Book Review: The Breaker by Nick Petrie @_NickPetrie_ @PutnamBooks

The Breaker
A Peter Ash Novel #6
Nick Petrie
G. P. Putman’s Sons, January 2021
ISBN 978-0-525-53547-8
Hard Cover

Peter Ash is back living with his girlfriend June in the Milwaukee area.  After his previous adventure in Iceland, (The Wild One)  he’s  considered a wanted man and he and June his girlfriend are trying to stay under the radar. Together with his best friend Lewis, they are heading to an outdoor market when Peter notices a suspicious man walking through the market.  When Peter glimpses a gun under the man’s jacket, he’s sure this guy is up to no good, a definite threat to the people in attendance but events don’t unfold as expected when the man corners and confronts one person.

Peter attempts to intervene, but after a brief altercation both the attacker and his potential victim escape; one on an electric bike the other on foot, leaving Peter and Lewis to wonder what really went down.  Lewis finds a pair of sunglasses and not wanting to be questioned by the Police, who were summoned to the market, they both slip away.

This is the beginning of what turns into a rather complex and bizarre plot, involving a tech thief, a paid assassin, an inventor out for revenge, and a paranoid man who is a danger not just to the local community but to the entire country.

The next day June, believing she knows the man the attacker confronted, decides to see if she can uncover his identity.  As a journalist meantime working on a book, she’s also snagged a desk at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and heads to the office on her bicycle.  When she is sideswiped by a pickup truck, and the driver seems intent on giving her a ride, she senses the encounter wasn’t accidental and deftly makes her escape.

Meanwhile as Peter and Lewis attempt to find the owner of the sunglasses they are met with polite but steady resistance at every turn, a sure sign that something is afoot.

They aren’t wrong….

Peter Ash is a character not unlike Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.  They were both in the Army, both strong silent types, both willing and more than able to jump in and help someone in trouble or in need.  And they seem to rise to the occasion whenever they meet a dangerous and deadly adversary.

Since the author’s first outing, The Drifter, I’ve been waiting and watching for each new novel.  While the plots and action are at times a little over the top, that is part and parcel of the fun and excitement each of his novels generate. Peter is always on the side of the underdog, the oppressed, and even with problems of his own, he relishes the challenges he faces along the way.

Check him out…. you won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2021.

Book Reviews: Fatal Score by John Baird Rogers and Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering @Gotuit @carolatlovering @AtriaBooks

Fatal Score
Mayfield-Napolitani #1         
John Baird Rogers
Gotuit Publishing LLC, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-7322262-0-3
Trade Paperback

Here’s a novel for late-night reading. Or, depending on your belief, daytime/sunshine reading. The author has grasped both the marvelous advances and future of technology, big medicine big government and the insidious dark and dangerous aspects of human greed. Human greed, when exposed to opportunities to corrupt and steal, is almost a foregone conclusion, and in the author’s vision, fraught with hosts of bright accomplished people on the dark side as well as standing in the light.

Joe Mayfield, an accountant, happily married, does his job efficiently, and life is good. Then his wife is diagnosed with a cancer, her medical records are altered so her insurance is minimal and Mayfield’s life takes a nosedive. Why was her medical coverage designation altered? Was the national medical database hacked? Why this one woman?

Mayfield sets out to find some answers and that involves some penetration of a huge national database nicknamed YAK. He runs up against a highly intelligent security agent named Louise Napolitani. Her job is to protect the YAK against hackers. The author has set up the novel to follow these two separate but linked protagonists.

The pace of the writing is fast, persistent and occasionally furious. It is a well-written and cleanly resolved story, peopled with interesting characters. Through it all readers will learn in the most positive and comfortable way, a good deal about potential future developments in big data, data processing, government and the unchanging venality of people when confronted with opportunities to steal. I recommend this debut novel without reservation and look forward to the continuing adventures of Joe Mayfield and Weezy Napolitani.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Tell Me Lies
Carola Lovering
Atria Books, June 2018
ISBN 978-1-5011-6964-9
Hardcover

A long, conflicting narrative of a young woman who goes away to college, meets and falls for a flawed fellow, and as a result suffers some emotional mountain peaks and deep valleys. Lucy Albright is the woman. Bright, good-looking, energetic, positive of outlook, she has the instincts to recognize and resist the questionable charms of Stephen DeMarco. But she doesn’t.

DeMarco is charming, handsome, confident and a little slimy. The two form a relationship, not a bond, that carries them through college experiences and into adulthood.

The novel is well-written, well-paced, lengthy, sexy and ultimately unsatisfying. Its tension and angst rise through the first half of the story and then levels off so there are fewer and fewer surprises and readers suspect an unsatisfactory and unhappy conclusion looms closer on the horizon.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Sterling and Me: Tail of a Mystery Author and Her Dog #3 @TheMysteryLadie

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Killer Deadline marks Lauren’s first venture into mystery’s purely cozy sub-genre with a female protagonist. 

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram ~ Pinterest

The Mighty Pen: Use with Caution

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Words can be dangerous. Handle them with care.

Writers work with words all day long. Some use them to take their readers on a journey of escape into another world or time filled with mystery, humor, romance, and adventure. Possibly, while conjuring up their adventure, the writer and their readers could learn something about the real world or life along the way.

Other writers use their words for a more noble cause—to inform or educate their readers about matters that may concern them like health, relationships, or professional success.

Through books, our words are amplified across the land to spread our message—or to act as a bomb to destroy our enemy.

Recently, a new writer requested my advice in promoting her recently published novel. Generally, the plot was about a woman suffering in a bad relationship with a charismatic man. The title, bitterly worded subtitle, and book cover screamed: Woman Scorned.

On Amazon, it had a handful of 5-star reviews that I could instantly tell had been written by friends and family. (When you’ve been reading reviews for several years, it is easy to spot those reviews written by reviewers and those written by friends of the author.) They raved about how virtuous the female protagonist was and how evil the male antagonist was.

Before I even spoke to her, I knew that this novel had been written to settle a score under the guise of fiction.

Instantly, the writer broke down into tears and confessed that she was the protagonist in the book, and this was her story. She had to get it out to warn women to beware of charismatic men like the one who had ensnared her.

Without minimizing her pain, mothers have been warning their daughters about these types of men since the days of Cain and Abel. So, her message to readers via this “novel” was not about a new issue.

One could rationalize that this novel was her therapy. If so, from what I saw, it was not very good therapy. Her tears told me that she has never moved on from her experience.

How could she? She’s relived the entire relationship through writing, re-writing, editing, and proofing. With each re-through of her novel, she has forced herself to take another pick at her wounds to make them fresh again.

That’s not to say that writers should never enjoy some vengeance in their books.

I believe most writers, especially crime fiction writers, have killed more than one of our adversaries between the covers of our books. I think personally, I have killed every former boss I have ever had—or made them the murderer to be carted off to jail for their misdeeds.

Thankfully, this has worked well. The mysteries in which I dabbled a bit of vengeance into the plotline were received well by readers and reviewers and sold well to boot. Meanwhile, I enjoyed some satisfaction while taking down my antagonists in a safe fictional environment.

The difference between my revenge and this new writer was that my motive was on writing a thrilling mystery novel to entertain my readers. Vengeance against my foes are just a side order.

My enemies change sex, appearance, professions and even transgressions against my protagonist to fit my storyline. In the end, only a tidbit of their crimes against me are revealed to the world.

Does that matter to me? Not really. In my imaginary world, my enemies are vanquished to prison or executed in a suitable manner. The score gets settled and I am free to move on to my next book… and possibly settle a score against another adversary.

Moving on is the important part of this exercise.

The thought of writing a novel for the sake of revenge reminds me of something that I had read quite a while ago and included in Winter Frost. In this scene, Chris Matheson urges his ten-year-old daughter Nikki to forgive her mother for abandoning them to take an overseas assignment with the state department:

He lowered his voice. “I’m going to tell you a secret about forgiveness.”

She narrowed her eyes. Suspicion filled her face. “A secret?”

Chris looked around as if to make sure no one was listening to them. “When you forgive someone, you aren’t letting them off the hook. You’re actually letting yourself off the hook. You see, when you refuse to forgive someone, you’re hurting yourself more than you’re hurting the other person.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Once, I got really mad at a friend of mine,” he said. “He’d screwed me over really good. I was furious. I was so mad that I was trying to plot revenge against him. I just wanted to get back at him for what he’d done to me.”

“What did he do?”

“I forget.” Seeing that she didn’t believe him, he laughed. “Seriously. At the time, I thought it was something that I could never get over, but now, I can’t remember what he’d done. I guess that means it wasn’t that serious.”

“Mom left us, Dad. How can we ever forget that?”

“The thing is, your grandfather told me that holding on to anger is like grabbing a hot coal to throw at someone else.”

Her face screwed up.

“Have you ever grabbed a lump of hot coal?”

She shook her head.

“You end up burning yourself. That’s what happens when you hold onto a grudge. You end up hurting yourself more than the other person. It takes a lot of energy holding onto anger. Your stomach hurts.” He sat up and looked down at her. “Your stomach hurts, doesn’t it? Anger makes you sick.”

 

When sitting down to write a novel for the sake of revenge against your foe, you are taking up that mighty pen and shooting yourself in the foot. Meanwhile, your adversary is skipping on with their life – never the wiser.

A better form of revenge would be a revenge make-over.

Winter Frost
Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries #2

Available for purchase:
Amazon // Audible

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Giveaway

One winner will receive Audible download codes
for all three Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries!

To enter the drawing, leave a comment with
your favorite idea of how to get revenge.

Book Reviews: Last Call by Elon Green and Thirteen Chairs by Dave Shelton @elongreen @CeladonBooks @DaveShelton @DFB_storyhouse

Last Call
A True Story of Love, Lust and Murder in Queer New York
Elon Green
Celadon Books, March 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-22435-4
Hardcover

The world was not warm or welcoming for gay men in the 1980s. Discrimination, bias and inexplicable hate made for an uncomfortable existence, at best. Not only was homosexuality grossly misunderstood; but AIDS was becoming a familiar fear for everyone.

Repercussions could be very real for any openly-gay man. Life turned from unpleasant to terrifying with the discovery of a dismembered male body. And later, another grisly, heart-wrenching find. More would follow.

Law enforcement was not convinced that the scarily-similar manner of disposal connected the crimes. Faint lines leading to New York City piano bars— where gay men felt somewhat safe—seemed more than a stretch.  Prejudices towards the victims’ “life-styles” and the lack of a crime scene, coupled with “dump sites” in different jurisdictions, meant that these crimes were not priorities.

Family members, friends, Lesbian and Gay Advocate Groups would not allow these deaths to be ignored, though. Patrons, pianists, and bartenders all mentioned one man, in particular. The suspect was a nurse at a NYC hospital, but no one knew more than that.

In the same way that stellar wait-staff are inconspicuous when their service is spot-on, Mr. Green simply sets everything up, almost allowing each man to tell his own story.

This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books, with a huge “Thank You!” to Celadon Books for the Advance Review Copy, which I will donate to my favorite high-school classroom library.

Reviewed by jv poore, February 2021.

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Thirteen Chairs
Dave Shelton
David Fickling Books, September 2015
ISBN 978-1-910-20044-5
Trade Paperback

Inside of a dilapidated, abandoned home— that is most assuredly haunted, per the neighborhood children—one room appears to be in use. A long table is set with flickering candles, casting strange rays on the oddly assembled group gathered around.

Jack had heard the wicked rumors; but standing outside and seeing a soft light within, his curiosity has passed piqued. Compelled, he enters the house and follows the glow. He is welcomed to the table, where there is, uncannily, one empty chair.

Each person has a story to share and every one of the scary shorts could stand alone. Some of the narrators appear to know one another quite well, while others seem less comfortable with the eclectic individuals sharing their space. Jack is clearly the freshest face to the table, and perhaps, he has the most to fear.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2019.

Today Is…

National Hug Your Cat Day

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AND National Doughnut Day—
What More Could We Want??

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Book Review: A Night Twice As Long by Andrew Simonet @andrewSimonet @fsgbooks @XpressoTours

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Title: A Night Twice as Long
Author: Andrew Simonet
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: June 1, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Goodreads
Purchase Links:

 Amazon / Barnes & Noble 
iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

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What do you call the difference between what you should feel and what you do feel? Life?

The blackout has been going on for three weeks. But Alex feels like she’s been living in the dark for a year, ever since her brother, who has autism, was removed from the house, something Alex blames herself for. So when her best friend, Anthony, asks her to trek to another town to figure out the truth about the blackout, Alex says yes.

On a journey that ultimately takes all day and night, Alex’s relationships with Anthony, her brother, and herself will transform in ways that change them all forever.

In this honest and gripping young adult novel, Andrew Simonet spins a propulsive tale about what it means to turn on the lights and look at what’s real.

Many of us, if not most, have lived through a blackout and we know they’re no fun, for a lot of reasons, chief of which is the uncertainty of just how long it will last. In this case, the weeks-long outage has the feel of a post-apocalyptic scenario but without the tension I expect to find in such a story. That lack is detrimental to my way of thinking, creating a plot that’s a little too nebulous for me but the author has done a nice job with his characters, bringing them to life with significant issues that today’s teens face in real life.

Alex’s autistic brother, Georgie, was removed from her mother’s care a year earlier and Alex has become almost a shut-in because of how it happened. The truth is he may be in an environment that’s more suitable for his needs but her guilt interferes with her ability to see this; on the other hand, the blackout has given her a sort of new look at life and the journey she takes with Anthony opens her eyes even more.

Besides his depiction of severe autism and the effect it has on those around the disabled person, the author touches on racial animosity and parental issues and watching Alex learn to understand the world and herself is what makes this book tick.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2021.

About the Author

 

Andrew Simonet is a choreographer and writer in Philadelphia. His first novel, Wilder, published in 2018. He co-directed Headlong Dance Theater for twenty years and founded Artists U, an incubator for helping artists make sustainable lives. He lives in West Philadelphia with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two sons, Jesse Tiger and Nico Wolf.

Find the author:

Website / Goodreads / Twitter

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

One print copy of
A Night Twice As Long

Enter here.

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Waiting On Wednesday (158) @ChristineWells0 @Morrow_PB @WmMorrowBooks

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

Sisters of the Resistance
Christine Wells
William Morrow Paperbacks, June 2021
Historical Fiction

From the publisher—

Two sisters join the Paris Resistance in this page-turning new novel inspired by the real-life bravery of Catherine Dior, sister of the fashion designer and a heroine of World War II France—perfect for fans of Kate Quinn and Jennifer Chiaverini.

Paris, 1944: The war is nearly over, but for members of the Resistance in occupied France, it is more dangerous than ever before. Twenty-five-year-old Gabby Foucher loathes the Nazis, though as the concierge of 10 rue Royale, she does her best to avoid conflict—unlike her bolder sister Yvette, who finds trouble at every turn.

Then they are both recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior and swept into a treacherous world of spies, fugitives, and intrigue. While Gabby risks everything for the man she is hiding from the Nazis, Yvette must decide whether to trust an enigmatic diplomat who seems to have guessed her secret. As the threat of betrayal draws ever-closer, one slip could mean the deaths of many, and both sisters must make choices they might regret.

Paris, 1947: Yvette returns from New York to reunite with Gabby and begin life anew as a mannequin for Dior, who is revolutionizing fashion with the New Look. But first she must discover the truth behind Catherine’s terrible fate, while Gabby finds that there are many kinds of courage, and that love is always worth fighting for.

Why am I waiting so eagerly? I really enjoy historical fiction and, in these difficult times, I think it behooves all of us to remember those who stepped up to the plate during World War II. They were truly the Greatest Generation, men and women alike, and they epitomized the need and the determination to do the right thing, unlike so many today. Add to that the fascinating idea of Catherine Dior, sister of the couturier Christian Dior, being such a presence in the world of wartime espionage and I think we have an enthralling story.