Grand Masquerade

Grand Masquerade Born Publishing copyright and written by Stephen C. Perkins.

Setting: The setting for the story is the small town of Rupert, Vermont with its surrounding farmland and dense forests. The town is small but seemingly prosperous with well-run stores and farms with a particularly large dairy that also provides a far better than to be expected Bed & Breakfast that also includes a series of well positioned hunting blinds for those who like especially to hunt deer.

Characters: Outsiders that include a man running for President of the United States; the owner of a technological company that is ‘taking over’ the technology sector of the world by his company’s cutting edge advances; his spoiled well-educated but play-boy son; his long-standing and trusted CFO; his Chinese chief designer; a few lesser characters. Insiders are composed of a sizeable number of residents of Rupert that include the owners of the Dairy/B&B/hunting complex; several of their children; city residents and prominently one daughter of one of the wealthiest; the Sheriff and his Daughter who is somewhat of a ‘bulldog’ investigator; a doctor who is gaining an increasing position of renown as a healer who uses non-invasive techniques. A third set of characters, ‘the Others’, seemingly existing as those of legend and not really existing except as the after results of some form of horrendous activity. Legend has it that they exist because of an unholy alliance they had reached with certain residents of Rupert many years ago.

Plot: The book opens with a gruesome attack on a young boy riding his motorcycle in the dense woods followed by his disappearance. The local Sheriff provides a seemingly plausible reason but the State Police Officers decide to investigate further. They reportedly are attacked of several bears with disastrous results. From this point the reader is taken into a world of political machinations interwoven with the equally corrupt life of business with off shore hidden accounts, deceased individuals who are not dead but living and getting paid as another, and dishonesty, distrust, betrayal, deceit, and treachery rampant. All of these activities gradually interweaving with features concerning the legendary “Others”.

Discussion: The author has set forth a quite intriguing mixture of politics, unprincipled business tactics, personal greed, lack of morality, seeming lack of ability to have any semblance of deep affection all overshadowed by a mystically malignant power in which it is enveloped. A quite intriguing horror (?) story highly recommended.

5* Highly recommended multi-genre/suspense tale.

The Time Before the Moon

The TIME before the MOON ISBN: 9781718974470 published, copyright and written by Kameron Williams.

In a time of the early beginning of man, the reader is introduced to Omi, a young man living in a small group of hunter/gatherers. The enclave is ruled by an elderly Seer who has contact with the gods and dictates all activities purportedly as they direct. He lives in a somewhat elevated area of the gathered dwellings in a sacred temple. The building, seemingly from an even more ancient period is supported by large stone columns decorated with ancient hieroglyphics. The building also serves as the home of the most beautiful young women of the village, selected by the Seer as the vestal virgins. The rules of living within the group are numerous and strict. Among them are a dictate where each resident must report periodically to the Seer at a set time; marriages are arranged by the Seer and announced only after he has made the partner selection but they are not notified of being selected until the day before, nor do they know who their partner will be until they are revealed to the couple themselves as well as their families and the community at a nighttime firelight ceremony. Even flint for the weapons they needed to survive were obtained from flint forays where the contestants needed to wait to be called to participate in attempting to find the better pieces that could be properly knapped into suitable weapons. The forays including not only finding the flint but then successfully retaining it against the onslaught of other foragers. Then they were expected to give their first real find as a gift to the Seer. The story develops as Omi finds a particularly valuable piece of Flint while unexpectedly discovering a number of unusual aspects of the Seer’s rules and their interpretation that lead him into striking out by himself in an attempt to establish an entirely new way of life. The story of his trip, its trials, effects on family, friends and enemies is the substance of the book and further description would be a disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The author has provided characters with whom the reader can equate in a nicely paced tale that follows the often provided good versus evil plot, this time placed in a simple fantasy situation. It is an unsophisticated tale that offers a pleasurable ‘feel good’ sensation seemingly seldom encountered in these days of constant stress and activity. A time of almost chaotic political- health-social-financial crises that appear to be dictating every aspect of today’s individual thought patterns and parenthetically even seem contributory to the large number of books being published that dwell on depressing thoughts and matters.

5* Unsophisticated tale, seemingly pleasurable beyond modern thought patterns.

Slater’s Vendetta

Slater’s Vendetta Book 4 of 4 in the Slater Mystery series, assumed published, copyright and written by T. J. Jones.

Eric Slater again is the protagonist. He is a quite sizeable, muscular but remarkably supple, relatively handsome guy with a good sense of humor, honor and a huge heart. He is a former Marine with Special Operations as well as Military Police training. In this volume he again is functioning in a couple of his ‘jack-of-all-trades’ roles. He is performing in his PI job investigating a couple of identity authenticity cases, while supervising his construction workers remodeling the homes he then turns over to his real estate agent to sell. The situation becomes totally muddled quite quickly, however. A quite vicious gang begins to invade the neighborhood, he makes friends with a young boy roaming the streets at night. He learns why and decides to do something about it. His PI, building business and live-in partner, lovely but Black Belt qualified Maggie, agrees since she also has a couple of similar friends resultant of the same ‘soft-heart syndrome’. All components of the situations escalate when their real estate agent is murdered with a tool belonging to Slater, causing him, as well as Maggie, to be suspects. Members of the agency he employs, as well as of the company for which he is remodeling houses also become ‘persons of interest’ and one is charged with the murder.

Discussion: This book is another written by an author whose growing number of books invade Mystery, Romance and Fantasy genres. His forte appears to be in producing well-portrayed individuals in character driven plots. The protagonists here are appealing on many levels with abundantly soft hearts. The results are positive and the reader enjoys inclusion of an interesting mystery/detective story within an often amusing modern romance that maintains some of the old, solid components.

5* Mystery/detective/romance highly recommended as described.

On the Backs of Waves

On the Backs of Waves ISBN: 9781076836984 Kindle direct publishing copyright and written by Chiara Kelly.

This book encompasses the strong emotions of several persons caught in life’s situations originating from basic physical emotions embodied within that are at war with seemingly equally powerful, more mentally based, self-fulfillment desires. Moriah, a former feature writer for a prominent New York magazine had downgraded to retain a part-time position when she married Miles, a struggling cartoonist. The union was highly satisfying and within a couple of years, she became mother to a son followed 2 years later by an adorable daughter. During this period, Miles had become a highly successful syndicated cartoonist and they had arrived at ‘the good life’ and were living in the Half Moon Bay community on the eastern shore. Unfortunately, Moriah now became acutely aware of her mundane activities as a dedicated mother and started to be a little resentful of her only part time mental activity producing material for her old employer. Thus, when a vacancy opened in her old office and her former boss thought she would be the perfect person to fill, she felt that she just had to accept the offer. During the discussion with Miles, she uttered her resentment that she had been the one in the family who had, of necessity, made all of the changes in her work life. Miles out of fairness but with some quiet reservations, agreed to her return to her earlier position and they began the search for a Nanny. Through neighbors, they found Laurel Mackintosh who was their Nanny but who would be available because they were moving away. Laura is a former Marine who had two children when raped by a Sargent who refused to marry her before being shipped to another assignment. Before delivering, she began hemorrhaging and the uterus had to be removed to save her. As fate would dictate, Virgil, the supportive medic who had assisted, later became a sailing instructor at the Yacht Basin where the Reeds and the other couple lived and a relationship was reestablished. From this somewhat entangling set of circumstances, a web of activity evolves where revelation of further details would be a definite disservice to the prospective reader.

Discussion: The actual story behind this book and the poignancy it generates is, at least for this reader, as fascinating as the tale itself. It is written by a former Marine, now married and living in Seoul, Korea with her thoughtful and supportive husband and their three sons. Most appealingly, perhaps, are in the short biographical details at the book’s conclusion where she offers: “And although unconventional, I want to thank my characters, through whom I was able to, in a sense, live vicariously through their diverse array of achievements, victories, loves, and losses. Some of which, I still long to realize myself.” She further expresses why she is grateful for each of her characters activities and especially she thanks “Laurel, as a fellow female Marine and Depression and PTSD survivor, whose loss and longing gave me a greater appreciation for my three sons, whom at times, I not only took for granted, but craved time away from in the quest for my own sanity.” Before even the book’s Prologue she has provided a most compelling description of the book’s story and combined with the short capsule of her life at the end of the story, produce a most memorable thought producing book. The opening quotes are Vincent Van Gogh’s “The heart of man is very much like the sea. It has its storms, it has its tides, And in its depths it has its pearls, too” which then are followed by the author’s dedication: “For my children, for whom no sacrifice is too great.” The two combined are predictive of the story that follows.

5* Absorbing, as explained in the discussion.

Apollo’s Raven

Apollo’s Raven ISBN: 9781647040543 Apollo Raven Publisher copyright and written by Linnea Tanner.

This Book One in the Curse of the Clansmen and Kings Series is a novel “based on historical fantasy and mythology of the southeast Celtic tribes” of Britannia beginning in the days just prior to the Roman invasion in 43 A.D. It is the time when the Gods were many and each culture embraced its own. Apollo was the powerful Sun God totally embraced by the Romans and their powerful legions, although seemingly he received some degree of respect by the Celts but mostly they, and their heavily muscled fierce warriors, embraced several others arising from legends stemming from Ireland and Wales with extensive belief in mysticism as conjured up by the Druids. The book opens in this period when Rome’s emperor is making exploratory moves before deciding whether to invade the islands.

The protagonists are Celtic princess Catrin, youngest daughter of Amren, king of one of the tribes and Marcellus, son of the pompous Roman Senator who is exploring whether to support Amren or Cunoblin, an adjoining powerful Ruler, if the Emperor decides to invade. Complications are numerous in that the latter had arranged a marriage between a daughter and Marrock, Amren’s oldest son whom he had banished from his country for treasonous activity. He believed that, perhaps with Rome’s help, he could arrange to replace Amren by restoring him to his ex-father’s position. Marrock was aligned with Agrona, the Druid Priestess whom Amren trusted but who secretly was working to gain control of the kingdom. Rhiannon, Armen’s second wife did not trust Agrona but deferred to her husband’s decision to put her second in command after herself. From this complicated beginning, even greater confusion emerges from rampant distrust and intertwining acts of deceit, deception, treachery and betrayal and the appearance of shapeshifters and abundant other mystical activity.

Discussion: Spinning this tale and its subsequent volumes no doubt has been, and will continue to be, a difficult task. “The Celts left almost no written records. Historical events had to be supplanted by Greek and Roman historians and medieval writers who spun Celtic mythology into their Christian beliefs, Archaeological findings from this time period also help fill in the gaps.” Under the circumstances the author has done a quite remarkable job of creating a very suspenseful historical/mythical/romance of considerable proportions. It is a story that will fascinate devotees of these several genres.

5* Suspenseful historical/mythical/romance devotees will thoroughly enjoy.

The SHEEP RISE UP

The Sheep Rise UP ISBN: 9781481716444, Author House, a novel copyright and written by Mitchell Graye.

Kristen O’Hara, General Counsel for successful Enterprise Company is informed by Peter Preston, the President, that they are having both short and long-term financial problems that will necessitate severe restrictions on salaries as well as declaration of regular dividends to the stockholders. He also, in his usually overbearing manner, attempts to coerce her into issuing a supportive statement of this need that she realizes is not true. Her handling of this difficult ethical problem obviously places her in a precarious position. The results of refusing the request could place a strain on her finances as a single mother with a daughter in college as well as her other usual expenses. Compliance no doubt would severely damage her long-term career and financial security. She decides that ethically she must, and does refuse his request. Upon her refusal, he attempts to initiate a campaign that casts her in position of being at fault. He is aided in his activities by Richard Axel, the company’s V-P who is part of Preston’s plans. Upon appearance of an article in the WSJ of the company’s rumored problems, Frank Atwater, partner in a prestigious law firm, calls. He had been her mentor as well as boss, helping her with her career until she had left for the position with Enterprise. After a few meetings she tells Frank what has happened and with help from a retired, unusual PI whom Frank had known for years, begins to reveal a complicated series of activities that include establishment of unlisted deposits on the other side of the country as well as others offshore, interspersed with setting up a number of subsidiary companies as well as employment of a clandestinely well-known assassin. With assembly of a congressional SEC hearing, the fraudulent activity is demonstrated to include a number of others involved in this matter of fraudulent activity that entailed a total of several billion dollars.

Discussion: The author has set forth a surprisingly engrossing tale that is more than just a story of fraudulent activity within a large company. The basic plot and accompanying activity of such deviousness is knowledgeably well presented, BUT it is captivatingly enclosed within a rapidly paced, suspenseful thriller. Highly recommended.

5* Fast-paced, knowledgeably written, fraudulent security tale within a suspenseful thriller.