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Putin’s Gambit (Tor/Forge) is a pulse-pounding, page-turning international thriller, an intense adrenaline-fueled collaboration between famed TV broadcaster, Lou Dobbs, and author James O. Born. Its subject is a very relevant one, especially with both Russia and ISIS being in the news so much lately and the past several years. Putin is behind a KGB plot to use terrorist attacks as a cover for an incursion into Estonia by the Russian military.

By leaving a non-Spam related comment below, in the comment section, and also mentioning the state in the United States you live in, you are entered to win a hardback copy of this terrific new read! Due to postage rates, the giveaway is open only to residents of the United States. A few simple rules follow, including the date when the giveaway will end. The winner of the last giveaway, for the thriller, Tower Down (Tor/Forge), by David Hagberg, was won by Patricia Raymond, of Fort Smith, Arkansas!

Putin’s Gambit involves a Valdimir Putin’s scheme to make a behind-the-scenes deal with ISIS to supply them with arms and money, as he also asserts Russia’s power by attempting to build the Soviet empire back up, starting by a military attack on Estonia. Former Marine Derek Walsh and his buddies from his days in the Marines get caught up in the intrigue when the FBI discovers that somehow, a money transfer of $200 million was made by someone using his computer. Walsh has to clear his good name, but that, he finds, is easier said than done, especially with a group of Russians on his and his friends’ trail, who are intent on killing them.

The exciting novel, Putin’s Gambit, opens up with a focus on one of Walsh’s closest friends from the Marines, Major Ronald Jackson, who had been deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, Jackson has landed a job working for the American embassy in Berlin, Germany, and he is also “responsible for several diplomatic buildings,” including ones in Frankfurt and Bonn. As a part of his job, Major Jackson stops by the U.S. embassy and drops in on a new lieutenant in charge of security there.

While strolling outside the embassy, Jackson notices a Mercedes van ease its way toward the main gate. The occupants jump out, with the driver holding an AK-47 in his hands. Major Jackson quickly takes the initiative, and a firefight ensues. Jackson manages to take out a few of the terrorists, before his own life comes to an end. That is just the start of the action and thrills readers will find as they read the well-researched and thought provoking novel, Putin’s Gambit.

Want to win yourself a hardback copy of Putin’s Gambit? If so, the rules for this giveaway, courtesy of the book’s publishers, Tor/Forge, the authors of the novel, Lou Dobbs and James O. Born, and What’s New in Book Reviews, are few and simple! First, you need to be a resident of the United States, and 18 or over. Also, you must leave a comment below, which I will see as Feedback, but which won’t display on the page, mentioning what state you live in, so I will know you are a residnet of the United States.

Then, after the period the giveaway runs, which in this case will be from Friday, August 4 2017 through Friday, August 25 at midnight, I will select one lucky person at random as the winner. I have extended this giveaway on more week, to give people even more of a chance to win!

The person who wins will have five days, up through August 29, to get back to me with his/her complete snail mail address, so I can give it to Tor/Forge, who will mail out the hardback copy of Putin’s Gambit to the lucky winner. If the person chosen as the winner does not respond within the period of five days, I will select an alternate winner at random. You can only enter the giveaway once per contest period. If you’d like to purchase a copy of Putin’s Gambit, you can do so here, at Barnes and Noble. Good luck!

By Douglas R. Cobb


Read Forever, For Less. NOOK Devices Starting at $49.99! Shop BN.com



tower downTower Down by award-winning thriller author, David Hagberg, is an exciting, fast-paced novel about events that could have been torn out of today’s headlines, involving terrorism, ISIS, and the bringing down of newly-constructed “pencil towers” in New York City.  A blood-thirsty freelance killer, code-name Al-Nassar, or “the Eagle,” educated in England masquerades as a multi-billionaire, Khalid Seif, after having killed him, and sets into motion a scheme that brings one of the pencil towers crashing down onto Carnegie Hall, killing hundreds of people, including seventy to eighty multi-billionaires from around the world who are inside the building. Can former CIA operative, Kirk McGarvey, prevent the killer from striking again? Details on how to win a copy follow, after this review!

Author David Hagberg delivers the goods with Tower Down, an intense page-turning thriller, the 21st novel Hagberg has written featuring McGarvey. The action begins before McGarvey, known as “Mac” by his friends, enters the picture. Al-Nassar leaves a trial of bodies wherever he goes, but his fingerprints are not on file, and he takes great care to clean up possible loose ends — by methodically killing anybody he thinks might later be able to identify him.

The pencil tower known as the Tower was built to be impossible for terrorists to destroy, so that there would not be any repeat of the events of 9/11. A nine-ton counterweight near the top of the Tower, controlled by a computer, helps the building adjust to any swaying it might otherwise have experience due to high winds. Over 90 percent of the apartments in the Tower were sold prior to the building’s construction, for exorbinant sums of money, with one penthouse going for a hundred fifty million dollars.

Al-Nassar strikes during a party Seif had planned, with some of the world’s wealthiest men and women in attendance. When the Tower inevitably falls, their lives are forfeited, along with the lives of hundreds of people below.

After his wife, Katy, daughter and son-in-law’s murders, and the deaths of other women in McGarvey’s life, he has been cautious about letting his guard down when it comes to his love life. However, in Tower Down, McGarvey has, once again, found love, in the form of his latest girlfriend, Pete Boylan, and he intends for their love to last. But, with his own life hanging in the balance, can McGarvey also protect Boylan’s, as he tracks his elusive prey to Cannes and other locales?

YOU could win a hardback copy of Tower Down from Tor/Forge and What’s New in Book Reviews if you are a resident of the United States, by simply leaving a non-Spam related Comment below and mentioning the state you live in. If you are selected as the winner, I will need your complete mailing address, so I can forward the information to Tor/Forge, so they can mail the copy out to the winner.  The comments will be seen by me as Feedback, instead of as comments. A winner will be chosen on midnight August 1, and if he/she does not respond with his/her mailing address after five days, a new winner will be selected. To purchase a hardback, paperback or Kindle copy of Tower Down at Amazon, click here — good luck to everyone who enters!

By: Douglas R. Cobb

 

 

 




CharmCat CoverWho can resist a delightful story about cats? Charm (An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat) written and illustrated by the talented Leyla Atke has it all–it’s a tale about love, loss, and continuing on, despite the pain of the loss that exists when one’s beloved pet dies and leaves an empty, cat-shaped hole in one’s heart. How can such an abyss be filled? And, how did the feelings toward the handsome black cat, which the narrator calls Charm, develop in the first place?

In Charm, the author weaves a story that is, itself, charming. Atke introduces the short but sweet book by reminiscing, in the first chapter, about how Charm came into her life and changed it forever for the better. She has the first-person narrator tell of “a hot summer day in June of 2006″ when she “was leaving work for a break.” The reason she is leaving is “to get a new hairstyle” and she is in a hurry to fit in the hairstyle into her busy day. Such are the times when Fate, or God, enters into our plans and sometimes, if we’re lucky, changes them in ways that we’d never planned, but which bring a touch of happiness to our lives.
At a busy intersection, on the way to her hair appointment, the narrator notices “something small and black” in the middle of the road, among the rushing cars. She notices that it is moving, and she decides to see what it is, so she stops her car and gets out to get a closer look. As she approaches the object, she sees that it is “a small black kitten sitting in the middle of the road.” With the cars “waiting for a green light from both sides,” she realizes that she has the chance to rescue the kitten, and she takes it.

Even then after the narrator saves the kitten, she’s not sure what to do with it, and considers if she should just “leave it in the park” which is nearby. However, struck by how cute and gentle the kitten is, though it is dirty and its fur is “smelling like kerosene” she takes the animal to her aunt’s house. She, like the narrator, has her own cat, but she agrees “to shelter the kitten only until the evening.” That enables the narrator to return to work, think about what has transpired, and make her decision about keeping the kitten.

I don’t want to give anything else away, except to say that she does decide to keep the small black kitten, and to call it Charm. I throughly enjoyed reading Leyla Atke’s book, and her wonderful illustrations help give the reader a genuine feel for how Charm must have looked, and how the kitten managed to, well, charm his way into the narrator’s life.

There is something else I should mention, though, about the book. It is written primarily for young teens on up. What ultimately happens to Charm is sad, and the description of the cat’s body after his demise might be too much for younger readers to handle, though the author is being honest about relating the details. Also, the author writes that “Vaccination and castration” will be musts for a new kitten that enters into her life, who she first sees just “a couple of steps away from Charm’s grave,” and who she also decides to call Charm. These elements don’t at all detract (at least not in my humble opinion) from the appeal of the book; but, I thought I should mention these things, so that if someone decides to buy it for younger kids, they will know that the kids might come to them with some very interesting questions about death and the definition of “castration.”

Charm (An Amazing Story of a Little Black Cat) is a truly charming story about how much a kitten can effect a person’s life and bring joy to it. If you are an animal lover, and perhaps own a cat or have owned them in the past, you’ll definitely want to add this delightful short book to your reading lists. It would also make a great gift for a cat lover in your life. I highly recommend Charm to anyone who has ever owned, or who currently owns, a kitten or a cat.


Debut author, Freddie Owens, swings for the fences and hits a home run with his excellent coming-of-age story set primarily in Kentucky, Then Like the Blind Man. When Orbie’s father dies, his life changes forever. His mother, Ruby, finds herself attracted to the smooth-talking, poetic atheist Victor Denalsky, who had been Orbie’s father’s foreman at a steel mill in Detroit. After Orbie’s father dies, Victor courts Orbie’s mother, and eventually marries her. Not wanting to nor desiring to take care of a nine-year-old boy with an attitude, like Orbie, who can’t stand his stepfather, anyway, Ruby and Victor decide to drop Orbie off at Ruby’s parents’ house in Kentucky, with the promise that they’ll come back to get him once they’ve settled in Florida, where Victor supposedly has a job lined up. Orbie’s mother and Victor take with them Orbie’s younger sister, Missy.

The novel is told in the first person by Orbie, who, though young, is very insightful for his age. As I read, I was often reminded of another famous novel told from the POV of a child, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird. The themes are different, but Orbie’s and Scout’s perspectives on African Americans in the 1950′s are significant to understanding both books. Orbie has some bad experiences with some of the black people he comes in contact with early on in the novel, so he calls them the “n,” word at various points in the story.

Through the course of Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie eventually realizes that his grandparents are great people who love him. They may not have attained a high level of school education, but they are wise about farm life and human nature.

They don’t like it that their daughter, Ruby, has developed a prejudice for blacks, nor that she’s passed it on to Orbie. That’s one of the many nice touches I liked about Freddie Owen’s debut novel, that in it, it’s not Orbie’s grandparents who live in Kentucky that exhibit a prejudiced point of view, but it’s learned from experiences Orbie and his family have living in Detroit, in the north. Of course, in reality, unfortunately you can find prejudice in every state to this day; but, the author didn’t go the stereotypical route of having his northern characters expressing an enlightened POV, and his southern ones being all racists.
Owens, a published poet, has infused Then Like the Blind Man with a poetic sensibility that makes his story and characters come to life for the reader. Through Owens, and Orbie’s story, we feel the emotions of being dumped off somewhere he doesn’t want to live, at his grandparents’ house; but, we come to see them as positive, nurturing influences on Orbie’s life. Though Orbie despises the alcoholic Victor, and how his mother has made wrong decisions (to his POV, anyway), Victor is not portrayed as being completely bad. He does show an interest in Orbie at times, like when Orbie expresses his fascination with a scar Victor has on his neck that he got in WWII.

Orbie comes to think that Victor acts nicely towards him only further to ingratiate himself with Ruby, Orbie’s mother. Ruby is the type of woman who thinks she can change the man she loves, to rehabilitate him, and she always holds out a spark of hope for Victor. This is an aspect about her that kind of frustrated me as a reader, and made me want to tell her–if she was real and in front of me–to stop deluding herself and wake up and realize what a jerk Victor is most of the time. But, thinking of a man who has faults as being some sort of “project,” or someone who can be “rehabilitated,” is a trait that some women have, so Ruby’s having this trait brought even more realism to the story.

Besides there being various themes and messages in Then Like the Blind Man, Orbie’s boyhood exuberance, how he relates to his grandparents, his changing point of view about much of what he’d taken for granted; and his adventures are what really makes the novel captivating. Freddie Owens fills the pages of his novel with other very memorable characters, like the humpbacked elderly lady, Bird; Moses Mashbone; Mrs. Profit; and Nealy Harlan. If you’re a fan of novels like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird, Freddie Owens’s Then Like the Blind Man is s Must Read!


Menelaus Illation Montrose, Texas gunslinger, idealist, and posthuman genius, who author John C. Wright introduced us to in his brilliant Count To a Trillion, is back in the sequel, The Hermetic Millennia. He is in cryo-suspension, but is brought out of it at periodic times. These are always at crucial turning-points in the history and evolution of mankind. Without his genius and militaristic action as the leader of the Knights Hospitalier, humanity could easily find itself enslaved, or made into the serfs of an advanced alien race, or face the possibility of extinction.

At the point when Menelaus is awoken, humans are under the control of Psychohistorians. There are the Giants and the Iron Ghosts, who both want to mold humanity’s evolution. The Giants are posthumans, articial humans within Menelaus’ intelligence range, while the Iron Ghosts are creations of the Scholars, who made the Iron Ghosts to contain emulations of Montrose’s brain. The Giants have gargantuan genetically-modified bodies to house, as Sir Guiden puts it, “their correspondingly elephantine brains.”

The Hermeticists are called that because they were originally the crew members of the spaceship, the Hermetic, who, along with Montrose, journeyed to study an alien artifact in Count To a Trillion known as “The Monument.” There, they learned technologies and techniques unknown on Earth, through the alien hieroglphs on “The Monument.” This advanced knowledge was the product of an ancient alien civilzation billions of years older than our own, much of which–to humans–seemed indistinguishable from magic. The knowledge made over sixty of the seventy crew members eventually go mad when they attempted to implement the “Prometheus augmentation,” but the remaining members of the crew became the rulers of mankind.

Sir Guiden tells Menelaus that the ringleaders of the crew and the Hermtecists somehow “are still alive and sane.” These include the Master of the Earth, Ximen del Azarchel, the commander-in-chief of the world armed forces, Narcis D’Arago, and Menelaus’ arch nemesis, Blackie. However, they have been in hiding since the “Decivilization War,” which destroyed the major cities of the Earth. They were burned to cinders by the Giants, who directed “orbital mirrors” towards the cities. The whole world saw and heard someone who looks exactly like Montrose give the orders for the cities to be burned.

The war was fought between the Giants and the Ghosts, but it was humans who suffered the most. As Sir Guiden tells Menelaus, though it involved math equations, “It was no mere abstract argument. It was about whether humanity would be dehumanized and tyrannized.” The fate of mankind, if the Hermeticists had their way, would be to make subspecies of mankind which would then serve as the slaves and serfs of the intelligent machine-life of the Hyades Cluster. But, even to do this and ensure humanity’s survival, the evolution of mankind’s intelligence would need to be artificially speeded up. The machine-life of the Hyades Cluster was accidently summoned when humans meddled with The Monument.

Among the many other conflicts that Montrose has to deal with in The Hermetic Millennia are the efforts of Rania to bring a Diamond Star made from antimatter out of its orbit. That is the only way, Rania believes, that humainty can stand a chance fighting afainst the aliens of the Hyades Cluster. That’s because, as Menelaus tells Sir Guiden, to defeat such advanced foes it would require a lot of energy: “It takes fuel to calculate. Fuel to think.” The aliens, though, have launched an offensive of their own: a dirigible gas gaint the size of Uranus which will arrive circa A.D. 11000.

A rogue Hermeticist, known as the Judge of Ages, wants to create a free version of mankind. They would then fight against the aliens, and though tey’d be about as mismatched as the Zulus were agaisnt the British, like the Zulus, they might be able to win. The energy that humanity could mine from the Diamond Star, which they could reach much more easily if Rania’s efforts are successful, could mean the difference in a potential war against the alien machine-life.

The Hermetic Millennia is sweeping and epic in scope, and is a thinking man’s Space Opera. I enjoyed reading the first book in the series, Countdown To a Trillion, but I wondered if any sequel to it would be as good. It’s a fantastic read, and a great addition to the series. Since Menelaus is so hyper-intelligent, certain parts of the book are written in a complex manner, using terms and jargon that may be unfamiliar to many readers–but, that’s often the case with the “hard science” type of science fiction that authors like Isaac Asimov wrote about in his Foundation series. If you’re a fan of Countdown To a Trillion and hard SF, I highly recommend that you read The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright.


How could you not like a book and a series featuring a female protagonist with the humorous/sexy name of Lucky O’Toole? So Damn Lucky is the first I’ve read in Coonts’s romantic mystery series, but it won’t be the last. The third novel(after Wanna Get Lucky, and Lucky Stiff) continues Lucky’s adventures in Las Vegas as the Head of Customer Relations at the mega-casino The Babylon. A typical night for her can involve any number of things, from an aging Midwestern couple trapped in a sex swing to a temperamental French chef who’s determined to make Lucky catch fire.

Besides dealing with the “normal” events and scheduling of conventions at The Babylon, Lucky also has her hands full doing the same sorts of things at the aging Grand Dame of Las Vegas casinos, the Athena Resort and Casino. Recently having discovered that her boss, Albert Rothstein (also known as The Big Boss), is her father has not made her life any easier, and is one more secret she wants to keep closely guarded. She is in charge of seeing that events like a Star Wars and Star Trek convention goes off without a hitch, and the final show of “the forty-year run of the Calliope Burlesque Caberet,” featuring the famous but aging magician, Mr. Dimitri Fortunoff.

What to do when there is a “hitch,” though, like when an escape artist/magician tragically dies inside of Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Cell, after having received numerous death threats? And, what if the paramedics who come to take the escape artist to the hospital aren’t really paramedics, and the body, itself, semingly vanishes into thin air?

As if dealing with this magical mystery wasn’t enough, Lucky also faces romantic and personal challenges. Her hunky boyfriend is touring with a rock band in Europe, leaving her very lonely, and very horny. Temptation taunts her in the form of other handsome men she encounters, like a newly-hired French chef and Dane, a tall Texan who works for the Gaming Commission. Will she succumb to the temptation, or somehow find the resolve to remain faithful to her boyfriend?

Also, Lucky’s mother is back with the Big Boss, and is pregnant. The Big Boss wants her to give up control over her whore house, and she is reluctant to do so. When the Big Boss asks Lucky to be the go-between, and talk her mother into giving up the house of ill repute, will she honor his request?

The troubleshooting Lucky O’Toole loves her cars as fast as her men, and her car of choice in So Damn Lucky is a Ferrari. Besides the challenges I already mentioned, Lucky has to deal with things like settling a disute over a limited-edition, gold plated golf club that its owner chucks into a water hazard. It’s then retrieved by a caddy, who claims it as his own; but, the man who threw it into the water hazard suddenly has a change of heart, and demands it back. It’s a case that would pose a quandry for Solomon himself, but it’s a cinch for the intrepid Lucky O’Toole to figure out an equitable solution.

So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coonts is a fun, fast-paced, page-turning read. It’s a novel that combines the thriler/mystery and romance genres, with a generous dose of humor laced throughout. Whether you’re already a fan of the Lucky O’Toole series, you definitely will be once you’re read So Damn Lucky. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, which is another plus, but I would recommend that you check out the entire series, as I plan to do. It’s a novel that gratiously gives you all of the fun of Las Vegas without ever leaving your house! Add it to your reading lists today!

By; Douglas R. Cobb


William Wallace of Braveheart fame is one of Scotland’s most renowned historical figures. Despite this, though, and a movie made about his life, little is known about the facts of his life. The account that was made into the movie the epic poem “The Wallace,” by Blind Harry, was written more than a hundred years after the events it details. Author Jack Whyte compares Wallace’s life to that of Jesus’s, “…in that both emerged from obscurity at a late age – between twenty-seven and thirty – and each had a short, brilliant, meteoric public career that ended in execution. No one really knows what either man did in the years before he stepped into public scrutiny…” Still, certain facts and surmises have been recorded, and – though Whyte’s book The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) is a historical novel – he has researched his subject very well, and it shows in his exciting, page-turning novel.

The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) begins with a cousin of Wallace’s, the first-person narrator, Jamie (or James), visiting William at Smithfield Prison where he awaits his execution to both talk with him and to hear his last confession. James and William fought together against the English under King Edward, and we read about their early life, and learn where William’s initial hatred of the English began. His parents and sister were brutally killed, his sister’s head cut from her body by a sword. He was only eight, and the soldiers of King Edward then raped both of the boys. They escape, but are pursued by the soldiers for upwards of thirty miles. It is no wonder that, after this happened, Wallace was filled with a hatred for the English and a desire to gain revenge against the people who had wronged him and his cousin and who had murdered his family.

The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) details both Wallace’s victories and his defeats, his highs and his lows, much as the movie Braveheart does. The research the author’s done, though, reveals even more facets to William’s character, and it’s interesting to see him viewed through his cousin’s sometimes idolizing and sometimes condemning eyes. He’s shown druing his fugitive days, when he was considered to be an outlaw, through his meteoric rise as his people’s hero and patriot, and the eventual falling off of his followers due to both defeats at the hands of the English and to the changing times and attitudes of the Scottish royal families. Wallace’s exploits, daring escapes, and adventures are described in vivid page-turning detail. It’s sad as one reads to know, though, the gruesome fate that awaits the fictional Wallace, as it’s the same one that befell the historical one: to be hung, drawn, and quartered by the book’s end.

William Wallace’s life is told with a new, invigorated force through Whyte’s words and colorful descriptions. The next two books in his Guardians trilogy will be about men who were two other cornerstones of Scottish freedom, Robert, the Bruce and Sir James (the Black) Douglas. I know very little about these men, though I’ve heard of their names before. Scotland has had a long and a proud history, and it has always seemed to me to be a mystical, almost magical kind of country. If The Forest Laird (A Tale of William Wallace) is any indication, the novels to follow will be ones I’ll be anxiously awaiting reading/reviewing. I’d highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves reading historical fiction and who’s a fan of the movie Braveheart. Add it to your reading lists today!


The World’s Most Beloved Pterodactyl (Or is that terrier-dactyl)You asked for it, my adoring public, and you got it! At last, my third novel in my series, The Case Files of Lily and PAWS, has made it to ebook format, and will soon be in paperback, exclusively at Amazons WORLDWIDE! I will give the links to the USA and UK stores, but it’s available at ALL Amazons. In the USA, d/load it at: amazon.com/dp/B00960RFRQ while in the U.K., d/load it at: amazon.co.uk/dp/B00960RFRQ

What can you expect to read in Lily Solves Them All? The unexpected, that’s what! Lily gains a new arch-nemesis, Professor Polynesia, who is bent on exposing Lily and PAWS as being, as best, second-rate detectives. Will Lily, her “owner,” fourteen-year-old Celeste, and PAWS rise to the occasion and take her challenge to solve 7 difficult cases using the methods of 7 of the world’s best-known detectives of literature and the Silver Screen; or, will she and her freinds hand their heads in shame, and give up being detectives forever? What do YOU think?

There are more characters, more cases, more friends, and more foes than ever in this third book. There are copper automatons (Can you say “steampunk”? I knew you could!), evil Leprechauns, werewolves, a mad scientist called Dr. Chronos, vampires, witches, ghosts, aliens, and much, much more!

The 7 detectives Lily must use the methods of (I altered their names) are Sherlock Bones, Nero Wolf, Colombo, Miss Marvel, Hercule Parrot, Sam Specter, and Inspector Bluessaeau. The cases are Lily’s and PAWS’ most challenging yet, and include some of the most page-turning and humorous cases so far! I invite you all to partake–it is not a requirement to have read the first two ebooks/paperbacks in the series, Lily, Unleashed & Lily and PAWS: The Ghosts of Summer; but, hey, I’m maybe a tiny bit biased–they are great, too, and I hope you read all three, as well as my awesome Great Gatsby-influenced ebook/paperback, My Brother The Zombie (The Zombie Revolution: Book One). What’re ya waitin’ for?


Part murder mystery, part science fiction time-traveling tale where realities bleed into each other, like in Philip K. Dick’s SF novels, The Man From Primrose Lane is a quirky, suspenseful read that will haunt your dreams for years to come. Its melding of different genres has caused some critics to react, at least in part, unfavorably towards James Renner’s debut novel, while others, who seem to “get it,” have given The Man From Primrose Lane glowing reviews. Why is this? Is The Man From Primrose Lane a great novel, which you’ll want to add to your reading lists; or is it one you would be better off avoiding, at all costs? This review will attempt to answer those questions, and help you decide if it’s worth your hard-earned dollars to buy it.

I think it’s a good thing to read what several reviewers have written about a book before you decide to buy it. You run the risk of having a couple of spoilers revealed, but you might read about a book you’ll fall in love with, which you would never have known even existed, if you hadn’t read the review. But, also, you will not be (hopefully) disappointed as much as you might otherwise be with the purchase of a book, because you will know ahead of time if it’s a book that will appeal to you or not.

I’ll admit, right from when I heard the title of this novel, I wasn’t all that sure I’d like it. The Man From Primrose Lane is not a title that told me much about what the novel is about, other than it will deal with, on one level or another, a–duh–man from Primrose Lane. But, what sort of a man? Will he be the main character, will the novel be mostly about his life, will there be a mystery involved? I had a lot of questions about the novel, just from having read the title–though, it’s not a bad title–it just didn’t really tell me much about what the book would be about.

Just as you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover, I found out that you shouldn’t always judge a book by its title, either. I really enjoyed Renner’s The Man From Primrose Lane, but don’t get it if you’re only a fan of mysteries, or are only a fan of science fiction, or you probably won’t get into the book very much.

Who is the man of the title? He is an odd man, who has a penchant for wearing mittens, no matter how warm or cold it is outside. He has the reputation of being a street person, though he has a house, with a closet full of boxes of mittens. Learning why he enjoys wearing mittens is one of the mysteries of the novel you’ll find out as you read it.

Why would anyone want to brutally murder such a man, who may seem to be, on the surface, anyway, harmless, if eccentric and reclusive? He is murdered at the very beginning of the novel, his fingers cut off of his hands while, apparently, he’s still alive. Was it a madman who killed him? A serial killer? Or, maybe someone who had been victimized or wronged by the man in the past?

Enter the author David Neff, who is asked by his publisher to write a book about the “Man with a Thousand Mittens.” Neff, a widower with a four-year-old son, Tanner, becomes the main focus of the novel, the main protagonist of this schizophenic (in a good way) novel. He’s written a bestselling book, The Serial Killer’s Protégé, about the convicted serial killer Ronil Brune and his rommmate, Trimble (the actual murderer), so his publisher thinks that Neff would be a good choice to write a book about the murder of the Man with a Thousand Mittens.

Neff’s book is about the series of murders of young, innocent ten-year-old red-haired girls that was blamed on Brune, who was executed 10 years ago. Through some “haunted letters,” he discovers, Neff learns that the actual murderer was Brune’s roommate, Trimble. The murders followed the hibernation cycle of the cicada. Somehow the identity of the Man with a Thousand Mittens.” holds the key to the ongoing series of murders. Though Brune didn’t commit the murders, he is far from a saint, and his spirit tries to possess Neff’s body. Can Neff figure out the information he needs to prevent the murderer from striking again?

Neff is romantically drawn to the character of Elizabeth, a moody and mysterious lady, who eventually becomes his wife. But, at least in part because of Neff’s obsessive drive to prove that Trimble was the real murderer, and the psychotic episodes Neff has until his therapist prescribes a strong medication, Elizabeth commits suicide. We also read that Elizabeth had a twin sister, who was one of the girls who were abducted and killed.

In the second section of the book, Neff goes off his meds, contrary to the advice of his therapist. It’s four years after the murders that Neff has written about in his bestselling book, and it’s when his editor assigns him the job of writing about the “Man with the Thousand Mittens.”

Then, in the third section, Dave’s character splits in two and half of him travels to the year 2036. Is he going insane, or has he (a part of him, anyway) actually traveled forward in time? Could it be that there’s a second serial killer? Good advice Neff could have used: Beware of peculiar black cats and black eggs.

The Man From Primrose Lane is a fascinating debut novel, and I look forward to reading and reviewing more books from James Renner in the coming years. It is a tangled mix of story lines that is somewhat tricky to keep up with, but if you like novels that cross and blend genres in very inventive ways, The Man From Primrose Lane is one you’ll want to add to your reading lists. Check it out today!


The history of World War II and the question of why an entire nation would fall under the spell of a fanatical fascist dictator like Adolph Hitler is one that is endlessly fascinating. Hitler’s Priest, by S.J. Tagliareni, a former Catholic priest, explores this topic with a thoughtful and extremely well-researched novel based on actual historical figures and depictions of events that shaped the entire world.

Meet Hans Keller: he is an atheist, and a highly intelligent man with an eidetic memory who catches the eye of the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels. He has been had-selected to be a mole, infiltrating the ranks of the Vatican’s Catholic hierarchy in order to exert influence upon their decisions, thus playing a key role in the shaping of the Nazi’s concept of a new Germany. He attends the same classes and undergoes the same training as anyone studying to be a priest does, at the Gregorian University in Rome. But, instead of focusing on the next world, Hans instead focuses on “his relationship with the Fuhrer and the lofty goals of this world.”

Goebbels understood that the four years Keller would spend in the seminary was a large expense in terms of time, even though the potential gains could prove enormous for the Third Reich. That’s why he devises a way for Hans to be a help even before the four years are up, through a person he has visit Keller who gives him specific tasks to perform: Erich Hanke. But, what happens when Hans finds his thoughts become more clouded and his morals starting to crumble is something that Goebbels did not anticipate fully, and Keller, himself, had not thought possible would happen: Hans begins to question the morality of the role he is supposed to perform, as Hitler’s priest.

It is easy for people of today to think to themselves that there is no way that they would ever fall under the sway of powerful, hypnotic leaders like Adolph Hitler and Goebbels; but, imagine that you are living in a country where such rulers hold sway. You are only told things from one point of view, and become indoctrinated from an early age in the beliefs and teachings of the Third Reich. With only a very narrow world view presented to you, and the troubles your nation facing blamed upon one race of people, who hold beliefs different from yours, it likely would not be too difficult to see that a hatred could develop within your bosom for the other race.

Being brought up under such a regime would be a terrible thing, as the only “truth,” you would be exposed to would be that of leaders with a definite agenda, bent on ruling the entire world, and molding it to their wills. You would either need to go along with their agenda, or be steam rolled into oblivion, thrown into a concentration camp along with the Jews, Catholics, and gays, or anyone who had a different viewpoint.

Salvatore J. Tagliareni, the author of Hitler’s Priest, writes with great authority on the subject. He was a Catholic priest himself, and one of his mentors was the psychotherapist Viktor Franklwho lived under the Third Reich. Frankl had everything taken away from him, his family, his homeland, his job, and his freedom; yet, he did not hate those who had treated him that way.

There is an enormous cast of characters in Hitler’s Priest who add their POVs to the plot. Each one is interesting, and we get to see how various people who were involved in either the regime of the Third Reich or who had lived under it, felt. The chapters alternate between these people and their POVs, and reading about them helps give the reader a fully realized portrayal of how the various players involved viewed their roles.

As examples, we read about the real-life, historical brothers, Stefano and Severio Pittelli, and how their courage “changed lives on both sides of the Atlantic.” Also, we read about people like the Roman Catholic, Karl Hunsecker, the German ambassador to the Vatican who lived in Rome. Though Karl is a member of the Third Reich, he feels morally conflicted, and expresses his opinions about the direction that Germany is headed towards in its treatment of the Jews to Cardinal Pietro Agnelli. There are many, many more examples of people who the author writes about and fleshes out in detail in Hitler’s Priest. They help make history come alive for the reader.

Hitler’s Priest by S.J. Tagliareni is a page-turning book whose characters will live in your thoughts long after you finish reading it. You will be entranced by the author’s depictions of the characters and events that led up to the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, and will want to keep reading until late into the night. I have read many historical accounts of WWII and the Third Reich, but often, you don’t really gain a complete understanding of how it was like to have lived during that time unless you read a novel about people who lived under the regime of the Third Reich, like the great novels The Boy In Striped Pajamas and The Book Thief. If you loved reading those novels and others about the Third Reich, or you’re a history buff, you’re sure to want to add Hitler’s Priest to your reading lists today!

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