Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dark Psychological Thriller

TDTS book cover v2d 200x300pxGallagher, Dianne. Too Dark to Sleep. Brayer Publishing LLC: 11/19/2012. Available in softcover and digital formats.

Maggie Quinn is a strong, complex character. A former Chicago detective pushing hard to solve a case, although she has had to turn in her gun and shield. Quinn has lost everything: her job, her daughter, her self-image and perhaps even her sanity. She is struggling against the downward spiral of depression and an irrational fear of shadows and darkness.

Hot, dark, and metallic tasting -- someone --in the dark -- is tearing out the hearts of victims and leaving them in pools of blood. Hired as a consultant by the Chicago Police Department, Quinn goes to work with her ex-partner, on the case of the serial killer that cost her everything.

Too Dark to Sleep is hard-core, psychologically tense, crime fiction with an unpredictable plot. The suspense is hair-raising. Danger is around every corner, in each shadow that pulls the reader forward and makes Quinn, the former top detective of Violent Crimes, untrusting of her witness’s statement, her fellow officers, and even herself.

Too Dark to Sleep has shades of Mickey Spillane and other broken investigators who take the reader for a quick spin in a fast car. The dark is every much a character as the people who work with or against the solving of crimes.

An intense read that will leave the reader panting and wanting more. Do not start reading at bedtime, because one will have to read all night. No matter when one starts, expect to be cautious of dark shadows that creep up from behind and try to pull one into the darkness.

Dianne GallagherGallagher was raised in Minnesota. She completed a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts, concentrating on theater, eventually focusing on playwriting. Since she has lived and worked in Los Angeles and Chicago.

"A move to the Chicago area translated into a new focus on novels as well as a love for the big-shouldered city. Dianne edited, critiqued and ghosted a variety of fiction and nonfiction pieces while having great fun with her family. As projects she worked on were placed with agencies like Writers House, Dianne decided to start writing for herself. The result is the debut novel, Too Dark to Sleep."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Victim of Shame: Why Me, God? by Mohsin Mian Zia

Zia, Mohsin Mian. Victim of Shame: Why Me, God? Smashwords. November 2, 2010. Paperback ISBN: 145-3-8659-50 EAN-13: 978-1-45386595-8. 180 pages. List price: $15.00 Digital ASIN: B004A8ZVRU. 367 KB. $6.00

Review Title: One Heartbeat - One Humanity - One Dream: A World of Peace

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Ryan, a victim. Ryan, ashamed.  Ryan, an impotent misogynist. Ryan shamed.  Ryan, an accidental pornographer.  Ryan mortified. Ryan, a champion of women’s rights. Ryan chagrined.  Ryan, an intentional journalist.  Why me, God? Why me?

Sarah, an orphan. Sarah, fiancé to a self-centered Muslim. Sarah dishonored. Sarah, a victim. Sarah degraded. Sarah, a psychotic break. Sarah ruined. Why me, God? Why me?

Maria, a Christian widow raising an Islamic son. Maria weakened. Maria’s Islamic son, killed in a terrorist attack. Maria broken.  Maria, a convert to real Islam.  Maria healed.  Maria, a healer. Try me, God! Try me!

“No matter which religion, nation, society, race, or ethnicity we belong to, we all have one thing in common. At some point in each of our lives, we all ask the question ‘Why me, God?’”

Zia’s Kafka-esque third novel is a plea for all humanity to live in peace and integrity.  Though written in English, it carries within the rhythm of all the languages of Pakistan: Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Blochi. The book is a flash back written from a first person point of view and is somewhat didactic. The plot meets Zia’s goal of trying to “unmask and unveil the frailties in every society.”

Rating: 4.5 stars

Tags: victim, mian mohsin zia, zia, shame, mian, Why me God?, womens rights, suspense, thriller,  hypocrisy, truth, forgiveness, redemption, Pakistan, Islam, Christianity , misconception, hatred, distrust

I received a complimentary .pdf file of this book from the author for my unbiased review.

Mian’s Website:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Swiss Army Knife - When Life Is Confusing and Raw

Saffrin, Bob. Psalms, the Sunrise of Hope. Village Media / CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 9/19/12 ISBN-10: 1479282316 ISBN-13: 978-1479282319 ASIN: B0097WVXUS 220pp List Price: paperback $12.95, e-book $3.99

Psalms, the Sunrise of Hope looks at ten psalms with a common theme of finding hope in the midst of difficulty. The author defines Christian hope as conviction that God is in one’s life now and forever, and nothing can remove one from God’s love.

True hope, then, is resting in an unending care of one’s creator, expecting Him to move on one’s behalf. “Hope is a soldier that fights for us as we wait for the goodness of God to accomplish His will in and for us.”

Bob Saffrin describes the psalms as Hebrew poems meant to be set to music. They were and are used for worship, prayer and expressing emotions. Saffrin’s purpose is to change one’s attention away from problems; to move one’s attention toward God.

In Saffrin’s meditations, he includes the back stories of the psalms. He draws experiences that focus one’s attention from the Historical and Prophetic Books of the Bible, the New Testament. Saffrin speaks from his own experiences, and the experiences of others.

Rather than asking “Where is God?” One should ask “Who is God?” For each psalm, Saffrin includes a Life Lesson. He lifts portions of the psalm contrasting the world’s view with God’s perspective and includes questions to consider and discuss.

In all of these lessons and meditations, Saffrin encourages discovering God’s presence in the middle of one’s situation. If you recognize the presence of God, you go through distress, but distress does not go through you.”

For Psalm 3 he also includes a Bible exercise for the application of the psalm. It is a masterly example that one could use to create exercises for the other psalms. 
The ten Psalms included in this book are Psalm 3 (Hope for the Sleepless), Psalm 8 (Hope for the Insignificant), Psalm 13 (Hope for the Hopeless), Psalm 23 (Hope for Lost Lambs), Psalm 40 (Hope for the Shattered), Psalm 42-43 (Hope for the Depressed), Psalm 84 (Hope for the Homeless), Psalm 91 (Hope for the Vulnerable), Psalm 107 (Hope for the Unloved), and Psalm 139 (Hope for the Poor in Spirit).

Other books by Bob Saffrin:
         Moses, Steps to a Life of Faith
         Elijah, Steps to a life of Power
         *Psalm 23, Help for Lost Lambs
         *How to Sleep Like a Baby, a Meditation on Psalm 3

*These are updated and included in this text as bonus content.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for my unbiased review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wind over Marshdale by Tracy Krauss

Krauss, Tracy. Wind over Marshdale. Astraea Press (  June 11, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-62135-041-5 ASIN: B008ARYQPA 556KB List Price: $2.99 Christian Romance, Suspense. Jorja’s Rating: PG-occult theme, mild sex scenes.

Rachel Bosworth arrives to teach kindergarten in the small town of Marshdale, Saskatchewan. Thomas Lone Wolf and Con McKinley both begin to court her. Her landlady, Mrs. Beatry, the town gossip and quickly fills Rachel in on all she knows about the two and everyone else in town.

Thomas Lone Wolf came to Marshdale to pave the way for the cultural interpretation center. The center will house the archaeological finds from Old Man Lake nearby. Thomas is the great-grandson of the last powerful Cree medicine man who enters Thomas’s dreams of buffalo stampedes. He set aside his Cree spiritual legacy to live as a Christian. Even so, this widower and his children experience discrimination and resentment at every turn.

Con suddenly finds himself struggling with his own beliefs and values. He becomes Thomas’s advocate and only friend, not knowing that Rachel is dating them both. He falls deeper and deeper in love with Rachel, but part of him knows he cannot marry her until she embraces Christ as her Lord and Savior

Evil seems to be in the wind. The biggest opponent to the cultural center is the extreme fundamentalist zealot whose twin sister is a witch who, for her own reasons, is stirring up the demons in Thomas Lone Wolf’s history; and capitalizing on the darkness resident among the townspeople. It seems everyone in town, even the pastor at one of the churches, is fighting evil in one form or another.

Rachel finds herself “caught in the crossfire” and terribly confused. She is in love with two men. She does not understand Con’s beliefs or Thomas’s fears. Her landlady seems to know something unwholesome about everyone.

Krauss has written a twisted web of deceit and romantic suspense, a great beach-read or an avenue of escape during the upcoming holidays. The wind over Marshdale blows both hot and cold. This is Krauss’s fourth novel. She has also written several stage plays. Until she has the flexibility to write full-time, she is a high school teacher of art, drama and English.

I received a complimentary Kindle copy of this book from the author for my unbiased opinion.

Mohktar, Hatef. The Red Wrath: A Journey Between Two Destinies.

Mohktar, Hatef. The Red Wrath: A Journey Between Two Destinies. Houston, Texas: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights  07/31/2012. ISBN-10: 1618974599; ISBN-13: 978-1618974594. 474 (pp); $24.50

Asif lives in Oslo maintaining a flat subsidized by the government and working hard at unskilled labor every day. He meets, by chance, his old friend Akram from his village at home in Afghanistan. Being with Akram and his family, Asif remembers and writes.

Before the Communist coup, in 1979, that brought in thousands of Soviet troops; the village of Shir Abad was a place where Uzbeks, Pushtoons, Hazaras, and Tajiks lived as neighbors in Muslim peace and mutual support. Asif and his friends and neighbors, both boys and girls, attended school. Then, on Saturdays, they studied the Quran with the Imaam. Children grew and played and learned and lived in families that honored one another.  

“In the pre-Soviet War era, the society was unaware of the word ‘discrimination,’ Everyone no matter from which caste, tribe, creed, race, color or gender was always welcomed with open arms. People found support everywhere they went. But war and politics the two carcinogenic ailments, had diseased the modern society.” Asif’s family lived not only by the Muslim Quran, but also by the ancient Pashtoon law passed orally from father to son.

He experienced his first separations at the age of 13 when the Noor (light) of his heart, his hummingbird, was married to a man old enough to be her grandfather. Her stepmother, a divorcee from another village, created this handiwork. Latifa’s purity of heart, soul, and body brought a high bride price from this rich man Qalandar. Asif knew it was something Latifa’s own mother, who was like his aunt, would never have allowed. Latifa, the child scholar, moved out of his life overnight to another village where she was stepmother to children older than she.
Then Asif’s father, Zulfikar Khan, stood in the mosque and spoke against the new regime saying “This is the beginning of the end of Afghanistan as we know it.” His father moves his family in the night to another village. Then came the tanks. Zulfikar taken away and never seen again.  The village bombed. Men with machine guns killed men, women, and children indiscriminately. 

Suddenly Asif was responsible for the safety and welfare of his family. Separated from his father; he now became separated from his village and friends as he took his mother and younger brother and sister across the mountains to the refugee camps in Pakistan. He struggles to earn enough to provide shelter, food, and education for his brother.

 “Born in Afghanistan, Hatef Mokhtar, grew up in a refugee camp in Pakistan and is now … the Editor in Chief of the Oslo Times.” More intense than either The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Mokhtar’s historical novel carries not only the history of the last thirty years of Afghanistan, but the cost to its people.

 The rhythm of the words, phrases, and sentences carries the languages of the people into English. “I believe separation is the beginning of a long metaphysical chain of events that binds one spirit to another, connecting every corner of the world and reaching places we cannot see because they are beyond the reach of the living. We can only reach them when our imagination has taken over from where our breath has left us.

          This is a book that is written with tears and hope and the reader will read it the same way. This is not casual reading material. The reader will be researching for the whole story, but will actually get it all here, deeper than the facts. The use of passive voice is inconvenient at first, but becomes necessary to maintain emotional distance from Asif’s pain and anguish.
The following sites will provide support and statistics for Mohktar’s emotional and intellectual analysis of the cost of thirty years of war and separation written as historical fiction.

I received a .pdf copy of this book from Readers Favorite for my unbiased review.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wisler, Alice J. Still Life in Shadows. Chicago: River North Fiction, 7/24/2012. 298 (pp) ISBN-10: 0802406262   ISBN-13: 978- 0802406262  $14.99    AISN: B00836T3AG   $9.99
Fifteen years ago Gideon left his Amish roots and people just outside Carlisle, Pennsylvania, even before his “rumspringa,” to make his way in the “Englischer” world. Gideon settles in the small town of Twin Branches near the mountains in North Carolina. His hands will never again be clean as they bear the permanent oil stains around his fingernails from repairing automobiles.
Since he left home, he has become the “Getaway Savior” for other boys and young men seeking to escape the “ordnung”  - the order, discipline and rules - of the Amish. Gideon, though able to help others achieve a more fulfilling life, carries within himself the hatred and anger that he wears every bit as ritually as the suspenders and straw hat he left behind.
When Kiki, a teen with autism, comes into his automotive shop wanting work repairing bicycles, Gideon struggles to accept her. Even though he goes to the tea shop every day to find himself in the warmth of hot green tea and the warm brown eyes of Kiki’s sister Mari.
It  is not until his younger brother, Moriah, crashes into his home and life, that Gideon comes face to face with himself, with his anger, and with God. Only now does he realize how deeply he needs to forgive - to forgive his father, God, and most especially himself.

All of us strive to one degree or another with the past. In some ways, we all see ourselves as “different” and needing to be something other than what we are in order to belong. Most of us wrangle with the ability to help everyone, except those closest to us.
Alice J. Wisler was born in Osaka, Japan. Her parents were career Presbyterian missionaries. Alice went to Eastern Mennonite University after graduating from the Canadian Academy, an international high school in Kobe, Japan.

With warmth, and even humor, Wisler holds up a mirror where one sees not only the scars, and shortcomings, but the need for God and one another, the need to find a place where one belongs. Without a wasted word or emotion, Wisler captures our humanity.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Study Atonement, Confession, Revenge, and Evil

Fox LA Interview July 26, 2012

La Salle, Eriq. Laws of Depravity (Martyr Maker Series). Create Space: 2012. ISBN: 1-4775-8211-8 (p) $15.00 ISBN-13: 9781477582114 (e) $3.99

Father O’Conner, found flayed in his office by the janitor, brings Detectives Quincy Cavanaugh and Tavares “Phee” Freeman to the scene of the brutal slaying. They follow the corpse to the city morgue. There they discover FBI Agent Janet Maclin who hopes to relate this murder to The Martyr Maker. This serial killer is Maclin’s only open case.

 Over a period of thirty years, thirty-six priests and preachers have been murdered in ways reminiscent of the martyrdom of Jesus and twelve of the major and minor apostles, twelve murders every ten years.

Dr. Kravitz, New York City’s chief coroner, following Maclin’s direction, finds a plastic capsule in O’Conner’s stomach containing a rolled up piece of paper with a passage of scripture written on it, confirming the perpetrator’s MO. Maclin, Quincy and Phee now work together in this police 
procedural trying to get ahead of a killer that is now threatening the clergy of New York City.

Coming from diverse backgrounds each individual peopling this book is flawed and complex. Each character deals with the evil in his or her background, as well as its cost on the present, in different ways. The depth of the story and its expected and unexpected twists and turns, makes for a highly enjoyable read.

La Salle spent two years at the Juilliard School’s Drama Division. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Best-known as Dr. Benton in the television drama ER, La Salle has acted on and off Broadway and in films. He has produced, directed and written screenplays. Laws of Depravity is his first novel.

Drawing on his years of experience in storytelling on the stage, television, and movies, this novel is highly visual and visceral. This is a “modern day parable cleverly masquerading as a crime novel:” a study of atonement, confession, revenge, and evil. Its characters are multi-layered bringing depth and vivid reality to this police procedural.

Each must confront not only with the depravity of a twisted mind, but also the defeated or suppressed depravities that have shaped their own lives and families, that have made them who they are. The reader is in for a page-turning experience that leaves supper dishes undone and creates bleary-eyed days at the office.