"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Sunday, July 24, 2016

TETTERBAUM'S TRUTH (Just Call Me Angel #1) by S.R. Claridge

Published in 2010 by Global Publishing Group.
298 pages.

Chicago. Photo by Allen McGregor.
This book was introduced to me as being similar to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. For those not familiar with this ever-growing series, Stephanie is the classic "fish out of water" - she is a gorgeous, unemployed single woman who takes a job as a bounty hunter for a bail bondsman. If she brings them in, she gets paid. But, she's never used a gun. She has no skills to do this job but, in the end, she does so in her own hilarious way.

On the surface, this book does indeed have some similarities with the Stephanie Plum series. Angel Martin is a single woman who owns a bar in Chicago called Tetterbaum's Pub. She's invested her life savings in it and it's working. Her love life is a mess since her fiance dumped her and disappeared but she does have a good time with the mysterious Grayson. It's not serious but it is seriously physical. Her only living family is her Great Aunt Olga who fusses over her constantly, cooks amazing Italian food and sets her up on blind dates with "nice" but boring men.

But, one horrible evening everything changes. She runs down her boyfriend Grayson in a freak traffic accident that leaves her hospitalized for several days. While she is desperately trying to unravel the mystery that resulted in his death, she also starts to uncover information about her past that was hidden from her and this information changes everything...

I only rate this book 3 stars out of 5. The reasons for it come from plot details that I cannot reveal without spoiling the story and I hate it when book reviews are more of a book report and less of a teaser. In just a few words, I think that the Angel and Olga act way out of their original characters in the end of the book. Sure, lots of things happen to them but the reasons for this change are not fleshed out enough to justify them. Especially Olga who has a lifetime of issues to work through but just drops them at the end.

Nice line from the book: "Over linguini and wine, the black and white lines of right and wrong began to blur into a gray shade of loyalty, where labels became eerily synonymous." (p. 186)

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Tetterbaum's Truth.

Note: I was sent a review paperback copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

DECEPTIVE CADENCE (audiobook) by Kathryn Guare

Audio edition published in March of 2016.
Originally published in January of 2014.
Read by Wayne Farrell.
Duration: 11 hours, 19 minutes

I have reviewed a lot of indie and small publishing house audiobooks lately and have been mildly disappointed with almost all of them. I don't want to be cruel, but there's a reason why some of these books are languishing in the publishing wasteland.

But, sometimes you find a true gem out among the 2 and 3 star books. A gem just sitting there waiting to be noticed.

This book is such a gem and it is worthy of your notice.

It is an international thriller with a giant soul and a great deal of introspection. If you are looking for a "shoot 'em up" this is not your book, even though there is plenty of shooting. It is the story of two brothers, and like all families, this family is complicated.

The McBride family consists of Conor, a talented musician who plays violin at the international level and Thomas, the brother who stayed behind in northern Ireland to care for the family farm and their ill mother. But, one day, Conor's world comes crashing down when he learns that his brother has been scamming the European Union with falsified applications for farming grants. The money was sent to Thomas and Thomas left with all of it.

A slum in Mumbai. Photo by A.Savin
Conor loses his position in an orchestra due to government pressure and returns home to manage the family farm in disgrace. He has done nothing but he bears the family shame.

Conor is approached by a government operative who says that he knows where Thomas is. He is laundering money for a terrorist ring in India and that Conor could be just the man to lead them to him. Conor is intrigued - not because he wants to punish his brother so much as he wants to try to figure out why he did what he did.

So, Conor receives intensive training in how to be a spy and he is off to India. He hoped for a quick "in and out" meeting with his brother. Instead, he has a life-changing adventure full of action, danger, deep introspection, thoughtless violence, sorrow, pain, joy and humor.  Conor travels from the filthiest slums to the highest mountains for his brother. In the end, the reader is left to wonder if all of it was worth it.

The answer - yes, the journey is the point of it all and this is a journey worth hearing.

Clearly, the weakness of the book is the idea that a violin player can be turned into a spy. At one point it is noted that Conor is one of those people that just seems to be good at everything. You know the type of person - you admire them and envy them at the same time. In the real world, Indianapolis native David Wolfe is one of those guys. He is a aerobatics pilot/award-winning medical doctor/electrical engineer/astronaut with 15 patents. So, these guys do exist.

The audiobook was read by Wayne Ferrell and he was amazing. His voice drew me right in and brought this excellent text to life. He demonstrated a mastery of multiple accents and, more importantly, carried the mood of the story in his tone and pacing as he read.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Deceptive Cadence.

Note: I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

THE PROMISE (An Elvis Cole Novel / A Scott James and Maggie Novel) by Robert Crais

Originally published in 2015

Elvis Cole is on the case. It's an odd one. He has been hired by a Meryl Lawrence to find her friend and person she works with. But, Meryl has all sorts of weird ground rules about when she will meet Elvis and how he may contact her. She also calls at weird hours and times and demands that he work faster.

Robert Crais. Photo by Mark Coggins
While follows a lead to a home just before the police raid it and discover a murdered arms dealer. Elvis gives chase to the suspect but is detained by police K9 officer Scott James.

Elvis knows that this case is definitely part of something much larger and brings in his partner Joe Pike who brings in a friend who is a free-lance anti-terrorist agent. Scott James also starts his own investigation, despite being warned off of the case. Can this offbeat detective and this by-the-books cop find out what was going on before it is too late?

I was looking forward to this book because it brought together most of Robert Crais' current characters. But, it ended up being kind of a disappointing. The book would start to build momentum and then it would switch back and forth between characters and feel like it had to start building momentum again. I was glad to re-visit characters that I enjoy but it was not the best novel Crais has produced in either series.

I rate this novel 3 stars out of 5.

This novel can be found on Amazon.com here: The Promise.