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Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Tidewater Sisters

The Tidewater Sisters: Postlude to The Prayer Box       

Review of The Tidewater Sisters by

Overview from Tandi Reese and her sister, Gina, have always been bound by complicated ties. Amid the rubble of a difficult childhood lie memories of huddling beneath beds and behind sofas while parental wars raged. Sisterhood was safety . . . once. But now? Faced with legal papers for a fraud she didn’t commit, Tandi suspects that her sister has done something unthinkable. With Tandi’s wedding just around the corner, a trip to the North Carolina Tidewater for a reckoning with Gina was not part of the plan. But unraveling lies from truth will require confronting strained sibling bonds and uncovering a dark family secret that could free Tandi from her past or stain her future forever.

My Review:

The Tidewater Sisters is the first contemporary non-genre fiction that I have read in a few months. I wasn’t expecting much from it. The only reason I picked it up was because it was set in North Carolina, not far from where I am now living and I thought it might be interesting to read about some of the people who live in the places that I am just now getting acquainted with.

I wasn’t expecting all that much from it since I am not a huge fan of contemporary, non-genre fiction. It definitely exceeded my expectations.

Our main character, Tandi Jo Reese, tells the story from her point of view. It begins with Tandi Jo napping and dreaming of her first love, Luke Townley, only to be awakened by the here and now. She is at an historic house on Hatteras Island waiting for the third time for an electrician to show up.

Her fiancé, Paul, wakes her up. Shortly afterwards someone finally does come up the drive but it is not who she was expecting. A process server informs her that she is being sued for some type of false promises on the sale of a property. Since she doesn’t own any property that she knows of, she now has to find out what this is all about and deal with it before her upcoming wedding. She doesn’t know much but she is sure that it must have something to do with her estranged sister Gina.

The story follows her journey to the alleged property and on the trail to find Gina and find out what is going on as well as what really happened in the past that she thought she’d left behind. But maybe some things are better left in the past.

The story was surprisingly intriguing. Yes, there’s something of a mystery to it but I don’t think that was what drew me in. It was the emotions.

Tandi Jo was someone I could relate to. Her conflict emotions about her past as well as her hope for the future drew me in.

And the story was not preachy, the way a lot of fiction, Christian and otherwise, is. I felt invested in the outcome. So much so that my only disappointment in this story was that it was too short. It could, and should, have been a novel. There were areas of Tandi’s life that I felt could have been explored more.

Still, this would be a great summer, beach read. Even with some of the major issues that she deals with. I don’t know if Tandi Jo’s story continues but if it does, I’d really like to read it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Pedigree to Die for

A Pedigree to Die For (Melanie Travis Series #1)

Review of A Pedigree to Die for by Laurien Berenson

Overview from The apparent heart attack that killed kennel owner Max Turnbull has left his wife Peg suspecting foul play. But the only evidence is their missing prize pooh--a pedigreed poodle named Beau. Then, Melanie travis, a thirty-something teacher and single mother, is talked into investigating her uncle's death. Hounding Connecticut's elite canine competitions, she's soon hot on the trail of a poodle-hating neighbor and one elusive murderer who isn't ready to come to heel.
When her Uncle Max is found dead in his championship kennel, surrounded by his prize-winning poodles, it's up to Melanie to investigate. Posing as a poodle breeder in search of the perfect stud, Melanie hounds Connecticut's elite canine competitions, and finds an ally in fellow breeder, Sam Driver. But her affection cools when she gets wind of Sam's questionable past.

My Review:

It is hard to believe that this is the first time that I have heard of this series and it has been out there since 1995 apparently. I knew about the cat murder mystery series. I see it all the time at the bookstore but never saw this one.

This was a freebie from Barnes & Noble and I have to say I think it did its job. I am hooked. I loved the protagonist, Melanie Travis, a single mother who appears to have nothing to look forward to during summer vacation since she will be without a paycheck. I do keep wondering what will bring her to her next dead body since her role as a teacher doesn’t usually provide them but I think that’s also half the fun of reading a series like this one.

Of course, the plot itself is also entertaining. To set the scene, Melanie is looking for something to do to keep her mind off of her not so great situation (her failed marriage, her crappy car, and her lack of a summer job) when an beloved uncle dies.

Everything seems cut and dried at first. The authorities conclude that it is a simple heart attack. But Aunt Peg, Uncle Max’s wife, thinks otherwise and she asks for help but not Melanie’s. Instead, she wants Melanie’s brother Frank to help her solve the mystery but Frank declines.

And then she reveals something else. One of their prized poodles, Beau, is also missing. Aunt Peg is desperate to get that poodle back, so desperate that she agrees to work with Melanie instead to find out where the poodle is and thus, who the killer is.

Looking for a distraction, Melanie takes up the challenge to pretend to be someone who is looking for the perfect stud dog to breed with her female, counting on Aunt Peg’s belief that whoever has the dog will want to breed him as soon as possible.

And thus begins her voyage into the land of dog shows and dog breeders. Yes, they love their dogs and would do anything to get their hands on their hands on the perfect specimen but would they kill for it? Apparently, yes.

When another breeder is killed things get really serious. The police, however, don’t think much of Aunt Peg’s missing dog or Uncle Frank’s death so they are on their own with almost no one to trust. No one except possible a breeder named Sam Driver but Melanie doesn’t trust him. What will she do about her growing attraction to him? And can she find the dog and the killer before someone else winds up dead?

Read the book and find out. I don’t think you will regret it.

Contains: the word “bitch” is used throughout the novel but this is about dog breeders so I don’t think that counts as foul language.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sole Mates, a short story by me

I am taking leap of faith here and posting my fiction that I don't intend to publish here. This is partly to give readers a flavor of stories that I have written but I am also hoping for constructive feedback. Most of it will be from assignments and writing prompts that I decide to take on. Please let me know what you think.

Below is my first story. Keep in mind it has very minor editing. It came from a writing prompt on Twitter put out by @pauvetibete. Here it is: I always thought I'd meet my soul mate in a coffee shop or a tiny café or something. Not in the back of a cop car.

Sole Mates:

I always thought I'd meet my soul mate in a coffee shop or a tiny café or something. Not in the back of a cop car. But looking at him, I couldn’t deny that he was the one.

I had just been picked up for grand theft auto when the albino cop with no hair threw me in the back seat. I mean he literally threw me in there. Can’t a girl make a mistake, or two once in while without getting roughed up like an ax murder? Okay, maybe it was five, mistakes but give me a break, I needed a car and since I was on parole I had no job I had few options.

Anyway, back to the point. I was in the back of the Crown Vic for no more than two seconds when I saw him, my seatmate, for the first time. He had greasy blond hair that had been combed back though I could still see where it was thinning on the top. He was wearing a gold chain and a puke green t-shirt that said: “I did the time, not the crime,” along with a leather jacket that would make the Fonz jealous and black jeans. But on his feet were the most gorgeous black Italian suede boots I had ever seen. It was then that I knew. The smooth surface of the suede was everything to me.

He rolled his brown eyes at me and groaned after the albino cop slammed the door shut, locking us in together. I smiled and licked my lips. Could you be any more obvious? The other me wondered why I was letting these handcuffs stop me from wrapping my arms around him and kissing him.

The albino cops eyes glared at me through the rear view mirror. He laughed. “Cons in love. That’ll make a great topic for the next Jerry Springer. Save the porn show for the lock-up. I am sure your fellow cell mates will appreciate the entertainment.”

My seatmate snarled loudly, barring his teeth. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time. I scooched over to right as best as I could which made him turn my way and glare. I winked back and that’s when I saw. It lasted only a nano second but I saw it—a smile.

And then, I went for it. I couldn’t help myself, leaned right and kissed him. A funny thing happened, he kissed back. Well, sort of. My lips touched his and he didn’t pull away but then he rubbed noses with me, like an Eskimo kiss. Weird.

Still I was into it until Albino Cop opened the rear door of the cop car and yanked me out. “Oww,” I cried. How was it that I hadn’t even noticed that we had come to a stop?

“Time to go booking Grand Theft Auto,” he said.

“I love your boots,” I yelled in the general direction of my recent acquaintance. “Where’d you get ‘em?”

Another cop had now arrived and was escorting him into the same building. We were walking side by side, each being pushed along by our own personal cop escort when he said it. “I stole them.”

“So they’ve got you for boot theft then?”

“No, murder. I stole ‘em off the guy I killed this morning.” He winked.

My cop took me off to the booking area for female inmates, separating us. I never saw him again.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Space Junque

Space Junque (Apocalypto, #1) 

Review of Space Junque by L. K. Rigel

Overview from The DOGs want to destroy the world. The gods want to make a new one. The trick is to survive both.
At the end of the 21st century, civilization is at the brink of collapse. When hydroponics agronomist Char Meadowlark is warned of an impending attack by the eco-terrorist group Defenders of Gaia, she flees to the airport hoping to get off planet. The DOGs strike in the midst of Char’s escape, and pilot Jake Ardri offers her only hope of survival. He takes her to the orbiting Imperial Space Station, the seat of world government.

When the conflict goes global and the planet threatens to implode, ancient gods return to take control of humanity and impose a new world order. Char and Jake are caught up in a divine plan to save the world - but first they have to get through the apocalypse alive.

My Review:

I had a close encounter of the weird kind just now when I sat down to write this review. Though I got it for free as a Barnes & Noble e-book on their website, it is no longer listed on their website. I am not sure why but I did find a listing for it on Good Reads so I can thankfully still post a photo here. Sorry if the size is different.

This story is a novella introducing the Apocalypto series. Space Junque is named after the space ship that one of the main characters, Jake, drives a ship with that name and apparently likes to use it as joke.

“He winked and said, ‘See you at the junk, Tyler.’”
“She ran to catch up with Tyler. ‘What did Jake mean, see you at the junk?’

‘J-u-n-q-u-e. He takes private pays up to Vacation Station on the Space Junque. His shuttle. He use that line on everybody, man or woman.’

‘Ah. You want to see my Junque? Got it.’” P.13

The story begins however with Char Meadowlark’s attempt to get “off planet.” But leaving the Pacific Zone will not be easy. She barely escapes with her life though it cost her new friend Tyler his.

 I don’t want to give away too much of the story so I will skip most of the plot description and talk about characters. Char is our most developed character and the only one I felt that I got to know well during this little jaunt.
She is one of a few “natural born” people currently alive some one hundred years into our future. She also has a twin sister engaged to man who Char basically believes is just a mid-level government official. Her sister Sky has vanished but the fiancé, Mike, is looking out for her and gets her when he senses danger or does he know more than what he is telling?

Then there’s Jake, the cocky pilot who likes to make jokes, but takes his devotion to his friends seriously.
But I think my favorite character of all is perhaps Rani. An unusually tall woman with a slight Hindi accent who is tough enough to look out for herself but nevertheless cherishes her connection with her boss Jake. When she runs into trouble though, she must ask some unusual strangers for help.

The last thing I want to point out here is that this story has elements of both Science Fiction and Fantasy which was a little different for me. I was all settled in for Sci-Fi when suddenly we have a goddess thrown into the mix for good measure. Weird.

 Still overall, it was an interesting book and, mostly, a good read. I am still undecided yet though about whether or not I’ll read the sequels.

Contains: scenes of sexuality, violence, a few words that may not be for children

Saturday, October 4, 2014



Review of Terminus by Joshua Graham

Overview from Having witnessed one too many senseless deaths, Nikolai, a disillusioned Reaper 3rd Class, resigns his commission with the Angel Forces after a tedious century of gathering souls.
Immediately, another division recruits him with the promise of a more rewarding career, and issues his initial assignments: To bring down a few very dangerous threats to the human race. In the process, Nikolai falls in love with one of his targets-Hope Matheson, a woman who will lead thousands astray.
Caught between conflicting agendas, Nikolai chooses to "fall" from his celestial state and become mortal in order to circumvent angel law and be with her. But for angels and humans alike, things are not always as they appear. Still a target, the threat against Hope's life intensifies.
Now, in order to save her, Nikolai must rally the last remnants of his failing supernatural abilities to prevent her assassination, as well as the destruction of an entire city by a nuclear terrorist strike.
But his time and power are running out...
Terminus is a perspective-altering saga that delves into ageless themes of redemption, destiny, and the eternal power of love.

My Review:

The title of this one comes from the name of the “construct” where the main character, an angel named Nikolai, or sometimes Nick, takes the souls that he ushers into eternity. It is constructed as a duplicate of Victoria Station in London as it would have appeared in 1910. Nick thinks it makes it easier on the souls who pass through there if they can think of their journey as just another train trip.

This Thriller was unlike any that I had ever read before. As I already mentioned we have an angel as a main character. We are introduced to him as he takes a little girl to the construct and puts her on the train.

He then decides that he is tired of being a reaper and wants a job that makes more sense. That is when he ends up in Angel Resources and is recruited by an angel by the name of Morloch for a more top secret assignment. His first job is to stop a preacher from reading his Bible and following his usual routine.

But when the man’s child is about to be hit by an oncoming car, Nick can’t help himself. He jumps into the street to save the boy. And thus begins a series of jobs where Nick seems to do the opposite of his assignments because they just don’t make any sense but when he stops Hope Matheson rather than encouraging her to commit suicide, everything changes.

The stakes get higher and higher as Nick finds himself falling from grace and falling for Hope. She becomes a target of Nick’s new boss and Nick must find out why so that he can protect her from the angel Lena who still wants Hope dead.

The positives on this one are this one are many. The characters are great, even if they are not always Biblically accurate and yet the author does manage to keep remarkably close to the verses in the Bible that speak of this subject. The plot is not at all predictable. In fact, it is quite engaging. And the supernatural setting is interesting.

As for negatives, I had a tough time coming up with any. So there are none listed here. If you do read this, I suggest that you also read the final note from the author as it explains the thought process of our author. I found it very interesting and informative.