Category Archives: Book Reviews

El Dorado – A Golden Search

A Shadow Away
by Joan K. Lacy
© May 2018
Alazo Press

A Shadow Away - a search for El Dorado El Dorado

Searching for El Dorado in the Amazon jungle, Alex Cort and Andrew Seaton need all the help they can get in A Shadow Away by Joan K. Lacey. Cort, a private art theft investigator, and Seaton, a British archaeologist, search for the fabled city of gold based on an old map, a gem and a golden idol that’s gone missing. As Cort and Seaton slog through the jungle assisted by a local guide, they’re aided by Angel, a mysterious being from an alternate universe. Angel’s heightened senses and skills, some would say magic, keep the searchers a step ahead of Benjamin Guelf, an unscrupulous rival collector.

Although Angel uses her powers to get the group out of danger on occasion, she seems withdrawn and not really part of the group. The reader learns nothing about her antecedents or world. On more than one occasion, Angel implies that Cort and Seaton can attain some or most of her powers. When Cort asks her, she just proclaims that he’s not ready to know such things. Often, as Cort and the others traverse the jungle, Angel seems to walk along in another world, like a slippery wraith.

Literary Comparisons

A Shadow Away might be compared to the Indiana Jones universe. Lacy’s novel involves an archaeologist seeking a religious relic in an intimidating environment while evading unscrupulous competitors. In addition, similarities exist between Lacy’s Alex Cort series and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. Again, both involve archaeologists searching for artifacts and dealing with danger. But Lacy introduces a subtle dose of magic realism in the search for El Dorado, thus expanding the trope.

Recommendation

Overall, A Shadow Away is an engaging read that kept me interested. I would have preferred to learn a good deal more about Angel even if the information was kept away from Seaton and Cort. She refers to herself as a “witch” and is evasive when Cort asks about her world. She says he’s not ready to know even after Cort begins accepting her abilities, which seems condescending. At times, she seems insubstantial, like a hologram, even when she and Cort become attracted to each other.

Cort and Seaton with their group of indigenous guides hack and slog their way through the jungle undergrowth. Yet, on a few occasions, Guelf and Raul Facón, his nasty sidekick, just step out from behind a tree to confront them looking unscathed and fresh as if Guelf and Facón could just teleport into the area. At one point, the Amazon River, which is full of life-threatening creatures, sweeps Guelf away. Yet, in the final stages of the story, he appears well and hearty.

Still, I recommend A Shadow Away for those who like stories full of adventure, mystery and magical realism. I give this first Alex Cort novel 3.75 out of 5 stars; a solid read. I look forward to the next installment in the series.

Cults, Daggers and Rekindled Love

The Dagger by Pam AndersThe Dagger
By Pam Anders
© September 2018
Real Publishing Company

Author Pam Anders leads readers on a merry chase through the USA’s Pacific Northwest in The Dagger, her debut novel in the Kat Delaney series. From the forests of Idaho through Walla Walla, WA, towards Portland, OR, Kat’s grit and perseverance defeat a madman and a cult of incestuous monsters.

The Good Life

Kathryn (Kat) Delaney has a good life. A 24-year-old teacher who enjoys her work, Kat lives with her father in Portland, OR. Although Kat enjoys the nice house and nice cars, she wonders about her father, but has stopped asking. For all her life, Kat’s father refused to answer any questions about himself, his income or background. Or the identity of Kat’s mother. Her father just stonewalls her. She also ponders the need for an elaborate alarm system that is monitored from a secret room built by her father.

Lots of Questions

Consequently, Kat knows nothing when her father, Sean Delaney, is found dead in the woods while on one of his periodic “hunting trips.” Where had her father gotten the several thousand dollars in his possession? Can she convince Detective Leo Burton that she and her father were not drug dealers or part of a spate of recent bank robberies? Who was the mysterious woman at her father’s funeral? Why did the Circle of God cult kidnap Kat and insist on calling her Ursula? Why did the cult leaders insist that Kat hand over a ceremonial dagger? Would Kat’s ex-boyfriend, Doug Stamper, and his father, Marty, be able to help her after she escapes from the cult?

Overall, The Dagger is a very good, suspenseful read. Plenty of fast-paced action engaged me and kept me turning pages. Anders’ writing was terse and spot on. I look forward to more character development of Kat, Doug and Marty as the series progresses.

The Dagger would be a good holiday or birthday gift for the mystery lover in your life.

Cruise the Mediterranean

A Cruise to Die For
by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
© 2013
Paperback

Cruise the Mediterranean, looking out at the warm blue waters of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Visit the Palace of Knossos on Crete with no other tourists around. Stroll on the Promenade in Corfu. Eat well on a mega yacht owned by a Greek mogul. All in the name of catching a cagey art collector who is not always on the up-and-up when selling paintings from his collection.

Along for the ride on this floating dreamboat, Alix London is the eyes and ears of the FBI until she gets help from Ted Ellesworth, her FBI contact, who comes aboard as an investor later in the cruise. The second installment of the Alix London series, A Cruise to Die For finds London knocked unconscious on the floor of the yacht’s music room and, later, in the middle of a standoff between the police and art thieves in Albania.

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A Dangerous Talent – Alix London series

A Dangerous Talent by Charlotte and Aaron ElkinsA Dangerous Talent by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins
Thomas & Mercer
© 2012
Paperback

A low-slung Lamborghini cruises along a curvy, narrow road through scenic New Mexico mountains. Will Alix London and Christine LeMay survive when a tailgating pickup truck and a tractor trailer barreling down the wrong side of the road try to force them through the guardrail and down a cliff? Charlotte and Aaron Elkins wrote A Dangerous Talent as the first installment of the Alix London series. Previously, Charlotte wrote five romance novels pseudonymously as Emily Spenser. Aaron’s 16-novel mystery series featuring Gideon Oliver and three-novel series about Chris Norgren are familiar to mystery lovers.

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Betrayal and Distrust

Dark Tide Rising by Anne Perry

Dark Tide Rising
by Anne Perry
Ballantine Books
© 2018

Who kidnaps Kate, wife of wealthy Harry Exeter, and demands a king’s ransom? The money paid, Kate’s release still goes awry. in Dark Tide Rising, Inspector William Monk stands amid a conundrum. He and Harry Exeter followed the kidnappers’ instructions to the letter. Who knew and betrayed them? Mistrust oozes up from the Thames like the famous London fog. How can Inspector Monk untangle the web of betrayal and distrust surrounding his chosen team of River Police? Continue reading

Blogging for Writers

Blogging for Writers

Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton

Blogging for Writers
by Robin Houghton
Octopus Publishing Group/Writer’s Digest Books
© 2014, 2017

I just finished an enlightening book, Blogging for Writers, by Robin Houghton. While geared towards writers, the information is useful for anyone interested in creating their own blog or making an ongoing blog more successful.

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Book Blogger Platform

The Book Blogger Platform, 2nd Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging
by Barb Drozdowich
© 2016

Book Blogger PlatformFor anyone new to blogging and who wants to blog about and review books, The Book Blogger Platform, by Barb Drozdowich, gives a solid overview of the main blogging platforms. The book is aimed at those who are not totally tech savvy. Ms. Drozdowich discusses WordPress and Blogger, the two most popular blogging platforms. She discusses the posts, plugins, gadgets, widgets and sidebars that are part of every blog. Also discussed are backing up your blog and monetizing it.

Since this book focuses on book blogging, Ms. Drozdowich discusses where and how to get books about which to blog. Netgalley and Edelweiss are mentioned as prime sources from which to request advanced reader copies (ARCs) and as places to post reviews.

Book bloggers can also guest post on blogs of other book reviewers/bloggers. Other sites to post book reviews are GoodReads, LibraryThing, and Booklike. Ms. Drozdowich is also a proponent of posting to the major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Instagram.

Overall, this book is a good overview of how blogging software works, where book bloggers can find ARCs and suggestions for other places to review books and get your name out there.

The author can be found online at:
http://barbdrozdowich.com
http://bakerviewconsulting.com
http://sugarbeatsbooks.com/

Edinburgh Dusk – Review

Edinburgh DuskTitle:   Edinburgh Dusk  |  Author:   Carole Lawrence  |  Publisher:  Thomas & Mercer  |  Publication:  2018 |  Genre:   Mystery

Edinburgh Dusk is the second installment in a mystery series by Carole Lawrence. Set in 1880, Ian Hamilton, a Shakespeare-quoting Detective Inspector, and his associate, Sergeant Dickerson, are drawn into a poisoning case when Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake reports the death of the first victim, the husband of a client who gets help at her clinic for poor women. More victims follow, including a banker visiting Margaret, a prostitute at Fair Kate’s.  The investigation leads Hamilton and Dickerson through brothels, pawn shops and back alleys in the Old Town section of Edinburgh. Continue reading

September Buzz Books Monthly

September Buzz Books Monthly, a roundup of new books appearing in September 2018, features new offerings from debut and veteran authors. Included are listings for new nonfiction titles such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Leadership in Turbulent Times (Simon & Schuster, 9/18) and a new mystery from romance writer Jude Deveraux – A Willing Murder (Mira, 9/18).

Genres included in this roundup:

  • Literary favorites and emerging talents
  • Debut fiction
  • Commercial fiction
  • Nonfiction

Seven excerpts are also included:

  • Jude Deveraux, A Willing Murder (Mira)
  • Lynne Hugo, The Testament of Harold’s Wife (Kensington Books)
  • Walter Mosely, John Woman (Grove Press)
  • Sarah Pinborough, Cross Her Heart (William Morrow)
  • Rebecca Serle, The Dinner List (Flatiron)
  • Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock (Harper)
  • Stuart Turton, The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (The Sourcebooks Landmark)

Buzzbooks Monthly is a great way to learn about interesting new reads from debut authors and old favorites.

Review of The Quartet Murders

"The Quartet Murders" coverThe Quartet Murders: A Yorkshire Murder Mystery | By: J. R .Ellis | Publisher:  Amazon Publishing UK / Thomas & Mercer | Copyright: 2018 | ISBN: 9781053903098 | Genre: Mystery

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Oldroyd is thoroughly enjoying a concert of chamber music in a chapel in a small Yorkshire town when one on the quartet members is shot while performing onstage by an unseen assailant and the musician’s irreplaceable Stradivarius violin goes missing. No one is seen leaving the building, yet the murderer and thief aren’t found. Is this the work of a gang of art thieves with whom some of the locals are involved? A few of the local well-heeled gentry are known for their private collections of rare and priceless musical instruments. Before long another member of the quartet is killed, and his murder linked to the stolen violin. DCI Oldroyd assists his old friend, DCI Sam Armitage of the local Halifax police force, in unraveling the knotted strings of these mysteries. The police assume the two deaths and the theft of the violin are committed by the same group of criminals. But are they connected or are they separate cases?

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