November 28, 2019

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A Jericho Quinn Thriller Series, Book 8

Marc Cameron’s principal protagonist makes another appearance in this novel. Like the previous books featuring Jericho Quinn and his team, the story involves continuous action and more action. The entire novel is one long adrenaline rush.

The current book begins as a Cuban scientist, his wife, and little girl arrive on the coast of Florida after fleeing Cuba. He brings a secret that he is anxious to impart to American authorities. Unfortunately, he and his wife are killed by Cuban revolutionaries along with an American that spotting them on the beach goes over to help them. The American and his wife are good friends with Jericho and have managed to call him by cell before they are killed.

To exact revenge for the killing and to find out what is the secret that the Cuban scientist was anxious to bring, Jericho and his team travel to Cuba posing as tourists out for a few days holiday on the island. The Cuban government finds out that Jericho is there to find the reason for the scientist’s death and take steps to correct the situation.

Cameron presents a picture of the conditions present on Cuba which are at variance with the face that the Island nation tries to present to the world in order to attract tourism. It is one of devastation and poverty almost beyond imagining. A place where the leaders of the revolution are the rich with everyone else trying to scratch out a living. The reasons for the huge influx of boaters attempting to arrive in the US is very apparent. It is a case of a possible good future but with the risk of drowning or facing a lifetime of destitution, the crushing of the population by the secret police and endless spying by the dictators.

The plot of the novel is easy to follow. Find out what secret the scientist was bringing. Go through the mounting opposition by the Cuban authorities to Jericho and his team finding out and the hurdles appearing on a constant basis which must be surmounted in order to get the job done.

11/19 Paul Lane

ACTIVE MEASURES by Marc Cameron. Pinnacle; Reprint edition (November 26, 2019). ISBN 978-0786042692. 576p.




November 27, 2019

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A Will Parker Thriller, Book 1

Anderson Harp’s novel “Northern Thunder” was first published in 2017 concerning a covert mission into North Korea. It is just as exciting today as when written but the salient facts about that rogue nation have changed somewhat since that time.

Will Parker, a protagonist in several of Harp’s books, is enjoying life as a civilian in his home town when he is called upon by the U.S. government to reenter service in order to handle a very important mission. He will be tasked with infiltrating North Korea in order to snap a picture of Peter Nampo, a top scientist who is developing technology for that country. His technology would be used to destroy enemy satellites, most obviously those placed into orbit by the United States.

Will is given the impression that all he has to do is take the picture in order for other people to hunt down and kill Nampo. Although not so readily he accepts the mission with the provisos that he can use his own team to assist him and set the training sequences necessary to handle the job and the frigid weather that he will face in North Korea.

The novel is replete with action from one end to the other. Will finds that not only is he faced with the almost impossible task of sneaking into North Korea and finding Nampo, but the high probability that he must contend with problems presented by members of his own government. An all-night draw, of course, but in spite of some facts being dated, the book is still one to draw in readers to the novels of Harp anxiously awaiting future stories from this author.


Anderson Harp’s novel ‘Northern Thunder’ banned in China: Storyline involves an American spy on a dangerous mission to North Korea

Author Anderson Harp was excited when he learned that his book Northern Thunder would be available in China, until his publisher told him that the book was rejected by China’s state-run General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

“Some content about political relations regarding China and Russia, North Korea, South Korea and the United States in this book are negative, so we’re not allowed to print this book in mainland China,”read a statement from the printer on why the book was banned. GAPP has the legal authority to screen, censor, and ban any publication in China.

“Censorship is still very active in China,” said Harp, a retired Marine. “To this day, they still have public book burnings.”

The events portrayed in Northern Thunder begin in 2010 and cover the rise of the Kim Jong-un regime. The plot follows Marine veteran William Parker on a mission to stop a psychotic scientist in North Korea who is developing a nuclear bomb. The prescient storyline is more relevant and believable today with escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in the current news.

“Clearly, the story hit a nerve,” said Harp. “For the Communist Party of China to ban Northern Thunder, their GAPP didn’t like what it saw in the book of North Korea’s efforts to put a lightweight thermonuclear weapon on an intercontinental missile aimed at the West Coast.”

Harp is the author of three military thriller/spy novels, all featuring protagonist Parker, a Marine who gets tapped for dangerous missions around the world. Harp’s other books in the Parker series are Retribution (2014, Kensington) and Born of War (2015, Kensington).

With 30 years of military service, Harp served in the Persian Gulf, Central America, Europe, Korea, and the Pentagon. He was also mobilized for Operating Enduring Freedom, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, where he was Officer in Charge of the Marines’ Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command and Marine Forces Pacific. He also served in operation centers that overlooked Korea.

11/19 Paul Lane

NORTHERN THUNDER by Anderson Harp. Lyrical Underground (November 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1516109791. 254p.




November 25, 2019

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Alaric I was a Visigoth king, who lived in a period several hundred years after the beginning of the Christian era, had sacked and looted Rome. He is reputed to have denuded the city of as much of its private and public treasures as his army could carry. He died during his campaigns in the Italian peninsula and is thought to be buried in Italy.
The story told was that in order to hide Alaric’s grave, a river was diverted from its course, the grave dug with the king and a great deal of treasure buried there. The river was then returned to its path and all of the slaves digging the grave killed in order to preserve the secret.
Will Adams has written a fascinating novel utilizing the seeking of Alaric’s grave, a hunt for the fabled Menorah looted from the destruction of the first temple and made from gold, and a family of the Italian Mafia. Carmen Nero is a student of ancient history currently working on her Ph.D. who is called upon by a friend of hers to come to Italy bringing an instrument. We learn what the instrument is and what it does in due course. She will be treated to being a part of the possible discovery of a historical site of tremendous significance.
Zara Gold is an Israeli professor that has been introduced to the possibility that the sacred Menorah is buried in the tomb of King Alaric. There is a third party in the mix: Cesco Rossi a young conman who is introduced as he is fleeing a group of neo-Nazis from whom he has conned money for showing where Alaric’s tomb is. He obviously doesn’t of course but is important to the story.
The author has indicated that this is book one of a future series featuring both Carmen Nero and Cesco Rossi The current work fleshes them out as well as placing them in the midst of a dangerous situation. The use of historical context and the search for Alaric’s tomb is a well researched and organized novel that certainly does its job in enticing the reader to seek out and read future books about Nero and Rossi.

11/19 Paul Lane

THE SACRED SPOILS by Will Adams. Canelo Action (November 25, 2019). ASIN: B07X2W8YL5. 389p.


November 24, 2019

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The setting for this novel is occupied France during World War II. There is an active resistance movement by the French that is working every way; they are able to do damage to the Nazi occupation army.

Paul Ricard is a novelist and not involved with the resistance movement until one day fate intervenes. A man fleeing from Gestapo troops is wounded by them and dies, but manages to hand off a document to Paul who is walking by. The document, when examined, looks like a blueprint for a military weapon and Paul makes the decision to try and deliver it to the resistance movement for transport to England. While doing so he becomes completely embroiled into the activities of the resistance.

Paul gets involved with more and more dangerous activities as he is integrated into the work of the French underground. He is finally tasked with traveling through the escape route set up to get people out of France. His job is to find weak points in this system and he does so. While involved with the work he meets Leila, who is a professional spy. They not only work together but enter into a romance.

The novel is a quick read and sufficiently interesting to please most readers who peruse it. Alan Furst has a long history of presenting his readers with interesting and varied novels. Many of his books deal with spies and espionage and “Under Occupation” follows along successfully with the same theme.

11/19 Paul Lane

UNDER OCCUPATION by Alan Furst. Random House (November 26, 2019). ISBN 978-0399592300. 224p.


THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchett

November 21, 2019

THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Patchett. Harper; 1st edition (September 24, 2019). ISBN 978-0062963673. 352p.



NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY by Andie J. Christopher

November 20, 2019

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From the publisher:

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

I loved the movie this book was based on, and I liked that the book is gender-reversed, Millenial sensitive, and has a biracial lead. But somehow it just didn’t come together the way I thought it should, or would. The characters supposedly had instant chemistry, but I didn’t really feel it. The fake dating thing plays out for the entire book, until the very end, so it felt the tiniest bit unsatisfying.

I did like the characters but they could have been fleshed out a bit more. They fell a little flat for me. The con they were playing on one another often felt forced instead of more naturally occurring, if that makes sense. Maybe this plotline just works better visually, I don’t know. Or maybe because I loved the movie it was based on, my expectations were just too high. All that said, it is a very light, cute romantic romp, and ultimately, I did enjoy it. Just not as much as I had hoped.

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NOT THE GIRL YOU MARRY by Andie J. Christopher. Berkley (November 12, 2019). ISBN 978-1984802682. 336p.



THE SECOND SLEEP by Robert Harris

November 19, 2019

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One of the bullet points written about this latest novel by Robert Harris indicates that it is unlike anything he has done before. That statement is very much true. Harris always gives us a well-written book, a plot second to none, and of course characters that are painted in the most mesmerizing manner with portraits of them that allow each to live for the reader. The plot is a very pleasant surprise and not what the reader expects. But assuredly the change in the novel’s direction is one that will be well received and quite satisfying.

Christopher Fairfax, a young priest arrives in a remote village in the hinterland of England in the year of the book 1468. He was sent there in order to hold services for the village’s previous priest who had just passed away. The area around the town is overrunning with ancient artifacts such as glass, human bones, paintings and other miscellaneous memorabilia stemming from long ago. The previous priest had been an ardent collector and exhibitor of what he found. He was killed in a freak fall while moving around in one of the areas he had been working in.

Fairfax becomes fascinated by the collection and determines he will make an inroad into the meaning of what is freely available on the ground. He will work in the area and become amazed at what he is unearthing. His very faith is shaken to the core by the interpretation of the findings and. he is almost killed in the search and also finds time to have a romantic interlude with one of the ladies living there.

The strength of Robert Harris’s book lies in what is discovered and the facts this leads to. It is only fair to say that this is certainly one of the author’s best books and any more of the plot revealed would surely take away the joy of following the path Harris makes. A very well done novel and another in the series of excellent books created by Robert Harris.

11/19 Paul Lane

THE SECOND SLEEP by Robert Harris. Knopf (November 19, 2019). ISBN 978-0525656692. 320p.




November 18, 2019

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Nothing like a good old fashioned ghost story to get a reader’s attention. But couple that with a well done novel set in the England of 1917 still engaged in a world war raging just across the channel. The combination of the two events in the hands of an author at the top of his game is a sure bet to capture and keep readers glued to the book.

On an island off the coast of Devon, Lord Highmount has set up a seance in an attempt to contact his two sons who have been killed in the war. Lord Highmount is a manufacturer of materials important to the war effort has had secret plans for an effective gas mask turn up in enemy hands in Berlin. It is to determine if enemy agents will come to the seance that two people have been dispatched by the British intelligence service to attend the event. The first is Kate Cartwright a young lady that is able to see the departed and possibly communicate with them. The other is Captain Donovan recently returned from the trenches of France and a first-class secret operative.

The guests gather at the residence of Lord Highmount and we immediately learn that most of them have something to hide. The story develops as a major storm shuts down the island and prevents any travel between the mainland and the residence. Part of the tale involves Kate and the mysterious Captain Donovan developing romantic feelings towards each other. Nice touch and probably foretelling future novels involving the two.

Events proceed and the reader is treated to two seances with events described by Ryan and allowing the plot to thicken. A good story and coupled with a good writing style means a good book and an interest in future novels by the author.

11/19 Paul Lane

A HOUSE OF GHOSTS by W. C. Ryan. Zaffre (October 3, 2019). ISBN 978-1785767111. 400p.




November 17, 2019

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Wild Rose Ranch Series, Book 2

From the publisher:

If you like bad-boy heroes, western settings, and a sexy, sassy heroine you will love Jennifer Ryan’s newest Wild Rose Ranch book! Perfect for fans of Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, and Jodi Thomas.

One minute down-on-his-luck rancher Austin Hubbard slept soundly, the next, a sassy spitfire dumped a pitcher of water on his head and woke him up—in more ways than one. Hired to help him rebuild his ranch, Sonya Tucker ends up helping him put the tattered pieces of his life back together. The capable, all-business accountant is on a mission to get the ranch up and running, but can he convince the temptingly beautiful woman to take a chance on him?

Sonya was dismayed that Austin had lost it all: money, family, respectability. Things she—who’d been raised by her mother at Nevada’s notorious brothel Wild Rose Ranch—only dreamed about. But working with the long, lean cowboy shows her that Austin is honorable to his core. Together they slowly grow to see what the love between them might bring.

But then Austin’s powder keg of a family feud explodes, exposing long-buried secrets, and threatening their new-found love…

Just when I was thinking I hadn’t read a good cowboy romance in a while, this one dropped in my lap. I liked the first book in this series, but I think this one is even better. I guess like the premise of a smart woman bossing around a cowboy! At least here, it really works. It sort of turns on its head the cowboy saving the woman, although there is a hint of that as well. But mostly Sonya is fierce and in charge.

Both of these characters have a lot of baggage and troubling backgrounds, and they both can appreciate that in the other. I couldn’t help but root for them to get together, but first, they had to learn to trust one another. Another good cowboy romance!

11/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

RESTLESS RANCHER by Jennifer Ryan.  Avon (November 12, 2019). ISBN 978-0062851901.  384p.




November 16, 2019

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NOTE: This book is being reissued with a new cover in January 2020. If you want to read it then, see the links below. If you want to read it now, you can purchase the original paperback through Amazon, just click on the green book cover.

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan comes this hilarious romance about a woman who trades in the comforts of city life in hopes of finding love in a small Scottish town in the middle of nowhere.

Faced with the harsh reality that there are 25,000 more women than men in London, Katie’s dating prospects are at an all-time low. While she’s glad it’s not a man’s world anymore, it wouldn’t hurt if there were more eligible bachelors.

More likely to get murdered than married, according to gleeful media reports, Katie resigns herself to the fact that there’s no sex in the city for her and decides to head for the hills—or the Scottish Highlands to be exact. Despite the fact she’s never been one for muddy rain boats—and Fairlish is in the middle of nowhere—the tiny town does have one major draw: men. LOTS of them!

But while Katie relishes the chance to do battle with armies of admirers, she’s not excited about going head to head with her shady new boss, Harry. At least there’s the local eye-candy to distract her, including gorgeous newshound Iain. But he is at loggerheads with Harry, and she can’t afford to get on Harry’s bad side any more than she already has.

Life in the country might not be one big roll in the hay, but now that Katie has taken the plunge, can she ever turn her back on the delights of Fairlish and return to city life…?

Buy this book 1/7/20

When I received a review copy of Where Have All the Boys Gone? (I’ll admit the cute cover caught my eye) I assumed it was a new book by Jenny Colgan since it had a publication date of January 2020 listed.  After reading it, however, I discovered that it is a reprint and was originally published in 2005.  It made more sense once I realized this was a reissue of a much earlier book by Colgan.

All the hallmarks of a Jenny Colgan book are there: a picturesque Scottish town, a heroine who leaves behind big city life, a dash of humor and of course romance, but Where Have All the Boys Gone? is missing a certain amount of polish. I thought the plot had potential, and Fairlish was certainly a quirky town, but unfortunately, this book fell rather flat for me.  The writing was pedestrian and at times the dialogue rather stilted. The characters are very one dimensional.

The defining characteristic of the main character Katie, and her best friend Louise seems to be wanting to find a boyfriend.  Katie does have two love interests but didn’t have much chemistry with either of them, and they are also very one-dimensional characters. Combine that with a rushed ending and this is ultimately a pretty forgettable story.

Overall, Where Have All the Boys Gone? really wasn’t anything particularly special in terms of plot or characters.  If you enjoy cozy romances and books set in Scotland, I would still recommend Jenny Colgan, but start with The Little Beach Street Bakery, The Café by the Sea or The Bookshop on the Corner.  Where Have All the Boys Gone? certainly isn’t an accurate representation of her abilities as a writer.

11/19 Caitlin Brisson

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BOYS GONE? by Jenny Colgan. HarperCollins; 1st Paperback Editio edition.

Kindle 2020

Audible 2020