“The Weight” by Hubert Crouch

TheWeightTHE WEIGHT

Hubert Crouch
Serpentine Books (2017)
ISBN 9781548323967
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/17)

Hubert Crouch’s story, “The Weight” is a traditional legal thriller with a plot that revolves around a high-powered lawyer that will do anything to save his “so-called” stellar reputation and fortune.

Cal Connors, a shady Texas prosecutor, is out to ruin Texas Matters Magazine due to an article he feels does damage to his reputation.  In the article, Leah Rosen, the author, provides detailed information on Connors attempt to have medical experts twist and rig data. Connors is on the war path to sue for millions, hoping that the action will deter the U.S. Attorney from snooping around. Rosen seeks the assistance of attorney Jace Forman to defend herself against the defamation suit.  Jace has plenty of experience against corrupt businesses and is will to turn down Connors massive retainer to do what is right by defending Rosen.

Christine Connors, who works with her father, pretends she has no clue about her father’s illegal activities. She is caught on surveillance tape entering the apartment of one of the men who gained profit from falsifying data.  When that individual is found dead, by a suspected drug overdose, Christine is willing to throw her father under the bus to save her own skin.

Crouch does an excellent job of describing sinister characters who believe they are above everyone else when it comes to the law, and can buy their way out of everything. Connors and his daughter’s colorful description as snakes will have readers loving or hating them. It reminds me of news in the last year about athletes who get away with murder due to being celebrity individuals.

The author’s background in the legal system and courts provide excellent fodder for drama, beating the system, and lawyers who go right for the jugular. Crouch provides the right amount of action–readers will find the story engaging, realistic and fast-paced.

“The Weight” by Hubert Crouch is Book 3 in his Jace Forman series. Readers who know little about how the legal system works will enjoy this action-packed story that will leave you in shock and present an eye opening experience.

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“Terror in Paris” by Dave Admire

TerrorInParisTERROR IN PARIS

Dave Admire
Three Towers Press (2017)
ISBN 9781595984869
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

“Terror in Paris” by Dave Admire is one of the most amazing, fictional stories about terrorist attacks on Americans overseas I have read.

Readers follow three criminal justice professors and students to France to learn more about the French criminal justice system. Two days after arriving the group is caught up in a horrific attack by extremist Muslims to bring France to its knees.

Admire’s skill in utilizing his knowledge about terrorists, their love of torture, power, and control adds suspense and danger for not only the American group, but for all living in France. The Muslims are seeking revenge on those whom they feel have slighted their beliefs, religion, and have continually persecuted them. Like events today, some groups feel they are cheated out of jobs, education, and often feel many have not given the respect they deserve due to ancestors being held as slaves or killed due to their religion.

Many times, I can feel authors focus on terrorist’s tactics, propaganda and governmental control issues, or denial of problems. Admire focuses on the resilience of individuals, survival, strength of friendship, and accomplishing what needs to be done, regardless of the risk, in order to help others.

Admire has an excellent ability to transport readers into a situation where they feel like they are right in the situation. Instead of being an armchair analyst, one is fighting for their life, trying to figure out how the world became this demented, and will look death in the eyes.  Each of the characters is developed in such a way they become your neighbors, friends or loved ones. The dialogue is genuine, heart-pounding and very plausible.

The author was very insightful in presenting varied points of view from each faction, and for me, that was quite refreshing.

“Terror in Paris” by Dave Admire is one read that will capture your attention from the very first page, your heart will pound, you will fear for your life, and you won’t be able to put this book down.

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“The Master Hacker” by Steve Burkart

TheMasterHackerTHE MASTER HACKER

Steve Burkart
Outskirts Press (2017)
ISBN 9781478786719
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (08/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Master Hacker’ by Steve Burkart on Blogcritics.

“The Master Hacker” by Steve Burkart is a whirlwind spy thriller that takes readers to the heights of technological intelligence and covert operations in an intense struggle for world peace.

John Darque and his team, a covert troop in charge of maintaining the power balance in world, will need every resource available to determine the cause of an international incident –the sudden crash of a Chinese aircraft attempting to land at a military base in North Korea.

SunHee Nham, a North Korean computer scientist working for the Chinese government, flees the constrictions of her life in China for the freedom offered in the United States.  Though she doesn’t regret her decision to leave China, she is aware that her freedom will be short-lived because she knows too much. SunHee is plagued by the hardships suffered by her countrymen in North Korea and will do whatever she can to change the status quo.

The unlikely duo of Darque and SunHee, join forces and work together, albeit reluctantly, each with their own agenda.  Each must consider at what point the stakes become too high.

I really enjoyed “The Master Hacker.”  It is energetic and thorough without being bogged down with overwhelming technical jargon.  The story shines in the details of the covert operations and the advances made in technology.  It’s frightening to think that the technological developments described in the story could ever be true; it certainly made me take pause. The author served 22 years in the military, most of his career as a counter-intelligence agent during the Cold War, and his expertise is clearly displayed in the intricate portrayal of events.

While the storyline was realistic and engaging, I personally would like to have seen greater focus on some of the characters.  Though outwardly authentic and typical to the genre, I found myself yearning for a deeper connection with the characters, which would have generated a greater interest in their cause. Perhaps readers learned more about protagonist John Darque in Burkart’s first novel, “The Orchestration.” As well, some of the nicknames held by certain characters caused a few eye rolls – Glitch, Yoda, Bugs, etc., but I found the reasoning behind the names quite entertaining.

Overall, I found “The Master Hacker” by Steve Burkart to be a highly entertaining espionage thriller with lots of action, and a major plot twist I never saw coming.

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“Getting Off On Frank Sinatra” by Megan Edwards

GettingOffOnFrankSinatraGETTING OFF ON FRANK SINATRA

Megan Edwards
Imbrifex Books (2017)
ISBN 9780997236903
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

“Getting Off On Frank Sinatra” by Megan Edwards presents readers with a spunky character, Copper Black, a young journalist who is very entertaining and unpredictable, and involves herself in situations she can’t get out of. Her life is full of ex-boyfriends who continue to involve Copper in their drama. During the research stages on a story about a private school, Copper finds the body of the high profile founder and suddenly finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

The setting of the story, in fast-paced Las Vegas, is an excellent choice for this mystery/thriller, considering the tendencies toward loose living, crime, love gone bad, and people who live on the edge.

Edward’s plot includes a wide variety of characters and quite a number of individuals to keep track of through the constant action.  I found Copper to be funny, yet ditzy in her choices and decisions. She is an individual who lives by the law and trusts many people, believing as she does that they have the best interests of others in mind. The characters she involves herself with are talented students involved in charitable works and they have many hidden secrets. Copper reminds me of my daughter in that she is trusting and gives everyone the benefit of doubt, yet is often used by others for their own gain.

I did find it interesting that Copper finds herself in a situation where having just met some important individuals, they are murdered. The author gives one leeway in how to interpret that and therefore you become part of the mystery. The suspense around each situation in interesting, in that just when you think you have it solved, something else pops up.

Edward’s writing is interesting in that one can identify with the main character, yet have enough mystery and suspense readers will want to continue to unravel the mystery.  An enjoyable read, characters are easy to like and one wants to take Copper under their wings and guide her along.

If you like learning more about Las Vegas life, individuals who can’t make decisions and continually make wrong choices then you will enjoy “Getting Off On Frank Sinatra” by Megan Edwards. I imagine that my military family background tends to make me frustrated with helpless, non-planning individuals.

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“Never Summer” by Tim Blaine

NeverSummerNEVER SUMMER

Tim Blaine
Harvard Square Editions (2017)
ISBN 9781941861356
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

“Never Summer” by Tim Blaine was quite an interesting read in that it was a different type of story for me.

After a long stay in Japan, Vlad D’Agnosino learns he has tuberculosis, and finds himself in New York City seeking the help of a doctor in Colorado, who feels the mountain air will help him. Vlad, knowing that eventually the consumption will end his life, chooses to at least see how it works. As Vlad begins to learn more about the treatment and how it will impact him, he meets a variety of individuals who add their thoughts. Vlad is a very unusual man and finds he is at odds with his family, and actions that have impacted his life.

I found the story interesting in that the main character is seeking many answers in his life about his past and future, and rather than just wait to die he must make choices about living in the present. Blaine provides an excellent read, which has a great philosophical view and is filled with corruption, brothels, and gang threats.  I find it interesting Madame LaGrange protects the women who work for her, and at the same time, she is funding the sheriff who many believe to be corrupt.

Easy to read, compelling, and covers many areas, it was interesting to see the many lives impacted by what has happened in the past, and some must suffer for it. Blaine’s writing is eastern philosophy combined with western action. There are very few authors that can connect this type of story that keeps reader’s interest.

Many individuals with a deadly illness attempt to make right from all their wrongs. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I like the fact that Blaine had his main character choose not to focus on his past, but to live life as he should and accept that no one should be harmed by those who use them.

If you like a read that has a good flow, with relatable characters that cause you to try to determine what you would do in situations like those Vlad encountered, you will love “Never Summer” by Tim Blaine.

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“Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff

StainerSTAINER

Iolanthe Woulff
CreateSpace (2017)
ISBN 9781546647126
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (8/17)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Stainer’ by Iolanthe Woulff on Blogcritics.

“Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff is a flashback to times in the 70’s when young adults were looking to find themselves and be cool, yet still observe religious traditions.

Ben Steiner, a college undergraduate, lives in a communal house for Jewish students. He loves the atmosphere, customs, and peers who have the same beliefs as he does.  Ben wants more from life however, and on his 21st birthday, he fights his strict religious beliefs and meets up with individuals who introduce him to the dark side of friendship, and how we often self-sabotage our religion and beliefs in order to be accepted by others.

Woulff does a fantastic job of describing life in the 70’s as a young adult trying to come to terms with following cultural expectations of the Jewish community, wanting to be popular, the loss of virginity, and testing the laws of freedom. It is only human nature to want to spread your wings, test the waters, and sometimes push the envelope as one grows as a young adult.

Growing up in the 70’s, Woulff’s interpretation of the era was a trip down memory lane for me. The speech, fashion, and quest to be popular were among the common themes of some friends I knew in college, who jeopardized their own convictions. Not having much knowledge of LGBT issues during that time, I have since learned much. I believe that Woulff’s writing on the issues of sabotage and being used by so called friends or groups still hold true today.

I loved the preface of the author’s journey as a transgender writer. Starting out as Nate in 1978 and finally publishing this novel as a thirty-nine-year-old transgender female, Woulff provides great insight into how perspectives change. Remembering the issues and the avoidance of individuals who came out during that era, today’s society still has issues, but hopefully we have become more knowledgeable and accepting of people for who they are.

As an avid reader and book reviewer, it wasn’t too many years ago I would not have even considered books about LGBT topics. Since then I have met many wonderful friends and authors who have shared their experiences on this subject. Sadly some of those individuals were not accepted by family or colleagues as their true person.

I highly recommend “Stainer” by Iolanthe Woulff.  An emotional, insightful read, I loved Woulff’s passion, the changes one makes to find “themselves,” and the belief that “the grass is greener on the other side.”

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“No Reply” by Pamela Sampson

NoReplyNO REPLY: A JEWISH CHILD ABOARD THE MS ST. LOUIS AND THE ORDEAL THAT FOLLOWED

Pamela Sampson
Pamela Sampson (2017)
ISBN 9780692812693
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (7/17)

“No Reply” by Pamela Sampson is the emotional and historical memoir of Henry Gallant and his family’s survival of the Holocaust aboard the MS St. Louis in 1939. There have been many books written on the persecution of the Jewish people during Hitler’s terror. However, very few have been written about the impact on children and the refusal of many countries to provide a safe refuge.

Sampson met Henry in 2014 at the 75th Anniversary of the MS St. Louis. Given that many refuse to accept the torture, and death of so many individuals, Sampson felt this story needed to be told.  Many who have read or studied facts about the Holocaust still refuse to accept the facts, and there are continued debates over it today. Henry shares memories of his experience through the eyes of a 10-year-old to Pamela Sampson. Sampson writes a very emotional story about Gallant’s survival and historical facts about the Holocaust. I have read many facts on concentration camps, Hitler’s medical experiments on the Jewish people, but very few books address the impact on children and survival.

“No Reply” is a heartbreaking journey of 900 German-Jews on the MS St Louis, hoping to enter Cuba so they could eventually apply for immigration into the United States. Little did these individuals know that after paying exorbitant fees to the Nazis and anti-Semitic countries, their visas were not valid. Having no choice, the Captain of the ship sailed toward Florida hoping they would be allowed to enter.

I was very stunned to learn that FDR refused to deny entry into the United States. Avoiding all pleas and safety concerns for passengers, the White House stated visas must be valid, and all passengers would have to get in line for acceptance and admittance, just like all others wanting entry into the country. Having lived in Germany, we visited the Holocaust Museum and concentration camps, and it breaks my heart that people are so hated by others. If we ask or talk to some of our German friends, they say, “It never happened.”

“No Reply” by Pamela Sampson is an excellent 95-page history that is very informative, a tribute to all who survived or lost loved ones during WW2. Regardless of denial about these events, a fact is fact.

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