Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Review: The Spy House – Matthew Dunn

Sunday, February 28th, 2016
The Spy House
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062309498
ISBN-13: 978-0062309495
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About the Author

Matthew DunnAs an MI6 field officer, Matthew Dunn recruited and ran agents, coordinated and participated in special operations, and acted in deep-cover roles throughout the world. He operated in highly hostile environments, where, if compromised and captured, he would have been executed. Dunn was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, and infiltration.

Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Dunn was the recipient of a very rare personal commendation from the secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs for work he did on one mission, which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the successful conclusion of a major international incident.

During his time in MI6, Dunn conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful. He lives in England.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Pamela 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: Spy Trade – Matthew Dunn

Thursday, December 31st, 2015
Spy Trade
Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Witness Impulse (September 1, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062441426
ISBN-13: 978-0062441423
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A CIA Veteran is captured by terrorists. They threaten to kill him if a specific prisoner is not released within a given time frame.


Will Cochrane – Special Agent
Patrick Bolte – Director of a join CIA-MI6 task force.


When two people are captured and threatened with death by Terrorists, Patrick Cochrane is forced to seek help to find them. He pulls Will Cochrane into his plans. Cochrane’s journey then takes him across the continent of Europe and into Russia.

I’m not 100% sure what I think of this book. While it seemed a very accurate spy novel, I just didn’t get it. Perhaps my mind was on other things at the time. The author is apparently very well qualified to write about the subject of spies, as he was involved in that type of job.

I have another in this line to read, and perhaps I will be able to better follow it. I didn’t hate this novel. I like the characters. The story seemed a bit cliché’d but then in the end had an unexpected twist. Perhaps the length of this story made things move a little too fast. It was technically a novella, and was only about 178 pages in length. It wasn’t until about the last 20 or 30 pages where I began to understand what the whole point of the story was.

While I didn’t fall in love with this, I do intend to give Mr. Dunn’s novels a second try with The Spy House. I think for fans of real life spy type novels, they’d probably love this. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I was just kind of left neutral.

But check it out if it’s your type of genre, and let us know what you thought about it.

About the Author

Matthew DunnAs an MI6 field officer, Matthew Dunn recruited and ran agents, coordinated and participated in special operations, and acted in deep-cover roles throughout the world. He operated in highly hostile environments, where, if compromised and captured, he would have been executed. Dunn was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, and infiltration.

Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Dunn was the recipient of a very rare personal commendation from the secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs for work he did on one mission, which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the successful conclusion of a major international incident.

During his time in MI6, Dunn conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful. He lives in England.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Pamela 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: Nation of Enemies – H. A. Raynes

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
Nation of Enemies
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Witness Impulse (October 6, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062417703
ISBN-13: 978-0062417701
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In a future society, people are chipped according to their health status. Those who don’t meet a certain standard are lesser citizens. But Reverand Charles Mitchell has a plan to overthrow all that. He will use any means necessary.


Dr. Cole Fitzgerald – Chief of Emergency Medicine, Masschusetts General Hospital
Steven Hudson – Owner of Hudson Funeral Homes.
Sebastian Diaz – FBI Special Agent.
Chris Renner – Diaz’s partner.
Charles Mitchell – A Fundamentalist Minister with a dark past.


I found this to be a very well developed and plotted novel. It shows one direction a country can go if it bends to religious fanaticism. Charles Mitchell is under suspicion by the FBI for suspected involve in previous acts of terrorism. Agent Dr. Cole is assigned to go under cover in Mitchell’s Patriot church.

At the same time, Dr. Cole Fitzgerald is trying to find a way to stop the government from implanting the chips in people. His wife was forbidden entry into another country as she didn’t match the proper limits for good health based on her chip and ratings number.

Fitzgerald and Diaz are brother in laws, and will soon find themselves having to work together to stop Mitchell’s dark plans. But how many people will die before they succeed, to find out read Enemies of the Nation.

This book may offend some religiously inclined as it doesn’t look favorably upon the fictional church within it. There is also some strong language, and violence that would not be appropriate for young children, so like most books I review, this one is for older teens and adult audiences.

Overall, I’d recommend this novel. It definitely had one of the most interesting plots of anything I read recently.

About the Author

H. A. RaynesH.A. Raynes was inspired to write NATION OF ENEMIES by a family member who was a Titanic survivor and another who escaped Poland in World War II. Combining lessons from the past with a healthy fear of the modern landscape, this novel was born. A longtime member of Boston’s writing community, H.A. Raynes has a history of trying anything once (acting, diving out of a plane, white water rafting, and parenting). Writing and raising children seem to have stuck.

Nation of Enemies

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anwesha 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.

Giveaway – The Condor Song – Darryl Nyznyk

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Thanks to Elaine at PR By The Book and the Author, I”m able to offer my readers 1 copy of this book. To enter, follow these simple rules:

1) One Entry if you’re a follower [You can follow through Google Friend connect to the right, you can also sign up to follow through Twitter or Facebook].
2) An Additonal Entry if you blog about this contest.
3) An Additonal Entry if you’re a new follower.
4) One entry each for posting on facebook and/or twitter.
5) Must leave a comment letting me know how you follow me, blog link to this post, facebook/twitter link, etc.
6) Contest will continue until 7/23/2013.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).

See our review here.

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Review: The Condor Song – Darryl Nyznyk

Monday, July 1st, 2013
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Cross Dove Publishing, LLC; 1 edition (May 28, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0965651398
ISBN-13: 978-0965651394
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Sean Michael Donovan – A Lawyer with his career on the skids.
Richard Wolf – Corporate Attorney


Assassins, A fight for property, and an endangered species all come together in this Environmental Thriller as Sean Michael Donovan is pulled into a world where people are being killed in order to build a ski themed amusement park.


This novel is inspired by a true life fight between Walt Disney and the Sierra Club in the 60s and 70s. Disney wanted to build a $35 Million ski resort in the Mineral King Valley of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Sierra Club took them to court and eventually lost. On April 19, 1972 the U.S. Supreme Court said in Sierra Club Vs. Morton that they could not stop the U.S. Forest Service from giving Disney permission to construct their ski resort.

In The Condor Song, Darryl Nyznyk introduces us to Sean Michael Donovan, a down on his luck lawyer just waiting for a break that will restore his legal career. Throughout the novel we see what caused Sean’s fall from grace and his possible redemption.

But the main story is about greed and how far we as a civilization in our willingness to destroy our environment for the sake of money will go.

The storyline was compelling. There was constant danger, and the conflict and suspense kept me turning the pages. The characters were well developed. Sean at first is an annoying, whining, little man that I had o sympathy for, but as his character unfolded and he grew throughout the story, I began to admire his courage in standing up for his convictions.

Overall I found it a good story with a timely message. Unfortunately it seems, that message hasn’t changed in the last 40 years. Maybe we’ll get it right in the next 40.

On July 1st, 2013 any copies of this novel purchased through Amazon (books and ebooks) will result in $1 being donated to the Sierra Club for the protection of public land and wildlife. So purchase a copy, get a good story, and support a good cause all at the same time.

About the Author

Darryl Nyznyk lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with his wife, Loretta. After practicing law for 20 years, Nyznyk became a full-time writer and teacher. He is also the author of the holiday novel, Mary’s Son; A Tale of Christmas. For more information, please visit

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Elaine at prbythebook 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: Plague – H. W. “Buzz” Bernard

Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611941768
ISBN-13: 978-1611941760
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Richard Wainwright – Temporary CEO of a Biological Development Company.
Dr. Dwight Butler – Scientist studying Viruses.


Deep in the secret recesses of a Cold War lab, the Russians created tons of deadly bio-weapons. Now, decades later, a protege of that Russian research is about to release weaponized Ebola into the heart of the South’s most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American “decadence” range from a happily diverse population to the Coca-Cola museum and CNN headquarters.

A preliminary test of the horrifying virus demonstrates the unspeakable suffering of its victims–and alerts the Centers for Disease Control that a terrible pandemic is in the making. CDC Virologist Dr. Dwight Butler begins a frantic effort to track down the source of the virus before it’s too late.

For new BioDawn CEO Richard Wainwright, it quickly becomes clear that the “accidental” plane crash that killed the pharmaceutical company’s entire executive hierarchy may have some connection to the evolving threat. Suddenly, Richard is being stalked by a hit woman. He and Butler join forces to find the lone terrorist at the center of a plan that could unleash the Black Plague of the 21st century.


When this book was offered to me, it immediately caught my attention. I’d always liked books like The Andromeda Strain and Next by Michael Crichton. This was in a similar vein. A terrorist threatens to unleash a biological weapon on a city. The reader almost never knew where the bad guy was going to strike, or what was going to happen. You are able to really get into the mind of Richard and see his fears. You also get to see things somewhat from the terrorists point of view. The reader really does get the sense that this terrorist draws no lines in what he’s willing to do. People die, some due to their own involvement, some merely got in the way.

If you like bio terror type books, then grab a copy of Plague. I think you’ll really enjoy it. If I were to give it a rating, I’d say older teens and adults due to the content and subject matter. The author seemed to leave things open for a follow up novel, so I hope he does do a followup, as I’d be eager to read it.

About the Author

H. W. “Buzz” Bernard is the author of EYEWALL and PLAGUE. EYEWALL, his debut novel, became a number-one Kindle best seller. PLAGUE was released in September 2012.

Buzz is a veteran meteorologist having spent 13 years as a senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel, and 33 years as a weather officer in the U. S. Air Force.

His background as a meteorologist informs EYEWALL. He’s had first-hand experience with hurricanes, having penetrated the eyewall of Hurricane Felix in 1995 with the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters. The mission he went on wasn’t nearly as exciting–or as terrifying–as the one described in EYEWALL, but he did get an up-close and personal look at how the job is done. At The Weather Channel, he worked closely with some of the most highly regarded hurricane forecasters in the business.

Besides his trip with the Hurricane Hunters, he’s flown air drops over the Arctic Ocean and Turkey, and was a weather officer aboard a Tactical Air Command airborne command post (C-135). Additionally, he’s provided field support to forest fire fighting operations in the Pacific Northwest, spent a summer working on Alaska’s arctic slope and served two tours in Vietnam. Various other jobs, both civilian and military, took him to Germany, Saudi Arabia and Panama.

He stepped away from a weather-themed book to write PLAGUE, mainly, he says, because the subject terrified him.

Buzz is a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a degree in atmospheric science and studied creative writing. He’s currently vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.

After leaving active duty with the Air Force, he spent twenty years in New England, but now lives in Roswell, Georgia, near Atlanta, with his wife, Christina, and overly active Shih Tzu, Stormy. Buzz is at work on his third novel now, another weather-related drama, SUPERCELL.

His Website can be found at

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotions 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: Knowing – Laurel Dewey

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Paperback: 450 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (December 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611880491
ISBN-13: 978-1611880496
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Jane Perry – A Colorado Homicide Officer
Harlan Kipple – An escaped killer with a secret that people are willing to kill for.


After the life-altering ending in the third Jane Perry thriller, REVELATIONS, Jane Perry takes time off from the job to find the missing part of herself she never knew existed. But her journey is quickly hijacked when a wanted criminal, Harlan Kipple, steals her car. Kipple—accused of the heinous murder of a prostitute in a seedy motel—is on the run and desperate to stay that way. Jane’s personal plans take a back seat as she tracks down her stolen ride and discovers through an unusual source that Kipple may be innocent and is being framed by a nefarious group. When she trails Kipple and confronts him, every belief she ever had about this world and the next is put to the test.

Kipple, who by his own admission is not the “brightest bulb in the box,” received a heart transplant seventeen months ago. His life changed from the moment he woke up in the recovery room. In fact, he’s not so sure where he ends and his heart takes over. As strange as that sounds to her, Jane cannot deny what she witnesses after spending just two days with Kipple. It becomes clear that nothing is what it appears as Jane is drawn into a deep rabbit hole with dark webs and darker crevices that force her to operate on the other side of the law. With the police hot on Kipple’s tail and a devious faction intent on finding him first, Jane is caught in the middle and realizes that solving this crime could have fatal consequences.

With themes as diverse as immortality, regeneration, resurrection, transformation and death, author Laurel Dewey tackles this latest Jane Perry novel with originality and plenty of suspense. “Finding yourself” takes on a whole new meaning in KNOWING.


This was an interesting story. At times the relationship between Jane Perry and Harlan Kipple reminded me of that between George and Lenny in Of Mice and Men. Harlan, being the slow witted, but gentle Giant, and Jane playing the part of the hard edged protector, who deep down cared.

As a reader, you get to see the relationship build between these two. While the plot is about a secret cabal, the true story is about the relationship between these two characters as they fight to survive in a world that is against them both.

I’d read some Jane Perry short stories previously, but this was the first full length novel I’d read. It interests me enough in the character, that I’d like to go back and read others to see how she grows throughout them. I found the character of Harlan to be well developed, and while you are reviled by him before you meet him, like he does with Jane, he grows on you.

The plot is full of twists and turns, as first one clue then another is uncovered, and all the time they are overshadowed by the menace of unknown forces.

For an interesting thriller with a strong female lead, pick up Knowing. I think you’d enjoy it. If you read it, stop back by and let us know what you thought.

Due to language and content, I’d put this for older teens and adults.


Sergeant Detective Jane Perry rolled to an abrupt stop in front of the gas pumps and checked the time. 7:17. It had been exactly seventeen minutes since she left her house on Milwaukee Street in Denver and headed south on I-25 but it felt like hours. Lately, reality had revolved in a surreal sphere, and Jane was looking forward to jumping off the mind-bending roller coaster and getting some heartfelt perspective on her life. But all that would have to wait now.

If Jane were still a smoker, she would have extinguished four cigarettes since she left her house. Even though it had been over eleven days since she was sucker punched by the news, the rawness of that first moment when she saw the truth in black and white was still fresh and stung like venom, hot and unforgiving. Nicotine would soften the edges but she’d made a promise to herself to quit, so she’d have to figure out how to steer through this oozing emotional wound without the comfortable dulling of pain.

That was proving more difficult as the days progressed. In one moment, Jane’s world not only blew apart, but her entire identity split with it. She’d spent the past days dredging up her turbulent young life yet again—propelling her heart back into the chaos—searching for clues in the multitude of unspoken words and wondering how she missed the torturous secret her mother chose to keep. Unfortunately, her memories had been fogged by time and over twenty years of abusing the bottle. If there was any sign of what was hidden long ago, it was now buried in layers of regret and omission.

Jane rolled down her window and adjusted the side mirror on her ’66 ice blue Mustang. She took in a deep breath, hoping it would abate her temp- tation for tobacco. The cool, mid-April breeze belied the promise of spring, even though March and April were known in Colorado as the wettest and snowiest months of the year. As Jane canvassed the flattened landscape so common for this section of the state, there was still no sign of the Isis of rebirth—no lush green panoramas to sink her teeth into and inhale the beauty. All that lay in eyesight were varying shades of taupe, edged by the blacktop of the frontage road. How was it possible for anything verdant to emerge from this lifeless topography? The sheer energy it took for Colorado to rise from the frozen ashes of winter never ceased to amaze and confound Jane. While the rains had abated over the last twenty-four hours, an uncommon moisture still clung in the normally dry morning atmosphere that lent a dampened spirit to her journey.

Jane leaned outside and caught her reflection in the side mirror. No, it couldn’t be, she thought. Moving closer to the mirror, she parted her shoulder length brown hair and found a cluster of gray. When did this happen? Had she been so preoccupied with the events of her last case that she failed to notice the preamble to death painted on her crown? She studied her brown eyes in the mirror and noted the bags underneath—badges of a hard fought life where sacrifice trumped freedom. Crinkling her nose, Jane forced the lines around the corner of her eyes to deepen. She could chalk it up to too much smiling but anyone who knew her would disagree since Jane Perry’s personality was not synonymous with grinning. She let out a hard sigh of resignation. How in the hell did she get so goddamned old in just thirty-seven years?

She leaned over and locked her Glock in the glove compartment on top of her badge. Even though her anticipated seven-day trip was purely personal, she never traveled without her service weapon. It was an anchor and a steel security blanket. Swiping her credit card, she selected the highest-grade gasoline for her cherished classic ride and filled the tank. A gust of wind blew across the service station, forcing Jane to button the collar of her leather jacket. She turned and surveyed the smattering of vehicles filling up at this early hour. Jane had always been a student of observation; always keenly taking in the minute details in front of her. That ability ran on autopilot and served her well as a cop when she had to recreate a homicide scene.

But lately, she’d taken to counting objects that were grouped together. It had almost become an obsession; something to indulge her addictive mind. At that moment, there were three cars, including hers, at the islands. There were seven islands, each with three options for fuel. But four of those fuel pumps were covered with yellow tape, marking them out of order. So, readjusting it, there were seventeen fuel handles available. Ironic, she mused. When she rolled into the gas station and looked at the clock, it was 7:17, which was seventeen minutes after she left her house. Odd.

She’d come to know these as syncs, clusters of seemingly disparate words, digital times on a clock, names, symbols or numbers that kept cropping up in such a way to herald a hidden message. While some of the syncs had been easy to decipher, most proved mystifying, leaving Jane to feel she either wasn’t smart enough to understand the significance or that the message itself wasn’t ready to be heard. This concept may have occupied illogical territory, but even the most logical human being has been guilty of latching onto a sign from above or below in an attempt to give meaning to an experience.

As much as Jane Perry primarily used her logic, these last few years had introduced her to phenomena that defied rational sense. The more she fought it, the more the strangeness attacked like a serpent, demanding to be acknowledged. More than anything, she couldn’t escape the weird coincidences and syncs that plagued her daily life and infested nearly every homicide she worked. The constant dovetailing of events was so common now that she no longer questioned the mystical belief of entanglement with other humans, both dead and alive.

The fuel pump clicked but Jane kept squeezing the handle in an attempt to force every last drop of gas into her tank. She noted the signage on the pump warning against “topping off” your tank and some reference to “creating a cleaner, greener planet.” Fuck that shit, she thought. She had a long drive in front of her and her hungry Mustang needed to be fed as much liquid “grass” as possible. When she finally filled it to overflowing, Jane removed the nozzle and hooked it back on the pump. Just as she did, she sensed the presence of the attendant behind her, ready to make a smartass comment. She turned, ready to verbally tackle him with her well-worn bravado. Yet to her astonishment, there was no one there. Jane spun around and scanned the immediate area, looking for any sign of an attendant in the vicinity but she came up empty. She chalked it up to a lack of sufficient caffeine, even though she’d already knocked back three cups of coffee in the last two hours. While gas station java swill wasn’t her first choice, it would have to do.

Inside the small Quik Mart convenience store, Jane found four aisles stuffed to the gills with every known junk food. Besides the corpulent woman behind the cash register who crunched on a greasy pork rind, the only other occupants were a beefy biker and a scrawny teenage boy who was loading up on enough “crack in a can” energy drinks to keep him awake until he stroked out. A small television, located above the cash register, was turned on with the sound muted. Jane briefly glanced up as a booking photograph of a heavyset man filled the screen. His wavy brown, scraggly hair matched his unkempt beard and mustache. His name flashed underneath the photo: Harlan Kipple, age forty-two.

Jane knew all about Kipple, although she’d never met him. For almost fourteen days, he had been enjoying “three hots and a cot,” courtesy of the Denver penal system. She would have caught the case but Kipple committed his crime southeast of Denver in Limon, Colorado and was only kicked to Denver because of his heinous, high profile crime and to insure he was secured prior to trial.

Kipple, an Interstate truck driver with only one past infraction of transporting illegal prescription drugs in his rig for his brother-in-law, had been accused of the macabre butchering of an unidentified black prostitute. It was your classic open and shut case since Kipple had been found in a dingy Limon motel, passed out in bed with the working girl, clutching a bloody hunting knife and covered in her blood. To make the case even more depraved, the poor girl had been gutted like a deer and her head cracked open, leaving her brain draped outside of her skull. As expected, drugs were involved and that part of the murder made Harlan Kipple nefariously notorious. Lab reports showed he injected the girl with ketamine hydrochloride—a PCP analogue used as an anesthetic in veterinary medicine but gaining popularity on the street as a date rape drug. Known on the club scene as “Special K,” “Super K,” “KO” and “Make Her Mine”, ketamine was distinguished from other date rape drugs in that it produced a dissociative anesthesia, rendering the victim detached from all bodily sensations but often aware of what was being done to them and yet paralyzed and unable to respond. Picture being encased in a glass ball, while watching the unthinkable happen to you and having no way to fight back. It was the ultimate torture because if the victim survived the attack, they usually suffered from amnesia but were prone to subsequent, suddenly triggered vivid hallucinations that replayed the rape or attack, forcing the victim to question their reality. To Jane, ketamine was the epitome of a true mind-fucking drug that left its twisted mark on survivors for many years. As for the unsuspecting prostitute that Kipple mutilated, her last minutes were likely spent watching herself being raped and then filleted open until the grace of God separated her body from her soul.

But the incongruity of Kipple’s case didn’t end there. About two years prior to the grisly murder, he had been given a life-saving heart transplant—a surgery that nearly ensured him another healthy two decades of life. The fact that those years would now be spent confined to a cell and probably end in execution was God’s little irony, Jane deduced. What a waste of a good heart, she recalled thinking when the story broke.

Kipple’s face lingered on the television inside the Quik Mart. The press named him “Kipple, the Heartless Killer.” Nothing works like an obvious alliteration when you’re selling freaks to the public. Jane stared at his photo, searching out the darkness that always lingered behind the eyes of all psychos. But Kipple was a tough nut to crack. Instead of the penetrating evil, there was a strange softness and quiet sweetness that projected from his photo. Good God, was she losing her touch?

“Can I help you?”

Jane turned away from the screen to find the cashier staring at her, a speck of pork rind dotting her upper lip. “I need strong coffee.”

The woman pointed her fat finger toward the back of the store, in the corner next to the bank of refrigerated shelves. Jane glanced outside to her Mustang and then quickly walked to the rear of the store. She selected the strongest brew available and the largest cup, filling it to the rim. Searching for the sugar, she tipped over the plastic bowl that held the packets. She counted them as she put them back in the bowl. Seventeen. She snapped the lid on the cup and carried it around the corner of the aisle, staring momentarily at the array of artery-clogging snack foods that lined the shelves. She looked up briefly to glance at her waiting Mustang before searching the selections for anything remotely healthy. It was another promise Jane made to herself after recently escaping what she assumed was a death sentence. She found herself drawn to the pine nuts, even though she never would have made that choice a few weeks ago. She squinted to read what was written across the front of the bag in green lettering: ENJOY THESE NUGGETS OF NATURE FROM THE PINECONE! The price was right for the small bag, a buck seventy.

Jane grabbed all eight bags on the shelf as she felt the burly biker walk behind her. For some strange reason, he hovered awfully close. She allowed the intrusion to continue for another few seconds before spinning around. But there was no one standing there. The biker was, in fact, on the opposite side of the store. Jane stood still, sensing a muscular thickness around her; a phantasm imprint that lacked clarity. A few years ago, she would have ignored this curious feeling but she’d learned the hard way that the more she pretended it away or chalked it up to booze, flashbacks, PTSD or lack of sleep, the more dynamic it became.

Jane waited, looking into nothingness yet still clearly aware of the unassailable presence around her. She started to turn right but was drawn to the left. Moving around the aisle, Jane stood at the long magazine rack that framed the front windows. Cradling the eight bags of pine nuts, she made her way toward the cashier when she heard the soft brush of a magazine fall to the vinyl floor behind her. Jane turned to find a copy of “The Q”—a glossy, men’s sports and outdoor magazine—splayed open, cover side up. She leaned down, picked up the magazine and replaced it on the shelf. Turning toward the cashier, Jane took a step and heard the magazine fall behind her again. She stopped. The phantasmal stickiness gripped her like a defiant child demanding her attention. Jane carefully turned toward the magazine, finding it sprawled in the same position as before. She leaned down, turned it over and stared at the advertising found on page seventeen. Against an indigo background lay a mountainous landscape with snowcapped peaks. Featured in the foreground was a woman’s modest wristwatch placed upon what looked like a red satin cloth that stretched from one side of the page to the other. The hands on the watch pointed to 11:17. In the bottom left hand corner, there was an illustration of the “great and powerful” Oz from The Wizard of Oz peeking out from his purple curtained area. In bold, red block letters next to the image, it read:


Jane searched on the page for the product or service being advertised and came up empty. She figured “time” related to the woman’s wristwatch and Dorothy correlated to The Wizard of Oz but the rest of the ad was nonsensical. There were no website links or phone numbers that related to whatever they were selling. Avant-garde garbage. That’s what Jane deduced as she inexplicably tucked the magazine under her arm and walked to the cashier. Suddenly, the presence that had hung so closely to her disappeared.

“That all?” the chunky woman asked.

“That’ll do it.”

The woman tapped her greasy finger on a greeting card stand to the left of the checkout. “We got Easter cards on closeout.”

Jane regarded the woman with an incredulous stare. Did she actually believe Jane looked like a woman who would send someone an Easter card? Jane glanced at the nearly empty card stand and saw a glittery greeting with the Archangel Gabriel blowing his trumpet. Who in the hell sends Easter cards? Jane peered around the card stand and saw liters of spring water. She grabbed four bottles and added them to her pile. “Okay. That’ll do it.”

“Thirty-three even.” Jane handed the woman a fifty.

The woman opened the register and handed Jane’s change back to her. “Seventeen’s your change.”

“What in the fuck is going on?“ Jane muttered.

“Excuse me?” the woman asked, offended.

“Not you.” Jane’s mind was elsewhere.

The woman dumped the purchases into a plastic bag.

“Uh-huh,” she replied, still affronted. “Hey…” Jane was still lost in thought as she tucked the seventeen dollars into her wallet. “Hey,” the woman stressed, leaning forward.

Jane awoke from her slumber. “What?”

The woman pointed out the front window. “Isn’t that your car driving away?”

Jane turned around just in time to see the back wheels of her ice blue Mustang squeal out of the parking lot. She raced outside, instinctively grabbing for her Glock and coming up empty. The only detail she could make out was the back of a man’s head and his thick neck.

About the Author

Laurel Dewey was born and raised in Los Angeles.

She is the author of two nonfiction books on plant medicine, a Silver Spur nominated Western novella, hundreds of articles, and three other novels in her Jane Perry suspense series, Protector, Redemption, and Revelations along with the Jane Perry novelettes An Unfinished Death and Promissory Payback and the story collection Unrevealed.

She is also the author of the novel Betty’s Little Basement Garden.

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Jan 6 Showcase: Teena in Toronto
Jan 19 Guest Post: Beth Art From the Heart
Jan 28 Review:  Kimberly’s Bookshelf
Jan 31 Review: Rhodes Review

Feb 7  Review:  Minding Spot
Feb 22 Review: LiteraryR&R
Feb 25 Review: FrugalMomEh
Feb 27 Guest Post & Review: Bless Their Hearts Mom
Feb 28 Review: Writers and Authors

Mar 1 Interview: J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer
Mar 2 Review: Mary’s Cup of Tea
Mar 4 Review: Smoochiefrog Reviews
Mar 5 Review: Deco My Heart
Mar 6 Review: Celticlady’s Reviews
Mar 7  Review:  Hott Books
Mar 8 Review: Deal Sharing Aunt
Mar 11 Review & Guest Post: Reviews By Molly
Mar 12 Review:  Vic’s Media Room
Mar 13 Review & Interview: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Mar 13 Review & Interview: The Wormhole

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners In Crime 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.

Review: Sweat – Mark Gilleo

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (August 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1611880513
ISBN-13: 978-1611880519
Order book here:


Order E-book here:


John Day – United States Senator from Massachusetts
Peter Winthrop – American Businessman
Lee Chang – Chinese Businessman in Saipan
Wei Ling – Chinese Seamstress
Jake Patrick – Son of Peter Winthrop


Jake Patrick has been estranged from his father for 6 years. On the day of his mother’s funeral, his father shows up offering Jake anything he needs. Jake ends up taking a job working for his father’s corporation, and is fully unaware of the political firestorm that is brewing.


I enjoyed the storyline behind this. I’m a big advocate against sweatshop businesses and when I figured out this involved that aspect of American business, I was fully drawn into the story.

The characters are realistic and it’s a situation I could see actually occurring. Once you start this ride, you’ll find it difficult to put this book down. It has everything you want in a political thriller: innocent victims, political machinations, and a lot of behind the back dealings.

Due to language and situations, I’d recommend it for those older teens and adults.

About the Author

Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. He speaks Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His first two novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wis- dom creative writing competition.

AUTHOR SITES:  Website     (

As the van pulled away in a small cloud of dust, the senator inspected the main guard booth and the now present guard. Lee Chang took Peter by the arm and stepped away. The sweatshop boss dropped his voice to a whisper and looked over Peter’s shoulder as he spoke, “Interested in the usual companionship?”

Peter, in turn, looked over at the senator who looked back and nodded in approval to the conversation he couldn’t hear but fully understood. “Is Wei Ling available?” Peter asked as if ordering his favorite wine from the menu.

“Yes, of course. Wei is available. Shall I find a companion for the senator as well?”

“Yes, the senator would enjoy some company. Someone with a good command of English. I don’t think he wants to spend the evening playing charades,” Peter responded.

“No, I’m sure he wouldn’t.” Lee Chang smiled, nodded, and barked at Chow Ying in Chinese. The large subordinate walked across the front lot of Chang Industries, down the side of the main building, and vanished into the seamstresses’ two-story living quarters. The CEO, senator, and sweatshop ruler went upstairs to wait.

Traditional Chinese furnishings cluttered Lee Chang’s living room.

“Nice piece,” the senator said, running his hands across a large black cabinet with twelve rows and columns of square drawers.

Peter spoke. “It’s an antique herbal medicine cabinet. The Chinese characters written on the front of each drawer indicate the contents.”

“Tattooed reminders of a former life,” the senator said with poetic license.

Lee Chang stepped over and pulled open one of the drawers. “And now it holds my DVD collection.”

“Modernization never stops,” Peter added.

The three men found their way to the living room and Peter and Senator Day sat on the sofa. Lee took a seat on a comfortable wooden chair, small cylindrical pillows made from the finest Chinese silk supporting his arms.

The middle-aged woman who entered the room to serve tea didn’t speak. She had standing orders not to interrupt when her boss’s guests were wearing suits. The senator watched the woman skillfully pour tea from a blue and white ceramic teapot. He wondered if the woman was Lee Chang’s lover. Peter knew Lee’s taste ran much younger.

The intercom came to life on the wall near the door and Chow Ying announced that the ladies were ready. A brief exchange followed in rapid-fire Chinese before Lee Chang ended the conversation abruptly, flipping the intercom switch off.

“Gentlemen, if you are ready, the car is waiting.”

The senator took the front seat next to Chow Ying. Peter gladly sat in the back seat, squeezing in between the two beautiful Asian women. As he got comfortable in the rear of the car, Wei Ling whispered in his ear, her lips tickling his lobe. Peter smiled as his lover’s breath blew on his neck.

Shi Shi Wong, the senator’s date for the evening, looked up at the seamstresses’ quarters as the car began to move. She spotted several faces pressed against the glass of a second floor window and fought the urge to wave.

By the time the black Lincoln exited the gate of Chang Industries, Peter had one arm around each lady. He kept them close enough to feel their bodies move with every bump in the road. He leaned his torso into theirs with every turn of the car.

Peter Winthrop’s favorite table at The Palm was in an isolated corner next to a small balcony overlooking intimidating cliffs thirty yards from the back of the restaurant. A steady breeze pushed through the open French doors that led to the balcony, blowing out the candle in the center of the table as they arrived.

Peter asked for recommendations from the chef and ordered for everyone. They had spicy barbecued shrimp for an appetizer, followed by a salad with freshly sliced squid that the senator refused to eat. For the main course, the party of four shared a large red snapper served in a garlic and lemon-based Thai sauce. Copious amounts of wine accompanied every dish.

Chow Ying waited subserviently in the parking lot for over three hours. He fetched two cups of coffee from the back door of the kitchen and drank them in the Lincoln with the driver’s side doors open. With his second cup of coffee, he asked the waiter how much longer he thought the Winthrop party was going to be.

“Another hour at the most,” came the reply.

On the trip back to the hotel, the honorable senator from Massachusetts threw his honorability out the window and sat in the backseat with the ladies. Flirtatious groping ensued, the senator’s hands moving like ivy on human walls. His Rolex came to rest on Wei Ling’s shoulder. His Harvard class ring continued to caress the bare skin on Shi Shi Wong’s neck.

Peter made conversation with Chow Ying as the driver forced himself not to look in the rearview mirror. Peter, never bashful, glanced at Wei Ling on the opposite side of the backseat, their eyes meeting with a twinkle, her lips turning up in a smile for her lover. Peter smiled back.

Wei Ling was beautiful, and a sweetheart, and intriguing enough for Peter to find an excuse to stop in Saipan when he was on business in Asia. He usually brought her a gift, nothing too flashy, but something meaningful enough to keep her compliant in the sack. A dress, lingerie, earrings. He liked Wei Ling, a simple fact tempered by the realism that he was a CEO and she was a third-world seamstress. Pure attraction couldn’t bridge some gaps. But Lee Chang was proud of the fact that Peter had taken a fancy to Wei Ling. It was good business. She was a company asset. He wished he could put her on the corporate balance sheet.

Chow Ying dropped the party of four off at the Ritz, an eight-story oasis overlooking the finest stretch of white sand and blue water on the island. He gave Wei Ling and her sweatshop roommate-turned-prostitute-without-pay a brief command in Chinese and followed with a formal handshake to the senator and Peter. He waited for the four to vanish through the revolving door of the hotel and then pulled the Lincoln into the far corner of the parking lot.

The senator and Peter weaved slightly across the lobby of the hotel. Wei Ling and Shi Shi Wong followed several paces behind. The concierge and hotel manager, jaws dropping momentarily, engaged in a seemingly urgent conversation and didn’t look up until the elevator doors had closed.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Cheryl at Partners in Crime 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.

Interview: Mark Gilleo – Sweat

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Today we are pleased to Welcome Mark Gilleo with us. Mark is the author of Sweat. You can read our review of Sweat.

Rhodes Review: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Mark Gilleo: The first time the thought of becoming a writer entered my mind was in 2002. It was quite out-of-the-blue. I had no previous urge to write, nor did I have any writing experience or training, other than what was required to get through school.

Rhodes Review: How long does it take you to write a book?

Mark Gilleo: That is a tough question. Given that I have other jobs and responsibilities, it varies. The first book I attempted I finished in a couple of months. Both Love Thy Neighbor and Sweat took about a year to write. I spentprobably another year editing each. Time constraints aside, I could probably complete two novels a year for the next five years. That is about 1,000 – 1,200 words a day for 20 weeks, five days a week. That is a good pace.

Rhodes Review: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Mark Gilleo: My work schedule is 9-5. My writing schedule is whenever I can. If I could choose my time, I would choose to write in the morning for as long as I could, then have lunchand take a short nap.

Rhodes Review: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Mark Gilleo: I am not sure it is a quirk, but I do not plan what I am going to write. No outline whatsoever. The plot for both Sweat and LoveThy Neighbor have myriad subplots, so there are times when I get alittle lost or write myself into a corner. But without the element of the unknown in the writing process, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it.

Rhodes Review: Which of your characters is most/least like you, and in what way(s)?

Mark Gilleo: None of my characters are like me, but I have known people who have shared elements with the characters in my books. I do know what it is like to be a college student, but I have no experience as a medical student, a Senator, a hit-man, an arms-dealer or an ex-spy.

Rhodes Review: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Mark Gilleo: I have a large extended family in the DC area, and that keeps me busy. I am also the father of a toddler, which means I do a lot of running around. I enjoy hiking and traveling.

Rhodes Review: What would your ideal career be, if you couldn’t be an author?

Mark Gilleo: It is not from a lack of looking that I haven’t found my ideal career, outside of writing. I have worked for a Fortune 500 company, for a government agency, for a small tech start-up, for a chemical company, in finance and banking, as an entrepreneur and as a teacher. I would like to think that doing something noble, like medicine, would be ideal. But then I would have to dissect a corpse and deal with blood, so that is pretty much out the window. Maybe an ideal job would be a position with the foreign service or as a professor.

Rhodes Review: If you were to do your career as anauthor again, what would you do differently, and why?

Mark Gilleo: That is also a difficult question. More than choosing to be a writer, becoming a writer was quite by accident. The only question that comes to mind with becoming a writer is wondering if I should have started sooner and if that would have made me any better. That said, my books are based on some knowledge of the subjects and I don’t think I would have gained the necessary knowledge or experience if I had started writing sooner.

Rhodes Review: Do you have any suggestions to help my readers become a better writer?

Mark Gilleo: Definitely not. The term “better writer” is about as subjective as whether a reader likes a particular book. Is Hemingway better than Faulkner? I mean, for the most part, if you write with correct grammar in most sentences, you have the capability to write. The rest is intangible. Story, plot, character, narrative, dialogue. Everyone likes something different.

Rhodes Review: What do you think makes a good story?

Mark Gilleo: For me, plot goes a longway in getting me through a story. If Iam not interested in the plot, I am not going to make it through the book,regardless of how intriguing the other aspects of the work may be. A well-written masterpiece that doesn’t take me somewhere will not likely be on my book shelf.

But that is personal preference.

Rhodes Review: What inspired you to write sweat?

Mark Gilleo: The inspiration from the book came from a conversation I overheard in Asia regarding a corporate executive who spent some time establishing manufacturing facilities for American corporations. At the time, I didn’t think too much about the conversation, but it obviously stuck in my subconscious mind. A few years later it was the seed for Sweat.

Rhodes Review: What are your favorite authors/books?

Mark Gilleo: There are too many to list them all. I really liked a lot of Grisham’s early stuff. I love Baldacci, as do a lot of people. DeMille. Stephen King. Clancy. Cornwell. Eisler. Alien and Vixen 03 were the first two novels I remember reading. Then I read The Dead Zone.

As for classics, one of my favorite classics is Cannery Row. For non-fiction, my favorite book is probably All over but the Shoutin, by Rick Bragg.

Rhodes Review: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Mark Gilleo: Either Jesus or, if He were unavailable, the Dalai Lama. I would like to think they could answer, or further complicate, some of the larger questions of the universe by dessert. A distant third option would be Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin was a character and he enjoyed beer, so he would round out the top four.

About the Author

Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. He speaks Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His first two novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wis- dom creative writing competition.

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Review: Rabbletown – Randy Attwood

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Print Length: 106 pages
Publisher: Attwood Consulting, LLC (July 19, 2011)
Order E-book here:



Bobby Crowley – A young boy with a memory for scripture.
Jerry Falwell – Pastor President
Pat Robertson – Pastor Vice President


The time is sometime in the future. America and the world are devasted by bombings. This gives the extremist Christian movement the open door they need to take over. And when they do, it’s not pretty.


This story is set in a dystopian society. The story centers around the radical Christian sect controlling the country. There are organized stonings, burnings at the stake, Crusades in other countries, etc. There are those throughout the story who feel that they are on the wrong track.

One such character is that of Bobby. We first see Bobby in his ramshackle home with his parents and siblings. His dad works building a huge Kansas temple. His father is a miserable man, and doesn’t care too much for Bobby or his spouting scripture all the time.

Then there are the friars who still have books, and purchase books on the black market that show the technology and the way things used to be. The “Church” isn’t crazy about these friars, but they tend to tolerate them.

Bobby shows up at one of the arranged stonings saving a young woman who is being killed for adultery. He steps forward and says for the who is without sin to cast the first stone. That’s the catalyst for the rest of the story where Bobby is hunted by the military arm of the Church known as The Inquisitors.

I thought this was an interesting story. There are certainly elements of the story that make one worry about the very real possibilities of a dark era yet to come in our history. Everything flows logically, and it is entertaining.

I’d say for content alone it’s for older teens/adults but anyone who enjoys dystopian fiction I think would probably enjoy this story, it makes for a good afternoon read.

About the Author

I grew up on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, where my father was its dentist. That was interesting. I went to The University of Kansas during the tumultuous 1960s. That was interesting, too. For the first half of my adult career I worked in newspaper journalism. You couldn’t call that boring. I won my share of honors, twice winning the award for investigative reporting from the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU. For the second half of my career I was Director of University Relations at The University of Kansas Medical Center. There were some boring times, but the exciting episodes made up for it. I retired at the end of 2010 from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, where I was its media relations officer. You see, my degree from KU was not in journalism, but in art history. Unfortunately, my father died when I was 21 so I couldn’t make him eat his words about that art history degree not being worth anything. I’ve had stints living in Italy and in Japan.

During all this time I’ve been putting words on paper, creating fiction. My works don’t fit into neat genres, unless that rather new genre “quirky” applies. And each work is quirky in its own way. What that means for me is that in each work is evidence of a deep search within myself. Sometimes it’s scary what you find in there.

I’m semi-retired now in Kansas City, keeping busy with a lot of things, among them promoting my fiction and creating new works. That search within yourself never ends.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Mr. Attwood at 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.