Elisabeth Zguta's Book Reviews

Independent Author and  Publisher

J.F. Penn wrote a wonderful story that is highly entertaining.

Gates of Hell: An ARKANE Thriller (Book 6) - J.F. Penn

This book is action packed like you would expect from any book in the ARKANE series, but this story added more than the previous. Morgan, the main protagonist, was joined once again with Jake to work a case— but this time it was personal for her.

What I liked about this plot is that more of Morgan's past, and her relationship with her father, was revealed. This added depth to her character. It also explained so much about her obsession for the truth and her insatiable appetite for religious artifacts. Another side of Morgan that the reader got a glimpse of was her ability to see and accept people for who they are. Her reaction to Jake, and her ability to accept his 'limitations', showed a caring side of her personality.
The tension was high throughout the story, as Morgan overcomes one obstacle then falls in front of another. The character of Mikael was introduced —a great portrayal of a truly faithful man, strong and heroic in an unassuming way. The idea of true sacrifice always makes for a great story, even if he becomes a tragic hero. Of course countering the good was a great villain in Adam Kadmon, another zealot.

The settings were magical, and the Houska Castle is a great choice for the finale, with the haunting stories that surround the place. Other interesting components added in this book were: flamenco nights in Seville, the Kabbalism, the Sefer Yetzirah, the creation of golem and other religious ideas.

I enjoy reading books when I learn something new, especially if done well. This book gave the reader a great value, with added goodies at the end, as well as more information on the topics discussed in the story. I recommend anyone who enjoys high adventure to read The Gates Of Hell.

Enjoyed the setting

Ghost Walk - Heather Graham

We made a quick trip to New Orleans so I decided to read this book before we left. The author's description of the city and the charcaters who live there are exactly what you can expect to find, and was spot on. I enjoyed being at the same places where the charcaters roamed, namely the famous cemetaries like LaFayette, as well as following the lives and footsteps of a ghost tour guide. The main plot was an interesting murder mystery (actual double murder) and had some twists. The love interest between the two protagonists who both could see ghosts, was easily predictable, but it made a charming love story. If you like murder stories with a side romance, no one does it like Heather Graham. This was a fun and quick murder/lovestory book.

Be Curious & Band Together For Common Goals

By Seth Godin - Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (9/21/08) - Seth Godin

I enjoyed reading the book, nodding my head the entire time. So much of what Seth points out, I can relate to looking back at my own experiences in the past. I understand the power behind the tribe mentality, especially at the edge of major change. That's the time when everyone is looking for a leader - someone to offer a way to make sense and empower people to reach the new goals.

When I worked for a company that went from a single entrepreneur owner to a company on the stock exchange, everyone was afraid and those who banded together, created the commercial process that led us to success. The YCC culture was formed. There are so many ways to enrich our working lives, and personal lives - and this new POV is crucial in this century, which is set apart from other generations by the pure nature and volume of knowledge available, and the rate of changes we encounter. Being a curious person myself, and sometimes referred to as an instigator, now I realize it was just my own nature to jump at new ideas.

This book is a great tool for anyone who leads people, or is ever a member of a team effort. Everyone can be a leader, often the situation lends itself to rotate the head position, giving our projects an even balance. Lessons learned: Set the ego aside – turn up the curiosity - and always be a life learner.

Dark, Compelling Story

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Dark things can happen in people's lives, becoming something worse when buried deep. This story has a strong voice, and the protagonist has serious problems to confront. The topic of cutting is handled in a way the reader can empathize. As the story progresses, the protagonist exposes old wounds, not just physical but emotional as well. The reader discovers the layers of guilt alongside the main character, as she becomes horrified by the evil truth. The pace moves easily through the dysfunctional town and the sad shadows of her past. The psychological torture she endured soon is revealed. Issues and feelings, dredged up from the past, lead to a tense ending. Faded memories become clear and the danger is eminent. If you like the bizarre psychodrama and don't mind reading about sex and promiscuity, but love the danger of dealing with evil, then this is for you.

Malice In Memphis - Bluff City Mysteries

Malice In Memphis: Bluff City Mysteries - Carolyn McSparren, Elizabeth Smith

This anthology is very entertaining. My favorite story was 'Night Fishing' by Angelyn Sherrod. The author gave a well crafted story in the voice of the characters and of the historical period's setting. Other notable stories are Murder At The Peabody by Patricia Potter a cute who done it. Another enjoyable scare is Voodoo Village by Kristi Bradley. I have heard the urban legends and appreciated her creative use and respect of the location. I recommend this book of shorts for anyone who enjoys experiencing a variety of scary stories.

Source: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Q81O2AE/ref=x_gr_w_bb_t6_a?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_t6_a-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00Q81O2AE&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

The Body Market (Leine Basso Thriller #3)

The Body Market (Leine Basso Thriller #3) - D.V. Berkom This thriller is a great paced, exciting story that will keep you invested to turn the page. DV Berkom writes a great character with Leine Basso, as she continues her work saving people, now working for SHEN, (Stop Human Enslavement Now) and devoted in helping to stop human trafficking. The protagonist is a beloved bad a** woman, who’s not afraid to take on difficult assignments. She’s also an ex-assassin, fierce loving mom, and a loving partner to Santiago, as their relationship continues to grow in the series.
When Leine Basso takes on this case, she makes it her personal mission to find Elise, refusing to give up when she could easily opt out. There are many diversions and difficult situations that happen during the course, and we are shown how the protagonist overcomes the obstacles with good clear crisp writing.
I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the terrain in the scenes, from the streets in Tijuana to the desert landscape. The various characters that the protagonist interacts with also come to life as colorful portrayals of unique people with their individualism and quirks.
Whenever a book can incite a reader to engage in tough mental thought and reflection, it is a better world. The subject matter of this story deals with a problem that is so important, yet not talked about enough today—human trafficking and the ugly side of organ trafficking as well.
The Body Market was entertaining, enlightening and a great example of good writing. Well done once again DV Berkom.

Southern Cross (Erin Solomon Mysteries, #3)

Southern Cross (Erin Solomon Mysteries, #3) - Jen Blood They Can't Stay Out Of Trouble...

Page turning suspense and heroics, Erin Solomon along with her dog Einstein, and her loves: Jack and Diggs, find themselves in the middle of an explosive mess again. Struggling to find answers, Diggs gets into trouble while trying to discover the reason his best friend was murdered. Erin goes to the extreme, resorting to pleading with the devil himself, in order to help Diggs. Everyone's actions reveal a lot. Okay, that's cryptic but without giving anything away, the plot intertwines with the overall trail that Erin has been trying to stay away from since their last pitfall. No can do - it all comes back and explodes in their faces.

This story is a fast paced, wild ride, keeping the reader at the edge of the seat - that's right a real page turner. Getting to know the locals is easy with the fluid descriptions and deep character development. Some great relationship building scenes, drawing the reader into Erin's world as well as the other characters space. So join their world and read the series... I definitely recommend this series- a true thriller all the way, with each story becoming more intense. Great job Jen Blood.

Good-Bye Odd Thomas - it was great reading about your bizarre life

Saint Odd - Dean Koontz

The story, as anticipated, is a reflection of good and evil, and Odd's struggle not only to save his beloved town and friends, but to reason out his own conscience. The story is told in the strong voice of Odd, a truly endearing character. Sprinkled throughout we hear his look back, as Odd Thomas reflects about his friends and encounters from his travels in the series. He finally gets his happy ending with Stormy, no spoiler there, we knew he would. I enjoyed this story and liked the Odd Thomas series. This is one unique and strong character that touches our lives if we are lucky enough to read it.

Business For Authors. How To Be An Author Entrepreneur

Business For Authors. How To Be An Author Entrepreneur - Joanna Penn Lots to offer in this book for any author who takes their writing business seriously. Especially a necessary tool for those who have no real life experience doing the accounting and the marketing side. Some excellent suggestions, and information on where to find information advice. Very good as a reference to all the tools we need these days in the changing world of publishing.

Suicide Forest

Suicide Forest - Jeremy Bates Heart pounding suspense!
Revealed through the eyes and voice of Ethan, who deals with the strange and gruesome occurrences that he, and six other companions, experience in Aokigahara Jukai - the Sea of Trees, or better known in Japan as the place to go, to commit suicide.

Suicide Forest –It’s an intriguing title and it only gets better–Jeremy Bates wrote a vivid novel, and pulls the reader into the world under the trees, a woven canopy of twisted boughs and an imaginative macabre forest.

The protagonist's back story unfolds nicely with bits and pieces of his experiences as an English teacher in Japan. The tension picks up quick, and the companions roll from one ordeal to another, in a well-paced sequence of events, responding to each tribulation in creative ways. They all react with their own voice and tone, bringing an added dimension to the storyline.

Throughout the book there is a true sense of place, and of cultural backgrounds with the descriptions of the music, food and drinking customs, and boundaries in relationships–all defining our humanity. The differences between the characters, as well as their common threads, are exposed.

The cast of characters begins with Ethan and his girlfriend Melinda, both English teachers in a foreign country. Her friend John Scott, an American soldier, tags along. Also another teacher and Ethan’s co-worker Neil, and Tomo a young Psychology major–they then meet up with two new acquaintances, Ben and Nina, who are Israeli. All of them are from different backgrounds and cultures, and they each have their own personal struggles. A common theme they do share–thoughts about suicide, or at least about death, for various individual reasons. The seven companions hike into the woods following lifelines of ribbons, and set out to camp for a night. Not everyone comes out.

They deal with the situations that arise, until you are led to think there is no place to turn–or hope left. But Ethan finds a way. I don’t want to give anything away but an unexpected turn leads the reader into a shocking end...

I never saw it coming. I believe, humans are the worst monsters. You have to read the book to understand...

As a reader, I finished the story satisfied, with lingering thoughts about the situation the book presented. I am always happy read a story that makes me think and learn new things, and Jeremy Bates did an excellent job of sharing his added flavor to the story, with his own experiences in travel, and obvious research.

I strongly recommend this book for suspense seekers, you will definitely be entertained.

A lucky fan, I received an early copy, I also preordered as well, because I plan on reading it again and sharing with others. Release date Dec 14 - available for order now.

Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman Walt Whitman was a visionary, a tolerant and kind man, who spoke out about injustices and did not allow himself to conform. Looking into the soul of human motivation and reaction, he purposefully chose everyday people to demonstrate his loftiest ideas. He had deep feelings about humanity's return to the earth, completing the cycle of life. The war greatly influenced his ideals, and probably was a trigger for him to create updated editions of this poem, and with each he honed the lines and the placement. In many ways, this self educated and self published author was also a book maker - taking into account everything about the physical book as well as the content. He rejected censorship and joined in with other bohemian writers of the day. I read this poem slowly with a class over a period of weeks, and we discussed a lot of the background, and how his words were influenced by the events of the day. Walt Whitman's vision and words are relevant still today.
Excerpt from section Full Of Life Now
"When you read these I that was visible am become invisible,
Now it is you, compact, visible, realizing my poems, seeking me,
Fancying how happy you were if I could be with you and become your comrade;
Be it as if I were with you. (Be not too certain but I am now with you.)"

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman Great classic story about a boy being raised by a graveyard. So imaginative and a thrill for young readers as well as older people like myself. Very enjoyable.

Sins of the Father

Sins of the Father - Jen Blood Book two of the Erin Solomon Mystery series ramps up the danger and darkness as Erin digs deeper into her father's past. Old murders become connected, and the trail leads to assumptions about her father's implication in the horrific murders. The story is fast paced, and unfolds in a natural manner, introducing colorful characters and twisted motives. All the while, Erin's love interests tag along, with intent to help her, creating an awkward tension in the triangle relationship between herself, Diggs and her Fed. Lots of deep motives are revealed, as the sinister crimes lead down many paths - until Erin and Diggs fall prey.... They learn much about their instincts of survival and their emotional attachment to each other. A great ending, resolutions found for some questions but still more unresolved mysteries. Can't wait to read the next story in this series. Great job Jen Blood.

All the Blue-Eyed Angels

All the Blue-Eyed Angels - Jen Blood The characters are authentic with real life sensibilities, and woven deep into the scenes, real life reactions to the unexplainable and very human compulsions. Doubts, curiosity, trust, friendship and love - all real life struggles are explored from Erin's POV. The book dives straight into the mindset of Erin Solomon, as well as giving the supporting characters their own attributes and history.

The plot is twisted, the tone set by the strange, mysterious even, family and cult history. As the story progresses the reader feels the tension as Erin struggles to find out about her own past, as well as hunt down the real arsonist and murderer.

The story keeps a great pace, turning clue after clue, searching for the answers. The ending seems real life - often we don't get the complete picture, but we answer our questions one step at a time. It is a great way to do a sequel - and with this part completed, the reader wants to know more... so on to the next stone.

Great tension - great scenes - Jen Blood developed an organic storyline. Great writing and reading all around.

Whisper In The Dark

Whisper In The Dark - Robert Gregory Browne Great story! This book moves the reader along with an excellent pace, a twisted plot, and detectives who weave the way to an unexpected resolution. This story has a lot of the basic stuff we like in a thriller – murder, a serial killer on the loose, cryptic notes, old mental hospitals, the strange beliefs of folks from deep Louisiana, detectives, docs and nurses… the list of characters are a who’s who in any thriller, but Browne does justice to the story with great story telling and motivated characters. Detective Blackburn blazes his way through another perilous maze, gets knocked down but keeps on going. Doc Tolan makes a great character of interest with a well-developed history we can empathize with, but the best part of this story is the supernatural slant. Not your typical monster or psycho b**ch, but a refreshing look at life after death and a possible scenario of the balance between life and death, the rhythm of the river of life. Don’t judge people, but try to hear what they are telling you – it just may save your life. Great story Robert Gregory Browne.

The Metaxy Project

The Metaxy Project - Layton Green

Hold on to your seat when you read this tale of influential lawyers and the opulence, muddy politics and a wasteland forgotten. Layton Green filled this story with a vivid assessment of Atlanta today – you can feel the thick humid air, and hear the heavy drawls, spill across the page. The paranormal and its power, misused by the government in a distorted effort, is a new slant to typical supernatural tale. Humans are the real monsters in this story. The reader is also shown the power of a great mentor, and how one person can make a difference. An entertaining and thought provoking read.