Tag Archives: Literary

Book Review: The Essence of Nathan Biddle – Must Read Debut Novel

By J. William Lewis

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is a literary coming of age novel that is destine to be a best seller. It begins with Nathan mourning the death of his cousin on the first anniversary of the event. Seemingly inconceivable to everyone, especially Nathan, that the boy he’d grown up with has been slain. So begins Nathan’s journey through the last of his teenage years, trying to make sense of this senseless act as well as how to move on from the stigma that shrouds his family because of it.

Life goes on no matter what personal problems Nathan is dealing with. He has fallen in love with a girl that once reciprocated his affections, but now she is moving on. He is obsessed with her which begins to color every decision he makes, both good and bad. Once a scholar, his junior year of high school was a disaster. If he doesn’t start working to his potential, college will be questionable at best. He was a track star until he stopped going to practices, prompting the coach to threaten to cut him from the team if he doesn’t get his head straight soon. When tragedy strikes again, Nathan will have to sink or swim in the life he has instead of the life he wants.

It is hard to believe that The Essence of Nathan Biddle is J. William Lewis’ debut novel. It is a beautiful work of fiction with characters that come alive on the pages. From the first pages, the reader is invested in the characters and enthralled with the plot. This is one of those books that keeps you thinking of it long after the last pages are read. I highly recommend it and cannot wait to read the next book written by this author.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from publicist Maryglenn McCombs in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Cooler Than Blood – Hot New Novel by Robert Lane


Cooler Than Blood

By Robert Lane

316 pages

Ex-military Jake Travis uses his covert op training to help people who need the services of a PI. One who doesn’t think twice about crossing the line – but only when necessary. His humor is as sharp as the knife he conceals, and he isn’t afraid to use either of them. When Susan Blake calls him, he ignores her at first. Not wanting to create any waves with his girlfriend Kathleen, he feels the less contact he has with a woman he felt attracted to, but successfully avoided intimacy with, the better off he will be. Until he finds out Susan’s teenage niece is missing.

Jenny Spencer, a recent high school graduate left Ohio without telling her mother and step-father.  She moved in with her Aunt Susan in Florida. Leaving home before a bad situation got worse; Jenny felt safe with her choice. Unfortunately a violent encounter with a man on a deserted beach quickly turned her world upside down again. Then she mysteriously disappeared.

The police are not concerned. She “ran away” once, so why worry about her now? That is Jake’s first response also. Until he finds out she left her cell phone behind. No teen would leave his or her phone for a few hours, much less run away without it.

Reluctantly Jake agrees to look for Jenny. He calls his partner, Garrett Demarcus to help with the case as well as a few of his other friends/partners that he worked with in the past.

Jenny’s trail isn’t easy to follow. It seems as though she is one step ahead of them. The question is; who actually has her? It could be a crazy drug selling family from Ohio. It could also be mobsters with ties to Chicago. It could be someone from her past or maybe she just ran away like the indifferent detective on the case believes. Jake needs to find her before she outlives her usefulness.

In a strange turn of events, Jake finds out a dangerous person in Kathleen’s past may be connected to this case. He has to figure out how to find the teen without dragging his personal life into the case. Balance is difficult for most people, but Jake’s failure to keep work and home life separate could prove deadly.

Lane’s work is beautifully literary, with a healthy side dish of noir. The blending of two seemingly unrelated styles is perfectly crafted to create a work of art you will savor to the last page. His characters have relatable flaws and quirks both good and bad, masterfully breathing life into them. Lane’s descriptions and dialog pull the reader into Jake’s world and don’t let go until Jenny is found.

The second book in Robert Lane’s Jake Travis works well as a stand-alone novel, but you may want to read the first in the series, The Second Letter before Cooler Than Blood. I read it last year and couldn’t wait to hear more from Lane (read my review here: https://lauramhartman.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/book-review-the-second-letter-by-robert-lane/). There are a few references to his first book, but I don’t feel it would be confusing if you have not read it.

Read them both – you are going to love this author’s work.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.


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