Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt, 280 pages, March 17th 2017, Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary Fiction. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

This book is the first in a planned trilogy. The Earth Mother Gaia is sentient, alive, and moving in mysterious ways to influence the life that resides in her surface. Although Gaia elevated mankind to the top of the food chain, she kept another species in reserve should they prove unworthy. This hidden species, the Tethyans, appears human when moving among humans. They’re intuitive and sensitive to the will of Gaia.

We follow Avery as she goes through life with a plan. The plan largely involves following the path laid out for her by her deceased parents. Since her parents died, she feels adrift without a compass. Avery meets Beck and they grow ever fonder of each other. Their romance is set against the backdrop of a hidden fantasy world with its own agenda. Avery searches for answers about her parents and her past. She discovers she is part of the hidden world. Avery worries about how this will affect her relationship with Beck, whom she has fallen hard for. Beck is supportive and self-sacrificing where Avery is concerned. At several points, as Avery learns more about her identity and origins, she rejects the world of the Tethyans. Yet she comes back every time, despite the uneasiness she feels, sensing she must continue on this path. Avery believes in destiny, has intuition, and follows her hunches. Avery and Beck are encouraged by the Tethyans to be together and her fear of what the path may do to their relationship fades. As we learn about Avery, we learn about the Tethyans and their culture alongside her. It’s a lot of information to impart to the reader and Burt does a great job of weaving it into Avery’s journey.

I loved the concept that the hidden species are the basis for many of our seafaring myths, such as sirens and mermaids. The world of humans is based on the traits that Western culture considers masculine: competition, physical strength, male dominance, and violent behavior. The world of Tethyans is based on what Western culture deems are traditionally feminine traits: cooperation, intuition, emotional strength, and pacifism (the exception is Andromeda, their defense forces). The book accepts this divide without question and makes the two cultures the opposite image of the other. Women are therefore in power in the Tethyan culture. There are also different groups with different missions within the culture, such as the Primals, Progenitors, and Andromeda. Chapters switch between the story of Avery, Beck, and their romance and journey of discovery, and the story of the women of Andromeda, elite female forces keeping the world and environment safe from powerful, wicked male corporate elitists. Each fighter of Andromeda is unique and has her own special powers which are often used against their enemies. I found both storylines interesting.

One of the things I found surprising was how easily Avery and Beck accepted the Tethyan world in the end after discovering the Tethyans never seem to question what they consider Gaia’s commands. They had reservations earlier, but not at this point, which struck me as odd. Tethyans will give up anything and anyone they must in order to fulfill their mission on behalf of Gaia. Gaia is presented as a goddess-force that imparts intuitions and is the source of the Tethyan mission. This zealotry was a disturbing part of their culture. There were times when I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was primarily a romance or a fantasy novel. It took a while for the two stories to connect and intertwine. By the end, I decided this is a Fantasy novel about two people who happen to fall in love while finding out they’re part of the Tethyan world and its mission.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Gaia’s Majesty. The concept was intriguing. I wish there had been more description and exploration of the underwater cities. I would’ve liked to have seen more interaction between the undersea folk and Avery and Beck. Hopefully, this will be explored further in the next novel in the series.

You can find this book at Gaia’s Majesty: Mission Called.

Book Description

From the Back Cover

Gaia’s Majesty : Mission Called – Women in Power

The first book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy

 Our earth mother, Gaia, was intrigued by clever creatures developing on her Earth. She believed they held promise but also danger for themselves and her planet.

Wisely Gaia reserved a gifted population of women dedicated to safeguarding the future of humankind and Earth. The women called Progenitors lived in the sea and could transform to live on the land if they chose. Their families on land were called Primals. Among them were a defense force of women called the Andromeda. Collectively these people were called Tethyans.

She foresaw a definitive epoch which is now upon us. Our planet is enveloped in environmental and social crises. Unless humankind serves as stewards for Earth and ourselves we may live on a despoiled planet as people held in bondage by a wealthy class of plutocrats. The empowerment of women holds the key to our future.

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy explores if Gaia’s preparations will succeed. Is this story a myth, or like so many myths, does it reside on the cusp of reality?

Gaia Speaks

You used to adore me. You took my bounty gratefully and before my loving sight developed your skills as will a child in the sight of mother. You worshipped me and my fruitfulness. I tested you with adversity which made you strong. But in time you selfishly saw Earth’s bounty as your due. You now have a choice between stewardship or devastation.

From the Author

Women are coming to power. It is happening just as we enter a world environmental crisis of biblical proportions. We may disagree over the origins of our environmental crisis but its reality is demanding our attention. What will it mean that women are coming to power at this moment? One glorious benefit of the empowerment of women is that it opens us to a true and wonderful partnership between men and women

The Majesty Trilogy, of which this book is the first, falls on the cusp of reality. Environmental crisis and the empowerment of women are real but can be illuminated in fiction which has a mythological cast to it. In these books we embark on a fantasy journey where women take the lead in a planet which is being transformed. Whether that transformation is for the benefit of humankind or is a tragedy is yet to be decided.

Our earth mother, Gaia, knew this day would come as her most clever animals matured. She knew it might be necessary to start over if her experiment with humans failed. She created cities in the sea occupied predominately by women who could live in the water or on the land. We may have sighted them and know them as mermaids. But we have not known their import. They are at the forefront of empowerment and are opposed by powerful and immensely wealthy plutocratic men known as the Overlords.

Join us in this story as we venture to cleanse our planet and to empower women so together we may have a glorious partnership for men and women and possibly a transformative future.

Author Biography

When Duke University granted me a Ph.D. in clinical psychology it was time to go out beyond academia. I chose to work in the inner city of Baltimore in a community mental health program. My experience there was a wholly new form of learning. Daily I was confronted with the dire effects of deep poverty. It changed my life and view of the world.

Over time other elements in my education crept forward. The teachings of Leslie White about culture took on a new meaning and the depth of the studies of Carl Jung arose. Over decades I found myself assessing the meaning of cultural flow and the importance of myth in our lives. I took on a commitment to stewardship and came to see that the empowerment of women was essential to the future of humankind.

Later in life they all flowed together in the creation of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Myth was not some abstraction but living elements of human existence. Psychology taught me there were elemental forces deep inside of us which ruled our lives but were largely unrecognized or at least not given their due. I wondered about such things as stories of mermaids which showed up across so many cultures. And I found issues of culture and myth showing up in my clinical work. My thoughts went deep into how they might relate to current human and ecological crises.

Much of my reaction seemed to be developing unconsciously until the day when the story of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy began to flow onto my computer. I have become convinced that deep unrecognized forces within us direct our lives and our cultures. I also became convinced that we do, indeed, live on the cusp of reality. My reality is different from your reality and we struggle to reach a workable common ground. And at this time we face unparalleled ecological crises. It seems that the rise of women and their empowerment are a crucial part of what has come to be a denouement in the story of humankind. The empowerment of women should at last lead to true partnership between men and women. Is it possible we may be moving toward a remarkable transformation? What it might be can only be the subject of a “what if”.

In these books I try to create an engagement for consideration of what may be happening to us. While the trilogy is fiction, its mythological cloak gives it a special relief and begs us to consider what may be happening to us and where we might be going. Is humankind to be led into terrible poverty and bondage where an economic elite will rule and will we also despoil the very planet on which we live and depend?

Come to the adventure in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and join in considering what it might say about our future.

And please join us for the commentary and discussion on the website www.cuspofreality.com.

Other Works

Other works (non-fiction) can be found at:

Stepfamilies: The Step By Step Model of Brief Therapy by Mala S. Burt and Roger B. Burt

Creating Characters and Plot: Secrets of a Jungian Toolbox to Guide Inspiration by Roger B. Burt PhD

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples In Partnership by Mala S. Burt and Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened To Community Mental Health?

 

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Once Taken (A Riley Paige Mystery-Book 2) by Blake Pierce

Once Taken (A Riley Paige Mystery-Book 2) by Blake Pierce, 235 pages, February 14th 2016, Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Once Taken is a double story, both building on each other in a progressing character arc for FBI Special Agent Riley Paige. I was engaged from start to finish. When one plot resolved, the other had already captivated me. The heart of this book is its main character, Riley Paige, and the unfolding exploration of her darker side.

Riley is divorced from Ryan, a self-important big-time lawyer. She has a teenage, rebellious daughter named April. And she’s haunted by the idea that her serial killing tormentor and nemesis, Peterson, may have survived their last encounter. She has several years under her belt and when Lucy Vargas, the new kid on the block, is assigned to the next case alongside her, she worries it’ll compromise the investigation having a rookie on the case. Riley becomes particularly dedicated to the next case, as the victims are hung and posed after their deaths by throat slitting. This reminds her of Marie, a woman who took her own life by hanging in association with the Peterson case.

After a break-in, Riley makes it known she thinks it was Peterson. The FBI believes he’s dead and the other officers think Riley’s lost her mind. However, while she and Lucy are investigating the serial killings in Reedsport, New York, she gets an urgent text from April. Reluctantly, she returns home to discover Ryan lost track of April. April has been kidnapped and Riley is certain Peterson took her. Her best friend and former partner, Bill Jeffreys, returns to help her find April before it’s too late. Meanwhile, April is a chip off the block, doing whatever it takes to escape Peterson before he murders her. The climax of the first story leaves Riley questioning her motives and moral compass.

My favorite character is Riley. Riley is easy to relate to. She’s realistic, human, and flawed. She’d do anything to protect her daughter. She’s driven to do whatever it takes to bring down the killer, even if it skirts crossing the line. Riley tiptoes over the line more than once in this book. Will Riley be in danger of fully embracing her dark side? Will she one day turn into what she hates? I also enjoyed her discussions with Hatcher, an imprisoned criminal and killer with insights into the psychology of killing, particularly with chains. Hatcher possesses an uncanny ability to empathize with cops and killers alike. This allows him to play mind games with them if they’re not careful.

I enjoyed Once Taken and would recommend it to readers of crime thrillers.

There are ten books in this series at the present time. You can find them (in order) here:

Once Gone A free download with over 800  5 star reviews!

Once Taken

Once Craved

Once Lured

Once Hunted

Once Pined

Once Forsaken

Once Cold

Once Stalked

Once Lost

Book Synopsis

ONCE TAKEN is book #2 in the bestselling Riley Paige mystery series, which begins with ONCE GONE (Book #1)–a free download with over 800 five star reviews!

Women are being murdered in upstate New York, their bodies found mysteriously hanging in chains. With the FBI called in, given the bizarre nature of the murders—and the lack of any clues—there is only one agent they can turn to: Special Agent Riley Paige.

Riley, reeling from her last case, is reluctant to take on a new one, since she is still convinced a former serial killer is out there, stalking her. She knows, though, that her ability to enter a serial killer’s mind and her obsessive nature is what will be needed to crack this case, and she just can’t refuse—even if it will push her over the edge.

Riley’s search takes her deep into a killer’s deluded mind as it leads her to orphanages, mental hospitals, prisons, all in an effort to understand the depth of his psychosis. Realizing she is up against a true psychopath, she knows time is short before he strikes again. But with her own job on the line and her own family a target, and with her fragile psyche collapsing, it may all be too much for her—and too late.

A dark psychological thriller with heart-pounding suspense, ONCE TAKEN is book #2 in a riveting new series—with a beloved new character—that will leave you turning pages late into the night.

Book #3 in the Riley Paige series–ONCE CRAVED–is also available!

About the Author

Blake Pierce is author of the bestselling RILEY PAGE mystery series, which include the mystery suspense thrillers ONCE GONE (book #1), ONCE TAKEN (book #2), ONCE CRAVED (#3) and ONCE LURED (#4). Blake Pierce is also the author of the MACKENZIE WHITE mystery series and AVERY BLACK mystery series.

An avid reader and lifelong fan of the mystery and thriller genres, Blake loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit blakepierceauthor.com to learn more and stay in touch.

Check out other reviews at:

Once Taken at The Forensic Bibliophile

Once Taken at My Little Book Blog

Anxiety Girl by Lacey London

Great Message!

Anxiety Girl by Lacey London, 333 pages, SSO Publishing, March 23rd 2017, Genre: Literature & Fiction/Social and Family Issues. Warning: Contains Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

“I don’t need help. I don’t have depression, anxiety, or any of the other scary words Aldo was spouting last night. I just need to have a positive mental attitude, that’s all.”

Sadie Valentine had a life many would be envious of. Her mother won the lottery in her youth and she’s always been financially secure. She’s never had to worry about how she’d pay for the basics of life. Her mother even bought Sadie a lavish, large, upscale apartment. Attractive, young, healthy, and stylish, Sadie Valentine should be on top of the world. Right?

Changes happen faster than Sadie can wrap her head around them. Her fiance breaks off the relationship and tosses her out. Her artwork’s venue ends their business arrangement, cutting off her personal source of income, and she’s unable to find a new one. Her relationship with her mother is distant; her mother’s idea of warmth is to fly herself to Cancun and improve her tan. Unable to figure out what went wrong in her break-up with Spencer, Sadie goes on drinking binges and serial dates. Nothing seems to lift her mood. After further negative events, Sadie begins suffering from anxiety attacks.

I found Sadie likable. I became frustrated with her inability to see that her girlfriends weren’t worth her time and weren’t really her friends. Those three vipers deserve each other. My favorite character was Aldo. A true, loyal, concerned friend, Aldo had heart. I enjoyed traveling along Sadie’s journey with her and seeing her personal transformation.

London does an excellent job of describing what those with anxiety suffer. I was impressed by how accurate the descriptions were. Sadie begins her journey with mythical thinking about anxiety and looking at mental illness as a personal deficit of her own character. She doesn’t want medication as she believes this will make it real. Sadie doesn’t want to believe what’s happening to her is real. She tries to be “strong” by keeping her feelings bottled up and her condition hidden. Along the way, Sadie learns that reacting this way only makes her suffering worse.

I enjoyed reading Anxiety Girl. Its core message is that if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, seek help for what you’re going through, because you’re not alone in this struggle. There’s hope and there’s help. Seeking help doesn’t mean you’re weak-it means you’re stronger than you know. That’s a message I can certainly get behind.

This book can be found at Anxiety Girl.

Book Description

From the best-selling author of the CLARA ANDREWS series!

 Sadie Valentine was just like you and I, or so she was…

Loving life in the glitzy village of Alderley Edge, Sadie Valentine thought she had it all.

With her gay best friend, Aldo, for company, Sadie spends her time sipping bubbles amongst the glitterati in her many local bars and restaurants.

However, unbeknown to the outside world, Sadie is battling a broken heart.

Keeping her mask in place on a daily basis proves harder than Sadie anticipates and when she is dealt more blows, her positive exterior starts to crumble.

Sadie soon realises that sometimes, it’s not quite as simple as picking yourself up and carrying on.

Once a normal-ish woman, her mental health wasn’t something that Sadie ever thought about, but when the three evils, anxiety, panic and depression creep into her life, Sadie wonders if she will ever see the light again.

With Aldo by her side, can Sadie crawl out of the impossibly dark hole and take back control of her life?

Once you have hit rock bottom, there’s only one way to go…

The characters in this novel might be fictitious, but the feelings and emotions experienced are very real.

Lacey London has spoken publicly about her own struggles with anxiety and hopes that Sadie will help other sufferers realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

About the Author

Lacey London is the bestselling author of THE CLARA ANDREWS SERIES and ANXIETY GIRL SERIES.

Lacey’s latest novel in the Anxiety Girl series, Anxiety Girl Falls Again, is available to order from Amazon Worldwide in ebook and paperback now.

Lacey London lives in Cheshire, England with her husband and their Yorkshire Terrier. When she is not writing, she can usually be found in one of Alderley Edge’s many bars or restaurants. Failing that, she is probably sleeping. Lacey loves fairy-tales and hates numbers, except the ones in her bank account.

Books in the Clara Series: MEET CLARA ANDREWS, CLARA MEETS THE PARENTS, MEET CLARA MORGAN, CLARA AT CHRISTMAS, MEET BABY MORGAN, CLARA IN THE CARIBBEAN, CLARA IN AMERICA, CLARA IN THE MIDDLE AND CLARA’S LAST CHRISTMAS

Books in the Anxiety Girl Series: ANXIETY GIRL and ANXIETY GIRL FALLS AGAIN.

Lacey can be found on Twitter @thelaceylondon and at http://www.laceylondon.co.uk

Check out a few other reviews for this book at:

Anxiety Girl at Platinum Diaries

Anxiety Girl at The Review Author

Anxiety Girl at Craig Shepherd

Killing Kate by Alex Lake

Killing Kate by Alex Lake, 417 pages, October 6th 2016, HarperCollins Publishers, Genre: Thriller and Suspense/Serial Killers/Crime. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Kate and her friends take a trip to Greece on vacation after Kate breaks up with her long time boyfriend, Phil. Phil didn’t take the break up well, not well at all. Phil believed they were ready for marriage, kids, and growing old together. Kate, on the other hand, had never been with anyone but Phil, had never experienced much in life on her own, and decided she needed to do so before she could commit. Phil can’t stop thinking about Kate. He’s obsessed with her. When he decides to date another woman, she not only looks like Kate, but she’s just intended to make Kate jealous. Phil can’t seem to move on.

On her vacation, Kate gets drunk and almost sleeps with a man named Mike she picks up in a bar. Mike, the perfect gentleman, doesn’t take advantage of her and lets her sleep it off in his bedroom. The next day, Kate decides she never wants to see Mike again. Upon her return to England, however, Kate finds Phil is faring no better. Phil texts, calls, and ‘unexpectedly checks in on’ her for a while. As women who look remarkably like Kate and live in the same town get murdered one after another, the tension rises. Kate realizes she could be a serial killer’s next target. Changing her hair and wearing colored contacts makes sense, until the killer switches to killing women who look like Kate after the changes.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The writing style kept me engaged through to the end. I wasn’t surprised by the time the villain was revealed, but it did keep me guessing for much of the book. I didn’t like Kate very much. I liked the other characters in the novel. Kate is lucky to have such good friends; including, yes, the slightly stalkerish Phil. The climax of the story kept me on the edge of my seat with concern for everyone involved. I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy suspense and thriller novels.

This book can be found at Killing Kate.

Book Description:

From the author of ebook No. 1 bestseller and Sunday Times top ten bestseller AFTER ANNA.

A serial killer is stalking your home town.

He has a type: all his victims look the same.

And they all look like you.

Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her hometown – and his victims all look like her.

It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.

Or maybe not.

She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?

Or is the truth something far more sinister?

About the Author:

Alex Lake is a British novelist who was born in the North West of England. After Anna, the author’s first novel written under this pseudonym, was a No.1 bestselling ebook sensation and a top ten Sunday Times bestseller. The author now lives in the North East of the US.

Check out some other reviews at:

Killing Kate at Always With a Book

ARC Book Review: Killing Kate

Madam Tulip: An Irish Cozy Mystery by David Ahern

Delightful!

Madam Tulip: An Irish Cozy Mystery by David Ahern, 309 pages, Malin Press, May 1st 2016, Genre: Mystery/Cozy Mysteries. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Madam Tulip is a delightful cozy mystery with quirky, interesting characters and just the right blend of mystery, suspense, and fun. The pacing was excellent; I completed it in one evening. The plot was intriguing and the villain, human and believable. The twist to this novel is the O’Donnell’s gift of visions. I found this aspect fascinating.

Derry O’Donnell is an out-of-work actress, waiting for her big break to arrive. When her mother, an American art dealer divorced from her Da, cuts Derry off financially, Derry is forced to take stock of what talents and skills she can put to use in pursuit of an income. She and her friend Bella get together one evening and Derry reads her tarot cards for her. Bella suggests Derry become a fortune teller. With a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry costumes up and transforms into Madam Tulip, celebrity fortune teller. With the help of her father Jacko, Derry lands a gig at a posh celebrity charity event. Derry gets wrapped up in the world of models, celebrities, and drug dealers over the weekend at the lavish castle. The celebrities confide in her and enjoy their sessions with Madam Tulip. Her future seems assured until a famous musician ends up dead and her best friend is jailed as the prime suspect. In order to free Bella and ensure the safety of her family, friends, and self, Derry must solve the crime against a ticking clock.

Derry has visions, but she can neither control the visions nor understand what they mean. The visions are highly symbolic. It’s only once the event happens that it becomes clear what Derry’s vision was trying to warn her about. Derry expresses exasperation with the visions. What’s the use of having a family gift that doesn’t seem to help? Her father reminds her that because of the visions, Derry is keenly aware that things aren’t random. She doesn’t need faith in a higher power, she knows it exists. And the cost of the gift of knowing, well, that may sometimes be high.

I loved this book. It was charming. From Derry’s relationship with her parents to her romantic yearning for an old flame, I found her graceful and capable in her dealings with difficult people and situations. The characters were engaging. The humor arrived at just the right moments. In fact, I’ve just purchased the next book in the series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts  . I’d recommend this to anyone who likes cozy mysteries.

This book can be found at Madam Tulip.

Book Synopsis:

Living in Ireland, out-of-work American actress Derry O’Donnell is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madam Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a castle – a famous rap artist will die.
As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life.

Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry’s attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.
Madame Tulip is the first in a series of Tulip adventures in which Derry O’Donnell, celebrity fortune-teller and reluctant detective, plays the most exciting and perilous roles of her acting life, drinks borage tea, and fails to understand her parents.

About the Author:

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madame Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. He is now writing the third Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

You can learn more about David Ahern and Madam Tulip on his website David Ahern.info .

Connect with David Ahern on Facebook: facebook.com/davidahernwriter
and Twitter: twitter.com/daveahernwriter.

Check out other reviews at:

Madam Tulip at Rachel Poli

Madam Tulip at The Book Review Directory

Invinciman by R. T. Leone

Invinciman by R. T. Leone, 424 pages, Leoneum Inc, March 9th 2017, Genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy/Superheroes. Warning: Contains Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

      Invinciman is a story in the “Superheroes” genre. At it’s heart, it’s about a protagonist fighting a villain, and the journey each took to get there. Naturally, Ray Martin and Daniel Darque were best friends. Both men went to college together and became engineers. Each one’s strengths were different and they complemented each other. They worked together to build Robox, the most popular gladiator show in the world. Robox features advanced robots, designed to represent various nations, facing off in a ring. Ray and Daniel have different moral and political agendas, leading to a struggle between them.

       First, what I liked about it. The plot, writing style, and structure remained true to what one would expect of a book in this genre. It’s quirky. The book is written in an alternating timeline style. One timeline is in the present and the other recollects the past. As the present moves forward, so does the past, and the two streams finally meet at the climactic moment. Events unfold and the motives of the characters are revealed. Pacing was fairly even and the desire to understand how the past led these men here kept me turning the pages. I had many questions, such as “How did Ray survive a bullet to his head, being buried alive, getting his arm hacked off, and nearly bleeding to death?”, and “Is Ray a robot?”, and “Wait-who is supposed to be the hero here?”

        Leone presents Daniel Darque in a sympathetic light. He’s a man seeking justice in an unjust world. I found myself agreeing with a couple of his ideas. If I’d faced the things he suffered, would I have turned out to think the same way? Likewise, Ray Martin is a bit of a privileged, upper middle class guy. He’s never suffered. He’s had the luxury of maintaining his code of principles most of his life. It’s clear he believes he’s morally superior to his best friend. When their worldviews crash into each other, it leaves the reader questioning which man is the hero. Who is betraying whom?

      Now, what I think could be improved. It never explained where Ray got his amazing superhuman ability to live through things no mortal man can survive. Indeed, this was what I considered the first hook that kept me reading. I wanted to know how Ray survived. While it’s not an absolute genre requirement, it helps suspend disbelief over the long haul to give an explanation, even if it’s only an acknowledgement that he doesn’t know how he survives such things but always has.

       The reader has a reasonable expectation that a book will have a beginning, a middle, a climactic moment, followed by resolution. This story builds the reader’s excitement up to the climactic moment. The climactic moment never occurs nor does the resolution. Instead, the book is followed up with an afterword by the author in which he explains why he’s letting the reader decide which ending they prefer.

This book can be found at Invinciman.

Book Description:

Rise Against the Machine!

In this psychological thriller, you become Ray Martin—an engineer left for dead and looking for answers. Don’t take too long, though! As life drains out of your body, you find yourself hunted by both the government and a terrorist organization. Are you a solution to the problem, or THE problem to their solution? Meanwhile, you put the pieces of your puzzled life together, and find that your best friend is at the root of your suffering. Once upon a time, you two built a robot-fighting empire that became the biggest thing in the world. Superpowers like the United States, Russia, and China resolved world conflicts in your sport, but something was off. Consequently, you took the fall. Now you must rise.

Do You See the Arc?

A switch must be flipped. You have the tools at your disposal. You must design, engineer, and build your robot as minutes run out in your life. After all, you’ll need to transfer your consciousness into it! You need to become the superhero you were always meant to be, because that’s the only way you’ll stop them. You’ve dealt with self-learning artificial intelligence before, and know what challenges lie ahead. The question is: once you get to the end, will you flip the switch? Or will your journey change your destiny?

A Superhero to Save Us All

Invinciman is a modern-day folktale with universal themes that have always existed throughout time. Loyalty, betrayal, honesty, and injustice. R. T. Leone delivers an introspective adventure that sees the hero start from nothing, and work their way to the end—using environmental analysis, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making: a video game in a book. The author succeeds in intoxicating the reader with a hypnotizing story, causing them to question everything, as he ultimately pens a dazzling novel that will stand the test of time.

Are You Ready to Enter the Maze?

 Then, stop. Take your deepest breath. And…

INITIATE!

About the Author:

Ricky Tony Leone is an ultramodern author based in Toronto and best known for his debut novel, “Invinciman.” The psychological drama follows a protagonist, targeted in a mass conspiracy, who looks to rebuild himself in robotic form as the world disintegrates. Leone’s education in design and engineering has created a fusion of creative and logical thinking which informs his fable making, and allows Leone to achieve his desired innovation in the literary world.

Check out other reviews at:

Invinciman at Speedy Reader

The Corner Office by Katerina Baker

The Corner Office by Katerina Baker, 236 pages, June 23rd 2017, Genre: Contemporary Romance. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

The Corner Office is about how modern women don’t take care of ourselves and our needs the way we should. All too often, we allow our ambition and need to compete in work spaces traditionally dominated by men to run our lives. Ambition and hard work are positive values, but not if they come at the expense of everything else. If we want to have it all, we have to create balance.

Tara Johnson is a single woman trying to rise in a male-dominated office. She tries to set an example for the women in her workplace, that they can have it all and succeed. While the women perceive her as a cold, hard ice queen, they also admire her dedication and drive. Tara realizes she’s a hypocrite- she only has her work, yet here she is telling them they can have it all. By the time Tara goes against her own advice and has an affair with Aidan, her “bad boy” employee, she’s accepted there’s something missing from her otherwise accomplished life. As Tara competes with the handsome Richard for a promotion, sparks flare between them as well. Should Tara risk her promotion for personal romantic happiness? Which man is the right man for her?

I had difficulty relating to the main character at various points of the book. Tara’s mother, who requires a nurse due to gaps in her memory, is looking forward to a concert. Tara spends time planning it and is looking forward to it herself. Her mother will probably wonder why her husband isn’t there and might forget all about it afterwards, but Tara considers it important to do this with her mom. When she learns of a business trip happening at the same time, she must choose between possibly being out of the loop on the job and losing the promotion, or going ahead with plans with her mother. She chooses to take the business trip. As the women ask questions about how to be wives and mothers to their small kids while putting in twelve hour days at the office, Tara tows the company line, suggesting they get nannies or take work home with them. She tells them to never have an affair with a fellow employee while she is having an affair with someone under her command.

The sex is steamy, especially since it’s “taboo” in their workplace. The romantic relationship develops in the last half of the book. The challenges in the corporate workplace facing parents are real. It’s interesting how Tara tries to mold the women into versions of her idea of success, yet in the end, she is influenced to make changes in her own life. The writing is good. The pacing was steady. I enjoyed watching her transform into a more laid back, relaxed, happier working woman, even if I couldn’t always agree with her choices along the way.

This book can be found at The Corner Office.

Book Description:

Tara Johnson’s sacrifices are about to pay off: a senior executive at thirty-five at a Fortune 500 company, she’s one of the two finalists in line for a Managing Director position. Unfortunately, her rival of fifteen years, the charming, infuriating Richard Boyd, is just as qualified, and unlike her, he’s willing to cross pretty much every line to get what he wants.
Of all the things Tara stored in the attic to make it to the top, it’s her personal life she misses the most. That is, until she starts a steamy affair with sex god Aidan, her direct report. Interoffice relationships with a subordinate can mean the end of a career, and when Richard finds out, it’s the perfect opportunity to take his high-heeled nemesis out, especially since he’s still nursing a grudge against Tara for rejecting him years ago.
But Tara’s increasingly domineering lover has his own dark secrets, endangering more than just her career. As her liaison spirals out of control, salvation will come from the man she always thought she hated, and perhaps the only one to truly understand her.

 

Author Bio:

Katerina Baker is a lucky gal who still attempts to have it all: full-time project management job that she enjoys, crazy family of four (with the ongoing threats of getting a pet to upset the family equilibrium) and writing.

Although on some days she is much more successful at managing her life than on the others, she still claims that she doesn’t want it any other way.

Katerina is represented by Sharon Belcastro from Belcastro Agency, and has a contract with Lachesis Publishing, who will be publishing her Romantic Suspense novel Under the Scrubs.

Check out other reviews at:

The Corner Office at Just Love My Books

The Corner Office at The Loaded Shelf

Gone The Next by Ben Rehder

Save the Girl!

Gone The Next (Roy Ballard Series Book One) by Ben Rehder, 286 pages, September 15 2012, Genre: Mystery/Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

Every year, about 200,000 children are abducted in America. Seventy-eight percent are abducted by the non-custodial parent. 58,000 children were abducted last year by people who were not family members. Of those, 40 percent were murdered last year. When a child goes missing, time is crucial to recovering the child safely. As a parent, I can attest that nothing in the world is more terrifying than the thought of losing your child. Jason Voorhees? No problem. Freddy Kruger? Piece of cake. Missing kid? Parents lose a tiny bit of our minds just thinking about the possibility. If you could see inside our souls at that moment, it’d look a lot like “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, a perpetual state of frozen terror.

In this first installment of the Roy Ballard series, we follow a wise-cracking insurance fraud videographer (Roy) as he sets out to prove worker’s compensation claimants aren’t injured and are defrauding the insurance companies that provide him with lucrative pay for his services. Roy is divorced. He had a daughter from that marriage named Hannah. We’ve all done the same thing at some point- turned away for a minute. But when we look back, our child is there. Roy lost Hannah in the park one day when he turned away for a minute. The nightmare still haunts him, having shaped him. One day as he does routine surveillance on a claimant, he thinks for a moment he glimpses a famous recently missing girl standing in the man’s doorway. He hesitates, he’s unsure if the child was the missing girl. He reports it to the local police who ignore it as having no real merit. Roy continues to try to work with the police as he and his newly acquired partner Mia discover more evidence. But the police don’t want to waste time or resources unless there’s enough evidence to think it’s definite. Finding no help from the cops, Roy and Mia decide to do a little surveillance and investigating of their own. A child’s life hangs in the balance. Roy is worried time is running out to find the girl.

I enjoyed Roy’s sarcastic one liners, his feelings as a defender of women and kids, and willingness to put himself at risk for others. When he does contemplate a wrong or stupid choice, he has Mia there to set him on the right path. Mia is supportive of Roy and considers him her best friend. She’s smart, good-looking, and outspoken. Roy and Mia make a good team. There was limited, appropriate cursing. I found no issues with the grammar or spelling. The plot had a couple of interesting twists. I had to keep reading to find out if they saved the little girl. Rehder does an excellent job of evoking every parent’s worst nightmare.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a page turner for me. I look forward to reading more of Ben Rehder’s series in the future. I’d recommend this to Mystery lovers who enjoy a witty, unconventional private investigator.

This book can be found at Gone the Next by Ben Rehder .

About the Author:

Edgar Award-nominated author Ben Rehder’s novels have made best-of-the-year lists in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Field & Stream. Gone The Next is his ninth novel.

Ben Rehder is an Edgar, Shamus, and Barry Award finalist. His Blanco County comic mysteries have made best-of-the-year lists in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Field & Stream.

To receive an alert when the next Ben Rehder novel is released, sign up for Ben’s occasional newsletter at http://www.benrehder.com.

The complete Ben Rehder bibliography includes:

Buck Fever

Bone Dry

Flat Crazy

Guilt Trip

Gun Shy

Holy Moly

The Chicken Hanger

The Driving Lesson

Gone The Next

Hog Heaven

Get Busy Dying

Stag Party

Bum Steer

If I Had A Nickel

Point Taken

Book Blurb:

Meet Roy Ballard, freelance videographer with a knack for catching insurance cheats. He’s working a routine case, complete with hours of tedious surveillance, when he sees something that shakes him to the core. There, with the subject, is a little blond girl wearing a pink top and denim shorts—the same outfit worn by Tracy Turner, a six-year-old abducted the day before. When the police are skeptical of Ballard’s report—and with his history, who can blame them?—it’s the beginning of the most important case of his life.

Check out other reviews at:

Gone The Next at Gomathan

 

 

The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Thief with a heart!

 

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The Ultimatum: An International Spy Thriller (The Guardian Book 1) by Karen Robards, MIRA, 336 pages, July 13th 2017, Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense/Organized Crime. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.

Review by Leigh Holland.

“What I’m doing is trying to save a little girl and her mother, and yes, that’s worth risking my life,” says Bianca St. Ives, an international thief with a heart of gold. In this intriguing dance of crooks, cops, and killers, Robards provides us with a harder-than-diamonds heroine who’s soft in all the right places. Although her father taught her ‘the rules’, a code that ensures her survival even at the expense of others, Bianca often finds herself making ‘exceptions’.

Bianca St. Ives has been trained since childhood by her father to be a master of disguise, thief, con artist, security specialist, martial artist and part of his team. A huge heist goes horribly wrong in Bahrain, leading to an explosion that takes the life of her father. Bianca must pick up the pieces, returning to her ‘cover’ life in Savannah as the head of a her own security firm. Doc, the only surviving member of his team, returns with her and acts in the capacity of her internet and computer expert. While monitoring her father’s email, Doc and Bianca get an offer for a job directed to her dad. Bianca takes the job. When things go from bad to worse, she tries to get out of the job, to no avail, as the lives of others hang in the balance. Bianca’s journey leads her to discover more about her origins, true identity, and her family’s past. The cliffhanger ending readies the reader for the next installment in the series, leaving us wanting more.

For fans of Robards’ previous Romantic Suspense novels, this first installment may leave you feeling the romantic aspect is lacking. Bianca has steamy chemistry in her cat-and-mouse game with Mickey, but it never goes deeper. There is potential for fleshing out a deeper relationship in later books. A lot of questions about Bianca’s past remain unanswered. In this book, you’ll find a lot of descriptive spy activity, suspenseful action, and a couple of interesting twists.

I enjoyed reading this first installment and I’m anxiously looking forward to seeing where the series goes as well as finding out more about Bianca’s past. I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy strong female protagonists and criminal/suspense novels.

Amazon link: The Ultimatum by Karen Robards

Website: http://www.karenrobards.com/

Biography:

Karen Robards is a bestselling novelist from Louisville, Kentucky. She has penned over 50 published novels since 1981 and had her work translated into 17 languages. Starting off as a historical romance writer, Robards switched to Romantic Suspense. Her most recent novel, The Ultimatum, is a Spy Thriller.

Her father was an orthodontist and when she visited his work, she read his copies of Reader’s Digest. In 1973, she sold her first short story to Reader’s Digest for $100. Her first book, “Island Flame”, was the result of a graduate level writing class assignment. Not realizing she’d have to read the work to the class, she chose to write the assignment in the historical romance genre. Her first book stayed on the shelves three weeks, which was standard in those days. She took a job at an orthodontist’s office and during her lunch break, worked on her second novel bit by bit. “To Love a Man” sold to new publisher and began selling quickly. She won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award.

Check out other reviews at:

The Ultimatum at All About Romance

The Ultimatum at Publisher’s Weekly