Ebook review: Peripheral Involvement by Bob Waldner


Publication Date: February 12, 2014

From the dust cover: “Jack Caufield never imagined that he would wake up one day and find a dead woman in his bed. That sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to guys like him. He was on his way to law school, but instead of fielding Socratic questions from law professors, he finds himself facing the third degree from a bunch of angry cops. Despite their efforts, they find nothing incriminating, and Jack is allowed to get on with his education and his life. Over the next fifteen years, he becomes a modestly successful corporate lawyer, a well-paid but insignificant cog in the Wall Street machine. He’s resigned to playing a disappointing role in the system that he has come to disdain, until he learns that his encounter with that unlucky girl may not have been coincidental. Confronted with the possibility that the men who run the prestigious financial institution that he now represents may have been involved in a shocking conspiracy, his search for the truth is complicated by the knowledge that discovering it could cost him the success that he’s spent his life chasing.”

About the author: “Bob Waldner was born and raised in New Jersey, before heading off to Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School. He practices law in New York, where he lives with his wife, Erinn, and his daughters Maureen and Madeleine. Someday, he hopes to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.”

My Ebook review: the author describes in his acknowledgements that “Peripheral Involvement” took a very long time to write. Interestingly, the book itself also covers a long timeframe and in a sense felt like more than one story pushed together until the subtlety of the plot plays out and the big picture comes into delightful focus.
Caufield is a splendid character who somehow feels like he is a passenger in his own life story. Occasionally he lifts his head up and makes a clear and rational choice to give direction to his life and yet at most other times he is happy to go where the wind blows him and to take advantage of the adventures that life puts in his way. Watching his evolution, we are able to consider our own choices, what would we have chosen given the circumstances and could we have managed to get the job done when it counted.
Caufield is not only a fine character to read but a vehicle for communicating a number of salient facts about life that are often not understood or appreciated until too late, life hacks as they are sometimes described. I very much appreciated his dialogues and insightful critique of various important structures and could feel an inner turmoil seething sometimes below and once in a while above the surface. Caufield’s ultimate choices fitted consistently with his deepest character.
The greater plot is fabulous as it unfolds in various degrees of complexity and with a neat cast of characters set against a nicely described background. There is a sense of the slightly incredible but plausible about the story which drags one in and keeps the pages flying past.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Clearly yes, there was a gripping plot, a cast of intriguing characters, insightful almost philosophical discussions and a mystery. I just hope that the next one does not take so long!

Ebook review: Deep Sleepers (A Tom Blake thriller) by Adrian Wills


Publication Date: January 18, 2014

From the dust cover: “Deep Sleepers is an action adventure thriller featuring former special forces psychologist, Tom Blake.

He should be the perfect spy. After all Ben Proctor has no idea of his true identity. He’s been planted deep undercover with a radical right-wing political party steadily increasing in popularity as the country’s anti-Muslim fervour grows. But when Proctor is recruited by a secretive neo-Nazi terrorist splinter group calling themselves the Phineas Priests, his mission begins to unravel at terrifying speed. He’s abducted, branded with a mysterious symbol and initiated in an eerie moonlit ceremony. The Priests have spotted Proctor’s potential and want him to lead a deadly terrorist bomb plot that is destined to kill hundreds of innocent people.

As the perfect spy threatens to become the perfect terrorist, one man’s tasked with stopping him – the man who’s already inside his head. Tom Blake is a former Special Forces military psychologist who now works for British MI5. He’s supposed to be controlling Proctor using an experimental hypnotic technique developed with a black ops SAS unit. The only problem is that Proctor has gone missing – and the countdown to the bombing has already begun.

And so starts a frantic hunt for the missing spy before it’s too late. With his MI5 masters demanding action, Blake needs all his military experience to track down his man and avert tragedy. Meanwhile, in the heart of London’s Canary Wharf, a Texan oil billionaire makes a rendezvous with his super yacht for a secret meeting that could be about to change history. How much does he know about the Phineas Priests and could he hold the key to stopping the bombing?

And an investigative reporter finds himself hot on the heels of the biggest story he’s ever chased – with the help of a mysterious blonde trying to find her brother who she fears has been murdered in Brazil.”
About the author: “Adrian has been writing for as long as he can remember but Deep Sleepers is his debut novel. He’s been a journalist for all his working life, forging a career in local newspapers and in regional television news. He is married to fellow indie-author, Amanda Wills. They live in Faversham in Kent with their two sons, Oliver and Thomas.”

My Ebook review: what is there not to love about an action adventure thriller with a blurb like that of “Deep Sleepers”? Whenever MI5 enters the plot there is the feeling that anything can happen, nothing is impossible and the plot can only possibly get more complicated as the story unfolds. When the bad guys have a cause and money then the game really is on.

Wills builds the story rapidly and confidently without too much fanfare and excellent scene setting rolled out in an uncomplicated and interesting flow. Once the story is going it is a race to find out what is going to happen next and quite how all of the apparently unrelated pieces of information tie together into splendid finale. Blake is an excellent character who we get to know on a relatively superficial level but this is perfectly in keeping with his covert status but no doubt we will get to know him better in subsequent additions to this series. The bad guys are delightfully menacing, wonderfully clandestine and all too plausible. The innocent bystanders get dragged into a situation that is far too big for them to comprehend but add a human side to the equation of the plot as well as a level of complexity that helps to raise this book to an excellent level.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Oh yes, “Deep Sleepers” is an action adventure thriller that kept me turning the pages from the start to the finish.

Ebook review: The Perfect Game by Stephen Paul


Publication Date: February 20, 2014

From the dust cover: “In a dark Manhattan alley, a young woman suddenly collapses from a brain hemorrhage. The statistics say it’s rare to have happened to someone so young and healthy, yet all signs point to natural causes. But when Kyle Vine, the man she was supposed to meet that night, learns she wasn’t the only victim, he knows there’s something more going on and soon discovers a mysterious link to the sudden success of a journeyman pitcher for the New York Yankees.

As the lethal brain bleeds continue to strike, Kyle and the woman’s eccentric uncle work together to unravel a mystery unlike any the world has ever seen in order to stop a ruthless killer from striking again.

Stephen Paul’s debut supernatural suspense thriller, The Perfect Game, is a fast-paced gripping ride that will continue to keep readers on the edge of their seats while trying to figure out who’s behind the deadly episodes, how they’re doing it and, perhaps most shocking of all, why.”

About the author: “Stephen was raised in the suburbs of Long Island and now lives with his wife and son in New York City. When not crusading on behalf of the design professional community, he enjoys writing thrillers with a supernatural touch.”

My Ebook review: “…thrillers with a supernatural touch.” is a pretty good hook and sums up very well an exciting debut novel. Like all the very best stories that involve the supernatural, there is an almost plausible rationale, a tangible feeling that the well chosen touch of fantasy could just about happen. Certainly, the characters are all recognisable and their motivations seem clear on the surface. It is the consequences of the actions of Kyle’s not entirely appropriate motivations that throw our unlikely hero into a complex situation that he can neither predict nor control.

The pace of the book is good and the scene setting is excellent and a tension is built and maintained through the book as it navigates the twists and turns of a well executed plot.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Yes, “The Perfect Game” was an excellent thriller with just enough supernatural behaviour to be interesting but not absurd, it added to the plot rather than take over the plot.

Ebook Review: Jack Knifed by Christopher Greyson


Publication Date: January 19, 2014

From the dust cover: “Police Officer Jack Stratton is back. Jack’s nightmares have forced him to start searching his dark past and the secrets that lay hidden there. With Replacement at his side, Jack travels to Hope Falls to solve a murder that occurred before he was born.
Everyone in the small town remembers the gruesome killing, but after 27 years, no one thought that someone would look into it. They don’t know Jack.
Christopher Greyson’s latest novel weaves a tale full of mystery and action with humor and suspense. His unique stories and no-nonsense style of writing will take you on a page turning rollercoaster ride of emotions right up until the end.”

About the author: “Christopher Greyson is an author, actor, martial arts instructor and storyteller. He has degrees in Theatre, Communications and Computer Science.
Christopher currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
His love for tales of mystery and adventure began with his grandfather, a World War I decorated hero. Christopher will never forget being introduced to his grandfather’s friend, a WWI pilot who flew across the skies at the same time as the feared legendary Red Baron. His love of reading and storytelling eventually lead him to write Pure of Heart, Girl Jacked Jack Knifed and Jacks are Wild.”

My Ebook review: this is the second in the Jack Stratton Mystery series and I reviewed ‘Girl Jacked’ along the lines:
“In one sense this is a quite normal crime thriller and follows a pattern that will be recognisable to readers of this genre. On the other hand there is always the required thrill in reading a well executed plot and so the author should be applauded for that. It never quite got to the point of brilliance but it is certainly a fine book.
If I understood correctly, there will be other stories with our damaged hero and it will be interesting to see how Greyson develops his style.”
In a sense this is a book that picks up exactly where the first one ended and that should mean that having read ‘Girl Jacked’ would be mandatory, but in fact this is a book that stands well on its own. The plot is clear and distinct.
Our ‘damaged hero’ has a mission and he has a companion, he has a history and he knows that he needs to learn more. The plot thickens as he is dragged into a story that he knew nothing about. He did not go looking for trouble but like a lightning rod he seems to attract it.
There is a murder and there is a small town and there are lots of secrets and many closets with skeletons. As Jack gets drawn into the mystery he is forced to look at himself and walk a dark path through a tragic set of lives. Replacement is also a mystery and Jack needs to work out if he wants to solve that one.

Greyson’s style is no-nonsense as advertised and also appropriately descriptive. The scenes are well set and the dialog is sharp, on top of that the plot is fabulous in ‘Jack Knifed’. There is complexity and simplicity; there is love interest and a good degree of violent exchanges. We delve into the characters and we watch them try to solve themselves whilst battling with inner demons.

This is the real deal and the Greyson style is exciting and crisp and all the right choices were made in ‘Jack Knifed’.

Did I enjoy it?: Yes, from start to finish this was an ebook that made me want to read more and now that it is done I am looking forward to the next one!

Ebook review: Wet Dreams Dry Lives by Barry Cain

Publication Date: December 2, 2013

From the dust cover: “You hold in your virtual hands a story about an infatuation that leads to madness. About a man murdering his father and his son before killing himself. About the joys and horrors of sex. About jealousy and hate and love and depravity. About the sadness of time and the hunger for survival. About gangsters and perverts and condos in Los Angeles. About the desire for fame eroded by the desire for drugs. About decapitation. About dreams coming true and schemes to untie them.
Or is it…?”
About the author: “Six years ago my first book and only other book, ’77 Sulphate Strip, was published. It’s an account of one year in my life when I became a music writer and went on the road with bands like the Sex Pistols, Clash, Stranglers and The Jam.”
My Ebook review: a complex and intriguing story which, on the face of it, looks at the world of a disenchanted man whose life and career has diverged from where he wanted it to be at a stage when thoughts of mortality mix with all of the ‘might have beens’. What happens next is a little bit coincidence and a lot drug fuelled fantasy. Add into the mix a love interest and dependent parents and an estranged son and what we get is a potent mix.
Cain writes in an evocative style and I was interested from the start. The plot develops to a delightful level of complexity and at times becomes a little challenging to keep up with but that is what you get when the main character goes through skunk like it was going out of fashion. It keeps you guessing to the end.
Did I enjoy it?: it is a well written and captivating ebook and it did get superbly weird and wonderfully complex.

Ebook review: Interesting Times by Jack Vander Beek


Publication Date: December 27, 2013
From the dust cover: “Tom Verwarring is a timid and deeply flawed man who’s barely making it through life. He’s afraid of shopping and public restrooms and people; he’s afraid of the world.
Tom’s life is coming apart, meanwhile he struggles with a childhood full of loss, tragedy and secrets. But throughout everything, he tries to stay positive.
He needs help.
Then one day he starts seeing things and his life begins to change, and not necessarily in a good way.
But there’s good news; he’s not alone anymore.”
About the author: “Jack Vander Beek was born in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1952 and now lives in Olympia, Washington. He is retired after working 40 years in operating rooms, 35 of those as an RN. In addition, he’s had a long love/hate relationship with computers, reaching back to the early days of CPM and his first computer, a KayPro-2, which he still has.
He maintains a website with technical information for anesthesiologists and has also written a medical professional book on one anesthetic technique.
He’s constantly on the lookout for great writing and some of the authors in his pantheon are Kurt Vonnegut, P.G. Wodehouse, Samuel Clemens, Thomas Harris and Stephen King. Check out his blog at jackvanderbeek.com
Now that he’s retired he’s doing more of what he wants, namely, writing novels and spending time with his family and dogs, cat and chickens, and NOT going to work in the middle of the night.”
My Ebook review: let us get straight to the point, this was a fascinating and fantastic reading experience. The author chose to tell this story through the eyes of Tom, in a delightful first person narrative. That is not to say that everything that is said is delightful, but the scene is already half set by the writing style of the socially challenged Tom.
Tom tells his story in sometimes graphic detail. This takes us on a journey through the psyche and quite regrettably the toiletry hurdles of Tom. The journey is an eventful one and it is a long one but somehow never feels like it. Tom tells his story in simple prose that at times feels juvenile and naïve which fits beautifully with the character.
One of my favourite films of recent years is “American Psycho” based upon Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. “Interesting Times” comes with the same intensity and unexpected decline into the recesses of the mind where all bets are off and it is anyone’s guess where the journey will end.
Did I enjoy it?: Splendidly so! I was dragged into Tom’s story and almost thought I had it totally figured out, but actually not. The surprises kept up until the very end. A great reading experience.

Ebook review: The God Particle by Daniel Danser


Publication date 29th November 2013
From the dust cover: “CERN’s Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful machine; its sole purpose is to prove the existence of the mysterious God Particles – the essential building blocks of the universe. But after a series of global catastrophes, suspicion arises as to whether they are occurring naturally or are somehow connected to the Collider’s experiments.
After the sudden death of the project’s director general, professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tom Halligan, is headhunted by CERN’s governing council to continue the search for the elusive particles.
He is soon embroiled in a titanic struggle against sinister forces that are intent on creating a chain of events, the outcome of which will determine the fate of civilization.
The battle to save the planet from annihilation is being fought by the most unlikely of heroes.”

My Ebook review: it was the basic premise of this ebook that interested me. Essentially it takes its leaping off point from the unmistakable truth that with great scientific advances come great unknowns and unexpected or perhaps ill-considered consequences. Even the most noble of intentions can potentially, when used to probe beyond the safe zone of our current understanding, create tools of almost unimaginable devastation. So, in a sense, it is not such a leap of faith to think that there might be self-appointed guardians of sanity working in the shadows to try and temper the more inappropriate flights of fantasy that the ‘boffins’ embark upon. From this launchpad, we have an intriguing conspiracy thriller with good guys and bad guys and the poor unfortunate hero thrown ignorantly into the middle.
As a thriller this ebook works well, generates tension and generally moves along at a good pace with just the right amount of action and tension. Our hero Tom seems to be a mixture of many things and is delightfully more energetic and interesting than I would anticipate his real life counterpart to be. That probably says a lot more about my personal opinion of top academics, in that I can see them being extremely intelligent and dedicated but running around in a breathless race against time, not so much. I am thinking more Ricky Gervais than Tom Cruise I suppose.
As a scientific conspiracy it also works pretty well. There are some good historical perspectives and scene setting that lift the book and give a nice feel to the experience. As with any book of this nature there are aspects that go into the areas of fantastic speculation that will irritate some people and yet for others will be an integral part of the tension building. There was one surfing vignette that, whilst nicely written, seemed to stick out from the rest of the story and slowed the plot for a few pages, it caught me so off guard that I thought I had accidently switched files on my Kindle.
As a part of a larger debate, about the possible implications of dabbling with the basic building blocks of nature and the potential devastating implications if an admittedly extremely low probability event would occur, this work can bring something. Like the plethora of natural disaster and man-made disaster action movies, The God Particle is great entertainment with a serious theme if you want it.
In the end though we should not forget the irony that CERN was also somehow the birthplace of the internet which allows us to spread this message.
Did I enjoy it?: Yes, a good thriller, some excellent scenes and thought provoking.

Ebook review: Rachel’s Folly by Monica Bruno

From the dust cover: “She has it all: a successful career, a beautiful house, a loving husband, and a son she adores. To top it off, her best friend is getting married. But who is this mysterious man who calls himself Jack and, more importantly, who is Rachel when she’s with him? After a night of drinking gone awry, Rachel is forced to face a dark part of herself she didn’t know existed. She must find a way to cope—with what she’s done, with the kind of person she might be—or lose her life in the process.

Told from three unique perspectives and set against the backdrop of an Austin, Texas both strange and familiar, Rachel’s Folly is an exploration of profound loss, morality, and the lengths to which we will go to save our loved ones and ourselves . . . from ourselves.”

From the author: “A few words of caution: it is by no means erotica, but it does include two sex scenes (non-explicit). It also has occasional profanity (used judiciously). And, one of the main characters just happens to be gay.”

My Ebook review: this is a very well executed thriller, the characters are interesting, well developed and used effectively to create a book that does keep the reader guessing until the end.

I personally hate spoilers which means that I often need to write very short reviews on some books. For me I thought suspiciously about one character for quite a while and happily was proved to be wrong, so the story kept its intensity for a good long time.

There are a number of layers to the plot which are kept neatly under control and used in a way to develop the plot rather than confuse the reader.

Did I enjoy it?: definitely an enjoyable reading experience and I could certainly imagine reading the next Bruno novel.

Ebook review: Breaking Bedrock by Britney King

Today’s ebook is the sequel to ‘Bedrock’ by Britney King which I reviewed last year.

Published 4th December 2013
From the dust cover: “As a married mother of three, Addison Greyer has always been known for doing the right thing. Hoping to keep it that way, she fought like hell to avoid falling for the mysterious, highly successful, albeit broken man whom the world knows as William Hartman. But what Addison didn’t understand was that you can’t help who you fall in love with and that it almost never happens the way you think it should.

Unfortunately for Addison, William Hartman and her desire for him continue to occupy her mind every single waking moment of the day. There’s something undeniable in the way he makes her feel. From the way he looks at her to the way he so eloquently professes his love and longing via written letters, it suddenly becomes pretty clear that some rules were made to be broken.

With the two of them separated by a trial, public opinion, and a marriage that seems to be unraveling by the hour, Addison tries to keep it all together as life as she knows it is falling apart. However, as the pressure mounts, Addison soon realizes the price she’ll pay to keep everyone else happy.

In this highly anticipated sequel to Bedrock, Addison and William rekindle their torrid, sensual affair through a series of love letters. What remains to be seen is whether their love and desire for one another can sustain them as they attempt to overcome the realities of their broken pasts and build a future together.

Due to heavy subject matter, strong language, and sexual content this book is for mature audiences.”

My Ebook review: sequels are tricky sometimes and it is often difficult to recapture the essence that made the first book shine. For ‘Bedrock’ I commented that “…this is a story about choices and the opportunities that life throws up. There is love, betrayal, intriguing personalities and lovely scene setting.” In ‘Breaking Bedrock’ we see a continuation of the story almost from the point where we left off and we know the characters and their world. It is a pleasure to be re-acquainted. Importantly, there is not the attempt to recreate the same innocence of the first book, we now get to see our friends deal with the consequences of their choices in an ebook that has its own feeling and power.
Addison continues to try and understand herself and where her life is going, whilst all around her the world does not just stop and wait. It maintains the themes of love, betrayal, intrigue and ‘heavy subject matter’ of the King’s first offering and extends further, delving even deeper into the subject.
As a sequel this ebook works extremely well, as a stand alone thriller it is also very good but clearly readers would be left a little lost about the back story.
Did I enjoy it?: absolutely, ‘Breaking Bedrock’ is highly paced, energetic and very engaging. If you liked the first book then you should read this, if you did not then you should read both.

Ebook review: The Designated Survivor by JC Gatlin

Publication date 27th July 2013

About the author: “JC Gatlin lives in Tampa, Florida. In addition to regular fishing trips, he wrote a monthly column for New Tampa Style Magazine, then began penning several mystery/suspense stories. He also maintains a blog about new home building, an industry he has worked in for over 12 years.”

From the dust cover?: “An Unreasonable Hitchhiker. An Unstable Widower. An Unpredictable Journey. Having just escaped from inmate work detail, Tess is on the run and has one goal: get her daughter back. So, hitching a ride to Sarasota, where her daughter is staying, seemed like a good idea at first. That is until she realized her Good Samaritan is clearly suffering from the recent loss of his wife.
As the miles go by and they get closer to Sarasota, she comes to suspect that this crazy widower may in fact be a murderer and they’re transporting a body in the trunk of his car. With the police hot on their trail, Tess isn’t about to let a little murder stand between her and her daughter — no matter how many bodies start piling up.”

 

My Ebook review: this is JC Gatlin’s first offering on KDP as far as I could tell and it is a relatively short ebook at around 93 pages. These two facts tell us that the author is on a mission to make a splash with a fast paced novel. The blurb is accurate and we get straight into the plot from the get-go.

 

The main characters come together seemingly at random and as we go through the pages we learn more about each and importantly learn what we do not know. We know that Tess is on the run and desperate to get to her daughter and any road trip is going to be fraught with tension on the way to get there. Quite how people outside of the car learn about Tess is left to the imagination but this becomes much more than just a simple trip with just one goal.

 

The writing is good and the action is kept up; the plot is intriguing and tension is exciting. Inevitably there is a car chase and inevitably the description of this goes on too long for my taste but that is a minor thing.

 

Did I enjoy it?: Sure, it was a fun read that kept me guessing. It has a good pace and good tension.