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Garden of Bone by Scudiere

Agent Elerie Eames is on her way to New Orleans. Not on a case for the Nightshade Group, but a personal mission. Bones of a young girl has been discovered that could be that of sister Emmaline who has been kidnapped at the age of eight years old.

Garden of Bone
The Nightshade Forensic Files 6
by A. J. Scudiere
Griffyn Ink
November 2018

Elerie arrives in the French Quarters of New Orleans. She is drawn to the Mystic Vudu Shop on Rue Royal. Entering the shop, she is instantly alerted to something being off, but not quite sure exactly what. Leaving the shop, she continues to her Grandmere’s house.

Elerie continues to be drawn to the Vudu Shop. Leaving the shop one day, just wandering the streets, suddenly there is Emmaline wanting Elerie to follow her. Winding down streets and alleys, Elerie finds herself in front of a large house, open gate and a large courtyard. Unable to resist, she walks in and discovers a human bone. Putting the bone in her pocket, she turns to leave. Waking up in bed at her Grandmere’s house, Elerie is disoriented and very confused. She can’t find the bone anywhere. Did she dream the incident or had someone cast a spell on her. Her thoughts immediately turned to the lady at Mystic Vudu.

Agent Donovan was just completing at assignment in Montana. He has discovered some alarming facts. The Lobomaus arriving in New Orleans had exploded. Elerie was in danger and unaware. He changed his plans and headed to warn her. Elerie is glad to see him and explained what had been happening. They decided to find the house and investigate.

What Elerie and Donovan find is so unimaginable. The courtyard is literally covered with human bones. Could Emmaline be buried here? Will Elerie finally get the disclosure she so desperately needs?

As usual, AJ has written an excellent book. One of magic, mystery and intrigue. An on the edge of your seat and a page turner. One you will ponder long after the last page.

Loved it and highly recommend to all readers.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Strategem by Caroll

Grayson Thibodeaux and Colton York own a company called ‘Game’s On Us’. They developed games for select clients. Deets PR has hired them to design a game to see how a person would react in a certain situation. Deets has four account executives that were up for promotion and would be competing. This game would allow the company to chose the correct person for the position. Grayson’s ex-wife Anna Belle is one of the participates.

Stratagem
by Robin Caroll
Shiloh Run Press
November 2018

The group were installed in a rented house and the game had begun. Things were running smoothly until Anna Belle was found unconscious in her room. She was rushed to the hospital where she later passed away. The cause was determined to be anaphylactic shock. Anna Belle was allergic to cherry juice which somehow has gotten into her energy drink.

Detectives Brandon Gibbon and Danielle Witz of the New Orleans Police Department are assigned to the case. There is reason to believe foul play is involved and Anna Belle was murdered. Of course Grayson , the ex-husband, became the prime suspect. Detective Witz has a beef with Grayson and did everything she could to railroad him into confessing.

As the investigation continued, it became crystal clear that Grayson was innocent. Was one of the four participants guilty of this crime? Who would do this terrible thing? Will Detectives Gibbons and Witz find the guilty party?

An interesting read – full of intrigue and mystery. I recommend it to all adult readers.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Delayed Justice by Putnam

Jamie Nichols had been molested by her Uncle Dane Nichols when she was a small child. She went to law school and became criminal defense attorney so she could face her demons and bring charges against her Uncle Dane.

Delayed Justice
Hidden Justice 3
by Cara Putman
Thomas Nelson
October 2018

Dane is in the Army and had been for sometime. Shortly after Jamie had filed these charges, she learned Dane was up for promotion to become a Colonel. She had waited most of her life to make Dane pay for tearing her childhood apart. She had never told anyone what he did to her, but now she was ready to make a stand so he could never hurt anyone again.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is helping Tiffany ,a young girl who had also been molested by her mother’s boyfriend. Chandler has a therapy dog, Aslan, who is helping the child cope with what had happened to her. Chandler has asked Jamie to help in bringing the perpetrator to Justice.

Dane isn’t taking these accusations very well. He is determined to stop Jamie from destroying his career. No one messes with Dane Nichols and he will silence her no matter what he has to do.

Question: Will Jamie and Tiffany finally get Justice for their lost innocence? A very heart rendering story of two young girls whose childhood was/is being destroyed by two powerful men.

I liked the book and highly recommend it.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

The Separatists by Wiehl

Erica Sparks heads up a nightly television show called “The Erica Sparks Effect”. She is at or near the top of the ratings. But, she is becoming restless. She has plans to pitch a new proposal to the heads of CNN where she works. The new show would be called “Spotlight”.

The Separatists
A Newsmakers Novel
Lisa Wiehl
Thomas Nelson
June 2017

If the show is a go, the first program would cover Take Back Our Homeland – the largest secessionist group in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Erica gets the green light for her new program and heads for Bismarck to interview Sturges and Mary Bellamy who are very much involved with this movement. Erica has hired Leslie Burke Wilson, an expert of sorts on many subjects, as consultant on Spotlight. The Bellamy’s are pillars of the community and seem to be genuinely concerned about the growing discontent of the people in North Dakota.

Erica is very nervous about the whole interview. Something just isn’t right about the Bellamy, but she can’t quite put her finger on it. The big night arrives and she airs her first segment of Spotlight. The show is a hit, but everything seems to go down hill from there.

Eric’s husband, Greg, is drinking more and becoming way too interested in Leslie. Her teenage daughter, Jenny, is arrested for having a controlled substance. Sturges Bellamy suddenly dies of a heart attach and Mary launches a campaign to recall the Governor of North Dakota and become Governor, and Eric’s producer of Spotlight betrays her.

What a mess. What is Mary really up to and how will Take Back Our Homeland movement affect the country as a whole?

Very interesting read, but a little scary. Story is fiction, but could happen with the wrong people in control. Recommend the book to adult readers.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible

The premise of this book is to tell stories of the Bible with an emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in each of the stories. There are a couple reasons why this isn’t as successful as I would have liked.

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible
by Doris Wynbeek Rikkers
Illustrated by Fernando Juarez
ZonderKidz
September 2018

First, It is called an “Illustrated Bible” but isn’t a Bible. It is a children’s book of child-level Bible stories. Everything from Creation to Joseph to David to Jesus to Paul and finally to the child (which I thought was a really great way to end the book.) But if you are going to tell stories, rather than actually illustrate the Bible, it seems incorrect to call this a Bible. It should be upfront.

Second, the stories really stretch the participation of the Spirit and attribute to it things it may not have actually done. Look at the first story: Genesis 1. God is seen as creating (good) and then the Spirit is said to make sure that all the stars “stay in place.” I guess you could attribute the fact that all things are held together by God/Jesus and since the Holy Spirit is a part of that it is said to participate. But in Genesis you don’t have the Spirit actually doing that. In the second story, the Spirit is the one that breathes life into Adam. On the other open page (22) you actually read Gen 2:7 where is says the Lord God breathed life into the man. I don’t mean to split hairs here because God is God. But attributing things to the Spirit where the Bible doesn’t seems like a leap I wouldn’t recommend.

The art is gorgeous. I love how the Spirit is represented as wispy white smoke that curls around the characters when the Spirit takes action. I like the vast majority of the stories. And I love the ending. Not a bad book, just not what I expected.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

Fear by Woodward

I’ve been asked by several people why I would even read this book. After all, we already have two sensational, and likely self-serving, books on President Trump (that I didn’t read). We already have mainstream media’s constant attacks on the President. We already have Trump’s Twitter feed. What more can I get from this? The answer and goal I always have is the same: the truth. The question is, does this book provide the truth? I’m not sure.

Fear
by Bob Woodward
Simon & Schuster
September 2018

I did a lot of research on Woodward. The stuff he became known for is before my time: I wasn’t alive during Watergate. I was a child during Reagan and a young adult (who wasn’t paying attention) during Clinton. I wanted to make sure I was reading a “real” journalist’s account because I was tired of the sensational and self-serving. According to his press, Woodward seems like the real deal and one who may be above the squabbling and divisiveness of the current culture wars, which is important to me.

Over the last decade, our shared American culture has fractured. Social Media echo chambers reinforce and magnify myopic views that ignore the big picture, like someone taking and posting pictures of the hub caps on their beater car. The rise of citizen journalism, a good thing, has given bad actors a new platform to abuse the truth that along with the open political advocacy of publications – right and left – has worked to degrade trust in fact-based reporting. Pundits and opinion “journalists” have only made it worse as we seem to have more activist pundits than actual journalists in media and print. Bill O’Reilly may have made “the no spin zone” a popular phrase for a generation of watchers but he did so while continuing to spin himself. Everyone spins. Everyone is biased. But like the detective of old, what we really need, I think, is “just the facts, ma’am.”

In this culture of fear, suspicion, and distrust, I want to know what to believe. I’ve heard Trump give speeches. I’ve read transcripts. I know what he says and what he didn’t say (but is reported to have meant, which is dangerous to assume.) I know his voice and how he speaks. I think I know his character. What I’d like to know is if what I perceive is accurate of the President. Woodward is the best shot we have, I think, of finding that out.

But can we trust Woodward and his anonymous sources? On the plus side, we get information that we probably wouldn’t get otherwise for fear of reprisal. Anonymous sources drive most of the insider investigative reporting I’ve read or listened to. Not knowing the name of the leaker doesn’t mean it isn’t true. But on the negative side, I see several really big drawbacks, the biggest of these is if the journalist or the sources are driven by agendas. This is the one I’m most concerned with. If Woodward wanted to cash in his reputational chips, he could do a ton of damage to Trump here and maybe even justify to himself that the lies are worth it since he may believe something like “Trump is damaging the dream of America more than any terrorist attack ever could” (Joe Scarborough, published by the Washington Post on 9/11/18, the same paper that Woodward is an associate editor at and on the same day his book was released). We would never know that he was lying, if he did.

We have no assurance that the people he interviewed weren’t lying. For instance, there are scenes where we read the thoughts of people, like Lindsey Graham’s when talking to Trump. Something like, “Graham thought that [fill in the blank]…” Assuming this is actually happened, we could only know his thoughts if Graham was the source or someone who Graham told his thoughts to was the source. Graham has not been a fan of Trump and has made his feelings very clear during the 2016 campaign. Many of the stories with Graham make him out to be reasonable and willing to work with people he doesn’t like/agree with, and a few more make him look like a callous political elite who is fine with a million people dying in South Korea rather than in the US (according to one story.) Is someone trying to make Graham look a certain way? Is he? We don’t know. It is likely that many, if not most, of the people interviewed for the book no longer work at the White House (it seems likely that Bannon is a source since there are several Bannon and Trump private conversations recounted), or never did and maybe never were a fan (see Graham as an example.)

The only thing I know for sure is this: if these stories are accurate then there is a lot to be concerned about. I’m no politician, but I know NATO is one of the most important alliances in the history of humanity. I don’t get briefed by national security advisors, but I understand that strategic positioning of troops and military assets, including THADD installations, in South Korea are more important than the cost of upkeep. The list goes on. Trump’s statements, if true, are significantly more dangerous to national security than Gary Johnson’s “what is Aleppo?” comment, but in the same vein.

But what does all this mean? Joan Didion, in 1996 (New York Review of Books,) called Woodward’s reporting “political pornography.” While vulgar, it’s hard to say that this book can’t fit that description. Woodward recounts a series of stories, told by people we don’t know and we can’t know how they spun the stories according to their unknown agenda, that readers who already despise Trump will get a perverse pleasure from reading what may be true but what is certainly gossip. Others, who want to know the truth about what’s going on, will ultimately end up with a lot more information, but no more certainty.

While reading this, I was reminded once again of Proverb 18:17, “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross-examination begins.” This is Truth. Woodward’s book is… maybe true or maybe not.

My friends were right. Why did I read this book?

Hell to Pay by Chmilenko

Book 2 of Ascend Online was very different than book 1. Unlike most series, it seems that Chmilenko is focused on the world of the game (and perhaps the battle between in-game sister “gods” Order and Chaos) rather than the players.

Hell To Pay
Ascend Online 2
by Luke Chmilenko
Ætherworld Productions
April 2017

In book 2, the setting changes to the nearby (three days away) large city briefly discussed in book 1, and the goings-on of one of the Thieves Guilds and two players in the guild. It’s also more of a mystery as the story begins with our anonymous hero waking up in a torture room with a new magical sigil on his chest and his guild master dead. He doesn’t remember anything from the point that he took on a quest called The Heist. How a human player could actually have their memory wiped by the game is confusing and scary – both to the players in the story and to the reader.

Interestingly, the characters in this book never interact with the characters in book 1 – and that’s fine with me. This thriller was significantly more than the normal introductory story, allowing book 1’s explanation of the game and the world to suffice so we could jump right in to the new characters.

A down side to this Ascend Online, in terms of LitRPG, is that it seems to make no effort to tell any part of the story outside the game. So it’s simply a fantasy book with gaming stats and some pseudo third wall breaking. Even though it is much better written than The Dark Herbalist series, I find the real lives of the players to add to the main story and avoiding any consideration of that part of our main characters is a weakness so far in Ascend Online. Still, the third book is in my queue and I’m excited to jump in to it.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.

The Dark Herbalist series

Freedom’s Light by Coble

Hannah Thomas is a young lady married to John. They take care of the lighthouse on a remote stretch of the coast line in Massachusetts. It is just the beginning of the Revolutionary War and John volunteers to go fight for his new country. Hannah’s world comes crashing down when she learned John has been killed in his first battle.

Freedom’s Light
Coleen Coble
Thomas Nelson
September 2018

Hannah is determined to continue John’s duties of maintaining the lighthouse and prevent ships from wrecking on the rocks close to shore. The work is hard and the isolation and loneliness is getting to her. She convinces her father to send her young sister Lydia, who lives in the South, for a visit. This may or may not have been a good ideal. Lydia is a Torry and really enthralled by the English soldiers. Hannah is a strong Patriot.

One dark and foggy night a British ship runs aground on the rocks and there is only one survivor – Captain Birch Meredith. He is injured and Hannah takes him into her home until he is well and able to return to his duties. The Caption, of course, is a Torry which causes Hannah a great deal of concern.

Everything is going reasonably well until Lydia invites Galen Wright, an officer in the British Army, and a long time friend of the family, to visit. Hannah is furious. She had a bad experience with Galen in the past and she was afraid of him.

Question: Will Hannah survive the War and find the peace and love she so richly deserves?

Ms. Coble has written an interesting story of a little mystery, a lot of intrigue and romance. Thoroughly enjoyed Hannah’s journey and highly recommend to all readers. Coble is a masterful story teller and will keep you guessing to the very end.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Salvage by Scudiere

CJ and Walter Reed have been recruited by the Special Agent in charge of the elite Nightshade Group to become agents. The only drawback is that they must both pass the training at Quantico as partners.

Salvage
The Shadow Files #5
by A.J. Scudiere
Griffyn Ink
July 2018

Training begins and some how they manage to exist without killing each other. Walter is an ex-marine and CJ is a scientist. CJ’s grandfather is a well respected scientist. His personal lab has always intrigued CJ because of the weird bones he worked on. One secret trip to the lab revealed a body of a member of the Nightshade Group. What had her grandfather done and why is the body in his lab?

Now the trial under fire begins. CJ and Walter are pulled out of training and sent to a small town in the Ozarks. Some group of rebels are killing people in that area. They are on their own without the help of a seasoned agent. They are literally fighting for their lives.

As the evidence starts to pile up, it becomes clear that a person very close to CJ is responsible. Will she be able to do her job and bring the guilty person to justice?

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is definitely a page-turner. Highly recommend it.

This is the fifth book in the Nightshade Series. I recommend you read all five. AJ is an excellent writer and keep readers in suspense from page one to the end. One book and you will be a fan for live. Can’t wait for AJ’s next book to come out.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “an 88 year young great-grandmother and an avid reader.”

This book was provided by the publisher for review.

Salvage Trouble by Morin

From the publisher: Carl Ramsey has a starship to run. Down on his luck, struggling to pay the cost of fuel, he’s just looking for some quick, easy cash. While looting the wreck of a passenger ship, they discover that one escape pod never ejected, and the passengers are still alive. A routine salvage job turns into a rescue mission, and a good deed never goes unpunished. With two refugees aboard, Captain Carl Ramsey finds that his ship, the Mobius, has a target painted on its hull. Someone is after the new passengers, and willing to stop at nothing to get them back.

Salvage Trouble
Black Ocean #1
by J. S. Morin
Magical Scrivener Press
October 2015

My take: Interestingly, Morin calls his books, “episodes” which makes a ton of sense because each story, really novella at about 150 pages or so, are very much like what you’d expect to see on TV, especially the golden age of SyFy’s in-house shows like Lexx, Dark Matter, and Farscape. Add magic to science fiction space ship based television and this is what you’d get. And it’s not bad, but it’s also not deep.

In this story, we meet the crew, especially Captain Ramsey, as they attempt to salvage a ship that had been attacked. They thought it was empty, but it turns out that there was one escape pod left on the ship with a Barbie doll-like priestess and a teenager who may not be who he seems to be. Turns out the priestess kidnapped the teen to save him and to shed light on the genetic experiments going on at their school. The normal obstacles come up – the galactic authorities board them, hirelings attack them, and so on – until an all too quick resolution involving magic, subterfuge and quick talking by the Captain. I said “of course” in my mind so many times during that sentence. This isn’t epic, or dark, or hard science fiction. But it’s fun. So I’ll keep reading the series and see if it develops more.


Scott Asher is the Editor-in-Chief of BookGateway.com and a believer, a husband, a dad, a geek, an artist, a gamer, a teacher, a learner and tired.