Book Review: Jump Cut by Libby Fischer Hellmann—and a Giveaway!

Jump CutJump Cut
An Ellie Foreman Mystery #5
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Poisoned Pen Press, March 2016
ISBN 978-1-4642-0519-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Hired to produce a candy-floss profile of Chicago-based aviation giant Delcroft, Ellie is dismayed when company VP Charlotte Hollander trashes the production and cancels the project. Ellie believes Hollander was spooked by shots of a specific man in the video footage. But when Ellie arranges to meet the man to find out why, he is killed by a subway train before they can talk. In the confusion, she finds a seemingly abandoned pack of cigarettes with a flash drive inside that belonged to the now-dead man.

Ellie gets the drive’s contents decrypted, but before long discovers she’s under surveillance. Suspecting Delcroft and the ambitious Hollander are behind it, she’s unconvinced when Hollander tells her the dead man was a Chinese spy. Ellie and her boyfriend, Luke, try to find answers, but they don’t realize how far they have ventured into the dangerous echelons of hidden power where more lives are on the line―including their own.

I first met Libby Fischer Hellmann years ago, not too long after the release of her first Ellie Foreman book, An Eye for Murder, and both the book and its author called to me mightily. Through the years before I left the bookstore business, I’d run into Ms. Hellmann here and there at various mystery conventions and we always had a nod and a smile for each other but what I really enjoyed about those times is that it usually meant she had a new book out.  In the early days, the books were in the Ellie Foreman series and I always looked forward to them. Alas, the last one came out in 2005 and then the author moved on to other series and standalones, all just as good but I always wished for more Ellie.

Maybe the author heard my wishes; whatever the reasons, Ellie is back and I could not be happier. She’s the same intelligent, caring, somewhat foolhardy woman she’s always been and it takes next to no time for her to become embroiled in a mishmash of espionage and murders, all because she and her video production team were unfairly fired from a job for a huge aviation company. Being fired is one thing—they’ll still get paid—but Ellie is so outraged that she can’t resist digging into what’s going on. Remember I called her “somewhat foolhardy”? Yeah, that’s the perfect term for her and it’s not the TSTL syndrome so much as her mind and her sense of integrity just won’t let it go. Unfortunately, Ellie comes to the attention of a lot of people and they don’t all have her best interests at heart.

Jump Cut is a thriller in the very best sense with explosions and missing people along with the espionage and murders and it would be easy for all of this action to turn sour in the hands of a lesser writer but Ms. Hellmann is, as always, on point. She kept me riveted, needing to know what this simple flash drive held and how it could be so very important to so many factions but, at the same time, I was pulled into her truly normal and appealing personal life. Now, I have to hope that I won’t have to wait so long for my next Ellie Foreman fix 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2016.

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To enter the drawing for a trade
paperback copy of Jump Cut by
Libby Fischer Hellmann
, leave a

comment below. The winning name
will
be drawn Thursday evening,
March 3rd.
This drawing is open
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the US.

Book Review: Shattered Veil by Tracy E. Banghart

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Title: Shattered Veil
Series: The Diatous Wars #1
Author: Tracy E. Banghart
Publication date: February 28th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction

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Synopsis

For Aris, a talented wingjet pilot, war means sacrificing everything: her home,
her name, her face—and the one promise she swore she’d never break.

In the small village of Lux, everyone flies wingjets, but nobody flies them like
Aris Haan. When she’s not dancing through the skies, she’s spending every
minute with Calix, whom she’s loved since childhood. They plan to Promise,
but instead he is sent to defend their dominion against a bloody invasion.
Determined not to lose him, Aris follows, joining an underground network of
women inside the male-only military. Using secret technology that allows her to
pass as a man, she becomes “Aristos”, a Flyer in a search-and-rescue unit.

As Aris grows stronger on the battlefield and more comfortable in her guise as
Aristos, her personal mission becomes less and less clear. When she and
her enigmatic commander, Major Vidar, uncover an astonishing conspiracy that
could destroy everything, she must make a choice that will determine not
only the fate of her heart, but the future of her dominion.

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Shattered VeilShattered Veil
The Diatous Wars #1
Tracy E. Banghart
Tracy E. Banghart, February 2014
ISBN 978-0-9890373-4-1
Trade Paperback

From the author—

When everything that defines you is stripped away, who do you become?

For Aris, a talented wingjet pilot, war means sacrificing everything: her home, her name, her face-and the one promise she swore she’d never break.

In the small village of Lux, everyone flies wingjets, but nobody flies them like Aris Haan. When she’s not dancing through the skies, she’s spending every minute with Calix, whom she’s loved since childhood. They plan to Promise, but instead he is sent to defend their dominion against a bloody invasion. Determined not to lose him, Aris follows, joining an underground network of women inside the male-only military. Using secret technology that allows her to pass as a man, she becomes “Aristos”, a Flyer in a search-and-rescue unit.

As Aris grows stronger on the battlefield and more comfortable in her guise as Aristos, her personal mission becomes less and less clear. When she and her enigmatic commander, Major Vidar, uncover an astonishing conspiracy that could destroy everything, she must make a choice that will determine not only the fate of her heart, but the future of her dominion.

I don’t always immediately like the primary character(s) in a novel that engages me from the beginning and that’s the case with Shattered Veil. I had problems first with Calix and his patriarchal attitude towards Aris, his assumption that his decision was all that mattered and that Aris had nothing to say about it. I then had some difficulty with Aris’ decision to go to war disguised as a man. This isn’t the first time such a thing has happened both in fiction and in real life—there were women who did this in our Civil War—but I’ve always had some reluctance to see it as a fully positive thing.

In the case of Aris, I totally got her desire to be where Calix was but it was such an immature decision. She gave no real regard to the hurt she’d be causing her family all because her hormones were in overdrive and, OMG, she just couldn’t be parted from her true love! Then, she showed her complete lack of understanding reality when she was surprised, floored actually, that she had to undergo training before she could jump into the war. How dumb can a girl be?

Fortunately, my dismay with both Aris and Calix was shortlived although it would be resurrected later in spades regarding Calix. Aris began to show what she was really made of and my admiration for her started to grow. The plot of Shattered Veil is important, of course, but its main purpose for me was to act as a vehicle for Ms. Banghart’s very strong character development of a young girl. Aris was sheltered from birth, as were all females, but we get to see her grow up and resist the commonly-accepted practices of her time. It’s sort of a fast forward look at the struggle for equality women have been undergoing in real life for far too long.

The other thing about this book that struck me was the vivid characters besides Aris and Calix. Did I love them all? Of course not, how boring would that be? Even the less appealing people, though, really came to life and a few, likeable and not so much, in particular especially struck me, such as Galena, Dianthe and Major Vidar. Also, I mustn’t forget Ward Balias, one of the best evocations of an untrustworthy politicians I’ve come across.

I may be in a minority here but I did appreciate the third person style. I’m always more comfortable with that than with first person, especially when there is a lot of action and some dangerous things going on. It’s hard for me to believe a protagonist telling me what’s happening in real time when, say, bad guys are shooting at her. I’m also inordinately thankful that, despite Aris’ hormones, romance takes a second seat to the rest of the story.

I do think there were two weaknesses, the lack of worldbuilding and the ease with which the women were able to hide their true identities. With regards to the latter, people who go to war are a close-knit community and it was hard to believe that the truth wouldn’t come out much sooner and more frequently. As to the worldbuilding, well, there really wasn’t much and I hope Ms. Banghart will remedy that in future books. As it is, we can’t really say that this is dystopian and/or post-apocalyptic because we just don’t know enough.

That said, I did enjoy Shattered Veil  a lot and I hope to see Aris again soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2014.

About the Author

Tracy E. BanghartTracy E. Banghart is a cheesy movie–loving, fantasy football–playing (go Ravens!), globe-trotting Army wife who began “practicing” her craft at the age of five, when she wrote her first story. She loves visiting the international friends she met while pursuing her MA in Publishing and spends a portion of every summer at her family’s cabin in Canada, where she finds inspiration and lots of time to relax on the dock. She lives with her husband, son, two lazy dogs and one ornery cat. When not writing or spending time with her family, she is on a mission to bake the perfect cupcake.

LINKS:

Website  /  Goodreads  /  Facebook  /  Twitter

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