Archive for September, 2012

Review: Revenant – Allan Leverone

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Rock Bottom Books; First edition (June 29, 2012)
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Mike McMahon – Chief of Police.
Sharon Dupont – Rookie cop, partners with Mike.


Strange things keep happening in Paskagankee.   This time around Mike McMahon and his partner Sharon DuPont are called upon to solve the disappearance of Earl Manning.  They are also brought into a story on the theft of a magical Native American stone.  This stone allows the possessor to bring back and control the dead, a zombie puppet or what’s called a Revenant.

It’s difficult to tell too much of this story out of my desire not to spoil things for readers.  I will say like it’s previous encarnation, Paskagankee, I found this one delightful in it’s darkness and the depraved characters the author is willing to come up with.  If there were one complain it’s that some of the events happened possibly too quickly compared to what we see in the opening of the book.  Certain parts seemed a little rushed and anti-climatic.

If I were to rate it, I’d say older teens and adults due to the content and language.  If you are a fan of zombie stories, or horror stories in general pick this one up.  Be sure and come by to tell us what you think.  With the Season of Ghoblins and Ghouls quickly approaching, this would be a great story to read on the chilly Halloween night.  And if you happen to hear a knock on the door while reading it, it’s probably just somebody l0oking for Candy.

About the Author

Allan Leverone is the author of the Amazon bestselling thriller, THE LONELY MILE (StoneHouse Ink), and the thrillers, FINAL VECTOR (Medallion Press) and PASKAGANKEE (StoneGate Ink), as well as the horror novellas DARKNESS FALLS and HEARTLESS(Delirium Books). Allan is a 2012 Derringer Award winner as well as a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee. His short fiction has been featured in Needle: A Magazine of Noir, A Twist of Noir, Shroud Magazine, Morpheus Tales, Mysterical-e and many other print and online magazines, as well as numerous anthologies. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sue, three children, one beautiful granddaughter and a cat who has used up eight lives. Connect with Allan at as well as on Facebook and Twitter, @AllanLeverone.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to at Molly – 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.

Review: X-Wing Mercy Kill – Aaron Allston

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Hardcover: 416 pages
LucasBooks (August 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0345530594
ISBN-13: 978-0345530592
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Voort “Piggy” SaBinring – Mentally Enhanced Gamorrean Wraith Member.
Viull “Scut” Gorsat – An extolled Yuzhan Vong Wrait Member.


It’s 44 Years after the Battle of Yavin. Face Loren has found Voort “Piggy” SaBinring who is now teaching Mathematics. He convinces Voort to rejoin Wraith Squadron. The Mission to prove that General Thaal was part of the Lecersen Conspiracy. Goort must also face his own prejudices when confronted with a team member who is a Yuzhan Vong.


This was my first time reading one of the X-Wing novels though I have all the previous ones, I’d not found the time or inclination to read them. I’m certainly going to try to find the time to do so now. I’m not sure what they are like, but this one was a lot of fun to read. It was like a novelized version of an Oceans 11 Heist movie. There were disguises, scams, and intrigue. Just when you thought things were headed one way, the author switched courses on you.

I think the characters were well developed, and we get to see growth in some, especially in Voort. The situations seem about as real as you can get in a Star Wars novel but the characters are what brings one back time and time again as a fan. These characters feel real, they laugh, they love, they die.

I found Voort the most interesting of the characters, and we get to see him the most including in flashbacks to past missions, so as a reader we get a better understanding of him. It would be nice in future novels to explore some of the other characters inner demons more, particularly with Scut.

The audio book which is what provided this review is well put together.  The reader manages to alter his voice for various characters, you hear the subtle sounds in the background such as pipes hissing, doors opening, etc., along with the sounds you’d expect music, lightsabers, blaster fire.  All of these add depth to the book that you miss out on with just the written page.

I saw nothing objectionable outside the standard violence you’d see in a Star Wars movie. If I were to give it a rating, I’d give it a PG for teens/older readers.

If you loved the X-Wing Series, particularly the Wraith Squadron parts, then pick this up, or if you are just a Star Wars fan in general. I think you’d enjoy it. Be sure and stop by to let us know what you think.

About the Author

Aaron Allston is the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi books Outcast and Backlash; the Star Wars: Legacy of the Force novels Betrayal, Exile, and Fury; the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines adventures Rebel Dream and Rebel Stand; novels in the popular Star Wars X-Wing series; and the Doc Sidhe novels, which combine 1930s-style hero-pulps with Celtic myth. He is also a longtime game designer and in 2006 was inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design (AAGAD) Hall of Fame. He lives in Central Texas.

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

The Classic Corner Review: Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062073605
ISBN-13: 978-0062073600
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Miss Marple – Amateur Detective
Colonel Protheroe – Victim
Griselda Clement – Wife to Vicar Clement.
Leonard Clement – Vicar and Narrator of the story.
Lettice Protheroe – Colonel’s Daughter – Angry over father for banishing her boyfriend.
Lawrence Redding – Artist/Photographer – Thrown out of mansion.
Anne Protheroe – Colonel’s Wife. Caught in a compromising position with Lawrence Redding.


Colonel Protheroe is dead. His body was found slumped over a desk in the vicarage, a bullet hole in his head. Miss Marple, amateur investigator and professional busybody takes it upon herself to figure out the case. The suspect list is long, will Miss Marple find the killer, or will they get away with murder.


I’m a huge fan of these classic mystery novels. I like the puzzle solving aspect, and trying to figure out who did it, and why before the investigator. So far, I’ve been unsuccessful in this task. Murder at the Vicarage is no different. There’s a broad range of suspects, multiple motives for killing, and plenty of false leads to keep you guessing. In the end, the story makes complete sense, and the murderer fits the murder.

If there is one drawback, I would say that due to it’s age and time period that more contemporary readers might have difficutly with the language and writing style. While it’s a bit distracting at first, once you get into the flow of the story, you find that it gets easier.

I wouldn’t know how to rate this. On one hand, there is a murder, but on the other the book is very old. I think I’d probably put a PG-13 on it just because of described violence and the fact that there is a murder. If you like writers of old though, check this one out. I’m not sure if it’s one of Ms. Christie’s best since I’ve only began reading her recently, but it was enjoyable. If you read it, drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Agatha Christie was born in 1890 and created the detective Hercule Poirot in her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920).

She achieved wide popularity with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and produced a total of eighty novels and short-story collections over six decades.

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

Review: You Came Back – Christopher Coake

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Hardcover: 432 pages
Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (June 12, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1455506702
ISBN-13: 978-1455506705
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Mark Fife – A web designer, recovering from the death of his young son.
Allison Daniel – Mark”s new girfriend.
Chloe – Mark’s Ex-Wife and mother to their son Brandon.
Connie Pelham – Owns Mark and Chloe’s old house.  She’s the ignition point for this story.


It’s been a few years since the death of Mark and Chloe’s son Brandon. They’ve divorced and both have moved on with their lives. But Mark still holds a lot of guilt within him for Brandon’s death. Things start to spin out of control when a woman named Connie Pelham enters the picture. She lives in Mark and Chloe’s old house, and she came to tell Mark that Brendan is still there looking for him.


This book was set in and around the area I live in, Columbus Ohio. So it was a real treat to see the fictional characters journey around the city and recognize all the places he went to. It’s strange but to me this made that part of the book fun. When he went to a certain park, I’d been to the park.

Outside that, I found the story very gripping. I originally pictured more of a ghost story, but it turned out to be more about the story of a family dealing with their grief, and how that grief can alter the lives of those involved. The characters were well developed, the locations were well described so even not knowing them, I could picture them. And the plot fit.

If I were to rate it, I’d say due to some language/events that it would be rated PG-13. If you like psychological books, and going into the minds of people to see what makes them tick, then pick this up. I think you might enjoy it. And be sure to drop back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Christopher Coake is the author of YOU CAME BACK (Grand Central Publishing, out June 2012) as well as the collection of short stories WE’RE IN TROUBLE (Harcourt 2005), which won the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship. In addition, Coake was listed among “Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists” in 2007. His stories have been published in several literary journals, and anthologized in BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2004 and THE BEST AMERICAN NOIR OF THE CENTURY. A native Hoosier, he received his M.F.A. in fiction from Ohio State University. He and his wife Stephanie Lauer live in Reno, where Coake is a professor of English at the University of Nevada.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Anna at Hachette Book Group 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: Sweat – Mark Gilleo

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (August 28, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1611880513
ISBN-13: 978-1611880519
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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: Burglars Can’t be Choosers – Lawrence Block

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTorch (February 24, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0060582553
ISBN-13: 978-0060582555
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Bernie Rhodenbarr – 35 Year old professional Burglar.
Ray Kirschmann – NYPD Police Officer
Loren Kramer – Partner to Ray Kirschmann.
Ruth Hightower – A woman with an interest in Bernie and his business.
J. Francis Flaxford – The Victim


Bernie Rhodenbarr is a career burglar. He’s been to jail at least once already because of a botched robbery. This time around, he’s hired by a stranger to break into the home of J. Francis Flaxford and retrieve a blue leather box. It sounds simple enough, or so Bernie thinks. Then the cops show up at the door, and the body of J. Francis Flaxford is discovered lying covered in blood in his bedroom. Bernie goes on the run out to prove his innocence and find the true killer.


This was an entertaining twist on the mystery. Usually the protagonist is the cop or the detective, this time around, it’s the burglar. There is a lot of humor and lightheartedness in telling the story, particularly between the characters of Bernie and Ruth. As a reader, I find myself understanding Bernie, and his motivations. While he might be on the wrong side of the law, he comes across as a character you’d actually like to hang out with.

The story itself takes you from point to point as Bernie uncovers more and more clues towards who might have killed Flaxford. I’m sure if I re-read it now and watched for obvious writing clues, I’d see that who did it fit. In the end, the true killer made sense, the motives for the killing made sense, and how Bernie came to be involved.

I think this can be read by mid-teens or older readers. There didn’t seem to be a lot of strong language¸and outside the one killing, not a lot of violence. It’s a mystery written in the classic style of the greats. I look forward to Bernie’s next outing – The Burglar in the Closet which was the basis for the Whoopi Goldberg movie Burglar in which she plays a female Bernie.


Chapter One

A handful of minutes after nine I hoisted my Bloomingdale’s shopping bag and moved out of a doorway and into step with a tall blond fellow with a faintly equine cast to his face. He was carrying an attaché case that looked too thin to be of much use. Like a high-fashion model, you might say. His topcoat was one of those new plaid ones and his hair, a little longer than my own, had been cut a strand at a time.

“We meet again,” I said, which was an out-and-out lie. “Turned out to be a pretty fair day after all.”

He smiled, perfectly willing to believe that we were neighbors who exchanged a friendly word now and then. “Little brisk this evening,” he said.

I agreed that it was brisk. There wasn’t much he might have said that I wouldn’t have gladly agreed with. He looked respectable and he was walking east on Sixty-seventh Street and that was all I required of him. I didn’t want to befriend him or play handball with him or learn the name of his barber or coax him into swapping shortbread recipes. I just wanted him to help me get past a doorman.

The doorman in question was planted in front of a seven-story brick building halfway down the block, and he’d been very nearly as stationary as the building itself during the past half-hour. I’d given him that much time to desert his post and he hadn’t taken advantage of it, so now I was going to have to walk right past him. That’s easier than it sounds, and it’s certainly easier than the various alternatives I’d considered earlier — circling the block and going through another building to get into the airshaft behind the building I wanted, doing a human fly act onto the fire escape, torching my way through steel grilles on basement or first-floor windows. All of those things are possible, I suppose, but so what? The proper method is Euclidean in its simplicity: the shortest route into a building is through its front door.

I’d hoped that my tall blond companion might be a resident of the building himself. We could have continued our conversation, such as it was, right through the lobby and onto the elevator. But this was not to be. When it was clear that he was not going to turn from his eastward course I said, “Well, here’s where I get off. Hope that business in Connecticut works out for you.”

This ought to have puzzled him, as we hadn’t talked about any business in Connecticut or elsewhere, but perhaps he assumed I’d mistaken him for someone else. It hardly mattered. He kept on walking toward Mecca while I turned to my right (toward Brazil), gave the doorman a quick unfocused nod and smile, warbled a pleasant “Good evening” at a gray-haired woman with more than the traditional number of chins, chuckled unconvincingly when her Yorkie made snapping sounds at my heels, and strode purposefully onto the self-service elevator.

I rode to the fourth floor, poked around until I found the stairway, and walked down a flight. I almost always do this and I sometimes wonder why. I think someone must have done it in a movie once and I was evidently impressed, but it’s really a waste of time, especially when the elevator in question is self-service. The one thing it does is fix in your mind where the stairs are, should you later need them in a hurry, but you ought to be able to locate stairs without scampering up or down them.

On the third floor, I found my way to Apartment 311 at the front of the building. I stood for a moment, letting my ears do the walking, and then I gave the bell a thorough ring and waited thirty thoughtful seconds before ringing it again.

And that, let me assure you, is not a waste of time. Public institutions throughout the fifty states provide food and clothing and shelter for lads who don’t ring the bell first. And it’s not enough just poking the silly thing. A couple of years back I rang the bell diligently enough at the Park Avenue co-op of a charming couple named Sandoval, poked the little button until my finger throbbed, and wound up going directly to jail without passing Go. The bell was out of order, the Sandovals were home scoffing toasted English muffins in the breakfast nook, and Bernard G. Rhodenbarr soon found himself in a little room with bars on the windows.

This bell was in order. When my second ring brought no more response than my first, I reached a hand beneath my topcoat — last year’s model, not plaid but olive — and drew a pigskin case from my trouser pocket. There were several keys in the case and several other useful things as well, these last made of the finest German steel. I opened my case, knocked on the door for luck, and set to work.

A funny thing. The better your building, the higher your monthly rental, the more efficient your doorman, why, the easier it’s going to be to crack your apartment. People who live in unattended walkups in Hell’s Kitchen will fasten half a dozen deadbolt locks to their doors and add a Segal police lock for insurance. Tenement dwellers take it for granted that junkies will come to kick their doors in and strong-arm types will rip the cylinders out of their locks, so they make things as secure as they possibly can. But if the building itself is so set up as to intimidate your garden variety snatch-and-grab artist, then most tenants make do with the lock the landlord provides.

In this case the landlord provided a Rabson …

About the Author

Lawrence Block is one of the most widely recognized names in the mystery genre. He has been named a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and is a four-time winner of the prestigious Edgar and Shamus Awards, as well as a recipient of prizes in France, Germany, and Japan. He received the Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association—only the third American to be given this award. He is a prolific author, having written more than fifty books and numerous short stories, and is a devoted New Yorker and an enthusiastic global traveler.

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Review: Children of the Fog – Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Paperback: 278 pages
Imajin Books (March 22, 2011)
ISBN-10: 098663106X
ISBN-13: 978-0986631061
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Order E-book here:


The Fog – Child Kidnapper
Sadie O’Connell – Mother going through marital and drinking problems.
Sam O’Connell – 5 Year old son of Sadie.
Leah Winters – Sadie’s best friend.
Philip O’Connell – Husband to Sadie, their marriage is fractured.


As a parent how would you react if your child was kidnapped. What would you do if you were forced to allow it to happen. That is what happens with Sadie O’Connell one night when she enters her son’s bedroom and finds him in the arms of serial kidnapper the Fog. A fight ensues, Sadie is injured, and The Fog with gun pressed against Sam’s neck threatens to send him back to her in pieces if she tells the cops what he looks like.


This was an emotionally driven tale. At some points you think it’s a tale of a mother’s love, at other times a thriller, and still other times a supernatural tale. There were times with the character of Sadie that I wanted to slap the snot out of her, and other times I felt really sad for her.

The characters are very well crafted, they draw out the intended emotions, and there are many twists and turns in the storyline as the pages are turned. It’s not quite like any other book I’ve read, so it’s hard to say if you like x author you’ll like this, but if you’re a fan of dramatic stories, thrillers or the like, then pick this up. I think you’ll really enjoy it. It was my first time reading something from this author, but she’ll definitely bring me back for more of her writing.

If I’d write it, I’d say for extremely adult situations, some language, and violence that it would be rated PG-13 or above. Definitely not for younger or more immature readers.

About the Author

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a Canadian author, whose is best known for Whale Song, which is now available in its third edition, the 2010 ebook edition.

Whale Song, an emotional mystery that explores controversial issues like assisted suicide, school bullies and racism, has captured the attention of numerous film companies. A screenplay, which Cheryl wrote with co-writer Alison Neuman, was completed in 2006, along with a movie treatment.

Cheryl is now in negotiations with a respected film producer/director.

The 2007 paperback edition of Whale Song went out of print as of February 1, 2009. All rights have been returned to the author.

In 2009, Cheryl branched off into romance with her debut romantic suspense Lancelot’s Lady, which will be released as an ebook in late September 2010. Since romance is a different genre from Cheryl’s usual suspense/thrillers and YA, she wrote Lancelot’s Lady under the pen name of Cherish D’Angelo. Lancelot’s Lady was a semi-finalist in the Dorchester Publishing Next Best Celler contest hosted by Textnovel. It also won an Editor’s Choice award from Textnovel in 2010.

A novelette of suspense titled Remote Control was released in ebook edition in July 2010; and a collection of stories titled Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories is slated for release in August 2010.

In September 2005, Cheryl’s gripping action-packed techno-thriller The River was released. This carefully researched novel explores the mysterious Nahanni River area, nanotechnology and man’s obsession with longevity. The River has been compared to works by Michael Crichton, James Patterson, Dean Koontz and Dan Brown.

Cheryl is also the author of the 2004 “sizzling psychic suspense” Divine Intervention, a ‘psi-fi’ suspense thriller (or paranormal romance) that has been compared to works by authors such as Iris Johansen, Kay Hooper and Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb’s ‘In Death’ series.

All of these novels have made’s bestsellers list.

In 2006, Cheryl Kaye Tardif participated in a hilarious new TV series ‘A Total Write-Off’, hosted by comedian Barbara North. In 2004, Cheryl was nominated for the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Award. In 2003, she wrote a public service announcement for a racial harmony campaign. Her PSA script, One Voice ~ One World, placed third and was produced and aired on cable channels in Alberta.

Cheryl has not only held hundreds of book signings, she has organized multi-author signings, held a virtual book tour and taught others how to do their own, and she has presented at conferences in Canada and the US. Cheryl is known amongst her peers for her creativity and knowledge regarding book marketing, and in 2009 she embarked on a new venture as a Book Marketing Coach. She is a member of various social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, AmazonConnect and Chapters Online Community.

Cheryl has been interviewed by numerous TV and radio stations in Canada and the US, and she has been featured in a variety of newspapers and magazines in both countries. According to photojournalist, Heather Andrews Miller, who interviewed the author for a Real Estate Weekly article, Cheryl is a “gem in the literary world”. And according to Graham Hicks of the Edmonton Sun, “Cheryl Kaye Tardif specializes in mile-a-minute pot-boiler mysteries, usually set in Western Canadian locales.”

As a teen, Cheryl was a journalist with a weekly newspaper column. Years later, she completed a course in Journalism and Short Story Writing and graduated with Highest Honors. She has worked as a motivational speaker for a respected international company, written material for a number of companies, and worked as a consultant in telemarketing, sales and promotion. But writing fiction with passion and vision is her dream.

Cheryl has completed her next novel, Children of the Fog, a terrifying suspense that asks, “how far are you willing to go for your child?” She has also completed Divine Justice, the second in the Divine mystery series, and has started another thriller, plus a YA novel, Finding Bliss, the first novel to be written on the iPhone 3G using the Notes application.

Born in Vancouver, BC, Cheryl Kaye Tardif was a “military brat” and a “military wife” who has lived all across Canada and in Bermuda. Now residing in Edmonton, AB, with her husband Marc, daughter Jessica and the family dog, she is an author that Booklist calls “a big hit in Canada…a name to reckon with south of the border”.

Cheryl is a member of the following associations:

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Author 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: Dark Legacy of Shannara: Wards of Faerie – Terry Brooks

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Hardcover: 384 pages
Del Rey; First Edition edition (August 21, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0345523474
ISBN-13: 978-0345523471
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Aphenglow Elessedil – Young female elf/druid.
Khyber Elessedil – Ard Rhys of the Druid Order
Arlingfant Elessedil – Chosen, Sister to Aphenglow


Aphenglow Elessedil was given the task of going through druid archives to discover missing magic. Through her endevors, the diary of a young girl is found. The diary details the young girls affair with a dark elf and how she had stolen from her protection all of the elfstones. A group of Druids, led by the re-awakened Ard Rhys take on the task of finding these missing Elfstones.


This had everything I’ve grown to love in a Terry Brooks book. There’s at times three different plots going on, and true Brooks fashion, by the end of the book, you are left with three cliffhangers. That can also be the one issue, because in most cases, it’s another year before the next installment comes out. However, this time readers are in for a bit of an easier time. The word is that each book is going to be released 6 months apart, which would put the next book in this series out in February.

I loved the characters, I love the familiar setting. Each time I read one I find myself feeling like I’m journeying back home in a sense. The sense of wonder is there about when specific characters or will appear such as Ohmsfords or Leahs, or how those appearances will manifest. Diving back into these books is indeed like going to a family reunion.

I found myself actually smiling when certain events occurred, or when I discovered what certain symbol meant such as the one on the front cover. The book was just really fun to read.

If there was one drawback, it would be in wondering whether Mr. Brooks has outused his bag of tricks. There are some events that occur in the book that seem to be a rehash, and perhaps it will be an example of the same story told differently. That is my hope.

I definitely recommend this book to his fans. If you are just wanting to Jump into Mr. Brooks books, you could do so with this entry, though a lot of history and storylines might be spoiled.

The audio book for this was provided to me by Random House. The speaker was a british woman with a very engaging accent. Listening to her read the book was a true delight, and the even attempted to alter her voice for the various character parts.

Whether you go for the audio, printed, or e-book version, I think if you love Fantasy, you’ll enjoy this story. Pick it up, and be sure to drop back by and let us know what you think.

About the Author

Terry Brooks is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books, including the Dark Legacy of Shannara adventure Wards of Faerie; the Legends of Shannara novels Bearers of the Black Staff and The Measure of the Magic; the Genesis of Shannara trilogy: Armageddon’s Children, The Elves of Cintra, and The Gypsy Morph; The Sword of Shannara; the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy: Ilse Witch, Antrax, and Morgawr; the High Druid of Shannara trilogy: Jarka Ruus, Tanequil, and Straken; the nonfiction book Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life; and the novel based upon the screenplay and story by George Lucas, Star Wars:® Episode I The Phantom Menace.™

His novels Running with the Demon and A Knight of the Word were selected by the Rocky Mountain News as two of the best science fiction/fantasy novels of the twentieth century. The author was a practicing attorney for many years but now writes full-time. He lives with his wife, Judine, in the Pacific Northwest.


“I found my way to fantasy/adventure. When I got there, I knew I’d found a home,” said Terence Dean Brooks, creator of the blockbuster, New York Times bestselling Shannara, Landover, and Word & Void series. Not only is Brooks at home in the highly competitive realm of fantasy literature, many would call him the genre’s modern-day patriarch – Tolkien’s successor. While that title is debatable, Brooks is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most prolific and successful authors of otherworld (and our world) fantasy. Few writers in any genre can boast a more entertaining collection of work – and a more ravenous and loyal fan base — than can Terry Brooks.

The most rewarding aspect to writing for Brooks is “when someone who never read a book reads [one of mine] and says that the experience changed everything and got them reading.” Because of his very engaging, quick-flowing writing style, countless numbers of young people have been introduced to the wonderful world of reading through Brooks’s adventures. The miraculous thing, however, is that these same fans – whether they’re now 20, 30, or 40 years old – still devour each new release like a starving man would a steak dinner. Credit Brooks’s boundless imagination, endearing characters, fresh storylines and underlying complexities for keeping his older, more discerning audience hooked.

Brooks began writing when he was just ten years old, but he did not discover fantasy until much later. As a high school student he jumped from writing science fiction to westerns to adventure to nonfiction, unable to settle on one form. That changed when, at the age of 21, Brooks was introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien provided Brooks with a forum “that would allow him to release onto paper his own ideas about life, love, and the wonder that fills his world,” according to his web site.

In 1977, after six trying years, Brooks published novel his first novel, The Sword of Shannara. And quickly it gave him – and his publisher (the newly created Ballantine imprint, Del Rey) – quite a thrill; the fantasy adventure featuring the young Halfling, Shea Ohmsford; the mysterious wizard Allanon; Flick, the trusty companion; and the demonic Warlock Lord, was not only well received — it was a smash, spending over five months on The New York Times bestseller list. In 1982 Brooks released the follow-up, The Elfstones of Shannara (which Brooks says may be his favorite), to equal success. He closed out the initial trilogy in 1985 with The Wishsong of Shannara, and has since completed two more Shannara sets, The Heritage of Shannara books and the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara books.

As fans of Brooks know, the man doesn’t like to stay put. “I lived in Illinois for the first 42 years of my life, and I told myself when I left in 1986 that I would never live any one place again,” Brooks said. He now spends his time between his homes in Seattle and Hawaii; he and his wife also spend a great deal of time on the road each year connecting with the fans. These same nomadic tendencies are also apparent in his writing. Instead of staying comfortably within his proven, bestselling Shannara series, Terry frequently takes chances, steps outside, and tries something new. His marvelous Landover and Word & Void series are the results. While both are vastly different from Shannara, they are equally compelling. Word & Void – a contemporary, dark urban fantasy series set in a fantasy-touched Illinois – is quite possibly Brooks’s most acclaimed series. The Rocky Mountain News called the series’ first two books (Running with the Demon and The Knight of the Word “two of the finest science fiction/fantasy novels of the 20th century.”

Good To Know

When The Sword of Shannara hit The New York Times bestseller list, Brooks became the first modern fantasy author to achieve that pinnacle.

The Sword of Shannara was also the first work of fiction to ever hit The New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. Thanks to a faithful and growing fan base, the books continue to reach the list.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was not Terry’s first novelization. He also novelized Steven Spielberg’s 1991 movie, Hook.

Brooks’s The Phantom Menace novelization is also not his only connection to George Lucas. Both The Sword of Shannara and the original Star Wars novel, A New Hope, were edited by Judy Lynn del Rey and published in the same year (1977) to blockbuster success.

The Sword of Shannara was initially turned down by DAW Books. Instead, DAW sent Terry to Lester del Rey, who recognized Terry’s blockbuster potential and bought it. And the rest, they say, is history.

Brooks’s influences include: J.R.R. Tolkien, Alexander Dumas, James Fenimore Cooper, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Richard at Random House 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.