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Review: Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part Two – Robert Kirkman

Posted on: April 10th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Series: The Walking Dead (Book 4)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (March 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250052017
ISBN-13: 978-1250052018
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Phillip Blake – Leader of a group of Zombie Apocalypse survivors in a town called Woodbury. Known as the Governor.
Bob Stookey – Alcoholic and Veteran resident of Woodbury.
Lilly Caul – Survivor and resident of Woodbury.

Synopsis:

After being brutally attacked by outsiders, the governor lies on the brink of death. As a result, the town of Woodbury finds itself without a leader. With no other choices, Lilly Caul steps up to fill the governor’s shoes. When he recovers though, Rick Grimes and his group will have hell to pay.

Review

This is a truly fitting conclusion to the 4 novel ARC of The Walking Dead that begin with Rise of the Governor. Through the 4 books we’ve seen the Governor go from his more peaceful beginnings to a man ready to do whatever it takes to protect those under his protection. While in his mind, he’s the good guy, his methods very often leave a lot to be desired, and he’s more of an anti-hero than a heroic figure.

We get to see a lot more parallels to the events contained within the pages of the Comic Series, and to see some of what occurred after Rick Grimes and his band of survivors are forced out of the Prison they’d been living in. Once again filled with a lot of Zombie Action, and characters in peril, this novel kept me reading from page one, and I truly couldn’t put it down.

I’d rate it for adults and older teens due to the savage violence, imagery, and adult situations presented. But for fans of The Walking Dead who love the character of The Governor and would like to see his whole story, then you should definitely pick these novels up. If you’ve read the comic though, be warned that some events may be spoiled.

Robert Kirkman is best known for his work on The Walking Dead and Invincible for Image Comics and SKYBOUND.

He is one of the five partners of Image Comics and is an executive producer and writer on AMC’s critically acclaimed television series The Walking Dead.

 

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE says, “Jay Bonansinga has quickly and firmly established himself as one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers. His twisting narratives, with their in-your-face glimpses of violence, are set in an unstable, almost psychotic universe that makes the work of many of his contemporaries look rather tame.”

His novels — which include THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY (2012, co-author, with Robert Kirkman), THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR (2011, co-author, with Robert Kirkman), PINKERTON’S WAR (2011), PERFECT VICTIM (2008), SHATTERED (2007), TWISTED (2006), and FROZEN (2005) — have been translated into 9 different languages. His 2004 non-fiction debut THE SINKING OF THE EASTLAND was a Chicago Reader “Critics Choice Book” as well as the recipient of a Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society. His debut novel THE BLACK MARIAH was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award, and his numerous short tales and articles have been published in such magazines as THE WRITER, AMAZING STORIES, GRUE, FLESH & BLOOD, OUTRE and CEMETERY DANCE, as well as a number of anthologies.

Jay also proudly wears the hat of indie filmmaker: his music videos have been seen on The Nashville Network and Public Television, and his short film CITY OF MEN was awarded the prestigious silver plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2008, his feature-film debut, STASH (based on his short story of the same title collected in CANDY IN THE DUMPSTER), won the Gold Remi at the Houston International Film Festival and Best Comedy at the Iowa City and Queens International film festivals. STASH was shot in Chicago and stars Tim Kazurinsky (POLICE ACADEMY) and the late Marilyn Chambers (INSATIABLE), and has appeared on On-Demand nationwide in 50 million households. Jay has also worked as a screenwriter with horror legend George Romero, Will Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment, and Dennis Haysbert (THE UNIT).

The holder of a master’s degree in film from Columbia College Chicago, Jay currently resides in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a visiting professor at Northwestern University in their Creative Writing for the Media program, as well as the Graduate Writing Program at DePaul University. He can be reached at jaybona@aol.com.

You can discuss this book here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Review: Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor: Part One – Robert Kirkman

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Mti edition (October 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312548176
ISBN-13: 978-0312548179
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Phillip Blake – Leader of a group of Zombie Apocalypse survivors in a town called Woodbury. Known as the Governor.
Bob Stookey – Alcoholic and Veteran resident of Woodbury.
Lilly Caul – Survivor and resident of Woodbury.

Synopsis:

Philip continues his reign over the city and residents of Woodbury until he’s threatened by outside forces. Violence and tragedy follow, in what could lead to the end of Woodbury.

Review

This novel really started to parallel the events of The Walking Dead Comic series. While the comics present the story from the view of Rick Grimes and the band of survivors he is with, these novels present the story from the other side, the people of Woodbury. Like the comic there is a lot of excellent zombie fighting action, characters you’ve gotten to know may live through it, they may not, the suspense gets intense.

While there may be spoilers for those who’ve read the comics, I found that knowing what is going to happen didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I loved getting a glimpse into the mind of Phillip Blake, a character darker than some of the great literary evils.

That is where the beauty of The Walking Dead, and these books really take off. The Walking Dead is character driven. You get to know the characters, you get in their heads, and when they die, or those they love die, you feel for them. You grow to despise the governor, feel for Lilly, and hold your breath when the characters you like find themselves in danger.

Overall a great entry in The Walking Dead series, and a great followup to the previous two. If this is any indication, I’ll be sticking with this novel series for as long as they want to crank them out.

I’d rate it teens and older adults for blood, gore, guts, and general zombie mayhem. May be too violent for some readers, but for fans of The Walking Dead and zombie flicks in general, I heartily recommend it.

Robert Kirkman is best known for his work on The Walking Dead and Invincible for Image Comics and SKYBOUND.

He is one of the five partners of Image Comics and is an executive producer and writer on AMC’s critically acclaimed television series The Walking Dead.

 

THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE says, “Jay Bonansinga has quickly and firmly established himself as one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers. His twisting narratives, with their in-your-face glimpses of violence, are set in an unstable, almost psychotic universe that makes the work of many of his contemporaries look rather tame.”

His novels — which include THE WALKING DEAD: THE ROAD TO WOODBURY (2012, co-author, with Robert Kirkman), THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR (2011, co-author, with Robert Kirkman), PINKERTON’S WAR (2011), PERFECT VICTIM (2008), SHATTERED (2007), TWISTED (2006), and FROZEN (2005) — have been translated into 9 different languages. His 2004 non-fiction debut THE SINKING OF THE EASTLAND was a Chicago Reader “Critics Choice Book” as well as the recipient of a Superior Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society. His debut novel THE BLACK MARIAH was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award, and his numerous short tales and articles have been published in such magazines as THE WRITER, AMAZING STORIES, GRUE, FLESH & BLOOD, OUTRE and CEMETERY DANCE, as well as a number of anthologies.

Jay also proudly wears the hat of indie filmmaker: his music videos have been seen on The Nashville Network and Public Television, and his short film CITY OF MEN was awarded the prestigious silver plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2008, his feature-film debut, STASH (based on his short story of the same title collected in CANDY IN THE DUMPSTER), won the Gold Remi at the Houston International Film Festival and Best Comedy at the Iowa City and Queens International film festivals. STASH was shot in Chicago and stars Tim Kazurinsky (POLICE ACADEMY) and the late Marilyn Chambers (INSATIABLE), and has appeared on On-Demand nationwide in 50 million households. Jay has also worked as a screenwriter with horror legend George Romero, Will Smith’s production company Overbrook Entertainment, and Dennis Haysbert (THE UNIT).

The holder of a master’s degree in film from Columbia College Chicago, Jay currently resides in Evanston, Illinois. He is also a visiting professor at Northwestern University in their Creative Writing for the Media program, as well as the Graduate Writing Program at DePaul University. He can be reached at jaybona@aol.com.

You can discuss this book here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Review: The Execution – Dick Wolf

Posted on: April 3rd, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (January 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0062064851
ISBN-13: 978-ISBN-13: 978-0062064851
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Jeremy Fisk – Detective, NYPD Intelligence Division
Cecilia Garza – Commandante of the Policia Federal also known as the Ice Queen.

Synopsis:

Twenty Three headless bodies are found on the U.S. Mexican Border. Commandante Cecilia Garza is called in to investigate and this puts her on the trial of a warlord known as The Hummingbird. Jeremy Fisk is pulled into the plot when similar bodies are found washed up in New York. The two officers must overcome their own strong personalities and find a way to catch the killer before tragedy strikes.

Review

Okay, in my review of the previous novel, my biggest complaint was character development. The characters this time around are a little more developed, they actually began to grow on me. In particular, I found myself really liking the tough as nails character of Cecilia Garza. Fisk himself showed a little more of an edge in this followup, then he did in the previous novel.

The drawback this time though, is the plot. While it’s a very strong plot, it’s almost redundant to the plot of the previous novel. Two detectives must stop an Assassin before he kills a major world leader at a highly publicized event. Slight details changed, but overall it was very similar to The Intercept.

That aside though, I did enjoy it because it was different enough in the finer details that it made a good story with interesting characters. Another great summer time read for all of you out there, but as previously, I’d put an older teen/adult warning on it for violence and adult situations.

About the Author
Dick Wolf, a two-time Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and creator, is the architect of one of the most successful brands in the history of television—NBC’s Law & Order, among the longest-running scripted shows.

Wolf has won numerous awards, including Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series (Law & Order) and Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee); a Grammy; and an Edgar.

He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Intercept; The Execution is the second book in his Jeremy Fisk series. He lives in Southern California.

 

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Daniella at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Review: The Intercept – Dick Wolf

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (December 26, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0062064835
ISBN-13: 978-ISBN-13: 978-0062064837
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Jeremy Fisk: NYPD Detective, Assigned to FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Krina Gersten : Fisk’s partner.

Synopsis:

A Passenger plane is hijacked midflight and in risk of being flown into New York City. Five Passengers and a Flight Attendant manage to overtake the Hijacker. As a result, they become media celebrities and involve in a plot larger than just a stolen plane.

Review

I enjoyed the story behind this. I found the plot fast paced and interesting, as well as reflecting current situations. This wasn’t surprising though, given the author is Dick Wolf of Law & Order fame. The plot seems like something that could have been yanked from the headlines, a plot by extremists to take out former President Bush as well as President Obama.

Jeremy Fisk is assigned to track down and stop the terrorists, while his partner, and unknown to anyone else lover, is assigned the minor task of guarding or in her thoughts, babysitting, these 6 passengers.

While the plotline is great, the characters to me felt a little flat. Unlike Law & Order where you’ve had multiple seasons to get to know each character, in novels you only get a limited number of pages. These characters seems a bit flat. I don’t know much more about Fisk or Gersten after I read the book, then I really knew about them before.

That’s my one complaint though, and Mr. Wolf’s stories have always been mostly plot and story driven rather than character driven to begin with, so look at this as an extension of Law & Order.

Overall, I found it enjoyable, but would would have had more of an impact if I’d cared about the characters. When characters are killed or injured in novels, I want to feel something for them, and unfortunately in this, I didn’t feel that.

Does that detract from the overall novel. For most people, probably not, but I’m a character person. I like to put myself into the skin of the character. While I enjoyed it, and would probably read more by Mr. Wolf, I would hope that the characters end up growing on me.

For fans of Law & Order, and fast paced plots and thrillers, grab this book. With summer coming up, it’ll be a great beach read. Older teens and adults for violence and adult situations.

About the Author

Dick Wolf, a two-time Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and creator, is the architect of one of the most successful brands in the history of television—NBC’s Law & Order, among the longest-running scripted shows.

Wolf has won numerous awards, including Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series (Law & Order) and Outstanding Made-for-Television Movie (Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee); a Grammy; and an Edgar.

He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Intercept; The Execution is the second book in his Jeremy Fisk series. He lives in Southern California.

 

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Danielle at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: The Sound of Broken Glass – Deborah Crombie

Posted on: March 20th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (February 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061990639
ISBN-13: 978-0061990632
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Duncan Kincaid – Police Investigator
Emma James – Police Inspector
Melody Talbot – Detective
Andy Monahan – Inspiring Musician

Synopsis:

When a man is found bound and gagged, dead in a motel room, the main suspect becomes a young Up and coming musician who was one of the last people to have contact with the man. But the true answers will lie in the past.

Review

This was truly a book I couldn’t put down. From the time I picked it up, to the next day I was almost constantly reading it. The characters pulled me in, the story grabbed me, and seeing the history unfold and the events lead up to where the past and present connected proved to be very interesting. While I believe this is #15 in a series, I hadn’t read any of the prior series before receiving a copy of this. This is one I’ll definitely go back and check out previous entries on.

The author, born and raised in Texas does a very good job, in my opinion, of capturing the feel of England. I didn’t know until I had gotten to the end of the book that the author was not British. She really knows her stuff, and how to spin a great tale and create great characters.

On a scale, I’d say for older teens and adults due to some dark imagery and the content, although there aren’t a whole lot of objectionable material, there is enough that fans of the cozy mystery might not find it as appealing. But for those who want to read a great thriller, go out and grab The Sound of Broken Glass, and be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Deborah Crombie was born in Dallas and grew up in Richardson, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas, second child of Charlie and Mary Darden. A rather solitary childhood (brother Steve is ten years older) was blessed by her maternal grandmother, Lillian Dozier, a retired teacher who taught her to read very early. After a rather checkered educational career, which included dropping out of high school at sixteen, she graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, with a degree in biology.

She then worked in advertising and newspapers, and attended the Rice University Publishing Program. A post-university trip to England, however, cemented a life-long passion for Britain, and she later immigrated to the UK with her first husband, Peter Crombie, a Scot, living first in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then in Chester, England.

After returning to Dallas and working for several years in her family business (manufacturer’s reps for theatre concessions) while raising her daughter Kayti, she wrote her first Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid/Sergeant Gemma James novel. A Share in Death [Scribner, 1993], was subsequently given Agatha and Macavity nominations for Best First Novel of 1993. The fifth novel, Dreaming of the Bones (Scribner 1997), a New York Times Notable Book for 1997, was short-listed by Mystery Writers of America for the 1997 Edgar Award for Best Novel, won the Macavity award for Best Novel, and was voted by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as one of the hundred best mysteries of the century. Her subsequent novels have been received with critical acclaim and are widely read internationally, particularly in Germany.

In 2009, Where Memories Lie won the Macacity Award for Best Novel. In 2010, Necessary as Blood received a Macavity nomination for Best Novel.

Crombie’s novels are published in North America, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Romania, Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and numerous other countries.. The latest novel in the series, No Mark Upon Her, will be published in August, 2011 by Pan Macmillan in the UK, and in February, 2012 by William Morrow in the US.

Although she travels to England several times a year, Crombie now lives in McKinney, Texas, an historic town north of Dallas, sharing a 1905 house with her husband, Rick Wilson, two German shepherds (Hallie and Neela), and three cats. She is currently working on her fifteenth Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James novel, as yet untitled.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Andrea at Harper Collins for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Interview: Georgette Todd – Foster Girl

Posted on: March 6th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes

Rhodes Review: How has the reception been to Foster Girl?

George Todd: Mixed, which is to be expected. My book is not an easy read and I hold nothing back. I don’t sugarcoat or imply – I grab readers by the jugular and walk them through the darkest recesses of human behavior. That said, from child abuse survivors and former foster youth, I’ve been touched by their support and validation of how accurate I nailed the youth perspective. They also all thought I was funny, and there is quite a bit of humor amongst the darkness. As for others, I’ve been told my book is too graphic and just too much. Different people have different curiosity levels and sensibilities. Above all however, just about everyone who has responded to me all wonder how I get out of bed in the morning given all that I have been through.

Rhodes Review: What was your writing process like when writing Foster Girl?

George Todd: Time really does fly when you’re enjoying what you’re doing. I would happily spend 12-14 hour days doing nothing but writing, reading what I wrote, editing and rewriting – and I loved every minute of it. When you’re immersed, there’s a possession that takes over and nothing exists but your memories, emotions, and a strong desire to tell the best story you possibly can. I enjoyed the process even more as I got closer to finishing. Interestingly, I did experience psychosomatic responses during certain passages. Some scenes, which could be as little as three paragraphs, took so much out of me that I would immediately take a nap. I noticed I gained weight while writing and rewriting certain chapters as well. Strange.

Rhodes Review: What did your family think about you writing Foster Girl?

George Todd: I don’t really have that many family members, and the ones who I have reconnected with have all died. The very few left were all pretty much dead set against it. I think they were afraid of what I would write about them, which I really didn’t. I didn’t go into depth about the others because, well, this is not their story – it’s mine.

Rhodes Review: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

George Todd: Read or move. I’m reading some science fiction right now. When not reading or writing, I need to move my body by hiking or walking for miles, lifting weights or kickboxing. Also, spending time with my close loved ones brings me a lot of joy, especially with my fiancé or little niece.

Rhodes Review: What would you tell people who are going through or been through the foster care system?

George Todd: For those in foster care, I’d tell them to stay out of trouble. Don’t make things worse for you than they already are. I know it’s rough but this time will pass and there are people who can help you. You have to be willing to show that you want to help yourself however. Also, find a safe and harmless way to release all your justifiable anger, depression and upset. For those who have been through foster care, I would stress that they take care of themselves first and foremost. Be selfish and care for you in a way a parent should have done. I’ve noticed some former foster youth – myself included at one point – wants to help other youth…but that kind of work can lead to being re-traumatized and burn out. I had a nervous breakdown after years of working around the clock and being So, I’d tell them to take care of yourself first and I’d encourage them to seek a career outside of foster care. I get the

Rhodes Review: Do you ever run into any of the people you were in homes with?

George Todd: Only online thank God! People from my past in foster care have tracked me down, which I have mixed feelings about. I do however, still talk to one girl I lived with in a group home. My greatest fear though is for both my dad and stepdad to contact me. I hope that never happens.

Rhodes Review: What are some areas/problems you see with the Foster Care system and how do you think they should be addressed?

George Todd: I think the main problem outside of foster care is the lack of awareness of what goes on and how the system operates and how people can help. Inside the system, there should be more emphasis on family finding earlier on.

Rhodes Review: As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

George Todd: To write novels and stories. Now I want to go back into journalism and write screenplays.

Rhodes Review: What inspired you to write Foster Girl?

George Todd: The fact that I wanted to read stories like the one I lived and I could not find any. So, the absence of my type of stories on the bookshelves was what initially inspired me.

Rhodes Review: How did you start writing?

George Todd: I wrote the first draft as a teenager, 19, when the memories were fresh. Then I learned how to write. When I was in graduate school, I got a copy of my case file (300 pages) for research. It took me a couple years to piece out and decide which court report, letter or psychological assessment to include in the book, where to them and why in the story.

Rhodes Review: What was your favorite part of Foster Girl?

George Todd: Completing it, to be honest. How does one write the worst experiences in one’s life in a coherent, linear way? I was able to accomplish that and I’m proud of the result.

Rhodes Review: What was the hardest part to write in Foster Girl?

George Todd: The abuse scenes narrated from the child’s perspective. I had to regress and relive the most traumatic moments of my life over and over in order

Rhodes Review: What do you wish was different about Foster Girl?

George Todd: I wish I didn’t have to write it. I wish I had a normal, healthy upbringing that resulted in me being completely well adjusted. But that didn’t happen, and as a result, I felt compelled to say what was unsaid, write about an experience most people don’t have.

Rhodes Review: I know you went on to become an advocate, what is involved in that job, and what do you like about it?

George Todd: I used to work in child welfare and to be honest, it gave me a completely new perspective as a professional. I was burnt out, frustrated and ultimately, discovered that no matter how hard or long I worked, it was never enough. I salute those who continue to work in the field. As for what I liked about it – I liked the purity of intentions in the beginning, and finding people who genuinely shared my passion in making lives better. But I was shocked and disappointed to see so much politics involved in child welfare.

Rhodes Review: What are your current writing projects?

George Todd: I write a weekly column for the Chronicles of Social Change at https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/ I just wrote about the Dylan Farrow/ Woody Allen sexual abuse allegations, titled: “No One Wants to Be the Poster Child for Abuse” I’m also working on a screenplay that is a family drama and magazine articles. It may be awhile for me to write a whole book again. It just takes so much out of you.

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Review: Unleashed – RJ Terrell

Posted on: February 18th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Ebook
Publisher: Tal Publishing (February 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: n/a
ISBN-13: 978-n/a
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Emiel Dharr – Spice Trader
Jorga – A Khatala Warrior
Amoura Xanna – Magus assigned to help escort Emiel.
Selvetar – A Powerful Magus with his own agenda.

Synopsis:

Spice Trader Emiel arrives home to find his twin daughter’s missing. They’ve been taken, and are being held prisoner in order to force him to deliver a package to the city of Altarra. His only companions in this adventure are a mercenary who despises him, and a Magus who confuses him. In another part of the world, Joga, a Khatala sets out on a mission of manhood. Despised by those non Khatala’s, he’s alone in his survival, until he finds some companions of his own. Along the way both groups learn to challenge long held beliefs and learn about themselves in the process.

Review

R. J. Terrell once again dives into the realm of Fantasy novels. This time it’s a world created from his own imagination. It’s populated with believable and likeable characters. He very carefully, whether purposefully, or just through the art of storytelling, follows the Mythical Heroe’s Journey pattern. Emiel is the reluctant adventurer, thrust into a world unfamiliar to him.

The combat scenes along the way are very well written, and move very quickly. There’s never a spot, where I as a reader grew bored. A mark of a good fantasy is if it addresses contemporary issues, and Mr. Terrell manages to do so within the pages of Unleashed without becoming too preachy or obvious.

Overall, a very fun Fantasy novel and I anxiously await the next entry. For a rating, I’d say older teens and adults due to combat situations, and dark imagery. But for fans of Fantasy, you should pick up Unleashed. If you do, be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

R. J. Terrell was instantly a lover of fantasy the day he opened R. A. Salvatore’s: The Crystal Shard. Years (and many devoured books) later he decided to put pen to paper for his first novel. After a bout with aching carpals, he decided to try the keyboard instead, and the words began to flow. When not writing, he enjoys reading, videogames, and long walks with his wife around Stanley Park in Vancouver BC.

Connect with me at:

R J Terrell on Facebook

RJTerrell on Twitter

R. J. Terrell on Goodreads

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Mr. Terrel for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War – Jerome Charyn

Posted on: February 13th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Liveright (February 3, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0871404273
ISBN-13: 978-0871404275
Order book here:

amazon

Order E-book here:
amazon

Characters:

Abraham Lincoln – Sixteenth President of the United States.
Mary Todd Lincoln – First Lady.

Synopsis:

Lincoln’s life told from a first person perspective and in the form of a historical novel.

Review

Jerome Charyn is mostly known by me for his Isaac Sidel police novels. This one was a great change of pace, and was about one of my own personal heroes. The novel covers Lincoln’s life from working in a general store all the way up through his election and subsequent assassination.

History unfolds through the eyes of Lincoln and the reader gets a chance to see into Lincoln’s head as he reacts to the events going on around him. We get to witness the death of his sons, his wife’s descent into mental health, and the struggles he dealt with in trying to hold together the republic. The reader also gets a glimpse into the seldom looked at element of Mr. Lincoln and that is his struggles with depression. This aspect of the novel really gives him a humanity and brings the character to life, and is very relatable to the reader.

I actually learned quite a bit about Lincoln while reading this. For example, I’d never heard of the Clarys Grove Boys until reading this. A lot of the information seemed consistent with historical fact, though I think the author may have taken some artistic license in recreating conversations.

Overall though, I found it very enjoyable and I think it would appeal to the history fans and those who are fans of historical fiction. So check it out, and be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn (born May 13, 1937) is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

New York Newsday hailed Charyn as “a contemporary American Balzac,” and the Los Angeles Times described him as “absolutely unique among American writers.”

Since the 1964 release of Charyn’s first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009.

In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn’s book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, “The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong.”

Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.

Jerome Charyn’s web site:
http://www.jeromecharyn.com/

Jerome Charyn’s Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/jerome.charyn

Jerome Charyn’s Twitter:
http://twitter.com/jeromecharyn

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out Nicole at Tribute Tours for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.


Classic Corner Review: I, The Jury – Mickey Spillane

Posted on: January 28th, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Mass Market Paperback: 214 Pages
Publisher: Signet (December 1, 1948)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0451165926
ISBN-13: 978-0451165923
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Characters:

Mike Hammer – Tough Talking New York Private Eye.
Dr. Charlotte Manning – New York Psychiatrist.

Synopsis:

When his buddy Jack Williams is suspiciously and violently murdered, Mike Hammer vows to stop at nothing until the killer receives Justice.

Review

This was my first experience with Mickey Spillane’s writing, and I found myself drawn in. Mike Hammer can be violent, operate outside the law, but with respect to the police, and can be hard edged, but you also get to see a softer side to him. He’s a man who can also love.

The plot was rather complicated, and if the reader doesn’t pay a lot of attention, could get lost. It seems at time that there are too many involved in the crime and it was too complicated. But the setting pulls you into the dark world in which Mike Hammer operates. The books are much darker and grittier than the simpler plotted books of Christie and Queen. They don’t seem as much a who dun it, in the classic sense, as crime fiction.

For people who like the gritty, film noir type detective, I think you’d love these Mike Hammer Stories. If you are looking for a simple, clean mystery though, this isn’t it. For the type of book it is, which I enjoy alongside the classic mystery, I’d recommend it. There’s a reason Mickey Spillane is considered one of the masters.

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Classic Corner Review: The French Powder Mystery – Ellery Queen

Posted on: January 23rd, 2014 By Rick Rhodes
Mass Market Paperback: 255 pages
Publisher: Signet (November 1, 1969)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 045104083X
ISBN-13: 978-0451040831
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Characters:

Winifred Marchbanks French – Victim.
Cyrus French – Rich Merchant.
Ellery Queen – Author and Amateur Detective.
Inspector Richard Queen – Homicide Detective.

Synopsis:

The woman of a wealthy store owner is discovered dead in the store display window. Ellery Queen and his father are called in to find out who killed the woman and why.

Review

The second in the Ellery Queen series of Who Dun It’s. These are written in a classic style where the story is presented, and then as in all the early Queen books, the reader is given the chance to solve the mystery. All the clues are given throughout the story, and while it’s the fourth Ellery Queen story I’ve read, I’ve yet to be able to solve one of them, though I come close at times.

The characters, as would be expected for this time period are rather cookie cutter. Authors of this time period spent more time on prose and plot it seems than on character development, so from a reader’s perspective it’s definitely a story driven novel.

I love these stories though, along with a lot of the classic mysteries, and this one kept me entertained. The language is a bit archaic and dry, so some readers may not be able to get involved in the storyline. If you can get through that though, and enjoy authors such as Doyle and Christie, then I think you’d like this. I’d rate it as PG or PG-13 due to the content, but I definitely recommend it for one of those rainy day, stay at home mysteries.

About the Author

Ellery Queen was a pen name created and shared by two cousins, Frederic Dannay (1905–1982) and Manfred B. Lee (1905–1971), as well as the name of their most famous detective. Born in Brooklyn, they spent forty-two years writing, editing, and anthologizing under the name, gaining a reputation as the foremost American authors of the Golden Age “fair play” mystery. Although eventually famous on television and radio, Queen’s first appearance came in 1928, when the cousins won a mystery-writing contest with the book that would eventually be published as The Roman Hat Mystery.

Their character was an amateur detective who uses his spare time to assist his police inspector uncle in solving baffling crimes. Besides writing the Queen novels, Dannay and Lee cofounded Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the most influential crime publications of all time. Although Dannay outlived his cousin by nine years, he retired Queen upon Lee’s death.

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