Monday, January 26, 2015

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

The First Phone Call From Heaven: A Novel

My thoughts
Imagine you can reived calls from Heaven. What would your reaction be? What would the world’s reaction be? This is what happens in the latest book by Mitch Albom. People in one small town start getting these phone calls from their loved ones who are all deceased. Is it real or is it a hoax? An interesting concept and this story will be enjoyed by the author’s fans, but I found it to be just okay. The writing wasn’t his best nor is the message or characters all that interesting. But I did like the little bits about the Alexandra Graham Bell and the incention of the telephone he added.

Book Description
The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief—and a page-turner that will touch your soul—Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Unforgivable Fix by T.E. Woods

The Unforgivable Fix: A Justice Novel

My thoughts
This is the third story in a series involving the Fixer (Lydia Corriger) and Detective Mort Grant. Mort is the only one who knows Lydia’s true indemnity. Although, now she is resume her therapy practice and take sin new patients and an intern. Mort’s long-lost daughter Allie has come back home to hid from her drug lord boyfriend and/or the Russian mobster who is out for revenge. Mort feels that Lydia is the only one who can protect Allie and wants her to hide out with her. Neither Lydia nor Allie like one another and are soon butting heads while Mort is trying to apprehend her lover. Meanwhile Lydia’s intern has an agenda all his own.

Yes, you should read the first two novels to get to know more about Mort and Lydia I read the second one), and as with that one, this is a fast paced, though provoking, action packed thriller that I could put down. I like Mort, his daughter Allie not so much and we see a somewhat tender side of Lydia. Very enjoyable read for a long train ride home.

Book Description
The killer won’t come for you, you fool. He’ll come for me.

Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle PD has finally decided to sell. The home where he and his late wife raised two kids feels too large and too full of old memories. His son is married and raising a family of his own, and despite desperate efforts to find her, Mort has lost touch with his wayward daughter. That is, until the day she walks back into her childhood home and begs for his help.

For the last four years, Allie Grant has been the lover—and confidante, confessor, and counselor—of one of the world’s most powerful and deadly men. But a sudden, rash move has put Allie in the crosshairs of a ruthless Russian crime lord. Mort knows of only one place where Allie will be safe: with The Fixer.

As a hired desperado, The Fixer has killed twenty-three people—and Mort was complicit in her escape from the law. She has built an impregnable house, stocked it with state-of-the-art gear, armed it to the teeth, and locked herself away from the world. But even The Fixer may not be able to get justice for Allie when real evil comes knocking.

Disclosure: I received this book for review through netgalley.com. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stonewood Tavern, Byram Township, NJ

I always like to try new restaurants and our town needs new restaurants as we’ve seen so many go out of business in the years we lived here. The Stonewood Tavern (sorry no website, just a Facebook page), opened this past December. We should have waited until they work out the kinks. There was no formal grand opening; just one day there they were. My wife and I in one weekday evening and were greeted by two hostesses. They told us where our friend was seated and to the booth we went. The waitress was courteous but was still learning the menu (and even quipped that she worked elsewhere and confused the two menus). The manager or owner stopped by the table a few times which was a nice touch.

But the food was not outstanding. Although, the chili nachos were enormous and I couldn’t it all, the grilled cheese short rib sandwich was more a short rib sandwich with cheese. And yes it was grilled, but I would have preferred more cheese less short rib. It came with a choice of fries or salad. I ordered the salad. Guess what I got? The fries! Our fired ordered the rib eye burger but with no cheese and added onions. She got both. But the worst of the night was the dessert. Oh, they looked delicious; especially the Apple Crisp but when my wife pulled a long strand of hair from it, she was far from pleased.

Prices were reasonable. Decor was the same from the previous restaurant at this location. Service was spotty. It was neither crowded nor busy, but the waitress didn’t come around to see how things were or to fill our drinks. She did get me my salad, and had the manager take off the desserts from our check. When we left, the two hostesses were so into their personal conversation, they didn’t acknowledge us as we passed them to the exit.

Great food and great service is the key to a great restaurant. And I sure hope they get their act together.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The After House by Michael Phillip Cash

The After House

My thoughts
Remy and her daughter move into an old house that is haunted by a fisherman that mourns the loss of his own family. Is he out to scare the life out of them or help them? The author enjoys writing about ghosts and the haunted mansions of Long Island and I found this one similar to his previous stores. But this one isn’t really a ghost story (not scary) but more of a love story. It was okay but lacks substance.

Book Description
Remy Galway and her daughter Olivia are rebuilding their life after a failed marriage in a 300 year old cottage in historic Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Little do they know, another occupant is lurking in the haven of their own home? Will the After House be their shelter or their tomb?

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the author. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dark Spies by Matthew Dunn

Dark Spies: A Spycatcher Novel

My thoughts
This is the fourth in the Will Cochrane spy series and as thrilling as the previous stories. Cochrane is part of a mission that fails and becomes wanted himself and he has to keep himself alive long enough to find out what the hell is going on.

The author, a former MI6 field officer, uses his experiences to produce a very fast paced exciting thriller. If you are looking for an exhilarating read and not concerned about realistic situations, this is one to do it. I do suggest reading the others in the series so you know who the characters are though.

Book Description
On the run from the CIA, intelligence operative Will Cochrane heads to the United States to uncover a diabolical spymaster at the center of an international conspiracy in this thrilling follow-up to Slingshot

Will Cochrane crouches on a hilltop, assembling his sniper rifle. He's still thinking about being removed from his mission tracking the terrorist financier Cobalt. Instead, he's been sent to babysit a CIA operative and her asset in Norway, a routine assignment far below the skill level of the only agent to earn the code name Spartan. But as he scans the vista before him, he sees something that's just not possible, an eminent Russian spymaster--code-named Antaeus--whom Will is sure he killed three years ago. . . .

Will reports to Langley immediately and the response is emphatic: Antaeus Must Not Be Touched. Further Inquiries Require Project Ferryman Clearance. Almost as soon as he hears this, Will sees Antaeus's men execute the asset Will was sent to protect, and Will decides to take a shot at the spymaster, knowing it will make him a marked man. Will manages to kill the attackers and save the CIA operative, but the elusive spymaster slips from his grasp, and both the CIA and MI6 tell him to surrender for disobeying orders.

Now the only way to save his career--and his life--is to get into the U.S. and expose the truth about Project Ferryman. But to accomplish this Will has to outmaneuver four deadly Russian assassins and an elite FBI team controlled by officials who will stop at nothing to keep their sins and secrets safe.

Disclosure: I received this book for review through goodreads.com. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Friday, January 16, 2015

STIGA Pure Color Advance Table Tennis Racket

I love to play ping pong (or table tennis) and we had a table for a long time but it was old and finally fell apart. I also used to play my daughter when she came to visit. Now those times are gone, but I received this racket to review from Amazon Vine, and it’s great. Just my color too! Now I just have to set up a match with my daughter somewhere!

Here’s my original Amazon review:
This paddle is easy to grip and easy to play with. It doesn’t have the bumps on the paddle that other paddles do, so I don’t know if that it makes it better; but I found it be easier to control where I direct the ball. I also love the color!

Check it out on Amazon here:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Doghouse: A Gin & Tonic Mystery by L.A. Kornetsky

Doghouse (A Gin & Tonic Mystery)

My thoughts
Although not a licensed private investigator, Ginny Mallard loves to help people. This time around, with her bartender friend, Teddy Tonica, they investigate the accusations that a friend of a friend has been promoting dog fights in his basement.

I haven’t read the first tow but this is a standalone story that I found fun; especially when it involved the dog and cat and how they help in the investigation and ‘talk’ to on another. The relationship between Ginny and Teddy is well developed. The mystery is okay; and is not clean cut and solved easily but more realistic then some other stories. Overall, it’s an amusing and enjoyable read.

Book Description
Even though she’s unlicensed as an investigator, the infamously nosy Ginny Mallard has begun to make a name for herself as an unofficial champion of the tongue-tied. When a mysterious stranger comes to her with landlord trouble, she convinces her bartender friend Teddy Tonica to help her once more. Soon, they realize they might have got themselves tied up in an underground dogfighting ring. With the help of Ginny’s pet shar-pei puppy and Tonica’s tabby cat, they have to figure out what’s going on before someone else gets hurt. Will twelve legs really be better than four?

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Wildfire: Volume 1 by Matt Hawkins and Linda Sejic

Wildfire Volume 1

My thoughts
As the world become overpopulated, food supplies are dwindling and scientists are exploring ways to genetically speed the rate food can grow. Unfortunately, one experiment goes awry and Los Angles is soon engulfed in quickly growing plant life and a scared human population.

It likes reading a storyboard of the infamous 70s disaster movies and I loved it. The artwork was superb and the story was interesting enough to enjoy. The author certainly has a strong point of view about GMOs and it shows. But get passed that, it was entertaining. After the story, there is a ‘science lesson’ on the pros and cons of GMOs which gives one food for thought.

Book Description
Is genetically modified food an end to world hunger - or a first class ticket to the apocalypse? Dan Miller is a plant biologist working with a small team perfecting an accelerated plant growth process. When things go wrong, Los Angeles pays the price in a disaster story unlike any before!

Disclosure: I received this book for review through netgalley.com. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Monday, January 05, 2015

Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman

Murder 101: A Decker/Lazarus Novel (Decker/Lazarus Novels)

My thoughts
It’s always nice to see characters develop over time in a series of novels. And this one takes the Decker family away from California and they are now living in upstate New York. Talk about displacement. Decker is still working; now for the Greenbury Police Department and is partnered with a rookie with a chip a chip on his shoulder. When Tiffany glass panes are stolen from a cemetery crypt, Decker and his partner investigate. Then people are being murdered and Decker must use everything in his arsenal to find out why and who.

Changing the location for a cast of characters they this reader has come to enjoy makes one think that new surprises are in store. This novel doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t one of the best in the series.

Book Description
As a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, Peter Decker witnessed enough ugliness and chaos for a lifetime. Now, he and his devoted wife Rena Lazarus are ready to enjoy the quiet beauty of upstate New York, where they can be closer to their four adult children and their foster son.

But working for the Greenbury Police department isn’t as fulfilling as Decker hoped. While Rina has adapted beautifully to their new surroundings, Decker is underwhelmed and frustrated by his new partner, Tyler McAdams, a former Harvard student and young buck with a bad ‘tude. Just when he thinks he’s made a mistake, Decker is called to his first real crime here—a possible break-in at the local cemetery.

At first, it seems like a false alarm until it’s discovered that a mausoleum’s stunning Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then, a coed at one of the exclusive local colleges is brutally murdered. Poking into the hallowed halls of academia to find a killer, Decker and McAdams are drawn deep into a web of dark secrets, cold case crimes, international intrigue, and ruthless people who kill for sport.

Suddenly, the job is anything but boring. This case just might be too much to handle and Decker will have to draw on every ounce of experience that he has garnered in the past thirty years as a Homicide cop. And then again, even that might not be enough!

Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


Saturday, January 03, 2015

Tantric Coconuts by Gregory D. Kincaid

Tantric Coconuts

My thoughts
After the death of his grandfather, Ted Day takes his dog Argo, leaves Kansas to go on a much needed vacation. Meanwhile, Angel Two Sparrow, who has inherited her Aunt’s bookmobile, travels with her wolf in her newly created vocation as a spiritual consultant. And then they meet through an automobile accident. Together they go on a journey not only physically but spiritually.

Some may say that this is a religious story, but it is a story of self-actualization. Not only does Ted want answers that Angel may or may not be able to provide, they both and the reader learns how to find and help themselves. It was a cute story and helpful without being preachy. I found it fun and thought provoking..

Book Description
Free spirit Angel Two Sparrow—artist and musician extraordinaire—is having trouble making ends meet. On the verge of desperation, she inherits her crazy Aunt Lilly’s bookmobile and half-wolf named No Barks, and dreams up yet another life plan. Painting her business card on the side of the van, Angel and her trusty companion set off on a pilgrimage across America hoping to jump-start her new profession: Native American Spiritual Consultant.

Traveling in the other direction, Ted Day and his trusty Irish Terrier-mix Argo are on a much needed vacation (and in need of spiritual nourishment). When he leaves Kansas, Ted can’t image how far from his sleepy law office that old silver and black Winnebago 32RQ Chieftain will take him.

Two lives (four if you count the canines) collide (literally). Once the dust settles, Ted and Angel find themselves enamored. Sensing that something bigger and more profound has been set in motion, the couple embarks on a wild road trip, detouring into some rarely traveled corridors of the human soul. Very soon, it becomes clear that nothing will ever be the same for these travelers, their dogs, and, heck, the world at large, too.

Disclosure: I received this book for review through librarything.com. I received no compensation for my thoughts.


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