Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review, Absence Makes The Heart Go Ponder, by Nels Gartus

Absence Makes the Heart Go Ponder by Nels GarthusI enjoyed this book.

 That being said, it took me several chapters to get into it. Those early chapters are full of backstory explaining why the three main characters are the way they are, something in any other genre I loathe. But in this case, some of it may have been needed, but I feel it could’ve been layered in throughout the story.

 The other reason I was less enthused initially is I usually read thrillers that start off with a bang and carry that pace throughout the story. This is a slower read about the issues affecting these three male characters as they go through life. There also was some repetition in the writing I feel could have been edited out.

 But once I settled into the story’s rhythm, I began to steal time to read a chapter or two. Often, I found myself nodding at what one of the characters was going through as I’ve experienced that same feeling, situation, or emotion too.

I loved the ending and was glad it worked out the way it did for the three. The last sentence makes me hope there is a follow up novel.

The Fourth Descendant, Allison Maruska

Allison Maruska The Fourth DescendantI enjoyed reading this book even though it took me a while to keep the four main characters straight through the initial couple of chapters. But Ms. Maruska does a good job of easing that difficulty as the four are very different than each other and each with flaws that keeps them real.

 Each receives a call from a historian who has discovered they are descendants of four men who buried a safe in Richmond, Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Each has a key that’ll unlock the safe and reveal the secrets hidden inside.

 The story moves along after just a brief introduction to the characters until mayhem ensues and the chase is on. One of the four has an agenda of their own which becomes compounded by an interested party.

 For me the middle of the story dragged as the four characters went about their regular lives after opening the safe without much thought to why a secret had been buried and why they were selected to reveal it. Then they are off together to discover that secret. And what a secret it is.

The ending, though sad in one regard, was satisfying and left wide open for a sequel. I look forward to reading more from this author.

You can find this book here, or read about the author here.

 

Knot in Time, by Alan Tucker

Alan Tucker Knot in TimeWhat a fun read this was. Categorized as young adult, this adult reader devoured it.

 The high school dropout protagonist, Dare, gets a chance to work for the custodians of time by traveling through it to save the universe.

The plot seems implausible until you begin reading and the believability ratchets up in short order. I mention this because Dare, when presented with this opportunity in the beginning of the story, feels the same way. But Mr. Tucker does a great job of showing him accepting the reality of the situation.

Dare being a hapless individual who seems to shrug off his difficulties made for an enjoyable character to follow through the story. It was easy to visualize any misguided teen in this situation rolling with the circumstances to make the best of it.

The story moves forward at a rapid pace which makes for an engaging read. Although the characters are fleshed out, I would have liked the author to have shown them with more depth, but finished the book satisfied and anxious to read the next in the series.

 

Final Authority, by Robert Dobransky and Joesph Dobransky

Dobransky Final AuthorityThis is one of those airline mysteries that is filled with authentic details. You’ll feel like you boarded a flight and can’t get off until you’ve landed at your destination.

Written by two brothers who fly for competing airlines, their experience with the large complicated industry is revealed in their realistic look at fictitious Global Alliance Airline and several of the key people who run it.

I would have given this book a five star rating instead of four except for a couple of issues.

The authors would bring the story to a stop to go into a lengthy tale of a character’s backstory, when I feel this could have been layered in throughout the novel, or left out. I also felt the authors overly dramatized several of the characters who weren’t pilots. A couple I questioned how they rose to their lofty position within the airline, an issue many pilots have with their airline’s management, but in this case it came across as exaggerated. Lastly, I questioned the need of the prologue. It showed the trouble the protagonist Captain Bruce Bannock faced at some point in the novel, yet it wasn’t until the very end of the novel its purpose was revealed. I read the majority of the book questioning what the prologue had to do with the story.

That aside, the authors did an excellent job showing the lengths some within an airlines hierarchy will do to seek power and wealth. Offsetting this group were some qualified, hard-working individuals who did the real work at keeping the airline operating while it faced the crisis portrayed. The authors showed this latter group realistically.

And, extremely important to this reviewer, the flying details were exacting. Readers interested in an airline mystery that could potentially happen will enjoy this book.

I look forward to reading more from these authors.

 

Avengers of Blood, by Gae-Lynn Woods

Gae-Lyn Wood's Avengers of BloodAvengers of Blood is the kind of books in a series I love. It has the same characters from The Devil of Light, the previous novel, who I had gotten to know and love; or hate. This one had a different engaging plot with aspects of the previous book’s unsolved mystery threading its way through the story. It also had a satisfying ending that left some questions unanswered telling me that soon I would be spending more time with my friends. It was written so that a reader who hadn’t read the first one wouldn’t feel lost.

Ms. Wood’s gift is creating small town characters that ring true. It’s apparent she’s spent some time observing people and storing their interactions for fodder for her stories. All of the characters in the story are flawed, some more than others, just like the people in our lives. Even the characters you root for you’ll wish could get over their insecurities and move on. But they would not seem realistic if they shrugged off what’s been a part of their life.

This story’s premise could have come straight from almost any southern newspapers headlines. There’s a gruesome murder in the first chapter discovered by a murderer denied the revenge they’ve been waiting all their life to seek. That engaged this reader as I knew the denied murderer would seek their revenge on those that stole it from them.

Maxine, a new character, was introduced in this story and made for smile evoking reading with her interactions with Cassie, the protagonist.

The only issue I had with the writing was the author occasionally spent too much time showing character actions to avoid dialog tags. Sometimes a simple said, or asked would have let the conversation flow better than showing a character doing something that didn’t add to the scene as a way to identify who spoke.

That was a minuscule issue that won’t stop me from looking forward to reading more from this author.

I recommend this novel to anyone who loves crime/mystery novels.

Here’s a link to learn more about this author and her books: Gae-Lynn Woods

The Privileged Ones, by C.R. Hiatt

The Privileged Ones CR HiattWhen you finish this novella, you’re not going to not be satisfied until you download and read Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00, the sequel to this story.

In The Privileged Ones Ms. Hiatt abruptly puts you into the lives of two very ruthless individuals who feel it is their right to do as they wish, regardless of who they kill along the way. The story moves forward at a fast clip with occasional pauses to get to know the main characters.

Its apparent Ms. Hiatt has devoured novels in this genre as she doesn’t waste time with flowery scene setting or character description. She gives the briefest of descriptions to allow the reader the opportunity to picture the scene before diving into the action or interaction between characters. I found myself smiling while reading the exchanges between the two protagonists, Sidney and Cody.

I look forward to reading more from this author.

Flight For Safety by Karlene Petitt

Flight for Safety Karlene PetittThe accidents discussed in this novel are based on actual ones. Crew fatigue, reduced training, inexperienced instructors, pilots becoming dependent on the aircraft’s automation, and airline mergers so the upper airline management can profit at the expense of the employees are all actual problems airline pilots face. The portrayal of some in the FAA wanting to do something about these problems but being prevented by their leaders is also accurately depicted.

Unfortunately I thought the author struggled to tie these subjects into a convincing thriller. The harassment the protagonist, Darby, experiences from her airline management I thought was a stretch for her alleged infractions. It wasn’t until the story was wrapped up did I understand why management had beleaguered her.

But the author making Darby out as a hardnosed woman who didn’t take any crap was smile invoking, and made the climax at the end realistic.

The other reason for my four star rating was the writing wasn’t as polished as I would have liked. There were a lot of stage directions to describe what was going on. Darby did this, then that, then she did this. The end was summed up in a narration I thought could have been more engaging if Darby had discussed the events with one of the other characters. Also, several events happened without any real setup or explanation as to how they came to be.

But the heart of the novel was so precisely depicted I admire Ms. Petitt’s ability to put the reader in the cockpit of an advance aircraft like the Airbus A-330 and fill the scene with enough details that the reader understands basically what is going on without bogging the story down with extraneous details.

 I’ll be reading more of this author’s novels.