Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buried Alive - The True Story of Kidnapping, Captivity, and a Dramatic Rescue by Roy Hallums

Buried Alive - The True Story of Kidnapping, Captivity, and a Dramatic Rescue by Roy Hallums is the compelling story of a man's will to survive. It's a white knuckle ride as you follow the author's unrelenting physical and psychological torment at the hands of Iraqi insurgents. Roy Hallums book provides a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to be kidnapped in Iraq and forced to suffer imprisonment and beatings.

It was November 2004 and contractor, Roy Hallums was working late at his office in Iraq at the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company. The office was supposedly well-protected by armed security guards but four kidnappers broke in and hauled him and a co-worker away at gunpoint. For three hundred and eleven days, the men were held hostage and moved frequently. Eventually they were taken to a farmhouse and thrown into a concrete pit under the floor with only a pipe in the ceiling to provide oxygen. They were forced to wear masks and endured hunger, heat and cold. The confinement is described in chilling detail including beatings and psychological torture. His family dealt with the nightmare back home and they never gave up on him. When his location was finally verified, he was successfully rescued by the US Military.

Roy Hallums story is captivating. I was hooked on page one and could not put it down. He will amaze you with his perseverance, hope and survival skills. The first person narrative is very well written. The fast pace keeps the pages turning. It's a gripping tale that will give you insight to events in the Middle East. I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. The opinions are my own.

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

ISBN: 978-1595551702

Hardcover: 256 Pages

Price: $25.99

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Epidemic Victus Cadaver: A Journal by Nicholas Berry

I love a good horror story! Fangs, fur, things that go bump in the night and zombies, especially zombies. Lately it seems as if hordes of these mindless ghouls have invaded pop culture. There are so many movies about these predators and their insatiable appetites for human flesh, but not so many books. Epidemic Victus Cadaver: a Journal by Nicholas Berry fills a void. It's a good zombie tale and it's written with a twist. the author puts his own spin on this horror story by telling it in the form of journal entries.

It's 2007 and a journal is discovered in the charred remains of a residential area. It's a rural area although the location is not disclosed. The journal was kept by a man who barricaded himself in his house while surrounded by the undead. The only sound he hears is a DJ who is still able to broadcast. The effects of his isolation begin to wear on him as the threat to humanity grows. Will he survive or succumb to the living dead?

Berry does a good job providing a quick and entertaining read. His style is realistic and makes the story seem believable. It's not all blood and gore, there's a decent plot and a fair amount of action. The sympathetic protagonist is a survivor, someone you can relate to. He does what he can to stay alive while fear and seclusion take a toll on his sanity. You'll be cheering him on. If you are a fan of the horror genre and psychological thrillers you will probably enjoy this one.

Publisher: (January 15, 2010)

ISBN: 978-0557255252

Paperback: 154 Pages

Price: $10.50

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger is a well told and heart wrenching love story set against the Allagash River in the wilderness of Maine, the islands of Indonesia and Yellowstone National Park. Right from the beginning we know that the young couple will not have a happily ever after fairy tale ending and yet the story remains an uplifting tale of the power of true love.

The book begins when a woman's body is discovered in the river and her husband tells their story to a ranger. Jonathan Cobb was kayaking and attempting to trace Thoreau's path down the Allagash River when he met Mary Fury. They had so much in common and they fell in love immediately. Cobb is a loving, devoted person and Mary was a bit of a flake but they knew they were soul mates. Mary had Huntington's disease, a debilitating illness. She intended to end her life before she became a burden and she told Cobb he would have to help her when the time came. He agreed and they had a good life, lived to the fullest. For as long as they could, they embraced nature and their relationship. When the time came, Cobb fulfilled his promise and there was a heart-breaking send off.

The description is vivid and puts you right in the scene. The symbolism of nature and the river adds an extraordinary depth. The emotional journey of two people was so well portrayed it brought tears to my eyes several times. This is a very special story about love, nature and true commitment. I recommend it very highly.

Publisher: Pocket; Original edition (February 16, 2010)

ISBN: 978-1439168332

Paperback: 368 Pages

Price: $15.00

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Who Wants to be a Hero?

Here's what I said about Sin & Vengeance last year.

"Well developed characters make the plot that much more interesting. All their imperfections and flaws make them so realistic they fairly leap off the page. I especially enjoyed the down right nasty Randy. And the numerous plot twists and turns make Sin & Vengeance a white-knuckle ride and a delicious page-turner."

It's hard to believe that C.J. West's third book in the Randy Black series is being released in March. He's doing a book tour and it sounds like a blast.

Here's the low down:

Event listing:

Sheldonville, MA – CJ West launches his “Who Wants to be a Hero?” tour to introduce Gretchen Greene, the 3rd Randy Black novel.

Can you turn around a speeding car without slowing or leaving your lane? Can you handle a handgun? Pick out a killer wine? Play a tight game of Texas Hold ‘em?

Randy Black does these things and you can, too. The “Who Wants To Be A Hero?” tour will start you on your way.

Learn from the experts:
Advanced Driving and Security, Inc., North Kingstown, RI, teaches security drivers and executive protection teams. ADSI and CJ will team up for a demonstration of advanced driving techniques. Fans are invited to drive the closed course.

National Shooting Sports Foundation, Newton CT, was formed to promote, protect, and preserve the shooting sports. Join CJ and certified instructors for the First Shots Program. This day long program will teach firearms safety and allow participants to fire a rifle, shotgun, and a handgun.

Westport Rivers Winery, Westport, MA, site of Sin & Vengeance and potential location for Sin & Vengeance the movie, will host a winery tour and tasting. CJ will highlight events from his novel Sin & Vengeance and discuss the movie project.

CJ will give introductory Texas Hold ‘em poker lessons in book stores across New England. Fans are invited to sit down, learn, and play right in the store.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Plague Zone by Jeff Carlson

I love post-apocalyptic fiction, the darker the better. The first two books in Jeff Carlson's trilogy didn't disappoint, both were great reads chronicling the epic struggle of a world in the after math of a machine plague. I was anxious to start Plague Zone but life kept intruding. When I was finally able to open the book, I couldn't put it down. It can easily be enjoyed as a stand-alone story but you'll be missing out if you don't read Plague War and Plague Year.

Three years after a nanotech plague spread across the world killing all those who lived below 10,000 feet altitude, humanity is barely surviving. Cam Najarro and his wife, Allison, who is four months pregnant, are living in a small community in Colorado. A woman breaches their perimeter and they discover she's carrying a new plague that affects the brain, essentially turning people into zombies. It was released by the Chinese and nanotech researcher Ruth Goldman holds the only hope of finding a cure. In the struggle for an antidote, she fears that the end of humanity is all but certain.

Carlson's characterization is excellent and the world building is solid. He provides enough back history to bring readers up to speed. If you've been fortunate enough to read the previous books you'll be happy to note that favorite, familiar characters return. There are new ones as well, and a new threat to humanity's survival. It's a fast paced adventure and the action, suspense - and yes romance provide plenty of thrills. Readers can expect another round of page turning excitement.

Publisher: Ace (November 24, 2009)

ISBN: 978-0441017997

Paperback: 336 Pages

Price: $7.99

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Kill Dress by John Young

Ladies if you ever decide to get revenge on a guy who did you wrong - read this book first. Payback can be sweet but sometimes comeuppance comes with a high price tag. Kill Dress by John Young is a supernatural fable with a killer plot.

Five beautiful young women, April, Joi, Nancy, Heather and Kim, are best friends. They're always there for each other, ready to lend a hand when one of the group has a problem. When Kim is dumped by her boyfriend the girls rally round her and decide she needs a vacation. Kim and Joi travel to Louisiana and meet an old woman whose ancestors made garments for Queen Nefertari, Queen Cleopatra, and the Queen of Sheba. She offers to make Kim a dress and although she takes no measurements, she presents Kim with a beautiful seductive garment and refuses to take any money for it. Just return it when you're finished with it, she tells Kim. Kim has no idea that the old woman has used mystical fibers to create an enchanted dress that no man can resist. When those close to Kim start dying, some people think it's because of the dress, but she refuses to believe it and maintains her right to wear what she wants. What would possess a woman to wear something so dangerous?

The intriguing premise of this supernatural mystery drew me in and kept me reading until an end I didn't see coming. But I would have liked a longer story allowing the characters room to develop their individual personalities. They felt flat and I wasn't able to connect with them and develop sympathy for their conflicts. If you are looking for a quick plot-driven escape, you'll enjoy Kill Dress.

Publisher: Outskirts Press (November 23, 2009)

ISBN: 978-1432749675

Paperback: 74 Pages

Price: $11.95

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Psychopath by Keith Ablow

I am doing a happy dance - my paranormal romance - CALL OF THE WILDS - is being released by Siren-Bookstrand in June.

I am also insanely busy. My new blog, Gale Stanley, is set up and I'd love to have you visit and let me know what you think. I'm also playing catch-up with my reviews so please bear with me. In the mean time here's a review of one of my all time favorites.

Psychopath by Keith Ablow is one of those books that kept me up all night. I could not turn out the lights until I turned the last page. This chilling psychological thriller is the third of the Frank Clevenger novels.

Dr. Frank Clevenger is a forensic psychiatrist who has battled drug abuse and alcoholism. His notoriety has risen due to a previous case. He solved a high profile murder case and then adopted the man's traumatized son. Now his expertise is very much in demand. The FBI asks him to help in the Highway Killer case. Frank is interested but turns them down. He has problems at home. His seventeen year old adopted son, Billy, is getting into fights at school and dealing drugs. Frank is afraid he may lose custody. But when the serial killer contacts him via a letter in the newspaper he's drawn into the case. The killer is actually Jonah Wrens, a brilliant psychiatrist, who treats badly disturbed children. Wrens moves from job to job and has left a trail of bodies behind him. He is slowly losing his hold on his killer instincts and he challenges Frank to cure him.

I'm not giving away any spoilers; the identity of the villain is not a secret. Right from the beginning the reader knows who the killer is. But Frank Clevenger has no idea who he's up against. Keith Ablow is a forensic psychiatrist and he uses his medical knowledge to create Jonah Wrens. The fascinating psychopath takes center stage in this book. We follow the disintegration of a mind to the point of total madness, very scary stuff because in many ways Jonah remains a sympathetic character. We also see Frank losing his bad boy persona, getting his life back together and becoming a father. Murder, suspense and incredible character development make this a must read.

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (June 1, 2004)

ISBN: 978-0312996055

Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages

Price: $6.99

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