Miles Away … Worlds Apart by Alan Sakowitz

Hardcover, 223 pages, Published September 1st 2010 by Legacy Series Press, LLC, ISBN13: 9780615382401

 

Alan Sakowitz, a whistleblower of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme masterminded by Scott Rothstein, fraudster extraordinaire, tells the story of his decision to turn in Rothstein regardless of the possible dangerous ramifications of such a decision. The saga of Rothstein’s rise and fall which included a Warren Yacht, two Bugattis, Governor Crist, the former Versace mansion, The Eagles, and even the murder of a law partner, is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made from.

Instead of the mere accounting of such a scandal, Sakowitz uses the Rothstein scheme as a cautionary tale in stark contrast to the stories of humble, ethical individuals living within Sakowitz’s neighborhood in North Miami Beach, Florida. Sakowitz’s neighbors are people who have spent their lives trying to assist others, not line their pockets, and through these stories Sakowitz creates a sharp dichotomy between the greed, of a Rothstein and its mainstream culture of consumption and the charity, kindness and selflessness of a principle-oriented community. Indeed, Sakowitz speaks to the symptoms of a culture that could create a Scott Rothstein, and, though acknowledging that the easy way out is not simple to dismiss, offers remedies to the growing ills of our entitlement society. The answer, Sakowitz says, lies in thinking first of others, and how one’s actions should benefit the lives of friends, not one’s short-term gratifications.

Review: Before I begin, I guess I better post two things. 1) Most of you who follow my reviews, or read my reviews every now and again, know that I post spoilers and give my opinion. 2) You also know that I usually only read fiction.

So this review is going to be a bit different. First, the book is non-fiction. Second, I’m not posting spoilers – I’m urging you to get out there, get the book, and read it! It’s very possible that I would probably have never read this book, because it is non-fiction. I haven’t read non-fiction since I graduated high school over 15 years ago. With that said, I will forever thank Alan Sakowitz for asking me if I’d like a copy to read and review. This book will hit the heart of you – “on the right side.”

The title, “Miles Away … Worlds Apart” fits the book exactly. I don’t think Alan could’ve have given it a better title. Not only do you get the selfish, egotiscical, greedy, manipulative world of Scott Rothstein, you get the mirror opposite of Alan’s world – filled with heartfelt stories of the selfless, decent, compassionate people who are his family, his friends, and his community.

After reading the book, the one saying that keeps coming to mind is: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I sincerely sort-of feel bad for the investors that got sucked in by Rothstein’s image. And the reason I state “sort-of” is because, like Alan, those red flags should have been setting off alarms by the dozen. If they chose to ignore the warnings completely, then they kind of deserve to be in the position they are now. They had the choice to walk away. They didn’t.

Alan, I commend you. Not only did you take those red flag warnings to heart, you chose not to brush it aside like I’ll bet others did; out of sight, out of mind. No, you chose to do the selfless, decent thing: you chose to blow Rothstein’s scheme right out of the water. You protected countless others who might have been sucked in if Rothstein had a chance at them. I’ll bet there are hundreds of people out there who are proud of you. I know I am. And there’s another reason for that as well…

Those of you who know me personally know that I have a hard time reading anything that includes religion. I am Roman Catholic. That will never change, no matter if anyone argued until they were blue in the face. I have a hard time reading books that push other religions; as if stating that I’m completely in the wrong and this is the way it should be. But Alan didn’t do that. Not one iota. With the wonderful stories that he included in his book, he didn’t press upon his religion. Any mention of it was more like for the benefit of the reader, so that the reader better understands his religion. What he did press upon, was humanity; on kindness, selflessness, compassion, decency. Plain and simple. No matter the religion, people all over the world should be like this. Acts of kindness, of decency, should be done because a person is in need. There shouldn’t be an ulterior motive. It shouldn’t be because it makes you feel good. It should be all about the person who needs it. Any acts of kindness I’ve done, any that I know I’ll do in the future, have nothing to do with me and how I feel. If someone asked, would I admit that those acts made me feel good? Of course I’ll admit it – I’m not a liar. But I didn’t do it for me. To know that, whatever help I gave, was appreciated, to know that person will be okay, that’s more than enough for me. I don’t need anything in return. I don’t even need a smile, or a thank you. Because, in my heart, I know I did the right thing, the decent thing, and that’s all I need.

When my children are older (as we are French, my children haven’t started taking English classes as of yet) I will have them read Alan’s book. I know they will learn from it. I know I did.

Rating:

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The Spellman Files (Spellman, #1) by Lisa Lutz

Published January 27th 2009 by Pocket, Mass Market Paperback, 470 pages, ISBN-13: 9781416594178

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, twenty-eight-year-old private investigator with relentlessly intrusive bosses (Mom and Dad), a chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress), and uncle who randomly disappears on benders (“Lost Weekends”), and a kid sister on her trail (hired by her parents to ascertain the identity of her new boyfriend). When Izzy snaps, the only way out of the family business is to solve an ice-cold missing persons case that leads to the disappearance of someone she loves…

Review: Offbeat and quirky, a book you can’t pass up!

Isabel Spellman grew up purposely being the complete opposite of her “absolutely perfect in every way” older brother. So she did the only thing that came naturally: Rebelled in every way, shape and form. Constantly getting into trouble. It didn’t help having private investigators for parents who taught their children the business early. Isabel used those skills to land herself in all that trouble.

They spy and blackmail each other as much as they spy for their clients. But Izzy’s patience is tested when her parents assign her fourteen-year-old sister the job of spying on her for the purpose of identifying Izzy’s boyfriend. Things go from bad to worse, Izzy has had it, and decides to quit. So, her parents persuade her to take one last case – the dead-cold missings persons case. Negotiations ensue, and Izzy is to work the case for 2 months, whether she solves it or not, and she’ll be able to leave without any hounding from her parents.

But as Izzy’s suspicions grow, with facts in the case that just don’t add up, Albert and Olivia do everything in their power to stop Isabel’s pursuit. But Izzy’s doggedly determined to find out what happened to Andrew Snow, no matter what.

And just when Izzy believes she has a break in the case, her sister, Rae, goes missing. Question is: Does Rae’s disappearance have anything to do with the Snow case?

**Worthwhile read, something for everyone.

It’s hard to try and determine which genre to put this book in. The spine specifically says “Fiction”, but it has other genres tied in. There is a case, a mystery that needs solving, but it’s not the basis of the plot.

There is comedy. Between the spying, the dirt, the blackmail, the negotiations, your snorting with laughter at some of the characters antics.

There is a little drama. Not only does little sister Rae go missing, the family does what they can to find her, you feel what Izzy’s feeling. But Uncle Ray needs to be included in that drama. “Lost Weekends” are the norm; Uncle Ray disappears for days on end, drinking, gambling, and bedding women. I cried when Izzy and Rae went to Reno to bring him back the final time, only they weren’t bringing him back the way the family usually did.

Well worth the read! My mistake was reading the excerpt of the next book in the series, Curse of the Spellmans. LOL, now I really want to get my hands on that book!

Rating:

The Trouble With Demons (Raine Benares, #3) by Lisa Shearin

Published April 28th 2009 by Ace, Paperback, 370 pages, ISBN-13: 9780441017126

My name is Raine Benares. I’m a Seeker. People hire me when they need something found. I’m not usually the one being sought. But that all changed when I found the Saghred, a sould stealing stone of unlimited power—and the bane of my existence. Now mages and madmen have me in their sights, not to mention demons…

An opened Hellgate leads to a demon infestation on the Isle of Mid, and while there’s never an ideal time to face down demon hordes, it’s hard to imagine a worse one. Already fighting the influence of the Saghred, Raine discovers she is also magically bonded to a dark mage and a white knight, two dangerous and powerful men on opposing sides—and Raine’s stuck in the middle.

But with demons pouring throught the Hellgate, Raine can’t afford to be distracted. Turns out the demons want the key to unlock the Saghred. As a seeker, Raine should be able to find it first. As the axis of light and dark powers, she’s a magical cataclysm waiting to happen…

Review: I’d have to agree with Kathleen’s review. Lisa Shearin is making a name for herself in the fantasy genre and I wouldn’t be surprised if her books started appearing on the NYT Bestseller List with the next couple of books.

This one has it all: Goblins, elves, and magic users of all kinds. Characters that you love to love and cheer for, and characters that you love to hate, right down deep to the core. There are characters that make you laugh out loud, and those that seriously give you the creeps.

She sets the scene so well, you could swear you were on the island right along with Raine and company, watching as each act unfolds. From magic users to sword fights. Characters who would fight with Raine until the end. Raine, no matter how scared spitless she is, will rush in headfirst, cause it’s the right thing to do.

Thrills, chills, mystery, action, suspense, keep you turning the page, along with just a hint of romance and promise of more. And when the book’s done, your mind is still going over everything, keeping you just as excited.

You can tell this author takes her time when she writes, getting the scene, each act, the characters, just right, just so, before moving on to the next scene.

If you haven’t read Lisa Shearin, take my word for it: Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore/library or even online, and get Lisa Shearin’s books. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating:

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1) by Patricia Briggs

Published January 31st 2006 by Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages, ISBN-13: 9780441013814

Werewolves can be dangerous if you get in their way, but they’ll leave you alone if you are careful. They are very good at hiding their natures from the human population, but I’m not human. I know them when I meet them, and they know me, too.

Mercy Thompson’s sexy next-door neighbor is a werewolf.

She’s tinkering with a VW bus at her mechanic shop that happens to belong to a vampire.

But then, Mercy Thompson is not exactly normal herself … and her connection to the world of things that go bump in the night is about to get her into a whole lot of trouble.

Review: Mercedes “Mercy” Thompson is a walker. A coyote, to be precise. As a walker, she can shift forms at anytime, between her human self and a coyote. Fast and nimble as a coyote, she is also somewhat stronger, with better hearing, sight and intincts, as a human.

She’d been raised by a wolf pack in Montana and was “forced” to leave at the age of sixteen, when the Alpha’s son was ready to declare her as his mate. Fearing it was for the wrong reasons, Bran lied to Mercy and sent her to her mother, who had since remarried and had other children. A husband and children who never knew about Mercy but welcomed her with open arms. Only there for a few years, Mercy left to be on her own, and it’s the way she likes it.

Now she’s a mechanic, owns her own garage, and fixes mostly import cars, such as VW, Mercedes, Jaquars, etc… She lives next to the Alpha of the local Tri-Cities pack, and while she keeps her head down, sometimes purposely does things to annoy him, because he contradicted her. And while werewolves don’t usually allow walkers to hang around, Adam has placed her under his protection, and the wolves leave her alone.

While fixing a VW in one of her bays, a newly made werewolf kid, seemingly no older than late teens, early twenties, comes looking for work. It’s obvious that he’s new – he didn’t realize what Mercy was, didn’t know the laws of the pack. But Mercy knows what he is and is determined to help him. Overhearing a converstaion he has over the phone, she knows he’s in trouble. And the following night, trouble found him. On the verge of being taken, Mercy attacks and manages to bring Mac to Adam, knowing Adam could help him. But the help doesn’t last long. Adam’s house is attacked, his fifteen-year-old daugther, Jesse, kidnapped, and Adam badly wounded. Mac was murdered and left on her doorstep as a warning; one that she ignores.

She brings Adam to Bran in search of help, and Samuel is back. It’s obvious that he still has feelings for her, but she’s determined not to repeat the past. With Bran’s help, they return with determination to find Jesse and find out what’s going on, because the attack on Adam looked like an inside job at first, but Mercy’s instincts are telling her that, while he may have a traitor in his pack, there’s more to this than what meets the eye.

**And right she was. Mercy has quickly become one of my fave characters, probably because I can associate with her more than I can with other characters. She knows she’s different and doesn’t let that stop her (I feel that), she’s a mechanic who owns her own garage (I may not be an actual mechanic, but I do know mechanics and I’m the office manager of our family-owned auto repair shop). She may be a coyote, but her determination and tenacidy is very much like a pit bull; she’ll keep at it until she gets what she wants or she’ll do it her way anyway.

Samuel bugs me. He has his way of thinking and refuses to think otherwise. There’s this snobbery around him that begs me to take a swing at him, and this assumption he has that what he and Mercy had was not over, the way he acts when other males are around her, makes me want to pound some sense in him. (I will say that I’m glad Mercy is doing what she wants and makes a very big point of it in the last chapter!)

And then there’s Adam. In my opinion, a very good Alpha. He may be rough, but he’s fair. And just like any alpha, he’ll fight to his death to save those he loves, including his kidnapped daughter. He’d declared Mercy as his mate, purely for her protection from the rest of the pack, but I know there’s more to it than that. I’m sure of it (which I believe stands out very well in the last chapter.)

The action scenes are well played out. The information/scene setting is well spaced out so that you’re not overloaded right at the beginning. A great cast of characters (add vampires, fae and witches to the mix,) from the lovable to the devious. I very much liked the world that Briggs created for Mercy. I highly recommend this one to urban-fantasy lovers, and plan on getting the rest of the series as soon as possible. I’m actually kicking myself for not having read it sooner!

Rating:

Bewitched & Betrayed (Raine Benares, #4) by Lisa Shearin

Published April 27th 2010 by Ace, Paperback, 384 pages, ISBN-13: 9780441018727

Impending war is the least of her problems.

My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. I find lost things and missing people – usually alive. Finding the specters of six evil mages who escaped the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone of unlimited power, was easy. Stopping them before they unleashed Hell on earth just may be the death of me.

Being bonded to the Saghred wasn’t my idea – neither is hunting down its escapees. Especially not when one of them is also hunting me. He’s regenerating his body by taking lives of powerful victims, along with their memories, knowledge and most important of all, their magic. The dark mage wants control of the Saghred, and if he gets it, he’ll become an eveil demigod whom no one can stop. The only thing in his way is me.

One of us doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

**Review: Completely “UNPUTDOWNABLE!” Just like the first three!**

Okay, you’ve read my reviews before. I usually give a brief detail of what happens in the book, then my thoughts on it. This review is going to be all over the place, LOL! Fair warning.

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the novel and don’t want to know what happens, do not read past this point!

Lisa Shearin has done it again!!! This is only the fourth book she has published, and already, with her style, she resembles a veteran; an author who’s been around for years! She’s that good!

Raine’s back, with our entire favourite cast of characters.

The spectres are running rampid all over Mid, including Sarad Nukpana. Raine is now after them, to put them back where they belong. The opening line is, and I quote: “I was being chased by a pissed-off guy with a knife. A really big knife.” My first thought: And we’re off!!!

Then, not halfway down the page, I cracked up when I read: “And believe me, I got to see enough manhoods and fleeing pasty white posteriors to last me a lifetime.”

When a shriveled up body is dumped at her feet by none other than Sarad Nukpana, she’s warned that the whole situation is about to get worse. Sarad is going to “eat” as much power as he can, and will eventually find a way to control her and the Saghred (stone). And he’s going to go after everyone she cares about and everyone she loves before he gets to her.

Raine will stop at nothing to find him.

We see another side of Mychael; now we learn where he came from before he became Paladin. Their umi’atsu bond grows stronger, and both finally admit to being in love with each other.

Talon gets himself into even more trouble – on a couple of separate occasions. Piaras keeps himself out of most of it, until he goes after Talon. And when Tam learns of where his son has gone, he takes off before anyone can stop him. But of course, Tam is captured by Sarad, and Raine has to make the hardest decision she’s made so far.

The whole scenario gets more and more complicated as the book moves along, and the deeper Raine gets, the more you’re rooting for the home team. A war is averted, for the most part, although the threat is still there. A duke is thought dead, but isn’t. Imala Kalis, head of Goblin Intelligence (with the cute dimples), needs Tam’s help. Imala has a secret of her own as well.

And if I keep going, you’ll end up getting more of the story than I intend to give you. This book has great characters that you love to love and hate with a passion. This book is non-stop intrigue and action, from beginning to end. Figths (magical and non), arguments, truths and lies, conniving deceptions and set-ups, power-hungry elves, mages and goblins, and love-making that was 3 books in the making.

This book, this series, is one of the top fantasy series I recommend to anyone who asks me. Why? Because it deserves the recognition. Run, don’t walk, and get your copy today! What are you waiting for?

Rating:

 To the FTC: I shouldn’t even have to post this; I’m Canadian. But, just to keep you happy (and keep me away from a possible $11,000 charge against me *eyeroll*), I will state that I purchased this book at Coles (Chapters) for my own reading pleasure. I was in no way paid for this review.

The Screaming Room (Lt. John Driscoll, #2) by Thomas O’Callaghan

Published May 1st 2007 by Pinnacle - Paperback - 352 pages - ISBN-13: 9780786018123

Every serial killer has a special place…

John Driscoll has laid the ghosts of his past to rest. He’s ready to start over – both personally and as an NYPD homicide commander. But it seems that a serial killer has other plans for Driscoll.

The victims’ bodies are found, brutally mutilated and carefully arranged for the world to see – grotesque visions to all except for the depraed killer, who considers them masterpieces. These blood rituals spell out a message to Driscoll. And they are just the beginning…

Driscoll’s investigation will lead him down the darkest of journeys, toward an evil beyond his worst nightmares. In a hellish landscape conceived by the all-too-clever mind of a twisted schemer, Driscoll must play a killer’s deadly game. It’s up to him to save his city – or die trying.

**Gruesome, chilling, a killer’s game.

Driscoll has finally made peace with the ghosts of his past and has accepted things he cannot change. And just when it starts getting better, his wife Colette, who was comatose for over six years from an accident that also killed his daughter, takes her last breath. And just when John lays her to rest, a serial killer is loose in New York City, leaving gruesome bodies in the most public places possible.

What begins as a strange case only gets worse, for more bodies are lining up. At first, the only connection to the victims are that they are tourists, all of different nationalities. Stranger yet, each victim was clubbed on the left side of the head hard enough to be fatal, and each has been scalped.

The deeper Driscoll and his team dig, the creepier the case gets. For forensics left behind point to a set of identical twins, male and female. Why? Why kill these seemingly innocent people? The more the team uncovers, the more their realize that these victims aren’t innocent at all.

Angus and Cassie Claxonn are in their late teens, and they are killing in vengeance. Abused by their “so-called” father when they were young, Cassie raped and her face disfigured by him, used as child prostitutes, they’d had enough. First they got rid of their father, then decided to rid the world of those disgusting and vile people like him. And the scalping… being sent to the foster mother who’d taken care of them when they were small, a spiteful note of anger at how she could have let their birth mother take them away from what they knew as a happy home, to a life of absolute terror and misery.

The case is heating up. As the team digs, Driscoll gets closer and closer to Angus and Cassie. A thorn in his side, Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims and a pharmaceutical mogul, doesn’t just want the killers found… He wants them dead, just as his daughter is now dead. The one million reward he put in the press is boosted to 3 million, and he wants the killers, bad. The tip hotline number is being observed, not only by the police, but Shewster’s team; he’s determined to get to Angus and Cassie first.

And just when Angus and Cassie are located and surrounded, Driscoll faces a terrible surprise, for Angus wanted something against “Lieutenant Bulldog”, and he found her: Driscoll’s sister, Mary. Angus had kidnapped her, and now plans to use her for his get-away.

But that doesn’t happen. Driscoll always gets his man.

**Fast-paced and twisted, this book will not let you down. Creepy facts that get creepier, you want to feel sorry for the twins and what they went through. But the more the bodies pop up, the more disgusted you get and cheer on the good guys.

Driscoll, although he just lost his wife, knows that she’s better off and no longer suffering. While he’ll always love her, he can put the pain to rest.

Margaret is back on his team. Both know their feelings for the other, and while Driscoll wants to pursue it as much as Margaret does, Margaret is terrified at the thought of a relationship with him. She has ghosts of her own that haunt her, which also screws up her feelings on the case.

Cedric Thomlinson is also back, the third in the trio. He knows he owes Driscoll for the second -chance he’d been given, and he’ll push himself as far as he can go.

Then there’s the mayor of NYC. William “Sully” Reirdon is the typical mayor; another one of those mayors everyone reads who’s let the power behind the title fill his head and boost his ego. Sure, like hounding Driscoll will make solving the case go faster. *eye roll* You’ll love to hate him.

And then there’s Malcom Shewster, the father of one of the victims. Another ego-maniac who believes he’ll get what he’s after, and only makes solving the case more difficult than it needs to be. And just when it looks like he’s about to get his way, Thomlinson spoils his plan, to which Driscoll now owes him hugely. If it hadn’t been for spoiling the plan, Driscoll’s sister would have been dead, right along with the killers.

This story will grip you from beginning to end, and you’ll be itching for the next book!

On a side note, at first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title. Upon finishing the book, you’d think that The Screaming Room had something to do with the killers and their victims. But upon reflection, I think I figured it out; when we read the flashbacks, the killers are young, placed on a table, in a room in the basement. With the torture that went on, I think that’s where The Screaming Room comes in. While the title still doesn’t do it for me, the story sure as heck did!

Rating: !

Bone Thief (Lt. John Driscoll, #1) by Thomas O’Callaghan

Published January 1st 2006 by Pinnacle - Paperback - 384 pages - ISBN-13: 9780786018116

A housewife snatched in broad daylight.

A tattooed drifter displayed under a boardwalk.

A high-society heiress left in a city dump.

The women seem to have no connection except one: they have all been the victims of a twisted madman who slays his victims and steals their bones as gruesome trophies.

Since tragedy struck his own family, Lieutenant John W. Driscoll has been a man on the edge of both sanity and life. But now, with New York City in the grip of panic, Driscoll is needed more than ever. With the stakes rising every hour, he’ll have to guide a troubled team while battling his won demons in order to hunt and catch the most cunning predator he’s ever faced – a serial killer who is the very soul of evil and whose most shocking revelation is yet to come…

**Creepy and Compelling, a wonderful ride! (read in June 2009)

A serial killer who likes bones is leaving victims boneless. Bodies are being found, with no connection between them, except for one thing: their bodies are boneless.

The heat is being turned up, and Lt. John Driscoll can feel it. A relentless hound, Driscoll works the case right down to the nitty-gritty, determined to find the killer and put him away for life.

But John is a battling his own demons. Years before, an accident took away his daughter, Nicole, and left his wife, Colette, in a coma. He misses Nicole every day, and sits by his wife’s bed almost nightly.

Together, with a rag-tag team, they work together to bring down the man who is terrorizing New York, a cunning killer who has every intention of not getting caught.

**Incredible plot, a great mix of characters, definitely a novel to read!!!

I absolutely loved this book! Mystery, suspense, gruesome scenes, there is no slowing down with this book. From chapter 1 to chapter 91, there’s no stopping; good guys and bad man alike. Not only the case, but John’s personal life as well.

Guilt is riding John hard, for as his wife lies comatose, feelings for Sergeant Margaret Aligante are growing as well. And Margaret has ghosts of her own past haunting her; the thought of being with John is terrifying.

But they work through it, putting feelings aside to deal with the case.

The killer creeped me out so well, I had goose bumps on top of goose bumps. Characters completely different from one another, but all with personalities that make them stand out. Scenery and object are not overly described, just enough that you get a sense of what your seeing, a picture forming inside your mind, but not so much that you’re losing yourself in adjectives and adverbs and growing bored. Just the perfect blend.

This is definitely a story that shouldn’t be missed!

Rating: !

Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, #11) by Jim Butcher

Mass Market Paperback - 560 Pages - Published March 2nd 2010 by Roc (first published April 7th 2009) - ISBN-13: 9780451462817

Turn Coat

(The Dresden Files, #11)

by Jim Butcher

When it comes to the wizard’s White Council, Harry Dresden is thought of as either a black sheep or a sacraficial lamb. And no one holds him in more disdain than Morgan, a veteran Warden with a grudge agaisnt anyone who bends the rules. But now Morgan is in trouble. He’s been accused of cold-blooded murder – a crime with only one final punishment.

He’s on the run, wanting his name cleared, and he needs someone with a knack for backing the underdog. So it’s up to Harry to uncover the traitor within the Council, keep Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under the scrutiny himself. And a single mistake may cost someone his head.

Like Harry…

**Review: Another excellent novel in the series with quite a bang!

**Spoiler Alert!** Parts of the story is going to be revealed, so if you don’t want to know, don’t read past this point!

Harry answers his door to find Morgan standing there, bloodied and bruised, from head to toe, asking for help, and promptly passing out.

Morgan’s been a thorn in Harry’s side for too many years to count, but Harry being Harry, can’t turn him away, no matter how much he wants nothing better than to close the door on Morgan and pretend like he isn’t even there.

But Harry is Harry, and no matter who knocks on his door, if they’re in trouble, Harry does what he can to help.

Morgan’s being framed. He knows that, down to his core. Morgan has been the Senior Council’s executioner for over 30 years, and is completely loyal to the Wardens and the Senior Council. There’s no way he’d ever willingly murder a member of the Senior Council. But, besides the fact that he’s found, standing over the body with knife in his hand, there is mounting evidence against him. And this bugs Harry. And when something like this bugs Harry, there’s only one thing he can do: find out who did it and find the traitor. But time is against him.

Morgan has managed a spell to keep any of the Wardens from finding him, but a bounty has been placed on his head, and other ‘creatures’ are coming out of the woodwork to find him, making things even harder for Harry. On top of them all, a naagloshii, a very bad shapeshifter with very, very rotten vibes, is also after Morgan. Suddenly, staying alive has become just as important as finding the traitor.

And things get from bad to worse. Harry is attacked again and again. Shagnasty (aka Harry’s name given to naagloshii) somehow has managed to kidnap Thomas, Harry’s White Court vampire brother, and wants to trade Thomas for Morgan. A vampire from the White Court is partly behind the frame-up. Someone is seriously messing with wizards’ heads. And Harry’s sure that there is a group of wizards against the White Council. He’s naming them the “Black Council”, for lack of a better name. How to prove it is the major question.

Suddenly, friends are dying, going missing, and Harry can only do what he does best. Investigate and fight back. The question is: Will he win this time?

**Huge Spoiler Time!!** If you debated going on past the first spoiler alert, you definitely don’t want to read what’s next.

Hell, I knew just as certainly as Harry did, that Morgan had to have been framed. What we don’t know, until close to the end of the book, was that a wizard messed with a lot of young wizards’ heads, including Anastasia Luccio’s. Now that she’s in a younger body, her mind was just as easily manipulated, and that makes it all worse. Without her knowledge, she was the one forced to kill the member of the senior council, and didn’t even realize she did it, even after Morgan found her, took the knife from her and got her out of there before anyone saw. Plus, she was manipulated into getting even closer to Harry, which seriously hurts (emotionally) them both.

By the end of page 515, I was crying. Why? Because Morgan dies. Now, why am I crying, knowing how much of a pain in the ass he was to Harry? Because he had his reasons, and it’s the way he dies that touched me. He dies after saving Harry’s life, after telling him about finding Anastasia in that room, holding the bloody knife. But Morgan was a constant. He was always there, riding Harry’s butt and breathing down his neck. You always expect to see him in some fashion, and to know now that he won’t be popping up anymore really does hurt.

Anastasia, after all of this, shows up to talk to Harry. Obviously, she now knows all that’s been going on. While she does care for Harry, she’d never had gotten involved with him. She’d been manipulated. And that hurts both of them. So now she comes to say she’s sorry, and while Harry understands why she’s saying goodbye, it still hurts.

By the end of page 543, I was balling. Yes, Harry has Thomas back, but Thomas isn’t the Thomas we knew. Shagnasty did a really bad number on him, and really screwed up what Thomas had going. While he may still be Harry’s brother, he’s no longer the brother we knew, the brother Harry knew, and that hurts even more than losing Morgan.

Meanwhile, closer to the beginning of the book, when Harry’s first attacked by Shagnasty, Kirby, one werewolf friend, is killed, and another, Andi, comes close to losing her life.

How much can one person (well, character) take before cracking? So, by the end of the last chapter, I’m weeping, sobbing really, because as much as all of this hurts him, he’s finding a way to move on, to move past all of the loss and hurt he’s suffered. And that alone, makes him a truly amazing person.

Mix all of this with a mystery, with action, with suspense that grips you by the throat… another fabulous book in the series, and I’m anxiously waiting for his next Dresen novel. Jim, you are one hell of an author!!!

Take No Prisoners (Black Ops, Inc., #2) by Cindy Gerard

Mass Market Paperback, 363 Pages - Published November 1st 2008 by Pocket - ISBN-13: 9781416566748

Take No Prisoners

(Black Ops, Inc., #2)

by Cindy Gerard

New York Times bestselling author Cindy Gerard’s red-hot new romantic suspense series features the irresistible men of Black Ops, Inc., a special team of heroes with a taste for living on the edge…

A dangerous attraction…
Abbie Hughes no longer trusts men, but despite her cool indifference, her long legs and showgirl face still draw plenty of attention. Between working as a blackjack dealer, going to school, and keeping an eye on her younger brother, Cory, there’s no time for romantic adventures–until the night a sexy, mysterious stranger places a wager at her table.

Spurred by revenge…
Sam Lang left Black Ops, Inc. when tragedy struck his family. Although he’s determined to retire his M-16 rifle to lead a quiet life on his ranch, a vengeful quest will send him on a manhunt for the ruthless multimillionaire who murdered his sister.

…reveals a savage threat they can’t ignore.
Though Sam suspects Abbie is in on a lucrative gem-smuggling deal her brother made with the enemy, their attraction is undeniable. Now Cory is missing, and together they search the wild Honduras backcountry to find him. With danger on their trail, they must trust each other completely or face certain death alone…

**Review: Falling for the woman you’re investigating can really weigh on you.

Sam Lang left Black Ops, Inc. when the unthinkable happened. Sam was getting too close to Fredrick Nader and his operation. He was determined to stop the cold, maniacal SOB. But Nader got to him first. Planting a bomb in Sam’s sister’s car, blowing up her and her husband, leaving their daughter behind, was Nader’s warning to Sam: Cease and desist, or more will follow.

Sam is now running his father’s ranch outside Las Vegas, taking care of his niece and his parents, determined that he won‘t be the cause of another heartache. But his team receives a hot tip: Cody Hughes is one of Nader’s mules. If they can find Cody, they just might be able to bring Nader down once and for all. When Cody can’t be found in Vegas, Sam seeks out Cody’s sister, Abbie. She‘s a student and a dealer at a casino‘s blackjack table. She must be involved with Nader: the house, the new car, the new furniture, the big diamond pendant… As a student and a dealer, she couldn’t possible afford all of this.

When Abbie meets Sam at her blackjack table, her friend Crystal’s words float through her mind. Having been burned by a now ex-husband, she doesn’t trust men, but there’s something about Sam that has her wanting to take a chance. After a week of Sam’s courting, and a fantastic time in the bedroom, she wakes up to Sam and his team, going through Cody’s boxes in her garage. Stung once again by a man, Abbie is confronted by Sam. Give over Fredrick Nader. But Abbie has no idea what they’re talking about. And when Cody goes missing, fright comes to the forefront. And after the message she receives, Abbie’s determined to fly to Honduras to save her brother, who ended up in way over his head. With or without Sam’s help.

And for Sam, Lord help him, he’s falling for a woman he shouldn’t want.

** Excellent second book in the series! The author brings out emotions in her readers like no one’s business. You can feel Abbie’s hope, the hurt from the betrayal, her determination to get Cody out of the fix he was in.

The emotional war Sam ends up in brings out the Kleenex. He wants to protect what’s left of his family. But taking Nader down, plus payback for his sister and brother-in-law, is overpowering, and he’ll stop at nothing until Nader is caught or dead. Preferably dead. But Abbie’s getting under his skin. He doesn’t want to believe that she not involved in any of this, but as they traipse the Honduras backcountry, not only does he come to believe her, but he’s falling for her. But after his betrayal, how can he convince her to love him? Watching it unfold, is the sweetest thing ever. He finally does earn her trust, and it’s absolutely wonderful to see it all come together. Can’t wait to grab Whisper No Lies, Bk # 3, from my TBR pile.

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Street Game (GhostWalkers, #8) by Christine Feehan

Mass Market Paperback - 450 Pages - Published December 29th 2009 by Jove - ISBN-13: 9780515147605

Street Game

(GhostWalkers, #8)

by Christine Feehan

For Mack McKinley and his team of GhostWalker killing machines, urban warfare is an art. But despite a hard-won knowledge of the San Francisco streets, Mack knows from experience that too many things can still go wrong. Danger was just another part of the game—and now he’s come face-to-face with a woman who can play just as tough.

She’s Jaimie, a woman with a sapphire stare so potent it can destroy a man. Years ago she and Mack had a history—volatile, erotic, and electric. Then she vanished. Now she’s walked back into Mack’s life, as a spy with more secrets than are good for her. Against all odds, she’s hooking up with Mack one more time to take on an enemy that could destroy them both, or bring them back together in one hot, no-holds-barred adrenaline rush.

**Review: The past can haunt you.

A GhostWalker team, headed by Mack McKinley, heads to San Francisco after receiving a tip that an arms dealer has a cache hidden and waiting to be shipped. But the address can’t be right: only one loan occupant on the top floor of a three-story warehouse in the building? Tight security, but bypassable. Something’s not right. There’s nothing on the first floor, the second is high-tech, state of the art computers. But, discovering Jaimie, the woman he once had and lost, on the top floor, couldn’t be a coincidence… Could it?

Together since they were kids, the team is happy to see Jaimie again. She left a few years before, when Mack broke her heart. She’s determined to make it on her own. Creating her own software company, she on contract with the government creating high-tech software. But she has her own agenda: she’s hunting Whitney down. She wants to expose him, and those in the government who are backing him, to expose what he’s done, especially the experiments on children. She’s getting close, and they want her eliminated. However, they’ll only accomplish that over Mack’s dead body.

Mack’s ego and pride are what stopped him from going after Jaimie when she left. This time, he has no intention of letting her go. But can he convince Jaimie that he is what she wants him to be? A man who loves her?

**Another incredible book in the series! Strategy and adrenaline-packed action, it’s awesome to watch the play-by-play with all the characters. To see the comradeship between players who‘ve known each other since they were kids.

Mack, the strong, silent type, is a very intense man who will stop at nothing to keep Jaimie safe, and to bring her back with him. He refuses to lose her again.

Jaimie is determined to stop Whitney, to keep her team, especially Mack, safe. No matter how hard she guards her heart, she still loves him, even when he infuriates her.

The mystery continues, and you know the next book will receive top marks, just like this one. Action-packed, strategy-filled, with plenty of psychic energy between them all, you can’t help but love all the characters, and you can’t wait for their own stories. Two thumbs up, Ms. Feehan!!!

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