Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Emotional Tribute to a Remarkable Friend

Russell Blake's "An Angel with Fur" tells the story of Lobo who was adopted by him when he was a mere 5 weeks old, from an animal shelter in Mexico.  Lobo had amazing spirit and instantly charmed everyone he met.  For Russell it was love at first sight and only grew from there. He shares Lobo's journey through life and the remarkable odds he overcame with a spirit and joy that never wavered.

The biography demonstrates just want kind of an impact on our lives the unconditional love and faithful companionship our furry friends can have.  We are all richer for sharing our lives with them.

This is by far the best pet story/biography I've ever read.  It was heart wrenching and triumphant both.  I feel grateful to have been able to experience Lobo's spirit through Blake's words.  Anyone who has ever loved a pet will be able to relate to this story.

Chilling Shorts!

"Little Shivers" by Gregory Blair is a collection of terrifying short stories sure to get your heart rate accelerating rapidly.  These six short stories all have something spooky and unexpected to chill you with.

In 'Kitty' things are not quite what they seem to be and will make you wonder what really goes on behind your neighbors' closed doors.  While 'It Isn't Real' demonstrates that you should never dismiss anything without some thoughtful consideration.

'Ghostwriter' gives a well respected author the opportunity to change a fledgling author's convictions and in 'The Last Room' we learn sometimes it is best to trust your gut and keep away from spooky motels.

'Knitting' serves up revenge in a remarkable fashion and 'Something in the Air' will make you think twice about that middle of the night trip to the bathroom.

All the stories quickly build suspense and creep factor.  They will make you look for a brighter corner of the room to read them in.  Or perhaps a hand to hold.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

History Comes Alive

I will admit to being somewhat hesitant about the book "Freedom's Sword", by J.R. Tomlin.  I enjoy historical fiction but 13th century Scotland is a little further back than I usually venture.  Tomlin's prose and characters made it a pleasure trip.

The story begins with newly knighted Andrew de Moray in battle against the English invaders led by King Edward.  In a surreptitious rout the Scottish are defeated and Andrew is taken prisoner.

Andrew spends approximately a year locked up in a pitch black dungeon before he is able to escape.  He makes his way back to Scotland to take back his family's castle and vows to take up the fight to take back Scotland for the Scots.  He gathers together his fellow Scotsmen and trains them to be an army.  He is joined in his fight by William Wallace and Robert the Bruce among others.

The novel is engrossing and rich with detail.  Tomlin makes these historic figures approachable and lifelike in a way that makes you root for them and understand their motivation. It was certainly eye opening for me and will inspire me to learn more about the Scottish fight for independence.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Intrigue Ripped From the Headlines

"The Watchman of Ephraim" - Book 1 of the Cris De Niro series by Gerard de Marigny is a timely thriller that will keep you thinking long after the last page.

Cris De Niro lost his wife, Lisa, on 9/11 in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center, even as he raced up the tower stairs to rescue her.  Devastated and left to raise his two young sons alone, he moves to Las Vegas for a fresh start.  A billionaire hedge fund operator he invests his money in starting a civilian counter-terrorism agency to ensure that another 9/11 will never happen.  He staffs the agency with an elite team of specialists and the latest technology.

No sooner is it up and running then the money behind the "Ground Zero Mosque" is discovered to be connected to an Iranian businessman and a Mexican drug cartel.  They will soon discover that the mosque is just a cover for a much larger, far more sinister plot.
This is an action packed thrill ride bursting with international intrigue and tension.  I really liked the relevance of the plot line to today's world view and current events.  This one is definitely hard to put down.  I'm looking forward to meeting Cris again in Book 2!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Drugs, Money and Mayhem in Mexico

"Isla Lacra" is the first novel in John Boyd's new Denver Noles series.  It is a thriller about the international drug trade and the cartels that run it.  It is fast paced and full of action and intrigue.

Denver Noles is a retired Navy SEAL who is living in the Florida Keys on Isla Lacra (Scar Island) which his Uncle Harry had left him in his will.  He is quite content running his bar and minding his own business until one of his employees comes to him for help.

Maria is an immigrant from Mexico whose daughter, Mariana, has been kidnapped by the largest drug cartel in Mexico. Her son Raul has also disappeared.  A drug shipment that Raul was supposed to collect has gone missing and the cartel is holding his sister, Mariana, prisoner until Raul comes forth and tells them where the drugs are.

Denver gathers his former SEAL team mates together to find Mariana and Raul and bring them home safely.  Little do they know they are in the midst of two powerful cartels jockeying for supremacy.  The battle will take them along the gulf coast of Mexico and into the Caribbean.

The story moves at a breakneck pace and keeps you turning pages to find out what will happen next.  The characters are well developed and Denver is a great hero.  He is noble, kindhearted and humorous. I will be looking forward to more of his adventures.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Spine Chilling Collection

Martin Pond's short story collection, "Dark Steps", will give you chills up and down your spine and keep you in suspense.  Not only are they well paced with a build up of suspense but they also twist in the end to something you weren't expecting.

From a young man who is waiting in a barren white room of the future for an unknown test in Waiting Room, to a young boy who can't understand why there are no Christmas presents for him under the tree in A Bit Christmassy you will be intrigued.  A deathbed revelation disturbs in The Inheritance.  Unexplained voices in Dream Feed. That's just a sampling of the dark treats in this collection.

It is a great read for anyone who enjoys a suspenseful thought provoking tale.

An Inspiring Memoir

"Bad Luck Cadet", by Susie Ivy, takes us on Susie's journey through the police academy.  At age 44 Suzie is recovering from a broken hip, overweight and coming to grips with her now empty nest.  She sees an advertisement in a window for the police academy and decides it just might be the change she is looking for.

The story describes just what torture cadets endure to come out the other side as police officers.  You'll laugh at some of it, cringe at some and (I swear) feel the pain along with her in other parts.  What will be the most compelling is her steely determination to see it through and graduate.

She is supported by her husband and two daughters, but, ridiculed by her son.  Susie's classmates will rise to the challenge and admire her willingness to succeed.

It's a great story that demonstrates that it is never too late to change course and that if you have the determination you can be whoever you want to be.  A great read!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Boyhood in the Deep South

This short story gives us a glimpse into ten year old Rex Fordham's life.  He's spending the afternoon at his grandma's being watched over by his Aunt Maggie.  When an offhand remark by Aunt Maggie triggers a recent memory of something he'd seen outside the house, Rex mentions it to his aunt with unexpected circumstances.

Rex quickly learns that sometimes it's best to keep one's secrets close to you as well as those you might know about others.

How I come to Know is an engaging story with a language that evokes the time and place of 1950's deep south.  The writing is rich with detail and vivid characters. Definitely worth the read.