Tag Archives: Zach Fortier

Stacking the Shelves (50)

STS banner 2014 copy

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and is a fun way to share the books you’ve acquired over the past week or two.  I’ve had a pretty good two weeks as far as my book haul goes! I received several awesome things in the mail, I won two books, I bought a bunch of cool stuff, and I was approved for some much coveted titles on Edelweiss! So, let’s get to it. Here’s what’s new on my shelves:

For Review Via Edelweiss:

Sublime by Christina Lauren. This was a Waiting on Wednesday pick for me, and I’m so excited I was approved. (That’s my new review request strategy, by the way. I’m going to try to only request books that I feature on Waiting on Wednesday!). If you don’t know, “Christina Lauren” is the pen name for two authors, and they are the writers of the Beautiful Bastard series. I haven’t read those books yet, but I’m sure lots of you have.

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. Super excited to read this! I have yet to read an Andrew Smith book, but he’s a hot topic right now in the publishing industry. I’m going to try to read Grasshopper Jungle soon if I can squeeze it in.

For review from publishers:

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The Barrow by Mark Smylie. Wonderful Pyr publicist Lisa Michalski noticed a comment I left about The Barrow on another blog (me gushing about how much I wanted to read it) and she sent me a copy! Love her! Thanks Lisa:-)

Scan by Walter Jury & S.E. Fine. Walter Jury is a pen name for the guy who’s producing the Divergent movie, so I’m very curious to see what this book is all about. I’m going to also be on the tour for this book in April.

Hero to Zero by Zach Fortier. I reviewed a couple of Zach’s books when I first started blogging, back when I pretty much reviewed nothing but indie books. Since then I’ve agreed to read his other books, just because I really like him and he’s got quite a unique voice.

Won:

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The Anxiety of Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Millar. Big thanks to Nathan at Fantasy Review Barn for this door-stopper of a book! I adore Martin Millar and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve read anything by him.

Wicked After Midnight by Delilah S. Dawson. I won this from The Qwillery, thank you so much, Sally! I’ve heard damn good things about Ms. Dawson’s books, and I’m excited to start this series. I realize this is the third book in the series, so I’ll be buying the first two soon.

Purchased:

Blood Oranges and Red Delicious by Kathleen Tierney. Some of my favorite bloggers (Mogsy, Tabitha and Nathan) love these books, so it was inevitable that I would eventually get around to reading them. I’ve already read Blood Oranges and loved it!

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. Here’s another book I’ve been seeing a lot of great reviews for, so I had to buy it. I love that it’s very short, so I shouldn’t have trouble finding time to read it. If you love fantasy and you haven’t read any Jeff VanderMeer yet, I highly recommend him.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig. I know, I’m a huge Wendig fan, but I still haven’t read his most beloved series. I’m gonna take care of that soon:)

That’s it for me this week. What about you? What’s new on your shelves?

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Stacking the Shelves (27)

STS

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and is a great way to share your book haul for the week! I’m super excited this week because I was finally approved for a title on Edelweiss that I’ve been waiting a few weeks to hear about, plus I won some fantastic giveaways from some awesome bloggers that came in the mail this week, too. All in all, a great week and I’m very happy:) Here’s what I got (click on the covers to go to Goodreads):

For Review From Edelweiss & NetGalley:

NotaDroptoDrink_final_1The BrokenheartedCarniepunk

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis. Release date: September 24 2013 (Katherine Tegen Books). Yep, this is the one! I’m so excited about this book. I fell in love with the cover when it was revealed, and the story looks like it’s going to be awesome too!

The Brokenhearted by Amelia Kahaney. Release date: October 8 2013 (HarperTeen). The publisher describes this as “The Dark Knight meets Cinder…” Wow! A ballerina falls to her death—and then wakes up in a laboratory with a bionic heart. It sounds a bit like Frankenstein, too. I can’t wait to get to it!

Carniepunk by multiple authors. Release date: July 23 2013 (Gallery Books). This is an urban fantasy anthology with a carnival theme. Awesome idea, right? It’s got a fantastic line-up, including Kevin Hearne.

Received for Blog Tours:

RunesFrankie's Monster

Runes by Ednah Walters. My stop for this tour is June 5th. I really enjoyed Ednah’s book Betrayed, and I’m looking forward to reading another book from her!

Frankie’s Monster by Rae Hachton. This story is, not surprisingly, inspired by Frankenstein. It also has “mature content,” and yes, I am looking forward to the mature content! My tour stop is later this month on April 28.

Won:

Mila 2.0Gated

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza. Big thanks to Wendy at The Midnight Garden for sending me this book! I feel very lucky because Wendy always has tons of people enter her giveaways. What are the chances?? I’m looking forward to reading it, I’ve read some really good reviews.

Gated by Amy Christine Parker. I won this ARC from Hafsah at Icey Books! Thanks so much, Hafsah! I actually won it back in January, before the ARCs were even printed, and I just got it in the mail a couple of days ago.

Indie for Review:

Hero To Zero

Hero To Zero by Zach Fortier. I hooked up with Zach back when I first started this blog, and I gave his first book a not-so-great review. But that didn’t stop him from sending me more of his books! I think this is the fourth book I’ve received from Zach, and I have to say I’m actually looking forward to reading it.

I’d love to hear what you received this week, too! Please leave me a link in the comments:)

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CURBCHEK RELOAD by Zach Fortier – Review

This is the third book I’ve read by Zach Fortier, and I have to say it’s probably going to be the last. Fortier’s books are “fictionalized” incidents from his past life as a police officer. CurbChek Reload is described by the author as “CurbChek’s darker, meaner cousin” and he’s not wrong. This book was mean, in more ways than one.

CurbChek Reload has the same format as Fortier’s other books. The short chapters describe “calls” during his time on the streets or memorable interactions with co-workers on the force.  For the most part, each vignette stands on its own as a separate occurrence and doesn’t tie into the book as a whole, other than to show how many horrific events the author has witnessed. And believe me, these stories are pretty horrific. Aside from being grossed out, I was shocked at the author’s ability to talk about them with little or no emotion. Perhaps being a cop for twenty-five years gives one the ability to put emotions on the back burner, but reading his matter-of-fact accounts simply made me feel sorry for him. Instead of displaying emotion, Fortier pats himself on the back for being the only cop in the department who knows what he’s doing.  In his eyes, every other cop on the force is “lazy,” “fat” or “stupid.”  He is routinely able to calm down “tweaking” drug addicts, contain mobs that are about to get out of control, and talk criminals into giving up information. He could be called the “drug addict whisperer” for his uncanny ability to sooth the savages on the streets.

It’s taken me three books to figure out what is missing here: I wanted more of an overall arc to the book, a sense that the author has a point to make at the end, a conclusion that perhaps his many years as a cop were worth the agony, sadness and tediousness of the job. But CurbChek Reload simply ends as abruptly as it begins. By the end of the book I didn’t feel any sense of the author having accomplished anything, except to sensationalize crime. Even a book like this, which is cloaked as “fiction” but isn’t, could benefit from a bit more depth. After reading so many gruesome accounts of murder, domestic abuse, drug deals gone bad, and even bestiality, I was hoping for an epiphany of sorts from Fortier. What has he learned from all this pain? What conclusions has he drawn about the human race? I can tell that he feels anger, toward both his fellow cops and society in general, but as a driving emotion, anger gets old fast. We get it! You’re angry! I wanted a spark of optimism at the end, something that left me feeling that life is worth living. Aside from one chapter where Fortier saves a woman from committing suicide, I felt very little hope.

On a happier note, Fortier’s writing has improved by leaps and bounds since his first book, CurbChek. Sentences flow smoothly, and much of the cop slang that bothered me in the first book is thankfully absent. But good writing aside, I can only recommend this book to people who love to be shocked and grossed out. I’m sure the author’s point of writing these books is to remind us that the world is not always a happy place. And for those of you who enjoy being reminded of this, I’m sure Fortier has many more stories to tell.

Many thanks to the author for supplying a review copy.

You can purchase CurbChek Reload here.

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What’s On My Plate – September

In an attempt to really organize my reading and reviewing schedule, I put before you the books I have lined up for September. The review list is a bit longer than I want it to be. I was hoping to squeeze in some “me” books, but that might have to wait for October.

For review:

Brett’s book has been bumped a few times. Sorry Brett! This time for reals it’s next in line!

Something Red, Incarnation and Boyfriend From Hell are all from Edelweiss, and all being released in September, so expect reviews on all three this month.

Breed came from Library Thing, and in order to keep winning books from them I must make sure I get a review up this month.

Reviews coming soon:

Realms of Gold review will be up later today. Thanks for waiting Chi-Li! And I’m finishing up Zach’s book today as well, and hope to have the review up tomorrow.

If I have time:

Three books that I’m dying to read, but just can’t seem to find time for.

Overall, it looks like a great month for reading! I hope you all have deliciously full plates as well:)

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Promises, Promises

We’re already six days into August, and I have a full plate of books to consume. I’m not sure what happened, but I’ve agreed to read and review a number of books this month, and I need to get cracking. Here’s what my brain feels like right now:

That’s right, overcrowded and confused! But what a great photo, right? Here are the books I’m promising to read and review this month, provided the stars align:

The Jesuit Papers by A. B. Fowler. I’m reading it right now and love it! Should be a quick read.

The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle. It comes out 8/21, so I want to read and review it before then.

Stealing Breath by Joanne Brothwell. Now available. This book from small publisher Crescent Moon Press looks fantastic!

Realms of Gold: Ritual to Romance by Terry Stanfill. Now available. My buddy Chi-Li, who has sent me some pretty awesome books to review, recently sent me this one.

Breed by Chase Novak. I just won this from Library Thing, and although I don’t actually have it yet, I hope to squeeze it into this month’s reviews.

CurbChek Reload by Zach Fortier. Sorry Zach! I’ve had this one a while and just keep putting it off. It’s not my usual genre, but I want to read it this month.

Pale Horse by Brett Battles. Now available. I’ve had this for a while too, and really want to check it off my list. It’s the final book in a very exciting series, so I’m looking forward to it.

I don’t know if I can read all these or not, but I’m certainly going to try. In addition to reading, I have my “other” life to attend to: two kids going back to school next week, my duties as PTA president at their middle school, trying to find a job, and keeping the dogs and hubby happy as much as possible! Let’s all take a deep breath…

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Book Pushalooza!

Today I’m helping out my friend Zach Fortier with an event called “Book Pushalooza,” a unique idea from a group of Indie Authors. Today (July 26th) the nine books you see listed below will be available from Amazon for only 99 cents each!  It’s a great way to try something new and help these authors gain a foothold in the crazy and competitive world of indie publishing. Please read below to find out how you can not only get these books at bargain prices, but enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card! To purchase a title, you can either click on the book covers below, or go to the bottom of this post and click on the “Enter Here” link and you will be directed to the Rafflecopter form, which also has links to Amazon.
Welcome
to the FIRST EVER Book Pushalooza!
July 26th ONLY
9
Books, only .99.
With
each purchase you get the chance to WIN while Helping Authors reach new heights
in Amazon’s ranks.
It’s
so easy a CAVEMAN could do it!
Follow
the Instructions on the Rafflecopter Widget and for each book you purchase (or
Borrow through Amazon Prime for Free) you get an entry in to WIN —
(1)Grand
Prize- $100 Amazon Gift Card
(2)Runners
up of $25 Amazon Gift Cards
That’s
not all! Purchase all NINE (9) books and get an additional 5 entries!
Don’t
delay, this offer is good for JULY 26th ONLY!

Overview of Dark Isle

When evil begets evil, a choice is forced on Quinn, the one person who can see
the danger. Does she save the ones she loves, or does she save the world from
Chaos?

As the realms of Fae and human collide, Quinn’s future has never
looked so grim, or so damn impossible.

Genre- Urban Fantasy

Overview of Enemy in Blue

The streets aren’t safe when your enemy wears a blue uniform and a gold
badge.

What if the good guys weren’t good?

What if a cop went
rogue and killed an innocent man?

What if it was all caught on video and the cop would do anything to
cover it up?
Chase this lawless cop through the streets and to a
scintillating series of showdowns with Cruz Marquez, a young attorney trying to
nail down his enemy in blue.

Will justice be served?

Genre- Thriller


Overview of Land of the Noonday Sun

When two strangers have nothing left but their dreams,
they must forge a relationship in Nantahala, North Carolina, a small town known
as Land of the Noonday Sun.A man with a
traumatic past is able to turn his life around and is happy with his chosen
career as a whitewater guide. Everything changes though when fate hurls a woman
into his path. His carefree life is in turmoil, and his former weaknesses
threaten to overtake him. Will he be strong enough when tragedy strikes and is
once again in danger of losing everything he loves?
Genre- Contemporary Romance
Overview of This Time Forever

Delaney Brannigan and Blake Morrisson
met at the Cedar Cove annual costume dance, known only to each other as the
leopard and the cowboy–but, as Delaney soon discovers, the cowboy she’d
thought had ridden off into the sunset never to tempt her again, is none other
than the man she came from New York to find and discredit. Against her will,
Delaney is drawn deeper and deeper into an overwhelming attraction to Blake–an
attraction she can’t give in to if she wants to keep the one thing she values
more than anything else.
Genre- Contemporary Romance

Overview of Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula

Fourteen-year-old Cassidy Jones wakes up the morning after a minor
accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist to discover that her
body has undergone some bizarre physical changes. Her senses, strength, and speed
have been radically enhanced.

Lives are put at risk when they find themselves embroiled in a dangerous,
action-packed adventure. Soon they are forced to confront a maniacal villain
willing to do anything – including murder – to reach his own ambitious goals.

Genre- YA/MG Superhero

Overview of Gray Justice

Gray Justice is the fast-paced debut
thriller from Alan McDermott. When a killer walks free from court, the victim’s
father sees just two options: accept the judge’s decision; or take on the
entire British justice system. Tom Gray chooses the latter and his crusade
attracts instant worldwide media coverage. It was just what Tom was hoping for,
but it brought him a lot more than he bargained for.
Gray Justice is much more than a simple tale of revenge: it’s a rollercoaster
ride with an ending you’ll never forget!

Genre- Thriller
Overview of Gone at Zero Hundred 00:00

“Their lives are in the hands of two 18-year-olds…”

A Prominent P.I. is
gunned down – killed by a sniper – and it’s broadcasted on live TV.

Now,
her daughter, along with her childhood pal, are thrust into a complex and
riveting thriller forced to take on a secret club whose members call themselves
The Privileged Ones.

Murder. Teen abductions and illegal underground
parties.

They’re chased by men in ski-masks, nearly gunned down by
members of a cartel, and the only way to bring down this criminal enterprise; is
to crash a Mardi Gras bash and stop their private cruise ship from sailing off
into the sunset.

 

Overview of Allegiance

Who do YOU pledge allegiance to?

After exposing one of the most notorious rings of police corruption in history,
lawyer Cruz Marquez planned on starting a new life south of the border. That
plan unraveled when an extremist group of Minutemen captured and tortured him
and his wife.

Will Cruz pledge allegiance to do right, or will he do anything
to serve up revenge?

Genre- Thriller

Overview of Curbchek Reload

Curbchek-Reload is a dark account of the streets as they were worked by
Zach Fortier, a dangerously deranged cop. Welcome back to the inner city and
the twisted mentality of Zach Fortier. Patrolling the streets, broken and
mentally damaged from years of urban violence, Zach fights a losing battle to
maintain a hold on reality. Join him in the passenger seat of a police cruiser
for more of the darker and meaner side of life: The inner city. In
Curbchek-Reload you get a front row seat to an attempted murder of a cop,
suicide attempts, rapes, and DARK cop humor. Curbchek-Reload – Fasten your
bullet proof vest and buckle your seatbelt, it is gonna be a wild ride!
Genre- Police Procedural 

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In My Mailbox #6

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way to share with other bloggers the books you’ve received over the past week.

This week I ended up with a very interesting group of books in all kinds of genres. Here they are:

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith. Purchased. Grahame-Smith wrote Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which I never got to read last year. Now the movie is coming out, and of course I want to read it first.  Unholy Night is his latest, and once again he skewers a historical event and turns it into, well, something else entirely. Here’s what Goodreads says:

They’re an iconic part of history’s most celebrated birth. But what do we really know about the Three Kings of the Nativity, besides the fact that they followed a star to Bethlehem bearing strange gifts? The Bible has little to say about this enigmatic trio. But leave it to Seth Grahame-Smith, the brilliant and twisted mind behind Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to take a little mystery, bend a little history, and weave an epic tale.

In Grahame-Smith’s telling, the so-called “Three Wise Men” are infamous thieves, led by the dark, murderous Balthazar. After a daring escape from Herod’s prison, they stumble upon the famous manger and its newborn king. The last thing Balthazar needs is to be slowed down by young Joseph, Mary and their infant. But when Herod’s men begin to slaughter the first-born in Judea, he has no choice but to help them escape to Egypt.

It’s the beginning of an adventure that will see them fight the last magical creatures of the Old Testament; cross paths with biblical figures like Pontius Pilate and John the Baptist; and finally deliver them to Egypt. It may just be the greatest story never told.

The Breath of God by Jeffrey Small, published by West Hills Press.  Received a review copy from the publisher. OK, I’m not on a religious kick, I just happened to receive two books this week with religious overtones. The Breath of God has been compared to The Da Vinci Code.  Wow! It looks really good, and here’s the description from Goodreads:

A murder at the Taj Mahal. A kidnapping in a sacred city. A desperate chase through a cliffside monastery. All in the pursuit of a legend that could link the world’s great religious faiths.

In 1887, a Russian journalist made an explosive discovery in a remote Himalayan monastery only to be condemned and silenced for the heresy he proposed. His discovery vanished shortly thereafter.

Now, graduate student Grant Matthews journeys to the Himalayas in search of this ancient mystery. But Matthews couldn’t have anticipated the conspiracy of zealots who would go to any lengths to prevent him from bringing this secret public. Soon he is in a race to expose a truth that will change the world’s understanding of religion. A truth that his university colleagues believe is mere myth. A truth that will change his life forever, if he survives.

CurbChek Reload by Zach Fortier.  Received a review copy from the author.  Yep, he’s back! Once again, Zach has been kind enough to send me a copy of his latest book, despite the fact that I wasn’t blown away by Curbchek and Street Creds. His style is gritty and unpolished, but the life of a street cop is gritty and unpolished, so it works for me in some strange way. Here’s what Goodreads says about CurbChek Reload:

CurbChek Reload is a compilation of calls handled by Zach Fortier. This is a more accurate account of the street…at least the streets as i worked them. You will accompany Zach down some dark alleys, into crack houses, chase teenage prostitutes and try to breathe life into the dying. The humor is dark. It’s real cop humor, not the canned jokes made up by people who write about cops, but the stuff they actually laugh about as they try to cope with the dark realities of the job.
Hang on for a rollercoaster ride full of unexpected twists and turns.

Summer Morning, Summer Night by Ray Bradbury. Won in the Worldbuilders raffle. I was surprised when this showed up on my doorstep, because Worldbuilders was over in January, and I really thought I hadn’t won anything. But I’m so happy to have a new batch of short stories by Ray Bradbury. This book was actually published in 2008, and it’s filled with the magical charm that only Ray Bradbury can bring to his stories. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Green Town, Illinois stands at the very heart of Ray Bradbury Country. A lovingly re-imagined version of the author’s native Waukegan, it has served as the setting for such modern classics as Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Farewell Summer. In Summer Morning, Summer Night, Bradbury returns to this signature locale with a generous new collection of twenty-seven stories and vignettes, seventeen of which have never been published before. Together, they illuminate some of Green Town’s previously hidden corners, and reaffirm Bradbury’s position as the undisputed master of a unique fictional universe.

What did you receive in your mailbox this week?

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STREET CREDS by Zach Fortier – Review

Although my review of Zach Fortier’s Curbchek was less than favorable, the author asked me to read and review Street Creds, which follows much the same format but focuses on Fortier’s time working on the Gang Task Force.  I expected Curbchek to be a novel, which it claims to be. But it was a rather thinly disguised memoir of actual police cases, and so when I began Street Creds I was prepared for the same thing.  I was not disappointed.

In the specialized Gang Task Force, Fortier once again shows us the realities of life on the other side of the law, as he infiltrates some of the toughest gangs on the streets. Using his apparent charm to get hardened criminals, drug dealers, and gang members to trust him, he not only makes arrests and gets convictions in court, but he also dodges bullets, engages in a dangerous high-speed chase after witnessing a drive-by, and even plays a key role in stopping a turf war. Reading about these exploits makes you wonder how the force got along before he joined them. The raw language, which only highlights his rough writing skills, for some reason fits in with the down-and-dirty, super-hero-like feats he pulls off.

The book is arranged as a series of chapters highlighting different cases with gangs, and unlike Curbchek, which didn’t have any kind of arc, Street Creds feels more like a complete story. Chapter One explains how Fortier became part of the Gang Task Force and his disdain at discovering how mismanaged the department was, and as the chapters progress, he gradually gets to know the individual gang members, which helps him succeed in solving crimes and cleaning up the streets, at least according to him. By the end I almost felt like I knew the author better, and in some strange way, even understood him.

This time around Fortier gives us a glimpse of his violent childhood.  Raised by a sadistic mother and an overworked and angry father, he and his brother are taught at a young age to steal, lie and fight. Like many children raised in such an environment, he grows up believing that his is a normal childhood.  After describing this horrific upbringing, Fortier concludes that the abuse only made him better able to relate to the gang members he spends time with every day.

Street Creds also shows us the emotional state of a man who spends his days and nights with criminals and violence.  In a poignant moment near the end of the book, the author observes his daughter in the bathroom.  She is looking in the mirror and holding up her hands in a way that makes him think she is making a gang “sign.”  He is appalled and angry that his own daughter may actually be involved in a gang, and he confronts her.  The girl, scared and confused, tells her father that she is only looking at nail polishes and trying to decide what color to wear.  Defeated, Fortier realizes that it’s time to get off the streets, or he may destroy one of the only good relationships he has.

Despite his aggression and complete lack of respect for his fellow police officers, Fortier hides his vulnerability behind a tough guy façade as he gamely tries to find his place in the world. Street Creds is more introspective and controlled than Curbchek.  Fortier’s anger issues are still there, but he clearly wants to make things better, both on the streets and in the Task Force.  He’s trying to figure out which world he belongs in, and my guess is it’s somewhere in between.

Many thanks to the author for sending me a review copy of the book. You can purchase Street Creds here and visit Fortier’s website here.

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In My Mailbox #1

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by The Story Siren.  This is my first time participating, and I’m quite excited! It’s a fun way to share books that you have received recently.  In the past week I have received and am looking forward to reading and reviewing:

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington. Release date: 3/6/12. Received an ARC from the publisher.  Jessica Shirvington is Australian and I believe this is the first book she has had published in America. It looks pretty good.  Here is the description from Goodreads:

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry. Release date: Now available.  Received an e-book review copy from the author.  Mary wrote me a very nice email and asked me to review her book. She has also written a book called The Gods of Fire based her experiences as a firefighter, which has been optioned for film by Bill Mechanic.  I’m really looking forward to this one. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation. Determined to find her friend Jesús, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Boquillas, Mexico. There a peyote-addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that explores the borders between the United States and Mexico, adolescence and adulthood, male and female, English and Spanish, and adult coming-of-age and Young Adult novels.

The Day of First Sun by Sheryl Steines.  Release date: Now available.  Received a paperback review copy from the author. This book looks like a lot of fun! I got a very nice email from Sheryl’s publicist, Donna Brown, asking if I’d like to read and review Sheryl’s book. Then Sheryl herself mailed me a copy of the paperback with another very nice note it in.  Here’s what the book’s about:

When Princess Amelie of Amborix is murdered by magical means, Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard are called in by the FBI. Their job is to help solve the crime while keeping the non-magical world from discovering the existence of the Wizard Council.

During their investigation, Annie and Cham discover that Princess Amelie’s death is connected to a series of other crimes in the Chicago area. A larger plot involving, a vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soul-less zombies is revealed, but can Annie and Cham discover who is responsible before The Day of First Sun?

Street Creds by Zach Fortier.  Release date: Now available.  Received a paperback review copy from the author.  I reviewed another book of Zach’s recently, Curbchek, and even though I considered my review to be on the harsh side, Zach wanted me to read and review Street Creds as well.  How could I say no?  Here’s the description from Goodreads:

Street Creds is a look inside the world of street gangs and the cops that work them. I worked the street for many years before I entered the Gang Task Force, joining it with the idea that I could rise to the level of violence of any banger I encountered – a really stupid idea. I wanted to “earn back” the respect of the citizens for the police; I grew up in this city, and I worked its streets the best way I knew how, feeling that I had a firsthand understanding of what the citizens were experiencing. The increasing frustration at gang crimes, drive bys, robberies, never feeling safe with your kids in your own neighborhood – I wanted to do what I could to make that fear go away.

Once I was inside the task force, though, the reality was a rude awakening for me. The task force was poorly managed and staffed by detectives mostly out for themselves, and the internal politics made success incredibly difficult and almost impossible – almost, but not quite.
Street Creds is my story. Against the odds, outnumbered by gang members, and with very few allies in the department and only the bare minimum of support. Having witnessed bad cops, brutal crimes, and realizing the department had been compromised, the cost was much higher for me personally than I anticipated; however, while on the task force, I achieved a 100% conviction rate of every case on which I made an arrest.

Seven Ways to Die by William Diehl. Release date: Now available.  Received an e-book from the publisher for review.  William Diehl passed away in 2006, and this is the book he was working on at the time.  It was finished by Ken Atchity and is now being released exclusively as an e-book from Barnes & Noble. I don’t read a lot of mystery, and I’ve never read Diehl before, but I’ve heard great things about him. Here’s what the book is about:

From the Nez Perce Indian reservation in Idaho to New York’s Central Park is a straight line right through Bill Diehl’s last and most intriguing lead character, Micah Cody.

There are seven basic ways to die. In 1969 Dr. John C. Cavanaugh catalogued them all in his Primer of Forensic Pathology-Cast Studies for the Novice M.E.

Micah Cody is a 30-something NYPD captain of homicide, who’s founded a special unit known as TAZ with city-wide license to take over any investigation at all, with special focus on serial killers. Now its ultimate challenge is on the loose in Manhattan, with three victims already whose causes of death seem like intentional defiance of TAZ’s existence—and four to go in four deadly days leading up to Halloween. Chronicling it all with great amusement is the Capote-like award-winning crime writer Ward Hamilton who, egged on by his sexually voracious socialite bedmate, is determined to bring TAZ to its knees journalistically.

Captain Micah Cody’s Nez Perce name is “Youngest Wolf” from his ability to communicate with the animals and read nature’s signs. As all hell is breaking loose in Manhattan, the wolves in Central Park howl, the peregrine falcons shriek their warnings—and Micah is listening.

Seven Ways to Die is a non-stop, sexy read with Diehl doing to the end what he did best throughout his bestselling career.

And how will I find the time to read all these, you ask? Good question! I have even more books in line ahead of these, so off I go to read…

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CURBCHEK by Zach Fortier – Review

I received a review copy of Curbchek from the author, and was immediately struck by the intriguing cover.  Curbchek describes the gritty, day-to-day working life of a cop on the city streets, and that cop’s name is Zach Fortier, just like the author.  Now, I’ve actually read quite a few books where the author decides to give the main character their own name, and to be honest, I’ve never really understood why writers do this.  Nonetheless, I started reading, knowing that Fortier based his book on his personal experiences as a police officer.

The book is a series of short chapters, each focusing on a different street incident that takes place in an unnamed city.  Some of these stories are fairly banal and even humorous, but most are truly horrific and sometimes shocking. Fortier definitely has a gift for lurid description, and he and his trash-talking fellow cops come across as authentic, if disturbing.  But while the crimes themselves are hard to stomach, I found the most disturbing part of Curbchek was the “character” of Zach Fortier.  I honestly don’t know how much of the book is autobiographical, but if this is the real Fortier, I don’t think I want to meet him. In the Preface, he actually describes himself as “damaged,” and he’s not wrong. Fortier was in the military police before coming over to the civilian side, and his training instilled in him a loathing for authority of any kind.  When he started working the streets, he realized he could finally make his own decisions, and many of those decisions come across as downright reckless.

We’ve all heard about police brutality, and seen it in action on TV, but most of us probably don’t think much about it on a daily basis. So when I started reading Curbchek I was not prepared for Fortier’s casual descriptions of the treatment of some of the perpetrators.  Although I acknowledge that police work is dangerous and officers have to be alert and ready for violence at all times, I felt a lot of the bad treatment of criminals went above and beyond what was necessary to keep them in check. Instead of cheering on the cops for protecting society, I was horrified by what I interpreted as sadistic cops who take out their aggressions on the job.

Most perplexing to me is how many people really loved this book.  I checked the reviews for Curbchek on Amazon and Goodreads before I started writing this review, just to see if I was on the same page as other readers, and I found that I am notCurbchek is getting glowing five-star reviews from most people, which is great for Fortier, but confuses the heck out of me.  I have to conclude that those who have read and reviewed this book are reacting to its shock value, and not the fact that it is a poorly constructed “novel.”  If Fortier had actually created a fictional character and a story arc that provided the reader with a beginning, middle and end, it would have been much more successful.  Even throwing out the idea of a novel and calling it “non-fiction” would have made it better.  In any case, when I evaluate a book there is one thing that has to be present in order for me to give it any kind of “thumbs up.”  If the characters, even the bad guys, do not have any redeeming human qualities, the story just doesn’t work.

I’ll leave you with this definition of “curbchek” from the introduction, which sums up very nicely how I felt after finishing the book:

“Curbchek: Placing an unconscious or immobile individual’s head against a curb with their mouth open, then stomping on or kicking them in the head.”

Mission accomplished.

You can purchase Curbchek here (and read some of those glowing reviews I was talking about) and visit Fortier’s website here.

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