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Book Review: V.E.N.O.M. – Explosively Excellent Thriller

V.E.N.O.M

By Ty Mitchell

The mysterious death of an older Chinese couple in the Catskills has multiple law enforcement agencies scrambling for answers. By all accounts the two had several children living with them that are now missing. The reference to a group calling themselves V.E.N.O.M. comes into play.

New York City detective Jake Penney is called to work the case. He was a great cop at one time. The death of his family and subsequent spiral into alcohol and drug abuse has all but robbed him of his job. Hanging on by a thread, his CO decides that investigating the murders away from NYC may be the change of scenery he needs. The outcome of the case could determine the path his life will take, either with or without the NYPD.

As soon as Jake arrives he butts heads with the locals. Enter Special Agent Ethan Parker, an investigator that is pulled into the case from parts unknown. Parker recognizes the skill and knowledge Jake possesses and latches on to him. Parker uses tactics that are barely above the law to get information from suspects, which makes Jake more than uncomfortable. Parker is willing to go to any length to find the golden grail – a Catalogue containing details of deals and debts, assassinations and assassins spanning the globe. He explains to Jake that V.E.N.O.M. stands for The Veiled and Exclusive Nation of Organized Mercenaries – for a price the best assassins in the world will do your bidding.

Meanwhile, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Zasha Avery gets wind of the events in New York. Living and working in Miami will not stop her from following the case in the Catskills. She smells a story and is determined to be the one to investigate and write another award winning series before anyone else. She hones in on Jake and Parker, realizing that they are the ticket to the ride she wants to take no matter the consequences.

V.E.N.O.M. is a fast paced action novel with no shortage of character development. Jake, Parker and Zasha, the trio of main characters, are complex and flawed, often exploding on the pages for the reader’s enjoyment.

The fast-paced plot is twisted in the perfect way to keep readers breathless as the tension builds. By the last pages all has been revealed – or has it? The last pages tie up all loose ends.  Lucky for the reader, this appears to be the first in a series and I for one cannot wait for the second book in the series.

If you are a fan of Marvel characters and movies, you will love this fast-paced thriller. I see great things in Mitchell’s future, be sure to be along for this ride.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: We Were Killers Once – A Haunting Thriller

We Were Killers Once

By Becky Masterman

Truman Capote is famous for his “fictional novel” In Cold Blood. Becky Masterman will soon be known for her novel, We Were Killers Once. Capote writes of two men that worked together slaughtering two families for no discernible reason. Masterman tells of a third man that could have been the instigator and true killer during robberies gone bad.

First of all, Masterman acknowledges We Were Killers Once is a work of fiction. But, she has also done copious research of the murders of the Clutter family and the Walker family in 1959. There is mention of an unnamed boy in the records of the two famous murders. This boy, Jackson Beaufort, is the focus of Masterman’s novel.

Bridget Quinn, former FBI Agent is obsessed with the murders of the Clutter and Walker families. She is only six-years-old when she first hears about the deaths and time has only increased her obsession. Her husband Carlo also has a tenuous link to Hickock and Smith from when he was a priest working in the prison system. Little do they know  their lives may be in danger from the very man that had a part in these brutal murders.

Jeremiah Randolph Beaufort is getting out of jail. He has been incarcerated on and off since he was twelve and shot his little brother. He claimed the killing was an accident, but no one believed him. After reform school his parents would not let him come home, so he lived with his grandfather before striking out on his own and hooking up with two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Smith when he is barely in his teens.

After his time with Hickock and Smith, he becomes a drug dealer/thief until the “three strikes “ law puts him behind bars for life. His good behavior set him free as an old man. On a mission to make sure the new DNA tests don’t put him back behind bars or on death row, Beaufort needs to find documents that Hickock and Smith may have left behind that could tie him to the 1959 murders.

Beaufort, Bridget and Carlo will intersect and then collide with one another as the story heats up. This page turning thriller will keep you up at night both reading and wondering about the true story behind the fiction.

Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the book. Masterman explains the parts of her story that are based on facts and what is pure entertaining fiction. She has researched documents from the crimes and shares what she has learned. She also recommends further reading because We Were Killers Once will undoubtedly spark your interest about the events in 1959. I read In Cold Blood in the 1960’s but am going to listen to it again on audible. There are several other books, films and even a crime series that was aired in 2018 about these murders. I find myself thinking about this book wanting to know more – you will too. It is a puzzle unlikely to be solved, but you can draw your own conclusions after diving into these books.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Dogs in Origami – 20 New Designs

Dogs in Origami

By: Nick Robinson

As I review Robinson’s Dogs in Origami, my beloved mixed breed sits by my side. I am sure many of you have or have had a dog that has touched your heart and possibly taken over your home with tennis balls, squeakless toys and unmatched faithfulness and love. This new book of origami is for you.

There are 20 projects complete with instructions and diagrams to assist novice and seasoned origami folders. As in Robinson’s previous books, the first few pages gives the reader tips and instruction on folding, choosing the correct paper and various techniques that are used in the book.

The projects are cute, but most of them do not especially say “dog” when I look at the pictures. Some of them could be any four legged creature – I felt the busy patterns on the origami paper detracted from the finished product. A couple of them are super “doggish”. My favorites are Woof! Woof! Puppy, Bodo’s Dog and Nodding Dog. The funniest one, and by far my favorite is Perro Liberando. This cute little pup is in action, doing what dogs frequently do – pooping. Yup, poop is funny in any medium, origami is no exception.

This is not a book for younger children due to the detail of these designs. They may be difficult for a younger child, especially one that has never done origami before. That being said, adults and teens should have no trouble following the explicit directions given by Mr. Robinson as well as the other contributors to Dogs in Origami. The Biography section at the end of the book highlights each designer that contributed to the book, so be sure to see which of the contributors is your favorite.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Bookies Bookmarks to Crochet – Giveaway from Dover Publications!

5.19.19 lily

Elmer Unicorn

Bookies

Bookmarks to Crochet

By: Jonas Matthies

Throw away those sales receipts, pieces of string or whatever else you are using for bookmarks and replace them with Bookies, cute little bug eyed creatures.  Bookies take only a few hours to make. Each one has a personality that you can create out of inexpensive, washable cotton yarn. Some are crazy, some are funny and all of them are cute. With stuffed heads and flat bodies they look adorable hanging out in your book all the while holding your place.

The directions are written and several pictures are included to assist you. I am a visual learner, so it helps me to see what the finished head, legs, or other body part of the Bookie should look like when it is completed.

There are a total of seventeen Bookie patterns rated from level 1 to level 3. I completed the Elmer the Unicorn as well as Gloria Giraffe for the kids next door. Both are level 2 projects. I let each of the children pick the Bookie they wanted and both of them, as well as me, are happy with the completed project.

5.19.19 giraffe

The basic stitches are given for the crafter, but because of the construction, changes in color and small details, I would recommend these patterns for an experienced knitter. I have made that comment before, and will again tell you that if you are a novice knitter and want to create a bunch of Bookies, don’t let me rain on your parade. Go for it!

Matthies has an intro section in the beginning of the book telling the reader about his interesting journey as a person and a crocheter. Be sure to read it before you dive into creating your own Bookies.

Dover Publications has graciously agreed to mail a copy to one lucky person. To be entered into the random drawing, just like this post, leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook or other social media with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know how you have shared this post by leaving a comment so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Longevity – Would You Extend Your Life No Matter the Cost?

Longevity

By Rolf Margenau

How would you like to live an extra thirty or even 50 years or so beyond your life expectancy? Doctor Lucy Mendoza and her company have developed a pill that can extend lives to well over a hundred years old. On the surface, the pills seem to be rejuvenating the test group, but at what cost? Critics claim it is not the physical aspect of the Longevity project that bothers them. It is the moral and socio-economic ramifications that are destine to cause problems.

Several of these factions are doing their best to thwart the success of the Longevity project. These include some that have covertly infiltrated the company. Others have taken to the airwaves, especially the religious sector. They state that it is against God’s will. Demonstrators picket the front entrance of Dr. Mendoza’s building as well. When all of those actions are unsuccessful, those plotting against the Longevity project decide that nothing short of murder will end the Longevity trial, and they are willing to take matters into their own hands.

Enter Grant Duran, a man from Lucy’s past. He has been hired to work security for her. His resume includes several years in the military as well as special ops. But it also includes the feelings they once had for each other long ago. Can they both get past them? Lucy is willing to hire him because he is the best man for the job and she feels an instant attraction that cannot be denied.

Longevity has an interesting premise and raises all of the ethical and medical questions for the reader to consider. That being said, there are so many characters doing different dirty deeds at the same time, it is difficult to keep them straight.

The plot moves a bit too quickly. I would have liked to see the characters and the scenes to have played out a bit more. Within a few pages someone commits a crime, flies to two countries and dies accidentally. As a reader, I need more flesh on these bones to pull me into the action. It is a short book, under 200 pages, and that is not enough to tell this story with all of the characters involved. To keep my interest, it would have been better to connect with the characters a bit more. I did enjoy the one character that seems to be mild mannered that is kinky and more than a little crazy. My favorite character is Wylie Cypher. He is an older gentleman that is part of the Longevity project test group. I would have loved to see him pop up more often in this book.

This is the first book I have read by Rolf Margenau. He has written several other works of fiction including five novels as well as two photography books. The novels feature Wylie Cypher. I just might check out the first one to see what Wylie is up to in his 20’s.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

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Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Fiction Based on Facts

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

By Kim Michele Richardson

Troublesome Creek, Kentucky is rightly named. There are few jobs, too little food other than what can be coaxed out of the stubborn soil and a deep prejudice back in the 1930s. If you are colored you don’t have the same rights as white folks and if you are a blue you are considered to be almost less than human. Children stare and almost everyone refrains from touching a blue.

Cussy Mary Carter is a blue. She lives with her Pa and is proud to have a job delivering books with the Pack Horse Library Project. Pa works in the coal mines and along with the small amount of pay he also collects a large amount of coal dust that resides in his lungs and is slowly leaching the life out of him. Before he dies he wants to marry off Cussy so that she won’t be alone. Cussy on the other hand, does not want a suitor much less a husband. Married women cannot be Book Women and she loves bringing books to people in the Kentucky mountains. They cannot afford books and there isn’t a library to go to in Troublesome Creek.

Known to many as Bluet, Cussy cares for the people on her book route. They depend on her. She grows closer to some than others, but always knows just which books and magazines to bring to each on her route. She goes without food to help feed starving children and brings coveted medicines to sick or injured along with the books in her pack.

The town doc wants to do medical testing on Cussy, but she firmly refuses. Unfortunately she and her Pa need his help and the only way to get it is to allow him to run the tests he has asked for. She will take her first ride in a motor car and go to the city where they take some of her blood and examine her against her will. Surprisingly, there is a cure for her blue skin. The Doc has figured out her ailment and can treat it. She can be white – but at what cost?

The harshness of the hills in the 1930’s is not sugarcoated in this novel. This is where people die from starvation, books and newspapers are hard to come by and blue people suffering from Fugates’ Congenital methemoglobinemia really exist. Ms. Richardson pulls the reader into the hard scrabble life of the Kentucky mountain people. Both the beauty of her prose and the stark realities, she pulls the reader along the rough road Cussy travels as well as the bits of beauty, charm and love she encounters. Ms. Richardson doesn’t just tell the story; you become immersed by the language and descriptions. A couple of my favorites are when Cussy first sees the city. “..the unusual buzz, the city’s open hymnal..”  and also when she first sees the city hospital, “…a concrete tree with branches of polished corridors…”.

Be sure to read the afterward that explains about methemoglobinemia, the history of the disease as well as pictures of those afflicted. The Pack Horse Library Project, established in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s WPA program is also detailed. By reading the afterward, it is evident Ms. Richardson weaves the facts masterfully into her work of fiction. An advocate for prevention of child abuse and domestic violence (which is also touched on in the book), Ms Richardson has written several novels as well as a best-selling memoir, The Unbreakable Child.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Reviews: The First Mistake – Nothing is Perfect and Nothing is as it Seems

The First Mistake

By Sandie Jones

On the surface, Alice lives a perfect life. She has two daughters, a wonderful husband and runs a very successful business. But underneath the guise of perfection lies the truth. She still longs for her first husband, the father of her oldest daughter, Sophia. He died while on a ski trip leaving her to mourn him while raising their daughter alone. She spiraled into darkness and with the help of pills shut herself off to the world.

Alice has found love again with her new husband Nathan. Together they have Olivia, their daughter and he loves Sophia as if she was is his own child. Nathan partners with Alice at the design company she started with her first husband, helping to grow the business. He does all the traveling because Alice has a phobia about leaving since her first husband died on a trip, so they are the perfect couple.

Things begin to unravel when she finds what seems like evidence that her husband is cheating on her. She cannot believe it, but things just don’t add up. The only person she can talk to is her best friend Beth, who was in a relationship that ended disastrously while she was pregnant with a daughter that is the same age as Sophia, and coincidentally is Sophia’s bestie. Beth does not trust men and rightfully so. She convinces Alice to follow up on her suspicions of Nathan’s adultery. This might just cause the carefully balanced life Alice has created to collapse. Can she survive another loss since the last one almost killed her?

Ms. Jones has done it again. I loved her first book, The Other Woman. It is a deservedly a New York Times Best-Selling novel, and The First Mistake is sure to be at the top of that list also. The story pulls the reader in within the first few pages and holds you breathlessly until the very last sentence. It is the perfect woman’s fiction with a touch of mystery that keeps readers turning pages for just one more chapter late into the night.

The First Mistake has many twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the last pages. I was absolutely surprised at the ending, yet all the information had been givin to me throughout the book to figure it out. I love when an author ends with a fantastic finale. It is the perfect beach read, but honestly I would not wait for warm weather to read this fantastic novel.

I have read both of Ms. Jones’ novels and am waiting breathlessly for her to pen another masterpiece like the previous two.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Bookish and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

 

 

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