Sunday, December 27, 2009


Author: Tamar Myers
Copyright: 2009
Avon Paperbacks
Harper Collins Publisher
Trade paperback
ISBN: 978-0-06-172783-2
$13.99 310 pages
Fiction/Congo(Democratic Republic)

Amanda Brown is literally immersed into the African culture of 1958 when she agrees to fill in for a missionary couple. How demanding can it be for a few months?

To begin with the housekeeper who is male, Protruding Navel, has an extremely judgmental attitude of his expectations for Amanda. Added to that, Amanda decides to hire a local as her assistant basically to irritate Protruding Navel. This woman, Cripple, who is the local witch doctor’s first wife, understands human nature and who comfortably unsettles Protruding Navel.

Amanda’s experiences and relationships are interwoven into the problems of the times with the mining of diamonds when the witch doctor’s second wife’s youngest son is found chewing on a diamond. This particular gem is possibly the largest diamond to be found. Being that Belgium has the rights to all diamonds, the witch doctor asks for helps from others with more power with the local government in trying to profit for his family. This immediately thrusts everyone into a series of lies and dishonesty that does not always benefit everyone involved. Also the differences between the natives and the white Belgium citizens intensify as each one attempts to profit personally and to cheat others.

Having a childhood as the daughter of missionary parents in the Belgian Congo gives Tamar Myers the expertise to use her experiences and to turn them into a story. The personal voice of the author is unquestionably the strength of this novel. The story is well-paced, complicated, interlocking, and believable with characters that are realistic and having a lovable heroine. Also, the author’s knowledge of the time, the place, the lifestyle, the people, and the cultures literally permeate each page. This novel is based on her experiences and life whether tragic or humorous and her memories value the native culture and the people of this time period.

The story in places reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver’s POISONWOOD BIBLE due to the common setting of Africa and the experiences from missionaries. Having read Tamar Myers’ other books, I found THE WITCH DOCTOR’S WIFE to excel and stand out as much superior to her already enjoyable mysteries.

This is one of those books that impact your thoughts after you finish reading it. The ending is memorable and is one that I will personally remember because of the characters’ actions and being unpredictable. It’s the kind of ending that all of us would love to witness in real life.

Tamar Myers actually was raised in the Belgian Congo by her missionary parents and experienced the tribal customs of the 1950s. She is the author of thirty-six novels and resides in the Carolinas.

Teri Davis December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Copyright: December 2009
Tom Doherty Associates
Hardcover ISBN:978-0-7653-1982-1
$27.99 352 pages
Horror/Historical Fiction

To a vampire, time seems endless. They don’t fear illness as ordinary mortals, but exist by building upon their wisdom of the ages and their wealth. Unlike the stereotypical vampires, these actually help humanity and are well-respected as they survive over time.

In the year, 438 C.E., the Huns lead by Attila are attempting to take over the region of the Carpathian Mountains. With the Roman Empire weakening, this is the perfect opportunity for their expanding dominance of the territory.

In BURNING SHADOWS the small communities in the Carpathian Mountains are fearful of the rumors of the approaching Huns As the rumors become more frequent and the feeling of impending doom approaches, Count Saint-Germain chooses to send his longtime lover Atta Olivia Clemens to Constantinople for her safety. As a lesser leader for the declining Roman Empire, Germain realizes that the people rely on his wisdom and leadership for their survival, he quickly moves this community to an isolated monastery.

The monastery enjoys its aloneness and even has many monks who survive as hermits in the nearby caves completely alone. Reluctantly, the monastery relies upon the few Roman soldiers and the village Watchmen for their protection. However, quickly the people become restless and many hope to journey closer to Rome for their safety.

The monastery harbors many hermits in nearby caves who are not welcoming to this invasion by their neighbors. Many frequently wonder if their families would not be safer if they traveled closer to the Roman territory. Many families flee, but it becomes apparent to those within the walled community that the Huns are obviously tracking and successfully butchering the commoners.

Saint Germain and his love, Nicoris both control their passionate love and desires of being a vampire. Their sense of responsibility to these commoners and to help them in any way, break the traditional stereotype of vampires with these showing compassion and responsibility to the community.

BURNING SHADOWS is listed as a horror story, but really belongs in the historical fiction category. Most of the novel involves life in this time period and life with the Huns slowly approaching and dominating the old Roman territory. The vampire life is continuous in this series but what is most evident is the story of real life during this time.

This series featuring Saint Germain has been in print for over two decades encompassing fantasy, horror, and history together. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a resident of Berkeley, California and has been nominated for various awards and honors throughout her career of the stories for the vampire, Saint Germain.

Teri Davis December 20, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009


Author: Albert Samuel Tukker
Copyright: 2007
Lulu Press
ISBN: 0557024749 ISBN: 978-05557024742
$24.95 292 pages
Science Fiction/Mystery

Everyone seems to have an opinion about what might happen in December of 2012 when the planets will supposedly align and the Mayan calendar ends. Will this be the end of our world?
Albert Samuel Tukker has his own vision of what might happen. His story is POLE SHIFT. Could this alignment cause our magnetic poles to shift to being straight up? How would this change our planet?

POLE SHIFT begins with Forrest Woods being at his wife’s side as she is slowly and painfully dying of cancer. When she actually dies, he is, naturally and guilt-ridden, not there. However, Forrest still feels her closeness, especially whenever the blue firefly appears. Is this his wife looking after him?

Grieving is different for everyone. For Forrest, it means that he is grateful for Lisa’s life insurance and this allows him to move out into the Arizona desert and live his life without the hassle of populated areas while pursuing a career in photography. He becomes a loner and survivalist with building his own shelter, raising his own food, and having little human contact.

Forrest is grateful for living away from the cities when an immense earthquake occurs that literally changes the planet. Did the change of the poles cause this earthquake? Since Forrest was in his cellar at the time, he managed to live until the shaking stopped. What he was not prepared for was the change in the land such as mountains being flattened and much of our country not being covered in salt water. Even the crops he had planted had the roots pulverized. Also puzzling is the placement of the Sun in the sky and the path it follows throughout the days. What would change the sun’s position?

Animal behavior also changed during this disaster. Forrest witnessed a flock of pigeons killing and eating a rabbit and a herd of rats outran and killed a coyote. What could have changed these eating habits and behaviors? If animals react this way, how will this change humans? How do you survive now?

POLE SHIFT is Forrest’s journey back into having relationships with people along with the healing of his grief. What are the rules to live by now? What else has changed? How does he survive? Is this the end of the world as we know it?

POLE SHIFT makes you wonder what will be the result of the alignment or will anything actually happen in 2012. More importantly is the examination of our humanity and how each of us reacts in the face of danger and life. This is the story of personal healing and survival.

The voice and sincerity of Forrest Woods is the strength of POLE SHIFT. My criticism of this novel was being forced to end my reading relationship with Forrest and his blue firefly by finishing the last page.

I could easily see POLE SHIFT as the first book in a series featuring Forrest. I look forward to reading more from Albert Samuel Tukker.

POLE SHIFT was considered to be the best science fiction for the year 2007 from for Literary Excellence.

Red, Green, or Murder

RED,GREEN, OR MURDER Author: Steven Havill Copyright: November 2009 Poisoned Pen Press Hardcover ISBN:978-1-59058-665-5 $24.95 284 pages Mystery
When a person retires from a long-time law enforcement career, being a livestock inspector could be boring. That’s what Bill Gastner, formerly a county sheriff in a remote and quiet area of New Mexico, was thinking about when a ranching accident launches him into a long series of unrelated investigations that all require Bill’s expertise, experience, and contacts in understanding each event. Fortunately, his successor, Estelle Reyes-Guzman respects and welcomes his assistance in her overwhelming position as current sheriff.
First, while moving cattle, a young rancher’s horse is spooked. As the rider attempts to calm the creature, he is thrown off and unfortunately, the horse accidentally steps on his knee. Added to this is a missing ranch hand that leaves behind his dog and the questionable death of a close-friend and retired gun dealer. Are all of these related? How do you investigate each one without feeling guilty for not having answers to questions that keep Bill wondering? What ranch hand would leave behind a working dog that is as important as another human?
What makes RED, GREEN, OR MURDER such a delightful reading experience, is the strong, believable, and likable character of Bill Gastner. You feel as if this is one person who could be real and who each of us would want as a friend, especially if it involved a crime or the law. Also, the story is well planned and keeps you wondering and being interested until the last page. This is one novel that I was trying to constantly think about how this author could logically connect the events and resolve the problems.
RED, GREEN, OR MURDER is part of series called THE POSADAS COUNTY MYSTERIES featuring Bill Gastner and Estelle Reyes-Guzman. This particular novel actually fits in the middle of a long stream of investigations featuring these two. This series is actually a combination of a present-day western coupled with a mystery or two. Being that I have not read this series, I was enthralled with the characterization and impressed with how this particular book works as either a stand alone or as part of the series. To reacquaint characters or to introduce ones to a reader, who has not read the other books, proves that Steven Havill is a masterful writer who I plan to know better soon. Personally, I plan to read the other books in his series.
Steven Havill resides in New Mexico. He has worked as a teacher and recently studied gunsmithing.
I look forward to reading any book written by Steven Havill. This is truly a masterful storyteller who can weave a complex story into a logical and well-written tale.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Copyright: 2009
Whoo Doo Mysteries/ Treble Heart
Softcover ISBN:978-1-932695-88-5
$12.95 275 pages
Historical Fiction/Mystery

When your father dies and leaves his money to your step-mother you don’t have many choices in life. Fortunately China Bohannon has the advantage of having an uncle in another city a distance away from her former life that happens to have an extra bedroom available. That is if he is expecting you.

China takes it upon herself to start her life in Spokane, Washington far away from her step-mother in Walla Walla. This is hopefully with the assistance of her uncle who happens to run a detective agency. China’s plan is to find a job and fortunately, the detective agency does need someone to manage the office. For a spinster in the 1890s though, this might not be the best choice.

When China arrives at the office, her uncle is not around, but his partner, Gratton Doyle questions if she is a capable bookkeeper and can successfully run the office. Her uncle understands the situation and quickly even asks for her assistance in a case. Her feminine perspective is keen and she leads her uncle to solving the case.

Through a random occurrence, China might also have witnessed a chance encounter with a murderer of young girls. Everyone seems convinced that the death of a particular 14-year-old girl was suicide, but China questions how a girl could easily cut her own throat. Even the police seem convinced that the girl had a bad reputation and took her own life.

The girl’s mother gives China her hard-earned money to investigate the death without her uncle or his partner knowing about it. Also, the murderer is suspicious that others are questioning him, and is quickly killing off all the possible witnesses, including China.

C.K. Crigger resides in Idaho. She has won various awards for her novels. She has written BLACK CROSSING, CROSSROAD, LIAR’S TRAIL, ALDY NEAL’S GHOST, ASK PARROT, THE WINNING HAND,SHADOW SOLDIER, THE PRINCE’S COUSIN,IN THE SERVICE OF THE QUEEN, SIX SHOT, and THE GUNSMITH series of audio books.

The story is fast-paced. The characters are believable and enjoyable. The historical sense is accurate. The overall novel is a delightful perspective of life from the feminine perspective of being independent in the 1890s while living in the frontier city of Spokane, Washington.
I definitely look forward to more books by this talented author.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Author: Richard A. Thompson
Copyright November 2009
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 978-1-59058-678-5
Hardcover $24.95
234 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“Once a gun is out, it takes on a life of its own, and all your careful plans for anonymous existence can suddenly be nothing but yesterday’s dreams.”

Vietnam veteran, Herman Jackson firmly believes this after witnessing a brutal raid on a homeless community that seems to have happened without any media coverage. Since this is related to the death of an acquaintance, Charlie Victor, Herman finds way too many questions and no one has any answers. To find the box, Herman must first find out Charlie Victor’s complete past in order to understand his thinking.

Herman has transitioned his life as a bookie to a bail bond business. The first meeting with Charlie was memorable for Herman as Charlie had asked about the bond amount before he was arrested. Why would anyone pay for a bond before they are arrested?

Herman finds himself being the heir of Charlie Victor’s estate. The true value is in a hidden cigar box secretly buried in a well-hidden spot. Where do you look? To complicate matters, the FBI and some unusual characters are also in a race to find the box. Why? That’s what Herman is determined to find with the help of reporter, Anne Packard. With a combination of constant investigation and being constantly watched and detoured, makes this a novel difficult to put down.

FRAG BOX is the second Herman Jackson mystery. Without reading the first novel, the beginning of this particular was intriguing, but depended on the development of Herman from the previous novel. The last half of the book’s strength is definitely the character attachment about Charlie Victor. This is one of those books that you find yourself not wanting it to end.

The writing style resembles as old-fashioned detective novel. The action is non-stop. The intrigue is dazzling. This is the type of story that you never tire of reading. I’m looking forward to the next book and reading FIDDLE GAME.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Author: J. C. Thompson
Copyright: 2009
ISBN:9781432734510 $24.95 331pages Fiction, Action-adventure

“I guess I would like you to hear my confession, and I pray that this will help me regain what was taken from me.”

These are words from John Calovacanti Hanna who is better known as Calo. As an enterprising teenager, he has the foresight to make money whether legally or illegally while in high school. Balancing family and school life is fairly simple for Calo but added to that is balancing the purchasing of illegal cigarettes to his peers with his personal morality. Knowing when to continue building a business and when to get out and run seems instinctive to him.

Being undecided about his future, Calo is entranced by a college coed who he had always admired; he willingly becomes adapted to college life and a new business. This time “moonshine” is the product and the business is part of the larger Circulary.

The Circulary is a secret society with their personal set of laws. The business of transporting and making the “moonshine” is the foundation of the group. The problem is that once you are involved with the group, there is only one way you leave it, by dying. How do you balance the money with your own beliefs and morality?

THE CIRCULARY is a fast-paced adventurous romp. The characters are believable and the story has numerous twists on its journey to the last page.

THE CIRCULARY is from a self-publishing agency, Outskirts Press. The problem with most of the books from the self-publishing agencies is the lack of editing. Mixing homonyms, misspelled words, still need to be corrected and can distract from the hypnotic effect when reading. While I was enjoying this novel, I also found myself bothered by these trivial errors. A decent editor would have completely solved this problem.

THE CIRCULARY is J.C. Thompson’s first novel. I sincerely hope this promising author finds a real publisher for his next novel which I look forward to reading.

Teri Davis November 14, 2009


ACROSS THE ENDLESS RIVER Author: Thad Carhart Copyright: 2009 Doubleday Hardcover ISBN:978-0-385-52977-8 $26.95 320 pages Historical Fiction
Sacagawea is definitely one of the first prominent women who greatly contributed to the success of this country. However, except for the original journals of Lewis and Clark, there are still many questions about what happened to all the people involved with the original expedition. Especially curious, is Sacagawea as she gave birth to a son while on the journey, translated for the explorers, and developed valued and trusted friendships with many of those on the Corps of Discovery.
ACROSS THE ENDLESS RIVER is the story of Sacagawea’s son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau who is also known as Pompy. Being that his father was a French trapper and his mother from native tribes, besides learning many languages and cultures, he uniquely belonged to both cultures while also not feeling like he truly belonged in either.
After completing his basic schooling thanks to the generosity of William Clark, Baptiste met Duke Paul Wilhelm of Wurttemberg who offered Baptiste an opportunity to assist in his studies of natural history while living in Europe. This novel centers on what could have been his life while spending much of his time in Paris and other European cities. Also, a major focus is Baptiste’s concern about being a part of a culture, but never belonging to either due to his mixed heritage.For an author to write a historical fiction novel, I would expect the author to spend a tremendous amount of time to be historically accurate. Since I am not a historian, I researched some of the author’s visions in Baptiste’s life.
First, I was disturbed by the image Carhart created about Pompy’s father, Toussaint Charbonneau. I have always visualized him as a grumpy, self-centered, and egocentrical husband to a much younger wife. Supposedly, Sacagawea was around 13 when she married and Toussaint was close to 40. Carhart represented this man as a caring and helpful father. I am wondering where that image came from since even the original journals of Lewis and Clark do not put Charbonneau in a favorable view but rather as a drunken lout.
Also, it is documented that Sacagawea also had a daughter, Lisette, who was also sent to Clark for her schooling. Shouldn’t she also be in at least part of the story since she was really there?
This particular book is considered to be “deckle edge” which means that the pages are to have a handmade look to their edges rather than being cut by a machine.

Teri Davis November 14, 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009


DOUBLEBACK: A NOVEL OF SUSPENSE (formerly Double Cross)Author: Libby Fischer HellmanBleak House
October 2009
Hardcover/$24.95/978-1-60648-052-6 Paperback/$14.95/978-1-60648-053-3300 pagesFiction/Mystery

“Panic has a way of defining an individual. It scrapes the soul bare, scrapes away pretense, reveals the core of the human spirit. It’s hard to dissemble when fear crawls up your throat, you hear stampedes like a herd of wild animals, and your skin burns with the prickly-heat of terror. For the six people thrown together in a Loop office building on a hot June day, the moments they shared would reveal parts of themselves they had not know existed.”

What would you do if your neighbor’s daughter was kidnapped and the mother was told not to contact the police? If you had a good friend who worked as a private investigator, wouldn’t you contact that person?

That is the situation that reunites video producer, Ellie Foreman with private investigator, Georgia Davis. Now, when the little girl is returned after being gone for three days, no ransom obviously paid, the mother just wants the investigation over. The police, who were contacted, also know no more about the kidnapping. Do you drop it?

Do you decide to investigate when the brakes on the mother’s car go out and she is killed? The mother was employed in the computer systems in a bank and three million dollars is missing. Coincidentally, the mother’s boss just died in another questionable accident. The girl’s father agrees to hire Georgia to investigate.

Besides the kidnapping, DOUBLEBACK investigates illegal immigrants, smuggled drugs, and security firms who are not always following the same laws as everyone else. Georgia and Ellie quickly learn that with all that has happened sometime you need to double back to understand the entire situation running from Wisconsin to Arizona and back.

DOUBLEBACK is the sequel to EASY INNOCENCE combining both Ellie and Georgia. Other books by Libby Hellman featuring only Ellie Foreman are AN EYE FOR MURDER, A PICTURE OF GUILT, AN IMAGE OF DEATH, and A SHOT TO DIE FOR.

I found the novel to be suspenseful, thoughtful, and logical while reading at a break-neck pace. The characters were believable as was the story; this is definitely a wonderful “escape” into reading. I loved reading about this adventure but definitely would not want to live this adventure in real life.
Teri Davis October 31, 2009

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Author: Albert Samuel Tukker
January 10, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-0557024759
316 pages
Fiction/ Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
3rd Place 2009 Premier Books Awards

Once in a while you find a book that is unusual, not predictable, almost haunting, and demonstrates creative thinking. RAGE is such a book. With naked ghosts and pirate treasure, RAGE romps through many times and places.

Jules Planchette finds himself in an awkward situation when he is simply trying to avoid being drenched by a downpour. As he shelters himself under the overhang of a building, he notices a vagrant. Unfortunately, this vagrant also has a mission and that is to rid himself of the “rage”. This being, “rage”, is inside of Jules’ body everything appears normal except for if he happens to witness a situation where someone is at a disadvantage or is bullied.

The “rage” seems to level the playing field in regards to fairness and being just. Unfortunately, it also overreacts and literally turns Jules into a Rambo-like being. Is it really wrong to beat up a bully who is terrifying someone? It definitely is when you can’t stop the fury and the bully ends up being killed. However, this “rage” almost gives Jules superpowers without a cape and a motto. His concern is how to control it and get rid of it.

RAGE is Jules’ story of his trials with this possession which only becomes problematic in a threatening situation. In each situation, the voice of Jules is the outstanding feature of this novel. You can truly feel his questioning of his choices, the situation, his frustration, and fear in ridding himself of the “Rage.”

Albert Samuel Tukker is masterful at balancing this adventure in terror with humor and compassion. His position of fighting for those incapable of defending themselves from life’s misfortunes while being possessed makes this twist unusual, but intriguing.

My biggest question about RAGE is why isn’t a regular publisher working with the obviously gifted author. Yes, this book is a self-published, vanity press novel. Being that this book have already won an award, I am puzzled.

Albert Samuel Tukker lives in the Omaha metropolitan area. He is definitely an author that is an extremely gifted storyteller with an imaginative gift for writing. Unquestionably, I look forward to reading his other novels.

Teri Davis October 20, 2009

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Saturday, October 24, 2009


THE DEPUTYAuthor: Victor GischlerBleak House
August 2009
Hardcover/$24.95/978-1-60648-046-5 Paperback/$14.95/978-1-60648-047-2256 pagesFiction/Mystery

“I faked a cough, put my hand over my mouth to hide the grin. I knew it wasn’t really funny, but the surprised look on Luke Jordan’s dead face caught me just right. Luke was the first dead guy I’d ever seen up close except for in a funeral home.”

Being a twenty-five year old part-time deputy in the small town of Coyote Crossing, Oklahoma, Toby Sawyer truly believes that his life is heading in the right direction. Even though, supporting a wife and a child on her waitress salary and his part-time salary proves challenging. Toby dreams of joining the force full-time.

When he is asked by the chief to watch over the dead body of Luke Jordan, Toby is relieved that it is an easy task, but Toby finds ways to distract himself such as visiting his 17-year-old girlfriend, Imagine his surprise when he returns and the body was missing. Along his search he accidentally releases a truckload of illegal Mexican aliens and finds himself involved with many of his law-enforcement buddies, especially the ones that are bending the laws to fit their finances. What is the right thing to do?

Personally, I loved the moral conflict in this novel. I truly empathized with Toby Sawyer. He had the problem of doing the right thing, but realizing that with each choice, there probably are many unpleasant consequences. Also, when do you stop doing the right thing and just run away and hide?

This is a novel that you cannot stop reading until the very last page. The characters are curiously flawed, but realistic. The action is constant. The daily problems of even providing a babysitter and having to buy the inflated pricing for baby supplies at a convenience store were examples of the realism within the survival of everyday life. Toby’s quest for finding someone he can trust is an all too realistic in everyone’s life. Although definitely dark, this story has a driving force that proves the expertise in Mr. Gischler’s writing. The personal voice of Toby adds a dimension to the strength of this character. I personally look forward to a sequel to THE DEPUTY in Mr. Gischler’s future writings.


Teri Davis October 20, 2009

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Saturday, October 10, 2009


Author: Lee Emory
WhoooDoo Mysteries (Science Fiction)
Treble Heart Books
ISBN: 978-1-932695-78-6
Trade Paperback
239 pages
Science Fiction

Who knows what our world will be like in the year 2194? What will be the rules in that time?

“Miss Berina Colchek, you stand convicted of twenty-two counts of murder against the aforementioned, high ranking, United Federation Collective members. This court believes you and your gang committed many more murders, but the prosecution failed to prove any certainty of this.”

“This court therefore waives the death penalty only because, in addition to these heinous murders you perpetrated upon innocent citizens, we cannot find enough solid violence of you following your deceased parents’ former religious teachings. You have demonstrated no evidence of such ignorant beliefs.”

“You are hereby sentenced to be transported from Earth to Androneda Prison in the Damnation Alley sector in three days’ time. There you will spend the rest of your natural life.”

Murder of twenty-two people could easily be a reason for someone to be executed. However, if you assassinate twenty-two politicians of the current leadership within the world government, and you are religious, you would be executed. If you do not have religious ties or beliefs, then your life is sparred and you are placed in a prison on a remote planet where it is constantly raining and having earthquakes.

Adjusting to prison-life can be life-threatening. It is a five-year journey to arrive at the Adroneda Prison. If you are causing the administration and guards grief, they use a mind-altering device called the Lobe-O which immediately gives the prisoner different degreed levels of a lobotomy. For some strange reason, life is fairly simple on this planet.

Berina has a natural ability to fix anything mechanical which places her in a valued position within this community. The warden, Aaron Gromar, has a secret that would definitely endanger his position and his life. The planet is increasing the number of quakes and is quickly becoming unstable for all the inhabitants. All of these compile into
an addicting and enthralling plot.

I enjoyed PERDITION. Even though I found the story predictable, I enjoyed the interwoven conflicts within the characters and the constant intensity with each event.

Lee Emory has written numerous novels in various genres including NIGHT FREEZE, COUNSELOR AT LARGE, GENEROUS TO A FAULT, A CALL TO MAGIC, HOT ROD’S LAW, GATEKEEPER’S PROMISE, GATEKEEPER’s CHALLENGE, GATEKEEPER’S CHOICE, and LOVE DONOR. She currently resides in Arizona.

Currently, Lee Emory is working on a sequel to PERDITION which I look forward to reading.

Teri Davis October 10, 2009

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Sunday, October 4, 2009


Author: Charlotte Hinger
Poisoned Pen Press
September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-645-72
290 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“She was coming for me. From the belly of the vault, I could hear Fiona Hadley making her way down the main hall of the county courthouse toward my open door. No mistaking those authoritative, high-heeled clicks echoing across the marble floor.”

Who knows what secrets you can find when you are collecting the tales about the county’s history from family histories told and retold? Checking out what you are told sometimes makes it difficult to really see the truth or to see the truth through the lies of those telling the story.

Zelda St. John has a story to tell and her twin-sister, Fiona, wants to get it out of the hands of local history society in this western Kansas community. Fiona does not want this particular story to become public knowledge. Why? Apparently Fiona’s son, Brian, is running for public office and the story will damage Brian’s reputation. So what skeleton from the past could hurt a promising senatorial candidate?

Lottie Albright works as editor of county history books for the local historical society. She has integrated herself completely into this community as the local veterinarian’s much-younger second wife. She is still adjusting to being the step-mother to daughters that are near to her own age and the relationships with each of them.

Logically, Lottie wants to let Zelda know of Fiona’s demands. However, when she call Zelda, the phone just rings until the answering machine picks up. She couldn’t because she was dead.

Unfortunately in a small town, most are not known for their outstanding law enforcement. When the sheriff runs an ad in the local paper for a deputy, Lottie quickly applies for the position. Naturally, the sheriff wants to know if she had discussed this first with her husband. Being Lottie, she didn’t think that made a difference.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading DEADLY DESCENT. It had enough problems to be realistic, enough guts and spunk to be fun, and enough real feelings to connect with the reader. Definitely, this is a book that makes me want the sequel, now!

Charlotte Hinger essentially created Lottie Albright from her own life as a western Kansas historian who compiled county history books. COME SPRING, a historical novel won the Western Writers of America Medicine Pipe Award. DEADLY DESCENT is her first and hopefully not her last mystery.

Teri Davis October 3, 2009

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Author: Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-640-2
260 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“The tree limbs arched with the weight of ice-kissed rain then dropped their burden with a loud crack like a bursting dam.”

During the late 13th-century and the early 14th-century travel was fairly slow for those living in rural England. While freezing rain is pelting down on Prioress Eleanor, Brother Thomas, and Mariota as they return to Tyndale, Mariota is ill. They find shelter in a nearby manor where a series of murders are beginning to occur. It might be safer to be out in the elements.

Everyone has an idea of what life in a manor house should be. In this manor, the lady of the manor is having an affair with a groom who seems to be having affairs with many women. A widow seems to be the lady of the manor while the first-born son and his wife are just nasty people who find fault in everything. In the midst of this hapless group is the return of the younger prodigal son who has left his studies with the Church in order to become a wandering minstrel. Obviously, there are more secrets and problems than this visiting group can grasp during their short visit.

Everything changes when the philandering groom is found dead from having his throat cut. It almost seems as if everyone has a motive for killing him. Curiously, the cook is arrested for the murder and then she is stabbed before her innocence can be proven.

Eleanor and Thomas find themselves propelled into the investigation and being they are concerned about justice, decide to question people themselves to find the murderer while Mariota recovers enough for them to continue their traveling back to their home. That is unless they offend the murderer and find themselves being the victim.

Priscilla Royal continues her series featuring Prioress Eleanor of Tyndale in this sixth installment of her medieval mystery series. She currently lives in Northern California.

The character of Eleanor is delightful as she proves to be an intelligent and gutsy character that focuses on doing the right thing, not always within the constraints of being a prioress during the medieval times. She seems to be able to pry into the lives of others with class and dignity which is definitely a trait valued then as is now. Brother Thomas is the perfect sidekick with his parallel inquiry and frequent collaboration with Eleanor.

This is a series that I enjoy the familiar recollections with the delightful characters of Eleanor, Thomas, and Maud. They feel like a reunion with long-time fictional friends who I look forward to meeting again soon.

Teri Davis October 3, 2009

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Saturday, October 3, 2009


Author: Sean Doolittle
Delacorte Press
Random House
ISBN: 978-0-385-33898
352 pages
Fiction-Married People, Domestic, City and Town Life, Iowa

“My wife, Sara, and I are hosting a faculty party at our home when the Clark Falls Police Department arrives to take me into custody.”

How do you prove that you did not commit a crime? Sure, we’ve always been told that in our country you are innocent until you are proven beyond a doubt to be guilty. Can someone fabricate evidence of you having sexual relations with a minor? What about if you really are innocent? How do you prove that you were not involved? How will people in your family and community ever trust you again?

Moving halfway across the country allows Paul and Sara Callaway to start over in Cedar Falls, Iowa as part of the local college community. Life isn’t so idealistic when Paul returns to his home on the first night in their new home and manages to rescue his wife from an attacker by using a golf club. To help reassure the new couple, the local neighborhood appears to welcome them into the community while also maintaining surveillance on the area. However, there is such a thing as too much surveillance.

When trying to establish yourself in a new neighborhood, where is the line between your privacy and the growing sense in being a part of your local community? Balancing the needs of your career, a marriage, a pregnancy, and the neighborhood can be a juggling act, especially when the neighborhood cheats.

The characters are realistic and likable. The neighborhood and the supporting characters are unfortunately, very lifelike. What I particularly enjoyed was the settings which are based around the Omaha/Council Bluffs metropolitan area. I was also wondering about how Petrows, a local family restaurant, enjoyed jumping over to the Iowa side of the river.

Sean Doolittle is the author of DIRT, BURN, RAIN DOGS, and THE CLEANUP. SAFER is his newest book. He currently lives in the Omaha/Council Bluff’s metropolitan area.

The book is unnervingly real. The terror and experiences of Paul are what adds to the suspense. Between the accusation and the overly protective neighborhood, Paul’s pressures with his wife and career seem petty. Also, things are seldom as they seem. Sometimes the best way out of a difficult and awkward situation is straight through it even if it is not easy and possibly bordering on illegal when it comes to truly investigating the crime.

Sean Doolittle continues his brilliant writing with SAFER which definitely does not make you feel safe.

Teri Davis October 3, 2009

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Sunday, September 20, 2009


Author: Chris Kuzneski
Penguin Group
G.P. Putnam’s Sons2008
First edition: Penguin UK 2008
First US edition: August 2009ISBN: 978-0-399-15582-6 $25.95512 pagesFiction

“The monk felt the wind on his face as he plummeted to his death, a journey that started with a scream and ended with a thud.”

Since THE DaVINCI CODE, there seem to be a multitude of books attempting to reproduce the action adventure success. THE LOST THRONE would fit perfectly in that category.

A man with an apparent stroke collapses on the streets in Italy in 1890. He is taken to the nearest hospital where he mutters intermittently in German and ancient Greek while his words are recorded. However, the recorder is not masterful in the languages and so the translation and the recording might not be completely accurate. Oh, if only someone could have understood what the man’s dying words meant to those who value the treasures of the past.

Nick Dial, Interpol’s head of the homicide division, is investigating the decapitation of seven Greek Orthodox monks at one of their monasteries in a secluded mountainous area. Being that there is no obvious reason for the murders, Nick is completely perplexed and searching for any reason for the violence.

Added to these events, Jonathon Payne discovers that he has missed numerous calls from a number that is unfamiliar to him. He also listens to a message regarding a life or death situation that has him wondering about who would give his number to someone who needed his help. With his partner, D.J. Jones and their training from special military forces, they investigate the call to discover a female in distress and romp from St. Petersburg, Florida to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Another plot thread weaves in the people of Sparta and how they have maintained the values to the former-times reputation. Somehow, all of these are interconnected in this swashbuckling adventure. Yes, at times even with the swords.

I personally enjoyed this novel. The short chapters, the rotating characters, the development of the story, and the experience of violence without my personal involvement of being bloody, endangered, or dirty works perfectly for me.

I did wish that the author included an afterward to make it clear the facts from the fiction. I found myself wondering if the area of the former Sparta does exist and do the people really believe in their former glorious days. Also, are there monasteries in Greece similar to the ones in this novel?

Chris Kuzneski resides in Florida. His previous novels are THE PLANTATION, SIGN OF THE CROSS, and SWORD OF GOD. I look forward to his next adventure with Payne and Jones.

Teri Davis September 20, 2009

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Saturday, September 12, 2009


Author: Bill Scheft
Simon & Schuster
April 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-9934-0
$ 24.00
275 pages
“Let’s get something straight. Phil Camp had not set out to become a fraud, or, as it turned out, to prevent himself from perpetuating the fraud that he became. That’s just what happened.”
Phil Camp desperately needed to pay-off his ex-wife. So, what is a simple way to acquire that much money? Write a book. Yes, that worked perfectly, even though he used the pen name of Marty Fleck. Yes, everything worked out perfectly except that the book was such a success that it evolved into a bi-weekly syndicated newspaper column written by Marty Fleck.
It has to be difficult to become someone else twice-a-week. What Phil didn’t plan on was that this fictional existence lasted for about eight years.
Added to that, his own brother became a radio personality at the time. Petty jealousies aside, it seemed as if the brother enjoyed ripping apart every column the newspaper had printed written by the fictional Marty Fleck to his growing audience of listeners. This wasn’t quite the life that Phil would have chosen for himself.
Then the pain began. It only happened when he walked, ran, turned over, sprawled out, or felt stress. Sometimes it lasted for weeks and then would disappear and create a sense of well-being again only to reappear at that most inconvenient times.
Anyone looking at possible surgery can sympathize with the need to search for a possible miracle such as a particular philosophy in a self-help book on managing pain called, THE POWER OF “OW”. The book came complete with even telephone support and visits with the author. You just have to believe and if your pain reappears, you are doubting your beliefs and need to refocus yourself. EVERYTHING HURTS is Phil’s journey through the pain.
The characters were well-developed and realistic. The pacing was too slow for my tastes in the first half of the book. To me, I don’t enjoy even reading about constant pain. I much preferred the second half where there was a glimmer of hope in Phil’s depressing life. Dry humor though, made the book readable and actually, enjoyable. Also, the ironic turns of events made the book almost seem autobiographical.
Bill Scheft is the writer of the novels, THE RINGER and TIME WON’T LET ME which won the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He is also a stand-up comic, a columnist and a television writer. He lives in Manhattan where he is the lead monologue writer for David Letterman.
Teri Davis September 12, 2009
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Sunday, September 6, 2009


Author: Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers
May 12, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84698-4
325 pages
Fiction, Young Adult Fiction,
Ghosts-Stepmothers-Guilt-Traffic Accidents-Moving household-Family life-Connecticut
“Have you ever seen a face hidden in the bark of a tree and known that the man trapped inside wanted to hurt you?”
While Zack’s mother was dying of cancer, she also vented her frustration on him, creating a child who was constantly criticized and could never seem to do the right thing. After her death, Zack still felt her presence in the apartment and her disappointment of his actions. He felt that he could never make her happy.
Zack’s father quickly remarries and Judy seems to be the perfect stepmother, They are starting their new lives and in a new town in Connecticut where his father grew up. Zack’s dad is constantly working, so Zack is pleased with having a positive relationship with Judy. Living in a new house, trying to make new friends, and in a new family situation makes life for Zack lonely. His dad attempts to help the transition by giving Zack a dog, Zipper.
Then he meets the reclusive Gerda Spratling. For fifty years she has weekly visited a tree to remember the only man whom she ever loved. This tree is located at a major intersection, a crossroads, but now it is actually located on the land where Zack‘s family lives. Zack is bothered by a feeling of evil when he looks at the tree and wonders if somehow the tree could hold the spirit of the dead man.
Zack’s only friend seems to come from another time with another sense of values. Davy has great ideas, like how to build a tree house, but for some strange reason, only Zack does the actual work. Davy just watches and advises.
THE CROSSROADS, is definitely a page-turner. I could not put the book down. It was terrifying . With the ghosts and wondering how they are connected, the story is riveting. This is a great novel for anyone and especially for those in the tween years.
Chris Grabenstein was an improvisational comedian and has worked for advertising agencies writing commercials. He became a writer by taking a Writing Aptitude Test and James Patterson recognized his brilliance instantly hiring him. He has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, Muppet scripts, and a variety of other texts. Winning the Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” given at Bouchercon 2006 for TILT A WHIRL was the beginning of his successful writing career.
This story continues in the sequel, THE HANGING HILL.


Author: Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
July 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-632-7
$ 24.95
268 pages
Fiction, Mystery
Phryne Fisher is a liberated, modern, and gutsy woman living in Australia in the year 1929. Having been involved with previous criminal investigations and solving them, she has a reputation for being intelligent, trustworthy, and persistence. She will not give up until she has answers to your questions.
When an antique-shop owner apparently commits suicide, his mother is not convinced and believes that he was murdered. She hires Phryne. Penetrating his inner circle of wealthy and privileged families and friends who all feel that they are above the ordinary people, Phyrne’s wealth and own upbringing allows her access and respect to this group that feel they are above the laws of the common people.
During this same time, she is asked to find the illegitimate child of a wealthy matron much to the concern of the legitimate side of the family. How will this change their inheritance?
To truly enjoy this novel, you do need to have the background of the previous books in this series. You cannot truly understand her household situation or her personal relationships without knowing the characters and experiences in this series.
Whenever you read a Phryne Fisher mystery, it’s like being reacquainted with an old friend. Kerry Greenwood successfully transports you to a different time and place with each investigation.
Kerry Greenwood has experience in the Australian legal system. She has written over forty novels and this is the sixteenth Phryne Fisher installment.
MURDER ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT is a delightful jaunt into another place and time. The characters are realistic and Phryne Fisher is the perfect, liberated, stylish investigator for solving a crime or asking awkward questions to sensitive and secretive suspects. This is the person I would want if I ever needed someone in those uncomfortable situations.
Teri Davis September 7, 2009
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Author: Russell Hill
Caraval Books
Pleasure Book Studio
ISBN: 978-1-929355-53-2
$ 15.00
197 pages
Passionate. Sometimes it seems that you were placed on this planet for a purpose and somehow you are drawn to it. Jake Hamrick has always had an interest in birds and one becomes his obsession in life, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, also known as the Lord God Bird. There is an unnatural attraction which becomes his quest to seek out this bird.
Knowing that the bird is believed to either be extinct, or near-extinction, Jake and his girlfriend, Robin, sell their possessions so they can search for the bird in the bayou in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. The daily searching is a constant battle with the mosquitoes and the meager subsistance of hot dogs and beans.
Being the year is 1949 also creates some problems with the racial issues and not being a native Southerner. Understanding the people of a particular geographical area along with the post war era actually is traveling back into a different time when values and thoughts were unquestionably black and white. Or are they?
Robin decides that since she has a bird-like physique, she will attempt to resemble this rare woodpecker in order to attract others of the same species. Climbing dead trees is a constant safety concern, but when nearby hunters see Robin, they begin to hunt her while Jake and Robin are still on their quest to find the bird. The quest sometimes defies common sense, but what is the right thing to do when the real endangered bird is shot?
How do you continue your quest when you become the prey now with a predator on the loose? Who did the right or wrong thing?
THE LORD GOD BIRD is a novella that I did could not put down. The intensity 0f the personal voice strengthens with each word. The tale is haunting. The sense of time and place is outstanding. You can feel the sweltering heat and are almost itching from the mosquitoes. THE LORD GOD BIRD is an example of excellent writing.
Usually I tend to shy away from purchasing any book that can be read in one sitting. With the economic situation of our times, I don’t like purchasing any book that is only 197 pages and costs fifteen dollars. THE LORD GOD BIRD is definitely the exception to my reluctance. I am actually purchasing additional copies for family and friends to read. The book is that good. Yes, it is a little strange, but writing this superb needs to be shared.
Teri Davis
September 6, 2009
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Sunday, August 23, 2009


Author: Jeffrey Cohen
Berkley Prime Crime
Penguin Group
April 2009
ISBN: 978-0-425-22815-9
$ 7.99
290 pages
Fiction, Mystery
When Elliot Freed is informed by his former wife’s new husband that she is missing, he is intrigued, but far from motivated. Having your wife leave you for this man isn’t always the best for having a trusting relationship. The problem now is that Elliot has again become a part of Sharon‘s, the ex-wife, life and wants to continue to renew their friendship and hopefully, their love. Unfortunately, Elliot quickly discovers that Sharon is indeed missing.
Investigating would be much easier if you didn’t have to actually work. Elliot owns Comedy Tonight, a revived movie theater and he also has to deal with the day-to-day problems like the plumbing flooding a bathroom and his hired help.
What do you do when you don’t like the results of your investigation? Elliot has that problem when it appears that the last thing Sharon did was to inform one of her patients that he had a malignant brain tumor. The patient, in despair, then killed himself. Quickly, it is discovered that the dead man did not have any tumor. So why was there the deception?
A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION is a continuation of the characters from SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE. All of these are part of his movie mysteries called a Double Feature Mystery. The book could work as a stand alone but you really need to understand some of the background of the characters to thoroughly enjoy this book. Read these books in order.
Jeffrey Cohen is a New Jersey boy who continues to live there. He truly understands the setting, customs, and the people of this state. He has written screen plays, the Aaron Tucker series of books, and worked as a reporter.
A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION is fun reading. It’s relaxing, comical, and realistic in that the person overwhelmed is the main character. Reading about a character in crisis is definitely preferable to having a personal crisis.
I’m looking forward to the next Elliot Freed book in the series.
Teri Davis August 23, 2009
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Author: Lucinda Rosenfeld
Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group
July 2009
ISBN: 978-0-316-04450-9
268 pages
Fiction, Best Friends, Female Friendship, Jealousy-Fiction, Chic Lit
Maybe it’s a female thing, but women tend to be a little competitive when it comes to who marries first, who has the first child, who has the best marriage, who has the most money for shopping, etc… Unfortunately, no one is the enviable one in all categories. Most of us grow beyond the petty jealousies as we mature and are content with our lives. This is the story of a group of friends who appear to share everything but many secrets are not even told to your best friends.
Wendy Murman was the first one to marry, but not the first to have a child. She has the dream husband and has even agreed to support her husband for a year while he writes a screen play. She also has decided that now is the time for her to become pregnant. Too bad, that wanting to be pregnant is not as easy as actually being pregnant. Her pregnancy goal has become so important that the only time she has relations with her husband is during her ovulating time of her cycle.
Dealing with these frustrations is one thing, but her long-time friend, Daphne always seems to be habitually demanding of Wendy’s time and attention. When Daphne is swept off her feet by a handsome, rich, and arrogant lawyer, she no longer has need of Wendy. This creates green-eyed jealousy and questioning about their long-time friendship.
At times, I would consider I’M SO HAPPY FOR YOU to be catty. It is realistic in that many women do enjoy gossiping, spreading stories, and secretly hoping that their personal situation will be better than their peers. The characters are definitely realistic with all their flaws eventually exposed. The pace is quick and the story seems like a invisible window into someone’s life.
Lucinda Rosenfeld is a native of Brooklyn and has written numerous essays in various publications. She also succeeds in having many real friendships.
Teri Davis August 23, 2009
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Friday, August 14, 2009


Author: Mark de Castrique
Poisoned Pen Press
August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59058-629-7
254 pages
Fiction, Mystery

Sam Blackman lost a leg in Iraq. When he returned, his parents were killed in an automobile accident leaving him wealthy. He quickly opens an account in the Cayman Islands, but allows himself adequate money to live. He also decides to open his own detective agency with his partner and love, Nakayla Robertson.

Their first case for the agency is a little unusual. Sam is called to visit a retirement community where a little old lady hires him to retrieve a box from her safety deposit box at the bank. She gives him the key and the password. Sam has no problem with this task but is curious about the swastika in the top of the box. He hides the box in his office.

Sam immediately realizes this might be more complicated when the night guard is murdered in his office and the box is missing. When his client is also murdered, Sam and Nakayla have a struggle balancing the investigation and staying alive. What could possibly combine the Nazis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the theft of Iraqi antiquities?

The historical part of North Carolina and the sympathetic Nazi supporters was fascinating and based upon real events and William Dudley Pelley who was the founder of the Silver Legion which was an anti-Semitic organization. What happened to all those who were a part of this organization? How did this fit with the story?

This story is well-written and the action keeps pace with the development. It keeps you wondering until the last page. The difficulty I had was that you really need to read the previous novel, BLACKMAN’S COFFIN, for the character development for both Sam and Nakayla and their relationship.

Besides this book and the one mentioned above, Mark de Castrique has also written DANGEROUS UNDERTAKING, FOOLISH UNDERTAKING, GRAVE UNDERTAKING, and FINAL UNDERTAKING. He has also worked in the television and film production industry and now is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

This is one of those novels that the story is so strong, you don’t even notice how many pages you are reading. The story keeps you wondering how this can possibly logically conclude. I look forward to reading more books by Mark de Castrique.

Teri Davis August 14, 2009

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It Happened One Knife

Author: Jeffrey Cohen
Berkley Publishing Group
Penguin Group
July 2008
ISBN: 978-0-425-22256-0
296 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“This wasn’t just another DVD: this was life or death. Or life and death. I was hoping for life; there had already been enough death.”

Owning and running a comedy movie theater is Elliot Freed’s lifelong dream and he is finally living it. Everything would be perfect if he still had a relationship with his ex-wife and perhaps a little more cooperation and a little less attitude from his part-time employees.

While Anthony Pagliarulo has dreams to be a movie producer and director, Elliot allows Anthony to use the theater to show his film, Killing Time. Even though the bloody scenes do not fit into the comedy theme of the theater, Elliot begrudgingly allows the showing and the party afterwards in the theater. He is also the first to be accused of stealing the film when it disappears.

Elliot has a great idea to invite one of his favorite actors who happens to be living in a retirement home nearby for aging actors, Harry Lillis. Harry was part of the comedy team of Lillis & Townes back in the glamorous days of the legendary stars like Cary Grant, Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, and numerous more. The theater is filled when Lillis begins to speak and answer questions. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Harry and Elliot, is one audience member who is almost becoming a heckler. The identity of this person is Les Townes. The audience and Elliot thoroughly enjoy their bantering which continues on as this team is reunited. The tone changes though when Harry mention’s the death of Les’s wife which might not have been accidental.

Elliot feels obligated to investigate both the theft of the film and the possible murder from the past. Unfortunately, the more he discovers, the more crimes are committed.

IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE is definitely a must read for movie buffs. Even though the main character is a legendary fictional actor in the movie business, there are numerous references to real movie history and actors of a previous time period. Also, there is a strong sense of this author really understanding the people and the places in this particular New Jersey community.

Jeff Cohen is a home-grown Jersey boy who has worked as a reporter, writer, and author of many screenplays. He has written many books in his Aaron Tucker series, books about Asperger’s syndrome and autism, and SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and NIGHT AT THE OPERATION in the Elliot Freed series.

The characters are well-developed. The story is quickly paced and logical. This is a novel that could easily have happened in real life. I thoroughly enjoyed IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE.

I look forward to another book in the Elliot Freed series.

Teri Davis August 14, 2009

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Sunday, August 9, 2009


Author: Chris Grabenstein
Minotaur Books
St. Martin’s Publishing Group
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38231-5
ISBN-10: 0-312-38231-6
342 pages
Fiction, Mystery

“I bumped into my old girlfriend Katie Landry this afternoon. Six hours later, she was dead.”

John Ceepak and Danny Boyle are the detectives you would want to investigate if you were murdered. They are determined to discover the truth and won’t give up. Ceepak is the typical ex-Marine with values of black and white. His clothes are always pressed. Ceepak does not smoke, drink, or curse. The man has no vices, except for being perfect. Boyle is the young inexperienced young detective who is fortunate to be partnered with a man of intense values and commitment to do the right thing.

When Danny’s friend Katie is murdered, naturally he is considered to be a suspect at first. With Ceepak’s assistance, the two-some investigate the murder and discover numerous suspects and further crimes.

Katie was hired to be a nanny for a famous casino magician’s children. Why would anyone murder a nanny? Added to the death, Katie was dressed in an ill-fitting costume that implied her involvement while possibly kinky sex. This wasn’t the Katie who grew up with Danny and was a kindergarten teacher. Danny felt responsible to discover the true story. Ceepak, naturally, realizes, the importance to assist and volunteers to assist the Atlantic City police with this investigation.

Ceepak also has his own imperfections in his life, especially with his father being a murderer. John Ceepak planned to visit Atlantic City to have a conversation with a former cellmate of his father, to whom he admitted the murder. Unfortunately, his father has his own unfinished agenda for John.

The characters are vivid, believable, and definitely alive. The realism makes you feel as if you are a part of the investigative team. Perfect pacing makes this story memorable.

Chris Grabenstein was an improvisational comedian and has worked for advertising agencies writing commercials. He became a writer by taking a Writing Aptitude Test and James Patterson recognized his brilliance instantly hiring him. He has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, Muppet scripts, and a variety of other texts. Winning the Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” given at Bouchercon 2006 for TILT A WHIRL was the beginning of his successful writing career.

MIND SCRAMBLE is the fifth-book in the John Ceepak series following TILT A WHIRL, MAD MOUSE, WHACK A MOLE, and HELL HOLE. He has also written the thrillers SLAY RIDE and HELL FOR THE HOLIDAYS and for younger readers THE CROSSROADS and THE HANGING HILL.

Teri Davis August 9, 2009

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Author: Ann Parker
Copyright: July 2009
Poisoned Pen Press
298 pages
Fiction, Mystery, Historical
Anytime a former President visits any place, there certainly is disruption into the normal life of the community. Former President Grant visiting Leadville, Colorado definitely livened up this boomtown. Imagine the streets with the crowds of people who waited through rain and now into the steamy heat for the experience to actually see a president. However, in 1880, the streets are dirt and after the rain, now it is mud.
Inez Stannert has a unique situation in that she is part owner/manager of the Silver Queen Saloon. Missing from her life is her husband who has disappeared over a year ago. Inez is ready to move on with her life. Being that the environment is not nurturing, she consented to having her sister raise her son back east. While fighting the loneliness, she finds the love of her life with a minister for this community. Walking the fine line between not drawing the attention of the town from her position or the minister’s position, makes life interesting for her.
Adding to this is Inez’s desire to become financially independent and she agrees to a partnership with a local madam of an upscale brothel. Almost as soon as the agreement is made, one of the women from the brothel is murdered. A man is arrested for the crime and also arrested is the madam for the attack upon the police. Now, Inez is regretting her investment but also feels obligated to assist with the brothel. Things are seldom as they seem and she finds herself investigating the murder and other developments so much that it is difficult for her to work at saloon.
The characters are believable, including their faults, values as well as their natural gifts. What I enjoyed the most was the internal drive of some of the characters for a better life. Also, discovering the personal secrets or hidden skeletons in their closets, made this novel a true page turner. It’s difficult to fully understand living in a different time period when without the personal experience.. Ann Parker is extremely successful in transporting the reader to the time of 1880 and the place of Leadville, Colorado.

LEADEN SKIES is the third book in the Silver Rush Mystery series following SILVER LIES and IRON TIES. However, the book is also successful as a standalone without the knowledge of the characters in the previous books. The hook at the end, will definitely catch any reader into anxiously awaiting the next book in this series.

Ann Parker studied Physics and English Literature which makes her uniquely qualified to truly understand the situation of the blend of the historical mining community with the scientific value of the minerals of this area. She truly has an insight into the people during this era.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Author: James W. Huston
1998/William Morrow/Hardcover
April 1999/Avon/Paperback
Paperback $9.99
544 pages
Fiction, Action-adventure, Military
It’s not unusual for the President and Congress not to agree. It is unusual when someone is gutsy, o.k. ballsy; enough to actually do what they believe is the right thing to do. So, who is responsible for our reaction? What happens if the action causes a disaster? Who’s at fault then?
In James W. Huston, BALANCE OF POWER, an American ship in Indonesian waters is attacked. When a Navy SEAL team arrives at this ship it appears that all of those serving on this merchant ship were handcuffed to the ship and shot in the head, except the captain who is missing. One of the SEALs discovers an unusual device and begins to drill into it, causing an immediate explosion destroying the ship.
Now, the US needs to figure out who did this and why. No one is claiming responsibility and no foreign governments seem to have any useful information regarding the attack. Finally, there is a clue as to where the terrorists might be. The US President refuses to do anything and is tired of the revenge approach that has been previously used. The Speaker of the House sees this as an opportunity to advance himself politically. Through a seldom used item in the Constitution, one of the congressional aides discovers the use of the Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Although last used in the War of 1812, would this give Congress the power to send a Navy battle group to attack the terrorists?
This is a fast-moving, adventure-packed, novel. The characters are realistic and the action so intense that it does keep you up at night reading. You feel like the characters that cannot rest due to the intensity and the action, you, as a reader, also cannot rest.
This is a novel that was originally published in 1998 in hardcover, reprinted in paperback in 1999, and now again reappears in 2009 also in paperback form. It appears as if this novel is being considered as a movie.
James W. Huston grew up in Indiana and has earned a Navy ROTC scholarship. He then served in the Navy as a pilot and actually attended the TOPGUN training school. He then attended law school and moved to San Diego where he presently lives with his family.
After reading this novel, Huston obviously utilizes his past experiences into the characters within his novel. Looking over his novel, I see that he is often compared to Tom Clancy. He is less technical than Clancy but delves more into the characters and their relationships with each other. Personally, I prefer that in a novel.
Fast-paced, intense, exciting, page-turner, keeps you awake at night, all of those describe BALANCE OF POWER. What is most frightening to me was that this could really happen! If it ever does, I certainly hope that someone in either Congress or the Executive Office has read BALANCE OF POWER.

By: Teri Davis August 1, 2009
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Monday, July 27, 2009


Author: Lisa See
Copyright 2009
Random House
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6711-4
eBook ISBN 978-1-5883-6860-7
Hardcover $25.00
315 pages
Fiction, Chinese, Immigrants, Family Secrets

Most of us have heard the old adage about walking in another person’s shoes. That’s exactly what you feel when you read any novel written by Lisa See.
Living in Shanghai just prior to World War II was not an easy life with the Japanese beginning the invasion and take-over of China. Life for Pearl and May though, is fairly simple. They spend their days sleeping and their nights being models for an artist. While many inhabitants lived a life of poverty and day-to-day survival, these two are living a life where the priorities are around their wardrobes and their daily appearance. Being their father manages a rickshaw business, they live a life of luxury.
All that changes when their father informs both girls of their upcoming marriages due to his financial problems with his gambling debts. Reluctantly, the girls marry their prospective husbands and plan to leave their home to live with their new family in America. During this transition time, the husbands go back to the Los Angeles area taking their wives clothes with them. This insures that the daughters, now wives, will follow their wardrobe. The daughters decide to skip out on the husbands. Unfortunately, it is at this time that the Japanese decide to invade China and Shanghai is one of the first occupied cities.
This story centers on their life then of survival and the trials of living in an enemy occupied area. The entire city is also invaded by the neighboring rural areas, as well as the soldiers. Overcrowding, no obvious local leadership, no money, no food, are all problems and in a constant competition with the victor surviving.
The characters are the strengths in all of Lisa See’s books. You feel that you would know either Pearl or May by sight. You understand their choices and their reasoning. Each one is unique and as a reader, you really know each character as if they were a member of your family. The personal voice of each one is distinct and carries each person through their personal trials.
I do have one complaint though about SHANGHAI GIRLS. It is the ending. Personally, I prefer a complete conclusion rather than an open-ended or possibly a continuous one. I feel cheated when the book does not completely tie up all the loose ends. SHANGHAI GIRLS could easily be the first book in a series with Pearl and May.
With that said, I am anxiously awaiting Lisa See’s next novel. She is one of my favorite authors and I have read all her previous books.
Lisa See was born in Paris but actually spent most of her life in Los Angeles. ON GOLD MOUNTAIN relives her great-grandfather’s experiences from China to America. She has also written FLOWER NET, THE INTERIOR, DRAGON BONES, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, and PEONY IN LOVE. Her books tell the stories of people, like herself, who were immigrants and/or bi-racial.
Her viewpoints are openly honest, but also thoughtful and intelligent. Her books always make me wonder more about other people and their beliefs that are common to all of us.


By: Teri Davis July 27, 2009

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Author: Mary Anna Evans
Copyright July 2009
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 978-1-59058-591-7
Hardcover $24.95
256 pages
Fiction, Mystery

For a fictional novel to actually change your thinking and understanding about an event is definitely proof of exceptional writing. FLOODGATES does that through the intermingling of an actual event, Hurricane Katrina, with a murder and the historical information about controlling the flood waters around New Orleans.

Faye Longchamp is an archaeologist who is currently in a race with the reconstruction crews in New Orleans. While her crew is attempting to document and learn the real history, they discover a body that has been weighed down in the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina. There seems to be no logical reason for an old sewing machine on a body since obviously, the machine would sink if placed in the water. It is then obvious that someone was killed and the heavy objects were placed on top of the body to keep it from being easily discovered.

To make matters worse, the police identify the body as that of Shelly Broussard who was alive during the disaster and seen a few days afterwards. Shelly was concerned about her parents who she believed were in their house when the hurricane waters flooded the area and drowned in their attic. Who and what was Shelly questioning and investigating at the time of her death? Who felt threatened by the two lists that were discovered in Shelly’s pants wrapped in a waterproof protection?

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the back story including the history of the flood control systems in New Orleans. This aspect led to my understanding of the city and the disaster with Hurricane Katrina. The relationships of the characters and their internal motivations helped to truly understand the culture and the social issues confronting this city. Although many things have changed in time, many people have not. The characters seem to be real which makes this story along with the realism that gives this the feeling of a true story.

Mary Anna Evans studied physics and engineering while at college. Her knowledge and understanding is perfect for this well-written mystery combining the past with the present. She uniquely combines her expertise with a fictional story. Her previous novels are ARTIFACTS, RELICS, EFFIGIES, and FINDINGS all available from Poisoned Pen Press. FLOODWATERS is the fifth in the series of books with Faye Longchamp.

To combine the engineering feats of preventing New Orleans from flooding for the past three-hundred years with a fictional archeological mystery proves the brilliance of FLOODWATERS.


By: Teri Davis July 21, 2009

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Santa Olivia

Author: Jacqueline Carey
Copyright May 2009
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-446=19817-2
Paperback $13.99
341 pages
Fiction, Science Fiction
Santa Olivia is a place between the United States and Mexico that neither government wants to claim. The people who make this town their home are not allowed to leave and the U.S. Army decides their daily freedoms. These are people who originally came to this town to avoid a plague, but somehow were not allowed to recoup their lives, but to establish a new life with very restricting rules in this small community.
Apparently during the time of the plague, the U.S. Army was also experimenting with creating the ideally genetically-modified soldier. These men were created to have no fear and physically were stronger, faster with longer times of endurance, enhanced senses, and not emotionally involved when in a battle situation. Because of this, they were considered to be a type of werewolf.
This is the story of Loup Garron, who was born on the day of celebration in remembrance of Santa Olivia, actually in front of the statue. Loup’s father had been one of these genetically altered beings, even though her mother was completely a normal human.
Loup’s father and half-brother were also involved in the major entertainment for the community which was occasional boxing matches between the locals and the champions from the army. The agreement was that if anyone could beat the army fighter, they could leave Santa Olivia along with one other person. So far, no one had achieved this dream.
When Loup’s mother dies, her older brother has to give Loup to the church to live with the orphans. A priest and two sisters are responsible now for this small, but loyal group, who develop a true appreciation of each other’s natural gifts.
SANTA OLIVIA is an outstanding and unusual tale of the town and how Loup decides to use her natural gifts for others.
Jacqueline Carey currently lives in Michigan. She has won numerous awards for her books in the Kushiel Legacy series.
Personally, I would not place this book in science fiction, but general fiction. The idea of genetically-altered soldiers, I don’t believe is that far-fetched and not fantasy. I would find it harder to believe that our military was not looking into some way of enhancing a soldier’s genetic code.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to review this page-turner. I also am hoping that there will be more books following the life of Loup Garron.
By: Teri Davis July 15, 2009
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Shanghaied: A Ray Sharp Novel

Author: Eric Stone
Copyright July 2009
Bleak House
Hardcover/ $24.95/ 978-1-60648-030-4
Paperback/ $14.95/ 978-1-60648-031-1
Evidence Collection/ $45/978-1-60648-032-8
296 pages
Being the fourth book in a series, SHANGHAIED also works as a stand alone novel without having read the previous books.
The story takes place in Hong Kong during and after the Chinese receiving the return of the city from British rule in 1997. Ray Sharp is a former journalist, turned investigator, is hired by a group of monks who strangely, believe in eating meat, to investigate a bank that is headquartered in Shanghai in which they recently invested millions and is now rumored to have questionable accounting practices.
Sleazy! That’s how I would describe this book. With lesbian relationships and heroin usage, these are topics that many of us have not experienced and do not intend to experience. Through much of the novel there is constant adventure. With the twin bodyguards, Floss and Betty, who are highly trained in the martial arts, there is humor in the little events, especially the dumpling incident. Also, there is a little about the lives of many people, especially the poor, in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Another issue I found interesting in this book, was the actual procedures for outsourcing of goods and human trafficking into our country.
This particular novel centers on Ray’s Chinese-Mexican friend, Ms. Wen Lei Yue who through her diminutive size and gigantic ability to talk to people due to her language abilities and her personality. Her special relationships and connections with others is the strength of the character and the novel. She is who you would want to have on your side.
One of the choices for purchasing this book is through the Evidence Collection from Bleak House Publications. In this collection, one-hundred hardcover copies of their top-selling titles for the reader to choose 5-8 of these which you can request to include the author’s signature, the colored end sheet, the numbered printed of the book, a police booking sheet with the author’s information, the fingerprint, date, or other request that might be considered to make your books special.
Eric Stone has actually lived in Asia for eleven years basing himself in Hong Kong and Jakarta. The previous books in this series are LIVING ROOM OF THE DEAD, GRAVE IMPORTS, and FLIGHT OF THE HORNBILL. He currently lives near Los Angeles.
By: Teri Davis July 14, 2009
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Author: Mary Roach
Copyright 2003
W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0-393-05093-9
Hardcover $23.95
303 pages
As a child, we were told there are certain subjects that are “taboo”, Besides race, religion, and politics, nice people don’t talk about cadavers. At least that was what I had been told.
Apparently, many people are in the same situation in that during their life, they have had questions about dead bodies and were told that it was wrong even to think such thoughts.
This book is for those of us who never received answers, but still had the questions.
STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS is a light and frequently humorous non-fiction work about dead bodies and what people do with them.
Most of us have heard about grave robbers and body snatchers. However, have you considered the training of the doctors during that time? Would you want a doctor who had actually operated on a real, albeit, dead human or one that had just read about a particular procedure or observed from a gallery?
When is someone dead? Is it when their heart stops beating? What about if a person is on life support? If their body is still alive, what about their brain? STIFF actually discusses these issues with the medical experts and tells the facts from their viewpoints.
I always felt that there were three choices upon my death: burial, cremation, or donating my body to science. Now there are also a view other choices, donating your brain to science, freezing in liquid nitrogen and becoming a part of the cycle of life, or plasticizing your body.
I was fascinated on the contributions to science outside the medical field from the donations of a human body. It makes sense but I did not know that the automotive industry and the military frequently use bodies for tests the lead to everyday safety. Besides the crash-test dummies, human bodies are needed for truly understanding the amount of damage with a side impact of a vehicle. How much force is needed to break the rib cage? Also, the advancement of airbags was from the use of real human bodies in the test studies. For the military, to discover the best body armor, required real human dead bodies, not just test dummies.
The only criticism was that the books did not bring up the subject of cryogenics, which financially is not realistic for most of us. It did consider the revised version of this that is not currently available in this country.
Mary Roach grew up in New Hampshire with an elderly father. Through her eclectic background has assisted in her freelance writing career. STIFF was her first book which began as a story for She has also written SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTERLIFE and BONK: THE CURIOUS COUPLING OF SCIENCE AND SEX.
After reading this book, I feel more informed and intend to change my choice for my earthly remains when the time comes. I also plan to read SPOOK and BONK. There are so many questions that I have on these subjects.
By: Teri Davis July 7, 2009
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Author: James Rollins
Copyright: June 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0-06-123095-0
Paperback $7.99
462 pages
Fiction, Action-adventure

Running. When you read THE LAST ORACLE your eyes are actually running while hoping to discover how Commander Gray Pierce stops a worldwide crisis.
Commander Pierce works with a secret organization for our government, Sigma housed in the basement of the Smithsonian Castle in Washington D.C. As he returns to work in the early afternoon, he glances across the Mall and sees what seems to be a homeless man running towards him. Gray looks in his wallet but unfortunately finds that all he has are twenty dollar bills. He decides to give one to the beggar but surprisingly the man has a large coin about the size of a fifty-cent piece that he is attempting to give to Pierce. As the man leans towards Pierce, he actually falls on top of him. Quickly he realizes that the man is bleeding and that someone is shooting at the man. Instinctively he rolls with the man to safety and immediately takes out his own gun. Not seeing who is shooting or where it is coming from, he also grabs his cell phone and calls for help.
Being that things are seldom as they seem, the homeless man who died was actually the creator of Sigma, Professor Archibald Polk whose body is now radioactive. The coin was actually an old Roman coin from the second century. On the coin is a woman’s face on one side and an engraving of the Temple of Delphi with a big E in the center on the other. While trying to decode whatever message the Professor had been attempting to communicate, Pierce informs the Professor’s daughter of his death. Unfortunately, at the same time, someone with extensive resources is also searching for the same thing and seems to want both Pierce and the Professor’s daughter to be dead. This begins the race with no obvious finish line.
This is an unusual novel in that many non-related topics are combined logically into one novel. From The Greek Oracle of Delphi, to the genetics and history of gypsies, to secret organizations that do exist such as The Jasons, to studies about the brain’s ability to tell fortunes, to Project Stargate (that does not really include the Sci-Fi channel and going to other planets), to autism and savants, to strange weapons, and the possible ecological problem of the radioactivity in Russia from Chelyabinsk region in the Ural Mountains which includes the area of the Chernobyl disaster.
James Rollins is a doctor of veterinary medicine who enjoys scuba diving and spelunking in his home in the Sierra Nevadas.
The pacing is intense and fast, The characters are realistic. What I found disturbing is the realization of a disaster that could easily have an effect worldwide that I personally had not realized existed. A good book, even fiction, should educate you in some way. THE LAST ORACLE does that in a fast-paced adventure.