Book Review: Fractures by Alice Reeds @Alice_Reeds @EntangledTeen @YABoundToursPR

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Title: Fractures
Series: Echoes #2

Author: Alice Reeds
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
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iBooks // Entangled Publishing

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Fractures
Echoes #2

Alice Reed
Entangled Teen, June 2020
ISBN 978-1-64063-900-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

They survived a plane crash.

They survived life on a deserted island.

They survived being hunted.

Now they must survive the truth—they are not who they think they are.

One minute they’re in Poland, subjected to gruesome tests they keep failing. No friends to support them. No family to claim them. No hope of ever living a normal life again.

Then suddenly, they’re trapped on an abandoned freighter in the middle of the ocean and forced to fight for survival. No food. No drinkable water. No way to get home. And strange memories of another life they don’t understand.

But how can they be living two separate lives, trapped in two separate places, at the same time? They’ll have to find the connection and uncover secrets that someone went to great lengths to keep hidden…if they’re going to survive long enough to find out who is behind it all.

When I read Echoes, the first book, I was immediately drawn in by the two protagonists and by the alternate timeline aspect of the plot. The timeline thing and the characters still appeal to me in Fractures now that they are off the island but, if Fiona and Miles thought they were in trouble before, they could have had no idea what was to come.

This time, the point of view comes from Miles and there’s a difference in the level of urgency that they felt on the island but the mystery of what’s really going on deepens. For starters, how lovely is it that their own parents sold them out, literally? The promise of new lives in California was just a ploy and now Miles and Fiona have to trust no one but each other and work to find answers for themselves including the question of their real identities.

I could definitely do without the insta-love but Alice Reeds is a fine writer and her worldbuilding is vivid; the duology is a nice blend of science fiction and mystery, which I really appreciate, and Ms. Reeds kept me guessing and flipping pages as fast as I could to the very end. Besides heartily recommending Fractures, I’ll say this—you must read the two books in order 😄

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.

About the Author

Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let’s plays and figure skating videos.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Twitter

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Book Reviews: The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith and The Spying Moon by Sandra Ruttan @TimothyJaySmith @arcadepub @DownAndOutBooks

The Fourth Courier
Timothy Jay Smith
Arcade Publishing, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-94892-410-8
Hardcover

The author is a capable, experienced author and he fully understands and uses the techniques of the crime novelist. The novel reflects the author’s grasp of craft. Crimes happen early and more than once, from murder to adultery, to smuggling and other crimes, and multiple misdemeanors.

The search to identify and capture the many criminals is detailed and interesting. Several various interactions, sexual and ordinary, between various characters in this novel are also interesting.

The novel is set in Warsaw, Poland, in 1992. FBI agent Jay Porter is assigned to assist local law enforcement in a case of smuggling and multiple murder. The case has international implications because of connections of some characters to nuclear research laboratories in Russia. Remember that Communism has just departed Poland and the nation’s systems, including law enforcement, are still finding themselves and adjusting to the new era. The novel illuminates the difficulties of living and working under the Soviet and now Polish authority.

The local characters especially seem authentic and real. The descriptions of the city and countryside also seem carefully and accurately depicted. Although the novel addresses the emotional changes and connections of the characters more than the implied danger of smuggling nuclear components out of Russia, the tension is quite apparent. This is a thoughtful novel of connections and international undeclared warfare, well worth a  thoughtful read.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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The Spying Moon
Integrated Border Enforcement Team, Book 1
Sandra Ruttan
Down & Out Books
ISBN 978-1-948235-27-3
Trade Paperback

Mixed parentage doesn’t seem to hamper the career advancement of RCMP constable, Kendall Moreau. Even when she encounters a sexist constable at the entrance to her newly assigned post, Maple River, British Columbia. This had not been her plan and she was already irked. Now this man seemed to represent everything wrong with relations between men and women, in life, as in the law enforcement profession. She didn’t want to be here. Her belief was that she’d been assigned to Burns Lake, a small community many miles north, after an exemplary early career with the federal law enforcement agency.

Moreau was desperate to go to Burns Lake where a surprising number of women, including her mother, had been disappearing. It was not to be. The head of RCMP in Maple River needed a task force to deal with a growing drug distribution problem in the area so Moreau is abruptly reassigned. She discovers a morass of murder, drugs, corruption and a mélange of fascinating characters, in and out of law enforcement.

Readers will be drawn swiftly into the complicated taut relationships of the task force she abruptly joins. The puzzles she and her colleagues must solve, even for their own protection, are many and fraught, all set against a small city environment nearly surrounded by the Rocky Mountains.

Well written, the pace of the novel is maintained at an appropriate level as Moreau, a strong and realistic character, works to solve personal interactions and a growing list of crimes and infractions.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: A Serpent’s Tooth by Craig Johnson, Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson, and The Wild Beasts of Wuhan by Ian Hamilton

A Serpent's ToothA Serpent’s Tooth
Craig Johnson
Viking, April  2013
ISBN: 978-0-670-02645-6
Trade Paperback

Now in his ninth appearance, Walt Longmire is confronted by dual adversaries when a homeless boy shows up on his doorstep.  The youth, Cord Lynear, has been cast out of a Mormon cult enclave searching for his mother.  Walt discovers that his mother approached the sheriff of an adjoining county, looking for her son.  In attempting to reunite the two, Walt is unable to find the mother, leading him into investigating an interstate polygamy group, well-armed and with something to hide.

It is an intricate plot, one fraught with danger for Walt, his pal Standing Bear (also known as “Cheyenne Nation”) and his deputy (and lover), Victoria Moretti.  I felt Walt’s overdone bravado, and the resulting violent confrontations, were a bit overdone.  But that is Walt.  And TV.

This entry in the Walt Longmire series, now also in a popular TV dramatic form about to enter its second season, appears to be expressly written to provide another episode.  That is not to say it isn’t another well-written novel with all the elements of the Wyoming sheriff’s customary literary observations and acts of derring-do.  It just seems to me that it’s a bit too much of a manufactured plot with an overtone of a popular protagonist and his sidekicks.  That said, the novel is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2013.

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Once We Were BrothersOnce We Were Brothers
Ronald H. Balson
St. Martin’s Griffin, October 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-04639-0
Trade Paperback

There have been many books about the holocaust and the travails of people under Nazi occupation during World War II, but this novel touches the heart of the reader because essentially it is a love story surrounded by the atrocities and miseries inflicted on the populations of the occupied territories.  It is essentially the story of Ben Solomon and his wife and family.  But, more important, it is the telling of the horrors endured by the Jews in Poland and the beasts that perpetrated them.

The plot begins when Ben, now 82 years old, sees a TV broadcast of a Chicago event and recognizes the person receiving a civic honor, apparently a pillar of society who is well-known as a philanthropist, as a former Nazi SS officer, Otto Piatek.  The reason Ben recognizes him is because the Solomon family gave Otto a home and Ben grew up with him until Otto’s parents took him away and he embraced his new-found status in the National Socialist Party.  Ben is introduced to Catherine Lockhart, an attorney, who comes to embrace Ben’s desire to uncover Otto, now going by the name of Elliot Rosenzweig, a billionaire Chicago insurance magnate, for what he really is, while listening to his story in relation to a lawsuit she is preparing to bring to reclaim jewelry and cash Otto stole from Ben’s family.

Written simply, the book, a first effort by a Chicago lawyer, moves forward steadily, as Catherine attempts to formulate a lawsuit for replevin, while Ben insists on telling her in great detail the trials and tribulations of life under the Nazis.  And it all comes together at the end.  (Parenthetically, I believe the novel would make a great screenplay.)

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, November 2013.

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The Wild Beasts of WuhanThe Wild Beasts of Wuhan
An Ava Lee Novel
Ian Hamilton
Picador, June 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-03229-4
Trade Paperback

Ava Lee undertakes a most formidable task in this, the second in the series about the forensic accountant who specializes in recovering money for a sizable commission in partnership with her mentor, referred to simply as “Uncle,” a rather mysterious man apparently with triad connections, headquartered in Hong Kong and with deep roots in China.  It seems that Uncle’s boyhood friend, Wong Changxing, a powerful and impressive industrialist, bought about $100 million worth of paintings, 15 out of the 20 being elaborate forgeries, and upon discovering the fact seeks Uncle’s and Ava’s assistance in recovering the money and saving him from embarrassment should the facts become known.

The problem is that the Hong Kong dealer from whom the paintings were purchased ten years before is dead and there are no clues or paperwork to guide Ava in her efforts.  But that hardly is a problem for her, as she pursues tracing the transactions, traveling to Denmark, London, Dublin, the Faroe Islands and New York City and learning a lot about the art world in the process.

Ava Lee is on a par with the best of the female protagonists like Kinsey Milhone and others, while an accountant, but exhibiting all the talents and attributes of a private eye.   She is tough and bold and confident, as she shows us in this latest caper.  We are told that the next novel in the series, expected in January 2014, has her pulling her half-brother’s chestnuts out of the fire.  Looking forward to reading it!

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2013.

Book Review: Release by Nicole Hadaway

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Release by Nicole Hadaway
Publication date: January 4th, 2013
by Visionary Press Cooperative
Genre: Adult Paranormal Fantasy
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ReleaseRelease
Tales From the Dandridge Estate Book 1
Nicole Hadaway
Visionary Press Cooperative, January 2013
Ebook
Also available in Trade Paperback
ISBN 978-1482525946

From the publisher—

“The ends justify the means”…

For vampire Miranda Dandridge, using her supernatural abilities to rescue children from impossible circumstances is her means to be a part of the human world that she loves so much, despite the atrocities of WWII.

For doctor Ben Gongliewski, saving his fellow Jews from the horrific death camps is an end for which he risks his own life every day, hiding his Jewish heritage while feigning loyalty the SS.

Neither Miranda nor Ben expects to find love in World War II Europe, but that is exactly what happens as they work for the Resistance. When the war draws to a close, it seems like the vampire and the doctor are free to start a future together. But just how far the Nazis will go to further their own evil ends?

Desperate times make for ruthless men as loves and lives are threatened, but, Miranda and Ben know that their world cannot go to hell, not by any means…

Wanted: a vampire, a demon and a werewolf willing to become heroes. Sparklies need not apply.

Whoa. Release is not like any other supernatural story I’ve ever read. How is it possible to reconcile the vicious behavior of these creatures with their desire to help save one human at a time from an evil that’s worse than their own? And yet, there it is, and I applaud this author for taking a brilliant idea and bringing it to life.

Miranda Dandridge is the most empathetic vampire I can recall, especially one that is every bit as bloodthirsty as a vampire can be. (Take special note of her origins—that’s a fascinating history in itself.) It’s really intriguing to see how Mirrie is able to reconcile her essence with the compassion she has towards humans and the love that develops between her and Ben Gongliewski, the Jewish doctor she works with in the Polish Resistance. Even the joy she takes in the seemingly simple act of shapeshifting and then taking wing has a poetry of its own.

Miranda’s friends, the demon named Vanessa and young Rose, cursed with being a werewolf, are sympathetic characters whose natures are at odds with their behavior and I found them to be just as appealing as Miranda and Ben, Vanessa in particular. That in itself is a wondrous thing, that Nicole Hadaway could imbue them with so much heart. There are a lot of other characters including Miranda’s brother, Cray, and a variety of supernaturals and humans, and many of them have just as much presence as Miranda and Ben. If I have any quibble with the author’s character development, it’s that there really are too many of them and it was not always immediately apparent whose voice I was hearing. Despite that, I appreciated the use of third person as it made for a much fuller understanding of the story.

As for plot development, this is probably Ms. Hadaway’s strength. Most people who know a little or a lot about the European theater of World War II and the Holocaust are very familiar with the French Resistance but here we learn about the Polish Resistance along with the horrors suffered by the Jews as well as homosexuals and other disfavored segments of society. While I’m sure the author has taken some historical liberties, following this particular path brought a fresh aspect to a story that must never be forgotten.

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that a book involving supernatural beings with the Holocaust is at best disrespectful and perhaps even taking unjust advantage of a terrible time in history for entertainment purposes but that’s really not the case with Release. Are there flaws? Of course there are and most important in my opinion is overuse of dialogue so that the pace was slowed and the reader is told too much rather than experiencing along with the players. All in all, though, Nicole Hadaway is to be commended for a job most definitely well done.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2013.

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EXCERPT

There was no way Neil was going to get messed with tonight.  He hadn’t made it through this war, with its air raids, rations, and the threat of Nazi invasions only to meet his end by some crazy on a back street of London.  No sir, not tonight.  Especially not on New Year’s Eve.

Neil made two moves at the same time.  He turned to run – he was a pretty fast runner, and had kept in shape.  He also pulled out his pocketknife, and opened up the blade.  He didn’t want to get into a fight; it had been ages since he’d been in one, and with his right hand, he was well aware of his handicap.  But just in case…

Neil’s foot had barely touched the pavement when he was stopped dead in his tracks again, as there was now another man, who must have been standing behind him this whole time.  A blonde man this time, with pale skin, yet very dark, almost black eyes.  A Nazi – oh my God, they’ve made it here! He thought in a panic.  Before he could think of his next move, the man opened his mouth and, speaking English without any accent asked, “Hey Cray – how much longer?  Daylight’s not too far away,” he called out.

“Awww, Denny, relax! They’re on double daylight savings time here,” an amused voice called out from behind Neil.

Neil heard a whoosh of air and before he could turn around, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

He followed the hand on his shoulder, and found himself staring into pale blue eyes.  Eyes that seemed to bore into Neil, forcing him to drop the knife, which he’d been holding out poised to strike.  The man reached over with his other hand and took the knife, tossing it to the side, saying, “You won’t be needing this, friend.  We’ve our own ways of getting your flesh and blood.”

Neil knew he should have been afraid – he was afraid – but he couldn’t move; for some reason, he was rooted to his spot.  One side of his brain screamed fight, fight, fight! But another part of him just wouldn’t allow it.  Maybe it was because he knew the man was strong and he could feel that his shoulder might break from the crazy man’s grip.

It did break.  Neil heard a loud snap! and felt the pain shoot forth from his shoulder down his arm and across his chest.  Through the pain, he thought he heard someone say, “Sorry chum, but I like it when the marrow gets into the blood, with the adrenaline.  Makes it tastier.”

Neil tried to scream, but something was at his throat, almost strangling him.  He felt the fire of his shoulder meld with the burning at his throat.  All he could do was look up, into the street lamp, and into the white light that quickly engulfed his entire body.

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Nicole Hadaway

As a lawyer, Nicole Hadaway knows all about bloodsuckers and deals with the devil.

She currently lives in Texas where she pens such tales involving the supernatural,

featuring her heroine, the vampire Miranda Dandridge.

Author Links:
Website: http://dandridgehouse.blogspot.ca/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3100376.Nicole_Hadaway
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TalesFromTheDandridgeEstate

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Book Review: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087Prisoner B-3087
Alan Gratz
Scholastic Press, March 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-45901-3
Hardcover

 

Prisoner B-3087 is a novel, based on the true story of Jack Gruener’s formative years in concentration camps.  Anyone vaguely familiar with the Holocaust will find it remarkably difficult to determine where Mr. Gratz took liberties.  At a blush, this may seem like a heavy topic for the intended audience of younger students (Middle and Jr. High); however, in its simplicity, I believe that the story is perfectly presented.

The horror unfolds through the eyes of Yanek (later to be known as Jack Gruener).  He is only 10 years old when Hitler’s armies began to invade Europe.  As he listens to the adults “talk politics”, he can’t possibly conceive of how his world will change over the next 6 years.

Because Yanek is such a kind-hearted and optimistic boy, his matter-of-fact delivery allows the reader to experience his own emotions.  The simple and basic presentation of the deplorable treatment of Jews is no less than heart-wrenching—for the reader.  It is impossible to ignore the young boy’s strength and resolution as he first deals with years of being held prisoner in his own town, to finding the perfect hiding place for his family as mass exodus occurs—who but a young boy would see an abandoned pigeon coop as a home?  As he loses family and friends while being shuffled from camp to camp, he relies on inner strength to survive.

I hope that this book becomes wildly popular.  Based on my (very limited) time in the school systems, I believe our kids need a true hero.  It seems that so many of us have become wrapped up in our own little cocoons that we allow inconveniences to become tragedies.  I certainly relished the jolt back to reality—where people truly know suffering and pain.  The fresh perspective was welcome.  I will definitely be donating copies of this book to school and public libraries, with the hope that someone else will open his eyes as well.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2012.