Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: "Ghosts Of Havana" by Todd Moss

"Ghosts Of Havana" by Todd Moss published on September 6, 2016 so it is available for purchase now.

Judd Ryker is a former academic who now works for the American government as a state department crisis manager. His wife Jessica, although ostensibly a soccer mom is actually a covert CIA operative. Although Judd doesn't know it, his wife helps him behind the scenes.

Four friends from Maryland decide to take a fishing vacation off the coast of Florida. When their boat drifts into Cuban waters the Cuban navy promptly arrests all four men and throws them in jail. Judd is sent to negotiate their release. What he finds is that none of the details surrounding the incident make sense. Everyone around Judd is lying, they all have their own agenda regarding the politics that surround Cuban-American relations. Lives are in the balance though and Judd has to win the day to also save his own life and the lives of others.

This book was very well written and succinct. I always find it a great way of understanding what is happening in the world when an informed author writes an exciting story based on what's happing now. Todd Moss is the former deputy assistant secretary of state. Because of his intimate knowledge of the government, he imbues his books with details that feel real. 

Currently, actual US-Cuban relations are improving and changing, basing the book on real events allows for both a spectacular thriller and also lets the reader see behind the scenes so to speak. This is what makes Moss's books great. Beyond his strong characters, tight storyline and terrific grasp of how to keep the reader engaged, we also feel like the story just might be true. I give this book a 4 out of five stars.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Book Review: "Against All Grain Celebrations" by Danielle Walker

I am so thrilled to be reviewing Danielle Walker's newest cookbook, "Against All Grain Celebrations". This wonderfully creative Gluten Free and Paleo cookbook is out in stores on September 27,2016.

I have to confess, I'm a huge fan of Danielle Walker. I have both of her other cookbooks in hardcover, I follow her blog and get her newsletter. I must have pinned over a hundred of her recipes in the past few years and every recipe I've made has come out deliciously. I love that Mrs. Walker gives tips both in her book and online about how to make her recipes the best you can achieve.

Cooking Paleo and Gluten Free is hard. Not only is it difficult going without the regular, convenience foods everyone else can indulge in but acquiring all the myriad ingredients and then producing a successful recipe can seriously be daunting. In comes Danielle Walker and her cookbooks. I can't believe I can say this but I have only had success with her recipes, that's a miracle in the Paleo & GF world. I'd have to say that when I just go online to find recipes it's usually a 50-50 chance that the recipe will fail. This is usually no fault of my own, I know to follow directions explicitly. In fact, the first Christmas we were GF, more than half of our recipes were inedible. What a waste of food, effort and Christmas spirit! Needless to say, I didn't have Danielle's cookbooks, "Against All Grain Celebrations", "Danielle Walker's Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime" or "Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great" then. Now several years later, I'm looking forward to Christmas cooking & baking, especially with Danielle's newest cookbook specifically focusing on successful celebrations at hand.

(5+ stars means this book is BETTER
than great, it totally ROCKS!)
"Against All Grain Celebrations" is laid out in celebratory holiday sections like Halloween, Mother's & Father's Day, Easter, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Birthdays and even Fourth of July Barbecues and Autumn Dinner Parties! You'll also find conversion charts, a recipe index and a special diet index where Danielle has specified which of her recipes conform to certain special diets or food group exclusions like needing to be egg free.

Mrs. Walker also has a section on the most successful ingredients and brands to use. Many times it matters just what almond flour or other ingredient brand you use. It can mean  failure if you have the wrong grind on your flour for instance. Danielle has done ALL the work for you in her cookbooks and website. Danielle Walker draws on her own experience of fighting an autoimmune disease and she knows the pain of not being able to eat what other's eat. Now with this newest cookbook you can have company over and know that the food will please everyone. You will not have to risk your health by cooking "regular" recipes for those who do not need to eat a special diet. No one will suspect that it's grain free because it will taste so delicious, it won't matter that it's made using Paleo & Gluten Free ingredients. Speaking for those of use who need to be Paleo and Gluten Free to save our health and lives, I thank Danielle Walker for all her amazing diligent work.

Lastly, I received this cookbook as a download onto my Kindle and I've personally found that I enjoy the hardcover cookbooks much more and find them easier to use. I didn't get to enjoy the colorful, encouraging and mouthwatering photographs because mine were black & white. Before Christmas, like you, I will be purchasing my own hardcover of this cookbook. I really can't imagine trying to do holiday cooking without Danielle Walker's excellent help. Now with her three cookbooks in print I have a huge plethora of great recipes to choose from.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Book Review: "The Comfort Of Black" by Carter Wilson

"The Comfort Of Black" by Carter Wilson has already been published and is available for purchase. This title has won several awards including the following:

WINNER: 2016 Colorado Book Awards (Thriller)
WINNER: 2016 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense)
WINNER: 2016 National Indie Excellence Award(Suspense)      

FINALIST: 2016 RONE Award(Suspense Category)

Hannah has survived a brutal, violent childhood and she still has nightmares about Billy, her abusive father, who is now in jail. Hannah ended up raising her younger sister after Billy was incarcerated for almost killing her and her mother committed suicide. Hanna is a strong woman though, she didn't let her childhood stop her from building a successful life. She got an education, then met and married Dallin who has become very successful with his Internet security firm. But Hannah isn't sure she's happy, she drinks too much and misses her husband who seems to be more and more distant lately. He also seems to be hiding something.

All of Hannah's fears about Dallin coalesce when she hears him talking in his sleep. The things he mumbles that night, that he wants to hurt women, chills his wife. Hannah realizes she has to know what her husband might be hiding and that decision sets off a complicated set of circumstances that has Hannah running for her life. Finding out what is truth and who is lying about her life becomes Hannah's focus. Surviving her new reality will be even more difficult than surviving her abusive childhood.

I really liked this book but I didn't love it. I wanted to love it, I almost loved it but in the end I actually think that because I read excessively and have experienced some minor situations like in this book, I didn't find it as believable as I should have. I think most readers would agree with the award givers, this is an excellent read. Therefore although personally I'd rate it a 3.5 out of 5, I'll professionally giving it a 4. 

The characters are expertly written, the situations are heart pounding and the thriller leaves you breathless. The reader feels the main character's pain and confusion as she tries desperately to sort out what is happening to her life. When there seems no where to turn and no one to trust the reader feels caught in the quagmire that the author has so skillfully written. I really do think most readers will think this book is well worth their time. I recommend it and hope you will go out and purchase this well priced thriller.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book Review: "Robert B. Parker's Debt To Pay" by Reed Farrel Coleman

"Robert B. Parker's Debt To Pay" by Reed Farrel Coleman  published on September 13, 2016 so it's available for purchase now. Reed Farrel Coleman has taken over writing Robert B. Parker's character Jesse Stone and now that I've read "Debt To Pay" I agree with The Huffington Post about the novel's success.
“This series can run forever in these new capable hands and readers will eagerly await each new book about Jesse Stone. I know I will.”
The Huffington Post

When Robert B. Parker died he left several strong characters such as Spencer and Jesse Stone, I think the readers are lucky that Reed Farrel Coleman agreed to bring the Jesse Stone character back to life. Several of my favorite authors are deceased, John D. MacDonald and Robert A. Heinlein to name a few, and I heartily miss their incredible characters. I mourn the fact there are to be no more of their engrossing books. It's great to feel like I'm getting on of my favorite author's back.

Not much is happening in Paradise, the small town where Jesse Stone is Chief of Police. Although there has been some annoying petty vandalism lately, Jesse is much more concerned about his ex wife Jenn's upcoming wedding. He received his invitation but because of their convoluted history, he just doesn't want to attend. Jesse is worried seeing Jenn will stir up a hornet's nest of emotions that he's worked hard to tamp down. Besides, he has a new woman in his life and he doesn't think Dianna will want to attend his ex's nuptials.

Jesse doesn't get to carry out his decision to skip the wedding though. An old foe has reared his deadly little head up and threatened everyone Jesse cares about, including his ex wife Jenn. Now Jesse has to try and puzzle out the clues to just what Mr. Peepers is planning. Peepers is a lethal shadowy, brilliant assassin who is nearly a ghost to law enforcement. Only Jesse and Suit have seen the madman's face, that and the fact that Jesse is the only one to ever thwart Mr. P's assassination plans have put all of Jesse's friends in the cross hairs.

I read every one of the Spencer books and several of the Jesse Stone novels by RBP. I also watched the tv versions of these characters. I guess what I'm saying is that I know what to expect from a Parker novel and I thought I'd be hard to convince that anyone could reanimate Parker's characters and make them as good as he wrote them. I had my doubts that I'd like this book by Coleman. I can honestly say I was shocked at how stunningly good this book was. I will certainly be picking up more of this series now that it has been brought back to life by Reed Farrel Coleman. He's one hell of a good writer. This is a 5 out of five read, don't miss this book.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Book Review: "The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag

"The 9th Girl" by Tami Hoag is out in print now just awaiting your download and it was so good I would highly recommend it.

Nikki Liska and Sam Kovac, homicide detectives in Minneapolis, are working on the "Doc Holiday" serial killer case when another victim shows up on New Years. It is unclear if the horribly disfigured woman was alive when she fell out of the trunk of a dark sedan into traffic. When the detectives arrive on the scene they're not sure if the now dead young woman is Doc Holiday's ninth victim or did someone else hate her enough to kill her. Before they figure out anything else Liska and Kovac need to identify the body. Who is missing their daughter on New Year's day?

Detective Liska is not only a dedicated homicide detective, she's also a mom and she's having trouble with her older son. The problems she's having at home compound as the case she's working becomes more and more complicated. When one of her son's friends turns up missing Liska battles the need to be in two places at once. When a task force to catch Doc Holiday is formed both detectives are pulled in too many directions and details are being missed. Someone killed their ninth victim, there's a missing sixteen year old girl and Doc Holiday continues to evade capture. Which details are related to one another in this book will shock you.

This is my second time reading this book. I read it when it was published but was too ill at that time to review it. Reading it a second time I was really surprised to find that it was so wonderfully complicated and detailed that it was just as enjoyable the second time around. Even though I almost never re-read books, I found this one so good that it was worth the second read. Liska and Kovac are great together. Although some reviewers said they found Liska's home problems annoying, I actually found them very realistic. The subplot with her son really added a lot to the story line, showing that Liska is more than just a detective, the extra details rounded out her character wonderfully. This is so well worth the reader's time. If you've ever read a Tami Hoag you know she never disappoints. If you haven't indulged then try this one, it's a winner.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Book Review: "The 1st Victim" by Tami Hoag

"The 1st Victim" by Tami Hoag is out in e-book awaiting your next need to read. The book is a short novel (61 pages) that introduces  the "Doc Holiday" serial Killer case that is continued in the fill length "The Ninth Girl" mystery.

Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are the detectives who catch the case of the first Jane Doe of the New Year. The victim has been beaten, raped and tortured before her dead body is thrown onto a lonely stretch of seldom used highway. The detectives suffer late nights agonizing over the fact that they cannot seem to identify the body of a well cared for young woman. Who is missing their daughter? The medical examiner estimates her age to be between eighteen and twenty two so why is there no missing girl inquiry looking for someone of her description?

This short mystery is a precursor to Hoag's "The Ninth Girl". Some of the previous reviewers bought this kindle offering for the low price of $1.99 mistakenly thinking it was a full length book. I can understand their ire at being left hanging with no satisfying ending for this book. That ending will come after reading "The Ninth Girl" which I will be reviewing several days from now. This spicy tidbit really whets your appetite for the full book to come, it sets up the story well and gives you the background to Doc Holiday's story.

I like the two detectives in this story, Sam and Nikki specifically because although they do an unusual job, hunting murders, they also come off as normal people with lives outside the horror they see on the job day after day. Det. Nikki Liska is divorced from a lazy pompous man who doesn't seem to like visiting their two children. She worries about raising her sons right and keeping them from harm. Sam Kovac is a well worn old time cop, he's unmarried and finds himself wishing he could do more for the victims he stands for. I can't wait to read "The Ninth Girl". My appetite has been piqued and I'm hungry for more.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Review: "Hit The Road, Jake!' by Cricket Rohman

"Hit The Road, Jake!" by Cricket Rohman will be published tomorrow, September 5, 2016. I read the first book in this series, "Wanted: An Honest Man" to prepare me for the this, the third book in her Lindsay & Jake series.

I'm chagrinned at how terrible this book was. It's actually one of the worst I've read in a long time, and I hate having to say that, it makes me feel bad for the author. When I did a review for Ms. Rohman's first book in this series I said I hoped her writing would improve and become less juvenile. I can happily say it did improve but the story was just ridiculous. I actually loved the premise of Lindsay and Jake driving across the country in a hugely expensive RV and helping school districts with their problems that didn't rate police involvement but did need solving. Cool idea, terribly executed. The mysteries were woefully simplistic and the behavior of the main characters was just hopeless. Here's an example.

I owned a parrot at one time. I therefore know they're very expensive and physically sensitive to their environment. They are also coveted by many people and I'd never leave my bird in it's cage in an open space where anyone could either hurt her for the thrill or steal her. Lindsay leaves her parrot in an open car in a campground when she and Jake use the restroom and even take the guard dog ( a 150lb mastiff) with them!! The car, as I said was left open with windows rolled all the way down so the bird didn't cook in the heat. Why the hell would you take your precious bird with you on a hike in the woods instead of leaving it in a protected and air conditioned RV?? Seriously?

It feels like this book was written for twelve year olds, except for the sex scenes which were lackluster and boring. This was not a book for me and I will not be reading any more of Rohman's other books.



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