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My_Grandfather's_Pants_by_Tegon_Maus_-_high_res_300dpiJack Laskin is just an ordinary man; he has a girlfriend, looks after his mother and runs the family hardware store. When, one day his mother gives him a pair of his grandfather’s pants, he doesn’t really want them, but she insists they’ll be perfect for him.
Being a good son, Jack dutifully wears them, then he discovers things change, suddenly those around him treat him differently, it’s almost as if he’s become someone else…
As the magic continues, he discovers family secrets beyond belief, and when a ghosts from the past come wriggling out of the woodwork, he find himself committed to solving a mystery which spans generations.
This story is fantastic! It is totally different to anything I have read before. As the storyline unfolds, it is sexy, humorous and very entertaining – absolutely brilliant!
Reviewed by Susan Keefe.
Available from Amazon.
 

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Hungry GhostsReview by Victoria Dougherty

I admit – I’m reading this series out of order.  I’ve just finished Hungry Ghosts and have only started its predecessor, Everyone Burns.  But that should be a clue.  If I don’t like the dish, I don’t go back for seconds.

And I liked Hungry Ghosts.  A lot.

First, it’s very, very well written.  Meaning it is well-crafted and has a strong voice.  So many books these days have only one or the other and those can be enjoyable, too – the way a beauty contestant can make a great date even if she’s dumb as a stone.

But Hungry Ghosts is the runway model who went to Harvard.  And she knows how to have a good time to top it off – you know what I mean?

The story centers around an ex-pat Englishman named David Braddock who lives on an island off Thailand.  Braddock’s got a lot going on.  He’s feeling emotionally ravaged by guilt over his wife’s death, has several sometime girlfriends who want either one thing or another, an unrequited love, some Thai gangsters on his tail, and a homicidal maniac bent on revenge.  All of these somehow collide at his agency (he’s a P.I. with a partner and a half: a pushy, whip-smart Thai woman and her newborn baby), even when he’s not investigating.

David is a magnetic, complex character whose flaws we forgive, and against our better judgment perhaps, whose best traits we exalt.  He’s surrounded by a motley crew of friends, enemies, and anything in between.  Nobody is eccentric and quirky simply for the reason of being eccentric and quirky, either.  These are real people (or at least they feel real) and the author (John Dolan) writes with the voice of an experienced traveler – world weary, uncharted, but chasing the dragon of the next new adventure nonetheless.  He explains a magical culture in plain, rational language instead of getting all woo-woo on us – although he does get woo-woo on us.  Still, as a reader, I didn’t mind.  But I’m like that.

So, go out and get Hungry Ghosts and its sibling, Everyone Burns, if you haven’t already.  It’s worth your time and money and then some.  And it’s a great way to feel like you’ve been to Thailand without have to get frisked at the airport and sit for twenty hours sandwiched between two nightly steak eaters from Atlanta.

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unnamedBeing popular and getting the votes is the foremost objective in the mind of any government. When it comes down to it, making the right noises at the right times and  spending time thinking of good ideas for saving the country money, making more, lining their own pockets and looking after themselves is what really matters. There is little consideration given, to the effects of the new policies on the people involved by the government or those who are unaffected; the affected may protest, but their complaints are just brushed under the carpet, and forgotten.

However, this is the story of what happens when the people fight back, when the government’s economic policies are not just meekly  accepted.    When the Podiatry department of a university hears about proposed cutbacks, which may affect them, the professor in charge of the department Professor Vinnie McVittie and his colleagues decide to fight back, and their plan is to kidnap Dr. Malcolm Moon, a senior academic.
Plan accomplished, the Podiatry department with their captive, hide out, deep in the welsh countryside. However, Malcolm discovers, on the farm a part of him he has never see before and experiences emotions he never knew existed. His incarceration has not turned out as his captors expected, a fact, which soon becomes worryingly apparent.
Back in London, the race to find out where the missing academic is being held is on. With a Prime Minister who has ‘issues’ and is desperate for re-election, government policies and university politics, it seems nothing more could complicate the search for the missing academic, until the journalists become involved…
This amazing story is jam-packed with fantastic characters. They come in all shapes and sizes, the weird, the wonderful and the stereotypical images of government officials, ‘old boys’ and regional characters, all of whom are brought brilliantly to life by this talented author.
This really is the funniest book that I have read in a very long time, in the same vein as Tom Sharpe.  I found the author’s use of local dialect really added to the story. I came originally from the U.K., although not from the Midlands, and I actually know the areas and roads in the story very well, having spent the last three years travelling to visit my daughter at university in Wales.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, it is witty, has a fast moving plot and I, for one, just couldn’t put it down.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available:

 

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Christmas is in the Air Anthology 2

This is the second Christmas romance anthology from Books to Go Now that I have read this month. I loved the first one,Christmas Romance, and this the second one didn’t disappoint. Four talented romance authors, four sweet stories that will warm your heart this holiday season. And just like in the first one, there are dogs in this one, too!

In “Red Soles at Night Christmas Delight,” by Cary Morgan Frates, Audrey Wells is out of her wits when a dog jumps on to the deck of her boat and in the process throws her super expensive Louboutin shoes into the lake. The dog’s handsome owner has no choice but to dive into the freezing cold water to rescue them. Of course, Audrey ends up making sure he doesn’t get pneumonia. In a turn of fate, they end up spending Christmas Day together. A humorous and sexy story.

In “Yuletide Bride,” by Danielle Lee Zwissler, reporter Mary Simms is out on a mission. She wants to prove that the town’s Magic of Christmas Festival, where perfect couples are “matched” for life, is a sham. Will she have the courage to uncover the truth and destroy people’s belief in the tradition, even if it means destroying the happiness of some of the old couples involved? And what about James, the handsome lawyer who asks her not to go ahead with her story, and for whom she’s developing some serious feelings? Will Mary learn to have faith? An original, delightful story with a touch of mystery.

In “Christmas Gift that Keeps Wagging,” by Jennifer Conner, we meet Julian Barrows, a single dad with a kindergarten son who suffers from seizures; and Hannah, the beautiful trainer who specializes in seizure-detecting dogs. Their paths touch when Julian tries to get her dog for his son. The problem is, it’s incredibly expensive. Fate has other plans, and the magic of Christmas works its way into their lives…A heart-warming story with an ending that will pull at your heart strings.

The last story is “One Horse Open Sleigh Race,” by Karen Hall, where we’re transported to 1819 London, and where, after a most unexpected encounter, a wealthy earl and the feisty twin of the new clergyman find true love thanks to a Christmas sleigh race and an adorable “match-making” Scottie. Lovers of historical romance will relish this one.

This anthology has a tantalizing, charming cover. That’s the first thing that pulled me to the book, and it adequately illustrates the inside content. The four stories in this anthology are all about strong yet vulnerable heroines and sensitive, yet forceful heroes; about the spirit of the Christmas season and the magical effect it can sometimes have on people; about the hope and faith for true love and the attainment of that love.

Through the authors’ imaginations, I was transported to different places and times, relishing the characters’ fictional worlds and predicaments. I also love how the authors incorporate humor into their stories, and how the dogs play their important roles. Christmas Is in the Air is an upbeat, thoroughly enjoyable read, and one I’m sure readers of sweet romance stories will enjoy.

Find out more on Books to Go Now and  Amazon.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

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18749222 (1)For fans of inspirational love stories, Christmas Romance is a wonderful anthology to cuddle up with this holiday season. Written by four best-selling romance authors, these stories will warm your heart and leave you with a cozy upbeat feeling that will linger for days.

In “Christmas Wishes,” readers will meet Lee Llewellyn, who’s lost all hope of finding happiness due to her young son’s death and the bitter divorce that followed… until she meets a handsome stranger in the cemetery on Christmas Eve, and her life takes a bright, unexpected twist. A soulful story about re-claiming joy.

In “Central Bark at Christmas,” Tennyson has just been dumped by her arrogant and insensitive lawyer boyfriend. She swears to stay away from men, believing they’re nothing but bad luck. But then, while walking her dog she meets Par, who, aside from spending time with his dog, seems only to have time for work. But fate has plans for them. They find an abandoned dog and as they care for it and try to find him a home, their destinies become intertwined… Dog lovers will love this one.

In “Halo’s Wish,” undercover pet detective Halo Ann’s dream is to have a big family and a house in the country surrounded by pets, but she denies herself these things by focusing on her career – even if that means staying away from a sexy veterinarian who keeps bumping into her. While working on a case, things go terribly wrong and she ends up with a lump on her head, a broken ankle, a bruised hip, and a demolished car. The first thing she sees in the hospital when she opens her eyes is the vet’s face. Will Christmas work its magic and make her realize she can have both a fulfilling relationship and a career? This was such a cute story with endearing protagonists.

In “Christmas Hope,” Clara is trying to lift from the ground a tasting party business called The Perfect Place — not easy when her self esteem is low due to a failed marriage and various failed businesses. One day while watching TV she discovers Sam Richards, a fourth-generation farmer from upstate New York…and she has an idea that brings her to his very doorstep. There’s only one problem: he’s super grumpy and has not interest whatsoever in collaborating with her. Will Clara succeed in melting the ice from his Scrooge heart?

What I loved most about this anthology is that it’s full of pets: dogs, puppies, kittens. As an animal lover, I really enjoyed the way the authors incorporated critters into their stories, and how the animals, in a way, had a role in uniting the characters. The protagonists are sympathetic, their troubles and concerns ones that most women can relate to. The heroes are ones to fall in love with. There’s a generous share of humor as well. These four heart-warming stories are about moving forward and start living again, about the magic of the Christmas season, about trusting our hearts and having hope. Most of all, about believing and finding true love. Recommended!

Find out more on Amazon and Books to Go Now.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

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51RqV8fD+EL._AA160_In this book, I was intrigued to learn about Joe’s very first days as a fire fighter. I will be the first to openly admit that I love Joe Corso’s stories about his career, and, as he recounts his memories, I felt as if I was transported into the very soul of the young Joe. He describes his very first day and meeting the men he was to worked with, men whose courage and dedication he strove to emulate throughout his career. Experienced fire fighters ,who took the young rookie under their wing, guided and encouraged him, whilst all the time instilling in him the firm codes and values they worked by.

There’s so much in this book. The Prologue, which has been researched by members of the IAFF tells the history of the Maltese Cross, which is the international symbol of the fire service. I loved reading Joe’s recollections of the alarm calls they went on, the unusual characters he met, and how this close knit brotherhood of men dealt with the odd bad apple or two. I also discovered that there are many types of fires, and whilst all are dangerous, the smoke alone given off of the source materials of some can be deadly. Then the history of the old fire brigade building came to life, as Joe and his friend had to recover the old fire station journals from the roof space, and discover other things, stored there.

At the end, Joe has looked back at the animal hero’s of the service, the brave fire horses and included an interesting and humorous article by Jim Blanchard of the Saugus Fire Department and a fantastic photograph.

What can I say, this book captivated me, I just could not put it down. I loved reading of the true comradeship, loyalty and brotherhood of these brave men as seen through the eyes of the author as a young man, and the pictures within were just fantastic to see – the icing on the cake as they say.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available in Paperback from Amazon  and on Kindle.

 

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ThreadingtheNeedle_FlatAn action packed political thriller.

Isidore Farrugia is a cop, brought up during the Years of Lead, a horrific period in Italian history, a time of terror and killing, his childhood memories, scarred forever by the brutal death of his mother. Nevertheless, he is a good man, loyal and protective of his friends and colleagues.

This is why although off duty and out of jurisdiction, when his friend Bianca arranges a meeting with her informant, Charles Brooks, he insists on coming too. However, soon his onlooker role changes, when the young 23-year-old American, Bianca came to meet is killed, and so are his assassins.
Then another murder takes place, and the Italian police investigators find themselves unearthing a web of political intrigue.
Bianca has a secret though, she knows, she must uncover the truth behind the information she has been entrusted with, despite warnings from her mysterious online contact Loki, to stay away. Adastra, a weapons manufacturer is hiding something… But what?
I found myself hooked, right from the start of this brilliant, action packed, political crime thriller, which is set in Milan.
For those, like myself, who are interested in history, the Afterword about the Years of Lead by Claudio Ferrara was very interesting.
This is actually the third book in the ‘Roma’ series, by this talented author, and there is a tantalising glimpse at the end into his fourth book, ’Turning to Stone.’

Threading the Needle is available in Paperback from Amazon.

Review by Susan Keefe

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