Archive for April, 2012

Review: Love Thy Neighbor – Mark Gilleo

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
Paperback: 438 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (March 27, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611880343
ISBN-13: 978-1611880342
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Order E-book here:


Clark Hayden – Graduate Student in Robotics


Clark Hayden is a graduate student trying to help his mother navigate through the loss of his father while she continues to live in their house near Washington DC. With his mother’s diminishing mental capacity becoming the norm, Clark expects a certain amount of craziness as he heads home for the holidays. What he couldn’t possibly anticipate, though, is that he would find himself catapulted into the middle of the terrorist operation. As the holiday festivities reach a crescendo, a terrorist cell – which happens to be across the street – is activated. Suddenly Clark is discovering things he never knew about deadly chemicals, secret government operations, suspiciously missing neighbors, …


This was an exciting, fast paced thriller. The main antagonist, was a strong Muslim woman. That could be a positive or negative, since Women are not typically in charge of terrorist groups. However, in the context of this story I think it worked. She was cold and calculating, just the way a good villain should be.

There were also plenty of twists along the way. If I were to have one complaint, it would be that there seemed to be way too many peripheral characters and more than enough story line characters. I think 6 or 7 investigators at all different levels, all with their own goals/stories was a little much and tended to be a little confusing.

But the characters that were there were for the most part believable. There was a romance though that seemed a bit quick. Small complaints aside though, when the overall story is looked at I think the plot and the story were well written, and this is an author I would read again.

I’d recommend this to older teens and adults due to the language and mature content. But for a fast paced thriller and a good weekend read, I think you’d probably like it.



(This part is true.)

In late 1999 a woman from Vienna, Virginia, a suburb ten miles from the White House as the crow flies, called the CIA. The woman, a fifty-something mother of three, phoned to report what she referred to as potential terrorists living across the street from her middle-class home. She went on to explain what she had been seeing in her otherwise quiet neighborhood: Strange men of seemingly Middle-Eastern descent using their cell phones in the yard. Meetings in the middle of the night with bumper-to-bumper curbside parking, expensive cars rubbing ends with vans and common Japanese imports. A constant flow of young men, some who seemed to stay for long periods of time without introducing themselves to anyone in the neighborhood. The construction of a six-foot wooden fence to hide the backyard from the street only made the property more suspicious.

Upon hearing a layperson’s description of suspicious behavior, the CIA promptly dismissed the woman and her phone call. (Ironically, the woman lived less than a quarter of a mile from a CIA installation, though it was not CIA headquarters as was later reported.)

In the days and weeks following 9/11, the intelligence community in the U.S. began to learn the identities of the nineteen hijackers who had flown the planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. In the process of their investigation they discovered that two of the hijackers, one on each of the planes that hit the World Trade Towers, had listed a particular house in Vienna, Virginia as a place of residence.

The FBI and various other agencies swooped in on the unassuming neighborhood and began knocking on doors. When they reached the house of a certain mother of three, she stopped them dead in their tracks. She was purported to have said, “I called the CIA two years ago to report that terrorists were living across the street and no one did anything.”

The CIA claimed to have no record of a phone call.

The news networks set up cameras and began broadcasting from the residential street. ABC, NBC, FOX. The FBI followed up with further inquiries. The woman’s story was later bounced around the various post 9/11 committees and intelligence hearings on Capitol Hill. (Incidentally, after 9/11, the CIA closed its multi-story facility in the neighborhood where the terrorist reportedly lived. In 2006 the empty building was finally torn down and, as of early 2011, was being replaced with another office building).

There has been much speculation about what the government should have or could have known prior to 9/11. The answer is not simple. There have been anecdotal stories of people in Florida and elsewhere who claimed to have reported similar “terrorist” type activities by suspicious people prior to 9/11. None of these stories have been proven.

What we do know is that with the exception of the flight school instructor in Minnesota who questioned the motive of a student who was interested in flying an aircraft without learning how to land, and an unheeded warning from actor James Woods who was on a plane from Boston with several of the purported terrorists while they were doing a trial run, the woman from Vienna, Virginia was the country’s best chance to prevent 9/11. To date, there has been no verification of any other pre-9/11 warnings from the general public so far in advance of that fateful day in September.

For me, there is no doubt as to the validity of the claims of the woman in Vienna.

She lived in the house where I grew up. She is my mother.

Mark Gilleo. October, 2011. Washington DC.

* * *

Ariana turned on the nightlight and closed the door to her daughter’s room. She walked down the carpeted hall towards the light stretching out from the plastic chandelier over the dining room table. Her husband’s chair was empty and she quietly called out his name. No response. As Ariana turned the corner to the kitchen and reached for the knob on the cabinet over the counter, eight hundred pages of advertising crashed into her rib cage, sucking the wind from her lungs. As his wife doubled over, Nazim raised the thick Yellow Book with both hands and hit her on her back, driving her body to the floor.

“Don’t you ever disobey me in front of others again.”

Ariana coughed. There was no blood. This time. She tried to speak but her lips only quivered. Her thick-framed glasses rested on the floor, out of reach. Her brain fought to make sense of what happened, what had set her husband off. It could have been anything. But every curse had its blessing, and for Ariana the blessing was the fact that Nazim didn’t hit her in front of Liana. A blessing that the child didn’t see her mother being punched. The reason was simple. Nazim was afraid of his daughter. Afraid of what she could say now that she could speak.

The curse was that Ariana never knew when she had crossed the line. She never knew when the next blow was coming. She merely had to wait until they were alone to learn her fate for past indiscretions.

Ariana gasped slowly for air. She didn’t cry. The pain she felt in her side wasn’t bad enough to give her husband the satisfaction.

“When I say it is time to leave, it is time to leave. There is no room for negotiation in this marriage.”

Ariana panted as her mind flashed back to the Christmas party. She immediately realized her faux pas. “I didn’t want to be rude to Maria. She spent days making dessert. She is old. Do we not respect our elders anymore?”

Nazim pushed his wife onto the floor with his knee, a reaction Ariana fully expected. “You are my wife. This is about you and me. Our neighbor has nothing to do with it.” Nazim looked down at Ariana sprawled on the linoleum and spit on her with more mock than saliva.

“Maria is my friend.”

“Well, her son is coming home and she doesn’t need you.”

Nazim dropped the yellow book on the counter with a thud and went to the basement. Ariana gathered herself, pushing her body onto all fours and then pulling herself up by the front of the oven. She looked at the Yellow Book and her blood boiled. It was like getting hit by a cinderblock with soft edges. When it hit flush, it left very little bruising. As her husband intended. For a man of slight build, Nazim could generate power when a beating was needed.

Ariana took inventory of herself, one hand propping herself up on the counter. She had been beaten worse. Far worse. By other men before she met her husband. Her eyes moved beyond the Yellow Pages and settled on the knife set on the counter, the shiny German steel resting in its wooden block holder. She grabbed the fillet knife, caressed the blade with her eyes, and then pushed the thought from her mind.

Her husband called her from the basement and she snapped out of her momentary daze. “Coming,” she answered, putting the knife back in its designated slot in the wood. She knew what was coming next. It was always the same. A physical assault followed by a sexual one. She reached up her skirt and removed her panties. There was no sense in having another pair ripped, even if robbing Nazim of the joy would cost her a punch or two.

Christmas, the season of giving, she thought as she made her way down the stairs into the chilly basement.

March 27th:  Review~ Writing To The Heart Of The Matter
March 28th:  Review & Guest Post~The Top Shelf
March 29th:  Review~CMash Loves To Read
March 30th:  Review & Guest Post~Tontowilliams’ Electronic Scrapbook
April 1st:  Review~Me and Reading
April 2nd: Review~Sweeping Me
April 5th:  Joel Andre, Author
April 9th:  Review~Practical Frugality
April 10th:  Review~Rhodes Review
April 11th: Review~Coffee and a  Keyboard
April 12th:  Review~b00k r3vi3ws
April 13th: Review~Writers and  Authors
April 16th:  Review~ Book Lover Stop
April 18th: Review~ The Book Faery Reviews
April 19th:  Review~ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
April 20th:  Review~ Jagged Edge Reviews
April 20th:  Review & Guest Post~ Read 2 Review
April 21st: Review~ Purple Penguin Reviews
April 23rd:  Review & Interview~ Words By Webb
April 26th:  Review~ Kickin Back With Kiwi
April 30th:  Review~ The Many Thoughts of a Reader
May 1st:  Review~ Reviews By Molly
May 3rd: Review~ Ryder Islington’s Blog
May 8th:  Review~ Keenly Kristin
May 11th: Review~ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
May 14th:  Review~ Books and Needlepoint
May 15th:  Review & Interview~ Hott Books
May 16th:  Review~ Simply Stacie
May 19th: Interview~ Hott Books
May 22nd:  Review~ Blue Archipelago Reviews
May 24th:  Review~ Everything Distils Into Reading
May 26th:  Review~ Sweeping The USA
June 4th:  Review~ Celticlady’s Reviews
June 7th:  Review~ Kim’s Bookish Place
June 8th:  Review~ Froggarita’s Bookcase
June 9th:  Review~ JeanBookNerd

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, has lived and worked in Asia, and speaks fluent Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His two most recent novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative writing competition. The Story Plant will publish his next novel, SWEAT in 2012.

Be sure and enter our Giveaway for Mr. Gilleo’s next novel Sweat soon to be released by going here.

*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.

Giveaway – Sweat – Mark Gilleo

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Thanks to Mr. Aronica at The Story Plant I’m able to offer my readers 1 signed copy of this book to be released this summer. 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 04/24/2012.
7) This giveaway is open to residents of US. No PO Box addresses (street mailing only).

Review: Goats Eat Cans: Volume 1 – Steven Novak

Saturday, April 7th, 2012
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 19, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1469969475
ISBN-13: 978-1469969473
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Order E-book here:


Steven Novak has written what amounts to a comic memoir of his life.  Through a series of essays he takes us through the various stages, from pre-adolescence on through.

As a reader we get to experience many of his adventures, or I should say mis-adventures, dealing with everything a person normally experiences throughout their life.  One of the most memorable scenes I can recall from the book was his first attempt at losing his virginity and how he ended up in a cast as the result.

For an entertaining read I’d recommend it.  It is strictly for adults though.  There is a lot of of strong language, some potty humor, and adult situations.  For that I’d say older teens and adults would be the primary audience.

About the Author

Born in Chicago Illinois, Steven Novak has spent the whole of his life creating. After attending The Columbus College of Art and Design for four years he moved to California where he married his wife. The pair have been together for nearly a decade. He likes pizza. He’s sort of a nerd. He has terrible luck and worse personal hygiene. He also hates having to write bios about himself. He thinks bios are stupid. His work can be found online at

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Leyane at FSB Associates 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: Safe Text: Protecting Your Teen – Diane Griffin

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Ebook: 54 pages
Publisher: Smashwords, Amazon, B&N
Language: English
Order book here:



Do you have a teenager?  Do they own a cell phone?  If the answer to both of these questions is Yes, then this book is for you.

Some statistics from the book:

1 in 5 teens have sent a nude or semi nude photo of themselves via their cell phone.

24% of all fatal car accidents of teens were due to cell phone usage.

42% of teens have been bullied while online, and 58% of those have not told their parents.

Not only this you can be held legally liable for your teens actions regarding texting. For example, if you know your teen is sexting, and don’t do anything to stop it, you could be charged with contributing to delinquency of a minor, negligent supervision, and be sued for monetary damages. Forwarding such images can result in child pornography charges, jail time, and registry as a sex offender.

Sexting is not the only area covered, it also covers bullying, and texting while driving.

Ms. Griffin gives a lot of internet links for more information, actual legal examples, some of the laws for your state, and advice to parents. There is also a family cell phoen use agreement for you and your teens to fill out and sign, and a long list of resources.

I’ve seen a lot on the dangers of these different aspects, and to have it all in a nice concise format I think is a great thing. All the information is useful, and for that I’d recommend it to any parents out there.

About the Author

Diane Griffin is the founder and President of Security First and Associates. Ms. Griffin works with a variety of clients throughout government and industry. Ms. Griffin has also worked in a wide array of fields to include training, facilitation, communications, human resources and industrial security management.

Diane is the author of Everything You Wanted to Know About the Security Clearance Process… but are afraid to ask, Get a Security Clearnace Job, How a Security Clearance Can Change Your Life, and Safe Texting.

Safe Texting is the first in a series of books about Internet and Technology safety for parents, teachers, and teens. Each book will have a hands on Internet Project to go with it for students both in the classroom and home schooled to explore these important topics. The projects will be based on the Webquest model and will include standards based, best practices in education. The projects are being developed by Janis Friesler, an educator with many national award winning projects under her belt. The launch of the project, Safe Texting will be announced by May, 2011 on Diane’s Facebook Page, Technology Safety for Teens.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Brandi at BK Walker books 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.