Category: FICTION



Brambleman

Brambleman by Jonathan Grant

 

Kathleen Talton was getting old, already suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Her husband, Thurwoood Talton, a retired Georgia State University history professor, died while trying to get his manuscript Flight from Forsyth published. He was hit in the head by a beer bottle throwing youth while marching for for civil rights in Forsyth County. Thurwood died a week later, and Kathleen believed it was caused by the youth who threw the bottle. Kathleen waited many years then decided she needed to have her husband’s work completed and published. So she did something she hasn’t done in years, she prayed. Not for forgiveness, not for happiness and not many of the things most people pray for. She asked for justice, companionship, vengeance, completion and closure. It was a most interesting prayer!

 

Charlie Sherman, father of 14 year old Ben and daughter Rebecca (Beck), has been a stay at home dad for a long time. He had opted to stay at home so he could write his book. Prior tho staying home he had been a freelance writer and an editor. His wife Susan, supported his decision because she made more money at her job then he did, and that mattered a lot to her. The problem was, nothing Charlie wrote got published and Susan was sick of him. After a bitter dispute with his wife, his daughter had called the cops because she was afraid. Charlie got his butt kicked out of the house and concluded that Susan had wanted him gone for a long time.

 

Walking in the rain, extremely upset, Charlie has a George Bailey moment. (George Bailey is a character from classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, my all time favorite movie) and gets ready to jump from an overpass. A strange, seemingly random accident below him on the road has him realizing that if he takes his life, he won’t see anymore weird stuff. Deciding to think things through a little more, he heads off for some peace, guiet and coffee. Instead he finds Trouble, though who and what he is Charlie’s not sure of. And boy does Trouble SMELL!

 

When Trouble tells Charlie he has a job for him to do he finds himself agreeing to go and meet Kathleen. She hires him to finish up and publish her husband’s manuscript and he can stay at her house in the basement well he does so. Charlie is a little leery but finally agrees and signs a contract. He figures things can’t get much weirder, boy is he wrong!

 

Things aren’t just weird anymore, they’re Old Testament weird! People were dying; Kathleen’s daughter got boils after upsetting her mom, as did a pharmacist; burning buildings and, the kicker for Charlie, the contract he originally signed to complete Kathleen’s husband book, the ink had turned to blood and if Charlie tried to get out of it, he paid with his life.

 

You’d think with all this going on, Charlie would have enough to deal with but no. His wife Susan and the rest of her crazy relatives were all somehow tied in to Charlie’s mess with the manuscript. Charlie has to think fast and move faster before something else bad happens. There is way, way more in store for Charlie, his wife Susan, her nutty family, Kathleen and Trouble. What does Trouble really want?And the biggest problem of all is Charlie knows that good and evil are somehow involved in all this, but what side is Charlie actually working for and how will he find out? Will Charlie survive? Will anyone survive?

 

I found myself reading faster and faster as the story twisted and turned more and more. I really enjoyed the pace and the story in a story aspect that came out of the manuscript that Charlie had to edit. Some of the characters are just that, characters! Good, bad, hicks and politicians, men and women and children all had interesting thoughts and actions. My only real complaint was the length of the novel. While it held my attention all the way through, there were times I thought things could have been said just as well with several less words or pages. All in all though a good albeit long read.

 

Please note that some people might be offended due to certain events, certain groups including the Klu Klux Klan and certain demeaning and racist remarks depicted in the novel but they are used to show what had actually happened in Forsyth County throughout the 20th century.

 

I received this eBook through LibraryThing and was asked for my honest review.

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Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers by Rebecca Sinclair

 

 

In 1603, Gabrielle Carelton was a lady in Queen Elizabeth’s court for 6 years.  Black of hair, green of eye, heavy of weight, Gabrielle sees herself as a plain looking, plump woman. While she will devoted to her queen and her country, she is not afraid of speaking her mind when occasions warrant it. After the Queen compares her to a stuffed goose, she suffers even more from insecurities about herself.

 
When Queen Elizabeth calls a meeting with Gabrielle to take place in the early morning, Gabby is worried, very worried. Queen Elizabeth is not an early riser so Gabby knows that it can’t be good news. When Queen Elizabeth tells Gabby that she is to wed a Scotsman, she is shocked, when she discovers the Scotsman is Colin Douglas of the Douglas clan, she is horrified! Queen Elizabeth will not take no for an answer and Gabby, who has always been loyal to the Queen, knows that she will have to accept what she has been ordered to do.

 
The Maxwell clan and the Douglas clan have been enemies for decades. Gabrielle with her small drop of Maxwell blood is perfect for the Queen’s plan. Not only will it hopefully settle some of the strife on the borderlands by uniting the 2 clans, but it also rids the Queen of Gabby, who rumor has it, has been friendly with Robert Devereaux whom the Queen looks on as her special suitor. The only way Gabby can get out of this is if she goes against the Queen and that she will not do.

 
On the border, Colin Douglas’ twin Connor, known far and wide as The Black Douglas, devises a plan that will get him payback against his twin, and help to settle some of the unrest on the border. His plan includes kidnapping and then marrying Gabby, begetting a son, and having her die due to the harsh and uncompromising weather on the border (he believes that all Englishwomen are frail, helpless beings).

 
When a feverish and sick Gabby first lays eyes on Connor, she is instantly attracted. Little does she know, but Connor also sees something in her, something he wasn’t expecting. Gabby is slowly getting better and getting to know Connor. Things heat up when a kidnapping is carried out in Connor’s castle. Will he go after the kidnappers? What will happen to Gabby when she finally meets Colin? And if the rumor is true and the Queen is dead, is Gabby still obligated to marry?

 
Great scenes, good descriptions, and fun characters all make for an entertaining read. I enjoyed the historical facts that were incorporated into the story. A great historical romance novel.


Bad Luck And Trouble (Jack Reacher, #11) View a preview of this book online

Bad Luck And Trouble (Jack Reacher #11) by Lee Child

 

 

YOU DO NOT MESS WITH THE SPECIAL INVESTIGATORS!

 
Jack Reacher, ex military policeman, lives off the grid. He has no cell phone, no address, and no belongings outside of his folding toothbrush. He’s happy in his solitude until he receives a coded message from an old military comrade, Frances Neagley. She took a lot of trouble to track him down, using his bank account to send a cry for help.

 
When Jack reaches Los Angeles, he tracks Neagley to a Denny’s restaurant. She’s waiting for him as she knew he would track her there. She imparts some very disturbing news, one of their former investigators in their unit is dead. It was not a pretty death, and as an autopsy later confirmed, he had been tortured, starved and beaten prior to being thrown alive out of a helicopter. Neagley reminds Reacher of their pledge ‘You do not mess with the Special Investigators’

 
When Neagley and Reacher try to contact the remaining members of their former special investigators unit, the worry latches up a notch, with each unanswered phone call. None of their old unit is answering, where are they? Are they all missing? Or are they all dead?

 
When O’Donnell and then Dixon show up in Los Angeles, they unite with Neagley and Reacher. With the discovery of another body, and no contact with the remaining team, they realize that someone is after their team, and doing a pretty good job of it.

 
As the team delves deeper and deeper into the events leading up to their friends demises, they realize that what they have discovered points to a major threat to nation security, with the possibility of thousands of deaths.

 
The team races to save the country and two more of their own are now gone. Will they hand the problem over to the FBI and Homeland Security or will they decide the lives of two more of their own are worth more? With time quickly running out will they be able to save their friends or will they lose them and more?

 
This is a great stand alone book. I love the pace, the action starts at the beginning and continues to grow as the book moves quickly along. The tension gets tighter and tighter, the characters more nervous and unsure of themselves. The scenes are very well written, very descriptive and colorful. The characters, even the bad guys, are 3 dimensional and believable. What makes this book even more of a heart pounder is the believability of what is happening and what could potentially happen. An awesome read!

 


What the Heck, Dec?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the Heck, Dec?! by Elizabeth Dudak

 

 

Martina Karnawski, red haired and freckled, is quite tall and she carries most of her weight around the boob and hip areas. She’s a week away from graduating with her teaching degree and needs a job badly. She applies for a position at Noteah North Middle School as a grade 6 teacher. The school is reputed to be the Beverly Hills of Illinois and the teacher turnover rate is ‘higher then a coaching position with the Chicago Cubs.’ But they pay very well and Marti needs to start paying off her bills.

 
Waiting at the school office for her interview she meets the two Dawns, two gossipy women employees at the school. They show little interest in Marti until a very gorgeous man comes. Declan Reed is late for his appointment, he was once a teacher but is now a social worker and is here for a job interview. After a few embarrassing moments with him and the two Dawns, Marti and Declan say  good luck to each other and head off for their individual meetings.

 
Marti is nervous, this is her first professional interview. She is shocked, but very happy to accept the job offer at the end of her interview.

 
On her first day at her new school, she sees Declan again. He’s been hired too. She also meets the very handsome gym teacher, Josh York who seems very interested in her. After a series of humorous events, Marti makes a decision about the men that will change her life. If its the right decision, as she keeps telling herself, why then is she constantly thinking of the other man? And why does she keep thinking that there is something more going on then what she knows about.

 
This is a great chick lit read. A very humorous, strong female lead character with loads of personality and 2 gorgeous men, both smart but with different attributes, both interested in Marti. Good romantic flavor throughout. The story is set at a posh school and is filled with quite the collection of people, including the two Dawns, Harper and Esther. A smooth story line that leads up to some  surprising revelations.

 

 

I received my copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.


Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel (Mickey Tussler, #2)

Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel (Mickey Tussler #2) by Frank Nappi

 

A word of warning to readers, this story takes place in 1949 and the author has used certain language, themes and events that may be offensive to some readers. He does state this at the start of his book.

 
After the loss of the Milwaukee Brewers to Chip Mcnally’s Rangers baseball team, Arthur Murphy‘s job as team manager is in jeopardy. He is given the task of getting star pitcher Mickey Tussler back to the pitching mound or he loses his job. After a stay in jail due to his choking of Lefty Rogers, a fellow pitcher with some issues of his own, 18-year-old mildly autistic Mickey Tussler has said that he will not play anymore and his mom Molly backs him completely. Murph‘s whole life has been about baseball and he will do everything he can to get Mickey playing again.

 
Murph has not told Mickey or his mother, Molly, about the ultimatum. He’s worried and while he has talked to them both about Mickey playing again, neither says yes. At the Harvest Fair, Mickey sees the milk bottle throw and wants to play. The crowd gathers as every shot he makes brings the bottles crashing down. First one then another of the crowd recognize Mickey. The crowd starts to chant, Mickey starts to remember how it felt to throw the baseball. When he is finished he tells his mother and Murph he wants to play again. Murph is safe!

 
The team starts coming back for their spring training. Pee Wee, Mickey’s best friend, is back and they pick their friendship up immediately. Danvers,Clem Finster, Ruby Winkler and the rest of the team are happy to be back, glad that Mickey’s back but when Boxcar, team captain and best catcher around, shows up they know somethings wrong. He is a shadow of his former self, tires easily and has lost several pounds. He insists nothings wrong, but they know better.

 
Murph makes a new deal with Dennison, the team owner. Murph wants to get a new backcatcher and knows exactly who he wants. He’s a phenom, works a few towns over and is available but there is one major problem. The owner points out the problem and refuses to allow Murph to hire him. Murph again puts his job on the line offering to quit if Lester Sledge is not all that Murph says he is.

 
The team had a hard enough time last season with Mickey’s oddities. Some of the players are still uncomfortable with him, but they know how valuable to the team he is. When Lester Sledge arrives the team is in shock! Learning to deal with Mickey was bad enough, Lester is a whole other kettle of fish. While they can see that he can play ball, they can also see the color of his skin, and it isn’t white.

 
As if the problems in their own team aren’t bad enough, the Rangers owner McNally and former Brewer pitcher now with the Rangers team, Lefty are hatching a plot to make sure that the Brewers team, specifically Mickey and Murph, don’t make it any where close to the finals. Murph adding Lester Sledge to the roster only adds to their hatred and desire to annihilate the team.

 

 

The baseball scenes are terrific, they make you feel you are right there in the dugout, out on the field or up to bat with the players. Some of true events have been moved around, time wise, but as its a fiction story, it works well. The characters are quite a mix of personalities, with some continuing on from the first novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, and some great new ones. The story is a nice even pace that keeps you turning pages. This novel can be read alone or as the second in the Mickey Tussler series.

 
This was a great character study of people and events in 1949 America, a great baseball story and good example of what can happen if you allow jealousy and hatred to overshadow your life.


"Ransom" ("The Light-Bearer Series" #2)

“Ransom” (“The Light-Bearer Series” #2) by Emily Guido

 

 

Charmeine is a Light-Bearer sent to Earth by God to battle Lucifer‘s minions. By looking into your eyes she can tell if you are lying. Her powers are growing and no one, including herself, is aware of just how powerful she is. Tabbruis is a Blood-Hunter, he needs blood to survive. While human blood is the best, he has given up human blood (unless it is given voluntarily) and exists on animal blood. He is very smart and capable and is trying to get all other Blood-Hunters to stop hunting humans. They are soul mates and together they are the Queen of Light and King of Darkness.

 
Charmeine and Tabbruis are at Castle Charmeine in Romania. They are there with their large family awaiting the birth of their child, nicknamed Baby Hunter. All the family are eagerly awaiting the birth. They aren’t idle while they wait, they are continuing to learn self defense and how better to use their unique powers.  Athena can see what you are feeling by the light radiating around your body; Hera, like Charmeine can see when you are lying; Neal is an extremely large and powerful blood-hunter and the other members of the family also have extraordinary powers. An attack by evil minions is always a concern, even with all the security measures and guards they have in place.

 
A group of Temple Guards arrive at the castle unannounced and demand to talk to the Queen of Light and the King of Darkness. They claim the Queen and King need to go to Athens to bring harmony and justice to the Blood-Hunters. It is actually a diversion so that the mysteriously alluring Bathsheba can enter the castle and get to Charmeine. Bathsheba says she is doing her Master’s bidding and then threatens Charmeine’s unborn child. Charmeine turns the tables on Bathsheba, however before she can get more information, Bathsheba injects herself with something and falls to the floor.

 
When Tabbruis and Dmitri come face to face with Bathsheba, it is as if time has stood still. Seeing her leaves both men in shock. As Charmeine demands to know who Bathsheba is and how Tabbruis knows her, Tabbruis turns on Charmeine, almost attacking her in his defense of Bathsheba. It is as if Tabbruis no longer sees Charmeine, only Bathsheba.

 
The action heats up as Charmeine and her family race to get answers to find and stop the Master before the next Blood-Hunter meeting.

 
Beautifully detailed locations from Romania to London to the shores of the Black Sea. interesting characters that are well fleshed out and who are slowly evolving from the first novel, and new characters that are both interesting and integral to the story are believable and very human but have surprising powers.  Add a well paced story and this all makes for a great read. A good mix of angels, blood-hunters (vampires), paranormal, action and romance. It continues the story told in the novel Charmeine, but also can be read as a stand alone novel.

 
The Light-Bearer Series will continue with the third novel “Conundrum”. I am really looking forward to the continuation of this series. I really enjoy how the characters are evolving and how the story continues to move forward, while containing additional information on the pasts of the characters.


The Legend of Mickey Tussler

The Legend of Mickey Tussler (Mickey Tussler #1) by Frank Nappi

 

 

 

In 1948, Arthur Murphy, manager of the minor league baseball team the Milwaukee Brewers, has been sent out on the road to find some new talent. When he comes across 17 year old Mickey Tussler throwing crab apples into a barrel with fantastic speed and accuracy, he believes he has found the man. He quickly realizes that while Mickey might have the best arm he has seen in all his years of baseball, Mickey’s not quite like everyone else. Murph‘s not worried though. He thinks that Mickey’s ability with pitching will overcome any obstacles that will be put in the way.

 

 

 
Mickey Tussler has not had an easy life. Mildly autistic, Mickey has always been a bitter disappointment to his father. His ability to throw has opened up an incredible opportunity for Mickey with the farm team. He’s unease around the other players is slowly overcome as  most members of the team slowly accept him. Pee Wee, a teammate of Mickey, befriends Mickey. He understands the hardships of beings different as his sister is deaf and has always faced challenges and prejudices due to her inability to hear and speak.

 

 

 
As the season progresses the team slowly comes together. Most of the players realize that Mickey is a main part of why they are winning and are coming to accept his oddities. One man on the team though is angry. Angry and jealous. Lefty thinks of himself first, last and always. A good pitcher in his own right, Lefty believes he is better than Mickey and the rest of the team. He thinks Mickey shouldn’t be playing and is willing to do whatever it takes to get him off the team.

 

 

 
This is a moving account of life in the late 1940’s after the war, a boy’s coming of age, a boy overcoming tremendous obstacles to become accepted in the everyday world and a well written account of the hardships and joys of baseball.

 

 

 
A wonderful cast of characters which include Mickey, pitcher extraordinaire but due to his autism an odd duck; Pee Wee, fellow baseball player, a caring and accepting man; Lefty, unable to see anything or anyone but himself; and several other interesting people.

 

 

 
The story has a nice even tempo. It starts to pick up pace as the Brewers get closer and closer to the end of the season and a chance at the playoffs. The baseball scenes are well written and give you the feeling of being there in the stands, in the dugout and on the pitching mound. Touches of humor, conflict and friendship keep the story from being flat.
The ending however fell flat for me. I just didn’t feel it was keeping with the rest of the book. It almost felt like it was tacked on simply to end the story.

 

 

 
All in all, a great story that will appeal to many people. This isn’t just for baseball fans, it would also appeal to anyone who likes a great people story or for anyone who likes to see the underdog come out ahead. I do look forward to reading Sophomore Campaign which is the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler.

 

 

 

I received my copy of The Legend of Mickey Tussler from the author in exchange for my honest review.


The 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time

The 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

This is a small book with big impact. A look back in time to the 1950’s through the eyes of a now grown man. As a child Rob grew up living on a 365 acre ranch with his mom and dad, Betty and Bullethead, and his 2 younger brothers, Randy and Rich. At that time it was not uncommon for children to get a ‘lickin’ when they had misbehaved. Kids then didn’t have video games and didn’t watch hours of television. They actually went outside and played, usually games that were made up on the spot or based on some concept like cowboys and Indians.

Out on the ranch Rob, Randy and youngest brother Rich, were always up for a new experience. The trouble was that most of those experiences that they had lead to a group ‘lickin’ administered by their father. He believed in the group punishment idea, as did most parents in those days, and had the 3 rules, known as Bullethead’s Rules, written down and posted throughout the house.

This book tells the story of the 3 boys who had great ideas, very little fear (Randy wanted to be a daredevil when he grew up) and what happens when the great ideas the boys come up with and then implement take a slightly or sometimes greatly wrong turn.

Now for some people they’ll say that ‘Oh, that’s horrible, spanking the children!’ and say that they should have been removed from the home. But that was not the way it was then. And I know that for myself (I was born slightly later, in the 60’s) I never considered it child abuse, it was what happened when you got caught doing something that although was fun, was definitely wrong.

This book has brought back some great memories of my own childhood. My 2 older brothers (they were both born in the 50’s, several years before my sister and I) took it as their sacred duty to teach my sister and I some fine things like “How to blow up mom’s cabbage plants with a nail and a ladyfinger firecracker (or for a better slaw, 2 ladyfingers). Yes we got punished, each of us got a lickin, and we all had to go out and scrub the neighbor’s garage because the smell of rotting cabbage was pretty rank. But boy we sure had fun!

I loved how Rob Wood has taken his childhood memories and shared them with us. The story is told very clearly and with a lot of humor. He brings you right back there with he and his brothers, once with his cousin Larry, his parents and his grandparents. A humorous, well written quick read that is well worth the time to read.

I received my copy from the author and my review was unsolicited


The Red Church (Sheriff Frank Littlefield, #1)

The Red Church (Sheriff Frank Littlefield #1)  by Scott Nicholson

 

 

 

Ronnie Day, 13 year old son of David and Linda Day and older brother to his annoying little brother Tim, has a brain, likes to read and suffers from an overactive imagination. His little brother drove him crazy, his parents were always fighting now, or at least when his father came back to the house they were, and he had to pass by the old red church twice every day to and from school. Ronnie wishes he could be like other kids and not be afraid of the old red church but he swears he can feel someone or something always there, waiting. Just what its waiting for Ronnie’s not sure and he doesn’t want to know.

 

 

 
On the walk home from school, as they’re passing the red church, Tim falls behind Ronnie. Ronnie doesn’t want to go back and see what’s keeping  him. But as Tim insists, Ronnie slowly makes his way back, getting more and more uneasy as he sees that Tim has left the road and is at the old cemetery that sits near the church.

 

 

 
Ronnie’s imagination is taking flight when Tim’s find of a girlie magazine brings him back down to ground. Trying to think of a way to outsmart Tim to get the magazine for himself at first he is unaware of movement from behind him. When a bloody hand reaches out to grab his ankle, Ronnie takes flight, shouting for his little brother to run too.
Sherrif Littlefield hates the red church and has never liked going there. Years before, one Halloween,  when Sherrid Littlefield was a teenager he watched his little brother die here at the church. He’s never told anyone what he really saw as he knows no one will believe him, in fact he’s always wondered if he really saw what he did.

 

 

 
With the gruesome discovery in the old cemetery, Barkerville‘s sheriff Frank Littlefield is worried. Worried and scared. Is there a killer loose in his county or is it something more? Something black and evil? Something not of this world…

 

 

 
Several years ago horror novels were what I read the most. After reading a series of less than good novels from this genre, I got away from them. I decided to take a chance on this one because after reading a sample chapter I thought hmmm maybe this one will be the one that rekindles my interest in horror novels. It has!

 

 

 
I really enjoyed the pace of this book, the build up to the final confrontation kept me reading. The characters were well fleshed out and  believable. I stayed up late by myself, even my dog had gone off to bed, and this book had me checking behind me when I finally made my way off to sleep. For me I found it very reminiscent of an early Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who likes to be frightened.


The Colors of Malent: Book One View a preview of this book online

The Colors of Malent: Book One (The Colors of Malent #1)

by Tim Adams and  Sam Inzerillo

 

 

 

Alara is a 14 year old girl, almost 15, who has the normal trials and tribulations of teens everywhere. Alara’s best friend Madison or Mads as Alara calls her, is already a pro shopper with tons of attitude. Alara’s new boyfriend  Alex is a good looking jock who really seems to like her but doesn’t always understand her. Her freaky teenaged next door neighbor Freddy, incredibly smart but socially awkward, suddenly starts talking to her.

 

 

Alara’s busy and tension filled life is further complicated by the strange dreams that have haunted her since she can remember. Dreams that are getting weirder and weirder. They take her to another time and place where she enters the minds and bodies of the people she comes across.

 

 

Slowly she realizes that she can control the thoughts and actions of these people and she believes these people and places are real and are from a place called Malent. The bigger problem though is that these dreams are starting to come when she is awake too. And if  all this isn’t enough to deal with, she has just found out something about herself that shocks her to the core!

 

 

As Alara tries to discover who the strange people in her dreams are and where Malent is, she is also trying to discover something about herself. Her questions bring her into contact with new people who could be friends or enemies. Things seem to be constantly changing and it leaves Alara wondering who she exactly she can trust.

 

 

The ending will leave you holding your breath, impatient for the next book to continue with this very intriguing story!

 

 

I really enjoyed this novel. The twists and turns keep you flipping the pages, faster and faster, as you try to see what will happen next.

 

 

The characters in Alara’s life are very believable. Her parents are typical parents, with her dad being the loud disciplinarian and her mom understanding the problems of being a teenaged girl. Her friends are very real. The situations are what many teens go through.

 

 

The people from Malent, the alternate world of Alara’s,  are reminiscent of the our world but from many centuries ago. The strange, scary animals that inhabit the lands are definitely not of our world and are incredibly imaginative.

 

 

The way the story switches between our world and Malent is extremely well done. I really look forward to the next book in this YA fantasy series.

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