Reviews

"As Wings Unfurl" by Arthur M. Doweyko

This was great patio read. By that I mean grab your favorite snack, a couple of cold drinks and then head for your 'reading place'. Mine is a covered patio with a view of our small back yard, flower beds and gently waving trees.

I settled in with anticipation and dove into Mr. Doweyko's tale. I was firmly hooked by the middle of the first chapter! That's my kind of story. Great opening, with quick character sketches that get filled in as you read. More than enough 'say what's?' to keep you keep you turning the page and hoping to get a bigger taste of the plot.

The plot is wonderful. I don't want to give anything away, it's too delicious to spoil. The book blurb on Barnes and Noble has a good intro and should give you enough to wet your appetite. I'll just say that Mr. Doweyko's characters, good and evil, are engaging and believable and that the scope of the plot kept me enchanted.

I look forward to sampling more of Mr. Doweyko's works as soon as possible!

"Revolver" by H.P. Oliver

I'm a huge fan of the Johnny Spicer capers by H.P. Oliver and this tale is the best one so far!

Like the other reviewers, I really enjoy being totally immersed into 1939 Hollywood with all it's glitz, glitter and intrigue. Johnny is  a glib, gritty gumshoe that steps right out of the Hollywood newspaper headlines. He's smart. Smart enough to know when to push and when to sit back and let the action come to him.

This time his client is none other than Jack Warner of the Warner Brothers movie mega-machine. Someone is trying to sabotage Jack's latest film 'Thunderstruck' and he hires our intrepid detective to find out who and to stop them.

You'll meet a marvelous lineup of movie stars, high rollers and low life's as Spicer works his way through the evidence, one step at a time, risking life and limb to find the answers.

And just like in the other books, you're going to have a blast cruisin' up and down the boulevards of Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the coastal highways. Late night diners, ham sandwiches and hot coffee. No cell phones, no internet, not even a pager. Johnny has to rely on his wits and dogged determination to solve this one.

I highly recommend this caper and the other cool stories in H.P. Oliver's 'Johnny Spicer' series.

Grab a cool brew, a plate of nachos and settle in for the fun!


"Pacifica" by H.P. Oliver

Private Investigator Johnny Spicer, ace LA gumshoe and sarcastic philosopher of life, is on the case again, this time at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco. 

Walk alongside this intrepid detective through the streets of that bygone city on the bay. Smell the salt air and the not so savory scents of the wharves and warehouses. Don't forget to bring your '38, you're going to need it.

Danger and intrigue buzz around Johnny like bees around a hive. The simple case gets steadily more complicated and twisted and we root for our hero to find the clues and connect the dots. But what happens when there are more dots than you can connect?

Once again I enjoyed cruising the streets of San Francisco and Treasure Island with my pal Johnny, watching the street lights glitter and the ghostly fog roll in. Johnny is easy to talk to listens at the right times. Just ask the lady trombone player downstairs.

The dialog is spot on, dry, sparse and edgy. The plot keeps you guessing which character Johnny should watch out for and which are on his side. Even the FBI gets into the action. Or do they?

Join the fun. Grab your notebook and take lots of notes. 

You and Johnny Spicer are on the case again!


"The Day Uncle Jimmy learned to fly" by Pete Carter

Wonderfully quirky, charming tale, reminiscent of C.S. Lewis's strange and intriguing 'Out of the Silent Planet', but with a dry sense of humor I've come expect from Pete.

Mr. Carter's imagination unfolds in full force in this tale of a wayward space explorer stranded on a truly bizarre planet, while the snarky AI on his mother ship waits patiently for his return.

The more 'Uncle Jimmy' learns about the planet and it's inhabitants (loved the Ancestor Tree, Pete!) the more convinced he becomes that he will never understand this place or return to his orbiting ship.

This story is both fantastical in nature and chock full of SciFi 'what if' concepts. You'll bust a gusset trying to figure out if Mr. Carter's concepts for the planet and ... well, you'll see.

Have a blast turning the virtual pages of this delightful romp through Mr. Carter fevered imagination!

I'd suggest a plate of potato-skins and a iced bucket full of 1554 Black Larger beer.


"Johnny Spicer: The First Capers" by H.P. Oliver

This book has two stories; 'Death by Dirigible' and 'The Reprehensible Redhead'. They introduce us to the Hollywood gumshoe, Johnny Spicer. He's a snarky, reckless Private Eye with a flare for trouble. My favorite kind of character!

Mr. Oliver drew me in immediately with the 1930s era Hollywood world his characters live and die in. I feel like I'm riding along in Johnny's dented Plymouth coupe, cruising the glitzy and not so glitzy back streets of Tinsel Town.

The pace is perfect and the dialog is spot on for the times. I can't wait to follow Johnny on his next capers!

These stories went great with a couple of cold Fat Tires and a platter of chips and salsa. Yumm!

"Mission Veritas" by John Murphy

'Mission Veritas' brings back the 'hard' 'hard SciFI'. Old school blood and guts military action, Interstellar politics and drama.

The characters are true to life, both the frail and the fierce. You are caught up immediately with the story of main character, Killian, a 'rich kid' who has to grow up quickly to survive. The action is paced perfectly. There are no pure heroes or last minute twists to save the day.

It brought to mind Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers', and Weber's 'Honor Harrington' Space Corp military series.

Aliens have come to Earth to spread peace and end human suffering. Or have they?

Make sure you have an uninterrupted afternoon to spend with Murphy's excellent tale.

I'd suggest a platter of nachos and an ice bucket full of Fat Tire brews so that you don't have to put the book down!

"The Silk Code" by Phil Levinson

Another wonderful, sprawling, exotic read from Mr. Levinson!

Neanderthals still walk among us. Silk has powers unknown to modern science. The Amish have been bio-engineering for hundreds of years. You'll never look at a butterfly the same way again, trust me!

These and other insightful, marvelous concepts keep this story moving forward at a steady pace.

Mr. Levinson's forensic detective Phil D'Amato is carried along on a wild ride through history and science.

It's fun ride, hop on and hang on!

"The Legacy Trust" by Pete Cater


Pete Carter has done it again! I don't know if I'm going to throttle him or give him another huge 'atta boy' slap on the back.

Why?

Because once again I spent an entire afternoon on patio, turning page after page in one of his books, a new thriller. I could not stop. I had to know what was next for his unlikely and inadvertent hero, Andrew Knight. 

Spies, conspiracies, time travel, wonderful concepts and excellent dialog.

Mr. Carter has a flair for writing plots interwoven with human interest and wildly 'out of the box' concepts. His stories keep you guessing about his heroes and villains alike. You're never really sure who is lying and where the next twist will be exposed.

Wonderfully fun, thrilling adventure!

"Alogorithm" by Authur Doweyko


This adventure takes you from the coal mines of Pennsylvanian to the stars. Fast paced action and some wonderfully unique concepts combine to make it a page-turner.

The main characters are united by bizarre circumstance and then grow closer together as they struggle to understand what's happening and to stay alive.

The story is exciting, with plenty of twists to keep you on the edge, wondering if you really know what's happening. 

The author challenges us to think about our true beginnings and perhaps about our end.

"Little Differences" by Paul Levinson


I bought this mind-warping little tale immediately after finishing 'Loose Ends', it's precursor. This story originally ran in Analog, June 1998. A good year as I recall.

Like 'Loose Ends', this tale drew me in and kept me off kilter for the whole evening. I read it in one swell foop. It went well with two fingers of Texas Straight Bourbon over ice.

Time Travel stories are hard to write and hard to present to the reader in a satisfying way. The reader is instinctively skeptical from the get go. With good reason. Time Travel? How do you make THAT fresh and interesting? Especially when most stories target the same fateful date, the same man's death.

Mr. Levinson actually takes that fact and turns it on it's head.

A fun and tasty read, highly recommended.

"Loose Ends" by Paul Levinson


I 'met' Paul at a Google Hangout where he was releasing 'Loose Ends', originally published as a novella in Analog magazine in 1997.

I admit my ignorance of most of Mr. Levinson's works, as my childhood and early days were spent with the hard SciFi masters of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. In the last few years, it's been Orson Scott Card, David Weber, Douglas Adams and others that capture my imagination.

Wonderfully, I have another author to explore. One of the favorite 'ah-ha' moments in my reading experience is when I find new worlds to live in. New ideas, new concepts; that slightly 'bent' slant on a subject like Time Travel.

Paul shows a great flare for engaging you into the life of Jeff Harris immediately, which is a must for a mr. I feel that an author has only a few moments to draw his/her reader into the story. If you succeed, the reader will reward you by embracing your characters into his imagination. They will spend hours with your words and worlds. And they will seek you out in the future, wanting more of your work, expecting the next story to be better than the first.

'Loose Ends', a novella of 50 pages, is such a story. Here's to hoping that Paul's other works are as interesting, fun and slightly 'bent'.

I recommend 'Loose Ends' as a great introduction into Mr. Levinson's stable of stories.

"41 A Portrait of My Father" by George W. Bush 



I don't generally review non-fiction, but this wonderful book hit a personal chord with me.

This is a well written, earthy portrayal of one of my heroes, George H. W. Bush by his son, another of my heroes, George W. Bush.

Written as though Mr. Bush and I were sitting on the patio (mine), sipping a glass of a nice Texas Red and enjoying the warm Texas summer afternoon. He doesn't talk down to me or assume I'm politically savvy.

I learned of the many challenges and opportunities 41 faced and how he faced them. Every President faces soul crushing responsibilities. I'm still proud of how 41 faced every challenge.

It's a warm, wonderful glimpse of Bush Senior's life, from early military life to present day with his family.

My highest recommendation for everyone.

Go. Learn how this kind, patient but determined man lead our country through some amazing times.

"The Fence" by Pete Carter


This is a balls-to-wall, full-steam-ahead action adventure that will keep you on the edge of your mental seat for all 500+ pages!

Mr. Carter weaves a tense tale of cunning conspiracies, treasonous terrorism, government gaffs and black-op bad asses. The action scenes are original, intense and even the good guys catch bullets in the fray. The 'enablers' (my term for new concepts that assist in moving the story forward ) are awesome. Finally, I get my jet car!

The bad guys seem to hold all the cards, their plans years in the making. All that's left is to steal a few things from what they think is an soft, infidel industrialist. What can a decadent Capitalist inventor possibly do to stop them!

Unfortunately for the black hats, they don't know about 'Jay', the Artificial Intelligence that was built by Wilder and his team and made possible because of their own micro-miniaturized memory chips. Of course, neither do any of the white hats at first.

This not-so-distant-future story is chillingly current in it's portrayal of events in the middle East and around the world.

It's a testament to Mr. Carter's excellent action-packed story that I finished it willingly. I generally do not pick up books this long, even if I've been told it's worth it. I have found that I usually lose the thread and the interest in the story.

Not so with this tale. Mr. Carter kept my interest and energy throughout the entire story. Well done!

Highly recommended to action junkies everywhere!

'The Evolution Trilogy' by Vanessa Wester on Amazon


The Evolution Trilogy is an excellent series by Vanessa Wester. These stories drew me into the worlds of the two main characters, Steven and Caitlin, as well as some very well established and interesting secondary characters.

I was totally invested in her creations, wanting to know how they would handle the changes and challenges in their lives.

The plot of each book in this series can stand alone, but the stories are smoothly blended and would be very enjoyable as a weekend read-a-thon.

The best part, for me at least, is that reading The Evolution Trilogy was FUN! I read to escape into new worlds and meet interesting characters. Ms. Wester's imagination flowed into the lines of the story, carrying me along for a wonderful ride.

I give this trilogy five stars and a great big 'well done', Ms. Wester.

When is your next book out?!

'The Dream Map' by Jason Luthor on Amazon


I thoroughly enjoyed this Sword, Sorcery and Dragon tale.

Mr. Luthor's style flows easily and strongly, with no weak or slow parts in the story. He added new elements and characters at all the right moments.

His plot enabler (how he convinces you this could happen) is imaginative and well thought out. It allows  you to suspend belief with ease; no 'say what?' moments to interrupt the action.

The characters are well formed and believable. I found myself wanting to know more about the world the characters struggled in and the foe they struggled against. I really enjoyed the twist on the Dragon society!

This is wonderful young adult or adult read. I'm looking forward to his next book. Don't keep me waiting!

Well done, Jason.

'Deserving of Death' by James Paddock on Amazon on Barnes and Noble


Another great mystery read by one of my favorite writers! After reading 'Elkhorn Mountain Menace' (see review below) I was hoping Mr. Paddock still had his mojo running, and I was not disappointed. If anything, this book is a step up from the last. More action, more twists, more character engagement and a killer plot (no pun intended).

CJ Washburn, cop turned PI, is a believable, imperfect man throw into a murder mystery mess, just from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or was he? The story keeps you guessing, which is why Mr. Paddock got a 5 star rating from me and other readers.

The story is fast paced, the dialog perfect and the supporting characters helped draw me into CJ nightmare ride.

Mr. Paddock does it again. It's a 'must read' recommendation from me.

'The Traveler' by Garrett Addison on Amazon on Barnes and Noble

Mr. Addison's story is unique and unusual in several aspects.

Living inside the main character's head, feeling his angst, phobias and feelings of manic ecstasy was both intriguing and painful at times. I got to experience his every thought and revelation through a slightly bizarre series of business trips. This could be repetitive and draining at times.

I found myself rooting for the Traveler one moment and disliking him immensely the next. At times I could not reconcile his words and deeds and that threw me off the story. It did eventually make sense though.

Definitely well written with some very clever plot twists.

Mr. Addison's writing style and character development will pull you in the story. The action will keep you wondering...

'Elkhorn Mountain Menace' by James Paddock on Amazon on Barnes and Noble


Mr. Paddock has created a nail-biting, fast paced thrill-ride in this story of ordinary people drawn into extraordinary danger.

The characters are real, flawed and believable, something that is very hard to accomplish. Every character you meet breathes more life into the story, more flavor to the stew. Trevor is what every man wants to be and Natasha the woman he wants. Neither are perfect. Both love life.

The story grabbed me immediately. That's key for me, because I need to care about the characters and the plot quickly or I get bored. There was no chance of that with 'Elkhorn Mountain Menace'. There's not a slow spot in the whole book.

This is my first Paddock book, but definitely will not be my last!

'Prince of the City: The Cat's Whiskers' by Mackenzie Brown on Amazon on Barnes and Noble


 This is a wonderful return to a genre I love; the hard nosed, struggling detective, pitched knee deep into a dangerous, sticky mess of intrigue.

'The Cat's Whiskers' is the first installment of a story that centers around war torn Liverpool in the early 40's. Vic Prince's flat feet and asthma prevented him from enlisting to serve his country but there is plenty of menacing peril along the Mersey and Vic seems to draw it in like flies to honey.

Vic is a wise cracking gumshoe; a black man struggling with the prejudices of the time to make a living for himself and his lovely Chinese girlfriend.

A seemingly innocuous case to find a missing cat for a wealthy client quickly turns into something much more complicated. Soon he's wrapped up in the black market, Russian spies and beautiful but dangerous women. What's not to enjoy!

I love books like this and Mr. Brown has hooked me good. I can't wait for the next installment!


'Wonder' by R.J. Palacio on Barnes and Noble on Amazon


This is story about a boy with a severe facial deformity that keeps him at home, away from shocked and cruel stares. Until 5th grade, when his parents urge him to try Beecher Prep school, in the hopes of giving him a better social life.

Justin's story, and the story of his family and classmates, unfolds gently but firmly as Justin struggles to be treated like everyone else.

This is a heart-wrenching and heart-warming story that engages your mind and your heart, pulling you along with enlightening dialogue as each character tells his/her side.

This will be a family classic. Please read!


'Dancing with Eternity' by John Patrick Lowrie


Mr Lowrie grabs your imagination and never lets go. This is a future unlike any I've explored before and it was wonderful.

The author blended rarefied concepts with engaging characters and a truly novel futuristic perspective. And made it fun to read!

This is one of those rare books I'll read again so I can explore Mr Lowrie's rich universe and characters.

Highly recommended!

'Blackstone & Brenwen: The Mirror & The Meretrix ' by Andrew D.
Mellusco

Andrew D. Mellusco has created a marvelous Universe in which we can watch fairy tale characters and creatures living, playing, stealing, murdering and litigating.

Mr. Mellusco brings together a rich cast of lofty Angelics, law-bringer Giants, deadly Wolfverns, Fire Demons and much more right into the court room. And Asmodeus has his own law firm!

I was instantly caught up in the mystery of Red Riding Hood charged with murdering her lover. And how does an insurance claim for a missing magic mirror figure into the murder?

Snow White is an assassin for the Queen? The Sandman can walk around in your dreams? It's a wonderful, entertaining read from opening scene to ending courtroom drama.
Fun read!

'Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins


See, I can be trained. My second post in as many days! To be honest, I am getting some help from friends and family but at least I know what a blog is and what it is for now. Progress!

I'm bit behind the rest of you reading Hunger Games but I've been busy with my own projects.

Ms Collins' story line is crisp and moves a great pace for me. I'm drawn into a world where the gladiator and his arena have returned. The reasons for the games is well established and believable from the beginning. That's a plus for me. Set up a plausible story in the beginning and I can sit back and enjoy the ride.

With any luck I'll finish before the movie comes out!