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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me: A Memoir... of Sorts - A Review

Growing up in the Golden Age with a father that moved the family from Hollywood to England, who hung out with movie stars and the nations star politicians made young Ian, a thoughtful young boy, very curious. The family had good times and lean times, times when father was gone from the home. As he got older he realized his father was working for some clandestine branch of the government, a spy know less.
Unfortunately it was his father’s drinking that caused the family hard times, times when he was unemployable and young Ian often felt the wrath of his control-freak of a dad. It is the same for all boys that love yet abhor their father’s ways, they become shaped for better or worse by the experience and how they conduct their life from thereon is the same as or as diametrically opposite as they can from the example they had to live with, but no matter what no matter how hard you try a little always rubs off and scars you forever.
In Ian’s case it was the call to the ministry that saved him. God can be a harsh task master himself. Did he switch out one controlling father for another? Either way it is an interesting read, one of hope and inspiration a fractured memory and finally a mother’s love.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Queen of America - A Review

Like sweet nothings whispered by my lover to leave my marriage bed, to dalliance with her, I listened, spending the day enamored with Teresita, ‘Saint of Cabora’, until my wife accused me of an affair with the book and then I could not leave it alone until it was done and dusted.

Intended as a sequel to his other work, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, this novel stands alone in its own glory. Here, Urrea takes us on a journey with young Teresita, accompanied by her willful father, Tomas, as they leave their family ranch in Mexico where she is adored by many as a saint and pursued by others who saw her as the leader of rebellion, of change. Her father’s politics and her laying on of hands to heal caused mixed reactions in all they touched.

Along with their entourage, publishing mogul and rebel-rouser Don Lauro Aguirre and Segundo the trusted friend, the family moves to protect the Saint and to allow her to find the weary pilgrims, the sick and dying and instill hope whether it be in Yaquis, native to the area, or the son of rich businessmen travelling from afar, Teresita uses her powers, embodied in her after a near death experience as a child, as well as her healer’s knowledge of plants and roots, to heal all and sundry.

In an historical journey through Tucson, El Paso, San Francisco and back East to New York City we learn with great detail how this great land was tethered by rail and how commerce and religion where joined through newspapers to spread the word. We learn how a revered healer can be seen as a witch under other religious customs and we follow their plight through all its trials and tribulations. Not since John Galworthy wrote about the Forsyths has a saga of a family been so documented.

From his humble beginnings to now revered storyteller, this masterpiece elevates Urrea to a class above his peers, a first class, nay master class writer, who lays the narrative with poetic license at our feet, painting postcards with paragraphs. If Teresita is the Queen then surely, today, Urrea is King.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dead End - A review

Detective Inspector Geraldine Steele again graces the pages of Russell's latest British police procedural. Well plotted with a back story that is relevant for today's day and age, "Dead End" is another grim and gory murder that crosses her path to help Steele gain the eventual promotion to London's Metro force.
Although the story line was well paced, enthralling and the characters feel very real, both cops and victims, I feel like Russell actually missed out on a bigger picture here. True, DI Steele was investigating a murder--or two as it turns out--but I really liked the authenticity and the feel for the bereaved family and the kidnapping of the daughter by her Internet chat partner. This is just another murder mystery until you introduce the kidnapping. It almost makes me want to see the book written about the creepy developments of the abandoned teen and her running away, making the murder the back story. Although the book is fine and stands on its own merit, I was disappointed in the direction Russell took.
Hopefully with the next novel in the series, the London Metro adventure, Steele can have seen a psychiatrist and be over her depression and neurosis, because, although reflecting reality, we need our super-heroine to be back "on her game" and ready to enthrall us with powers of detection. It's okay to have a flawed antagonist, actually more entertaining when they are that way, but not when it gets in the way of the investigation. Save that for the side-kick.
Russell has a nicely developed character in the prime of her career. I'd like to see both of them continue to be successful.

Measure of Darkness - a review

I was at once intrigued and beguiled by the bubbling point of view of administrative assistant Alice Crane, who basically narratyes the entire story for us with tongue-in-cheek humor. Naomi Nantz, private investigator extraordinaire, has put together a team of retired law enforcement, attorneys, and hackers, not to mention their live-in cordon-bleu chef, to review and resolve those crimes that lesser human beings cannot handle.
In this case, the team is brought in by world famous child rescuer and former FBI agent, Randall Shane to help solve the murder of a MIT professor whose five-year-old musical child prodigy has been kidnapped and for whom Shane has been set up for the disappearance by murky unknown shadow-government agent-types.
When Shane is kidnapped from what was supposed to be the impregnable walls of the Nantz offices, the team takes it personally and sets out to sleuth the truth, rescue Shane, and find the missing child. In a web of deceit that leads to upper levels of government conspiracy to the Chinese triads, we are whiplashed through a fast-paced thriller and left with a well wrapped satisfying package.
The Alice Crane point of view throughout, especially when the action takes place out of her immediate view, becomes awkward. I thought the incessant babbling of the female view point a little heavy-handed, but this was before I found out that Chris Jordan is a Nome de plume for Rodman Philbrick, a man writing as a woman, and then I realized he over-dramatized the female role which affects the style. Another irritating habit is that each character exhibits the same sense of humor as the author (and narrator) which produces only a skin deep character evaluation. Elmore Leonard’s rule of writing Rule #10 should be applied, ‘try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.’ The book has a fine plot, effective outline, and is a scintillating thriller, but would benefit from being effectively edited.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Retribution - a review

In the most recent of the Tony Hill novels, McDermid again takes us into the dark recesses of the psychotic mind of not one but two criminals. One is a throwback to earlier work that Dr. Hill, a
law enforcement profiler, assisted Detective Inspector Carol Jordan with, the imprisoning of Jacko Vance. On the eve of D.I. Jordan’s murder, the investigative team having broken up and reassigned,
news comes that Vance has escaped from jail. Not only was there a murderer on the loose but he was looking for retribution on all and sundry who helped put him away.
While aiding in his capture and ducking his advances against them, family and their friends, Jordan’s team is asked to assist in solving what appears to be a serial killer that is attacking hookers, the regular street girls. Three have died so far and Hill has to try to get inside of the murderer’s head before the fourth one is found, bearing the tattoo, MINE, on one of their wrists. The deaths have all been so dissimilar in patterns: a drowning, crucifixion,and dismemberment, that without the tattoo they may never have been linked. When Hill finds the common link, the murder team heads in to arrest the suspect, but will they be too late.
Meanwhile Vance is playing havoc at his ex-wife’s home and is off on his own killing spree as Jordan and Hill stay close on his heels. When the deaths hit home, Jordan snaps, blaming Hill, and the eggshell membrane of their potential relationship is ripped, possibly beyond repair. Never before have I found two such unlikable protagonists as the uptight Jordan and the needy, clinging mess that Hill has become, actually mesh so finely that throughout all the flaws of their stuttering lives, the story still flows well.
Hats off to McDermid. Her storytelling ability is outstanding and “Retribution” is a top-drawer tale.

Nazareth Child - A review

As a trained investigator, Del Shannon tracked down one missing person after another, yet one proved more elusive than most, her mother. Having been taken from her Kentucky home as toddler by her father, Del
had never been able to put together enough information to discover her missing past, but with the death of her reclusive and alcoholic parent she has been given a chance to find out her heritage.
Turns out that the FBI are investigating the flamboyant cult leader Silas Rule back in Del’s home town of Nazareth Church and she is offered the opportunity to go in under cover to help the government discover if Rule is a blow-hard preacher or a Jim Jones figure leading his flock to eternal damnation, not to mention the last undercover agent they sent in has not been heard from for six weeks. Since Del has inherited the house in the community after her father’s passing, she has a legitimate reason to be in town to claim her property.
With ATFE agent Frank Falcone masquerading as her husband, the pair go into the lion’s den bent on discovering if the missing FBI agent is dead, or if Rule converted him to his right-wing zealot religion, and
for Del, a chance to ask the people of the area if they know her mother. Armed with an old photograph and a nine-millimeter Baby Eagle, Del heads out looking for her lost mother and runs into more trouble than can be expected.
Locked in the windowless church with all the preachers, other faithful followers, and with the dam at the top of the valley about to blow and flood the plains, will she ever get the chance she so desperately wanted or will the town be obliterated from Kentucky’s blue grass existence? James takes us on a wild chase to love life and redemption proving there is nothing to compare to a mother’s love. A great debut novel that will hold you spellbound to its dynamite conclusion.        

Cold Glory - A review

During the surrender at Appomattox, Grant and Lee were left alone for a short period,Anderson surmises what might have happened in that moment and introduces the reader to a secret treaty that the two generals agreed upon.
When this sought after treaty is unearthed with a clad of civil war-era weapons in southern Oklahoma, Nick Journey, a small college professor and amateur historian, inspects the findings and is
attacked by a secret society, the Glory Warriors, in an attempt to recover this forgotten treaty in an effort to overthrow our government, home-grown terrorists.
When the key political figures are assassinated, RIO—a small investigative branch of Homeland Security—takes the threats seriously, but not knowing who to trust on the inside agent Meg Tolman and
Nick Journey have to put their trust in each other as they race to save the life of the President. The race takes them on a wild chase, with the Glory Warriors operatives hot on their trail.
With well-built and engaging characters, Anderson throws in a part-time concert pianist as a Federal agent and a protagonist with a severely autistic child that allows converging relationships to develop and sets up the reader for the sequel: the next adventure.
In a tale rife with intrigue and suspicion, this debut novel from Anderson has something for conspiracy theorists, history buffs,Civil War aficionados, and mystery readers alike and is a fast-paced page turner down to the final twist.

Use Portal3W to promote your next project

As a self-published author writing the novel was only half the problem. Once I had figured out it was going to take longer to find an agent than it had taken the write the book – three years carved out of my life – I decided to rush print and go with a Print-On Demand house, InfinityPublishing, and get my first book out to my adoring public. After all I had another book to write and that was more pressing than getting an agent at that precise moment; finish and move on.

As all self-marketers realize, and I now became a salesman more than an author, I had to find a way for the public to discover me and while Facebook and Twitter are wonderful avenues it takes more than that. I had spent a lot of time researching publishing choices and so now my time was used in finding promotional ways to get Blood on His Hands discovered and at the lowest possible cost, I am the proverbial starving artist.

John Kremer has a great book out ‘1001 Ways to Market YourBooks’. Not all of the described ways where appropriate or possible but many were and I religiously went bout following his suggestions.

One of the most important ideas is to build a website. I had the ideas but not the knowhow and so I roped in my good friend James, who put together a spectacular site for me. I had studied other authors professionally done sites and using what I considered the best ingredients and my photography (along with a couple of video’s to enhance the effect) we concocted my site. Now people could get a visual before buying, and something other than just the Amazon page.

You do however need to now promote not just you and you book but your website too. As one of the many choices out there I turned to WORLDINACLICK, specialists in developing website internationally and at recession-pricing, definitely something with in my budget. They have put together a site designed for product marketing at Portal3W. Designed to promote you internationally, to offer exposure in over 20 languages their professionally prepared websites provide unlimited pages using your own specification and design. I urge you to check out their professional website and consider giving your product and website the opportunity to be promoted by these specialists so you can get on with your next project and put the marketing in the hands of the specialists.

The Writing Life - a review

As a writer with only one published novel I am always looking to learn more about the writing life, looking to hone my skills, to improve. I had hoped to glean some rare look into how to write skilfully from Dillard's writing. This 111 page book took me three days to read (normally I would have finished in 30 minutes) however I wanted to absorb each gem of knowledge, and so kept reading intently, taking breaks hoping it would get better the next time I picked it up. Most writers seem to spend an inordinate amount of time doing anything to avoid writing Dillard seemed to spend most of her time avoiding writing about writing, and if that was not annoying enough - I wanted the good stuff - the time she did spend on the writing life was so depressing that if I was reading this book in hopes of becoming a writer I'd have probably gone a slit my wrists. What a complete waste of time this book was.

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