Posted in e-books, fiction, Kindle, New York, Review on September 23, 2012

Earlier this year I reviewed an excellent historical fiction novel by Ed Brodow called Fixer.  If you haven’t picked that one up, definitely add it to your TBR (to be read) list.

Ed contacted me again and asked if I would like to review his new book, Women from Venus.  This book contains four short stories that have interesting twists at the end…

In the first novella, Women From Venus, psychologist Robert Elgar’s successful career as a debunker of alien kidnappings is sabotaged when a beautiful abductee charges him with rape.

The Man Who Could Not Make Up His Mind depicts the ordeal of Clifford Day Vanderwall as his career is destroyed by a predatory fortune hunter in this hilarious satire about love among New York’s upper crust.

Intent on revenge, ex-Marine Tommy Courten tracks his sister’s psychopathic killer to a remote South American
jungle only to be shocked by what he discovers about his own true nature in The Stamp.

In I’ll Take Manhattan, the Lenape Indians offer proof that their tribe is the rightful owner of Manhattan Island and they want it back.

Review:

Ed had a lot to live up to after I read Fixer and loved it!  He did not disappoint with with these four short stories.  In fact, I didn’t want the stories to end, I wanted them to continue!  The stories twist and turn in the end and what you think is going to happen or should happen, doesn’t.

I think my favorite was I’ll Take Manhattan because the thought of a group of people lying claim to Manhattan which is nothing but an island…well that is crazy and can you imagine how much people would lose if all of a sudden ownership of the land reverted to a group of people?!  Crazy!

Gracie and April enjoyed the stories too and give them four paws

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, mystery, Review, suspense on September 21, 2012

Last to Die by author Tess Gerritsen is the latest (#10) in the Rizzoli & Isles series…you know, that show that is on TNT!  I will admit that I don’t watch the TV show and it has been a loooooong time since I read a book in this series, but that didn’t stop me from picking up this book!  But more on that in my review.

Interview with Tess Gerritsen:

What inspired the characters of Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli?  — Jane was modeled after female cops I’ve met through the years.  They were tough, smart women who have had to work hard to be accepted in what’s been traditionally a man’s profession. Jane’s very much my opposite — she’s brash, unafraid to speak her mind, and not above a little arm twisting if it’s necessary.  Maura is very much like me: introverted, logical, and something of a loner.  In fact, a lot of Maura’s biographical details come straight from my own life, from where she went to college and med school to what kind of car she drives.

What was it like writing about children as crime fighters, rather than victims, of crime? — It was a lot of fun, because it fulfilled my own childhood fantasy of being a crime fighter.  I think it’s a universal fantasy entertained by children, that they’re heroes, capable of feats that adults don’t give them credit for.  And the teenaged trio in LAST TO DIE was particularly fun to write about because they’re the outcasts, the self-described “weirdos” whom no one respects.  When they can do heroic things, it’s even more of an achievement.

How did you originally become interested in writing thrillers?  What from your childhood impacted this? — I’ve always loved the mystery genre, because of my childhood addiction to Nancy Drew novels.  Nancy was a role model for a whole generation of girls.  She was smart, spunky, and independent — and that’s what I imagined every girl detective must be.  But as I grew older, I gravitated toward darker mysteries. Murder, after all, is not a light-hearted subject. My medical training forced me to see death face to face, and those details naturally made it into the books.

How do you use your background as a doctor to enhance your books? — A great deal of my medical training shows up when I write from Maura’s point of view.  Doctors learn to approach puzzles in a logical way, eliminating the possibilities until they reach the one logical conclusion.  That’s the way of thinking that dictates how Maura approaches a problem.  Her memories of medical school and residency are oftentimes my own experiences.

What’s it like to watch the show on TNT? — It’s both fun and a little strange, since these are my characters — except they’re different.  They’re funnier, more glamorous, and way more attractive on TV.  And they’re a lot more girlfriend-y, which is why so many women have gravitated toward the show. The female-buddy-cop show is something we haven’t seen since Cagney and Lacey three decades ago.  It was about time for a new one!

You can read here Tess’ blog post about why she wrote this book.

 

Synopsis:

For the second time in his short life, Teddy Clock has survived a massacre. Two years ago, he barely escaped when his entire family was slaughtered. Now, at fourteen, in a hideous echo of the past, Teddy is the lone survivor of his foster family’s mass murder. Orphaned once more, the traumatized teenager has nowhere to turn—until the Boston PD puts detective Jane Rizzoli on the case. Determined to protect this young man, Jane discovers that what seemed like a coincidence is instead just one horrifying part of a relentless killer’s merciless mission.

Jane spirits Teddy to the exclusive Evensong boarding school, a sanctuary where young victims of violent crime learn the secrets and skills of survival in a dangerous world. But even behind locked gates, and surrounded by acres of sheltering Maine wilderness, Jane fears that Evensong’s mysterious benefactors aren’t the only ones watching. When strange blood-splattered dolls are found dangling from a tree, Jane knows that her instincts are dead on. And when she meets Will Yablonski and Claire Ward, students whose tragic pasts bear a shocking resemblance to Teddy’s, it becomes chillingly clear that a circling predator has more than one victim in mind.

Joining forces with her trusted partner, medical examiner Maura Isles, Jane is determined to keep these orphans safe from harm. But an unspeakable secret dooms the children’s fate—unless Jane and Maura can finally put an end to an obsessed killer’s twisted quest.

Review:

As I mentioned above it has been awhile since I have read a book by Tess Gerritsen.  I remember enjoying her books but not sure why I stopped reading in this particular series.  But that doesn’t matter because after reading this book I want to go back and figure out what books I have missed in the series and read them as well!  Last to Die grabbed me from from the first few chapters…who was this mystery woman that was saving the children?  Why were the foster families of these children being murdered?  It didn’t make any sense….until you get near the end!  The interaction between Maura and Jane keeps you hopping because while they may be friends and have the same goals, there is sometimes a little tension….but that may be because I’ve missed something in the books I’ve missed.  Anyway, there are many twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat and eyes glued to the pages wondering what could possibly happen next!

Gracie and April give this book 5 paws and if you have not read this series before, start at the beginning with The Surgeon because while you could read this book and not really miss out on anything, starting at the beginning of a series will introduce you to the two main characters and you will understand their relationship better!

 

The Giveaway:

This is open to all US residents.  Fill out the form below and a winner will be chosen on Sunday, September 30th.

Posted in Medical Thriller, Review, Seattle, suspense on June 11, 2012

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.

In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.

Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.

The publisher was kind enough to supply me with an e-book copy of Dead End Deal and also provide some Q&A with the author!

Q & A:

WHAT MADE YOU TAKE THE PATH FROM NEUROSURGEON TO AUTHOR AND WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

 Writing always interested me. Even in grade school I read like a fiend. So it seemed like a good idea to major in English instead of the traditional chemistry or zoology when I was taking my premed courses. This caused me considerable grief because it was difficult to get in all my required credits. But I figured once I got into medical school I’d never have another shot at the literature courses. And that’s exactly what happened —medical school and post graduate training consumed all my time. Then one Saturday, after starting practice, I came home from making rounds at the hospital and decided to start writing. Just like that. I began a novel that ended up to be really awful. Then I wrote another one, which was better but still not ready for prime time. At that point I started trolling for an agent and finally secured one, but could not sell my work. Years later, I got the call I’d been waiting for. It was quite a thrill. I guess, in the end, my biggest challenge was finding enough time to devote to writing. For me the writing process is difficult and requires a ton of work. I now enjoy the luxury of having sufficient time to work on my craft. It’s a dream come true.

 WHAT WAS THE RESEARCH BEHIND DEAD END DEAL?

 This is a blitz-pace thriller about a Seattle neurosurgeon who, while in Korea, is framed for a murder. Now hunted by police he must evade a professional hit man while trying to find a way back to the United States. I figure it’s Three Days of The Condor meets Michael Crichton.

 I got the idea for the story when I was a guest lecturer at a medical school in Seoul, South Korea. I was staying at the Walker Hill Sheraton hotel across the Han river from the hospital. So all the scenes (hotel, downtown Seoul, and the Korean hospital) were from notes and snapshots I took while there. (I always travel with a small point and shoot camera in my pocket). The brief description of the surgical procedure comes from my own experience.

 My neurosurgeon protagonist, Jon Ritter, escapes via a route I personally took when figuring out how he might return to the United States without a passport. Again, the scenes were written with the help of snapshots. So, the short answer to the question is that all the research for the story came from personal experience. By the way, I find digital photography a great help when writing. I view a relevant snapshot on the screen as I write. This help me accurately describe what I’m seeing.

 WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF WRITING A MEDICAL THRILLER?

 People who read medical thrillers are usually interested in medical details, just as readers of legal thrillers find law interesting. What is difficult is adding sufficient medical detail to satisfy a reader without making descriptions or facts boring. This is one reason I try to move my stories along at a fast clip. Thrillers are intended to thrill, not lecture. Fast pace, good plot, interesting characters are the elements that should be in a medical thriller.

SYNOPSIS:

 World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world.  His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions.  But when the procedure is slated for testing, it all comes to an abrupt and terrifying halt.  Ritter’s colleague is gunned down and Ritter himself is threatened by a radical anti-abortion group that not only claims responsibility, but promises more of the same.

 Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help.  Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea.  But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.

 After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario:  The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Fiest.

REVIEW:

 I have always enjoyed a good mystery/thriller novel.  Maybe it dates back to my Nancy Drew days, but I love trying to figure out who is behind everything or why or just seeing people put into situations that are a bit out of the norm.  That said, this book did not disappoint!  The plot line was interesting since it dealt with Alzheimer’s and a potential cure (and having a parent going through this right now, it hit close to home and how I wish it were true!) and one person’s goal to shut down that research and medical advancement.  I was on the edge of my seat during sections of the book when the main character had to use his wits to get out of certain situations and escape the Korean government because they thought he killed a patient.  (and this government is one of those that you don’t want to be found guilty of that sort of crime!).  There is a hired assassin after Jon, but he manages to elude him and outwit him most of the time. 

I had never read anything by Allen Wyler but I will be searching for his other books because if they are anything like Dead End Deal they are going to be good!

I give this 4 stars and two thumbs up….definitely pick up a copy of this book next time you are in the mood for a medical thriller, you will not be disappointed!

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Posted in fiction, Review, suspense on June 7, 2012

I know I haven’t posted anything in a few weeks, bad me.  But I have been reading and am working on a few reviews over the next week.  This is what is coming up in review world:

Lowcountry Punch by Boo Walker, Dead End Deal by Allen Wyler, The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All were really good books so be on the lookout for the reviews!

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Posted in California, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on April 30, 2012

This week’s feature is an older book…circa 1997.  Ok, so older but not that old!  And doing research on the author realized she died in 2006.  Guess that means no more books in this series, but there are 6 to enjoy.

Anywho…the book is Delilah Doolittle and the Purloined Pooch and the author is Patricia Guiver.

Synopsis:
 
Sunny Southern California seems an unlikely place for a British widow to call home. But pet detective Delilah Doolittle is probably the least eccentric–if not the most civilized–of Surf City’s resident population. With the astute Doberman pinscher Watson sniffing out clues, Delilah follows the trails of missing animals, which often lead to the worst of human nature. The first thrilling pet detective mystery has Delilah Doolittle searching for a champion German shepherd. But when she finds a murdered man instead, it’s up to Delilah to collar a killer!
 
Review:
 
I love dogs, so any book with a dog in it is usually a winner with me.  The book started off a bit slow for me but once I got into the story I really enjoyed the story.  I didn’t figure out the killer and was suprised when this person was revealed.  Definitely not who I was expecting!  I’m not sure if I will continue with this series since there are so many books to read, but it is worth a read.

 

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Posted in fiction, Historical, New York, Review on February 14, 2012

I love getting random emails from authors asking me to review a book, especially when the book is something I probably wouldn’t have normally picked up or even known about.  Stretching the mind is a good thing!

Ed Brodow contacted me about reading and reviewing Fixer which is fiction but loosely based on his Grandfather’s life in New York in the early 1900’s and especially dealt with the Jewish population in New York.  He graciously sent me an e-book copy to read.

 

From the slums of the Lower East Side to New Orleans, the Vatican, and the bloody battle of Belleau Wood, Fixer is the spellbinding tale of a fearless politician with a limp and a thirty-eight who is faced with an impossible choice between his career and his integrity.

Harry Leonnoff, uneducated son of Russian Jewish immigrants, overcomes the poverty of the Lower East Side, a crippling bout with polio, and rampant anti-Semitism to become the admired Robin Hood of Depression-Era New York. He helps four mayors get elected, saves nine innocent black men from the electric chair, and comes to the aid of immigrants and the poor. But the enmity of Fiorello La Guardia may be too much even for Harry Leonnoff to fix.

 

 Ed was also kind enough to let me interview him for this review.

SBR:  What made you decide to write a book loosely based on your Grandfather’s life?

EB: My grandfather was the most extraordinary human being I’ve ever met. His story is remarkable and yet no one alive today knows who he was. That has always disturbed me. For about 40 years, I’ve thought about telling the story. Why it came avalanching out when it did — about five years ago — I am not really sure, but better late than never. Incidentally, I would have written a memoir if I’d been in possession of enough facts, but I wasn’t so I made most of it up.

SBR: How long did it take you to research the facts you needed for your novel and then write the novel itself?

EB: I did all the research and wrote the first draft in seven weeks. It just came flying out. Whoosh! Then I spent two years polishing it.

SBR: What is your biggest obstacle when writing and how do you overcome it?

EB:  I am a wonderful story teller but my style is economical (which I’m proud of, by the way). Sometimes I gloss over the details. My solution is to (1) carefully organize my ideas and outline the chapters; (2) do lots of research; and (3) answer the question, “What does the reader want to know?”

SBR:  What actors would you choose to play your main characters in a movie version of your book?

EB: Everyone tells me that Fixer would be a great movie. For Harry Leonnoff, I could cast Daniel Day-Lewis (I have a feeling he would ace it), Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, or Nicholas Cage (he seems to understand that New York ethnic thing). For Fiorello, Jack Nicholson (he’d be great because he is short and has a great sense of humor), Paul Giamatti, John Malkovich, or Christoff Waltz.

SBR: Who are two of your favorite authors and what are you reading now?

EB: Jim Harrison and Hemingway, both fabulous story tellers. I’m reading Off to the Side by Jim Harrison.

My Review:

My normal preferred genres of books usually doesn’t include historical novels.  I don’t know why, but maybe the writers didn’t really impress me with their descriptions…or maybe I just got older and my tastes changed (kind of like they do with food).  Needless to say, I truly enjoyed reading Fixer and getting a taste of what it was like in the early 1900’s in New York and what it was like to be an immigrant and Jewish on top of that.  Politics were a whole different game back then and it was fascinating to learn about positions that don’t exist any more, but perhaps they should.

The author takes you through a very historic period in New York and the dark and seedy underbelly of politics.  While the book is fiction, there is some truth to the story.  He weaves a tale that makes you feel like you are there and living in that moment and can imagine what it was like to be an immigrant at the turn of the century.

This story really grabbed me and kept me entranced with the characters and how they overcame adversity for their time.

I definitely recommend this book and give it 2 thumbs up!  If you have a Kindle or other E-book reader it is a steal at $2.99 on Smashwords.

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Posted in Las Vegas, Review, women on January 14, 2012

 

Today’s (way overdue) review is for A Slot Machine Ate My Midlife Crisis by Irene Woodbury.  This is Irene’s first novel and was inspired by her love to travel, especially to Las Vegas!  She came up with the idea for this novel in 2006 and after many years of research, A Slot Machine was born.  She said that writing this novel was her mid-life crisis…..I suppose there are worse things that writing a novel!

Synopsis from Irene’s website:

This darkly funny novel describes Wendy Sinclair’s spin-crazy life in Las Vegas after she impulsively decides to not return to Houston following a bizarre girls’ weekend in 2005.

The confused, unhappy 45-year-old newlywed soon rents a ramshackle apartment in a building filled with misfits; wallows in a blur of spas, malls and buffets, and, ultimately, becomes a designer of cocktail waitress uniforms and an Ann-Margret impersonator in a casino show with Elvis.

She also hangs with some pretty colorful characters.  Paula’s her bold, brassy glamazon BFF who’s looser than a Casino Royale slot.  Maxine’s her saucy former-Tropicana-showgirl boss.  Paige and Serena are two twenty-something blackjack dealers she shops, gambles, and clubs up a storm with.  Major crushes on a hunky pilot and sexy former rock star are also part of the mix.

And then there are the phone fights with Roger, Wendy’s workaholic husband waiting impatiently in Houston.  Their clashes are louder and more raucous than a hot craps table at Caesar’s!   Does she go back to him, or does her midlife crisis become a midlife makeover?

My Thoughts:

I will have to admit that I picked this book up and started reading it and had to put it back down.  I’m not sure if it was my frame of mind or the main character, Wendy, but I wanted to grab her by the arms and shake her and ask her what her problem was!  Who takes off for a long weekend in Vegas with a self-absorbed friend and then decides to not come back to a new marriage?  If this is a mid-life crisis it was definitely going to be a doozy!

The story got better as I went along but the ending was a bit of a surprise.  I won’t spoil it for you but it wasn’t what I expected that’s for sure.

Overall I would give this 3 stars.  It was good but I’ve read better and I’ve read worse.

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