A Case of Redemption by Adam Mitzner

Reviewed by: Steve Capell

Description

 
Dan Sorensen was once a high-powered New York City defense attorney . . . but that was before a horrifying accident killed the two people in his life who meant the most, plunging him into a downward spiral. As he approaches rock bottom, Dan is unexpectedly offered the opportunity of a lifetime: defend an up-and-coming rapper in a murder trial on the front page of every newspaper. Although his client swears he’s innocent of the brutal slaying of his pop star girlfriend, proving it will not be easy. Unsure that he’s ready to handle such a high stakes case, Dan realizes that this chance to save a man he believes has been falsely accused of murder just may be his last and only hope to put his own life back on track, and achieve redemption for his past sins. But as Dan delves deeper into the case, he learns that atonement comes at a very steep price.
 
A powerful and riveting new voice in fiction, Adam Mitzner pulls out all the stops in his follow-up to the highly acclaimed A Conflict of Interest — a gritty, sophisticated thriller that will draw fans of Scott Turow and John Grisham into a world of relentless suspense.
 

Author Bio

Adam Mitzner, author of A Case of Redemption and A Conflict of Interest, is a practicing attorney living in New York City.
 
For more information please visit http://adammitzner.com, and follow the author on Facebook.
 

Praise for A Conflict of Interest:

“A heady combination of Patricia Highsmith and Scott Turow, here’s psychological and legal suspense at its finest.”
– New York Times bestselling author Perri O’Shaughnessy
 
“This gifted writer should have a long and successful career ahead of him.”
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“More twists than a California cloverleaf exchange.”
– Bookreporter
 
“Pulls you in deeper and deeper . . . It’s hard to believe this is Mitzner’s first novel. You will not be disappointed.”
– Seattlepi.com
 
“A page-turner with deeply flawed heroes, sympathetic villains, and totally unexpected twists. I loved it.”
– Alan Dershowitz

My thoughts:

 
A Case of Redemption is the second book that I’ve reviewed for Adam Mitzner and he has proven once again that his literary skills are sharp, intriguing, captivating, and suspenseful. Adam’s novel starts out early with a verse of a song:
 
Gonna stop you when you sing, gonna give it till you scream; don’t like what you said, gonna go A-Rod on your head.
 
Legally Dead, “A-Rod”
From the song “A-Rod,” lyrics and music by Legally Dead.
 
The composer of this song, Legally Dead, finds himself arrested for murder … a murder committed just like the lyrics of his song. Meitzner is able to keep a gossamer veil over the innocence or the guilt of Legally Dead throughout the twisting tale of motives and deceptions. This adds to the suspense and kept me turning the electronic pages throughout the night. At times I thought Legally Dead was the evil murderer and then I would feel he was nothing more than a scapegoat for the crime. This back and fourth dilemma between innocence and guilty was like a fast paced ping pong tournament only played out in this captivating who-done-it mystery novel.
 
Adam is able to bring the characters to life with descriptive language and personal faults that allow the characters the leap off of the pages into the gray matter of my mind.
 
Adam stated at the end of this novel that this novel was more difficult to write because he knew more people would be reading this one other friends and family and for that reason he felt the pressure. I assure you that Adam may have felt pressure and he may have found this one more difficult to write, but if that is what it takes to bring to life a superbly written novel then I hope Adam feels more pressure to keep turning out novel after novel as I am hungry to read his next one.
 
I’ve given this novel  a 5 rating out of 5. Many of you know that I do not give many novels this high rating, but Adam deserves it … because he earned it!
 
In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I was given this ebook and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 
[Rating:5/5]

 

 

 

 

Cross the Line by: Jack Patterson

Synopsis:

 

When veteran NFL quarterback Noah Larson finally guides his team to the Super Bowl, his dreams — and life — are dashed when his six-year-old son is kidnapped for a unique ransom: lose the game or his son dies. Seattle sportswriter Cal Murphy and photographer Kelly Mendoza get pulled into an FBI sting to help rescue Noah’s son in Mexico. But when everything falls apart, Cal and Kelly are left to save themselves, save Noah’s son, and save the Super Bowl.

Author Jack Patterson:

The first signs that I might like writing about sports — and be slightly competitive — appeared when my year two (or first grade) teacher, Mrs. Holland, asked my class to write and illustrate our day. Mine read like this: “The Red team beat the Blue team, 1 to nil. And I won.” The next 47 entries covered my exploits on the soccer pitch while growing up in Ipswich, England. In South Carolina as a teenager, my dad told me that I could get paid to watch sports provided I could write about it. Sounded easy enough and by the time I was 16, I landed a job at my town’s daily newspaper and had a column on Major League Baseball players from our area. I also covered my first riot there at a sporting event — and it’s safe to say I was smitten with journalism. After graduating from one of the best journalism schools in the country, I took a job as a sports editor in South Georgia and learned firsthand about the passion of high school sports in rural America. I thought I knew before, but I didn’t. This was another world. I also had the opportunity to cover major sporting events like the Olympic Games, the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Final Four. It was a thrill! But nothing was as thrilling to me as uncovering the truth in investigative assignments. I once broke a story about a prominent southern football team’s NCAA violation — and found out the violating coach had committed suicide only a few months earlier. The story won a national writing award and stoked my desire to write about these issues. It made me realize that the sports world was just another fantastic backdrop for drama. After writing non-fiction books with athletes, for athletes, and ghost writing for many others, I decided to enter the world of fiction writing. It had been something I wanted to do but never found the time. So, I made the time–and am now having a blast. I hope you enjoy reading my novels as much as I enjoy writing them!

 

Excerpt:

“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.” - Horace Greeley

CHAPTER 1

NOAH LARSON WATCHED RAINDROPS cascading down the window over the kitchen sink, racing to a predictable end. Most drops would find their way to the bottom of the sill before joining others to form a small stream that spilled into a dormant flowerbed. A few lucky ones would take control of their fate, resisting the urge to be like all the others by clinging ever so tenuously to an open spot on the glass. But even they were susceptible to being washed away by a collision with just another raindrop or a blast of air. It was a depressing thought, but momentary when the reality of Noah’s life collided with it. Who had time to ponder the depths of existentialism when there was a Super Bowl to win?

In three hours, Noah was scheduled to join his teammates on a charter flight to Houston where the Seattle Seahawks would attempt to bring home the city’s first Lombardi Trophy. And it was going to happen—he just knew it. Nothing could stop destiny. Ever since he began playing peewee football, Noah’s talents were apparent to everyone, including himself. He had boxes of personal trophies, plaques and accolades stored in unmarked containers on a shelf in his garage to prove it. The only trophy Noah wanted to show off was the smooth silver one, hoisted above his head while confetti rained down from the rafters of Gillette Stadium. That destiny was only six days away.

“Dad, did you pack my lunch?” came the question from across the kitchen. Noah snapped back to the present.

“Sure, Jake. Got it right here.” The pro quarterback handed his six-year-old son a Spiderman lunch box. “I even remembered to put your favorite Capri Sun in there, too.”

“Apple?”

“I thought you liked grape.”

“Daaaaad! You always mix up my favorite flavors. I like grape jelly but apple juice.”

“Well, we can fix that right now.”

Noah shuffled to the pantry and ripped open a six-pack of apple-flavored Capri Suns, grabbing one for Jake.

“Here you go, son. I’ll get it right next time—don’t you worry.”

“It’s OK, dad.” The first grader stuffed the bottle into the lunch box. “You know, I’m really gonna miss you this week.”

“I’m gonna miss you too, sport. But I’ll see you on Friday. You and mom are flying down and we’ll do something fun when I’m not busy.”

“I can’t wait! Can we go see the Dynamo’s stadium while we’re down there?”

“The Dynamo? Son, I’m playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday and you want to go see an empty soccer stadium?”

“Aww, dad. Soccer is cool, too. Maybe if you win, the Seahawks can have a parade just like the Sounders did when they won the MLS Cup.”

Noah tried not to let his son’s remark bother him. Jake loved soccer and preferred using his dad’s celebrity status to rub shoulders with the city’s star soccer players rather than visit the NFL locker room. What gnawed at Noah the most was the fact that Seattle threw a parade befitting of royalty when the city’s pro soccer team won the championship the previous fall. The cash-strapped city never dreamed another title might come so soon. But if the Seahawks won, forget budget restraints. Seattle would have a Super Bowl champion and it would celebrate.

Noah knew the city would go into debt in six days to throw a matching parade. He cared less about competing with the city’s other pro sports teams but more about the overall sense of despair hovering over Seahawk fans’ mentality. Doom and gloom held season tickets for the Seahawks—all 67,000 of them. Noah would change all that, maybe even turn his son into a die-hard football fan in the process.

“Don’t worry, son. You can ride with me in the parade next week after we come back home with a trophy.”

“Go, Seahawks! Beat the Dolphins!” Jake pumped his fist in the air and without reservation, sprinted across the kitchen to give his dad a high-five. They both laughed. Noah picked his son up and spun him around once. They shared a hug that ended with a tight squeeze.

“Don’t forget your rain coat, buddy. It looks like you’re going to need it.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Better hurry before you miss your bus.”

“Dad, you’re beginning to sound like mom.”

On cue, Ellen Larson wobbled down the stairs, trying to stay upright in her four-inch stiletto heels. Her naturally blonde hair clung smoothly to her head as her usually flowing locks were twisted into a tight bun and held in place with a diamond-studded hair stick. She wore the shimmering red dress well, which outlined the contours of her curvaceous figure. The silk shawl draped over her shoulders toned down the image of a woman that would put most men’s head on a swivel.

Noah drew out a long whistle and shook his head in delight as he watched his wife of eight years come down the staircase. Who cared if she wasn’t the most graceful woman at the moment? Noah certainly didn’t. And neither did Jake.

“Jake, don’t think you’re going to school without giving mommy a kiss.”

Jake didn’t wait for his mother to make it to the front door. He liked being the first kid to arrive at the bus stop and wasn’t going to let the obligatory kiss from his mom prevent him from achieving his daily goal.

“I love you, Mommy,” Jake planted a wet kiss on her cheek

“I’ll pick you up from school today and then we’ll go shopping. We need to get some warm clothes for our trip.”

“OK, Mom. See you then.”

Ellen went to plant a kiss on Jake’s cheek, but he dodged and resisted. If there was one thing that was sure to get a first-grade boy laughed at, it was having bright red lipstick on your cheek. Instead of getting her way, Ellen withdrew and blew a kiss. Jake’s face lit up with a toothy grin as he put on his raincoat, grabbed his book bag, and ran toward the door.

The large number of students living in the Larsons’ neighborhood who attended Westminster Prep necessitated a school bus. Jake’s walk to the bus stop for the city’s most prestigious prep school was less than a block. Noah and Ellen had no reservations about letting their son walk alone to the corner of this quiet, tree-lined street. Even on a day that registered as extra blustery and rainy by Seattle’s sopping wet standards.

Noah watched Jake pull the door shut and hustle down the steps. Once Jake reached the sidewalk, Noah could see Jake tossing his Sounders soccer ball in the air as he skipped toward the bus stop. Noah craned his neck to watch Jake until he disappeared from his field of view. Noah smiled and shook his head, proud of his little guy.

“Don’t you look nice,” Noah spun around and turned his gaze toward Ellen.

“Thanks, honey. I am going to miss you. I can’t wait for Sunday to get here and this season to be over with. It’s so much better when you lose and don’t make the playoffs.”

Noah moved closer to Ellen. He put his hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eyes.

“I don’t know how to respond to that. Wouldn’t you rather be married to a Super Bowl champion quarterback to impress all your socialite friends?”

“I don’t care about that—I just want you to be done with football so we can enjoy life together again. This football stuff just gets in the way all the time.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

Ellen suddenly grabbed Noah’s arms.

“Seriously? Are you going to retire from football?”

“Well, I’ve been playing football for a long time, living up to a lot of people’s expectations and doing what everyone else thinks I should do. I’m kind of tired of it. Besides, what better way to go out than on top and be the king of this city?”

Ellen began shaking Noah, giddy with excitement. She was careful not to jump up and down in her unstable shoes.

“I can’t believe this!”

“I was hoping you would react like this. Honestly, I’d like for this to be the last game I play and go out with a Super Bowl win. It’s time.”

Ellen smiled.

“You’re not just going to win,” she said, poking Noah in the chest, “you’re going to destroy the Dolphins!”

She turned and headed back upstairs to finish primping for her shopping outing. Noah watched her put her fist in the air and mumble something about “no more football.” He knew retiring would make her happy—and it was time to make it official.

Noah glanced at his packed bags by the door. He then walked back to the kitchen and resumed raindrop watching. Noah stared out the window, grappling with the fact that he had uttered aloud the thought that had been tormenting him for the past six months: Did he have the nerve to walk away from the game that had consumed his entire life? But there was no going back now. Ellen had likely already committed to memory their entre conversation, word for word. And Noah knew she would make sure he kept his word. It was one of the things he liked best about being married to Ellen. It was also one of the worst.

***

Carlos Rivera nursed the cup of coffee in his right hand. It wasn’t cold yet but it was getting there quickly. Another minute or two and it would be undrinkable. Not that he minded. He thought the claim that Seattle was home to the best coffee in the United States was a chiste. It had been a week since he arrived in Seattle, and this was the fifth different brand of coffee he had tried. He remained unimpressed. However, he knew next month Seattle would be invaded by Buenisimo!, the best coffee south of the border. It would make his return trip more palatable.

Yet a chance to sample Seattle’s famous coffee was hardly the reason Rivera found himself far away from his family. Not that he had a choice. When Mr. Hernandez said, “Go to Seattle,” he went. No questions, no protests. Yet this job made Rivera sick. He told himself he was a professional and he could do this. It’s what he told himself every time that Mr. Hernandez required him to do something distasteful. Rivera hated dipping a rival gang member’s hand in acid. Neither did he care for shooting a man’s beloved dog just to make a point. But this assignment? This one was exceptionally cruel. It was so monstrous in its nature that Rivera wondered if Mr. Hernandez even had a conscience anymore—or a heart. Of course, Rivera could refuse. But he loved his family too much. He preferred ever so slightly this sordid existence over death, even if it was a half-step above. Choosing one over the other was about a 50-50 proposition. Rivera chose to live.

Rivera shook his partner, Juan Morales, who had just dozed off in the passenger’s seat.

“It’s time. Wake up.”

Morales rubbed his face and looked through the rain-speckled windshield at their target meandering down the sidewalk. The pulsing wipers swept away a handful of raindrops, gliding across the glass creating a clean space for more raindrops to gather.

“That’s him,” Rivera said.

He eased the car forward and stopped about 10 feet past the target.

With great precision and efficiency, Morales jumped out of the car and grabbed the confused boy. Jake resisted his abductor yet was only able to make one muted call for help. Rivera secured the boy’s arms and mouth; Morales snatched his legs. The boy squirmed and tried to kick free, but in less than two seconds, he was in the backseat of the Town Car wedged between the seat and Morales’ left knee. It was a fight the boy had no chance of winning. His muffled cries went unheard.

Morales grinned and patted Rivera on the back as they pulled away from the curb and headed down the street.

“We got him!” Morales said.

Rivera said nothing. He adjusted the mirror so he could only see Morales. Seeing the terror in the boy’s eyes as Morales was wrangling him in the street was too intensely personal for Rivera. With a six-year-old son of his own, Rivera could hardly stomach this task. But he couldn’t let this get personal. This was business, a business he had to conduct professionally and efficiently or his own family might end up victims of Mr. Hernandez.

Morales couldn’t stop grinning as he basked in his moment of triumph, albeit a sick one—a 28-year-old man overpowering a six-year-old boy 180 pounds his junior. He looked down at his catch, brooding over him with a gruff voice.

“Hola, Jakie boy.”

 

My thoughts:

Jack Patterson has written a novel that is rich in dialog and finely detailed characters — some you love and others will make you shudder. While there is an underlying theme of football it does not dominate the story. People that live for  football will appreciate how the novel unfolds and those that find football not a sport that they follow will also find this novel as intriguing and a page turner.

I found several areas in this novel that caused me to consider and reflect. This is one that I will share with you:

There are infinite ways to make money in the world but he quickest ones always seemed like the sickest ones. Ransom a child. Sell some drugs. Cheat a client. Making money by any means necessary had overrun most every virtue. What verse  did he remember the priest quoting the last time he attended mass? The love of money was the root of all evil?

 You will have to read Cross the Line to find out the kind of evil that permeates and sinks into the pores of your skin from the pages of this mystery novel.

 

Jack Patterson has a winner with this novel. I have given this novel a 4.5 out of 5. Now you need to get your own copy and enjoy the talent of Jack Patterson.

 

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I received an ebook from Partners In Crime Tours and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

[Rating:4.5/5]

 

Dash for Diabetes Kansas City, MO April 13, 2013

Diabetes, a deadly disease that affects more than 25.8 million Americans. This number so emotional when you stop and think how many people suffer with this disease.  This year my daugter is joining me for the Dash for Diabetes … I think that is so COOL! To learn more about this great organization please visit www.diabetes.org. I was the Grand Prize Winner of Champion Sports Nutrition http://www.championnutrition.com/home.aspx. As winner I will be receiving a year supply of their protein drink and Champion has also became a corporate sponser of this year’s Dash for Diabetes … You can see their emblem on the back of the T-Shrits in the photos that follow.

We both woke up to a bitterly cold morning and made our way to the registration event that opened at 7:00 AM. When we arrived the temperture was 34 degrees and warmed all the way up to 35 degrees at race time. The Dash started at 8:00 AM and by then we were really ready to kick things in high gear as we were freeeeeezing! I feel so blessed to have my daughter with me this year and also knowing that Champion Products helped sponsor this event. Below is a pictoral overview of the Dash!

 

Dead Peasants by: Larry Thompson

Synopsis

 

Lawyer Jack Bryant retires early to Fort Worth to kick back, relax and watch his son play football at TCU. Bored with retirement he opens a pro bono office in his RV. When Jack finds an elderly widow at his doorstep, clutching a check for life insurance proceeds on her husband but payable to his former employer, Jack files a civil suit to collect the benefits rightfully due the widow. A seemingly accidental death of his client’s husband thrusts Jack into a vortex of serial killings. He and his new love interest find themselves targets in the same murder for hire scheme. To stop the killings Jack must unravel what in their past makes certain people worth more dead than alive.

 

The Author

Larry D. Thompson is a veteran trial lawyer and has drawn on decades of experience in the courtroom to produce riveting legal thrillers. Dead Peasants is is third After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law, Thompson founded the Houston trial firm where he still serves as managing partner. The proud father of three grown children, he lives and works in Texas but spends his summers in Colorado, where he crafts his novels and hikes the mountains surrounding Vail. His greatest inspiration came from Thomas Thompson, his brother, who wrote many best-selling true-crime books and novels.

 

Excerpt:

 

The knock at the door of the RV was so soft that at first Jack thought it must have been the wind. It came again. He rose from his chair and opened the door. An elderly black lady who he recognized as June Davis stood at the bottom of the steps.

“Mrs. Davis, I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you at first. Please come in. It’s chilly out there for early May.” Jack went down a step and extended his hand to assist his visitor, then offered her something to drink.

June perched on the edge of the cushioned bench that circled the table. “Water would be nice,” she said in a soft voice.

Jack went to the refrigerator and returned with a bottle. He twisted the cap a half a turn and handed it to her. She twisted the cap the rest of the way, took a small sip, replaced the cap and set it on the table.

“How are you doing, Mrs. Davis? I mean since your husband died have you been managing okay?”

“I’m fine, Mr. Bryant. My house is paid for and I get a little social security check. Besides, my kids look after me.” She reached into her purse and retrieved an envelope which she slid across the table to Jack. “This came in the mail, addressed to me. I, I wasn’t sure what to do with it; so, I called Miss Colby. She said I should take it to you.”

Jack picked up the envelope. The return address was the United States Postal Service. He opened it and found another envelope, this one torn and mangled with the addressee illegible. The letter from the postal service read, Dear Mrs. Davis: One of our sorting machines jammed and mangled this letter. We apologize for the problem. Your name was the only one we could make out on the letter, and we were able to get your address. Please handle as you see fit. Very truly yours.

Jack looked at the mangled letter. It was from Euro Life Insurance Company, based on the Isle of Gibraltar. It stated that Euro had determined that one William Davis was married to June Davis. Under the terms of the policy, since it paid double indemnity in the event of an accidental death, the benefit was $400,000, payable to Allison Southwest. Jack looked through the documents a second time before he looked up.

“Did you know that they had insured Willie for $400,000?”

“Lawdy, no, Mr. Bryant. Willie only made $20,000 a year. Why would anyone insure him for that kind of money? Besides, he retired from Allison fifteen years ago.”

“Good question. Let me keep these papers and the check. I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.”

 

My Thoughts:

 

This is a easy post to write because Larry Thompson captured my attention with this writing early in the novel and held me captive until the very end. The protagonist character Jack Bryant is one of those type of lawyers that you would hire in minute because he is genuine and of a good heart, but at the same time he is also a character that has his own flaws and that springs him to life from the words on the white pages.

I thought earlier on I knew who was behind all the killings, but Larry Thompson’s writing style masterfully kept the real conclusion hidden until the dramatic end … I liked that! The ongoing investigation along with the personal life of Jack Bryant kept me turning the digital pages into the night. The plots and subplots are filled with intricate detail while still compelling and true to life. Every character is so well defined that it is easy to be fascinated … even with those characters that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

I am giving this novel a 4.5 out of 5 rating. I will report that my digital copy hadnumerous formatting problems on my Kindle and I can only hope that this was an advance digital copy and when you purchase your copy these formatting problems will be corrected, but I can only write a review on what I was provided. I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with Dead Peasants by Larry Thompson.

 

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I was provided a digital copy of this book and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

[Rating:4.5/5]

 

CureSearch Walk 2013

Today (April 6, 2013) I am thankful that I could walk with other families that have been effected by children with cancer. It’s important to understand that leading cause of death in children is cancer. While both of my children have not experienced cancer it does not mean that we shouldn’t be their for families that have struggled with this disease. I had a cousin while growing up that had cancer and while the cancer was eradicated from her frail body the ongoing treatments caused her a premature death. For the friends and families that donated to this worthwhile cause — I thank you! Here are some pictures from today’s event along with the letting go of balloons that represented a child that was taken from a family due to cancer.

 

If you would like to go the CureSearch Web page click here.

 

 

GOAL SETTING 101 by Steve Capell

Have you ever given much thought to what motivates you to do something? For me it’s thrill of accomplishment. Not just the accomplishment of anything, but the accomplishment of a preplanned, defined, detailed, timely, and achievable goal. I’ve made it a point too always make sure that my goals can stand on three sturdy legs: Mind, Body, and Spirit. The goal must be good for all three areas in my life or it will be discarded without any hesitation or regrets.

 

 

Many of you know that I left my career of 32 years to start a new chapter in my life. I can’t call this retirement because I am not old enough to retire … or I guess I should say old enough to collect retirement. I decided one of my goals was to lose some weight and become fit. Now back to the three legs that a goal must meet. Losing weight would meet the “Body” part of any goal and may in some ways even meet the “Mind” part of the goal. Losing weight just for the sake of losing weight really needed to be nailed down to “Spirit” as well. I was determined that my goal would be used to help others and that would be done in a Godly spirit. I have committed to be involved in several 5K events to help various charities. The next one on my calendar is the Diabetes 5K on April 13th in Kansas City, MO. The “Mind” part is being accomplished by audio books. There isn’t day that has past that I am not jogging or walking with ear buds. I am sure many that see me think I am listening to some of my favorite tunes, but I’m really  listening to audio books. The majority of the books I listen too are from Audible. If your interested in more information click on Audible and you will taken to their site.

 

Books and people are very important aspect of my life. I came across a quote a number of years ago by Charlie Jones. This is what this amazing man said.

 

 

 

“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”

 

 

I’ve made Charlie’s quote an important aspect of my life. Meet a lot people and read a lot of books is something that I model my life after.

 

Now for the results of my goal. My goal was specific in that I wanted to obtain the same weight I had when I graduated high school — 195 lbs. My goal was specific in that I wanted to reach this goal before I turn 60. While I haven’t reached my goal I am really close I weighed in at 204 lbs this morning. Just nine more pounds and I have seventeen more months before I reach 60. Can I do it — You BET I CAN!

 

The “How” is so important to any goal. I read a book a few years ago by Bill Phillips called Body for Life. Phillips brings to the table a detailed plan of weight lifting that I have tried and it works. Phillips states his program is 12 weeks to Mental and Physical Strength. The second aspect of exercise is daily walking and jogging. I walk a minimum of 3.2 miles each day and some days up over 7 miles. The final way that I have been reaching my goal is with a low carb diet. The exact diet is the Paleo Diet. It works for me and my doctor recommended this diet. Along with a good diet is the need to stay hydrated. I drink a lot of water  before each walk and I usually drink a sport drink 15 to 20 minutes before heading out into nature.

 

More recently I came into contact with a product from Champion called Invigorate Workout Hydration Sports Drink and I purchased a box of their product. I am sold as it has great taste and balance … the flavor is light and not sweet, bitter or salty tasting. It is convenient and mixes well, so you don’t have to constantly shake the mixture. I also entered a contest that they were hosting and won a year supply of their protein drinks. I haven’t received protein drink as of this post, but I will write a post later on this product as well. I am also very pleased that Champion has decided to give a corporate gift to the Diabetes Foundation. I find it refreshing when companies take an active role in charities and their needs.

 

One last comment — I hope each of you have some specific goals and I am wishing you much success in reaching them.
In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I am posting this review as an informational post only. I do not have a medical degree or a nutritional  degree and all the products and books detailed in this review were purchased by me and I was not required to write a positive review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255< http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> :“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dinner At Deadman’s by CJ West

Synopsis:

Lorado Martin has loved junk since his grandparents took him bottle digging in the backwoods of New England when he was a boy. The search for antiques and collectibles led him to a unique hobby: digging through the estates of the newly deceased, arranging the sale of goods for the heirs, and keeping the leftovers for himself.

To make a living he builds and maintains housing for recovering addicts and along the way he’s employed a number of his clients. The men wrestle with the siren call of drugs and teach Lorado about the difficult struggle to stay clean one day at a time.
When these two worlds come together, Lorado learns that not every elderly person dies of natural causes and that some estates are sold to benefit a killer. His latest project hits close to home. A woman he’s known since childhood haunts him from a fresh grave. Her grandson, an affable addict who has fallen off the wagon, stands to inherit a considerable sum whether he deserves it or not.

Author Bio:

C.J. West is the author of seven suspense novels including The End of Marking Time and Sin and Vengeance, which was optioned into development for film by Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor).

 

 

 

Book Details

Genre: Mystery
Published by: 22
West Books Publication Date:
November 2012
Number of Pages: 298
 

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

February 17th. Nineteen degrees on a Friday night and I was tucked in a dead lady’s bed trying to convince myself the pressure in my gut wasn’t worth risking the cold oak and then the bathroom tiles. Sound miserable? Not for me. I wasn’t thinking about the punk heir or how silly I looked in a pink comforter covered with big red roses. I was a pig, belly deep in mud. No part of me wanted to move because I’d been treasure hunting all day. Everything was sore, especially my right elbow, but I wouldn’t change a thing. You’re probably laughing. Picturing a fat guy in a pink blanket who fancied himself a pirate. I was no swashbuckler. Unwanted treasure was my specialty. New England might not have had gold or oil, but it was packed with loot.
My ancestors were either cowards or laggards. They landed on the Mayflower and walked inland far enough to get away from the Atlantic storm surge, but not so far they couldn’t run back to the boat if the Indians attacked. I couldn’t run back. I could walk if I lost a few pounds. Okay, probably not. Every winter New Englanders dreamed of moving to Florida or South Carolina. Adventurous souls picked some island the rest of us had never heard of like Turks and Caicos. Not me. The South Coast was exactly where I belonged. New Bedford was the whaling capital of the world. Every old geezer who croaked had some scrimshaw or an oil lamp or something that had been around a few hundred years.
In the old days people had a bottle dump at the back corner of the foundation. Old timers scoured the woods and picked through old homesteads that had rotted into the ground. My grandparents took me along sometimes. They built tiers of wooden shelves in their cellar, a spooky mildew-coated place that had one of the last stone foundations built in the area. They collected thousands of bottles from two-toned brown jugs to tiny blue medicine bottles. One day I found a Fairbanks & Beard soda bottle and my grandfather gave me ten bucks for it. Ten bucks for something I dug out of the ground! I was hooked.
I didn’t wait for houses to fall down and their foundations to fill with leaves like my grandparents did. Yuppie kids called me even before their last parent was buried. They saw a house worth two hundred thousand, some cash, and investments. They browsed the jewelry and they were done. The rest of the stuff was just in the way. A bunch of junk that kept them from the big score. They wanted everything gone so buyers could start looking at the house.
That was my domain. All the stuff they didn’t want. Some of it was worth a whole lot more than that old F & B bottle with the green glass and jagged top. My last thirty years were dedicated to learning the difference. At forty miles per hour I could spot a barrel of Lincoln Logs in somebody’s trash and slam the brakes in time to swing around and pick them out before the garbage truck got there. Put me in an old lady’s house and I was in heaven.
Everyone had some useless crap that never should have been made in the first place. Once that was gone, every single thing left was useful to somebody. The trick was matching them up. Every fork, can opener, end table, and cheesy 1970’s lamp was dying to make someone happy.
In about a week I could have a house open for sale. Posted on Craigslist. In the Standard Times classifieds. A cardboard sign on every main road.
The people would fill the place shoulder to shoulder. Browsing. Smiling and sharing reminders of their childhood. Kids would pick up useless junk and laugh. An hour later an old lady would buy the very same piece. Young and old alike were struck with a combination of nostalgia and bargain fever, but every person who walked through the door had one problem. They were all trying to forget someone died in that house not long ago. Death never bothered me much.
There’s nothing wrong with dead stuff. Road kill could make a great hat if the bumper didn’t poke a hole in the pelt. It was awful hard to mess up a raccoon’s tail with a car and those rings looked pisser dangling down the back of your neck. When you were seventeen anyway. Or maybe twenty. The raccoon didn’t care. He was gone. People were different. They knew death was coming and didn’t want to entertain the thought any longer than necessary. Sometimes they got angry when they died. Sometimes I could feel it. That night working in Mrs. Newbury’s house I swore the old lady was watching me. And she wasn’t happy about me rummaging through her stuff.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know I was coming. My parents had known her a long time. They went to school together back when Rochester kids went to New Bedford High. Decades ago.
A year ago she’d hired me to replace her kitchen cabinets. And she walked me through the house when I was done. Showed me her treasures. Pieces of scrimshaw squirreled away in the attic. Plates I had to Google to find out what they were worth. Mrs. Newbury had some great stuff. She knew her grandson, Newb, wouldn’t appreciate any of it. Her telling me was a sign she wanted me to make sure the valuable pieces weren’t thrown away. Sometime between showing me her house and dying, she’d gotten angry and decided to take it out on my stomach. Maybe I was sleeping on Mr. Newbury’s side of the bed, but that shouldn’t have mattered. They were together in Heaven. Or at least they should have been.
Maybe she’d changed her mind about me selling her stuff to strangers. The closet cramped with fifty years of floral dresses and skirts. Two bureaus overflowing with scarves and socks and underwear. Boxes, purses, and shoe trees pressed into every available space. The clutter slumped against the walls parted just enough to reveal the oak flooring along the weaving path Mrs. Newbury followed to the bathroom. The night light’s glow gleamed off those precious few boards and my gaze fell there as I struggled to sleep in spite of being haunted.
Old people got out of bed to pee a lot. Well, they couldn’t pee a lot, that’s why they got up so often. Anyway, the thing they feared most was a fall at night when no one could hear them and come to help. If you’d seen my big blue coffee cup you’d know I needed to get up a time or two myself. And at three hundred twenty pounds, when I fell there was damage. So I left the night light on even though I wasn’t keen on anyone seeing me wrapped in the old lady’s pink comforter. I’d have been under the pink sheets and rose-patterned blankets, too, if I wasn’t so worried about bedbugs. The look wouldn’t have changed. Only the temperature.
It’d be just like Roxie to swing by for a little action and snap a picture from the doorway. She was a whiz with the Internet. She’d email it to all our friends before I could get dressed and chase her home. Giving her a key to job sites was a risk, but who knows what’d happen in those old neighborhoods. Junkies read the obits. They’d hack out every length of copper from the cellar if they thought no one was home. If they caught me sleeping and roughed me up, maybe she’d call the cops and save my ass. More likely she’d come by to give me a piece of hers. Sadly, three days after Valentine’s my stomach hurt so much I hoped she wouldn’t come.
My gut rumbled and I pulled the comforter tighter. Damned unromantic. Wind whistled against the toothless exterior and found its way in through gaps around the windows. I’d pitched the kid a siding and window replacement job, but the only thing the vulture wanted was his grandmother’s place gone in a rush. Forsythia slapped the shingles and tickled the glass. The bushes could have been cut back enough in a day so you could see the street from the windows. The briars and scrub out back mowed with a brush cutter in three hours. Two hundred bucks to triple the yard and jack up the sale price at least three times that. No deal. No cash was going into grandma’s house. He wanted me to wring out every penny. Every cent he could get without lifting a finger or spending a dime.
Thankless cheapskate I worked for. Even worse when he worked for me. A knot in my gut twisted so tight I forgot my annoyance with the kid.
The cramps forced me to wrestle out of the comforter and lumber down the path, hunched over in the dark, cradling my gut in my arms. On my second step, something jabbed the meat of my right foot. It pressed in so deeply, I hopped and crashed my right shoulder into the doorframe. I swiped at the sole of my foot, feeling for blood, expecting a staple or a tack. A bit of broken plastic was all I found. It bounced into a corner for me to step on again later. The jostling hurt so much I thought my stomach was going to erupt horizontally. I wished I’d just kept walking and let the plastic burrow its way in. It would have been a lot less painful.
Four hobbled steps carried me through the hall into a bathroom that had been designed for tiny old people. Her toilet was wedged in a corner between the closet and the window. I leaned against the wall. Ignored the ceramic toilet paper dispenser digging into my knee. The cold air rushing through the window. Balanced there in the dark, the pain radiated lower.
Giving birth had to feel like this. It hurt too much to push. It hurt too much not to push.
The contents of my bowels willed themselves free with a liquid rush that went on far longer than should have been humanly possible. Stuff I’d eaten days ago freed itself from my body in a torrent that released so much pressure it felt as good as any orgasm.
Then my entire body seized in a cramp that folded me in half.
Women complain about cramps like it’s the end of the world. If this was what having a period was like, I’d take back every menstrual joke I ever told.
Forty minutes later I was still sitting there with the seat jammed so firmly into my backside the impression wouldn’t fade for a week. I’ll spare you the details, but stuff kept squirting out of me until I swore my intestines were inside out, hanging down there in the bowl getting a rinse.
I hate doctors almost as much as I hate health plans and the government sponsored socialist crap that forced me to pay for something I didn’t want so some lowlife could get free healthcare. My right elbow had hurt for two years before that night and I hadn’t seen a doctor yet. I’d rather wake up wincing in pain than pay some rich boy two hundred bucks to talk with me for seven minutes. That night it hurt so badly I might have called an ambulance if I could have gotten my pants back on. Might have driven myself in if I could have taken a step away from the porcelain throne, but I was tethered by unrelenting cramps and the fear of my insides splashing all over everything if I stood up. I clutched my gut and leaned forward, praying that somehow the pain would pass and I’d make it back to bed. Sleep would set me right. Little did I know sleep was coming in a rush. A nasty cramp hunched me right over forward and my foot slipped.
The bolt of pain in my groin erased any memory of the cramps. Blinding, mind-erasing pain that only men experience. My arms shot down to catch myself on the seat and free my crushed testicle.
The toilet seat broke free under my weight and I leapfrogged forward. The sharp edge of the vanity creased my forehead. That was the last pain I felt that night. My vision faded like an old tube TV, closing in from the outside to a point of light. As I lost consciousness I had the distinct feeling the old woman was cackling with delight.

My Thoughts:

While reading this amazing novel I found myself many times reminiscing about the trips that my family would take to the local flea market. I found these excursions to be fun while  scavenging around the tables that displayed the junk and misfits that the various owners were willing to depart with for my money. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This book is centered around a junk dealer named Lorado. Lorado makes a living by selling people junk … or in other words – treasures! Lorado also has a passion too not only find buyers for junk, but also to hire some of societies misfits such as recovering drug addicts. He feels that by giving these recovering addicts one more chance they too can fit back into society just like the junk he sells. Lorado  finds himself in the middle of a mysterious murder and also finds out that someone is trying to kill him. He now has some real problems to contend with and at the same time keep his junk business alive and in front of the next customer.

 

I found this novel to be especially fast-paced and at the same time filled with hilarity and down to earth, living, breathing, characters. C.J. West weaves a mystery with copper wire, cracked ribs, drugs, prostitution, friends, enemies, and soldiers that will have to wait another day to be sold. Does this sounds interesting and intriguing? I assure you this novel will not disappoint. One final comment — I will never again go to a flea market, garage sale, or rummage sale without thinking about Lorado. If your looking for your next treasure you will find it in this amazing novel.

 

I’ve given this novel a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

 

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: The Kindle addition ebook was provided by Partners In Crime.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 
[Rating:4.5/5]

The Disappearance of Grace by: Vincent Zandri

SYNOPSIS:

Now you see her. Now you don’t…

 

Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.

 

A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.

 

AUTHOR BIO:

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of THE INNOCENT, GODCHILD, THE REMAINS, MOONLIGHT FALLS, CONCRETE PEARL, MOONLIGHT RISES, SCREAM CATCHER, BLUE MOONLIGHT and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts, PATHOLOGICAL, TRUE STORIES and MOONLIGHT MAFIA. Harlan Coben has described THE INNOCENT (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

 

EXCERPT:

 

The wind picks up off the basin.
It seems to seep right through my leather coat into flesh, skin and bone. I try and hold my face up to the sun while the waiter takes our orders. Grace orders a single glass of vino russo and a pancetta and cheese panini. I forgo the Valpolicella and order a Moretti beer and a simple spaghetti pomadoro. The waiter thanks us and I listen to him leaving us for now.

We sit in the calm of the early afternoon, the sounds of the boat traffic coming and going on the basin filling my ears. People surround us on all sides. Tourists who have come to San Marco for the first time and who’ve become mesmerized by it all. I don’t have to physically see them to know how they feel. The stone square, the Cathedral, the bell tower, the many shops and high- end eateries that occupy the wide, square-shaped perimeter. The pigeons. The people. Always the throngs of people coming and going amidst a chorus of bells, bellowing voices, live music emerging from trumpets, violins, and guitars, and an energetic buzz that seems to radiate up from underneath all that stone and sea-soaked soil.

It’s early November.

Here’s what I know about Venice: In just a few week’s’ time, the rains will come and this square will be underwater. The ever sinking Venice floods easily now. The only way to walk the square will be over hastily constructed platforms made from cobbled narrow planks. Many of the tourists will stay away and the live music will be silenced. But somehow, that’s when Venice will come alive more than ever. When the stone is bathed in water.

The waiter brings our drinks and food.
With the aroma of the hot spaghetti filling my senses, I dig in and spoon up a mouthful. I wash the hot, tangy sauce-covered pasta down with a swallow of red wine.

“Whoa, slow down, chief,” Grace giggles.

“Eating, smiling, making love to me. What’s next? Writing?”

“Don’t press your luck, Gracie,” I say. “The sea change can occur at any moment. Just don’t start asking me to identify engagement rings.”

She laughs genuinely and I listen to the sounds of her taking a bite out of her sandwich. But then she goes quiet again. Too quiet, as if she’s stopped breathing altogether.

“There’s someone staring at us,” she says under her breath.

“Man or woman?” I say, trying to position my gaze directly across the table at her, but making out nothing more than her black silhouette framed against the brightness of the sun. Later on, when the sun goes down, the image of her will be entirely black. Like the blackness of the Afghan Tajik country when the fires are put out and you lie very still inside your tent without the benefit of electronic night vision, and you feel the beating of your never- still heart and you pray for morning.

“Man,” she whispers.

“What’s he look like?”

“It’s him again. The man in the overcoat who was staring at us yesterday.”

A start in my heart. I put my fork down inside my bowl. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. I think. He’s wearing sunglasses this time. So,. I think it’s him.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He’s a thin man. Not tall. Not short. He’s got a dark complexion.”

“Black?”

“No. More like Asian or Middle Eastern. He’s wearing sunglasses and that same brown overcoat and a scarf. His hair is black and cut close to his scalp. His beard is very trim and cropped close to his face.” She exhales. I hear her take a quick, nervous sip of her wine. “He keeps staring at us. At me. Just like yesterday, Nick.”

“How do you know he’s staring at you? It could be something behind you, Grace. We’re in Venice. Lots going on behind you. Lots to see.”

She’s stirring in her chair. Agitated.
“Because I can feel him. His eyes…I. Feel. His. Eyes.”

I wipe my mouth clean with the cloth napkin. I do something entirely silly. I turn around in my chair to get a look at the man. As if I have the ability to see him right now, which I most definitely do not.

“What are you doing?” Grace poses, the anxiety in her voice growing more intense with each passing second.

“Trying to get a look at him.”

“You’re joking, Nick.”

I turn back, try and focus on her.

“You think?”

We sit silent.
Once more I am helpless and impotent.

“I’m sorry,” she says after a time. “I’m not trying to insult you. This isn’t like yesterday with the ring. But this man is at the same café we’re at two days in a row? This is really starting to creep me out, babe.”

My pulse begins to pump inside my head. Not rapid, but just enough for me to notice. Two steady drum beats against my temples. I find myself wanting to swallow, but my mouth has gone dry. I take a sip of beer thinking it will help.

“He’s coming towards us, Nick. I don’t like it.”

Heart beat picks up. I feel it pounding inside my head and my chest.

“Are you sure he’s coming towards us, Grace?” I’m trying not to raise my voice, but it’s next to impossible.

“He’s looking right at me. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his overcoat. And he’s coming.”

I feel and hear Grace pulling away from the table. She’s standing. That’s when the smell of incense sweeps over me. A rich, organic, incense-like smell.

There comes the sound of Grace standing. Abruptly standing. I hear her metal chair push out. I hear the sound of her boot heels on the cobbles. I hear the chair legs scraping against the stone slate. I hear the sound of her wine glass spilling.

“Grace, for God’s sakes, be careful.”

But she doesn’t respond to me. Or is it possible her voice is drowned out by what sounds like a tour group passing by the table? A tour group of Japanese speaking people. But once they pass, there is nothing. No sound at all other than the boats on the basin and the constant murmur of the thousands of tourists that fill this ancient square.

“Grace,” I say. “Grace. Stop it. This isn’t funny. Grace.”

But there’s still no response.
The smell of incense is gone now.
I make out the gulls flying over the tables, the birds shooting in from the basin to pick up scraps of food and then, like thieves in the night, shooting back out over the water. I can hear and feel the sound-wave driven music that reverberates against the stone cathedral.

“Grace,” I repeat, voice louder now. “Grace. Grace…Grace!”

I’m getting no response.

It’s like she’s gone. Vanished. But how can she be gone? She was just sitting here with me. She was sitting directly across from me, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine. She was talking with me.
The waiter approaches.

“The signora is not liking her food?” he questions.

I reach out across the table. In the place where she was sitting. She is definitely not there.

“Is there a toilet close by?” I pose. “Did you see my fiancée leave the table and go to the toilet?”

The waiter pauses for a moment.

“I am sorry. But I did not. I was inside the café.”

“Then maybe somebody else saw her. Maybe you can ask them.”

“Signor, there are many tables in this café and they are all filled with people. And there are many people who walk amongst the tables who can block their view. I am looking at them. No one seems to be concerned about anything. Sometimes there are so many people here, it is easy to get lost. Perhaps she just went to the toilet like you just suggested, and she got lost amongst the people. I will come back in moment and make sure all is well.”

I listen to the waiter leaving, his footsteps fading against the slate.
Grace didn’t say anything about going to the toilet or anywhere else. Grace was frightened. She was frightened of a man who was staring at her. A man with sunglasses on and a cropped beard and a long brown overcoat. He was the man from yesterday. The man with black eyes. He was approaching us, this man. He came to our table and he smelled strongly of incense. He came to our table. There was a slight commotion, the spilling of a glass, the knocking over of a chair, and then Grace was gone.

I sit and stare at nothing. My heart is pounding so fast I think it will cease at any moment. What I have in the place of vision is a blank wall of blurry illumination no longer filled with the silhouette of my Grace.

I push out my chair. Stand. My legs knock into the table and my glass spills along with Grace’s.

I cup my hands around my mouth.

“Grace!” I shout. “Grace! Grace!”

The people who surround me all grow quiet as I scream over them.

The waiter comes running back over.

“Please, please,” he says to me, taking me by the arm. “Please come with me.”

He begins leading me through the throng of tables and people. He is what I have now in the place of Grace. He is my sight.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” I beg. “Did you check the toilets?”

“We checked the toilets. They are empty. I am sorry. I am sure there is an explanation.”

“Grace is gone!” I shout. “A man took her away. How could no one have seen it?”

“You’re frightening the patrons, signor. Please just come with me and we will try and find her.”

“She’s gone,” I repeat. “Don’t you understand me? My. Grace. Is. Gone.”

 

My Thoughts:

 

The Disappearance of Grace is full of climactic events that kept me on the edge of my seat. Vincent Zandri took me on roller coaster ride that kept me turning the digital Kindle pages late into the night. The plot flowed well and gave up the clues to the disappearance of Grace in just the right places to keep me engaged. The characters uniquely fit together and their dialog brings them into believable life with all their human faults. This novel is not a relaxing read as it will keep your adrenaline high.

 

The one thing that kept me wondering was this idea that PTSD could actually cause blindness. I did some research and found that blindness, deafness, and paralysis, among other conditions, are common forms stress reactions from PTSD. With this validated in my own mine it added to the believability of the plot.

 

Who should read this novel?

 

I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves fast paced mystery novels and especially those that like mystery novels written around the effects of war and PTSD. This novel will not disappoint!

 

I have given the novel a 4 out of 5.

 

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: Partners in Crime provided  this book and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Rating:4/5]

 

Missing Rebecca by: John Worsley Simpson

SYNOPSIS:

John’s latest book, his fifth novel, Missing Rebecca, is a story of death and deception. After a whirlwind romance, Liam and Rebecca marry, knowing almost nothing of each other’s backgrounds. Only months later, on an afternoon shopping trip to a mall in the Buffalo, New York, suburb of Cheektowaga, Rebecca vanishes, seemingly abducted. Or did she make herself disappear? Was the marriage a sham? Was Liam a dupe? This is a novel of high crimes and dark shadows, involving the immensely profitable drug industry in which exclusive access to the market for a medication can mean billions of dollars, and holding on to that exclusivity might lead to lies, deceit, corruption, payoffs, and even murder.

AUTHOR BIO:

JOHN WORSLEY SIMPSON is a crime-fiction writer. John was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England, emigrated to Canada at the age of four and grew up in Toronto, He has been a reporter and editor in major newspapers and news services in North America, England and Ireland. He is married and lives in Newmarket, Ontario.

 AUTHOR SITES:

Website (http://www.johnworsleysimpson.ca)

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/johnworsleysimpson)

Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/jworsim)

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

“Okay.” The detective moved the computer mouse on the table and the screen lit up. He clicked on a folder and a video player opened; another click and the video began to play. The first scene was inside one of the mall’s entrances. In a moment, Liam and Rebecca entered the frame from the bottom of the screen, their backs to the camera.

“Is that you and your wife?” Welburn asked.

“It is, yes. It was a cold day, like today, so Rebecca wore her red, quilted ski jacket. I wore my pea coat and watch cap—hello, sailor,” Peters said, grinning vacuously, and immediately felt stupid.

“Sure. And right away you split up.”

“Rebecca likes to shop alone, which is great. As men, you must appreciate that.”

The detectives exchanged a glance and then nodded politely.

They ran the video for about an hour, various cameras picking up Rebecca in her bright red coat and ink-black hair. One scene showed Rebecca heading past the camera toward the mall exit, carrying a Lord & Taylor bag. The next scene showed Peters carrying a huge Hugo Boss bag, passing Rebecca as she re-entered the mall empty handed. He waved to her as he passed, and she turned down a side corridor that led to the restrooms.

“I took the jacket and pants I’d bought out to the car,” Peters explained. “Rebecca had a couple of outfits in her bag. She left them in the car, too. I found them later.”

Almost instantly, because of the truncating of the video by the technician, a man wearing a long, black overcoat, its collar turned up, and a sloping-brim, Irish-style, tweed hat appeared from the bottom of the screen, his back to the camera, as if he had just entered the mall. He was carrying a duffel bag. His shoulders were hunched and he walked with long, quick strides, so that he was around the corner and in the restroom corridor in a few seconds.

Welburn paused the video.

“Let me explain. I’ve watched the video before, a few times. The original showed this corner of the hall for some time. There is an emergency exit at the end of the corridor to the restrooms, and there are a couple of utility rooms. If the exit door had been opened, an alarm would have sounded, and a signal flashed in the security room. It wasn’t opened. There’s no camera in the restroom hallway, by the way. It’s only a short hall, fully visible from the main hall. Anyway, you’ll see when I start the video again that two people—the guy in the long coat—and a woman in a long coat and a wide scarf covering her hair and most of her face come out of the restroom hallway. The guy is holding the woman’s elbow. Okay, watch.”

As soon as the detective restarted the video, the couple he had described came hurrying around the corner in the direction of the camera. The hat and collar of the man concealed his face, as did the woman’s scarf cover hers. He seemed almost to be pushing her. He wasn’t carrying the duffel bag.

“Now, the entire rest of the video shows no one in a red ski jacket, or even anyone roughly resembling your wife come out of that corridor, or from straight down the hall.”

“That must have been her.”

“With the long-overcoat guy? Yeah we think so. The height looks about right, for instance. And—I’m sorry about this, but we checked with the lost-and-found at the mall, and they had a red ski jacket that looks exactly like the one your wife was wearing. It was found in the ladies washroom in the hallway we’re looking at. And the duffel bag the guy was carrying was in the hallway.”

My Thoughts:

Overall, I did find the plot to be intriguing and easy to follow. I also found the introduction for this book was pretty good and this allowed me to get into the overall plot very quickly. The clues of what really happened to Rebecca were cleverly hidden so that the ending wasn’t predictable — I like that in a well written mystery novel. I also found the ending too nicely bring all the lose ends to a conclusion — albeit not the conclusion that  I expected.  The other triumphs of this book are hard for me to name as I found some of character development to be lacking and the plot at times seemed rushed.  I would have preferred more descriptive voice and a richer dialog between the characters — if these two things would have occurred I am sure the overall affect would have greatly enhance the believability of characters.

 

One example of how I felt the plot was rushed was the description of Rebecca’s marriage and how the dating, proposing, accepting, and abracadabra she is  married occurred in only a few days, three to be exact,  and only took a few paragraphs in the book to describe, and only one paragraph that really gave me any detail about this event in Rebecca’s life. While there are reasons for a quick marriage in real life and maybe also in Rebecca’s case the overall affect of such a life changing event could have been made more genuine with a richer more detailed writing style of this important event. Below is the excerpt of the descriptive writing detailing this event:

Three days after they arrived at Liam’s house, leaving the door open to the January chill and tearing their clothes from their bodies as they scrambled upstairs to give the bed a pre-conjugal trail, they were in front of the justice  of the peace  and were pledging eternal and reciprocal love.

I would of loved to read more about what Liam felt about Rebecca the first time she arrived at his house: did her eyes glisten, what were some of sounds that were heard from the January chilly day, what perfume was Rebecca wearing, what kind of clothes did she have on for the first time in Liam’s home, did Liam enjoy his first time with Rebecca and of course the vice versa did Rebecca enjoy her first time with Liam? I could go on and on with what I found missing and what my mind was craving as I read this novel; however, I will just say that the overall affect of not being more descriptive made me perceive that the characters were not believable and the plot rushed.

 

I found a number of  grammatical, and spelling errors that are sprinkled throughout this novel. Maybe this was a first readers edition (I’m not sure?)  before the final edition is printed and the final edition may correct these errors, but I can only critique the work that I was provided.

 

One final word of caution for prospective readers of this novel — the author has liberally used the ‘F’ word throughout much of the dialog and as such this novel is not for underage readers or those that are opposed to such language. I am not downgrading this work because of this language, but I did want to caution readers to what they will find throughout this novel.

 Who should read this novel?

This novel will appeal to readers that enjoy mystery, and romance around a plot that will keep you interested from the first page to the last. Readers that would like a quick read while on a plane trip or just setting out under the sun will find the length of Missing Rebecca the perfect read.

I’ve given this novel a 3 rating out of 5.

 

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: I was given an eBook of this novel by Partners In Crime Tours and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Rating:3/5]

 

 

 

Sweat By: Mark Gilleo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. He speaks Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His first two novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wis- dom creative writing competition.

SYNOPSIS:

When Jake Patrick took a summer internship at his estranged father’s corporation, he anticipated some much-needed extra cash and a couple of free meals from his guilty dad. He would never have guessed that he’d find himself in the center of an international scandal involving a U.S. senator, conspiracy, backroom politics, and murder. Or that his own life would hang in the balance. Or that he’d find help – and much more than that – from a collection of memorable characters operating on all sides of the law. Jake’s summer has turned into the most eventful one of his life. Now he just needs to survive it.From the sweatshops of Saipan to the most powerful offices in Washington, SWEAT rockets through a story of crime and consequences with lightning pacing, a twisting plot, an unforgettable cast of characters, and wry humor. It is another nonstop thriller from one of the most exciting new voices in suspense fiction.

EXCERPT:

As the van pulled away in a small cloud of dust, the senator inspected the main guard booth and the now present guard. Lee Chang took Peter by the arm and stepped away. The sweatshop boss dropped his voice to a whisper and looked over Peter’s shoulder as he spoke, “Interested in the usual companionship?”Peter, in turn, looked over at the senator who looked back and nodded in approval to the conversation he couldn’t hear but fully understood. “Is Wei Ling available?” Peter asked as if ordering his favorite wine from the menu.“Yes, of course. Wei is available. Shall I find a companion for the senator as well?”“Yes, the senator would enjoy some company. Someone with a good command of English. I don’t think he wants to spend the evening playing charades,” Peter responded.“No, I’m sure he wouldn’t.” Lee Chang smiled, nodded, and barked at Chow Ying in Chinese. The large subordinate walked across the front lot of Chang Industries, down the side of the main building, and vanished into the seamstresses’ two-story living quarters. The CEO, senator, and sweatshop ruler went upstairs to wait.

Traditional Chinese furnishings cluttered Lee Chang’s living room.

“Nice piece,” the senator said, running his hands across a large black cabinet with twelve rows and columns of square drawers.

Peter spoke. “It’s an antique herbal medicine cabinet. The Chinese characters written on the front of each drawer indicate the contents.”

“Tattooed reminders of a former life,” the senator said with poetic license.

Lee Chang stepped over and pulled open one of the drawers. “And now it holds my DVD collection.”

“Modernization never stops,” Peter added.

The three men found their way to the living room and Peter and Senator Day sat on the sofa. Lee took a seat on a comfortable wooden chair, small cylindrical pillows made from the finest Chinese silk supporting his arms.

The middle-aged woman who entered the room to serve tea didn’t speak. She had standing orders not to interrupt when her boss’s guests were wearing suits. The senator watched the woman skillfully pour tea from a blue and white ceramic teapot. He wondered if the woman was Lee Chang’s lover. Peter knew Lee’s taste ran much younger. The intercom came to life on the wall near the door and Chow Ying announced that the ladies were ready. A brief exchange followed in rapid-fire Chinese before Lee Chang ended the conversation abruptly, flipping the intercom switch off.

“Gentlemen, if you are ready, the car is waiting.”

The senator took the front seat next to Chow Ying. Peter gladly sat in the back seat, squeezing in between the two beautiful Asian women. As he got comfortable in the rear of the car, Wei Ling whispered in his ear, her lips tickling his lobe. Peter smiled as his lover’s breath blew on his neck.

Shi Shi Wong, the senator’s date for the evening, looked up at the seamstresses’ quarters as the car began to move. She spotted several faces pressed against the glass of a second floor window and fought the urge to wave.

By the time the black Lincoln exited the gate of Chang Industries, Peter had one arm around each lady. He kept them close enough to feel their bodies move with every bump in the road. He leaned his torso into theirs with every turn of the car.

Peter Winthrop’s favorite table at The Palm was in an isolated corner next to a small balcony overlooking intimidating cliffs thirty yards from the back of the restaurant. A steady breeze pushed through the open French doors that led to the balcony, blowing out the candle in the center of the table as they arrived. Peter asked for recommendations from the chef and ordered for everyone. They had spicy barbecued shrimp for an appetizer, followed by a salad with freshly sliced squid that the senator refused to eat. For the main course, the party of four shared a large red snapper served in a garlic and lemon-based Thai sauce. Copious amounts of wine accompanied every dish.

Chow Ying waited subserviently in the parking lot for over three hours. He fetched two cups of coffee from the back door of the kitchen and drank them in the Lincoln with the driver’s side doors open. With his second cup of coffee, he asked the waiter how much longer he thought the Winthrop party was going to be.

“Another hour at the most,” came the reply.

On the trip back to the hotel, the honorable senator from Massachusetts threw his honorability out the window and sat in the backseat with the ladies. Flirtatious groping ensued, the senator’s hands moving like ivy on human walls. His Rolex came to rest on Wei Ling’s shoulder. His Harvard class ring continued to caress the bare skin on Shi Shi Wong’s neck.

Peter made conversation with Chow Ying as the driver forced himself not to look in the rearview mirror. Peter, never bashful, glanced at Wei Ling on the opposite side of the backseat, their eyes meeting with a twinkle, her lips turning up in a smile for her lover. Peter smiled back.

Wei Ling was beautiful, and a sweetheart, and intriguing enough for Peter to find an excuse to stop in Saipan when he was on business in Asia. He usually brought her a gift, nothing too flashy, but something meaningful enough to keep her compliant in the sack. A dress, lingerie, earrings. He liked Wei Ling, a simple fact tempered by the realism that he was a CEO and she was a third-world seamstress. Pure attraction couldn’t bridge some gaps. But Lee Chang was proud of the fact that Peter had taken a fancy to Wei Ling. It was good business. She was a company asset. He wished he could put her on the corporate balance sheet.

Chow Ying dropped the party of four off at the Ritz, an eight-story oasis overlooking the finest stretch of white sand and blue water on the island. He gave Wei Ling and her sweatshop roommate-turned-prostitute-without-pay a brief command in Chinese and followed with a formal handshake to the senator and Peter. He waited for the four to vanish through the revolving door of the hotel and then pulled the Lincoln into the far corner of the parking lot.

The senator and Peter weaved slightly across the lobby of the hotel. Wei Ling and Shi Shi Wong followed several paces behind. The concierge and hotel manager, jaws dropping momentarily, engaged in a seemingly urgent conversation and didn’t look up until the elevator doors had closed.

My thoughts.

 

The plot of this thriller brings the reader face to face with what life must be like working in a sweat shop and more importantly how life must be like for those that do find themselves gainly employed or should I say gainly imprisoned in a  sweat job ? While this book is fictional it does bring to light how greed and politics can corrupt and destroy lives of innocent people and this allowed me to feel a multitude of emotions while turning the pages of this international thriller.  The plot  moves along at a very brisk speed and I found myself fascinated by the ongoing, “on the edge of your seat” suspense. I had trouble finding a place to stop reading as the overall plot kept me well engaged and always wanting more.

 

The voice and language is descriptive and believable. I really liked the following passage in Chapter 28 and this will give you a flavor of the descriptive language that makes up this novel:

 

“The old apartment was an orchestra of creaks and squeaks, groans and moans. The steps, the banister, the doors, the windows, all kept rhythm. The pipes to the sink, shower, and toilet hit all the high notes in various pitch. When the infamous D.C. summer thunderstorms blew in during the late afternoon and early evening, the whole building rattled and rolled.”

 

The characters are complex, fully developed, and they fit together nicely where they were required to fit together and when they were on the opposite end of spectrum they played off each other like a great game of cat and mouse. I found some of the characters I loved and others … well let’s just say that maybe only their mothers could love them and that may be a stretch for some mothers.

 

Who should read this novel?

 

Anyone that likes fast paced thrillers with well developed characters will want to pick this one up. I am glad I took some precious reading time and read Sweat by Mark Gilleo. I am sure you too will enjoy this one.

 

Anyway a good novel and well worth the  4.5 rating out of 5 that I am giving this one.

In accordance with new FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers I am disclosing the following: This tour was sponsored by Partners in Crime Tours and they provided this book.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

[Rating:4.5/5]