Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WITS Book Reviews June 2013

Title: Eternity Skye
Author: Liz Newman
Publisher: Sweet Cravings Publishing
Publish date: April 30, 2013
ISBN: 978-1618856678

Not many authors can write books of different genres with equal skill and realism. Liz Newman is one of them. While her novel Vampire Eden is about Vegas’ supernatural—and often hilarious--underbelly, Eternity Skye is the moving and life-affirming story of a woman’s transformation after the events of 9-11.

Skye Evans lives for her career, and why not? She has worked hard enough to get to the top. As the host of her own news show, Around the Clock with Skye Evans, she has New York City wrapped around her finger. Sure, people think she is tough—even cold--but to her it’s all in a day’s work. Gibbs, her colleague and best friend, is one of the few who really know her.

The morning of September 11, 2001, begins much like any other; however, when the planes hit the Towers, Skye sees it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She convinces a reluctant Gibbs to go Lower Manhattan to cover the unfolding tragedy, only to suffer an unspeakable loss of her own. Shortly after arriving on the scene, Gibbs suffers a fatal heart attack and Skye is thrown into an abyss of grief and guilt for allowing ambition to blind her to what’s important.

After suffering yet another loss—this time, her father, Skye needs to get away. She travels to Rome to mend her heart, only to find that she’s not the only one haunted by ghosts. As she struggles to recover her equilibrium, Skye learns that she is much more than her work. She may even be someone who deserves love.

Newman’s writing is powerful and haunting, and in Eternity Skye, it reminds us of that one moment that changed our lives forever.

Title: He Only Died Twice
Author: Chris Elgood
Publisher: Chris Elgood
Publish date: December 21, 2011
ISBN: 978-0956894816
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Most of us have heard the saying, “there are no new ideas,” and while one could apply it to several areas of life, it is most associated with storytelling. Perhaps this is because the famous words were uttered by Mark Twain, who despite being one of America’s greatest writers was undoubtedly plagued by moments of doubt. However, like Twain, there are some writers who can take an old idea, then add a personal imprint so powerful that it seems new. Chris Elgood is one of those writers, and his novel, He Only Died Twice, is certainly one of those books.

What sets Elgood apart is his heroine, Nshila Maghrita Ileloka: a respectable and highly educated resident of the UK, a successful businesswoman, and hired assassin who uses a combination of the latest technology and ancient witchcraft from her remote village in Central Africa.
Add to that to a plot with more hairpin turns than an advanced slalom course and you’ve got a winner. He Only Died Twice is a continuation of Nshila’s story, which began with Elgood’s previous novel, Accidental Assassin. In the present case, however, Nshila is commissioned for her most dangerous job yet: the assassination of a member of Parliament. Despite the peril, Nshila accepts, especially since it does not violate her cardinal rule: only kill those who are both “despicable and otherwise untouchable.” Her latest victim, with his penchant for violence, drug dealing and human trafficking, certainly fits that bill. Nshila has little doubt that she will complete her mission. The question is, will she survive?

It is not too often that we see a self-realized female character in contemporary literature, and Nshila is one of the strongest I’ve read since Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander. As I reluctantly turned to the last page, I was already craving more of her adventures. Luckily, I don’t have to wait. Nshila returns in The Eager Apprentice, which is already available for purchase.

Title: Vampire Eden
Author: Liz Newman
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Las Vegas can be a tough town. You never know from one day to the next whether you’re going to lose your shirt, or even your life. That’s what happens to Eden Sayers, the reluctant heroine of Liz Newman’s terrifying and funny novel, Vampire Eden.

Eden’s journey to rock bottom has been slow and agonizing: from the co-dependent girlfriend of Kevin, an abusive loser, to “exotic dancer” and soon-to-be stripper. She doesn’t want to turn tricks, but with Kevin chronically ill and the bills piling up, she needs a way to make cash fast. She considers herself lucky when her first “john” is a handsome guy named Patrick. But it’s Patrick’s eleven-hundred-dollar casino chip that convinces her to follow him into the dark Vegas alley. As it turns out, Eden’s luck with paying customers isn’t so good either. Patrick’s sole purpose is to deliver Eden to a group of female vampires. Eden is supposed to be their meal, but she convinces Aoleon, the beautiful and evil ringleader, to turn her into a vampire instead.

There are some things about becoming a vampire that are appealing to Eden—it will solve that pesky aging problem. As soon as Aoleon’s venom enters her bloodstream, she is once more in the full bloom of youth. On the other hand, she must deliver fresh victims to Aoelon or face an agonizing death. As if that isn’t enough, the super-secret Paranormal Investigations department of the CIA will throw her in jail—for eternity—if she doesn’t help them bring Aoleon down. Eden learns that whether you’re alive or undead, the world can be a real drag.

Part Ann Rice part Christopher Moore, Vampire Eden will scare you to death one minute and make you laugh out loud the next.

Title: Another Time, Another Place
Author: Mary Verdick
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Date Published: April 3, 2013
ISBN: 978-1481719322
Reviewer: Dana Micheli

Most of us have faced crushing disappointment at one time or another—a dream unfulfilled or a lover that broke our heart. We mourn the loss, not only of the dream or the lover, but of the plan we had made for our lives. The uncertainty of where to go from there is the hardest part; sometimes, however, it is when we step out of this uncertainty that the really good stuff happens. Mary Verdick reminds us of this in her wonderful novel, Another Time, Another Place.

When Phoebe Fox’s lifelong dream of being a professional dancer goes down the drain, she’s desperate to escape the pain. So desperate, in fact, that when her Great-Aunt Weezy asks Phoebe to join her on a road trip from Santa Fe to Denver, she jumps at the chance. When she boards the plane that will take her from Connecticut to New Mexico, she is expecting a week of dull conversation and early bird specials. She couldn’t be more wrong.

Weezy is a dynamo—brimming with the energy of the young while embracing the wisdom of her seventy years. Yet she too has faced devastating loss as a young woman, when the love of her life disappeared during WWII. As she and Phoebe drive over the dusty roads of the American Southwest, Weezy shares her story with her niece. Phoebe finds she is anything but bored, and she learns that she and her great-aunt have a great deal in common. Along the way, she falls for kind-hearted and gorgeous Cody Moon, and he for her. When circumstances seem once again to be stacked against her, it is Weezy that helps Phoebe through. Will she reunite the young couple as well?
Mary Verdick’s beautiful imagery takes on a journey of the imagination and the heart. Whether you are looking for romance, mystery, or a reason to dream, Another Time, Another Place is the perfect choice. 

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