Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves, Living the Writing Life

Review # 12 for 2017 A Merciful Death ***** By Kendra Elliot

Merciful DeathA Merciful Death *****

By Kendra Elliot

Mercy Kilpatrick, an experienced FBI Special Agent, is called upon to return to the community where she grew up to investigate the murders of two men she once knew. She was raised to be prepared for the worst that could happen to society, but the society of her own family deserted her when she most needed their support. Fifteen years before, she left town at the age of eighteen and built a life for herself, apart from those she loved. Mercy hides her estrangement from her parents and siblings from her FBI partners, making her return doubly awkward because she’s on edge, nervous about being recognized and probably shunned. When she meets the new Chief of Police, Truman Daly, they begin to work together comparing notes of past and present. It soon becomes clear that the very events that drove her away in the first place have an intrinsic connection to the current victims, one of whom was Chief Daly’s uncle. Mercy has never told anyone the full truth behind her reasons for leaving home and family. But knowing Truman Daly has as much at stake when it comes to solving the mysterious links, she wants to come clean with him, but he’s a lawman, too, so she doesn’t dare.

Ms. Elliot paints a vivid picture if life in a “prepper” community, and the attendant stresses that lead to inevitable conflicts between different factions with the same goal in mind, but whose methods are at odds. Set in the countryside if eastern Oregon, this story brings to life the sights, sounds, and smells of an area she clearly loves. Highly recommended for fans of both mystery and romance novels, though the romance plays second fiddle to the crime-solving,

 

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Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves, Living the Writing Life

Reviews 8, 9, & 10 of 30, for 2017

Preserving Hope *****

Book 2 in the Aliomenti Saga By Alex Albrinck Preserving hope

Book 1 Reviewed this site

Suspend disbelief—and enjoy!

 

In Preserving Hope, Will Stark, a 21st Century man is carried forward in time beyond his own era, then taken back to the historical period one thousand years before his own birth. There, his task is to infiltrate an Aliomenti village hidden in a forest in medieval northern England. The Aliomenti had once been normal human beings, serfs, living on and farming the land, when a small group of men believed they could, with the right diet  of herbs to enhance mental abilities in their laborers, produce more intelligent, stronger, and better workers, thus increasing the profitability of their lands. This proved true, and the Aliomenti came into being. As a newcomer, Will must try to fit in with the villagers as well as help them toward their goals of mental, physical, and financial superiority. Though Will has been imbued with many of the strengths known to the Aliomenti as Energy, he must conceal this fact while helping improve their lot.

His main focus, though, is the security of a young woman, motherless woman, Elizabeth. Her safety is key not only to Will’s personal survival, but to that of an entire line of her descendants. Elizabeth’s father, Arthur, the highest-ranking man in the Aliomenti village, is cruel and his determination to maintain dominance over the others endangers Elizabeth’s life. All Will can do is protect her in secret, and help nudge the Aliomenti along the path he already knows they must travel. With his knowledge of future technologies and methods, he tries to guide them into becoming better traders and better builders, which will add to Arthur’s profits. If the village leader sees what can be done with hard work and ingenuity, Will hopes to reduce a portion of Elizabeth’s misery of some of her agony,

Arthur, however, is a selfish, stubborn man with no feelings at all for his only child…

 

Mason ***

Book 1 in the Remington Ranch Series Mason

No way to run a relationship.

 

Gina Delaney, successful photographer whose work is being shown in a posh, New York art gallery, needs to go back to Montana to help her elderly father move east to live near her. There are two major problems—her dad, Al, doesn’t want to sell the ranch he can no longer run, and Gina fears when she returns to make things happen the only way she sees possible, she’ll inevitably run into Mason Remington, the man who broke her heart ten years ago.

When Mason learns Gina’s back in town, he knows he won’t be able to stay away from her. It’s a small place. They’re bound to meet. When they do, of course things heat up like they always did before. Mase has no problem with this. He wants her. He’s spent the last decade wanting her. It’s clear her body has no problem with the desire springing to life between them, but she will not give in.

Gina can’t let herself succumb to the physical attraction she and Mason share. It would be wrong. She’s engaged to marry Liam, owner of the NY Gallery. Not only that, she cannot bring herself to trust Mason. What she heard him say about her just before she went off to college preys on her mind. Even if he does think he loves her now, what about his actions all those years ago? He claims not to know what he did to break them up, but she’s not buying that one.

When Gina’s engagement to the NY man falls through, Mason sees no further impediment to him resuming his affair with her, but again, she refuses to talk things out with him. As the story winds on, both Mason and Gina realizes they have a long way to go before than can reach Happily Ever After—but are they both adult enough to take the chance of accepting the person each other has become during their time apart?

I could have awarded more points but for Gina’s childish intransigence and Mason’s inability to understand he didn’t have to control everything.




 

Code Name: Money Man ***

By Mark Arundel Money Man Cover

 

“We want you to kill someone.”

 

The former elite SAS trooper has been kicked out of the army, the only real life he knows. He has no home, few friends, and no money. When the offer of employment comes from what might or might not be the Foreign Office, the ex-trooper is taken aback. Yes, he has killed before. But not the way an assassin might. He killed in combat, not in cold blood. However, the money sounds good, and he doesn’t have many options. Still unsure if he can do as he’s asked, he accepts the position and flies to Tenerife in the Canary Islands where the job is to be done.

From there, things go sideways. The action bounces from one cliff-hanger to another. None of the opposition that continues to crop up is who or what he thinks they are. With the truth cloaked in shadows and lies, the trooper only slowly begins to catch on: He’s part of a plot to expose a mole deep inside the British Secret Service.

This book would have a higher rating if the punctuation hadn’t been so lacking. Too few commas and periods created a tough trail for a reader accustomed to knowing who’s speaking, when he finishes a sentence, and when he begins another.

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Book Reviews from Rider of The Waves, Living the Writing Life

Review # 5 of 30

 

The Rainbow Virus *****

By Dennis Meredith

This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in the last twelve months. Robert Louden, a somewhat disfavored FBI agent has been getting crap assignments but when seemingly random individual citizens in California start turning up with inexplicable color changes; blue, red, green, orange, yellow, and shades in between, the suspicion grows that this may be the result of a strange virus. Then, a common element turns up; the newly “colored” people are all patients of an allergist who’s given them injections. rainbow-virusBut the allergist is as mystified as everyone else, so what can Louden do but go to work, as ordered, with the CDC? As Louden and the old CDC master, Doc, whose partner is the beautiful but unapproachable and unpredictable Kathleen Shinohara begin to gather facts and follow evidence, they realize little is what it first seems to be. The person who’s disseminating the virus—is he a prankster or a dangerously sociopathic microbiologist who does not have the world’s good health as his primary aim? When bullets, not aimed by the good guys, start flying toward the elusive skin-color-tinkerer, Team Louden has to consider that may Someone Even Bigger has an interest in this entire mess. But what interest? What aim? Good or bad? And worse, what Alphabet Agency might it be? Domestic? Otherwise? Those they thought the could trust, well, maybe they shouldn’t. But if this is all for real, it’s their duty to bring the perpetrators to justice before it’s too late–even if it means going against orders.

Though this is a serious book that warns of world-wide dire repercussions with terrifying possible outcomes if the virus is weaponized and not contained, it’s also extremely funny. As Meredith takes us through his delightful tale and turns nearly all of Denver into a multi-hued fruit basket (or maybe that should be ‘nut’ basket), the characters come alive and his rich sense of humor crops up over and over, leaving the reader smiling, grinning, and even laughing out loud with his quirky turns of phrase and exquisite timing.

Really, don’t miss this book.

♠♠♠

And now, not a review, but an announcement, My latest novel, CAVERNS, Book 4 in The Chronicles of Storn is now available pretty much wherever digital books are sold, readable on most, if not all, devices.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it starts out with REFUGE 2nd Edition, in which a dedicated group of scientists and others who care, plan to escape from a draconian Committee that oversees every aspect of life the settlers live on their accidentally-arrived-at new home planet, Storn. Storn is not what they were promised. The winters will kill them unless precautions are taken. Summers, as the planet swings too close to its primary, Magnus, are equally deadly. But somehow, those who care are determined to rescue a couple dozen extraordinary children whose talents terrify the committee. If the Refuge they plan proves inadequate, will the special abilities of the children be enough to save them all?

I you’re wondering, why a Second Edition, I needed to go back and make some changes so when the characters from The Group eventually meet up with those from the Dirtsider Troop, there is better cohesion. This series had been a long, ongoing work which I’ve enjoyed for some time. I hope readers will too.

REFUGE 2nd Edition IS FREE across the board. This link will take you to Kobo, Apple, Scribd, and many other venues. https://www.books2read.com/u/3LdK73

For Kindle, copy and past this link into your browser. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=node%3D154606011&field-keywords=Refuge+2nd+Edition

Next time, I’ll talk a bit about LIFELINE, Book 2 in the series.

 

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Living life as it comes, Living the Writing Life, What writing's all about

Bodice WHAT? Or… What’s a bodice?

 

Unless you’re a dressmaker or the author of even one romance novel you probably haven’t even heard of a bodice. Miriam Webster Dictionary meaning: Bodice—the upper part of a woman’s dress. Oh, yeah, another class of citizens knows, too, all about bodices, and they, like others of limited intelligence—specifically, certain truck drivers and too many fourteen-year-old boys—believe they were put on earth to be ripped.

Truck driver, you say? What would a truck driver know about that? Apparently a great deal. An editor who shall remain nameless, formerly with Bantam Books back in the day, explained it this way. “When truck drivers come to the warehouse to pick up a shipment of books most of the boxes have a cover pasted to the box. They typically looked for books with nursing-mother bosoms in low-cut gowns.” Why? Because they liked them. Little boys, weaned too soon, grown up to be truck drivers, actually drove the market when it became clear they were the ones choosing the books (well, the covers, because most of them could probably only read at 3rd grade level if that). Those were the books that went flying off the warehouse shelves, case after case, truckload after truckload, to the retail stores. Naturally, publishing houses’ art departments took note of what books were being shipped out most often and by golly, there went the titty-books like it was a fire-sale! “Hey!” they cried. “We’re on to a good thing! Let’s dress all the heroines in period costumes with low-cut gowns and put them on the decks of pirate ships. Doesn’t matter if there’s a pirate or a ship or the story takes place in modern-day Brooklyn or Tulalip. Historical cover with big bosoms sell. If it works, don’t fix it!”

As a former bookseller, I can attest to the phenomenon. Of course, I put what purported to be NYT Bestsellers front and center, and who stood there gawking, hoping against hope for a “costume malfunction”? Why, fourteen-year-old boys, of course, likely destined to be come truck drivers. These same little boys, in their fantasies, pictured themselves as theyoung guy only half-seen hero standing near the big-boobed cover girl. They envisioned themselves as ripping that dress right down the middle so they could create in their own little minds the sensual pleasure of tearing a woman’s dress off her chest so they could get at the goodies they knew were inside.

No, these male children who dreamed these secret dreams didn’t know the term “bodice”. That it came into popularity, I confess, is entirely my fault. “Get out of my store, you little creeps. I hate it when you stand there drooling down a cover model’s bodice.” Oops! Then I had to send them to the dictionary aisle to look up “bodice.” Alas, one day, a kid a little bit smarter than the others whined, “I wasn’t drooling, lady. I just want to rip her bodice right off her so I can touch those golden globes the guy beside her is looking down at. He’s gonna get to do it, so why can’t I? Gimme a chance! Gimme cleavage! I wanna rip bodices. Lots of them. All of them. If those guys get to do it, why shouldn’t I?”

I explained that ripping bodices was definitely not permitted. It could be seen as insulting, even worse, sexual harassment—maybe even leading to charges of the r-word I dared not utter lest it put even wilder ideas and fantasies into those little, scarcely developed young minds. But, again, alas and probably alack, as time went on, the term “bodice ripper” swept the world until everyone who ever wrote a story about a man and a woman falling into…er…love or some other convenient place, was accused of writing Bodice Rippers, even if the cover of the book had a posy or a decorous little Amish woman wearing a tiny white cap, if the author was a woman, she was surely writing “Bodice Rippers” aka “Trash.”

My own romance novels fall somewhere in between a historical and a sweet romance and only a couple of times did I have a cover that could have been given that insulting moniker and in the example below, the guy has almost as much cleavage as the woman, though she is well endowed. Oh, right. You don’t think it’s insulting. I get that. You’re just having fun with me. Teasing. You know I write stories about mature relationships between a consenting adult woman and an adult man of her choice. You know my books nearly always have children in then, or pets, oLWLr both, and they involve a couple sorting through options, making considered choices that will benefit not only themselves, but may, in some way, assist other women in taking a harder look at their own lives, deciding what’s right for them. Or what’s wrong.

Of course it’s insulting for you to call all romance novels, regardless of content “Bodice Rippers”, especially if you’ve never read even one. If you had, you’d likely have learned that bodices, in most cases, are gently unwrapped to reveal what those kids so longed to see. And that the “ripper” would be firmly smacked down if he did it any other way. It would be insulting. Just as my diatribe about truck drivers and fourteen-year-old boys is. I did that purely as an object lesson. I don’t refer to male oriented “thrillers” where the hero gets it on with a couple of different women before the end, “Dick Lit.” I could, but I don’t because that would be, well, offensive. Besides, I read a lot of those books and I’d be insulting my own intelligence if I were to label them with a “cutsie” little one-name-fits all, to make it easier for those who’ve never read them to simply brush them off as trash not worth their time.

Give it up, guys, love and romance are here to stay. Just like dicks.

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Living the Writing Life, What writing's all about

Questions about anatomy

I’m currently reading a book whose title I will not reveal by an author who will also go unnamed. This book has given me an entirely different take on human anatomy.

Vertebrae Anatomy With Ciculatory System

For instance, a man (who was standing upright)  felt sweat well in his armpits then run down the trough of his spine to pool at the small of his back. That got me thinking. If sweat welled in my armpits, assuming it was going to be so extensive as to flow, I can only envision it running down my sides. This may be due to my being female. I do know men are built differently from women but is the difference so great? I can see this maybe happening if the man were lying on his back on a non-porous surface, like a plastic sheet on a level floor, but I’m firmly convinced all that liquid from his pits would somehow have to navigate uphill over some muscle ridges on his back prior to reaching “the trough” of his spine and continue its journey to pool at the small of his back.

A second anatomical anomaly had me seriously doubting my anatomy and physiology professors. In a scene, the man ran his hand over the woman’s belly button and her navel. Then, as the scene heated up, he kissed her belly button and her navel. I’ve always thought the two terms “belly button” and “navel” were interchangeable, but apparently not because the woman in question has one of each. At least one of each. I’m not finished the book and I agreed to review it, so I feel morally obliged to continue to the end. I may learn she has something else there in the middle of her abdominal plane.

Another one, not in the book I’m currently reading, but in one some time ago had a man lift the woman’s long, heavy locks, kiss the nape of her neck and her eyelids. Oh, right, maybe she was an alien and had her eyelids on her nape, but I didn’t get that impression from the rest of the novel.

This brings me to another concern: The use of unnecessary words. “The nape of her neck.” What other body part has a nape? Go ahead, tell me and I’ll shut up on the subject. Would we ever feel compelled to refer to “the eyebrows on her forehead”? I don’t think so, because that’s the only place humans have eyebrows. And what about people who shrug their shoulders? What else is actually shrugged by the vast majority of people? I’ve been known to write that a character shrugged one shoulder to suggest even less caring than shrugging two, but it’s still a shoulder that got shrugged. So when I want a character to shrug both, I just write “he shrugged,” and expect everyone to understand and form a mental image of two shoulders approaching ears then dropping. I’m also accustomed to reading about a character who “thinks to himself.” Hmm? Who else would he think to, I ask you, unless he’s a telepath capable of thinking to someone else?

But imagine the possibilities! If my belly button was an outie and I wanted an innie, I could have a plastic surgeon simply remove the belly button and replace it with the much neater navel. Or vice versa.Putting eyebrows on my kneecaps, letting them grow long and bushy, would certainly be helpful in protecting my patellae when kneeling to weed the garden. Wouldn’t it be cool to be telepathic and extremely handy to have eyes that could see behind? When I was raising children, they did believe I had eyes in the back of my head, but if I  could hide an extra pair of peepers behind a long fall of hair, I think I’d become a spy or a highly paid private detective. When I wanted to see if someone was following me, no more of this glancing into a conveniently placed plate-glass window and checking out the reflection of what was behind me. I’d simply toss my head, or sensuously flip my hair for a moment, or shrug one shoulder to displace a couple of locks so I could steal a glimpse to the rear. Then if someone was tailing me, I’d think to my partner about needing back-up, fast! Oh! The possibilities this would open up! The FBI would love (or hate) me. The CIA would hire (or shoot) me. The KGB… no, wait, they’ve been replaced.

But those are thoughts for another day. I still have to finish that book about the woman with both a belly button and a navel, then write a review. I can’t see my way out of it going either forward or backward, nor can I just shrug it off. Oy!

Another time I may feel moved to discuss the term “She threw up her hands.” What? I don’t remember her eating them. The very thought is enough to make me, well, throw up.

 

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