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Rogue Wolf

Rogue Wolf (The Oldenglen Chronicles) (Volume 3) by Robin Mason

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A Burning in the Darkness

A Burning in the Darkness by A P McGrath

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The Amarant

The Amarant by Tricia Barr

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The Surgeon's Wife

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles

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Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

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The Spirit of Want

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles

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Guardian of Deceit

Guardian of Deceit by William H. Coles

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Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

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The Anatomy of Cheating

The Anatomy of Cheating: A Novel by Nesly Clerge

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Opry: A Semi-Musical Tale of Honky Tonk Lifestyle by Simon Plaster

Reviewed by Ray Palen

OpryA raucous Oklahoma City Honky Tonk; a relentless bulldog reporter; a City Councilperson on a mission; a couple on the outs competing against each other in a winner take all Karaoke Contest.

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These are just some of a handful of characters in the wild, over-the-top, country music fueled novel OPRY. Did I forget to mention there are also a string of missing women including a prospective competitor in the Karaoke Contest?

Author Simon Plaster prides himself on his satirical novels featuring characters that resemble — or closely resemble — real life characters. OPRY is a big undertaking in which Plaster, from a literary standpoint, has many balls in the air to juggle all at the same time.

V.D. “Moon” Mullins is the sleazy owner of Honky Tonk, a self-proclaimed Texas style beer joint in the heart of Oklahoma City. His place is about to host their nearly famous KaraOkie Opry singing contest. Many have entered this extremely competitive competition and a handful of these ‘talents’ are featured in the narrative of OPRY.

A Burning in the Darkness by A P McGrath

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

A Burning in the DarknessA P McGrath successfully unites the most important elements of civilization between the covers of A Burning in the Darkness. The pages of the book offer a tasteful blend of crime and romance under the seal of Catholic faith.

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At a large international airport, a small confessional room is filled with secrets. Father Michael Kieh, who is responsible with hearing these burdens and offering forgiveness when it is due, finds himself lured into an intricate web of conspiracy. The spiders forming the web are important men of the society and their victims are whoever endangers their status or brilliant future. Ruthless predators, they hunt under the cover of law and bureaucracy, using the system to their own advantage.

Basically, two institutions – the church and the justice system – test their influence over one another and people. Each offers a certain set of tools which can serve the purpose given by the one who wealds these. Father Kieh becomes the keeper of some critical information, but due to the fact that it was obtained via confession, he is forced to test the limits of church regulation and his own morality.

Rogue Wolf (The Oldenglen Chronicles) (Volume 3) by Robin Mason

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Rogue WolfTeenagers who enjoy nature rather than social media or video games might seem unusual. Jax and Sarah have a rare relationship with their environment. They understand the relationships with people and nature are immensely important for the future of our planet.

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Oldenglen is a special place near Jax’s home in southern Oregon. Having his life uprooted from life in England was difficult for him. However, school wasn’t his salvation, but the magical relationship he discovered with this unique forest and the creatures who live within as well as the trust and friendship with each other.

Keeping the area protected is always a constant challenge. With the ever-expanding new housing developments for humans threatening the natural habitats of the wild creatures while keeping the balance of nature between the expanding population of people and nature.

Balances within Oldenglen are also difficult to maintain. Providing food for all creatures requires just the correct proportion between predators and prey. Too many prey demands massive amounts of plants and small creatures, while predators must depend on an abundance of prey, otherwise they starve.

The Amarant by Tricia Barr

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The AmarantTricia Barr’s The Amarant, beckons readers into a fantastical vampire-filled world, where a young woman’s crush on a fictional character leads her into an incredible reality where romance, the paranormal and an untapped legacy of fantastic supernatural power merge to change her world, forever.

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The heroine of the story, Crimson Wilkinson, portrays a complex and strong-willed young woman, who refuses to let the darkness of a hurt-filled past take over her life. Being only seventeen, she lives with her mother in Tuscon, Arizona, a locale which is wanting when it comes to excitement. As with any high schooler, Crimson undergoes some common experiences; an angry teacher, a bullying nemesis, ditching classes, an attraction to a hunky football player, and boredom. Her only real escape from the doldrums of her life concerns either hanging with her best friends Robert, Reina and Amber or getting lost in her favorite series of paranormal fiction novels which centers on a reclusive, handsome vampire named Nicholae Albaric who she crushes on and obsesses over.

The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

The Surgeon's WifeThe Surgeon’s Wife is split into three parts. Vivid illustrations on the book cover and also preceding the text for each part perfectly complement this engaging story. The book is told from multiple viewpoints which provides valuable insight into the feelings, perceptions, and motives of each of the pertinent characters in the story, and how they are affected by the circumstances in which they find themselves.

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Mike Boudreaux is the chief of surgery at a prominent hospital in New Orleans, and he is called upon to make tough decisions about his partner, Clayton Otherson, who is making life-threatening mistakes in surgery. Mike owes the success of his career to Clayton and wants to help his colleague and friend, a distinguished and influential bariatric surgeon, avoid suspension by the hospital operating room committee. Mike can impact decisions made by the committee since he is the chair, and Clayton believes that Mike should make any complaints about his competency as a surgeon go away. However, the safety of patients is Mike’s top priority. When the committee puts some restrictions in place that affect Clayton in his surgeries of obese patients, this action puts up barriers in Mike and Clayton’s friendship.

Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

LegacyThis Young Adult fiction is the 3rd in the Fire Chronicle series. It is very good and thoughtful uplifting even when presenting unsurmountable evil and odds.

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In a fantasy world where races of creatures, usually humanoid, are often fighting each other, order has come to much of civilization. The Alliance was formed in fire with a great battle where Lord Luminor was injured deeply. He leads this group of people beneficently with powers that have been unmatched until now.

There is danger now, a new and fearful evil has begun to invade the Morvians. These people live beyond the Impossible Mountains. Although, this does not affect his domain, Luminor must defend these people from the encroaching menace. He forms his army, the greatest so far, combining many groups into a single fighting force. He heads North leaving hearth and home behind protected by a regent and wise Elders to protect his domain and his family.

This leaves Espira, Essie familiarly, and Ardientor sitting at home and worrying about their father. As hybrids, combining human and Gaian ancestry, they are the first and possibly the only salvation of the domain, but they must overcome sibling rivalry and a confining spell placed by their father. When all seems lost, they find the way, Espira especially, to reconcile the personalities and the powers, first to summon assistance from the Ancient Realm and then to lend its use to the army across the Impossible Mountains.

The Spirit of Want by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Spirit of WantThe year is 1984. Widower, Dr. Luke Osborn works as an eye doctor specializing in retinal surgery for the new Eye Institute. For a new doctor it is a privilege to be apart of mingling with the ultra-rich whose generous donations created this new facility, but Luke feels that he does not belong. He has never possessed that much money or lived twitch extravagance.

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This new institute is A. J. MacNeil’s dream project as the institute’s leader. Naturally at this event, his wife, Agnes as well as his grown daughters, Lucy and Elizabeth astute do. Strangely the two daughters are very different. Lucy is a lawyer who is dark, slim, drunk, and angry. Contrastly, Elizabeth, a teacher, is fair colored, a little overweight, sober, and pleasant.

One of his first conversations with Lucy had her complaining about eye surgery, “It’s not just mistakes that piss me off, it’s the coverups.” Would you want to converse with her if you operated on eyes?

McDowell by William H. Coles

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

McDowellWilliam H. Coles’ McDowell doses readers with literate medicine for the mind and soul, with a distinctive and engrossing work of dramatic fiction that craftily embeds a story of self-discovery within the world of the modern medical profession. It delves into the life and psyche of surgeon Hiram McDowell, a medical professional at the pinnacle of his success who dwells at the lowest points of morality.

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From the story’s outset, readers will find they are immediately engrossed in the life of protagonist Dr. Hiram McDowell. He lives a dual existence in his world which teems, with wealth, opportunity and privilege. To the outside world he wears the facade of an ambitious humanitarian and expert in his field, but to those who know him more intimately he is morally flawed with only his own interests and needs at heart. Altogether, McDowell severely lacks in common human decency; he is crude to his family, ignores and openly cheats on his wife, looks only to serve his goals within his profession, revels in deceptiveness, steps on the toes of colleagues and misappropriated charitable funds. Moreover, the focus of the story is not just mainly on McDowell; it also brings into focus his family dynamic and the effects that his behavior therefore has on his family, particularly his two closest children.

Ultimately, he makes enemies out of those that once trusted him and perpetuates conflicts of self- esteem within those that attempt to love him. An almost seemingly hopeless cause, it piques the curiosity to see where things go for him. Eventually McDowell’s moral deficiencies become his complete downfall and he is consequently forced to live a life of poverty and solitude with his wealth, fame and power far removed from his life. Forced to live as an itinerant fugitive, and meanwhile, surviving by his wits, he gradually learns, to humble himself and become a more humane human for his survival among everyday folk.

Wholly, enjoyable McDowell was a richly realized and realistically detailed read that was character driven and moved at a balanced pace. Hiram McDowell turned out to be a strongly posed, despisable and simultaneously engrossing character whose ethical flaws catalyzed his journey to his self discovery. Overall, author William H. Coles writes with a literate aplomb that is both evocative and entertaining especially when it comes to detailing aspects of the medical profession and facets of human nature. My only contention about this read is the presence of some minor editing issues. But, issues aside, this was a worthy read and I do recommend it.

Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016The Short Fiction of William H. Coles 2000-2016 is a collection of 33 short stories, a novella and two graphic novels. Illustrations enhance each story, supplementing the readers experience and understanding. Peter Healy wonderfully illustrated the two graphic novels, which are the retelling of previous short stories in the collection.

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The characters and themes throughout this book are unique. While they share the connectedness of human struggles and moral issues, they do not intertwine. There are many messages taught through these stories which include unconditional love, acceptance, stereotyping, anguish, faith, death, birth, family values and narcissistic behaviors. Most of the stories are dark and have a miserable ending. Some offer a glimpse of hope, while others are down right horrifying.

I felt I could connect to many of the stories because they accurately portray the world we live in. I was left wanting more information and personality from some of the stories; characters that had a little more feeling. My two favorites were The Gift and SISTER CARRIE, the novella. I would highly recommend reading this contemporary collection of stories.

Author William H. Coles, has won many awards, including The Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition to name a few.

The Anatomy of Cheating: A Novel by Nesly Clerge (Kindle Edition)

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Anatomy of CheatingNesly Clerge’s latest novel opens with psychiatrist, Dr. Bernadette Moore speaking about her book, “The Anatomy of Cheating” on a book tour. Her book discusses infidelity and the reasons why people cheat in relationships, both men and women. This is the final leg of her tour which she scheduled in her own town of Waltham, Massachusetts. The forum is well-attended with both skeptics and believers. At the end of her presentation, she signs copies of her books for the attendees. Two women approach, one dressed sexily and drawing admiring glances from the men, and the other a less than confident housewife wearing a too big sweater.

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The sexily clad woman is Penelope and her best friend, the housewife, is Chelsea Hall, wife of Garrett Hall a successful radiologist. They have one teenage daughter, Kimberlie. Garrett provides Chelsea and their daughter with a lavish lifestyle, a beautiful home, luxurious furnishings, and fancy cars. But he doesn’t give her what she needs most, attention. The husband of Chelsea’s dreams turns out to be a chronic cheater. She puts up with his infidelity anyway because deep down Chelsea still loves him.

Intelligent Field by Surendra Kumar Sagar

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

Intelligent FieldIntelligent Field by the immensely gifted author, Surendra Kumar Sagar, is a mind-expanding look at what he refers to as the Intelligent Field, a sort of Traveling Cosmic Mind that controls nature, but it’s the `Information` in the field and the flow of such information in the field that is responsible for everything that happens in the universe , including the imparting of Intelligence to the field. As mentioned in the Foreword of the book, within this `Intelligent Field` is a universal mind, that gives us “consciousness.”

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Intelligent Field is a follow-up, of sorts, to Sagar’s book, Six Words. Both Intelligent Field and Six Words have a cross-disciplinary approach and are deeply philosophical. In Intelligent Field, as in Six Words, a wide variety of topics get incorporated into a heady mix, with Sagar always optimistic in the potential for the human race, but also pointing out how events unfolding in the United States and globally could lead to the possible end of human life on the planet Earth.

Sagar is not a prophet of gloom and doom in Intelligent Field, but he does mention that humans are getting closer and closer to midnight, as far as the Doomsday Clock goes. There is still time left to pull humanity back from the brink of potential extinction, but it can only be accomplished only if certain measures are taken before it is too late.

A Tempered Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the Ashes of Loss by Jennifer Sands

Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

A Tempered FaithThere are so many stories regarding the events of September 11, 2001. Some are told by the family members who lost loved ones on this day and others are told by the survivors. The stories are very sad; but, at the same time, they are all unique and very intriguing. It’s difficult to imagine what the relatives and friends of people who were killed on September 11 went through at the time and for the years that followed this terrible assault on America.

Jennifer Sands tells us her personal story. She met her soul mate, Jim, through a dating service. The two were surprised that they went to the same school, lived in the same town, etc. but never met each other. They got married. Jennifer worked as a pharmacist and Jim worked for Cantor Fitzgerald at the World Trade Center. They enjoyed a few short, wonderful years together. They both had a love for Scuba diving in the Cayman Islands.

No Man’s Land (John Puller Series) by David Baldacci

Reviewed by Allen Hott

No Man's LandMr. Baldacci has brought John Puller back and really tangled him up in a super woven story. Puller, and Army Special Agent and son of a retired three
Star general, is involved in finding out whom or what caused the disappearance of his mother some thirty years ago.

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His father, now suffering from dementia, is fading fast and Puller takes some time off from his military career to track down the clues in the old mystery.

It started because a former friend of the family sent the father a letter basically accusing him of doing the dirty deed to his wife. Puller doesn’t believe it and sets out to find the truth.

Pretty Little Girls: A Novel by Karin Slaughter (Review #3)

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

Pretty Little GirlsTwenty years ago a beloved, young woman disappeared without a trace, tearing her family apart. Julia Carroll’s vanishing has never been solved and after her father, Sam, tries in vain to find her he commits suicide. Her mother, Helen keeps her bedroom exactly how she left it in hopes that she will return home. Her two sisters, Lydia Delgado and Claire Scott, grieve in different ways and eventually become estranged from each other. Lydia turns into a drug addict, although she is clean now, and Claire is put on parole after physically harming a friend.

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The recent disappearance of another young girl brings up memories of their sister. Then tragedy strikes the family again. Claire’s wealthy husband, Paul, is brutally murdered after they celebrate the ending of her parole and removal of her ankle bracelet. She is devastated and tries to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband.

While using Paul’s computer to find some files for his work partner, she stumbles across some photos and videos. Photos and videos he has kept a secret from her. She finds very graphic and shocking pornography on his computer. She had no idea that he looked at this sort of thing. As she studies them closer, she believes that the girl in one of the videos is the missing girl. She takes the hard drive to the cop investigating her husband’s murder. He tells her it’s fake, but she has her doubts.

She soon discovers more horrific videos and pictures with Paul in them and sets out to discover why he has kept them. During this time she reconnects with her sister Lydia, and they begin to sift through the layers of everything that the fastidious Paul kept hidden for many years. Evidence is uncovered that could help solve the recent vanishing of the young girl and also lead to discovering what happened to Julia. What other horrifying things will the sisters learn about Paul Scott?

Karin Slaughter writes an excellent novel with lots of surprises and more twists and turns than a curvy road. She grips the reader with a great mystery and keeps them wanting to read more. I caution anyone who does not like to read explicit violence as some of the scenes are very graphic, but the book is definitely worth delving into.

The Burial Hour (A Lincoln Rhyme Novel) by Jeffery Deaver

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Burial HourGreat start to another good Lincoln Rhyme story. This time a young girl sees a man grab a man and put him in the trunk of a car. And while doing so the culprit leaves a mini-noose on the ground. The little girl gives it to her mom and the story begins!

Lincoln and Amelia Sachs, his investigating assistant and about to be wife, get dragged into the case right when they are planning on taking a trip to Europe or somewhere to get married! However with Thom, the great assistant-do-everything-guy will be along wherever they go since Lincoln is a paraplegic pretty much confined to a wheelchair.

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First off they have to find not only the culprit but the guy who was kidnapped. Turns out the victim is all trussed up with a specific type noose that is hooked up to a bucket of water. As more water fills the bucket the noose get tighter and tighter. Can they get to him in time?

But this is only the beginning because next that same culprit turns up in Italy and pulls the same type of stunt. Clever, eh what? At least Deaver didn’t have him turn up in India or somewhere that Lincoln and Sachs would have to go and mess up their wedding plans.

However as the story progresses the reader finds out much about this particular criminal. Also the reader finds out especially about his phenomenal ability to hear sounds and particularly musical sounds at least to him. Quickly he is dubbed the Composer and he is becoming a world-wide entity since he posts videos on something like YouTube to show off his victims.

These mysterious kidnappings also somehow seem to get involved with refugees. Italy like many other countries is so overwhelmed with them that one of their politicians says it is The Burial Hour since there are so many of these refugees that they will eventually bury all the true citizens of the country or countries.

Live by Night: A Novel by Dennis Lehane (Review #2)

Reviewed by Laurie Weatherlow

LIve by NightLive by Night by Dennis Lehane is a 2012 William Morrow publication.

At the age of thirteen Joe Coughlin began his ascension of the organized crime ladder. He was born the third son of Thomas Coughlin, a well-respected Boston police captain. Joe’s life of crime began by knocking off paper stands with the Bartolo brothers.

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At the age of twenty, Joe met Emma Gould during the robbery of a speakeasy owned by Albert White. Joe’s boss Tom Hickey and White were heated rivals in the bootlegging business. This was the turning point to Joe’s intensification into the gangster world. A world that was fueled by prohibition and the underworld of bootlegging. Joe was an excellent business man with a compassion seldom seen in a gangster. During this time, criminal gangs were rampant and ethnic prejudices ran high. Rumrunning prospered from the streets of Boston, Massachusetts, crawling with Irish and Italians, to the backwaters of Ybor City and Tampa Florida, with Cubans and Latino’s. Joe’s bootlegging and cigar businesses of Ybor became his life. But the mob bosses make the decisions and give the orders of how you live and if you survive.