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Thrillers

Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

“Some sons-a-bitches just need killing.” – Detective Daniel Moreland, Under Her Skin (Shifter Shield Book 1)

 

Lindi Parker couldn’t agree more. Some sons-a-bitches absolutely, positively needed killing. Like the father who kept coming into his little girl’s room at night – “He hurts me.” So, finally, she killed him. A ten-year-old girl killed her scum sucking pedophile father. Of course, as a counselor for the Child Advocacy and Protection Center, Lindi has seen horrific crime scenes, the horrors visited upon the most fragile, the most helpless among us. But this one? This one rocks her all the way to her core.

She isn’t alone.

“Solitude, isolation, are painful things and beyond human endurance.” – Jules Verne

Not that she hasn’t known love in her own life. Her adoptive family loves her with all their heart and soul. But understanding someone as ‘special’ as Lindi hasn’t always been easy. Especially when they thought that she was the only one of her kind. Now, not only has she found that others exist – they apparently all want her dead.

Well. That bites.

And hey! Look at that! They even have special people whose whole point in life is to track her down and murder her. Score!

Lucky her, huh?

Yes, this is a shapeshifter tale, with many of the same tropes as you would find in any other. But Margo Bond Collins steps outside the box in this one in ways both horrible and fascinating. And in doing so she writes a paranormal that leans heavily toward a blend of mystery and suspense that raises the bar to something beyond ‘just another paranormal.’

I enjoyed the book very much, and highly recommend it.

 

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Birth Marked: Book 1 The Markers by Maria Violante

birthmarked“The world that we all knew before, could wake up in feeling safe… now it seems that everything has been turned upside down.” – Tori Amos

Charlie Kale’s life has turned upside down, in so very many ways. Her live-in got sick, so she took care of him, working her ass off as a semi driver. Then? He walked out on her. Don’t let yourself be fooled – yes, there is a lot of just sitting there, when you drive. But there is a lot of stress, a lot of people cutting you off and acting stupid. And when you weigh 80,000 lbs. or more, getting started and stopped can mean death for the idiot in the convertible, the minivan, the SUV. But Charlie (and yes, that is what is on her birth certificate) loves her new job and her coworkers. Yes, she is torn up over the loser dumping her, but she knows she can pull it together and get on with her life – and this time she can start spending her own money.

Well, for about five minutes. Then? She is hit from the side by what appears to be a drunk driver, hit hard enough to knock the tandems out from under her trailer. The truck flips, which is bad enough. Hey, at least it didn’t blow up and burn with her and the tiny dog she found on the side of the road not a half hour before inside. Her life is lying on its side, but they are both alive.

Annnd then . . .

What was that hairy black thing that slammed into her windshield? And then there is the guy with the blood on his shirt and the gun pointed at her head, seemingly determined to Shoot. Her. Dead. Wow. Attitude much? That is bad enough, but what comes next is a nightmare of unbelievable proportions. Everyone is apparently determined to murder Charlie, and her own body has apparently joined the party. An ancient secret society, populated solely by men, are determined to make sure that Charlie is put down before she can grow into who they think she is destined to be. Oh, and BTW?

Monsters are real.

Charlie is one of the most special female heroes I have run across in a long time, simply because she isn’t really a hero at all. Chubby from too many hamburgers and too many hours behind the wheel, she is perfectly normal. Yes, once ‘turned on’ she has a ‘superpower’. But it isn’t one she can control. She can’t kick ass and take names – she is more likely to trip over her own feet, which she does quite often. Stumblin’ bumblin’ trying to make it through the day, totally out of her element. But she is willing to at least try – though the whole idea of “Everyone is out to slaughter and I have no one to trust” and oh, BTW, that whole “monsters are real” thing? Yeah. Not so much fun. I love Charlie, and the supernatural storyline is unique and kept me reading way too long into the night, till I could barely hold my eyes open. And then? Well, I grabbed the second in this two-book series and kept reading, of course!

Monsters and Markers (The Markers Book 2)Monsters and Markers (The Markers, #2)

“I don’t know of any other creature on earth other than man that will sit in a corner and cry because of some painful experience in the past.” –  Pat Morita

Book 2 of The Markers series opens immediately after the first book. Charlie has finally escaped from the horrors of the Markers compound, but at a horrific cost. Oh, and let’s not forget the whole Just-fled-for-my-life-and-was-ambushed-by-Captain-Anger-Issues-and-Mind-Rape-Man thing. Cause, ya know, her life isn’t hard enough as it is, right? On the run, fleeing the most powerful secret society in the world, monsters beyond your wildest nightmares, weird glow powers she doesn’t understand. And then you are stuck in the back of a Buick after a five hour drive with no bathroom breaks listening to the world’s most annoying males bicker like preteens . . . can someone just please, please stop the world? Charlie is quite ready to get off and enjoy a little peace, quiet and safety, thank you very much. Instead, things go from bad to worse . . . to “Which one of these guys who are claiming to be determined to save me is really a traitor to our little group?”

I greatly enjoyed book 1, Birth Marked, and this second volume didn’t in any way let me down. Maria Violante did a wonderful job in creating a believable supernatural world set within our own, and some really vile bad guys who are at the same time truly believable. I had expected a good second book, and I wasn’t disappointed.

All Good Deeds – Stacy Green is a Goddess . . .

A Personal Note:

I’ve been busy…  I have this huge technical edit I have been working on which is keeping me up all hours of the night, so I’ve hardly been able to read at all. I woke in the middle of the morning (after working all night) and couldn’t sleep, so I grabbed my reader. I was going for the lighthearted story on the menu, and accidentally chose this book instead. I would have put it back and chosen the lighter book – but the first paragraph grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let it go. I was hooked.

“I’m not a killer. Or a savior. I’m just one person trying to repair the broken scales of justice one jagged crack at a time.”

All Good Deeds won a bronze medal for ‘mystery/thriller’ at the 2015 IPPY Awards. In my mind, she deserved a gold medal. And a big gold medal from the whole freakin’ country for pushing this horrific issue out there in a novel that broke my heart and made me want to hug Stacy Green for being such a courageous woman.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled review.


 

All Good Deeds (Lucy Kendall #1)

Lucy Kendall is a lot of things. Daughter of a self-absorbed mother. Younger sister to a suicide. Child Protective (Gack! Choke. Gag.) Services ex-employee. Private Investigator. Serial killer. And for the last one, more than anything else, Lucy Kendall is my hero.

You see, Lucy Kendall kills pedophiles. Pedophiles who have been run through the system, over and over, and gotten away with it. Who are still doing it. You see, pedophiles cannot be cured. Not gonna happen. For you see, pedophiles don’t think they are doing anything wrong. So, they destroy lives, souls. They rape and maim and destroy, and feel themselves justified. “Perhaps he felt he was born this way, or that he was entitled. But I doubted he spent hours agonizing over his choices. That’s not how his mind was geared.”

These are the people Lucy Kendall kills.

I cannot truly enunciate just how deeply I felt about this book. I loved it. True, Lucy is viciously torn about the work she does, no matter that she knows what she does is the right thing. The “system” certainly isn’t going to do anything about the monsters who creep through the dark. And with the advent of the Dark Web, well, being a pedophile is easier than it has ever been. Lucy knows that she can’t stop them all. But she can do her bit, no matter how small, to clean house in Philadelphia.

“There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘that person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do.” – Norm Chomsky

Lucy gave up when the young boy who she tried to keep in prison after he raped and slaughtered a little girl was released. He didn’t even have to register as a sex offender. He simply walked away, scot-free. Free to move into a neighborhood where children abound.

And now, little Kailey Richardson is missing. And things become more complicated, more horrific, than even Lucy can comprehend. Things fall apart. The center does not hold. And the more they fall apart, the more the flow of the past and the future blend and merge into whole new horrors.

Again, this book absolutely blew me away. In a small way, because I was abused as a child as well. But my abuse was mild compared to the horrors children these days are forced to endure. The fact that humans can do the things they do to children pretty much guarantees, to my mind, that there is no ‘god figure.’ If there is, the sick SOB is one twisted piece of work. And Lucy puts it well when she talks about death.

“It’s the nothingness. . . Whenever life ends, it just quits. We literally cease to exist. Every single one of us. . . . There’s no blackness, no tunnel, no sinking into oblivion. It’s literally nothing.

Lucy watched it happen. Watched the light go out. And felt the emptiness after. And, if they aren’t going to suffer in a Christian hell, well, Lucy will see that they suffer before the light goes out of their eyes. You GO, Girl!!!

Argh. Every time I think about the children out there, the ones who wind up in dumpsters or shallow graves, I despair. Especially when our police and courts can’t do a blasted thing about it. When eyes and minds are closed to the issue. Closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears, and going “La la la” isn’t going to make it go away. The one who sticks in my mind the most, who still gives me nightmares, is the little boy my police department found tied under a bedroom sink, battered, bleeding from brutal beatings and rapes, who had his penis wired off to keep it hard. He had been licking the dirt off the floor in an attempt to feed himself. Believe me, Lucy is doing a community service.

There are several books in this series about Lucy, the people who help her, and the cop who, well, read the darn book already!!! Then read the next, and the next. And maybe go volunteer for your local shelter. Maybe you too can save a child from a pedophile?

 

 

Review: A Cold War by Alan Russell #Bestof2015 #SuspenseThriller

“Nothing could be more heart rending than this mute and motionless dispair” – ― Émile Zola, Thérèse Raquin

“She was a genius of sadness, immersing herself in it, separating its numerous strands, appreciating its subtle nuances. She was a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

Despair. Horrible, gut wrenching, soul destroying despair. Nina Granville’s life has become a hell on earth unlike any most ‘normal’ people could ever understand. Fear so deep her bones ache with it. Because Nina is a captive. A captive of a monster in a land where ice, snow, and death are balanced on the head of a pin. Where the wrong breath, the wrong move, can mean immediate, or long, drawn-out death.

Captured and held in the wilds of Alaska by a sadistic monster, Nina is doing everything she can to survive, but the brutality is nearly unbearable, the psychological terror breathtaking. Nina is, very literally, in hell. A frozen hell, buried in ice and snow. Repeatedly raped, beaten and terrorized, she has little reason to continue living.

“There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run Cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGree.

The same poem. Over. And Over. And Over. The repetitive dirge, of a madman. No hope. No hope. . .

Until she finds Elese Martin. Or at least, Elese’s journal. Elise – the madman’s last victim. Elise suffered as Nina does now. The beatings. The rapes. The terror. Elise, who was held on for years. Who had, and lost, a child by the monster. Who made a plan.

Now, Nina needs to plan. To plan, to hope.

This book was, literally, heart wrenching. Alan Russell literally broke my heart with his writing. Nina’s pain, her struggle, was written so well I felt it. The story is incredibly well-written, well-paced and the characters and landscape feel so very real I could almost smell the smoke, the cold, the forests of Alaska. There are so many layers in the book, layers that I fell through as if through water, sinking into blackness.

It is an important story, an important book, with strength and depth. I can’t recommend it highly enough, but be ready to feel Nina’s and Elise’s pain, their desperation and despair. It is breathtaking, twisted, and amazing.

I received A Cold War from the publisher in an uncorrected proof. All thoughts are my own, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Strap in for the ride of your life.

Review: Minute Zero by Todd Moss #PoliticalSuspense #Africa #InternationalThriller

Minute Zero“For every African state, like Ghana, where democratic institutions seem secure, there is a Mali, a Cote d’Ivoire, and a Zimbabwe, where democracy is in trouble.” — Michael Ignatieff

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” ― Nelson Mandela

Zimbabwe. Like so many African countries, and honestly so many countries across the world, “Zimbabwe was poisoning itself with a toxic cocktail of greed, dictatorship, and fear.” This is the Zimbabwe the American is concerned with, as he stands upon the bridge spanning Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the Smoke That Thunders,” the breathtaking expanse of Victoria Falls. And it is from here that he plunges to his death, a victim of all that is hidden in Zimbabwe.

“Minute Zero.” That time, even more urgent than the “Golden Hour” – as Dr. Judd Ryker, head of the State Department Critical Response Unit, describes it, “In analyzing cases of major political shock . . . Immediately after an upheaval, there can be a very short period of breakdown. A window of chaos . . . (when) the entire political system, even one that seems highly stable, is suddenly up for grabs.” The minute in time when chaos sits on the edge of the blade, when the edge turns one way to political stability, the other to war.

Zimbabwe sits on that edge – the edge between continuing dictatorship, murder, genocide and military control is faced by the hope of democracy in the form of Gugu Mutonga, the candidate for the opposition Democracy Union of Zimbabwe. The US has a chance here – a chance to help the Zimbabwean people to move out from under the thumb of the dictator who has drained the economy and the lives of the people for the past thirty years under President Tinotenda. It can happen.

Except.

As always, as with so much that makes America a joke in the international community – and for the same reason 9/11 was so easily carried out – “The Boys” can’t seem to play well together. The Secretary of State, the Zimbabwean counsel, the various and sundry Department Heads. Nobody wants to share their toys. And in this case? It isn’t just the political scene that is a cluster. There is a new variant of uranium hitting the world market. And that uranium has unusually high levels of the U-235 isotope. Of course, “The Boys” still don’t want to share their toys, their political flag waving and ladder climbing, their chance of impressing the next person up the ladder – their intel about the isotope and its mining in the backwaters of the world, even between their own agencies, not to mention the countries where the danger is perilously high.

So.

What happens next is a cluster of the highest order as “The Boys” spend their time pissing into a high wind, the world sits on the edge of the knife, and a small group of people, including Dr. Ryker, attempt to dance along the brink of catastrophe. Todd Moss has a tight grasp on the idiocy of the political machine, the manipulations and missed chances, the stunted growth and stunted capabilities of the military industrial complex, and the horrors inherent in so many countries – not just Africa, but the rest of the world as well.

If you like military/political intrigue, give Todd Moss’s “Minute Zero” a chance. It will be released on September 15, 2015 by Penguin. I received this book from Penguin in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

About this author

Todd MossTodd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, draws on his real-world experiences inside the U.S. Government to bring to life the exhilaration—and frustrations—of modern-day diplomacy. His first novel, THE GOLDEN HOUR (Putnam/Penguin), was originally inspired by the August 2008 coup d’état in Mauritania. Todd was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the time and was dispatched by Secretary Condoleezza Rice to negotiate with the junta leader General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

Just weeks after Todd completed the first draft of THE GOLDEN HOUR about an army takeover in Mali, the real President of that country was overthrown in a coup. Within days, the northern half of the country was overrun by Tuareg separatists and Islamist extremists, a threat to Africa and the world that was only ended by a French military invasion in early 2013.

The sequel, MINUTE ZERO (Putnam/Penguin), about an election in Zimbabwe that goes awry, will be published in 2015.

Todd is also the author of several non-fiction books on African development and economics. He currently works as Senior Fellow and Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington DC and lives in Maryland with his family. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and has taught at the London School of Economics (LSE) and at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). He holds a PhD from SOAS and a BA from Tufts University.

Review: City Of Echoes by Robert Ellis #Thriller #PoliceProcedural #Suspense

25050652“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people” ― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

“He felt his heart, which no longer beat, contract, and he wondered if there was anything in the world as painful as not being able to protect the people you loved.”― Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels

Agony. Such an interesting word, with such an interesting origin. “Late 14c., “mental suffering” (especially that of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane), from Old French agonie, agoine “anguish, terror, death agony” (14c.), and directly from Late Latin agonia, from Greek agonia “a (mental) struggle for victory,” originally “a struggle for victory in the games,” from agon “assembly for a contest,” from agein “to lead.” Now, it simply means, Extreme and generally prolonged pain; intense physical or mental suffering.” Yes. Interesting.

Matthew Trevor Jones knows all about agony. His father walking out the door. His mother dying of cancer when he was twelve. His father refusing to accept, or even acknowledge his existence when he had no place else to go. A stint in Afghanistan. And now? Now, on this day, the day before his first day with Hollywood Homicide, he knows the agony of losing his friend, his brother in arms in the Sandbox. The man who pulled him away from all that was wrong with his life on his return from that dark and brutal place of guns and death. Away from his memories. The brother who got him started on the path to where he is today. Detective Kevin Hughes is dead, taken down in a blaze of bullets on his way to meet Matt, to celebrate his promotion. A bloody, blasted shell.

“At the end of the day it’ll come down to this: Kevin and I were brothers in arms. We fought the good fight and somehow both of us were lucky enough to come home. He had my back, and now I’ve got his.”

““Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds?” – ― H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

Agony.

And as the case turns and twists, layers of deceit and lies, hidden meanings and horrific realizations come clear. Nothing is as it seems. Nothing is real, but at the same time too brutally real to be believed.

Betrayal.

It all comes down to betrayal. The past and present are melding, and the threads of Matt’s life are starting to unravel.

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
– W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

 This is the first time I have read Robert Ellis, but it won’t be the last. As much as I loved the book, there are certainly some who won’t. Ellis’s voice is harsh, nearly brutal in its ability to strip off the shiny layers, the bright and distracting gaudy bits, leaving the harsh truth behind, lying like the broken body of a child upon the sand.

“It hung there, all of it, in the candlelight and in the shadows, and on a night in late October when the dry wind howled.”

This is noir style detective thriller writing at its best and most complex. Beneath the shiny surface of Hollywood lies a dark and festering heart – and Ellis writes it like it is.

I received City of Echoes from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you like my review, please do me the favour of letting me know by clicking “Like” on GoodReads, and on Amazon after it is published. I really appreciate it!

 Publishing September 1, 2015 by Thomas & Mercer

 About The Author

Robert  EllisRobert Ellis is the international bestselling author of “Access to Power”, “The Dead Room”, and the critically acclaimed L.A. Times bestseller “City of Fire”, “The Lost Witness”, and “Murder Season” – selected as top reads by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, The Toronto Sun, The Guardian (UK), The Evening Telegraph (UK), People Magazine, USA Today, and The New York Times. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages, are read in more than thirty-five countries, and are available in audio and all digital formats. Born in Philadelphia, Robert moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a writer, producer, and director in film, television, and advertising. Robert studied writing with Walter Tevis, author of “The Hustler”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, and “The Color of Money,” and with his friend, John Truby, screenwriter and author of “The Anatomy of Story.” His books have garnered praise from a diverse group of authors including Janet Evanovich’s wonderful review in People Magazine. But perhaps Michael Connelly said it best: “‘City of Fire’ is my kind of crime novel. Gritty, tight and assured. Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to. She’s tough, smart, and most of all, she’s real.”

Review: Destiny by Tom Lowe

Destiny | [Tom Lowe]“I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” – Isaac Newton

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. — Abraham Lincoln

There are very few people who are going to look into the mirror and say, ‘That person I see is a savage monster;’ instead, they make up some construction that justifies what they do. — Noam Chomsky

“There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today… they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.” – Simon Wiesenthal

Isaac Newton. Arguably the greatest scientist who has ever lived, and some say the greatest who will ever live. Newton’s time was as unique as him – a time of great learning living alongside the darkness of ignorance, brutality and savage poverty – often encouraged by a church that held down the populace with the whip of superstition.

Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night: God said, “Let Newton be!” and all was light.
Alexander Pope.

 A brilliant scientist, without a doubt. But what could he have accomplished if he hadn’t spent thousands of hours, thousands of pages, on superstition?

* * *

Paul Marcus is a broken man. His wife and young daughter were murdered on the side of a dark, rainy road, Paul barely surviving a bullet and knife. His family slaughtered, he retreats from his work at the NSA. A brilliant mathematician and cryptographer, Paul leaves it all behind to spend time on his farm with his wife and daughter’s horses and the family dog Buddy. It is a quiet life, not truly fulfilling mentally, but he simply can’t force himself to return to his old life.

Suddenly, Paul finds himself forced back into the world. And all hell breaks loose. The newest Nobel Laureate in Medicine, he has no interest in accepting a prize he is being offered for decoding the portions of human DNA that controls a particular heart disease – a disease his daughter suffered. It didn’t save her – nothing could have, not when a bullet tore her life away. But the President of the United States is up for the Nobel Peace Prize, and it just wouldn’t look good for him if Paul refuses to accept the award.

Then he receives a telephone call that could change not only his own life, but the lives of every being on earth. Isaac Newton’s studies into the Bible have been found. But what do they mean? Are they the ramblings of a man so determined to find meaning where none exists that he is jousting at shadows? Or are the hundreds of thousands of words he wrote truly a window into the thoughts of god, and a warning of a coming Armageddon?

To be honest, I didn’t really think, once I figured out what the story was truly about, that I would be able to tolerate it, much less enjoy it. Was I ever completely and utterly wrong. 17 hours and 35 minutes of narration by Mikael Naramore and I was totally immersed in the story the whole time. Yes, parts of it made me smack my forehead and growl. The Bible was written by humans, rewritten and translated over and over through many languages – Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, the list goes on and on, portions left out that didn’t conform to the church’s current thought processes, power struggles or intentions. Anything that might have been learned has long since been lost. But Newton was absolutely certain that the Bible was truly the word of god, and his findings would save the world.

Called to Jerusalem to interpret the papers and decode the work, he finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue, international espionage and murder, and shocking (horrifying) views into world politics and plots going back to the Nazi regime – and then further back to the 16th century. Plots that feed the fortunes of a select few families with intentions of ruling the world – and plans to destroy the very world that cradles us all. All. For. Money. Well, and power, we can’t forget power. Power beyond anything any rational human being could possibly realize.

I was completely enthralled by the amount of research that went into this book. It was, in a word, amazingly well researched and thought out. History, politics, finance, it’s all there, and all captivating. I could rattle on and on, but I will leave it for you to find for yourself. Well worth all 17 hours 36 minutes!

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. Highly recommended if you are prepared to open your mind to it.

    • Written by: Tom Lowe
    • Narrated by: Mikael Naramore
    • Length: 17 hrs and 35 mins 
    • Unabridged Audiobook
      Whispersync for Voice-ready

Review: Swamp Ghosts by Marcia Meara

22072877Lie on the bridge and watch the water flowing past. Or run, or wade through the swamp in your red boots. Or roll yourself up and listen to the rain falling on the roof. It’s very easy to enjoy yourself. – Tove Jansson

If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give

Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river – Creedence Clearwater Revival – Proud Mary

 Mary Margaret Devlin, Maggie to her friends, has had to be tough in her life. A horrendous marriage, the loss of her family, all have left her alone, and terrified to open herself up to others. But with her boat, the Undine, a good friend in Willow, the owner of Candle Thyme, a potpourri shop, and the home left to her by her beloved father, she live a quiet, peaceful, if isolated, life. Well, as peaceful as it can get when bill collectors are breathing down your neck. With young Billy as her first mate, mechanic and general helper, the Undine keeps her afloat, and her home makes her feel safe.

Gunnar Wolfe might be able to fix part of Maggie’s problems. Well, at least the financial woes. For he wants to canoe out into the streams and rivers of the Florida swamp, to photograph the amazing wildlife and plants. And to possibly find, and photograph, that most rare of creatures. The ivory-billed woodpecker. Though many believe the bird extinct over 100 years ago, tales still abound of swift and silent visions, there and gone. And if he can get the only nonfuzzy photo, well, National Geographic time for Gunner. A personal and professional coup of immense proportions. But to get that photo, Gunner needs a guide. Enter Maggie. Much against her will, as Gunner is scary as hell. Huge, muscled and beautifully Norwegian blond, Maggie’s blood runs fast – which scares her silly. Men are terrifying – and men who look like Gunner even more so. Wow. Soo pretty!

So. Money good. Hauling huge Gunner around the swamps in a tiny canoe when he has never even been on the water? Hum. . . So, training time. And against Maggie’s hopes and wishes (even though she really needs the money) Gunner does well. But a single discovery in a hidden stream turns their world upside down. Terror and death becomes part of their lives – lives which could be cut short at the hands of a monster.

There is so much to like about Swamp Ghosts that I really don’t know where to start. Well, actually I do. Marcia pulls you into the ambiance and beauty of her beloved Florida swamps. You can almost smell that sharp, almost bitter tang of the swamp, taste the humidity on your tongue, feel the heat against your skin. I could close my eyes and smell the hyacinth and hear the calls of the birds, the grunt of gators in the night, the cries of the creatures who call the swamps their home.

Then, there are her characters. Maggie, strong and yet so hurt. Friendly giant Gunner, with a heart as big as his body. And you can’t have a really good book (well, in my opinion) without the quirky characters who populate the best stories, the ones who fit so well into the landscape you can’t imagine the story without their presence. The cast of characters drew me in, wrapped themselves around my mind and made me laugh, cry and cheer – and yes, my heart definitely raced at times.

This is a wonderful thriller, not overwhelmed by the romances which also exist within the story. Marcia loves Florida, and you can feel it in every word. If you are looking for a book which will draw you in, making you yearn to see all the things that Marcia sees, I highly recommend Swamp Ghosts! Oh, and the next book will be out before long – she says she is working on Chapter 11, so keep an eye out – I know I am!

I received Swamp Ghosts from Marcia in exchange for a realistic review. And yes, Marcia is a friend, but this is still a marvelous book!

Please let me know if you like my review by clicking “yes” on Amazon. It helps my author friends! Thanks.

Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara

Marcia Meara is a native Floridian, living in the Orlando area with her husband of 29 years, two silly little dachshunds and four big, lazy cats. She’s fond of reading, gardening, hiking, canoeing, painting, and writing, not necessarily in that order. But her favorite thing in the world is spending time with her two grandchildren, ten-year-old Tabitha Faye, and twenty-month-old Kaelen Lake.At age 69, Marcia wrote “Wake-Robin Ridge,” her first novel, and “Summer Magic: Poems of Life and Love.” Her second novel, “Swamp Ghosts,” set alongside the wild and scenic rivers of central Florida, was released in spring of 2014. “A Boy Named Rabbit,” the sequel to “Wake-Robin Ridge,” will be available on Kindle by January 26, 2015. And “Hunter,” the sequel to “Swamp Ghosts,” is scheduled for release in late summer, 2015.

In the past year, Marcia has also had her poetry appear in four Silver Birch Press anthologies: “Silver,” “Green,” and “Summer,” all Eclectic Anthologies of Poetry and Prose, and “Noir Erasure Poetry Anthology,” which features a unique form of creating poems from prose.

Her philosophy? It’s never too late to follow your dream. Just take that first step, and never look back.

You can reach Marcia through her blogs and other social media:

The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/
Bookin’ It: http://marciameara.wordpress.com
Who’s Your Granny: http://mmeara.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer
Twitter: @marciameara
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/

A note from Marcia:

I’m going out on the river today with two tours on the Naiad, with

Captain Jeanne Bell & her husband, Doug Little. They are the real life counterparts of Maggie & Gunn, and where I got the idea for Maggie to be an Eco tour boat owner. Perfect for allowing me to really dig into the habitat and wildlife of this part of my state. (The REAL Florida, if you ask me.) They’ve got a large group of folks coming (over 40) and have split the group into two tours to accommodate everyone on the boat, and I’ve been invited to go along and talk for a bit about my book, and do a signing afterward.

Doug has been incorporating Swamp Ghosts into every tour lately, and sells the book from their ticket booth. It’s been a lot of fun for him to read the blur on back and then tell everyone that Gunnar Wolfe is his alter-ego. This is my inspiration for Gunn, of course!

(Chris Hemsworth a/k/a Thor)
Friends are the BEST!

Review: Finding Sheba By H. B. Moore EDITED Review

The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. – William James

The history of the Jews has been written overwhelmingly by scholars of texts – understandably given the formative nature of the Bible and the Talmud. Seeing Jewish history through artifacts, architecture and images is still a young but spectacularly flourishing discipline that’s changing the whole story. – Simon Schama

Queen Makeda of Ethiopia

Undercover special agent for the Israeli Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Ancient Artifacts Omar Zagouri may not agree with all of the decisions of his government regarding their treatment of his Arab neighbors. But protecting his people, and their culture, from jihadists and weapons smugglers means setting aside his misgivings – even when his neighbor dies from internal bleeding when she delivered a baby and couldn’t be taken to a hospital because breaking curfew meant death for her family. No, life in Israel and Palestine can be hell – but this particular undercover operation will be something more than even Omar expected.

It is hard to believe, today, that these lands of bombs and guns, oppression and violence, were once a jewel of the world. A land of beauty and learning, knowledge, wealth and beauty, even amidst the sands and dunes of barren lands. Now buried civilizations, forgotten until discoveries, some chance, some planned, reveal the lost beauty and culture of an amazing world.

Queen Bilqis

Recent archaeological discoveries in the Mahram Bilqis (Mahram Bilkees, “Temple of the Moon Deity”) in Mareb, Yeman support the view that the Queen Sheba ruled over southern Arabia, with evidence suggesting the area to be the capital of the Kingdom of Sheba.

But who was she, really? Records are thin, stories sometimes wildly exaggerated. Or are they? For Omar, while working undercover in a tunnel between Israel and Jerusalem, has broken through a wall and into a tomb – a tomb which may very well change the history of the world, and the underpinnings of Christian, Jewish and Muslim beliefs. The discovery, if authenticated, could throw into question the governmental claims to the Holy Land—and prove the Bible false.

Pyramid carving of purported Egyptian Queen of Sheba

Different countries claim to be the motherland of Sheba – all with their own names for the queen – Bilqis in Yemen, Makeda in Ethiopia, or possibly an Egyptian queen. But these aren’t the real questions, though all these countries are willing to commit the most horrendous crimes in order to prove their claim. But what is even more at risk, and is a political bomb that could explode not only across the Middle East – but across the world, is the very underpinning of the three major belief systems of the world. For not only is Sheba brought into question – but also the very existence of King Solomon. And should King Solomon be proven to have not existed, the whole underpinning of Biblical history will be brought into question. For while there are no actual, physical records of the existence of Solomon¹, a crypt accidentally located by Omar and a group of workers clearing a tunnel may prove that, rather than Solomon, his supposed reign was actually during the time of King Melech Tambariah – son and grandson of Kings Melech Turug and Melech Amariel. And a statue found in Aksum, Ethiopia entwines the names of Tambariah and Azhara – the Queen of Sheba and her King? If so, a chain of political events will destroy everything from the ownership of Israel to the veracity of Christianity itself – Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant – everything.

History’s written from what can be found; what isn’t saved is lost, sunken and rotted, eaten by earth. – Jill Lepore

The Bible holds David and Solomon to be the founding kings of ancient Israel and to be ancestors of Jesus Christ. The Quran portrays all three men as prophets. Yet, though current archaeological efforts are underway, there is no archaeological evidence that King David or his son, King Solomon, ever lived or ruled over Israel. If it could ever be proved that these kings never existed, then Israel’s claim to the Holy Land is mistaken.

Quotes, statements and Biblical history pertaining to Solomon is, not surprisingly, a collection of ideas designed to forward the original beliefs of Christianity. Wisdom, kindness, justice. Whether Solomon does or does not exist, belief is everything – and proving that beliefs are wrong . . .

Finding Sheba is that best possible of all world in the thriller realm. A thoughtful ‘what-if’ story based on meticulous research by an expert in her field. It is very well written, literate, and offers that most rare and beautiful of writing skills – both knowledge and creativity. From ancient history to modern desert tribes still living as they did centuries ago; to the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the Desert, the fabled lost city, celebrated in both the Koran and “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” as the center of the lucrative frankincense trade for 3,000 years before the birth of Christ² reality and supposition blends and turns, highlighting the darkest parts of history, the cruelties of the modern day, and religions and beliefs based in self mutilation and torture, mysogany and brutality, cannibals and kings.

The so-called lessons of history are for the most part the rationalizations of the victors. History is written by the survivors. – Max Lerner

And when whole religions, belief systems, political systems – hell, as Douglas Adams would have it, Life, The Universe, and Everything – relies upon unsubstantiated tales written by the victor, well the rationalizations and politics may very well end up standing on their heads.

“Just believe everything I tell you, and it will all be very, very simple.’
“Ah, well, I’m not sure I believe that.”
― Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

I received Finding Sheba from the publisher in return for a realistic review. If you are at all interested in Middle Eastern history and the questions of whether or not Biblical history truly is “history” I can’t recommend this book highly enough for an unusual, beautifully creative thriller.

¹ The Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavations seem to be the location spoken of in the Bible as the spot where David and Goliath fought. However, dating of the site indicates that the city was one of many  developed long before the time of the story of Solomon. While the city exists, there is still no written record of who the leaders were of the periods estimated for Solomon and David: David 1011-971 – Solomon 971-931BC. Therefore, proof of the existence of either is at this time not available.

² Ubar was located by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory satellite imagery on the edge of the Empty Quarter in southern Oman.  JPL’s involvement in the search for the lost city of Ubar began in 1981, and continued when in 1984, the shuttle Challenger made two passes over an unmapped region of southern Oman and studied the area with Shuttle Imaging Radar B (SIR-B). Fieldwork lasted from 2007 to 2013 as the city was unearthed.

How incredible that modern technology is unearthing our history in such a manner – history once thought lost forever!

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