My #bookreview rating system – an explanation.

Out of 5 stars – 5 being super awesome…

5/5 – is damn near impossible. Examples – ‘Ender’s Game’, Jim Butcher’s ‘Changes’, Harry Harrison first 3 ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ series

4/5 – Legitimately thought out mystery/plot. Intriguing characters. Solid story with believable ending that kept me reading into the wee hours of the night.

3/5 – You wrote a story and the grammar was decent. It has a plot that is basic and complete. Gold star for you.

2/5 – You didn’t get this edited by a professional…did you? Your dialogue hurts me to read it. Your grammar could make angels weep with pain. Odds are, I didn’t finish your book.

1/5 – I didn’t finish it. That bad.

 

If I can’t finish your book, it’s almost always an automatic 2/5. Grammar and editing issues – 1/5. I’ll read just about anything, even contemporary romance, with an honest eye.  Even if your story is awful, I won’t trash your hard work – that’s just mean, but I will tell you what I found wrong with it in hopes that it helps with your future work or editing of said book.

 

I’m not paid for my reviews. What’s the point?

 

 

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Book Review: City of Devils by @JustinSRobinson

Justin Robinson – Goodreads, Twitter, and CaptainSuperMarket.com
 

 

 

cityofdevils

Justin Robinson

World War II was only the beginning. When the Night War ravages America, turning it into a country of monsters, humans become a downtrodden minority. Nick Moss is the only human private eye in town, and he’s on the trail of a missing city councilor. With monsters trying to turn him – or, better yet, simply kill him – he’s got to watch his back while trying to find his man. Or mummy, as the case may be.

 

Once, it was the City of Angels. But now, Los Angeles is the City of Devils…and Nick has a devil of a job to do.

 

~~

This book was hilarious. Set in post WWII, and apparently after monsters began walking Earth, you have the only human private detective in Los Angeles, trying to earn his cheddar and stay alive. A beautiful dame, because aren’t they all, comes into his office and asks him to find her missing husband. The same husband that the police (made up of werewolves/wolf men) think she murdered. It is as simple as that and kinda not.

Zombies, shape-shifting doppelgangers, pumpkin-heads, gremlins, witches…you name it, it walks the streets trying to turn the surviving humans left on Earth, and while dodging being turned, poor Nick, our trooper of a detective who can’t manage to smoke like a proper detective and is constantly having his manhood questioned, is trying to find a doppelganger actress’ missing mummy husband. He meets a variety of monsters, some helpful, some kinda not, and discovers more than just a mystery behind a missing councilman mummy in a convenient marriage with an illustrious actress.

I enjoyed the main character Nick’s point of view and dialogue – in what could be sometimes drawn out, his hilarious and often ill-timed offended tone breaks up the monotony of what is actually a pretty good, but simple mystery. It did seem to be a little bloated with filler, but I did enjoy reading about Nick and his constant avoidance to being turned into what is slowly becoming the ‘norm’ in the 1950s Hollywood scene. Genuinely interesting, very funny, and detailed for a strange slice of time in a world that is already pretty strange.

I definitely want to read the rest of Justin Robinson’s catalog of books. Giving ‘City of Devils’ a solid 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

~~

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Author Feature Joan Hall Hovey – Defective & Nowhere to Hide @joanhh @GoddessFish

 

VBT-Suspense-by-Joan-Hall-Hovey-Book-cover-Banner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nowhere To Hide:

 

Eppie Winner ~ Best Thriller    –  1992

SHE DARED TO CHALLENGE A MERCILESS KILLER

 

Raised in an atmosphere of violence and unpredictability, Ellen and Gail Morgan have banded together, survivors of a booze-fertilized battleground, forming a fierce united front against an often cold and uncaring world. When their parents are killed in a car crash, Ellen becomes the mother figure for Gail.

 

When fifteen years later Gail is brutally raped and murdered in her shabby New York basement apartment, practically on the eve of her big breakthrough as a singer, Ellen is inconsolable. Rage at her younger sister’s murder has nearly consumed her. So when her work as a psychologist wins her an appearance on the evening news, Ellen seizes the moment. Staring straight into the camera, she challenges the killer to come out of hiding: “Why don’t you come after me? I’ll be waiting for you.”

 

Phone calls flood the station, but all leads go nowhere. The police investigation seems doomed to failure. Then it happens: a note, written in red ink, slipped under the windshield wipers of her car, ‘YOU’RE IT.’ Ellen has stirred the monster in his lair … and the hunter has become the hunted!

 

Defective:

Cover_Defective

 

Therapist Melanie Snow is driving to her office when her Honda is struck by a dark-colored van and sent spinning into a ditch, where it catches fire. The driver never stops. A passerby pulls Melanie from the car just seconds before it explodes.

Waking from the coma nine days later, she is devastated to find she is blind.

As Melanie struggles to cope with her new reality, life as a blind woman, her fragile state of mind is further threatened by a madman who is stalking and strangling disabled women. The first two victims were mentally challenged and Detective Matt O’Leary, who carries a torch for Melanie, (even though Melanie is engaged to someone else) tells himself she is not the killer’s targeted prey. But then a woman who lost a leg to cancer is murdered, and another physically disabled woman is stalked. Even with a whole town in terror, Melanie refuses to live her life in fear and reopens her practice in the basement of her home. She has a living to earn.

And Detective Matt O’Leary must find a way to keep Melanie safe until the monster is caught. But how? Her door is now open to the public and the killer can just walk through anytime he chooses.

And he does.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Excerpt from NOWHERE TO HIDE:

 

NOT ALONE

Cover_NowhereToHide
It was nice to be alone. As she brushed her hair, Gail launched into her favorite fantasy of buying her sister a white Ferrari. Ellen’s birthday was coming up in May; she’d have the car delivered right up to her door, a big red bow tied on the antenna … dream on, girl she told herself, grinning at her reflection in the mirror.

Tiger padded into the room just then, winding his sleek, warm body around her bare ankles, purring like an old washing machine.

I owe her so much, Tiger, Gail said, reaching down to stroke the cat’s soft, glossy fur. If it wasn’t for…

Suddenly, Tiger’s back arched under her hand and he hissed. Gail’s heart leapt in her breast and her hand drew back as if burned. “What the…?” But Tiger, fur standing on end, had already fled the room. Gail turned in her chair just in time to see his electrified, retreating tail…

Then she caught a movement from the corner of her eye. Turning, she froze at the sight of the closet door slowly opening.

Chapter One

August 6, 1979

The closet door was at the top of the stairs at the end of the hall. To get to it he had to pass by two doors, one on either side, both now partly open. He could hear talking, very low. Farther away, the sound of running away. In three quick strides he was past the doors and inside the closet. He knew he was smiling. He felt excited the way he always did when he got past them. Even if anyone had got a glimpse of him, it wouldn’t really matter. He was invisible. The invisible man.

The secret door was to his right, just behind the wide rack of musty-smelling winter coats in varying sizes. He ducked beneath them, and opening the door, let himself into the narrow, cave-like space.

The space separating the inside and outside walls went nearly the whole way round the third floor, stopping abruptly at the wall of the stairwell where he had to turn around and go back the way he had come. Once, this space had been used for storage – old bed springs, broken chairs, trunks – but the doors, except for the one in the closet which he had come upon quite by luck, and through which he had come again and again, had long since been replaced by sheetrock and papered over with rose-patterned wallpaper.

It was pitch black in front of him and all around him, like he was all alone in the world. He had his flashlight, but didn’t turn it on. He knew the way. Besides, it might shine through someplace.

As he made his way along the darkened corridor, breathing the stale, hot air, his progress slowed by the long, heavy skirt he wore, he had to stoop. At seventeen, though narrow-shouldered, he was nearly six feet tall.

Sweat was trickling down between his shoulder- blades, and under the wig, his head felt squirmy, so he took the wig off and stuffed it into his pants pocket, under the skirt.

And then he was there. He could see the thin beam of light shining through, projecting a tiny star on the wall. It was coming through the place where two Sundays ago, when they were all at Chapel, he had made a peephole. He’d made it by simply pounding a nail through, then drawing it cleanly back out so that there would be nothing detectible on the other side – no more than a black dot.

A giggle floated through to him and the smile froze on his face, his fists clenching involuntarily. No, it can’t be me they’re laughing at. They can’t see me. They don’t know I’m here. I’m invisible, remember? Calming himself, he slowly brought his face to the wall.

Eight narrow, iron-framed beds faced him, each covered by a thin, grey blanket with a faded red stripe across the top and bottom. Twelve beds in all, but the two at either end were cut from his view. A few religious pictures hung above the beds. The one facing him said ‘Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me’. It had a picture of a lamb on it. Only three of the beds were occupied. It was still early. Some of the girls were probably downstairs watching their alloted hour of T.V. Others would still be doing kitchen duty. At least one troublemaker would be doing ‘quiet time’. He grinned.

He understood now that the laughter he’d heard had come from one of the two girls sitting on the edge of the bed flipping through a teen idol magazine. He’d caught a look at the cover – some weirdo with a green punk hairdo and a guitar slung around his neck. The two sluts, heads together, were still at it, giggling, whispering, low and secretive. He felt a hot surge of hatred course through his veins. He wished SHE would walk in on them right now. He knew what they were doing. They were talking about who they liked, who they thought was ‘cute’, who they would let do it. They were thinking and talking about that.

Two beds over, a fat girl with short brown hair that looked as if someone (guess who? Ha-ha) had cut it around a bowl, lay on her back with her hands behind her head, staring at the ceiling. A jagged scar travelled from a spot between her eyebrows right up into her hairline. He could tell she’d been crying; her raisin eyes were all red and puffy, practically disappearing in her moon face. They cried a lot in here. Mostly in the middle of the night when they thought no one could hear. It always excited him hearing their soft muffled sobs. Sometimes, though, it just made him mad like it did when they laughed. Then he wanted to fix it so they didn’t make any sound at all.

His gaze wandered back to the girl who had first caught his attention, the one who sat under the lamb picture, and who he’d wanted to save for last. She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, a writing tablet balanced on her knees, her long, pale hair fallen forward, though some damply dark ends curled against her neck. He watched as she scribbled a few lines, then frowning, looked over what she had written. She would chew on her yellow pencil, then write some more, the pencil making whispery sounds on the paper. He watched her for a long time, taking in the flushed, shiny cheeks that made him think, as had the darkly damp curls, that she might just have stepped out of the bath. Yes, he remembered hearing the water running. He liked to see them when they just got out of the bath – all that damp flowing hair, pinkly scrubbed skin, soft necks. Sometimes they changed into their flannel nightgowns right there on the edge of their beds, right there in front of him – though of course they didn’t know that.

That was the best part. Them not knowing. It didn’t matter that they dressed so hurriedly and so slickly that he often didn’t get to see much. Though occasionally there was a flash of white shoulder, a curve of breast.

I’m watching you, he thought, and had to stifle a giggle of his own.

And then she raised her head and those clear blue eyes were staring right at him, stabbing fear into his heart. He couldn’t move.

She was frowning, not in the way she did when she was thinking of what to write, but with her head cocked to one side, as if she were listening for something. A terrible thought struck him. What if he hadn’t just almost laughed, but actually done it, right out loud? Adrenaline pumping crazily through his body, he backed slowly away from the peephole. Standing perfectly still with his back against the wall, he waited. When after several minutes there were no screams, no sudden cries of alarm to alert the other girls – and HER, especially HER – he began to relax. His heartbeat returned to normal; once more he brought his eye to the hole. She was back to writing. Of course she was.

He smiled to himself.

He hadn’t laughed out loud, after all. And she hadn’t seen him. Of course she hadn’t. His gaze slid down to her breasts, their shapes round and firm as little apples under the flannel nightgown.

But you will, he thought. You will.
 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

defectivenowheretohide

www.joanhallhovey.com

Joan will award one randomly drawn commenter a $50 gift certificate for sunglasses at Sunglasses Shack (US/Canada only).

 

In addition to her critically acclaimed novels, Joan Hall Hovey’s articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Toronto Star, Atlantic Advocate, Seek, Home Life Magazine, Mystery Scene, The New Brunswick Reader, Fredericton Gleaner, New Freeman and Kings County Record. Her short story Dark Reunion was selected for the anthology investigating Women, Published by Simon & Pierre.

Ms. Hovey has held workshops and given talks at various schools and libraries in her area, including New Brunswick Community College, and taught a course in creative writing at the University of New Brunswick. For a number of years, she has been a tutor with Winghill School, a distance education school in Ottawa for aspiring writers.

She is a member of the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick, past regional Vice-President of Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

 

 

 

Defective on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Defective-A-Novella-ebook/dp/B00CO81XAW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1367880554&sr=1-1&keywords=Defective

 

Nowhere to Hide on Amazon:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Nowhere-to-Hide-ebook/dp/B0045Y2F4G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335885750&sr=1-1

 

Praise for Joan Hall Hovey’s Books

 

“…suspense that puts her right up there with the likes of Sandford and Patterson…” Ingrid Taylor for Small Press Review

 

 “…Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King come to mind, but JOAN HALL HOVEY is in a Class by herself!…”
J.D. Michael Phelps, Author of My Fugitive, David Janssen

“…CANADIAN MISTRESS OF SUSPENSE
…The author has a remarkable ability to turn up the heat on the suspense… great characterizations and dialogue…” James Anderson, author of Deadline

“…a gripping style that wrings emotions from everyday settings. Oh and by the way …is your door locked?” Linda Hersey – Fredericton Gleaner

 

“…will keep readers holding their breath until the very end…” inthelibraryreview, Melissa Parcel

“This one is a chiller – you won’t be able to put it down – guaranteed!” Rendezvous Magazine

“If you are looking for the suspense thriller of the year-look no further…you will find it in Nowhere To Hide…” Jewel Dartt Midnight Scribe Reviews

 

 

Perfect Victim (Paula Mitchell P.I.) by @JanSChristensen

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perfectvictim

Blurb:

A few days after Sylvia Leominster is murdered, private investigator Paula Mitchell interviews Sylvia’s fiancé in their small-town Rhode Island jail. Warren Wade’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, he has no alibi, and Sylvia broke up with him the night she was killed. After another young woman friend of Sylvia’s is bludgeoned to death, Paula is dismayed when the police keep Warren in jail. They claim the second murder could have been committed by a copy-cat and remind her Warren’s fingerprints are still on the weapon that killed Sylvia.

Working with her best friend who often hires Paula to investigate cases and who is Warren’s lawyer, Paula searches for answers. Paula and  her computer guru lover narrow down the suspects to the victim’s friends. The group is led by a mesmeric young man with political ambitions. Paula doesn’t trust him, especially when she learns that all of Sylvia’s friends have lied during her interviews. At the preliminary hearing, some answers begin to emerge. Paula zeros in on the killer and sees firsthand how friendship and loyalty can be used for personal gain. With Warren’s freedom on the line, she has to find a way to capture the real killer. But in doing so, she doesn’t realize she’s putting herself and her own best friend in danger.

First in a series featuring Paula as a feisty private investigator.

 

~~

 

I’m usually not a huge fan of female main characters, and I’ve mentioned this before, but I am the first to admit when one doesn’t fall into the ‘helpless waif’ or ‘overtly bitchy yet sexual’ category, and is actually worth a damn. Jan Christensen’s private detective, Paula Mitchell, with her somewhat dark past, but decidedly pure of heart despite what men tend to represent in her life, is a good example of how to write a decent and strong female heroine. It’s a relief, really, to be able to sit down, read a book, and not be annoyed with the character. It’s a relief and it doesn’t happen too often.

 

A young woman is killed and her ex-boyfriend (ex as in literally just broke up with him barely an hour before) is accused of her murder. I think the title should have been ‘Perfect Suspect’, rather than victim – the odds and clues are stacked up against Warren Wade, the ex-fiance’ of Sylvia Leominster, almost perfectly.

 

You first meet Paula Mitchell dealing with the stereotypical pug-faced detective as she tries to have her first sit-down with Warren. Not quite optimistic of Warren’s alleged innocence, she begins to gather clues. You meet Sylvia’s friends, irritatingly young and arrogant for a gaggle of 22ish year olds, and almost kind of incestuous in their steadfast claim to be such ‘good friends’ since grade school. There is the leader, the bitch, the jealous single-white-female bff, the bad boy, the idiot boy, and the butt-boy (so to speak). All average in their stereotypical roles, but they fulfill them, nonetheless.

 

Paula has to navigate the friends, the family, her boyfriend Steve, her trust issues with men, her best friend – Warren’s lawyer, her own dark past and betrayals. Really, I enjoyed the book and its twists and turns. Some clues a little more obvious than others, the ending isn’t really a surprise, but it is a satisfying and realistic conclusion.

 

I’ll be honest, it’s hard to get a 5 out of 5 stars from me, but I do give this one a solid 4 stars for clever writing, a solid plot, and no-lose-ends ending. I am really looking forward to Volume II and another Paula Mitchell case and highly recommend this to any mystery fan.

 

 

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Miami P.I. (A Roy Findley Detective Story #1) by @ZaneOwenYates

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miamiPI

 

Blurb:

 

Miami, Gold Coast Australia, is the back drop for this action packed, old style detective series, set in a modern fast paced world down under.

 

Roy Findley is a smart mouthed ex-cop turned Private Investigator, standing up for the little guy and taking a beating for his trouble.
He’s a cross between Magnum P.I. and Starsky and Hutch. With his Elvis hair, stylish Hawaiian shirts, fast cars and a touch of romance, he’s all class.
In this the first book in the Miami Series, Roy goes up against a local drug ring, a crooked land developer and half the cops in town.
~

 

 

It’s not Miami, Florida. Let’s just be clear about that. It’s not a bad thing, it just confused the  poop out of me. However, despite the geographical difference, I really did enjoy this mystery.

 

Roy Findley is your typical private detective. An ex-cop, alcoholic (because you’re never an ex-alcoholic, you’re one forever), 50 year old nice guy with absolutely nothing to lose. Well, nothing that he couldn’t replace at Kmart in under 35 minutes. He is the savior of the elderly, charmer of the medically inclined, surrogate father to his dead partner’s cop-daughter, and reoccurring hospital resident.

 

It starts with a dame. Well, it starts with a punch to the face, but there is always a dame, and after tying up a troubling case for an elderly couple refusing to sell their goldmine oceanfront property worth tens of millions, said dame walks into his second office (a bar, little cliche), and asks Roy to find her possibly philandering husband. With a wad of cash, it doesn’t take him long to realize said cheating husband is in serious trouble. So with multiple attacks on his life, his elderly couple friends’ lives, and his adopted cop daughter’s life, he gets to the bottom of a seriously dangerous organization located in their small little city.

 

It’s a little slow in some parts, but holds true to the mystery end with intrigue, action, adventure, and a telling mystery with a not-too-hard to figure out twist at the ending. For Roy’s first foray into the detective book world, I enjoyed this one. Wasn’t too long winded, interesting characters, lots of charm and humor, with some serious bad luck on Roy’s part. Solid 4 out of 5 for storytelling and heart, with 5 being stellar and a little more meaty plot/mystery. Definitely recommend this one.