A, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, F, Fiction, H, Lucas Davenport, M, Mini Review, Nina Reilly, O, Read in 2017, S, SERIES

September & October 2017 Reads

Well….. it’s obviously been awhile ūüė¶ September saw a HUGE reading slump…. I went from reading anywhere from 6-9 books to a whopping 3 in September…. October wasn’t that much better….. Here’s to hoping November is better ūüôā

So I’ll do a quick mini-review round up of my September and October reads. It’s so impressive, I tell ya …. ::eyeroll::

Sate of the Onion
Title: State of the Onion
Author: Julie Hyzy
Read: Sept. 3-6, 2017
Pages: 325
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the first in the White House Chef Mystery series …. it was a fun read that I enjoyed! It was cute, but not cutesie …. if that makes sense? I definitely am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Where They Found Her
Title: Where They Found Her
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Read: Sept. 10-19, 2017
Pages: 326
Source: Purchased New
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: So this one I found in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble. I had my eye on it when it first came out because I had read and LOVED her previous book,¬†Reconstructing Amelia, so I think I had high hopes for this one. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me right off the bat and I struggled to really get into it. And when it was all revealed in the end, it wasn’t as surprising as I had hoped for. So good, but not great.
Obstruction of Justice
Title: Obstruction of Justice
Author: Perri O’Shaughnessy
Read: Sept. 20-29, 2017
Pages: 512
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 3rd book in the Nina Reilly series. I have read and enjoyed the previous two so I was looking forward to this one! I enjoyed it and it definitely left me wanting to read the fourth book … if only they weren’t so long, I often find myself too intimidated by longer books these days….
Her Last Breath
Title: Her Last Breath
Author: Linda Castillo
Read: Oct. 2-5, 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 5th book in the Kate Burkholder series. I read and LOVED the first 4 in 2016 and had tried to pick this one up shortly after I read the 5th, but realized that I was a little burned out on the series. In fact, I can recall feeling like the books were all too similar to each other. So I set it aside and decided I’d come back to it later. Apparently a year later I decided it was time …. I’m glad I waited because I thoroughly enjoyed it! I had no trouble jumping right back into Kate’s life and I can’t wait to see where her and Tomasetti go in the future. I definitely recommend this series!
Pop Goes the Weasel
Title: Pop Goes the Weasel 
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Read: Oct. 8-13, 2017
Pages: 390
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: I read the first book in this series, Eeny Meeny,¬†¬†back in January of this year and I absolutely adored it! So I had high hopes for this one, but I wanted to let it sit for awhile (series burnout is real!) … and while I did enjoy this one, it definitely didn’t grab me as fast as the first book did. It was gruesome and a roller coaster ride, but I felt like it was a letdown from the first book. Yet I still want to continue on with this series, so it wasn’t terrible either. A solid thriller.
Beautiful Storm
Title: Beautiful Storm 
Author: Barbara Freethy
Read: Oct. 6-25, 2017
Pages: 321
Source: B&N Serial Reads
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: This book was October’s selection for Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads…. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, mainly because I don’t read a lot of romance. So I was a little unsure going into this one, but I was immediately intrigued by the storyline – the missing person’s case. If only it had been a little more on the intrigue and less on the romance (which really, wasn’t overbearing honestly…) it would have been a lot more interesting to me. So not something I would ever pick up on my own, but definitely a decent freebie read.
Winter Prey
Title: Winter Prey
Author: John Sandford
Read: Oct. 21-27, 2017
Pages: 400
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I remember very clearly thoroughly loving the previous book in this series, Silent Prey, so I was looking forward to getting to this 5th book in the Lucas Davenport series. Why did I wait so long between books?!? I really enjoyed this book. It was so creepy and suspenseful. I know I’m only on the 5th book in the series, but other than #2 they’ve all been home runs for me! Definitely makes me look forward to continuing on sooner rather than later!

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3/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2016

Review: Game of Crowns by Christopher Andersen

Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne
by Christopher Andersen

Game of Crowns

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 299

Read: July 11-22, 2016

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb:¬†One has been famous longer than anyone on the planet – a wily stateswoman and an enduring symbol of grace, power, and a bygone age. One is the great-granddaughter of a king’s mistress and a celebrated home wrecker who survived a firestorm of scorn to marry her lover and replace her archival, a beloved twentieth-century figure. One is a beautiful commoner, the university-educated daughter of a self-made entrepreneur, a fashion idol, wife of one future king and mother of another.

Master biographer Christopher Andersen takes readers behind palace walls to examine the surprising similarities and stark differences among three remarkable women – Queen Elizabeth; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Princess Kate. Andersen reveals what transpires within the royal family away from the public’s prying eyes; how the women actually feel about each other; how they differ as lovers, wives, and mothers; and how they are reshaping the landscape of the monarchy in this addictive read that will shock even those who are spellbound by the royal palace.


Review: When I first saw this book I was so excited and quickly placed it on my Paperbackswap wishlist. I was amazed at how quickly I snagged a copy! So when it arrived I jumped at the opportunity to start it immediately. And I will say it was an easy read. But there were some things that I didn’t really like about it.

I hated the way that Mr. Andersen portrayed Kate Middleton and her family. He made her look like she was planning¬†from an early age to marry into the royal family. And I’m sure growing up over in England it was a common dream of all the young that they would grow up to marry Prince William (or Harry) – I remember being a teenage girl and having a rather large crush on Prince Harry. But when Mr. Andersen finally brought Kate Middleton into the book, he portrayed her and her mother in what I would consider a very negative light. He made her mother look like she just pushed her daughter toward William while¬†scheming in the background in order to snag the future king. Now it may have indeed happened that way, but I prefer to look at Kate in a more positive light and can’t imagine her really scheming that hard just to become a royal. But what do I know? I also didn’t like how it seemed he sneered at Carole Middleton being a flight attendant turned business owner – what’s so wrong with a woman¬†being a flight attendant or a business owner? I just really didn’t like how he portrayed the whole Middleton family.

I got the distinct feeling that Mr. Andersen really doesn’t like the royal family. And I thought that was weird, because I have read numerous other books he has written on the royal family, and I don’t ever remember getting that feeling before. But I will say it was a little gossipy in places. Some parts of it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

So while it wasn’t necessarily a terrible book, you could probably find all this information in the gossip magazines. Just an “eh” book for me – and that leaves me a little disappointed since I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Andersen’s books before.

3/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2015

2015.27 REVIEW – In Search of the Rose Notes by Emily Arsenault

In Search of the Rose Notes
by Emily Arsenault

Copyright: 2011
Pages: 369
Rating: 3/5
Read: Aug. 18-22, 2015
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 27
Format: Print
Source: Won from booktrib.com in 2011
Series: N/A

In Search of the Rose NotesBlurb:
¬†Eleven-year-olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends. When their teenage babysitter, Rose, disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the girls decided to “investigate.” But their search – aided by paranormal theories and techniques gleaned from old Time-Life books – went nowhere.

Years later, Nora, now in her late twenties, is drawn back to her old neighborhood – and to her estranged friend – when Rose’s remains are finally discovered. Upset over their earlier failure to solve the possible murder, Charlotte is adamant that they join forces and try again. But Nora was the last known person to see Rose alive, and she’s not ready to revisit her troubled adolescence and the events surrounding the disappearance – or face the disturbing secrets that are already beginning to reemerge.


Review:I won a copy of this book back in 2011 from booktrib.com. And I proceeded to do as I always seem to do … let it sit and linger. I finally picked this one up because of a¬†Goodreads challenge.

Let me just start by telling you that me giving this book a 3 star rating is probably being a little bit on the generous side. You see, as the reader, I spent a good 300 pages with Nora and Charlotte on their quest to figure out the mystery of Rose’s disappearance. Through the “flashbacks”, I also suffered through their high school years. I spent those 300 pages practically¬†dying to know what on earth had happened to Rose.

And then when it was finally revealed, 45 pages after the first 300 pages, it was such a disappointment that I honestly wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust. It was just a complete and utter let down. To be completely honest with you, it wrecked the book in my opinion. There were all these indications throughout the book (to me, at least) that something sinister had gone down and it was up to me to figure out the who-dun-it. Oh no, nothing sinister at all happened in the end. And as a mystery lover, the disappointment was just palpable.

If Ms. Arsenault had simply taken Rose’s ending in a different direction, this book would have been a home run for me. Seeing as how that didn’t happen, I have to leave this one with an “eh.”

3.5/5, A, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2015, Review Book

2015.17 REVIEW – The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

The Truth and Other Lies
by Sascha Arango

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 241
Rating: 3.5/5
Read: May 23 – May 31, 2015
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 17
Format: Print
Source: Publicist for review
Series: N/A

The Truth and Other LiesBlurb: Henry Hayden seems like someone you could admire, or even like. A famous bestselling author with the air of a modest everyman. A loving, devoted husband even though he could have any woman he desires. A generous, compassionate friend. But Henry Hayden is a construction, a mask. His past is a secret, his methods more so. Only he and his wife know that she is the actual writer of the novels that made him famous.

But when his hidden-in-plain-sight mistress becomes pregnant and his carefully constructed facade is about to crumble, his permanent solution becomes his most terrible mistake.

Now not only are the police after Henry, but his past – which he has painstakingly kept hidden – threatens to catch up with him. But Henry is an ingenious man, and he works out an ingenious plan, weaving lies, truths, and half-truths into a story that might help him survive. Still, the noose tightens.

Smart, sardonic, and compulsively readable, this is the story of a man whose cunning allows him to evade the consequences of his every action, even when he’s standing on the edge of the abyss.


Review: I received a copy of this book for review after responding to an offer in a Goodreads group I belong to. All opinions expressed below are my own.

Henry Hayden is one interesting character. He’s a best-selling author despite never having written a word in his life.¬†Rather it’s his wife who is the author. And she’s a big part of this book, yet I didn’t really feel like I knew her at all. Of course, I also didn’t feel very connected to Henry either. There’s a lot that we as readers do not know about Mr. Hayden. He’s got a pretty shady childhood … yet we really aren’t given very many details beyond him ending up an orphan at a fairly young age. And the logic that he uses throughout the book … well, I just can’t grasp most of the decisions he made either. Although I will say he is definitely one sneaky dude. His wife might have been the bestselling author in the family, but he managed to come up with a pretty far-reaching story as to what happened to his wife and mistress.

At one point early on in this book I couldn’t figure out if Henry was delusional and I was¬†reading pretend dialogue, or if what was happening at ay given moment was really happening and not just a figment of his imagination. I have to say that I really struggled with this throughout the book and I think that’s what really impacted my final rating of this novel.

This isn’t a very long book, only clocking in at 241 pages. And to be perfectly honest here, I felt like it could have been a tad bit longer just because there were some places that I felt lacking. I guess it was more because I felt as if there was no real ending. There’s a big “what happened?” at the end that I would have preferred to see resolved. I wanted to know what really happened to Betty. And I really would have liked to have known what happened to Henry’s mother all those years ago.

Overall, this isn’t a bad book. It’s just a little bit different from what I’m used to reading. But it did keep my attention and kept me guessing throughout. Had there been a little more finality to it at the end and had I been able to connect more with the characters, I would have preferred it just a little bit more. But I¬†would recommend it to mystery lovers.

4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Nonfiction, RATING, Read in 2014, READING CHALLENGES 2014

2014.53 REVIEW – These Few Precious Days by Christopher Andersen

These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
by Christopher Andersen

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 308
Rating: 4/5
Read: Dec. 20 – Dec. 31, 2014
Challenge: What’s in a Name
Yearly count: 53
Format: Print
Source: Personal Copy РPurchased new
Series: N/A

These Few Precious daysBlurb:¬†They were the original power couple – outlandishly rich,impossibly attractive, and endlessly fascinating. Now, in this rare, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Kennedys in their final year together, #1¬†New York Times bestselling biographer Christopher Andersen shows us a side of JFK and Jackie we’ve never seen before. Tender, intimate, complex, and, at times, explosive, theirs is a love story unlike any other – filled with secrets, scandals, and bombshells that could never be fully revealed … until now. Including:

  • Stunning new details about the Kennedys’ rumored affairs – hers as well as his – and how they ultimately overcame all odds to save their marriage.
  • The president’s many premonitions of his own death, and how he repeatedly tried to pull out of his last fateful trip to Dallas.
  • Shocking revelations about how the couple, unaware of the dangers, became dependent on amphetamine injections, the real reason – according to his longtime personal physician – for JFK’s notorious libido, and how the White House hid his many serious medical problems from the public.
  • How the tragic death of their infant son Patrick led to an emotional outpouring from the president that surprised even their closest friends – and brought JFK and Jackie closer than they had ever been.
  • Touching, firsthand accounts of the family’s most private moments, before and after the assassination.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews conducted with the Kennedys’ inner circle – from family members and lifelong friends to key advisors and political confidants – Andersen takes us deeper inside the world of the president and his first lady than ever before. Unsparing yet sympathetic, bigger than life but all too real,¬†These Few Precious Days¬†captures the ups and downs of a marriage, a man, and a woman, the memories of which will continue to fascinate and inspire for generations to come.


Review: This is the fourth book I’ve read by Christopher Andersen, having previously read¬†After Diana, Diana’s Boys,¬†and¬†William & Kate. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Andersen’s books and this one was no exception!

It’s really no surprise that I picked this book up. I am a little Kennedy obsessed, after all. But for the most part, everything I’ve ever read about JFK has been entirely related to his assassination. So to say I learned a lot of things while reading this book would be an understatement. There was a ton of information in this book that I had no idea about. I really enjoyed it.

I can’t imagine the tragedy that Jackie went through during her lifetime. To have all that heartbreak with her child-bearing issues, suffering one miscarriage, one stillbirth and losing Patrick just a day or so after he was born (all while having to watch RFK’s wife pop baby after baby out). ¬†And then to lose her husband while she was still grieving the loss of Patrick. I can’t even begin to imagine. Talk about a woman who suffered endlessly it seems.

For all that I know about JFK, there is so much that I don’t know about Jackie. It was fascinating to get a more intimate peek into who Jackie Kennedy was. It definitely makes me want to read more about her in the future.

It’s really amazing what the Kennedys were able to hide from the press and general public. If the world had known then what we know now … “Camelot” probably would have been over before it began. I think it’s just so shocking to me because¬†we are so used to knowing everything about everyone immediately in our culture. JFK’s staff and aides, along with the Secret Service, really protected him in more ways than just physically. It’s amazing, really, what he got away with, so to speak.

Overall, this was a really interesting book to me. I think what draws me to Mr. Andersen’s books so much is that while being non-fiction, they are so easy to read. It reads like fiction, to be honest. It just flows so well and I never found any “dry” spots in this book. I would definitely recommend this author and this book.

 

3/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.51 REVIEW – Duke City Hit by Max Austin

Duke City Hit
by Max Austin

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 150
Rating: 3/5
Read: Dec. 12 – Dec. 18, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 51
Format: E-Book
Source: TLC Book Tour
Series: N/A

Duke City Hit

Blurb:¬†Max Austin takes readers back to Albuquerque for another action-packed thrill ride in¬†Duke City Hit,¬†as an elite assassin takes aim at‚ÄĒwell, everyone.

According to Vic Walters, the secret to happiness is low overhead and few demands. Living rent-free in a modest bachelor pad behind his boss’s house, he has no debts, no entanglements, and no expensive relationships. He works just a few days a month, but his bank accounts keep growing.

Vic is a high-priced hitman with a legendary record of success. That is, until someone starts eliminating his marks before he can get to them . . . until his manager puts him in the middle of a vicious drug-cartel feud . . . and until a young man walks into his life with a big .45 and a startling revelation.

For Vic Walters, it’s time to step out of the shadows. Which means it’s killing time in Duke City.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in conjunction with a TLC Book tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

You may remember that earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Mr. Austin’s book¬†Duke City Split. I enjoyed that one and was pleased to be offered the chance to read more from Mr. Austin.

I knew going into this book that it was a short read – only 150 pages. Sometimes that is exactly what you need! And I definitely needed it!

For me this book was a fun read. It was just plain fun. There wasn’t a lot of thinking involved, it was just a mindless, quick read. Perfect for around the holidays (and when you’re in the middle of moving and unpacking a gazillion boxes).

Don’t worry if you pick this one up without reading¬†Duke City¬†Split. It’s a whole new cast of characters. And just as fun.

Recommended!!


Max AustinAbout the Author: Max Austin is the pseudonym of writer Steve Brewer. He lives in Duke City (Albuquerque), New Mexico.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

GIVEAWAY! There is also a giveaway available in conjunction with this tour. The winner will receive a $25.00 gift card to the e-book retailer of their choice and one copy of Duke City Split. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE. 

Please be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, December 9th: Nightly Reading
Wednesday, December 10th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, December 11th: Reading Reality
Thursday, December 11th: Rhodes Review
Friday, December 12th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Monday, December 15th: Omnimystery News Рauthor guest post
Monday, December 15th: Bell, Book & Candle
Tuesday, December 16th: CiCi’s Theories
Wednesday, December 17th: Reading to Distraction
Thursday, December 18th: Teena in Toronto
Monday, December 22nd: Book Nerd
Monday, December 22nd: The Book Diva’s Reads
Tuesday, December 23rd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, December 29th:  From the TBR Pile
Monday, December 29th: FictionZeal
Tuesday, December 30th:  Tales of a Book Addict

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4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2014, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

2014.16 REVIEW – Duke City Split by Max Austin

Duke City Split
by Max Austin

Copyright: 2014
Pages: 253
Rating: 4/5
Read: March 30 – April 2, 2014
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 16
Format:  E-Book
Source: TLC Book Tours


Duke City SplitBlurb
:¬†Bud Knox isn‚Äôt your average bank robber. He‚Äôs happiest fixing a nice lunch for his wife on her lunch break or watching his two young daughters play soccer. He leaves the boldness and brawn to his partner, Mick Wyman. In the past fourteen years, they‚Äôve hit nearly thirty banks all over the West‚ÄĒeverywhere but ‚ÄúDuke City,‚ÄĚ their hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So when Mick calls him about the perfect job, Bud is less than convinced, because the target is on their own turf. But with the potential to haul in millions, Bud simply can’t say no. If they do this job right, Bud may never have to work again.

As it turns out, the heist is the easy part. Holding onto the money while evading everyone from the FBI to the Mafia to the low-life criminals who want a cut will be the hardest thing Bud Knox has ever done‚ÄĒand it might just cost him his life.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free via NetGalley for review purposes in conjunction with a TLC Book Tour, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was first pitched this book I was a little unsure to be honest. There was something about the description that intrigued me, but I wasn’t 100% sold. But I have to tell you, I am so glad that I took the plunge and gave this book a shot. It ended up being one heck of a thrill ride!

The concept behind this book … two bank robbers who had been successful for¬†years? That is like so unheard of in real life! And the whole idea that they then proceed to go home and be normal, average, everyday guys?! Insane to consider, right?! So what on earth would make these guys not only take on a third partner but also hit a bank in their hometown? Millions, that’s what! Not that I could really blame them… ha!

If you want a fun book this one will definitely fit the bill. But don’t expect too much out of it. There’s no thinking involved. The characters, while enjoyable, are not very complex. There are no curveballs thrown at you¬†along the way. It’s just a plain jane fun book. I liked it. It works. And I’m dying to know what happens next!

There’s a lot going on in this book. But I found myself actually wanting Bud and Mick to get away scot-free! And let me tell you, they did a lot of unsavory things throughout this book. But for some reason, I wanted them to succeed. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?!

Another great book that I think will appeal to a lot of readers. I hope you give it a chance!

Recommended.

 

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

I hope you’ll take the time to stop by the other blog stops:

Monday, March 31st: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Thursday, April 3rd: Reading Reality
Friday, April 4th:  A Bookworm’s World
Monday, April 7th: Tales of a Book Addict
Tuesday, April 8th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Wednesday, April 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, April 14th: Crime Book Club
Friday, April 18th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, April 23rd: Cupcake’s Book Cupboard
Monday, April 21st: …the bookworm…
Friday, April 25th: Patricia’s Wisdom

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A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, PICT Book Tours, Read in 2013, Review Book, U-V-W

2013.46 REVIEW – Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1 by Bill Walker & Brian Anthony

Abe Lincoln: Public Enemy No. 1

by Bill Walker & Brian Anthony

on Tour October 5 – November 5, 2013

Book Details:

Genre: Alternate History
Published by: Lowtide Books
Publication Date: 10/5/13
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-9897457-0-3 (Hardcover), 978-0-9897457-1-0 (Paperback), 978-0-9897457-2-7 (ebook)
Purchase Links:
Book Website: www.lincolnpublicenemy.com

Synopsis:

When John Wilkes Booth shoots Lincoln with a bullet cursed by the notorious Chicken Man, a local voodoo practitioner, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events extending far into the future. Instead of killing Lincoln, the bullet puts the president into a coma for sixty-eight years, his body remaining limber and ageless. When he awakens in 1933, Abe Lincoln is a man out of time, a revered icon…and a political pariah. FDR and J. Edgar Hoover not only do not want him around, they want him to retire. But their plan to be rid of him backfires and Lincoln is on the run, a fugitive from justice.

Determined to reach Chicago and retrieve the small fortune left in trust for him by his long-dead son, Lincoln discovers that Hoover has confiscated all his money, leaving him destitute. With Bureau of Investigation agent Melvin Purvis in hot pursuit, Lincoln finds his way to a hobo camp where he befriends a young runaway, who agrees to accompany the former president back to Washington. There Lincoln hopes that Hannah Wheelhouse, the Chicken Man’s granddaughter, can help him find the peace he longs for.

Then fate deals Lincoln another strange hand when he and the boy end up as hostages to infamous bank robber John Dillinger. Instead of leaving them by the side of the road after the robbery, Dillinger takes a liking to Lincoln and invites him to join the gang, promising him he’ll get all his money back.

Will Lincoln survive long enough to recapture his fortune and get away, or will he be hunted down in a manner unbefitting a martyred President?

In this inventive and entertaining novel, history gets a work-out, the action is flat-out, and almost everyone gets rubbed-out!


REVIEW: When I was originally pitched this book I was definitely intrigued. I have never read alternate history before and thought that this would be a fun step into a new-to-me genre. I’m not upset that I tried this book out, but I don’t think alternate history is a genre that’s a good fit for me.

Overall, it’s a fun and wild roller-coaster ride of a book. I can definitely see this on the big screen and think it would do great in Hollywood! But I really had an issue with the alternate history part of the book. This is just something personal that has nothing to do with the book itself at all. See, I was a history major in college. And the Abraham Lincoln assassination is something that I studied somewhat extensively. I just couldn’t get past the idea that Lincoln was in a coma for all those years because of a cursed bullet and then woke up in the 1930s. I just couldn’t do it.

That being said, the book itself was well-written and plotted. The pacing was fun and the plot was exciting. I just had a personal issue with the idea of alternate history.

But in general I would definitely recommend this book. It really is a fun read, just the history lover in me had an issue with alternate history.


Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONEMarch 3, 1934
Lake County Jail
Crown Point, IndianaCounselor Louis Piquett felt a trickle of cold sweat roll down between his shoulder blades and silently cursed God, the courts, and the governor of the state of Indiana. He couldn’t afford to be nervous today, yet his head pounded and his stomach churned from the breakfast he’d eaten at a roadside diner on the way to the jail. He fought back a wave of nausea and cranked open the Ford’s passenger side window, letting the raw March air wash over his face. He closed his eyes and breathed it in.
“You okay, Louis?”
Piquett turned toward his law partner, Arthur O’Leary, and nodded. “Right as rain. Just wish you’d turn down the blasted heat.”
O’Leary’s lips curled in a lopsided grin, which gave his narrow hawk-like face an air of mirthful menace. “Sorry…you know I’m always cold.”
Piquett took off his fedora and wiped his forehead with a wrinkled linen handkerchief. “Yeah, I know. You should go see the doctor about it.”
O’Leary grinned, and Piquett gazed out across South Main Street at the late-Victorian pile that was the Lake County Jail and Courthouse, his eyes scanning the mounted machineguns and the dozens of National Guardsmen manning them behind a four-foot high wall of fifty-pound sandbags.
“You’d think they were expecting the Kaiser’s army,” O’Leary said, chuckling.
“They just don’t know what to make of our client, Arthur. Lord knows, I sometimes wonder about him myself.”
“He doesn’t belong here, that’s for sure,” O’Leary said, shaking his head.
“Unfortunately, his enemies think otherwise. You and I both know he didn’t kill that federal officer.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
Piquett stared back at his partner, his dark eyes like flints. “I know what you meant.” The handkerchief came out again. “You take care of the guards, like I asked you?”
O’Leary nodded. “There won’t be a search.”
Piquett patted the left side of his suit jacket. “They find this on me and we’ve got a lot more trouble than we ever bargained for.”
O’Leary shot his partner a look of annoyance. “Nobody’s got a gun to your head, Louis.”
Despite the rumble in his guts, Piquett smiled. “That’s why I like you, Arthur. You always look at the bright side.” He glanced at his watch. “Time to go. Wish me luck.”
O’Leary nodded, and Piquett eased himself out of the Ford and closed the door. He hesitated a moment then leaned in through the open window. “If I’m not out in twenty minutes, you get on out of here. You remember where I put the emergency funds?
“I remember.”
“Good. Keep lookin’ at that bright side, Arthur.”
Piquett slapped the roof of the Ford and strode toward the jail. Passing through the narrow opening in the sandbags, he gave the soldiers a cordial nod, climbed the steps and disappeared into the building.
Following an official clearance, and after passing through a succession of remotely-controlled gates, he stood before the final door separating him from his client. The lone guard, seated at a scarred oak desk, motioned toward the open logbook lying in front of him. Piquett picked up a pen off the blotter and signed his name with a flourish.
“Morning, officer,” he said, handing back the pen.
The guard, a scrawny young man with greasy black hair and a dull look in his eyes, took back the pen with a smirk spreading across his face.
“Yeah, well, it ain’t so good for that client a yours, counselor.”
Piquett’s trial-winning smile widened. “Well, we’re all innocent in the eyes of the law, until proven guilty, officer. That’s the very foundation on which our great and glorious nation resides. Besides, you never know how a day’s going to end, until it’s over.”
The guard frowned, his puzzled expression making him look even less intelligent. “You mind standing back and raising your arms, counselor?” he said. “Gotta search ya.”
Piquett’s stomach rolled over, but he managed to keep the grin plastered to his face, even as he felt the sweat break out anew.
Just then an older guard stuck his head in the doorway.
“He’s clean, Jeff.”
The younger guard’s frown deepened. “But Sheriff Holley said we was to search every visitor ‘fore I pass ’em through this point.”
The older man leaned into the room, his face flushing. “And I’m tellin’ you he’s clean.”
Piquett watched the tense exchange between the two guards and said a silent prayer.
The younger guard appeared to think about this for a moment, the gears in his mind grinding slowly. Then he sighed and shook his head. “You say he’s clean, Irv, then fine, he’s clean.”
The older guard nodded, giving Piquett a knowing look the younger guard missed then left the room. The younger guard stood and threw the lever that operated the automatic doors. There was a loud “clunk,” followed by the whir of machinery. The door slid open and clanged to a stop.
Another guard appeared on the other side of the open doorway and motioned for Piquett to follow.
They passed through a corridor lined with empty holding cells. At the end of the hall Piquett spotted a wooden chair facing one of the cells. The guard motioned for him to sit. For a fleeting moment, Piquett toyed with the notion of turning around and leaving, going back to the car and driving away–maybe take that vacation he’d always promised himself. But then, whatever was left of his tattered code of ethics took over and he eased himself into the chair.
“Thank you, officer,” he said to the guard. “I’ll let you know when we’re done.
The guard nodded, retraced his steps down the corridor and disappeared around the corner. Piquett kept his eye on the corridor for another moment then turned toward the cell.
His client sat in a matching hardback chair dressed in a white shirt, charcoal-gray vest and matching pants. He was impossibly tall–even sitting down–and impossibly…there. The face he’d grown up admiring, the face that graced the penny and the five-dollar bill now sat watching him with a look of bemusement, gray eyes twinkling in the harsh glow of the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.
“Good morning, counselor,” Lincoln said in his high, soft-spoken voice.
“Good morning, Mr. President.”
“Please, Mr. Piquett, I do not think it fitting to refer to me by that hallowed moniker, especially when viewed in the harsh light of my present circumstances.”
Piquett felt his face redden. “I’m sorry, sir, you’ll have to forgive me. I much admired your administration, your achievements.”
Lincoln smiled revealing gaps between his teeth. “And while my achievements may make me immortal, I am an inconvenient reality whose presence is a reminder of things some would prefer to forget. As far as those demigods who now reside in Washington are concerned, I am a man out of time and out of step with the problems of the day.”
“I disagree, Mr. Lincoln.”
Lincoln slapped his knee and chuckled. “You know what’s truly ironic, counselor? The tenor of Washington has not changed all that much. I suspect the streets are cleaner and summers are more tolerable nowadays, but those puffed-up politicians have raised backstabbing to a high art. Practice makes perfect. Did you bring it, Mr. Piquett?”
The abrupt shift in the conversation flustered the lawyer for a moment. “Y-yes, sir.”
He reached into his jacket and pulled out a small package wrapped in butcher paper and tied with twine. He handed it through the bars and Lincoln took it with his large, calloused hand. The package disappeared into his pocket.
“Thank you, counselor, you’ve been most helpful. And I appreciate all that you’ve done. I was especially inspired by your performance in the courtroom during my arraignment last month.”
Piquett puffed with pride. “It was an honor, sir. I just wish I could’ve done more.”
Lincoln stood and thrust his hand through the bars. “You’ve done more than any man could ask. If I have need of you again, I will surely call on you.”
The lawyer grasped his client’s hand, feeling the strength in the older man’s grip.
“Where will you go?” Piquett asked.
Lincoln’s expression turned melancholy. “Back into the history books where I belong, counselor…if they’ll let me….”
Ten minutes later, as O’Leary guided the Ford through the crush of late morning traffic, Piquett thought about the small wrapped package he’d given Lincoln and wondered–in spite of his sordid lack of ethics–if he’d done the right thing, after all.
* * *
Jail Handyman Sam Cahoon went cold all over when he felt the barrel of a pistol jabbing into the small of his back. But it was that high voice in his ears that sent his heart racing.
“I’ve got to be going, Sam,” Lincoln said, “and I need your help. Please don’t make me use this. I know only too well what it can do.”
Lincoln guided him over to the locked steel door leading to the adjoining room and motioned for Sam to call out to the guards. A large black man rose from a nearby table where he’d been playing solitaire and joined them. When Sam continued to hesitate, Lincoln kicked the door with his foot, sending a booming sound reverberating around the Day Room, which now fell silent.
“That you, Sam?” came the voice from the other side of the door.
Sam looked to Lincoln, his eyes wide with fright. Lincoln pressed the barrel harder into the handyman’s back and nodded.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Sam said. “I’m done in here.”
“All right,” the voice replied.
A moment later came the rattle of keys and the door swung inward. Lincoln kicked the door hard, sending the startled guard behind it sprawling, then he shoved Sam Cahoon aside and grabbed the guard, who was scrambling to his feet.
“Y-you out of your mind?” the guard sputtered.
“So they tell me, son. Now you go on and get us into the guardroom, and no tricks.”
The guard’s hands trembled, causing him to fumble with the keys. Lincoln jabbed the barrel harder into the guard’s back, eliciting a moan of fear from the man.
“Hurry, now.”
“I g-got it,” the guard said, slapping the key into the lock and twisting it. They burst into the guardroom, where a civilian fingerprint technician and one other guard sat drinking coffee and chewing on jelly donuts, their eyes as round as saucers. Lincoln spotted two Thompsons with fully loaded drum magazines sitting on the windowsill and nodded to the black man.
“Mr. Youngblood, we shall require those fine instruments of destruction.”
The black man chuckled and grabbed them, handing one to Lincoln, who then held up the pistol he’d used for all to see. A sly grin spread across his face. It was a crudely carved wooden gun blackened with shoe polish, the words “Colt .38” etched into its side.
Both the guard and the fingerprint technician shook their heads in disgust.
Lincoln’s grin widened. “Well, now, it does seem one can fool some of the people all of the time.” He put the wooden gun back into his pocket and waved the barrel of the submachine gun towards the exit door.
“Mr. Youngblood, take this officer to one of the cells.”
“Yes, sir.”
Youngblood manhandled the guard out of the room and returned moments later.
Lincoln looked at the fingerprint technician, who sat frozen, the jelly donut still hanging from his mouth.
“What’s your name, son?” Lincoln asked.
The young technician yanked the donut from his mouth.
“Uh, Ernest Blunk, sir. You gonna shoot me?”
“I have no desire to kill anyone, Mr. Blunk, but I am getting out of here. It’s your choice.” Lincoln’s gaze was implacable and Blunk nodded soberly and stood up.
“All right, gentlemen,” Lincoln said, “shall we take our leave?”
After a short trip down two corridors and one flight of stairs, they emerged into the alley. Lincoln eyed the narrow passageway in both directions, noting the way was clear. He smiled and turned to Blunk, who stood with his arms wrapped around himself, shivering in the cold.
“Where’s the garage, son? The one with the private cars.”
“Down the alley, around the c-corner, behind the courts.”
“Let’s go.”
The garage was in a shed-like building with a sliding wooden door that reminded Lincoln of an old barn. The door shrieked on its rusty rails as Youngblood slid it open. Inside it was toasty warm and reeked of gasoline and spilled oil. A lone mechanic lay under a late-model Chevy, banging away at a water pump and cursing under his breath. Another man sat behind a desk in the small glassed-in office. Just then a woman walked into the garage.
“Mr. Saager, is my car–” She stopped in mid-sentence when she spotted Lincoln and Youngblood wielding the two Thompsons and fainted dead away, her limp body slapping against the grimy concrete.
Youngblood handed his Thompson to Lincoln, picked up the woman and deposited her inside the office on a battered sofa. The black man motioned for the man at the desk to move and the man scrambled out the door with his hands in the air.
“What’s the fastest car in here?” Lincoln asked, handing Youngblood back his Thompson.
The man from the office looked around and nodded toward the mechanic under the Chevy.
“Hudak’d know best.”
“Ask him to join us.”
The man eased over to the Chevy and gave the mechanic’s leg a nudge with his foot.
“What you want, Saager?”
“We got a man here asking about fast cars.”
“What do I look like, a salesman? I’m up to my butt in work here, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I got to get this damn Chevy out of here by two.”
Saager looked to Lincoln and shrugged. Youngblood raised the barrel of his Thompson and Saager paled a few shades whiter. He kicked the mechanic harder and said. “You get on out here, Hudak, if you know what’s good for you.”
The mechanic slid out from under the car, the curses on his lips dying away when he spotted the two men and their machineguns.
“Damn!”
“What’s the fastest car in here?” Lincoln asked.
Hudak jabbed his finger toward a sleek brand-new car parked in a corner, its jet-black paint gleaming under the hooded lights. “That there Ford. Got a real honey of a V-8.”
“That’ll be fine, Mr. Hudak.”
“But that’s Sheriff Holley’s new car.”
Lincoln laughed. “Even better. Mr. Blunk, you will drive. Mr. Hudak, you and your partner will disable all the other vehicles in the garage.”
Hudak looked incredulous.
“Now, Mr. Hudak.”
The mechanic walked toward the Chevy, shaking his head. When he reached the car, he opened the hood and started gingerly pulling wires.
Youngblood rolled his eyes, grabbed a hammer and pushed the mechanic aside. “Not like that–like this.” He swung the hammer down onto the spark plugs one by one, shattering them then pounded holes in the carburetor. He handed the hammer to Hudak. “Now, go to it, my man. Just like the boss says.”
In moments every other car was disabled and Blunk pulled the Sheriff’s car up to the door, the engine revving with a throaty roar. Lincoln and Youngblood climbed in and Lincoln hung his Thompson out the window at Saager and Hudak. Neither man moved.
“All right, Mr. Blunk. Let us proceed.”
The car pulled into the alley and then out onto East Street. Lincoln swiveled his head back and forth, looking to see if anyone followed. “Nice and slow,” he said. “It wouldn’t do to draw attention to ourselves.”
They passed the courthouse and Lincoln smiled when he spotted all the soldiers. They swung around a parked bus and pulled up to a stoplight. A bank sat on one of the corners and Lincoln stared at it. “Mighty tempting to procure us some traveling money, but I think we’ve worn out our welcome here, Mr. Youngblood.”
Yes, sir, Mr. Lincoln,” the black man said, grinning from ear to ear. The light turned green and the car sped out of town. When they reached State Road 8, Lincoln relaxed and began singing an old hymn. His singing voice was surprisingly tuneful and brought a smile even to Blunk’s dour face.
“Where we going, anyway?” Blunk asked when Lincoln had finished singing.
“Wherever the winds of fate shall take us.”
Youngblood laughed as the car sped off down the road.
The Great Emancipator was free.


Trailer:

Bill Walker

BILL WALKER is an award-winning writer whose works include novels, short stories and screenplays. His first novel, Titanic 2012, was enthusiastically received by readers, and Bill’s two short story collections, Five Minute Frights and Five Minute Chillers, are perennial Halloween favorites. A highly-respected graphic designer, Walker has worked on books by such luminaries as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. His most recent novel, A Note from an Old Acquaintance, was published in 2009.

Catch Up With Bill Walker:

Brian Anthony


BRIAN ANTHONY is a writer and award-winning filmmaker. His first feature film, Victor‚Äôs Big Score, was praised by Variety as ‚ÄúA tremendous calling card for writer-producer-director Brian Anthony.‚ÄĚ As a writer-producer Anthony has contributed to shows for American Movie Classics, Arts and Entertainment, and Fox Syndication, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Lost in Space Forever. A veteran film historian, Anthony has been interviewed on network television regarding film history, and co-authored the acclaimed biography of the film comedian Charley Chase, Smile While the Raindrops Fall, in 1998. Brian is an expert art and book restorationist, and you can see his work at Anthony Restorations.

Catch Up With Brian Anthony:


I hope you will check out the other stops on the tour:

10/05 ~ Showcase, Review & Giveaway @ Deal Sharing Aunt
10/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ rantin ravin and reading
10/11 ~ Showcase @ CMash Reads
10/16 ~ Review @ Vics Media Room
10/17 ~ Review @ Community Bookstop
10/18 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Gabina49s Blog
10/25 ~ Review & Giveaway @ The Stuff of Success
10/28 ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway @ Bless Their Hearts Mom
10/29 ~ Guest Post, Review & Giveaway @ The book Faery reviews
10/30 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Tales of a Book Addict
11/04 ~ Review & Giveaway @ My Cozie Corner
11/05 ~ Showcase @ Thoughts In Progress
11/06 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Popcorn Reads
11/07 ~ Review @ My Devotional Thoughts
11/08 ~ Review & Giveaway @ Now is Gone
11/11 ~ Review & Giveaway @ WTF Are You Reading?
A, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Edelweiss, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.19 REVIEW – The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen

The Boleyn King
by Laura Andersen

Copyright: 2013
Pages: 368
Read: April 15-22, 2013
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 19
Format: E-Book
Source: Edelweiss

Blurb: Laura Andersen brings us the first book in an enthralling trilogy set in the dramatic, turbulent, world-altering years of Tudor England. What if Anne did not miscarry her son in January 1536, but instead gave birth to a healthy royal boy? Perfect for fans of Philipa Gregory and Allison Weir.
The Boleyn King
Henry IX, known as William, is a 17-year-old king struggling at the restraints of the regency and anxious to prove himself. With the French threatening battle and the Catholics plotting at home, Will trusts only three people: his older sister, Elizabeth; his best friend and loyal counselor, Dominic; and Minuette, a young orphan raised as a royal ward by Anne Boleyn. Against an undercurrent of secret documents, conflicting intelligence operations, and private murder, William fights a foreign war and domestic rebellion with equal resolve. But when he and Dominic both fall in love with Minuette, romantic obsession menaces a new generation of Tudors. Battlefields and council chambers, trials and executions, the blindness of first love and the betrayal of true friendship…How far will William go to get what he wants? Who will pay the price for a king’s revenge? And what twists of fate will set Elizabeth on the path to her destiny as England’s queen?


Review: Oh. My. Goodness. I almost don’t know where to start with this review. I can’t begin to tell you how much I truly enjoyed this book. And how much I hate that it’s a trilogy and I can’t hardly wait to get my hands on the second book.

Personally I liked the premise of this book – what if? What if Anne Boleyn hadn’t miscarried? What if she had given birth to a healthy baby boy? That’s where this book really starts. Then it skips forward to when William is 17 and is about to become a “full” king – not having to have his councillors.

While William would obviously be the main character, most of the book is written in Minuette’s perspective. As Elizabeth’s lady-in-waiting and a close childhood friend to both Elizabeth and William, she really has a nice place for herself within the court. But it’s really amazing to see just how things change when these childhood friends grow up and become young adults. Add into it the fact that royalty is involved, it really makes for some interesting ideas.

Overall I found this book to be really good. But that’s not to say that it was perfect. There were a few issues that I had with it. First, I sometimes had a hard time keeping the characters straight. Not the main characters, but the ones who were William’s councillors. I guess that’s probably because they were secondary characters and popped in and out throughout the book. I’m not sure why I struggled with that. I also had a slight issue with how the transitions to different characters were done. Or I really should say, lack thereof. I felt like this was the weakest part of the book.¬† The reader would be going along with Minuette’s character and then we would be immediately thrown into the battlefield with Dominic. I found it a little difficult to keep track of at times. However, it didn’t really make me like the book any less, but it was something that I noticed throughout the novel.

I must warn you, dear readers – this book ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. I almost couldn’t believe it! I kept hitting the forward button on my Nook hoping that the book wouldn’t end how it did. It is what it is, but it will definitely leave you wanting more immediately!

I think I’ve read more historical fiction this year than I have in the past 5 years combined, but for some reason it’s really caught my interest. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to finishing the trilogy – I can’t wait to find out what happens!! (That cliffhanger … !!)

Highly recommended.

A, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, Read in 2013, Review Book

2013.6 REVIEW – Death Has Its Benefits by Ronald Aiken

Death Has Its Benefits
by Ronald Aiken

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 271
Read:¬†Jan.¬†23¬†–¬†27,¬†2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 6
Format: Print
Source: Author

Death Has its BenefitsBlurb:¬†¬†What would you do if your best friend told you his boss was going to kill him? Try to save his life because he once saved yours? Well if you’re Tony Benson, and your best friend is a prankster like Leo Radigan, you’d do nothing, just laugh it off and say, “That’s a novel approach to work-force reduction.” If only it was that simple.

Leo’s boss, the mysterious Hike Meurtens, is an influential businessman and philanthropist, but Leo insists he’s not the man he appears to be. “With this guy you gotta give an arm to keep a leg,” he insists.

At first, Tony believes Leo’s ever increasing¬†paranoia is fueled by problems at home – a bad marriage, spoiled kids and rising debt. After all, why would a man of Muertens’ stature commit murder? But as Tony tries to help his friend through his personal crisis, he finds himself being drawn into Leo’s paranoid world, and begins to wonder if there might be something to his crazy tales, after all.

As paranoia becomes reality, Tony’s darker side emerges and he must successfully navigate his way through the state’s mental health and criminal justice system to save his own life.


Review: I received this book via the author after being contacted by his PR rep.

Do you want a non-stop, thrill ride, edge-of-your-seat-suspense thriller? Then this is the book for you! The book starts and really never let me go, I was hooked from the very beginning. With the short chapters this book was very easy to get sucked into 50 pages before I knew what had happened.

I thought that the storyline was interesting – your boss wants to kill you? I don’t think that’s a storyline I’ve ever encountered! Definitely a nice thing to happen after reading so many mystery/thriller novels!

I think what I liked so much about this book was the real feel to it. The dialogue felt real, not forced. The characters felt real, the storyline never dragged – overall a very good read.

I am amazed that this is a debut – I can only look forward to seeing Mr. Aiken’s books in the future. Highly recommended.