By Elizabeth Young




Terrorist plan to repeat the attack on America done by the Japanese in World War II. Hot air balloons filled with poison drop over various parts of the country. It’s up to the President and his team to find and stop the terrorist before worse attacks occur.

I think this was an ingenious plot. It lacked a central hero/heroine or hero team out searching for the bad guys.


Carmen: works at an electronics store, black hair

Raul: Carmen’s brother, works for the CIA

Elliot Bradley: U.S. President, former physicist and CEO of Markham Controls

Ahmed al Kodari: terrorist, has a twin sister

Maya Tchernov: 65, Defense Secretary, blonde hair, blue eyes, 4 star General, former lawyer and governor, parents dead, has a sister, widow

…and too many more. You need a roster and a time line to keep everyone straight and up-to-date. Though the characters were pretty good, I felt there were too many. I couldn’t focus on anyone in particular, because the story bounced from character to character.


Fairly good voices once you understood who the characters were but nobody shined. Too many.


Chapters headed by date.

As mentioned above, for me, I wanted a central figure to be in search of the terrorists throughout. There were a couple, but they weren’t central. The Washington team never left Washington so they became talking people who kept having meetings.

Low tension. Almost no real action.

The Prologue was not a prologue, it was a statement of information.

There was a bit of confusion at the beginning with time.

An incorrect name was mentioned in one chapter.

Relatively short chapters.

So, as always, my ranking reflects my enjoyment of the book. Others may find it intriguing. I found it a pretty even keel throughout.

My Rank:

Green Belt


The Price Of Justice


By Vincent S. Green




When the wife of a high ranking military man is brutally murdered, and her ex lover is arrested for the murder, Jack Garret is called in to try the case for the defense. Paired with attorney Cameron Wells, he soon runs afoul of people who want the case over, the defendant found guilty and everything hushed up. What could cause such violence? Jack and Cameron risk their lives to discover the truth.

I think is a wonderful plot and I wish the book had gone on longer to really explore everything.


Jack Garret: 45, attorney, former special ops, widower, has a son

Cameron Wells: attorney, former military intelligence, martial artist, blonde, freckles, hazel eyes, rank of Colonel

Frank O’Connor: judge, 50s, chestnut hair, rank of Colonel

Phillip Rubie: short, gray flecked black hair, brown eyes, fixer for the CIA, has a daughter, first wife and daughter dead

Norman Harris: Lt. General, tall, lanky, married (at the beginning)

A good array of characters. I would have liked the book to have been longer to explore each of them a bit more. As it was, a lot of information had to be absorbed pretty quickly.


I think Frank’s voice came through pretty well. Phillip’s daughter’s does, too.


Titled chapters. Profanity.

This is a relatively short book and I think therein lies the problem. This is a great story but details aren’t explored. There is good action, especially at the climax and even afterward. This is an intricate plot but it moved very fast. Within the first 50 pages, Jack’s son is kidnapped and I wondered why it was done so soon. Jack and Cameron hadn’t discovered anything yet. This could have been drawn out a bit more with scenes of the baddies talking and plotting, Jack and Cameron gathering clues. The trial was hardly a blip and that could have been a fun time. The super weapon wasn’t explored very much. It showed up, did its thing and hardly a word afterward. I thought it was a cool thing that needed to be shown more and explained more. No word on how it was made, what the deployment power was and where it went after everything was done.

A nice small twist at the end that was foreshadowed throughout.

My Rank:

Green Belt




By V. L. Towler



A small Louisiana town’s police department receives a box with a severed finger. Enter Lula Logan, forensic anthropologist. With the help of the police department, she investigates a series of severed fingers and murders. What does a film producer and a politician have to do with the case?

I thought this would be a gritty, dark murder mystery. Instead it turned out to be a study into black life with the mystery as a small print second billing.


Lula Logan: black, dark brown hair, maroon eyes, 5’5”, forensic anthropologist, works at a university

Nate Padgett: captain of the Criminal Investigations unit, blut-grey eyes, black hair

Devon Lemonde: Junior police detective, Creole black, attended Nakadee University, married with children

Aggie Shear: auburn hair, forensic pathologist, divorced

Wally: Knights of Columbus member, former military

There are a few other characters: Bebe, Melvyn, Richard included. I think the author did a good job of providing a lot of background info on the important characters. I think the characters are well-rounded. I don’t know what Wally is. Part of the police department? Homeless? An eccentric who occasionally provides the cops with information? I just don’t know.


Good voices and accents and phraseology. I thought some of the dialogue went on too long and the conversations tended to delve into extraneous matters.


Book was separated into Parts. Titled Chapters. Chapters headed by date and time, scene changes headed by time

Okay, let me discuss this next part for just a bit. When I read a book, I expect the story to be something related to the back cover blurb. When it falls short of my expectations, I lose interest. As mentioned above, I thought this was going to be a good dark murder mystery. When Lula and Bebe spent page after page after page in the first part of the book discussing life for blacks in general, in Louisiana, their own lives, I lost interest in the story. I perked up whenever there was another finger or corpse and I could get back to the mystery, but for the most part, I lost interest. The scenes with the politician, although the topic related to the story, were a sideline that I didn’t care about. The mystery, as mentioned, was simmering, but never very action-oriented. A lot of interrogation, a lot of talking.

There was a videotape discovered. Writing page after page of the dialogue on the videotape was fine, but a repetition of this wasn’t needed.

I felt the tension was low, the ending climax was too long and mostly dialogue and the Epilogue wasn’t an epilogue but rather a “Hey, this is the end and stay tuned for the next mystery featuring Lula.”

I’m giving this a Green Belt because the grammar, punctuation, and spelling were okay and the voices were better than a lot of books. The story and plot, as a whole, wasn’t exciting for me.


The “Tail” Of Rugby Jones


By Claudia Broome




Rugby Jones is a Welsh Corgi who gets adopted and comes to live on a farm. There he meets other animals and has adventures then. One day, while playing with another dog, Rugby is injured and loses the ability to move his back legs. Rugby has to overcome his disability to be able to continue to live a full life.


Rugby Jones: Pembroke Welsh Corgi

Mom: owner of Rugby, blonde, left-handed

Dr. Dave: vet

Miracle: Calico cat

Foxie: red fox

Katie: Jack Russell Terrier

There are a lot of animal characters and a few humans in this book. Bits and pieces of information are know. Not too much but okay.


Mom is the only one who speaks. Well, there is a Rugby sentence or two, but Mom’s voice is always light-hearted even when she is not happy with Rugby.


Titled chapters.

1st person from Rugby’s POV.

Some missed quotation marks or quote in the wrong places in some dialogue.

This is more of a summary of the time with Rugby on the farm rather than a series of stories. There are incidents and anecdotes but they don’t last too long.

It’s presented as if Rugby is speaking to a group of kids because he asks a lot of questions to the reader that relate to his experiences in the book.

The book is positive and uplifting and speaks to those with disabilities. It’s a longer children’s book than most but there are illustrations (although some of them are seem ‘photoshopped’ which doesn’t quite work for me).

Still, I chose to review because I like animal stories and I wanted to see how well one with an animal that overcomes an injury was written.

My rank:

Blue Belt


Forbidden Birth


By Dr. William Rubin



Somebody is killing pregnant women and removing their babies. Newly commissioned investigator, Dr. Christopher Ravello is assigned the case. He and his partner track down the clues, but more bodies are found. How does a mobster and a stem cell researcher fit in? When the situation turns personal, the case heats up and the tension is thick.

This is an interesting plot with lots of medical material, a serial killer, and a venture into what might be just around the corner for scientific discovery.


Christopher Ravello: homicide investigator, former general surgeon, married with kids, mother dead

Ray Petersen: chief of detectives

Kevin Kennedy: Ravello’s partner, body builder, sister dead

April Cassidy: long brown hair, stripper

Johnny Briganti: doctor, drug maker, bouncer

There is no shortage of characters and I think they were fairly well developed. The similarity of Ravello and Kennedy both having relatives murdered made them seem closer than their otherwise long friendship. I thought Briganti was a pretty good character, but he fell by the wayside and his subplot with the mob also was forgotten.


The serial killer is named The Giver. He has a lot of spoken dialogue that is only for himself. It was okay, but not natural. Voices were pretty good and distinction.


Profanity. 1st person from Ravello’s POV in his scenes, third person POV in other chapters.

There was a lot of medical-ese given with not a lot of explanation.

I thought the story flowed pretty well, up until the latter chapters. I felt in the last 20 or 30 pages, the story was rushed. Ravello was blackmailed into doing some things he normally wouldn’t do and I felt those scenes were rushed. They happened too quickly to get to the climax. Because of this his emotions were almost lost. I didn’t get to see the internal debate, the sacrificing of morals. I think this part could have been lengthened to show the tortuous moments of his going against his sense of right and wrong.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Dead Man Code


By R. Weir





Jarvis Mann, Denver P.I. is back for another case. This time he’s investigating the murder of a man who worked for an online security firm. This case will pit him against Russians and Chinese bad guys and take him to California and Vegas. Along the way, he’ll meet beautiful, seductive women and a sleazy P.I. Will he piece together the clues before he’s a dead man?

Weir does come up with some elaborate plots but they keep me interested. This one doesn’t get too technical so don’t worry about computer-ese being thrown around.


Jarvis Mann: Denver private investigator, owns a Harley and a Mustang, brother is dead (see previous Mann mystery)

Adam King: private investigator, curly blond hair

Mandy Bailey: 5’3”, blonde, widow, cheerleader in college

April Rainn: cop, martial artist, has 3 brothers, dad was a cop, played baseball and basketball in college

Mitchell Crabtree: former Army, owns a 1970 Corvette, former security officer, 6’4”, married with child, slender, dark brown hair, 40s.

Oh, and so many more well rounded characters. Weir doesn’t mess around with nonsense. Some good background, and when I read the characters, I knew who they were, cold get a good mental picture of them.


Good voices. Minimal outside-the-case conversations that helped develop the characters.

Weir has a habit of having all of the character speak like Star Trek’s Data trying to use contractions but not completely succeeding. It would be okay if one or two spoke this way, but all became a little annoying. It’s not natural. They don’t have to use lofty highbrow words, or garble vocabulary, but the non-contractions are a bit much.


First person from Mann’s POV. Profanity.

One or two minor and very brief slow spots but they weren’t too bad. Good action, okay tension and emotion, good insight into Mann’s feelings about women, his ex girlfriend, and himself. I like the story because it brings in a bit of old fashioned detective stuff, some good fights, some good cop hatred toward Mann, slightly over the top (and possibly topless) female seductresses.

I wasn’t sure about the relationship with the Russians. I didn’t quite understand how they were the bad guys at the beginning but ended up being not quite so bad near the end. Especially since they weren’t seen throughout most of the book.

Anyway, I thought about Green for a rank, but the like-ability factor was high throughout the book. So, this one receives a:

Purple Belt


Dearth Of A Nation


By Garman Lord



There are three candidates running for president. When one of them is assassinated in a most unusual way, a group with the title of Commandos, undertake the investigation.

Okay, that’s the plot. The plot as mentioned in the blurb I received made it seem as if there was going to be more political satire from the politicians themselves. This book has caricatures of real people, but the blurb doesn’t even mention the Commandos. It mentions the President so that’s where I thought this book would be going. It didn’t. In fact it focuses on only one of the candidates and that’s not how I perceived the story line to go.


Usually, I would make a list of some of the main characters with a bit of description and maybe some background, depending on the amount of information given. In this case, the author decided to list the individuals in the Commando groups with extensive descriptions at the beginning of the book. Basically, the original five were supernatural in origin and being this is book five of this series, their origin is just mentioned without being heavily delved into. There are a few others that have joined the group throughout the series.

The big problem here is that all of the characters sound and act alike, even those who aren’t part of the group. There isn’t one mature adult in the whole bunch. This may be fine for a YA book, but there are adults, supposedly serious minded adults in this one, but nobody acts like one. With the blend, I couldn’t get into any of them.

As mentioned in the plot section I thought the President was going to have a bigger role but he shows up only in one or two minor sections.

There is a some humor in the characters, but it’s overdone and becomes tedious as the book moves along.


This book is 90-95% dialogue. There is very little action. It’s all somebody talking. For the most part all of the conversations are done after the action and the investigative parts have completed. I can’t count the number of debriefing sessions the commando group had after they had gone out and found the evidence.

Every character and I mean EVERY character who has any prominence in this book has loooooooooong monologues. And each one takes a looooooong time getting to the point. Seriously, a character will speak for pages. And every character does this.

So, every character sounds like every other character. From the teenagers to the Secret Service Agent to the presidential candidate.

Because of this, reading this was exhausting. Constantly I was yelling at these characters to “Get on with it!”

Every character speaks with several quips of attempted humor. There are numerous quotes and phrases from other well known books. That became old hat, too, after awhile.


Titled chapters.

There is a ‘prologue’, but it is not a proper prologue. It’s a longer blurb.

There were some places in this book, I simply could not comprehend. Chapter 14 was one such place.

It became very difficult to find the actual mystery and keep up with the latest ‘clue’. The climax was not dramatic or tension filled. The question as to the reason behind the method of the murder was asked several times but if there were any clues to throughout pointing to that reason, I missed them. During the climax one of the commandos just explains the reasoning and I had to go back and read it twice because I missed it the first time.

I was also a bit uncomfortable with the ease or the acceptance level from the adults (who should have been more serious-minded) with the constant teen talk about sex.

No action because of the dialogue dump.

I know, I know, this is satire, this is humor, this is apart from reality, this is a skewed and unrealistic story. I understand and maybe I’m not understanding the concept behind it. Maybe it’s me but I didn’t get it and I glad to finish it feeling very tired after it was over.

The only reason this isn’t getting the lowest rank is because there were no misspelling/grammar/punctuation errors.

My Rank:

Orange Belt


Breach Of Consciousness


By Peter Castillo




Marco Torres has lived all his life with a special ability. He is a novice telepath. As an adult, he meets others of his kind and soon they’re involved in a murder mystery.

I expected a lot more from this plot. It wasn’t a very long story and moved quickly. Although the premise was fine and promising, it lacks oomph.


Marco Torres: former Navy, struggling writer, tattooed

Marie Sutton: blonde, deciphers handwriting

Vicky Donnelly: long dark hair, fit, has a sister

Daniel Santiago: 40s, average build, mustache

Rebecca Santiago: Daniel’s twin sister

A few others. The characters are fine, distinctive. A shorter story means one doesn’t get to delve too much into back story but there was a bit of information here and there to get a flavor of the characters.

One thing I was interested in, was how did Marco make a living. He must have had some savings left over from the Navy because he didn’t work at any paying job.


Pretty good. Daniel has a good voice as does Marie and her mother.


1st person from Marco’s POV.

As mentioned this was a shorter story and the first part of the book was rushed through to get the reader through Marco’s childhood and onto being an adult. I think some slowing down would have helped the story, show more experiences with his talent. How else did it manifest itself when he was in the Navy? Examples? Adventures?

Unfortunately, there was little tension and danger shown in this story. Even when Marc and the Santiagos are surrounded by a gang I didn’t feel the danger. Without playing too much of a spoiler, the Santiagos have the power to ‘take over’ another person’s body for awhile. I thought this was cool, and there were several instances of this. However, there should have been more danger, more risk.

The author, at the beginning overuses the term ‘brain farts.’

All in all, this needed a bit more fleshing out. Cool cover, but it doesn’t really represent the low thriller inside.

My Rank:

Green Belt


Beth’s Book


By Tim Woods



An author struggles with writer’s block, an agent who reminds her she’s past deadline, a brother addicted to drugs and alcohol, a possible new romance, a son who says he’s bi-sexual and is trying to reconnect with his father.

Okay. That is how I saw the plot. That NOT the plot that was given to me. Direct from Amazon, here is the first line of the blurb about this book: What happens when fictional detective, Katie Shields, not only takes psychic possession of her author, but also starts to treat her creator as a suspect in a crime?

So, I’m thinking I’m going to read some supernatural tale and was very disappointed when it turned out not to be anything of the sort. If there was a ‘possession’ I missed it.


Beth Shepherd: 49, author, owns a cat, has a son, twice divorced, wears glasses, played volleyball at UCLA, has two brothers, parents dead, drives a Mazda Mia ta M-5 convertible

Stephen: Beth’s brother, 48, thrice divorced

Julie Sawyer: 38, black hair, former Olympic swimmer, fit, owns a bike shop

Here’s my take on the characters. I didn’t care. Beth’s only likeable quality is the car she drives. She’s depressing. She’s depressed about her ex husbands, her son even talking to her second ex husband, her friend’s constant fitness challenges. Her agent is on her. Then when she gets to New York, another friend is pissed at her and that wasn’t seen until Beth arrived. This woman has everything going against her I stopped rooting for her and caring about her long about page 50 (epub version).


Voices are distinctive. Not much else to say.


She spends most of the time brooding (shown in back story) about her two ex husbands, reading motivational quotes to help her get writing again (which don’t seem to help), arguing with her brothers, and finally, finally, at just past the half way mark does Katie Shield, the fictional detective start ‘talking’ to her. Not through possession as hyped, but through Beth’s internal dialogue that she’s writing. She writes scenes with her brother and the detective. She writes her ‘conversations’ with Katie, either on her computer or in her head. She takes her character in a drastic left turn to be able to finish the book.

There is some profanity.

Time passage was an issue. I found it difficult keeping track of time. Early on, she arrives home and in the next chapter she arrives home. Did a day pass?

Again, I just didn’t care. This went on and on with her writer’s block and brother problems and one more problem on top of another.

I hope this is an issue only with the epub version but all passages that were to be italicized were underlined.

Just when I thought things were to wrap up and Beth could start putting her world back together, there is a revelation that concerns her and her brother. The problem with this revelation is that is wasn’t hinted at during the entire book. If it was, again, I missed it.

So, how do I rank this? A fail, in my opinion, in regards to what I consider false advertising of the plot (again, maybe I’m not deep enough to catch the possession angle).

The like-ability aspect plays a part and one can see where I stand from the comments above.

It was clean, no errors (other than the underlined stuff).

The rank I choose is based on my enjoyment of the novel with regards to the clean writing.

My rank:

Camouflage Belt


Old Dog, New Tricks


By Marie-Yolaine Wiliams



When Boscoe’s owner dies, he’s taken to a shelter. But Boscoe is an older dog. Will he find a new forever home?

I took this book because I love animals and I adopted my cat from a shelter. When I saw the request for a review I grabbed it at once. I think this plot is just the right one for showing young people that older animals are worthwhile companions, that they are loving and want a chance to enjoy a good life.


Mr. Pickett: 100 years old

Boscoe: 11 year old Basset Hound

Max: 8, collect baseball cards

You don’t need too many more characters to make a story a good one. Just the basics. They are simple yet complete.


Not much dialogue but the conversations are important to the story. Don’t worry about voices in this book. If you’re reading this to a child YOU make the voices distinct.


I like a book that isn’t afraid to share the truth. People and animals die. Yes, it’s sad but the point is to make life worth living for people and animals.

I chose this book knowing what it was and knowing that I would like it, even though I also suspected-correctly I might add-that it would choke me up and get me glassy-eyed. I often think of my previous dogs and miss them.

I think the writing was on target, clean, concise, and poignant.

On the few occasions I read children’s books, I find it difficult to rate them. It comes down to like-ability and if I would recommend it to children I know.

This one is a definite yes to both.

My rank:

Brown Belt