February 21, 2018
Contract Pending: A New York Mafia Crime Family Novel is the first in the Frankie Fiore books written by Al Marsiglia.
Louie Marsiglia is a shoe repair shop owner in Brooklyn and his son, Frankie, works for him. Young and impressionable, Frankie Fiore is easily recruited by the local mob boss to do collections. Mentored by an experienced ‘made’ man, Frankie finds himself in the boss’s good side in just a short period of time. Soon, he and his new partner are given their own contracts as they continue to prove themselves capable of doing the job. Then, his partner takes it upon himself to ‘touch’ the boss’s money and Frank finds himself on the run leaving his family exposed and vulnerable.
This is an exciting crime thriller with a touch of romance. More than the life of a mobster, the book highlights family values focusing on the things people are willing to do for their family and for the people they care about. The romance part lightens up an otherwise violent story. The author creates well-developed characters taking time to supply sufficient backstories to make the characters relatable. There are many likable characters in this story including Louie Fiore and Peggy, but I find Biff, Frankie’s mentor, my favorite. He is tough, strict and reliable. But most importantly, compared with other mobsters he still has a sense of right and wrong.
However, since the Mafia has been used as subject of so many popular novels already like The Godfather by Mario Puzo and The Firm by John Grisham, some readers may find this book somehow cliché. Moreover, though I sincerely like the plot especially the ending, other readers may find it somehow predictable.
Still, I enjoyed reading the book and I recommend it to crime and thriller fans. Violent and gory scenes, however, may not be suitable for your readers.
February 17, 2018
The Bridge in the Fog is the exciting third installment in the Magora Series created by Marc Remus.
Holly, together with her friends Brian, Rufus and Amanda, is back in Cliffony Academy of the Arts in the fantastical land of Magora. Her return is fired by her burning desire to learn more about her Grandpa Nikolas and her gripping fear that she might be the rumored daughter of the Duke of Cuspidor. Her search for information about her grandfather leads her to the mythical and enchanted bridge said to be closed forever and is hidden behind an eternal fog by its creator, the Wise Man himself, her Grandpa Nikolas.
This third book in the series, though not as suspenseful as the second book is, I can say, much more eventful and therefore just as intriguing and exciting. The search for the Woodspeople and the Land of the Ledesmas through the Bridge in the Fog, the rumors about Cuspidor’s daughter; and a photograph of a library from another world are among the things that the readers will look forward to in this installment. Moreover, the author introduces new characters including Professor Amranranputran and Professor Parsidor, new creatures like the Woodspeole and the Halogumpters in addition to a lot of surprising revelations.
However, I’m not a fan of cliffhangers but I suppose the ending of the book is necessary for a smoother transition to the next and much anticipated Book 4, The Uprising.
February 6, 2018
Smith is an exciting and suspenseful paranormal thriller written by Sam B. Miller II.
Rob Goddard represents the Harvard Department of Archeological Projects in the investigation of the latest claimed discovery of King Solomon’s Temple in Israel. With him is his eighteen year-old son Jake. Being an American in Israel is not easy for young Jake who spends most of his time defending himself from the townspeople who want him out of their land.
Bored from lack of anything to do besides playing video games, Jake, together with his friend Avner, follows a handwritten map he found on his father’s desk and sneaks to the new digging site. Running away from a possibly fatal encounter, Jake drops into a hole and unearths an aged leather pouch that contains a heavy gold colored ring with strange markings, King Solomon’s Ring of Power.
Shortly after putting the ring on his finger, Jake hears the voice of Smith, the interface whose essence is imbued into the ring. He, then, finds himself in possession of an object of immense power.
This is a fast-paced and action-filled thriller written in casual and conversational tone making it an easy read. The suspense is kept in high level right from the first up to the last page. Moreover, the plot is written in a way that even the readers find it difficult to decide whom to believe and trust. Furthermore, the author created two well developed characters that while Jake proves himself to be more than just an ordinary and naïve teenager, Smith who sounds like a funny, fun-loving and lighthearted disembodied voice proves himself to be capable of something else. My favorite character, however, is Inspector Nava Kilman. She is smart and brave, and she shows strength of character despite her youth, a real queen material. In addition, though the twist is, somehow, predictable, it is still a twist and it adds to the excitement of the already exciting story. Finally, the ending is exactly how I want it.
However, I find the back story on Smith and the creation of the Mouth of Truth a little bit vague.
Still I enjoyed this book immensely and I recommend it to readers who enjoy suspense and thriller novels with a touch of paranormal. Gory and violent scenes, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
February 4, 2018
The Xeno Manifesto is an exciting thriller novel by Brysen Mann.
Frank Smirnov has always known he is different. Not only is he an orphan who is oblivious of his roots, but he also displays ‘Powers’ he doesn’t comprehend especially when he is in a fit of rage. An unexpected friendship sparks his interest in mystical ‘Beings,’ an interest that leads him to a mind-blowing discovery that might question everything he knows about the world and the origin of mankind.
This is an exciting and suspenseful book and the author successfully keeps it interesting until the last page. In addition to a very promising premise which is introduced in a fast paced series of events, the characters are thoroughly portrayed in ample back stories. The mystery is suspended as the author shifts the plot by introducing another set of characters with equally ample back story. The excitement continues as the plot converges in a surprising and unexpected twist. This is, indeed, one exciting and enjoyable suspense thriller.
However, other readers may find the timelines a bit confusing. Moreover, though the back stories are ample, too ample in fact that some readers may feel being thrown off the plot, and seemingly sufficient, there are details that sound ambiguous. Furthermore, I find the ending inconclusive which leaves some questions unanswered. Finally, there are too many noticeable errors within the entire book that can easily be fixed by another round of editing.
Still, I enjoyed the book and I recommend it to fans of suspense, thriller and science fiction. The most important part of the book, for me, is the moral issue in instigating mass destruction to save the planet. I think that is one thing everybody should think about.
Congratulations to Brysen Mann (@brysen_mann) on such an exciting novel.
January 29, 2018
Dawn of Chrysalis is the exciting second installment of the Origin of F.O.R.C.E. Series created by Sam B. Miller II.
After the failed invasion of planet Earth by the Chrysallaman Empire, another possible threat is detected. This time, it comes from a race with even more advanced technology and weaponry than the fearsome and extremely arrogant Chrysallamans.
While Whatsit and other members of F.O.R.C.E. go on a mission to gather information about the invaders that threaten to wipe-out the entire Chrysallaman race, Dr. John Heinbaum and his team are busy modifying weapons and developing technology in the ultra-secret laboratory hidden in the dessert. With very little information on what they are up against, however, humans must work with the Chrysallaman colonists for a better chance at success against their common enemy.
If I like the first book in the series, Origin of F.O.R.C.E, I like this second installment even more. With space travel and space fighting, the book is a real-deal suspenseful science fiction novel featuring laser beams, bubble shields and artificial black holes.
Moreover, the author features not only the friendly, accommodating and compassionate side of the humans but also the vindictive, duplicitous, and treacherous attributes, that, along with a tad of romance, effectively thickens the plot. My favorite part of the book is the complicated friendship between the eccentric and egotistical Astro-Physicist Dr. John Heinbaum and the red-haired hellion and weapons specialist Capt. Jerome McPherson. Reading about them is so much fun.
However, in addition to the several noticeable errors within the entire book, I find the physics part too technical for me. Though I believe the physics cannot be helped, another round of editing should be considered.
January 23, 2018
Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue is the exciting Book Three of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series created by Iain Reading.
Kitty’s flight-around-the world adventures continue in Iceland, the land of Vikings, volcanoes and ice. As she arrives in the capital city of Reykjavík, Kitty is greeted by Konrad Cooper and his beautiful family. Konrad is a resident of Iceland and is a friend of Charlie, Kitty’s friend and benefactor.
Just when Kitty is enjoying the pristine beauty of the Icelandic landscape, strange but delicious food and Icelandic hospitality, she is caught in the middle of an intrigue that throws her on the path of an environmental activist, a psychic, a paper plane enthusiast/researcher, dangerous criminals, corrupt government official, mystical beings and forces of nature.
More than the exciting and suspenseful scenes: the running, the shooting, the chasing, etc. I enjoyed not only the physical description of Iceland but also the information about the culture of this beautiful country. I am particularly amazed with Mannanafnanefnd or The Icelandic Naming Committee, the governmental body that regulates which names are allowed in Iceland. I would never know about that if not for this book. Another surprising information is the belief of the Icelanders in mystical beings like elves, trolls and hidden people. I’m from a superstitious country myself so I appreciate the respect that the Icelanders bestow on mystical beings.
Moreover, if I like Kitty Hawk in the first two books, I love her in this third installment. She is portrayed not only as a young but skilled pilot but also as a smart teenager with genuine interest in everything around her, dauntless and willing to try something new, and most importantly kind and self-sacrificing that she is willing to put her life at risk for the safety of others. She is undoubtedly a present-day teenage heroine that young people may look up to.
Aside from the difficult pronunciation of a few Icelandic vocabularies, which I believe can't be helped, and a few typo errors, I like everything about this book. I recommend it to young and adult readers alike.
January 18, 2018
Curses of Scale is an exciting fantasy novel written by S.D. Reeves.
The book starts with a druid on the run to finish a ritual to save his wife from a terrible curse. It, then, flashes back to his fifteen-year old wife, Niena, who wants so badly to be a bard, which is against her grandfather’s wishes.
Attacks of a dreadful fire-breathing dragon throw the Empire into chaos and propel Niena through the fey realm. Guided by the lord of the fairies, Niena discovers things about herself she never knew before, first of which is the secret of the lyre she has in her possession.
Meanwhile, Niena’s grandfather, an army veteran, is on her trail with a few hunters leading a group of refugees. More than the safety of the people he is leading, he wants to be reunited with her granddaughter.
This is an exciting and action-filled fantasy novel with a very promising premise. Told in the third person and in alternating perspective between the druid Calem, Niena and Niena’s grandfather Marny, the book boasts of vividly described settings and moving and exciting action scenes. Unexpected revelations await the readers and the book culminates in a satisfactory ending.
However, I find the initial chapters too confusing making the story difficult to follow. Moreover, I find the pacing inconsistent that while some parts are exciting and suspenseful, other parts are dragging because of some details which I find either irrelevant or scrupulously described and that other readers may find too verbose. Furthermore, though the ending is very much to my liking, it leaves some questions unanswered. In addition, I find the use of figurative language, particularly that of personification, a little overdone. Finally, it feels strange to find the words ‘college and taxi services’ in the period described in this story.
Still, I find this book very enjoyable especially the action scenes, which make reading feels like watching a movie, and of course the unexpected revelations.
January 12, 2018
Maggie Elizabeth Harrington: I Live in Two Worlds is the first in the Maggie Elizabeth Harrington Two Book Series created by D.J. Swykert.
Maggie Elizabeth is a sweet, loving and responsible thirteen year old girl who lives in two worlds, the real world and the dream world. She lives in the real world where her mother is dead and her father hardly talks to her. She lives in her dream world where everything is exactly how she wants it to be.
In an era when children are seen not heard; when girls learn to cook, sew and do household chores; and when wives wait for their husbands at home, Maggie Elizabeth questions the norm and struggles to break free by saving a pack of wolf cubs from a bounty hunter, with the help of Tommie Stetter, the love of her young life.
Told in the point of view of a thirteen year old girl in the 1890s, this is a poignant and memorable story of a motherless girl with only her grandmother to mentor her in womanly skills. The author successfully depicts the longing and confusion of a girl whose father prefers talking to God over talking to his daughter. Moreover, the story shows how Maggie Elizabeth, deprived of her father’s love but with her own heart full of love for others turns to a pack of wolf cubs, cares for them and does everything in her power to save them. Finally, the author realistically portrays the candor, audacity and intensity of young love. Anybody who has fallen in love at a young age could relate to Maggie Elizabeth: the power of a glimpse with unspoken promises, the weight of a smile that conveys everything the heart feels, the potency of first kiss and the prick of jealousy.
For such a relatively short book, the characters are remarkably well-developed that they almost seem real and living beings.
January 9, 2018
Srepska is an international political and financial thriller written by Lucas Sterling.
After a cyber-attack that paralyzes the payment system in Kenya, Fredric Ulrich of Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German intelligence agency, is sent to Budapest to investigate. Besides getting nearly killed, Fredric discovers a plot of Srepska, a criminal cabal, to launch a massive cyber-attack to destabilize the economy of the United States.
Not knowing whom to trust, Ulrich acts warily but chooses to stay in the US to watch everything unfold.
Meanwhile, Lars Christopherson receives an offer too lucrative to refuse. As he works on the job, he comes across with Ulrich and they, themselves, become targets of a powerful cabal wreaking havoc in the mightiest country in the world.
Told in the third person perspective, this is an exciting political and financial thriller with a great and timely plot. Subjects include cybercrime, blackmail, kidnapping and unexpected partnership and friendship. The book is, all in all, an easy read and given the realistic description of the panic caused by payment system failure a very interesting reading material.
What I like most about the book is the likelihood that something like this would happen anytime in any country. It displays how dependent we have become to online transactions and the paralyzing effect it would have on our daily lives. It sends various messages for readers to contemplate on.
However, though it is for the most part fast-paced and thrilling, some parts are somehow dragging. Moreover, I find the characters less developed than I hoped. It seems like the author focused more on the protagonists’ professional skills and abilities, military training and law degree but less on personal life. That makes it somehow difficult to connect with the characters. Finally, given the action-filled and suspenseful chapters, I find the ending less climactic than I expected.
Still, I enjoyed this book immensely. I find it a little scary which I think is part of the author’s objective in writing the novel. I recommend it to fans of political thrillers and cybercrime novels.
Congratulations to Lucas Sterling on such an exciting book!
Srepska was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day on January 2nd . You may check it out at Online Book Club.
January 8, 2018
The Bellringer: Volume 1 of The Year of the Red Door is an exciting adventure and epic fantasy novel written by William Timothy Murray.
Robby Ribbon is a nice and fine lad in Passdale and the pride of his equally fine parents. When his cousin, Kingsman Ullin Saheed Tallin, asks him to perform a most unusual errand, Robby is eager to oblige. However, a few wrong turns along the road and an unfortunate encounter places him in an old fortress where he finds the Great Bell of Tulith Attis. Completely unaware of the significance of his actions and even of his mere presence at the old fortress, Robby inadvertently rings the bell and starts a series of events that will change not only his life but the fate of the entire Seven Realms.
Told in the third person perspective and with a consistently steady pacing, this book is an epitome of a great epic novel with no dull part or scene right from the first page down to the last. It features multiple themes including love, friendship, honor and courage among others. Settings and scenes are vividly described in minute details giving the book a movielike feeling.
Moreover, the author creates endearing, admirable and unforgettable characters first of which, of course, is Robby Ribbon, the kind albeit naïve bell ringer, a responsible son, a loyal friend, a faithful lover, and someone who always tries to do the right thing, a quality he got from his honorable parents.
What I enjoyed most about the book, besides the interesting plot and the delightful characters, is the concept of living with honor, credibility and high morals, as is the case of the entire Ribbon family. Mr. and Mrs. Ribbon are probably the best parents a child could have, the perfect neighbors and natural leaders. From these two characters alone a reader will learn a lot about how life is supposed to live.
It is, indeed, one great book. It is interesting, intense, exciting, unpredictable and undoubtedly well written. I recommend it to fans of fantasy novels especially those of The Lord of the Rings.
Enjoyable as the book is, however, it is not an easy read. It requires full attention to details, vast vocabulary and a healthy imagination to enjoy it to the fullest. Furthermore, reference to abuse and some violent scenes may not be suitable for very young readers.
Congratulations to William Timothy Murray (@WilliamInfodesk) on such a great book! For the next book in this wonderful series, check out TheNature of a Curse.
The Bellringer was an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day on December 29th, 2017. You may check it out at Online Book Club.