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Essex Valley: A Quiet Nice Little Town, grabbed my attention from the first chapter! I always read when I go to bed, but when I find a story that makes me want to keep reading long past the time I usually turn put down my kindle and turn out the light, I know it’s a good one! The first night I finally turned out the light at 11:30 (an hour later than usual), but I couldn’t quit thinking about the book, so at midnight I turned on the light and fired up my Kindle and read for another hour and a half. I went to bed early the next night, just so I could finish the book.
The premise of a father and daughter uprooting their lives to start anew after two members of their family had been killed in a freak accident a year before, tugged at my heart. I could feel the pain of Evan Spicer and, his 14-year-old daughter, Stevie. In Seattle, everywhere they turned, memories of happy times and then the shattering loss and grief of the past year haunted them.

Evan decided to sell the family house in Seattle. He applied for the job of Sheriff in the small California town of Essex Valley. The position had opened because the former Sheriff disappeared suddenly, leaving no trace. Spicer was accepted and made an offer on a house in the town. The deal fell through and he ended up buying a fixer-upper in a location that he liked better. Stevie was dismayed when she first saw it and when they went inside, she said she wouldn’t live there. The place was a filthy mess and I could sympathize with her reaction. I liked the way Evan handled the situation. He was considerate, but firm. He explained to her that they had nowhere else to go, and together they would plan renovations that would make it a comfortable home.

Within days he finds a contractor and the renovations begin. Evan starts work, but reassures Stevie that if she feels the least bit uncomfortable about the crew who are working there or anything else, she is to call him immediately and he will be there.

Strange things begin to happen: a suggestive note with a condom attached to it shows up in his mailbox. Then one day he opens it to find a snake inside. Evan is alarmed but doesn’t want to frighten his daughter unnecessarily, so he decides to be watchful and alert. A few times, unusual sounds in the night startle Stevie and she wakes Evan up. He checks outside but finds nothing. Then one day he discovers footprints under her bedroom window. He warns her and takes a firm stand about who she is allowed to associate with.

Through his job as the Sherrif, he has become aware of a couple of groups of bad actors in town. Stevie is a beautiful girl, who attracts “admirers” that Evan does not approve of. Stevie is mature for her age, but she is a teenager. When she comes face to face with danger, she realizes that her dad was right.

Graham did a great job of portraying a close and healthy relationship between father and daughter. She also wove a thriller that was filled with suspense and many twists and turns that kept me guessing. The characters were complex and as the plot progressed, the author gave you insight into what made them like they were. That made them no less disturbing.

This is the second book that I have read by R.T. Graham. In January of 2016, I read and reviewed “Isle of OZ: An Accidental Adventure.” It was another book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I highly recommend Essex Valley. I will be reading more books by this author!

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com by clicking here

escape-by-inna-hardisonThis book has a good plot—It is a futuristic look at life, after civilization as we know it today has collapsed. In 2107, Doctor Sandra Groning, Manchester, UK, is shocked by the constant discovery of dead infants, in an overpopulated world, where a lack of food and necessities prevail. She and her team search for a way to correct the problem. All she wanted was to make pregnancy be a choice that required a physician’s intervention, so people would not bring children into the world that they could not care for. Eventually, they created a “pill”—but it is awhile before they realize that it would cause decades of consequences for those who used it.

The story leaps ahead to 2226, in Waller, NY where the story of Riley begins. Riley is a Zoriner. For several decades, the Alliance had been kidnapping people. Two years earlier his parents had tried to fight off men from the Alliance when they took his sister Ella. One day Riley comes home from school to find the house deserted; even his dog Sampson is gone. He learns that the Alliance had taken them all. He had no family left.

In 2236, Drake sees Ella being brought into the Female Replenishers Compound, 480 Kilometers from Carthage, NY. This is where girls were groomed to become wives to provide babies for the Alliance. His heart aches when he sees her, submissive and disorient, wearing slave bands. Drake was originally from Waller, NY and he knew Ella, and her family (including Riley) before the Alliance began to attack them. Drake works as a guard at the compound. Everyone thinks he is mute and he makes certain that he maintains that charade.

In March 2236, he also sees Riley trying to break into the compound. Riley has been searching for Ella since he left Waller. Drake hurries down the tower, hoping to warn Riley away, but before he gets there, Reily is captured. He is taken to see Hassinger, the headmistress. She demands to know who he is and who he was hoping to find. When Riley refuses to answer her, she cruelly abuses him, leaving him close to death. She orders Drake to take him out of the compound gate and let him go.

Later that night, Amelia finds Riley after he throws himself over the wall around the compound. She knew she should have used her stun gun on him, and turned him over to the headmistress, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. He was young and beaten, bleeding profusely. Knowing she would be punished if anyone found out what she was doing, she took him into the compound and upstairs into the attic. He was a Zoriner, and they were the enemy.

From this point Amelia and Riley develop a relationship, at first uneasy, then one off mutual respect and finally an innocent love. When the time comes for him to leave, Amelia and her friend Laurel, and a couple of others who join them escape the compound and journey out into a frightening world that they do not know.

This journey is filled with heartache, suspense, and regret. It ends with a cliffhanger.

I was conflicted about this book; there were times I felt confused when the story line switched between different time periods and different points of view. To be honest, at times, I thought “why am I reading this?”  But at other times I was quite involved. This book also has editing flaws. I give it 3 stars, but if you love futuristic Dystopian novels you will probably enjoy it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon by clicking .

pink-tootsie-by-t-m-raskinI bought this book at the end of January, 2016. I think I avoided reading it until now, because I knew it would be painful.  Pink Tootsie is a disturbing memoir of an individual whose life was framed by an unstable family life from the cradle into adolescence. When I was reading, there were times that I had to check again to see exactly how old she was when certain things happened, and was shocked to learn that as early as 12 to 16 she was mired in drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, physical and mental abuse by the people she associated with and deep shame over the impulses she couldn’t control.

This book took me into a world that I know exists, but I have utterly no life experience in—and I thank God that I grew up in a home that provided a solid foundation. I have never been exposed to sexual or physical abuse. I have never tried recreational drugs. I wondered repeatedly how she ever survived the extreme drug and alcohol abuse, and remained mentally competent.

I cannot say that I enjoyed the read—BUT, it is good for people (including me) to get a look into this world of pain and sadness. If only the people who start experimenting with drugs, promiscuity and extreme use of alcohol would read this book and understand where it can take them.

I applaud the author for seeking help, for repeatedly getting back up and fighting to overcome the addictions that pushed her back into the horror that she had lived. I was thankful once her mother got her act together, she became responsible and supportive—but she also stood by her rules and exhibited tough love—which had to be heartbreaking for her.

T.M. Raskin, I hope that you have now overcome the devil that drove you for so many years, and can be a help to others who face similar issues. You can be a shining light in the darkness that no human should endure.

You can purchase this book on Amazon by clicking here

 

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stars-4-0._V192240704_I read “The Torch Is Passed: A Harding Family Story” first and I loved the book so much I decide to read “The Pharm House.”

Bill Powers crafts outstanding stories, and I look forward to reading the next one. When you read his books, I encourage you to purchase “The Pharm House” first, because it is the first installment in the Hardy Family story.

Twelve years ago, Nicholas Harding had joined Marshall Pharmaceuticals as a bench-level scientist with a new Ph.D. in toxicology. One year ago, Harding was promoted to Director of Toxicology and now heads a group of 75 people. He is the highest ranking black man in the company, and he has one more goal that he wants to reach- Vice-President. Arthur Kronan fills that role now, but Nicholas is his right-hand man, and Arthur considers him an equal. Rumor is that Nicholas will succeed Arthur when he retires in a few years, and that has caused resentment in some quarters.

Harding is stunned when he learns that Kronan committed suicide shortly after he sent a confusing email to Nicholas in the middle of the night. He is even more puzzled when he seemingly receives more emails from the dead man.

Someone is playing with him, but who? And why?

Harding has no respect for Don Marshall, who holds a large percentage of stock in the company. When Nicholas is called into Jack O’Connor’s office, he is surprised to find him there, as well as CEO, Grant Michner. Previously,Jack told Nicholas that he wanted him to take over as acting VP, rather than immediately moving into the spot Arthur had groomed him for. Now, the next day, Jack was telling him that Don Marshall suggested that they should go ahead with the succession and he would take over as vice-president, although it is clear to Harding that O’Connor does not want to do it and that Don Marshall is thoroughly enjoying Jack’s discomfort.

It isn’t long before Harding realizes that things are not what they appear to be in the company. Marshall Pharmaceuticals is involved in a new project, in conjunction with Tanaka Pharmaceuticals in Japan. Tanaka has done the preliminary work on MR-548, an anti-viral agent. They have provided all the initial testing results to Marshall, who will soon start a clinical trial with humans in the US.

One day he comes home to find Dr. Beverly Coston, Food and Drug Administration Field Investigator and Agent Barry Keenan, U.S. Marshal’s office waiting for him. To his shock and dismay, he discovers that they are investigating him. Within a short time, he realizes that he has been set up as a patsy and made to look like he is up to his eyeballs in illegal activities. There is a plethora of damning evidence which includes forged memos, reports, and emails. Unless he can find out who was behind this and offer proof of his innocence, his career in the industry will be ruined, and even worse – he may do time in a federal prison. He has no idea who he can trust, outside his family.

His mother, Dorothy, calls on an old friend who had helped her in the past. Beth Cowlings enters the picture as Nicholas’s lawyer. She seems like an unlikely choice. First, she is a white person, and Nicholas questions that. Second, she doesn’t portray the part of a fearsome advocate. She looks like a piece of fluff; she wears white all the time, and she has snow white shoulder length hair and a mild, southern manner that is deceiving and makes many dismiss her.

The title “The Pharm House,” sounds like “The Farm House” which is as deceptive as Beth Cowling. This book is a masterpiece of duplicity and treachery in high places. It is filled with family and friends who have great love and loyalty; it shows what people will do for love—as well as for greed and power. It tests how far love will go in the face of moral convictions. There is also a sprinkling of the history of the struggle of the black people in the US, revealed through thoughts and conversation in an unintrusive way.

I highly recommend this book and believe that Bill Powers will be as successful as an author, as he has been in other avenues of his life. There is only one reason that I am giving this work four stars, instead of the five stars that the storyline deserves. I read this on my Kindle, and I found editing errors that would not be acceptable in a best-seller. I noticed this immediately, and realized that this factor was not an issue in “The Torch is Passed.”

Don’t miss this great book! You can purchase it on Amazon.com by clicking here

the-way-to-her-heart-by-amy-reecestars-5-0._V192240867_ (1)This is the first book that I have read by Amy Reece, and I am very impressed with her work. I immediately became aware of the quality of her writing style; her characters are well developed and felt believable and relatable to me. This book is targeted for YA, but I am a senior and I loved it.

Bernie Abeyta grabbed my heart. She had known a relatively normal middle-class lifestyle until her father was sent to prison. Then her mother fell apart and so did Bernie’s life. She worked hard to keep her grades high because she was determined to win a scholarship so she could go to college and get an engineering degree.

She hated her mother’s way of life and the men she brought home. One night, when one of those sleazy men tried to get into her bedroom, Bernie quickly grabbed what she could and bailed out the window. She ran to her friend, Gabriela Rodriguez’s place, but Gabby wasn’t there.  Despairing, Bernie snuck back and got her car.  She was only 17 and she was determined not to be put in a foster home, so she did her best to stay under the radar until she was 18 and could rent an apartment. She became one of the many homeless young people.

18-year-old, Josh Harris, had lost his father and younger brother in an accident a year before. He had lived in the fog of grief and depression since then. Medication and counseling didn’t help.  He and his mother, Claire, were very close. They had a luxurious home, plenty of resources and meaningful work. They lived in a completely different socioeconomic situation than Bernie had ever known.

Josh and Bernie were thrown together when they were randomly paired to work on a school assignment. Bernie always went to his place to work on the Economics project. One night, she wasn’t feeling good, and Josh secretly followed her, wanting to make certain that she got home okay. The weather was cold, and he was worried about her. He was shocked when he realized that she slept in her car. He confronted her and insisted that she come to stay at his place. When she refused, he phoned his mother and told her what Bernie had been doing. After she had spoken to Claire, Bernie gave in because the alternative was what she had fought to avoid.

I loved Josh—I would have been proud to have him as a son! He was kind and thoughtful, and a wonderful cook. He always had Bernie’s back and went out of his way to help her and be with her. The events of the past year had changed him. The typical 18-year-old, football jock was gone, and the things that had seemed so important before weren’t anymore. In fact, he felt out of touch with the gang he had hung-out with.

When Bernie realized that Gabby had gone missing, she wouldn’t accept the idea that she had run away. She was determined to find out the truth, and Josh offered to help her.

Josh tried to hide his attraction to Bernie, but he couldn’t deny it to himself—or his smart mother when she confronted him and pointed out that it would be inappropriate for him to get involved with an underage girl, while she lived in their home. Bernie was beautiful, and he feared that someone else would ask her out before she turned eighteen. Then she could get her own apartment, he could tell her how he felt.

The story is complex and has many components: neglect and abuse, debilitating loss, mystery, murder, loyalty, second chances, confused gender-identity, and a very sweet love.   And some great recipes at the end!! Thanks, Amy—I printed them off; they sound wonderful!

I highly recommend The Way to her Heart!

You can get it on Amazon.com by clicking here

 

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This was a great read! A fast-paced suspense thriller that kept me on edge till the end. The plot was FILLED with twists and turns- and a full cadre of characters who are well rounded and exciting.

Andrea Harding has to grow up quickly when her father, Nicolas, and her uncle, Michael are shot. Shortly after someone tries to kill her, and it becomes obvious that someone wants all of the Harding family dead.  But none of them know why. Beth Cowling (Andrea’s grandma Dorothy Harding’s best friend) convinces her daughter Riva to be Andreas legal adviser.

Through Beth, Andrea and Riva are introduced to Deirdre Southington, who is the kind of woman you would want on your side if someone was working against you. She is well trained, fearless and deadly. She used to work for the NSA—now she is a private operative, she still has a lot of contacts in the national security arena, and she has a part-time consulting arrangement with the NSA, so technically, she’s still an agent of the US security apparatus.

This book has so many surprises: Russian mobsters, murder, power, greed, stunning violence, classical music, a refurbished old fashioned railway car, intermingled with interesting historical facts.

I intend to go back and read Book One in the trilogy—The Pharm.  I think I have discovered a new favorite author–Bill Powers.

To buy this book on Amazon click here

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A Scandalous Husband was the first book of Bev Pettersen’s that I read, and I went back and read almost all of her work now. So when A MILLIONAIRE’S SHOT came out I quickly got it.

I totally enjoyed it! Alex Sutherland is a father who has sacrificed everything to protect his daughter—even gave up the woman he has loved…and more!

Cassie Edwards ran away when Alex married Rachel, who had manipulated him into getting her pregnant. But when her ailing grandfather needs her help, she cannot stay away.

Both Alex and Cassie believe they have gotten passed those feelings. But as the plot unfolds we learn that many things are not what they seem to be.

One thing I always enjoy about Pettersen’s writing is her authenticity when it comes to writing about horses in any setting. Her ability to create tension, life-like characters and description also pulls me in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and highly recommend it.

To purchase this book on Amazon click here

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Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever focuses on three teenagers who have played high school football in Avlon, Alabama- a small town in the USA.

The main character, Casey Clinton, has become Avlon’s “golden boy,” because of the notoriety he has gained as a Quarterback who has a fantastic ability to throw the ball. Lucas Calhoun, his wide receiver, is fleet-footed and sure-handed. Butcher Doran played centre. When their team goes to the state championship, Casey is full of confidence, certain that he will take the team to a win…and the whole town is behind him, believing he will.

But the unthinkable happens and what would have been his winning throw is short. Avlon loses the game. Casey Clinton is devastated. He feels he has let everyone down—his parents, his coach, his teammates and the town. People try to console him, but he can’t let it go. Casey isn’t the only casualty. Lucas Calhoun also realises that with that loss, his hope of getting into college football is pretty much gone and he has a hard time forgiving him.

Because of his reputation, Casey is still pursued by college football recruiters. The offers come laced with all kinds of perks—scholarships, fancy cars, beautiful women. There are too many choices, too many things to consider, and they constantly hound him until he doesn’t want to answer the phone anymore. They come to the isolated little town—big name recruiters from big name colleges. They use every leverage they can —flattering his skill, his high school coach, his parents, his girlfriend—in an effort to get him to sign with them.
The glory days of high school football are gone—now it is a ruthless business. Chase finds himself in a world of corruption that he has never known, one where no matter how big you are, you can be discarded.

For me, this book is far deeper than the story of three high school football players. I seen it as a realistic portrayal of what can happen when an individual is put up on a pedestal—in a family, in a small town or in national or international situations. Unexpected events can send them into a downward spiral, sending their world of high expectations crumbling around them. When you’ve been at the top, the fall to the bottom is tough.

I am not an avid football fan, and I live in Canada, so I found the colloquial speak of the characters and the south entertaining. I read when I go to bed at night, and I elbowed my husband several times and read passages to him. I usually prefer books that have a happy ending, not necessarily a realistic one.

That being said, I loved this book and the author’s writing style. I highly recommend it.

 To purchase this book on Amazon.com click here
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I love, Love LOVED this book!!
I read alot–and I must confess that I find that many of the books are just time fillers. The night I started Reckless In Texas I was expecting another average book–but holy moly- was I in for a pleasant surprise. I started reading at 6:30 pm and was heavy into finishing at 1:30 the next morning–in fact I skim read the last 4 chapters because I knew I HAD to go to sleep, but I HAD to know what was going to happen. I went back the following day and actually read those chapters word for word.

Even though I hadn’t read Dell’s Bio, I knew that she was right at home in the world she brought to life in the book. The portrayal of the characters and the lifestyle was so authentic and realistic, that I felt like I was there with them as each page turned.

Violet Jacobs and Joe Cassidy were both independent, stubborn individuals, who had enough personal baggage to make them insecure in relationships, and as I read I had to wonder if they’d ever get it all together! Thank God for Joe’s friend, Wyatt Darrington, who had Joe’s back all the way through, and at times interfered without “interfering”–he grabbed a piece of my heart too!

And then there was Violet’s 5-year-old son, Beni, who was just adorable–and in the background his father, Delon Sanchez, who wanted to be footloose and fancy-free, until he perceived Joe to be a threat. Throw in the rest of the Jacobs family and a rodeo stock contracting business that struggled to make ends meet, and Dell created one delightful read.

To purchase this great book on Amazon.com click here

 

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Johnny Newman had been best buddy with Brandon Cervini, before he died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. Six years earlier, when Brandon had rescued Susan from an apartment fire, it was as if the God’s had declared that they were meant to be together forever.

Johnny had worshipped her, thought of her constantly, knowing that she could never be his. Then fate had intervened—and Brandon died in the rubble of the tower, September 11, 2001.

Susan had been devastated, and Johnny had been honorable, true to his best friend’s memory. He loved her, but he couldn’t have her.

Two years have passed. Johnny is tormented by his love for Susan and Susan is still lost in her memories. But gradually she has become “aware” of Johnny in a different way, one that she is unwilling to look at.

Susan’s cousin, Melody, had always been there for her. Then she had suddenly disappeared, and although there was no proof, her husband, Zander, believed she was dead. Susan could not accept it, and one day when she received a package that contained a Penguin ornament and a CD that was a new release by Mr Wright. She knew then that Melody was alive and reaching out to Susan. But where was she?

She looked up Mr. Wright on the internet, and decided to go to his concert, convinced that Melody would be there because she had always had a huge crush on the man. Johnny offered to go with her, determined to be there to protect her and help her find Melody.

The plot has several twists and turns, and it is a good read. As it progresses Susan and Johnny grow closer, but can they get past the feeling that they would be betraying Brandon if they acknowledge their love?

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com by clicking here

 

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