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Featured Book Reviews

 

Who Really Killed Stella?

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Death of a Diva: From Berlin to Broadway
by Brigitte Goldstein
Pierredor Books

reviewed by Jacquelyn Gilchrist

"Each witness had a personal agenda, and each brought a skewed perspective to the story. Each had a multitude of sins and motives to sweep under the carpet woven of lies and distortions."

Grand in its scope and intricate in its design, this ambitious story attempts to bridge time and space—and accomplishes both quite nicely. Likewise, the author seamlessly melds the murder mystery and historical fiction genres, although the story reads much more like intertwined biographies of fictional characters and real-life individuals. ... (read more)

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A New Man Learns His Trade

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Twin River II: Have Weapons Will Travel
by Michael Fields
iUniverse

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Quote"

The novel opens in 1966, guiding the readers through the picturesque Tomoka River in Florida as a father and son enjoy their fishing vacation aboard the "Have Weapons Will Travel" boat. If readers have not read the author's first book in the series, Twin River, prepare to be floored: a nonchalant, casual scene turns dark without a moments notice. From this moment onward, Fields has his audience captivated and eager to discover how a sympathetic, Catcher In the Rye-loving fourteen-year-old Wesley Palladin steps into his father's shoes and evolves into a prolific hitman. ... (read more)

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A Time for Change

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Southern Winds A' Changing
by Elizabeth Carroll Foster
iUniverse

reviewed by Anita Lock

"She said our relationship be remarkable. A white woman and Afro-American woman living like sisters."

The year is 1932. Allise DeWitt is a well-educated white woman and the wife of a landowner. Maizee Colson is an woman and a sharecropper's daughter, living and working on DeWitt farm. The two women who seem to have nothing in common acuneducated Afro-American tually have more than one may expect. For starters, they are connected via Quent, Allise's husband, who rapes and gets Maizee pregnant—unbeknown at the time to a very expectant Allise. As a result, Allise and Maizee give birth to his boys who are roughly the same age. Maizee longs to be respected as an individual. ... (read more)

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Mystery Dance

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One More Dance
by Valentine Cardinale
Outskirts Press

reviewed by Barbara Mims Deming

"So far he had managed to avoid contact with the police.... If only he hadn't lost his cool that night..."

Widower, Julian Case, enjoys attending a wedding in Italy, especially meeting and dancing the night away with university professor, Alegra Rossini. Winging his way home, he can't get her off his mind and plans to see the lovely woman again. Such thoughts are put on hold when he arrives home to find his son, Leo, almost beaten to death. Family, employees at Julian's real estate firm, and close friends rally around as a father vows to not only protect his family... (read more)

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A Job To Do

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South of Good
by Randall Reneau
Create Space

reviewed by Anita Lock

"In less than ten days, I'd gone from being a sworn law enforcement officer to a co-conspirator in a drug deal."

South of Good is a story about Hardin Steel, a sheriff who is constantly trying to nab drug dealers in a South Texas border county. When he attempts to capture the ringleader of a Mexican drug cartel, Steel is unaware of the compromises he will have to make to get the job done, as well as protect those who are near and dear to him. ... (read more)

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Encouraging the Classics

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Classics: Why We Should Encourage Children to Read Them
by Fiza Pathan

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"Through this book, I in a very humble and modest way have tried to propagate my testimony about classics and what they can do for many."

Mumbai-born author and teacher Fiza Pathan believes fervently that reading classic books enhances imagination and improves language skills. She bases her theory on experience: At an early age, she read Bram Stoker's Dracula, inciting in her a love of good grammar and grand ideas. In her teaching, she observes that children who frequently surf the Internet or watch TV (even educational channels) tend merely to ingest... (read more)

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Living Your Whole Life

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The ABC's of Staying Young
by Roswitha McIntosh
illustrated by Mimi Stuart
RLM Publishing
reviewed by Mihir Shah

"We may want to count our blessings and remember that life is a fleeting gift, too short to waste a single moment in gloom."

Best-selling author of The Madman and His Mistress, Roswitha McIntosh, is back with an introspective, yet simple and profound take on aging gracefully and living right. In one hundred pages, McIntosh packs in well-researched, well-referenced insights on preserving the energy of one's youth. ... (read more)

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A Path to Healing

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The Healing
by Saeeda Hafiz

reviewed by Diane Elliott

"I decided that commitment is a combination of Art, attitude and alchemy."

Against a tragic background that few are able to transcend this powerful memoir leads us on a path to healing. Hafiz, a holistic nutritionist and yoga instructor, paints pictures that show us how to heal our bodies with healthy food, yoga, and exercise—and our minds with meditation and psychotherapy. She takes us on a journey into a land of holistic health that can have a social and spiritual impact. As Hafiz's body suffers from sugar deprivation, she is thrown into flashbacks from her abusive family life. These flashbacks propel her into the need to understand herself and to rise above those beginnings. ... (read more)

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A Riveting Read

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The Goa File: Argentina 1945-1983
by James G. Skinner
Cyberwit.net

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Just try to stop this government from committing suicide. Remember, if the Americans sit on the fence, we've had it."

The year is 1982 and Joe Friedberg and his dismantling crew board the Gaviota, an Argentine navel ship. Joe, an entrepreneur of sorts, has recently purchased the deeds to a defunct Edinburgh company. His first scrap metal project—one that he's been planning for years—is to go to South Georgia Island. Southeast of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia was once a whaling hub, but now a ghost town of empty industrial buildings. ... (read more)

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A Southern Twist

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Southern Stories
by David Henry Maring
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Sounds like there's hard feeling between y'all... that would be an understatement."

Southern Stories is a collection of five short stories set primarily but not exclusively in South Carolina. Maring's tales focus on an assortment of human-interest themes that center on love, family, and friendship; animosity and adversity connected with marital infidelity; and various battles/wars in the United States. ... Retired circuit judge turned author of "spellbinding, can't-put-down suspense/thriller novels" has produced a delightful anthology distinct from any of his previous works. ... (read more)

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Perfect Woman

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Darla the Muse
by Kerry L. Barger

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Only the pure essence of the divine feminine lifegiver can liberate a mortal man to create the most lovely and most beautiful of all handiworks."

When Erik Eckerd first meets Darla at an IHOP restaurant, he knows that there is something special about the young lady. Old enough to be Darla's father, the late fifty- year-old Erik begins to pursue Darla, and even more so after his immense research on the term "muse" and learning about Muse's powerful connection with mortal beings. Now fully enamored with Darla but not revealing his true feelings toward her, Erik finds out that Darla is engaged. ... (read more)

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Pyrrhus Continues

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A Pyrrhic Victory: Volume II, Destiny Unfolds
by Ian Crouch
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Pantauchus was shocked with pain and fear. Seeing the man almost immobilized, Pyrrhus attacked again, transfixing Pantauchus's left leg."

For many people history is a boring subject, especially ancient history. Yet the problem usually lies not in the content but in the method of delivering it. History is rich with excitement, brimming over with tales of adventure, romance, tragedy, and triumph. But usually the best way to get this across to someone is not through a collection of facts and dates but by presenting it in a way that brings it back to life. Good historical fiction is frequently the best way to accomplish this, and the author proves in his latest volume on the life of Pyrrhus that he... (read more)

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Panoramic Storytelling

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Serene Maiden
by James G. Skinner
Cyberwit.net

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"The Al Qaeda movement was not only spreading throughout the world, its strategy of promoting independent splinter groups able to act on their own... working. "

Author of The Goa File, James G. Skinner's Serene Maiden draws from his own experiences as a former Honorary British consul in Spain and injects the story with impeccable research and consular anecdotes, resulting in a reasonably accurate, yet fictional account of the inner working of Spanish drug cartels between the inlets of Europe and Galicia, Spain. While the narrative itself might be classified as a fast-paced thriller, it would be better regarded as a fusion of thriller and historical fiction due to the numerous inclusions of current historical figures and globally-catastrophic events. ... (read more)

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The Poignancy of Despair

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Bedtime for Seneca: Five Tragic Tales
by M. Duda
Michael\Duda

reviewed by John E. Roper

"Chrissy rocked in her seat and whimpered. Some people whispered. Andrew stared at himself, two rows of seats back, holding a comic book, and hunkered down, as if hiding in the chair."

Most people love a happy ending. Although tales like Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet continue to be read and even adapted to film, the most popular stories are usually ones where the main character somehow manages to rise above circumstances, beat the odds, or find true love. But real life is messy and sometimes, despite our best efforts, ends in tragedy. The ancient Greek writers recognized this, and the literary form that emerged from their understanding attempted to impart some form of moral lesson from the devastating events they wrote about. ... (read more)

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A New Mythology

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Aegis Incursion
by S. S. Segran
INKmagination

reviewed by Michael Radon

"The man in black started dissolving right in front of their eyes and dispersed into a cloud of particles that began to glow a deep blood-red."

The sequel to Aegis Rising brings us back into the lives of Jag, Tegan, Aari, Mariah, and Kody as the five young incarnations foretold by an ancient hidden prophecy. However, their memories of their adventure in the village of Dema-Ki have been mysteriously erased, causing a strain in their families and their own friendship. But when a summer road trip to California turns hazardous, memories begin returning, and superpowers along with them. ... (read more)

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Zombies Among Us

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The Miseducation of the Zombie
by Timothe Davis
CreateSpace

reviewed by Anita Lock

"Once upon a time, in a far distant world, there was a Revolution..."

In an otherworldly time period, the United Federation of Sectors is under terrorist attack by rabid zombies. And who better to restore peace among the Other World Beings (OWBs) but Joe V. Al (Yes, you pronounced it out correctly—"jo-vi-al"). Known by his peers as Vic, the "part police officer, part detective, and part politician" who acts more like a gumshoe in his role as a peace-keeping Senior Serenity Ambassador, works with his tightly knit crew to find out the truth about the warlike zombies. ... (read more)

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First Chapter Reviews


First Chapter Review archive

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Mary Lou's Brew
by Jennifer Craig
Friesen Press

The Dean of the Academy of Sophists has a problem. Her department is about to be run off campus—literally. The proposed new site seems nice enough, albeit built on a former graveyard, but it forms a sort of exile across town from the main campus. ... (read more)

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Behind The Lies
by Joe Smiga
Xlibris

Three men meet in the bowels of the earth in a room that is "fifty feet below ground level to avoid electronic listening devices" and plastered with maps of the Middle East. The purpose of the cloistered gathering is to come up with an inside source not only to confirm the creation of Iran's nuclear... (read more)

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Undercurrents
by Chris O'Grady
Amazon Digital Services

Immediately, O'Grady throws a clear contrast at readers. Mike Hayes is a published author. Relatively unknown save for his cult fans on the outskirts of the mainstream, but published. On the other side of the coin there's Allen Davenport, writer of Sundown Beach. ... (read more)

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Click
by Rebecca Cook
New Rivers Press

It goes without saying that to open a book well, you have to give readers something in the world to invest in. Cook introduces us right away to Ronnie, a woman who by the second paragraph alone, offers a story of heartbreak and loss. In time we discover that a car accident claimed the lives... (read more)

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