Review: Whats a Girl Gotta Do? by Sparkle Hayter

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Publisher: Open Road

Publishing Date: November 2014 (1994)

ISBN: 9781497678316 

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Rating: 4.2/5

 

Publisher Description: Meet Robin Hudson. Dumped by her husband, she’s been demoted to third-string reporter at New York’s All News Network. Her downstairs neighbor thinks she’s a hooker. Louise Bryant, her finicky cat, refuses to chow down on anything but stir-fry. Now Robin’s being blackmailed by a late-night caller who knows her childhood nickname and other personal stuff, like whom she gave her virginity to. What could be worse?
Being the prime suspect in the bludgeoning death of her mystery caller—that’s what. In life, he was a PI who had the skinny on everyone. Now, while Robin is undercover investigating a suspicious sperm bank, she must also find the killer and clear her name. In her downtime, she’s amusing herself with her hot new boy toy, who may not be Mr. Right but could be Mr. Close Enough. When someone else is murdered, Robin races to break the story before she makes headlines again—as the next victim.

 Review:  This made for an entertaining and fast paced read. Robin is a hoot and is quite a bit of fun to follow through the story line. She is at once endearing, acerbic, witty, trampled, sexy, intelligent and scathing. Reading about Robin is second place to wanting to meet her. She is written that well. All the characters in her world are built with a poignant veneer or just enough to know you either loathe or like them.

The mystery was easily figured out by the 35% mark but that shouldn’t be why you’re into the novel. It is like a finely woven tapestry where your eyes never focus on just one strand. Not sure that I would read the series, as even though Robin is fun to follow, maybe more might be too much. 

 

 

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Review: Dukkha Unloaded by Loren W. Christensen

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Publisher: YMAA
Publishing Date: June 2014
ISBN: 9781594392832
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 1.7/5

Publisher Description: Detective Sam Reeves is barely seated in a cab when he learns that during his two-week trip in Southeast Asia, hate crimes have rocked his city of Portland, including one very brutal lynching. As the crimes continue, thousands of fearful protestors march the streets, clashing with police and demanding more be done to put an end to the escalating violence!

Review: Nice cover art, although the caliber bullets don’t look like they belong to that gun.

Honestly, I had a hard time finishing this novel due to the lengthy dialogue that took up more than 2/3 of the novel. Blah, blah, blah race this, hate crime that and poor bully stories. All tendered to generate some kind of emotional angst and self-righteous indignation in the reader. Only it doesn’t. Rather than draw you into the characters and story-line, you’re left with a tired rendition of hate that has been overplayed. This constant pummeling of the race card, which is myriad in this novel, doesn’t move you as it should. It is a blame based conflagration with no real sentiment other than vengeful pride.

I get that in order to sell books you have to put yourself out there. The “I am a martial artist so I know” is anathema to the art. This is, IMHO, is an Americanized perspective on martial arts which is largely ego driven. There are a lot of writers out there that preface their work with being an expert martial artist much to their detriment. My advice is to just write.

The writing is good yet the characters are thinly developed and lack depth. The story-line is just tired and suffers from over-abuse. Characters really come to life when movement (action) is coupled with character discovery. The stresses of the action reveals the character under pressure and subsequently the reader is immersed. Pure dialogue doesn’t evoke or pull emotions from the reader. Pure dialogue leaves the reader flat.

Review: The Distance by Helen Giltrow

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Publisher: Doubleday
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9780385537001
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Charlotte Alton is an elegant socialite. But behind the locked doors of her sleek, high-security apartment in London’s Docklands, she becomes Karla. Karla’s business is information. Specifically, making it disappear. She’s the unseen figure who, for a commanding price, will cover a criminal’s tracks. A perfectionist, she’s only made one slip in her career—several years ago she revealed her face to a man named Simon Johanssen, an ex-special forces sniper turned killer-for-hire. After a mob hit went horrifically wrong, Johanssen needed to disappear, and Karla helped him. He became a regular client, and then, one day, she stepped out of the shadows for reasons unclear to even herself. Now, after a long absence, Johanssen has resurfaced with a job, and he needs Karla’s help again.

Review: Cover art sux. The side of a car and half a redhead’s face?

(zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)…WHA? Oh yeah review time. If you read the reviews on this novel, you would think that it is up for the Nebula/PKD/Edgar/Hugo/Nobel award(s). For instance the accolades read like the author’s that pay Kirkus. “Expertly done!”. “An incredible debut!”. What was funny was one reviewer stated plainly that she didn’t like it but gave it 5 stars.

This was a really boring novel. From the story-line to the characters. So much time is spent on a dreary story-line and insipid dialogue that the characters are never fully developed. The premise that there is some hidden lockup facility is absurd and that anyone would entertain getting someone in to kill a woman that may or may not exist and then extracting said killer from an impenetrable shell is laughable. Then there is this “shadowy” organization that Charlotte works for. Really? Shadow-kee-dee-boom-boom. Why the cloak and dagger? Who gives a shjt? Charlotte needs to determine if this is a legitimate assassination as the mark may or may not exist. Wouldn’t you figure that out before you took the job? What is a legitimate assassination anyway? That’s like an having an optimal enema or a refreshing prostate exam. The scene descriptions are exhaustive. For instance Karla is going to bust into an office complex and this soon turns into a chapter on what every frickin’ office looks like. From the copiers to a glazed bookcase then back to another office. How is this suspenseful?

I feel like the red-headed step kid who gets picked last for sand lot games. While everyone in review-land raves and praises this work, I feel that maybe I should have read this with more alacrity and focused discernment on the hidden emotive climes that existed within and between the characters as they groped in an endless sea of dark, machinating and tentacled agendas…BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Review: Enzan The Far Mountain by John Donohue

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Publisher: YMMAA Publication Center
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781594392818
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 4.2/5

Publisher Description: The Plot:
Chie Miyazaki is wild and spoiled—the pampered child of a cadet line of the imperial House of Japan. When she disappears in the United States accompanied by a slick Korean boyfriend, it sets off alarm bells among people in Japan’s security apparatus.

Review: Nice calming cover art…..

I really enjoyed the various characters within this novel. The author did a really good job in developing even the bit players. This is my first foray into this author’s work as I tend to avoid fiction with a martial arts theme. Usually the fight scenes are unrealistic or the hero is this indefatigable/unstoppable force that can break you with a glance etc. From experience (Shodan Isshinryu) I can fully relate to the dojo life with all the physical pain, fleeting insights and commraderie that barely describes a life long experience. The author touches on these experiences and brings them to life through Connor, albeit with a sometimes metaphysical twist.

At one point in the story, Mori’s journal is given to Yamashita and we discover the truths of Yamashita’s past life. The voice used in the journal iterates a story to Yamashita. Why tell someone a story of their life unless the intent is for the benefit of a different reader? The story should have been a past account by Mori in the first person and not a direct dialogue with Yamashita.

The Enzan or warning to keep focus on important things, to not be distracted seems to me contradictory. The author speaks of ego and a mindless state or being in the moment yet Connor embraces the idea of Enzan and says that it is easier said than done.

I like that Connor gets abducted and the crap beat out him. He is a man that knows his limitations and is wholly fallible and human. Too often we seem to reach our pinnacles of achievement and progress no further, only protecting the fragile ego in the process. The author reveals these contradictions where the choice to do martial arts, for instance, implies ego yet the practice of martial arts is the implementation and/or attainment of a mindless state. I think there is both. The mind, as long as it does not become your complete identity and you are AWARE of those limitations, specifically that you are not your mind, then it is used as it should be, as a tool. The idea, that in our formative society that we can become ascethitc hermits vying for enlightenment is ridiculous. We interact, we think, we do. This begets use of the mind. Yet the ability to embrace an awareness of who you really are while working through the minds endless limitations is a poignant daily exercise.

I had a good time reading this novel. I identified with a large part of this novel, but others that do not have that background will find the authors writing talent/creativeness more than compensates in other subject areas within the novel.

Review: The Perfect Corpse by Giles Milton

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Publisher: Prospero
Publishing Date: September 2014
ISBN: 9780992897222
Genre: SciFi
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: When the frozen corpse of Ferris Clark is found in the Greenland ice, forensic archaeologist Jack Raven is hired to investigate. He is suspicious from the outset. The corpse is not only naked, but in an absolutely pristine state. As Jack unravels the mystery of Ferris Clark’s final hours, he uncovers a dark and terrible past. He also finds himself caught in a race against time. There is a murderer on the loose and Jack alone can stop the killings.

Review: Cover art is ….meh.

This was a fairly slow paced novel with an inventive story line and a weak plot. Jack Raven (Raven? Really?) is on the case of discovering why a perfectly preserved corpse is…..perfectly preserved. What follows is a tortuous path through history of flaccid discoveries. All of these disparate events culminates in finding out who the corpse really is, which really doesn’t matter at all, as we know he is one of the dreaded Nazi special forces with a penchant for killing.

So one of the first unbelievable sequences is one of a perfectly preserved naked corpse that gets accidentally revived at stupid ZAKRON and begins with killing the night watchman, stealing his clothes/gun and disappearing. Jack Raven (lol), after studying the corpse, stands up and says “Not many can kill with a slash of a scalpel. Requires medical know-how…and mental preparation”. Well I think it is pretty easy to kill someone with a scalpel especially when that someone was injected with knock out juice prior to slicing. At one point Jack is talking to the biggest pain in the ass and whiny maudlin character ever built, Tammy, and says, “They will shoot him if they catch him.” And Tammy Tantrum says “Jesus the nightmare gets worse….” Really? How could that be bad? There is a serial killing WWII Nazi running around killing people and Tammy is upset that they may shoot this Ice Freak? Fug.

Well as we near the end of this disaster, the killer hijacks Tammy and her lovable and adorable little scamps into the desert while Jack Raven sneaks up on them. The killer is demanding where the military base is and Jack walks up and starts telling him that he is in the future and all his former mates are long dead and this confuses the killer to the point where he is stumbling around. So….he was not confused a month prior to his escape from ZAKRON? At no point during that time was he unbelievably stupid not to realize what period in time he was in? Did it take Jack “The CAW!” Raven to explain his present circumstances that eventually leads the psychopath to suicide? I don’t associate suicides with psychopaths, but maybe this was a “Nazi with a heart of gold” where self-preservation suddenly becomes anathema.

The holes in the story-line are many, the characters are thinly built and the plot, while interesting historically, really did not provide anything substantive. This could have been a great setting for bringing espionage from the past, into sort of an ongoing sinister plot that spans the decades and involves an inner power circle. Now the idiot team of Tammy and the Dr. Raven can run for their stupid lives while spanning the globe for answers. Tough shjt though, you’re pretty much stuck in bumfuck Nevada the whole time, excepting Raven’s hottie German ex-GF looking up crap in ancient libraries.

Review: White Rabbit by K. A. Laity

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Publisher: Fox Spirit
Publishing Date: April 2014
ISBN: 9781909348493
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 3.1/5

Publisher Description: Disgraced former police detective James Draygo has sunk as low as his habit allows, working as a fake psychic despite his very real talents. When a media mogul’s trashy trophy wife gets gunned down at his tapping table he has to decide whether he can straighten up long enough to save his own skin. He may not have a choice with Essex’s loudest ghost bawling in his ear about cults, conspiracies and cut-rate drugs. Oblivion sounds better all the time…

Review: Cover art is meh.

This was more of a fantasy novel with a mystery backbone. Although the dialogue was lengthy, the exchanges between characters was entertaining. The plot doesn’t really go anywhere definitive. There is a culmination of sorts, but the bulk of the novel exists in the ruminative mind of James Draygo.
To quote Peter Griffin, the novel insists upon itself.

There wasn’t a lot of action that you could sink your teeth into, other than flailing ghosts and some thuggery. There was a mild love interest that was more whimsical than overt. Still a somewhat entertaining novel that would do well for a read on a plane.

Review: The Bleiberg Project by David Khara

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Publisher: Le French
Publishing Date: July 2014
ISBN: 9781939474063
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Rating: 2.0/5

Publisher Description: Are Hitler’s atrocities really over? For depressive Wall Street trader Jeremy Corbin, absolute truths become undeniable lies overnight. He finds out his long-lost father is dead and boards a plane to Zurich with a Nazi medallion in his pocket, a hot CIA bodyguard next to him, and a clearly dangerous Mossad agent on his tail. What was his father investigating? Why was his mother assassinated?

Review: The cover art is as confused as the story-line.

This could be called the ultimate flashback novel. The story-line jumps around from Hitler’s era on up to the 60’s and 80’s. This usually degrades a novel, but in this case it was a boon. Very interesting and intriguing where the author takes you. His supposition that genetic experiments under the Nazi regime and a hidden world consortium manipulating events on an epic scale has been visited many times. Only the author makes it believable. His travels into the past were riveting to say the least.

What is not credible is the general story-line whereby one of the CIA investigators leaves his son a safe deposit box with some cryptic information and from there he is co-opted as part of a covert CIA team to recover some answers about Blieberg, what it means, and ultimately destroy the heinous and insidious plot. So…..you have a drunk idiot, with no military training whom is now part of a high level operation to ferret out a cabal that has been in existence since before the 1900’s. The same cabal that exercises covert authority over all the worlds military and political leaders, eliminating anyone that stands in their way with impunity. So Jeremy dummy drunk guy, in one of his self-destructive fits stumbles into and out of a hit team sent to kill him, for???? I don’t know. Some key?
Well, anyway, as team incredible (CIA HOT CHICK and GIANT JEW MAN) set off to set the world right, this cabal is hot on their trail.

The fight scenes that involved doofus and CIA HOT CHICK (whom Jeremy wants to bang like a snare drum) are ridiculous. You have Jackie HOT CHICK whom is not much over 5 feet tall taking out huge Aryan dudes and BREAKING THEIR NECKS!! Are you fugging kidding me? She was abused as a girl and because of that is an expert in Tae Kwon Do. In one scene she un-cuffs herself (2003 model French handcuffs that come apart if you bang them) and punches a 6 foot 6 inch monster in the face, removing his eye, and on the way down she breaks his neck and does the same with the other tough. REALLY? So how does a 5 foot tall person punch someone in the eye that is over 6 feet tall, let alone have the strength and technique to break their necks with Tae Kwon do which is mainly a kicking style. So immediately after this scene, HOT CHICK and Jeremy douche run to save GIANT JEW MAN, and Jeremy kicks the shit out of a trained commando and saves HOT CHICK from a severe beating. WTF? A super neck breaking chick gets saved by a drunk stock broker? Well it gets better, when they get through the toughs, Jeremy jumps on some huge Aryan evil chick whom is torturing GIANT JEW MAN, and decides he is not going to snap her spine because, well, he is “not a killer”. Fug.

So GIANT JEW MAN, stays behind to destroy the laboratory, and Jeremy and Jackie end up married with kids thinking GIANT JEW MAN is dead. ONLY, they get a cryptic email from non other than GIANT JEW MAN!!! HE IS ALIVE!! And out to wreak havoc on the consortium. So stay tuned for the sequel and let me know how it goes.