13 years.  Prior to that, he served as a weather officer in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel. He is a proud recipient of the US Legion of Merit.

A Review of Former.ly by Dane Cobain

Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network

by Dane Cobain

Former.ly is a book about what happens behind the scenes at a new web startup. It is told in first person, from the point of view of Dan, who is hired as a developer at Former.ly. We see everything though his eyes. If he doesn’t see it, we don’t know about it until Dan hears about it.

It can be difficult to tell a story in first person, but Dane Cobain does a pretty good job of it. He lets us become immersed in the activities at Former.ly. But sometimes the action suffers, since we only see what Dan sees. Dan isn’t an action hero, he is a coder, but he is suspicious, and tries to find out what is really going on around him. He starts to wonder why people are starting to die around him, so he tries to find out, and that’s where the problems begin.

I enjoyed Former.ly. I think that Mr. Cobain has a big upside. He is an interesting guy. You should check out his website. http://danecobin.com. He writes stories, poetry, and music in addition to his longer works.

I give Former.ly 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up! If you want to give a young British writer a leg up, you should give Former.ly a shot.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

DC_formerly05-1024x757When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

Book Details

Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1533051593
ISBN-13: 978-1533051592
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces

About the Author

dane_cobainDane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, http://www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, will be released by Booktrope in the Summer of 2015.

A Review of Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown

Oliver Twisted (An Ivy Meadows Mystery)

by Cindy Brown

Ivy Meadows is such a fun character. I love the person that she is. She is an actress and hopes to make it big some day, but she really likes helping out her Uncle Bob solve mysteries. In this book she and her Uncle are hired to find the thieves that are working the cruise line. They go undercover. Since Ivy is an actress, she uses her acting ability to sell the undercover role, of an actress. Her Uncle doesn’t do quite as well. He has difficulty staying in character, and out of trouble. They aren’t the only people on board that aren’t really who they say they are. And the bodies start to pile up.

Ms. Brown does a good job of portraying life on a cruise ship from the perspective of a member of the crew. She gives you a glimpse of the crew living quarters and their dining. Ivy is a working actress, so she has to be in character and mingling with the passengers. She gets to eat in the themed restaurants. She eats a lot of Dickens inspired food, including black pudding and other English delights. Since this is a Dickens cruise, the passengers also dress in costumes for some of the fancy balls. Ms. Brown makes sure that you will see many of your beloved characters. She also sprinkles in many fun little Dickens references.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

oliver twistedWhen Ivy Meadows lands a gig with the book-themed cruise line Get Lit!, she thinks she’s died and gone to Broadway. Not only has she snagged a starring role in a musical production of Oliver Twist, she’s making bank helping her PI uncle investigate a string of onboard thefts, all while sailing to Hawaii on the S.S. David Copperfield. But Ivy is cruising for disaster. Her acting contract somehow skipped the part about aerial dancing forty feet above the stage, her uncle Bob is seriously sidetracked by a suspicious blonde, and—oh yeah—there’s a corpse in her closet. Forget catching crooks. Ivy’s going to have a Dickens of a time just surviving.

Book Details

Series: An Ivy Meadows Mystery
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Henery Press (June 21, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1635110416
ISBN-13: 978-1635110418
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces

About the Author

Cindy-BrownCindy 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.

oliver-twisted-large-banner640

Click this link to enter to Win a physical copy of Oliver Twisted!

A Review of Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

Titanborn

by Rhett C. Bruno

What happens when mankind is nearly wiped out after a large meteor hits the Earth? Mr. Bruno shows us one possibility. In Titanborn, mankind refuses to give up, and won’t let something like that ever happen again. Before the meteor struck, some of the brightest scientists were able to escape in a gigantic ship and set up a base on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. They escaped the hundreds of years of mass destruction and human suffering that happened on Earth. They learned to mine Saturn, and its rings and moons. They prospered.

This book takes place 300 years after the meteor struck. Mankind survived. People are going to the stars, so that no one single event can wipe humanity out. Companies compete for the resources that can be extracted from the planets and moons of this solar system. But this isn’t Utopia. There are criminals, terrorists, revolutionaries, and other undesirable people who disrupt life. Some of those need to be brought to justice, sometimes they may be killed, but, oh well, that can’t be helped. Malcolm Graves does the collecting.

Titanborn is an excellently written science based thriller. This world could happen. But this isn’t just an action-thriller. Mr. Bruno brings Malcolm Graves and his new partner, Zhaff, to life. They are well-developed. You connect with them. They discover that there is more going on than they were told. The companies need to be brought under control. But what can Malcolm do? What does he want to do?

I give Titanborn 5 Stars out of 5 and Two Big Thumbs Up! This is one of the most complete, authentic,  and well thought out future scenarios that I have ever read. If you like any type of science fiction novels, you will not be able to put this book down, and when you get to the end, you will want more. Does Mr. Bruno plan on writing more books set in this world? I think that he needs to.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Titanborn by Rhett C. BrunoIn this gritty and innovative science fiction thriller in the vein of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, turmoil on one of Saturn’s moons rattles Earth’s most powerful citizens–and draws one planet-hopping rogue into a fight he never saw coming.

Malcolm Graves lives by two rules: finish the job, and get paid. After thirty years as a Collector, chasing bounties and extinguishing rebellions throughout the solar system, Malcolm does what he’s told, takes what he’s earned, and leaves the questions to someone else–especially when it comes to the affairs of offworlders.

But his latest mission doesn’t afford him that luxury. After a high-profile bombing on Earth, the men who sign Malcolm’s paychecks are clamoring for answers. Before he can object, the corporation teams him up with a strange new partner who’s more interested in statistics than instinct and ships them both off to Titan, the disputed moon where humans have been living for centuries. Their assignment is to hunt down a group of extremists: Titanborn dissidents who will go to any length to free their home from the tyranny of Earth.

Heading into hostile territory, Malcolm will have to use everything he’s learned to stay alive. But he soon realizes that the situation on the ground is much more complex than he anticipated . . . and much more personal.

Book Details

File Size: 1599 KB
Print Length: 209 pages
Publisher: Hydra (June 21, 2016)
Publication Date: June 21, 2016
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B018CHA2RI
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
X-Ray: Not Enabled
Word Wise: Enabled
Lending: Not Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

About the Author

cropped-rhett-picture-sliderI’m a Sci-fi/Fantasy author currently living in White Plains, New York. I’ve been writing since I can remember, scribbling down what I thought were epic short stories when I was young to show to my friends and family. When I reached high school I decided to take that a step further and write my first novel. After the encouragement of my favorite English teacher I decided to self-publish the “Isinda Trilogy” so that the people closest to me could enjoy my early work.

While studying architecture at Syracuse University I continued to write as much as I could, but finding the time during the brutal curriculum proved difficult. It wasn’t until I was a senior that I decided to finally pursue my passion for Science Fiction. After rededicating myself to reading works of the Science Fiction author’s I always loved, (Frank Herbert, Timothy Zahn, Heinlein, etc.) I began writing “The Circuit: Executor Rising”, The first part of what I hope will be a successful Adult Science Fiction Series.

Since then I’ve been hired by an Architecture firm in Mount Kisco, NY. But that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to work on all of the countless stories bouncing around in my head. I’m also taking classes at the New School in NYC in order to earn a Certificate in Screenwriting, in the hopes of one day writing for TV or Video Games.