A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Heart Untouched (Hearts Entwined #3) by Andrew Grey and Greg Tremblay (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Duncan was an Olympic hopeful when his skeleton sled crashed in training, and he ended up paralyzed and wheelchair bound, likely for life. Instead of wallowing in self-pity he decides to use some of his marketing talent to help his friend Todd, also an Olympic-level skeleton racer, earn money to pay his way in the costly sport. The author explains, on several occasions, that the US athletes in many sports, especially the little-known sports, have to pay for much of their expenses, travel, and training on their own. In fact, in some places in the story, the dialogue is quite forceful and anti-IOC. Since this was in audio format, it may be that the narrator emphasized some of these segments, but I suspect it was as the author intended. I once met him and heard him say that he often gets inspiration for his stories from real-life news stories so I have no doubt the plight of Olympic level athletes is as stated in the story.

However, I digress. This story is about the relationship that develops between Todd and Duncan as they work together to help Duncan become more mobile and independent. Slowly, they begin to act on their attraction, and also slowly, Duncan’s body begins to respond to Todd’s stimulus. Those who’ve read Andrew Grey know that the MCs are going to be sweet and sincere and will end up with their dreams coming true or on the way to coming true and their lover will be with them for a hard-won HEA. 

Characters from the previous stories in the series are present for this one and narrator Greg Tremblay does an outstanding job of bringing the story to life. I’d tag this one: #men with disabilities, #winter Olympic sports, and #HEA.

The cover by LC Chase features two young men kissing, with the silhouette of a man in a wheelchair in the bottom right pane. As usual with this artist, the cover is attractive and perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Details:

Listening Length: 5 hours and 38 minutes

Audible Audio, 6 pages
Published June 27th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published October 9th 2018)
Original Title Heart Untouched
ASINB07T8KFJ4Z
Edition Language English
Series Hearts Entwined #3

A MelanieM Audio Review: The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Tommy Gordon is all set for happily ever after—until heartbreak strikes when his husband-to-be leaves him at the altar. In a bid for distraction, his best friend, Grayson Phillips, suggests he takes advantage of the luxury honeymoon anyway! But the last thing Tommy wants is to go alone, so he invites Grayson and his son, Petey, along. Beautiful Bonaire lends itself to romance, and along with close quarters, relaxing on the water, and a matchmaking kid, Tommy and Grayson soon find themselves closer than ever… and considering more, much to Grayson’s delight. But before they can plan the best honeymoon ever, dark clouds descend in the form of Tommy’s ex and a sting from paradise that could ruin everything.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a review where a wonderful narrator actually made the story worse in places instead  of better but I really think that’s what happened here in The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever by Andrew Grey and as narrated by John Solo.

Don’t get me wrong, the story has many terrific elements.  As a tour guide and promotional package for Bonaire?  Absolutely breathtaking.  Made me want to hop on a plane and take snorkeling lessons.  This story really highlighted the island in the best way possible along with the environmental factors to help preserve its beauty and the safety of all the animals there.  Grey used Petey, Grayson’s son, to stand in for all of us in his enthusiasm for all that he saw in and out of the water.  Turtles, fish,it didn’t matter because  his joy and laughter was infectious.

Truly, the character of Petey is one of my favorite things about this novel, outside of Bonaire.

His father, Grayson, is up there too, among the highlights of the story.  A great dad, friend, and, apparently, someone who has long held more than friendly thoughts towards Tommy Gordon, his attitude and personality was also a positive note in the story. Thank goodness, because next to Tommy, this story really needed one.

Yes, Tommy is my issue here.  I think had I just been reading the story, I might have been able to gloss over (read skim through) some of his more annoying  sections.   But no, I was listening to John Solo who was bringing alive Petey and Grayson and all the other people in the story, giving them each their own quirks and nuances.  So yes he did the same to Tommy.  Who in my opinion became almost someone I wanted to tell to “shut up and stop whining” time and again.  Yes, he’d been left at the altar, by someone who then tried to steal from him.  HIs behavior after inviting his best friend and son on his honeymoon?  Terrible and beyond whiny into needy .  Listening to him  made it soooo much worse.  It made it real.  How I wished to tell Grayson and Petey to enjoy the vacation and then go find someone worthy of them.  Luckily towards the end of the book he got better..a tad and the relationship one I could at least listen to as a friends to lovers sort.

So loved the father and son relationship, loved the son and his experiences on Bonaire, loved Bonaire.  Really, I need to plan a trip there sometime. As much as I adore friends to lovers stories, this was one I had some trouble with, mostly due to Tommy.  Others won’t have issues with him and will like this story better than I did. It’s all about perspective.

John Solo’s narration is wonderful as always.

Cover art: Bree Archer.  Bright, happy, although I would wish for Petey to be present as well.

Sales Links;  Dreamspinner Press| AmazonAudible

Audiobook Details:

Audible Audiobook
Listening Length: 5 hours and 49 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Audible.com Release Date: January 15, 2019
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English, English
ASIN: B07MJRRGS5

Review: Love Comes Home (Senses #3) by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Love Comes Home coverArchitect Gregory Hampton’s son, Davey, is playing in a Little League softball game and having difficulties with pitching and hitting where he had none before.  Then a stranger approaches Gregory with a startling suggestion…that Greg should take Davy to an eye doctor for an examination. The diagnosis is frightening. Davey has a genetic occular disease that has just kicked in with the result that Davey’s sight is degenerating rapidly, and eventually he’ll go blind.  Suddenly life is all about helping Davey adjust to his impending loss of eyesight and a romance with the handsome businessman he just met has to be relegated to the background.  Or does it?

Wealthy businessman Tom Spangler had no sooner met architect Gregory Hampton and arranged to go on a date when a call arrives to disrupt their evening.  Sometime during the evening, Greg’s son Davey had completely lost his sight and a traumatized son is in need of his father.  After ferrying them both home, Tom waits to hear from Greg.  And while he waits, Tom researches how to help Greg and his son, Davey even though he is not even sure the man and his son will accept his help.

One of the things that Tom has researched is beep baseball. Here balls and bases make sounds to enable the visually impaired to participate in Little League. When Tom spearheads an effort to form a team so Davey can continue to play the game he loves, it draws Tom and Greg closer and brings Davey back to the game he thought he would never play again.  But Greg’s ex wife has returned with a plan in mind for Davey that will reject everything that Greg, Tom and Davey have worked so hard to accomplish.  With a threat to Davey’s happiness at stake, what will Tom and Greg do to ensure his safety and future?

Love Comes Home is the third story in the Senses series and it is a lovely one.  The previous story focused on Howard who is blind and his lover, Gordy, both of whom are a strong presence here in Love Comes Home as part of the village of people who help Davey accept his blindness and move forward.  Once again, Andrew Grey’s story is centered on someone who is blind but in this case it is a young boy who turns blind almost overnight due to a genetic ocular disease no one knew he had until puberty sets it off.  Up until then Davey is a highly athletic, normal boy being raised by a single dad, Greg Hampton.

Andrew Grey’s characters comes across as totally believable human beings, albeit  sometimes a little too nice given some of the circumstances they find themselves in.  Gregory Hampton is high on my list of favorite characters here as a  single dad who puts his son first, including his own wants and needs.  His reactions when informed of his son’s diagnosis seems so authentic as he reels between denial and acceptance, not for himself at first but for Davey.  Then later, Grey shows Greg’s own grief set in and its both wrenching and  raw.  Davey too feels all too authentic as a young boy who thinks his life is over until he is shown how to move forward with his disability by a close knit circle of friends.  Tom, however, is a little more too, too everything.  Too wealthy, too handsome, too great a boyfriend and potential stepfather to Davey.  I just wish he had a tad more flaws to make him less a knight in shining armor and more a lonely man looking for love who finds a family as well.  A flawed human being for me is always the more interesting and absorbing person to read about.  Tom seems almost too perfect to be read and that lessens the romance for me as well.

Andrew Grey has indicated that he has done a mountain of research towards this book and it shows.  From the classes that Davey is immersed in to teach himself how to read and write Braille or to simply function in every day life, the author moves his characters through the necessary steps towards Davey’s independence and acceptance at exactly the right pace for a family still trying to deal with Davey’s disease and altered lifestyle.  It’s a wonderful journey and it culminates in Davey’s introduction to Beep Ball and the formation of a team of children like Davey in that they are sight impaired.

Ah, Beep Ball.  What a splendid sport. And through Grey’s descriptions we are able to visualize how Davey and the other kids step forward with enthusiasm for some and trepidation for others to have fun, be a part of a group and play a sport that was thought impossible to participate in for some kids and parents. We get the laughter, the dropped balls and the tears that flow as parents realize just what it is that they are seeing.  Be prepared for a sniffle or two yourself.  This really made the story for me.

Romance is well represented here.  There is the slowly evolving love between Greg and Tom, marked only by the hiccup arrival of Greg’s ex wife.  That part of the story seemed odd and less realized.  Absent for 2 years, she appears with demands about her son’s future.  It never comes across as though that is her true reason for her appearance.  The reader will keep wondering when “the other shoe” will drop and her hidden agenda will be revealed.  But that aspect is dropped and the resolution between all the parties comes off as a little contrived.  This is probably my biggest issue with this story.

But that element aside, I loved this story.  Davey and his journey towards acceptance of his blindness, the manner in which Howard and Gordy helped Greg through the challenges they all faced, the realistic and heartwarming manner in which  I felt I knew this group of friends by the end of the story….those are all terrific reasons to buy this book.  The romance too will keep you smiling as well as the picture of a new family formed by love at the end.  So charming, so heartfelt, and imminently enjoyable too.

Cover design is both lovely and relevant.

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published March 7th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 6th 2014)
ISBN 1627986626 (ISBN13: 9781627986625)
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com
seriesSenses #3

Books in the Senses series include:

Love Comes Silently (Senses, #1)
Love Comes in Darkness (Senses, #2) (Howard and Gordy)
Love Comes Home (Senses, #3)

Memories, Memorials, and Memorial Day and the Week Ahead

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Memorial Day.  Two words that bring forth powerful emotions and memories of both of those from our past as well as our present.  We think of the past and those deceased while at the same time our memories are full of family celebrations, and the laughter and love that speaks of life itself.

I was thinking of both of those as I watched the film on the news of the inauguration ceremony of National September 11 Memorial & Museum in NYC.  The pictures brought forth a profound sadness as the cameras scanned over the survivors and their families as well as the exhibits, stopping here and there for closeups and personal stories.  A staircase that was the only avenue for some to freedom and life stands bone white, covered in ash.  Bent, blackened metal framework from parts of the structure from the towers loom upwards over the crowds within the museum, much like the towers they once helped support.  All chilling and stark reminders of that day and our national tragedy.

But for me it was the small items that were so poignant and personal that they made the pain and loss intimate and immediate once more.  A red bandana World Trade Center 9:11 Museaumfrom a young man who sacrificed his life to make sure others got down safely.  His mother was present,full of pride for her  son, as she stood next to his photograph and his red scarf now enclosed in glass. It was the scarf that the survivors he helped down that day remember him by.  Over and over again, a young man in a red bandana grabbed people, moving them towards safety and life.  The expression on her face, so full of love, loss, and grief, was visceral as she looked at the scarf.  Another survivor was there looking at the black, dusty shoes she donated that she wore that day as she walked down all those flights of steps. She ended up caring them as she ended up finally walking down in her bare feet because the pain of going down all those steps made wearing them impossible.  Small item after item, watches, cell phones, glasses, standing side by side next to the physically imposing and massive items from the World Trade Center bombings, like a fire truck and or large pieces of masonry from the Pentagon, yes that’s there too. And there is a wall of photographs of those that died that day.  Every race, every gender,, every age….all represented there.  Forever remembered, forever immortalized.

It made me think of another wall, one full of names on black marble.  Here in Washington, DC, where huge crowds will gather on this weekend to Vietnam Vet Memorialremember, to grieve and to celebrate lives now gone.  There will be Rolling Thunder, and parades, and the echoing refrain of Taps heard over Arlington Cemetery this weekend. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, my favorite of all Washington memorials, stands as one of our more  striking and haunting memorials. The pictures found there aren’t on the wall but will be left by loved ones, friends, family, and fellow soldiers who come to commune with the dead and their memories.  There, as well as in New York City, the memorials will help all of us remember and help to mitigate the grief left behind.  Powerful images, powerful emotions, and a powerful almost unimaginable amount of loss.

Take a moment this Memorial Weekend and remember.  Do something that will celebrate their life as well as remember their loss.

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Now for the week ahead here at ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords:

  • Monday, May 26:        Love Comes Home by Andrew Grey
  • Tuesday, May 27:        Author Spotlight: Writing with Humor by John Inman
  • Wed., May 28:              Book Tour:  Sierra Cartwright’s Crave
  • Wed., May 28:              Hostile Ground by Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt
  • Thursday, May 29:      Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
  • Thursday, May 29:      Clipped by Devon McCormack
  • Friday, May 30:           Moving Earth by T.A. Webb
  • Saturday, May 31:        Back Burn by Laura Harner
  • Saturday, May 31:        May Summary of Reviews/Best Covers

 

 

 

Vietnam Vet Memorial 2

 

 

Thoughts on Memorial Day…

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep – Mary Frye (1932)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.

I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.

Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.

I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

 

Scattered Thoughts Book Review Summary for June 2013

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June 2013 has come and gone but some of the books I read that month continue to linger in my heart and mind, just some outstanding stories. As always, there is something for everyone here, from contemporary to paranormal books, terrific additions to wonderful series.  If you missed them the first time, here is your chance to check them out again:

5 Star Rating:

Hobbled by John Inman

Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Mighty Casey by Willa Okati

One Breath, One Bullet by S.A.McAuley

Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

A Silence Kept by Theo Fenraven (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean (4.75 stars)(science fiction)

Flawless by Cat Grant (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Stonewall by Martin Duberman (4.25 stars) (non fiction)

The Hanged Man’s Ghost by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars)(paranormal)

The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton (4.25 stars)(paranormal)(series)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay (3.5 stars) (contemporary)

Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey (3.25 stars) (contemporary)

When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti by Michael Murphy (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat (2.75 stars)(contemporary)

The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus (2.75 stars) (contemporary)

Review: In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 3.25 stars

In Search of a story coverReporter Brad Torrence is worried about his job. Brad hasn’t been able to write the stories he knows is inside of him, and he is stuck proofreading and fact checking other  reporters stories.  When his boss tells him that the stories he submitted are boring and to try and find one in the classified ads, Brad can’t believe it.  But disobeying the boss means being out of a job, and Brad does as he was instructed.  Brad is frustrated and ready to give up when a ad jumps out and captures his attention. For Sale: Nursery Items, Never Used.  Thinking that a story of loss and regret would be a perfect subject for his next deadline, Brad contacts the person behind the ad and finds more than he had expected.

Anesthesiologist Cory Wolfe is still grieving over the loss of his best friend and the child he was to adopt.  When reporter Brad Torrence contacts him about the ad he placed, Cory agrees to an interview, thinking it might help him obtain the closure he needs.  During the interview, Cory finds the process of sharing his story emotionally liberating and healing while Brad gets something he can personally relate to in Cory’s story.  After the interview is finished, both men find themselves attracted to and wanting to see each other again.

Cory and Brad find themselves in a relationship that is growing stronger by the day but another mystery finds its way onto Brad’s desk.  Soon Brad is pursuing leads that threaten their new relationship and imperil their lives.   What will Brad do in search of a story?

I love Andrew Grey’s work and look forward to each new story he writes.  The last few books published, especially The Good Fight series, has been outstanding.  I only wish I could say the same about In Search of a Story, but that is not the case.

In Search of a Story has a interesting premise, one that drew me in immediately.  Who doesn’t look through the classified ads and find tantalizing bits of human history offered up in just a few lines.  So I couldn’t wait to see where Grey took this plot and what spin he put on the narrative.  And as far as the outline of the plot goes, the author did a good job.  I thought the idea of a grief stricken almost parent mourning the loss of a child compelling. So too the idea that a connection between the reporter and the person who filled the classified ad is made.  There was so much promise here, so much ground that could have been covered and turned into an amazing story.  But two things kept that from happening. And unfortunately, they are the two main characters.

For some strange reason, neither Brad nor Cory are especially compelling.  These characters came across as oddly flat from the very beginning. While “listening” to Cory tell his story, I was never really engaged in the personal tragedy that was being revealed, there was a distance from the characters and their history almost immediately.  Brad too felt one dimensional, too cub reporter in search of a story that I have seen before.  Much is made of his background with his mother but again the author has problems making that a part of the much larger picture of grief over the loss of a child after highlighting it in the narrative.  From scene to scene, I kept hoping to find a spark that would let me feel part of their story and romance, but it never came about.

There is a secondary mystery here for Brad to solve.  It serves to introduce a measure of suspense and danger into a story that really needs it.  But again, this interesting segment was not given the attention or resolution that it was due and the outcome of this investigation ended up frustrating me with its incomplete story, rather than buttressing up the original plot as I am sure the author intended.

In the end, the story just has an off feel to it.  It leaves the reader wondering more what went wrong, than happy over the characters and their relationship.  If you are new to Andrew Grey as an author, there are so many great books of his out there to start with, so give this a pass.  If Andrew Grey is an automatic must read, then take this as a note of caution and make up your own mind.  Either way, I will be looking forward to his next book as always, because given how prolific Mr. Grey is, even he must have an off day at times.  Consider this one of his.

Cover Art by Brooke Albrecht.  I think the cover is ok, but nothing on the dramatic side.  However, it is in line with the story inside the covers.

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published May 31st 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623806143 (ISBN13: 9781623806149)
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3825

From Mourning To Joy Once More, Animal Adoptions and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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You always hear that things have a way of changing overnight, but few experience it.  It didn’t quite happen like that here but it was close.  In my instance, things changed exactly one week to the day that I felt my heart shatter.  On June 4, 2013, my companion of 18 years, Winston died.  Exactly one week to the day, on June 11, another Winston came into my life, through circumstances so unusual, so connected, that I knew it was meant to be.   I have written that story, The Tale of Two Winstons – A Terrier Comes Home, to chart the beginning of our journey together.  Before that I had written of my first, indomitable Winston, my love of 18 years in My Winston.  But there was one fact I had left out.  You see, exactly one week before I found Winston, I had another dog, Snowflake, a rescue American Eskimo.

Snowflake was with me for two years, gorgeous and unfortunately so emotionally scarred by her previous family that only I could handle her.  I never got the entire  story but from her hatred of children and families in general, apparently she had been used as a target and punching bag by the people who owned her before me (and was rescued from).   One day we were out in the pasture, running and checking around for a loose horseshoe, when bikers sped by and Snowflake gave chase down the fence line.  Normally, that would have been fine as she couldn’t get through the wire and post fence, but sometime during the night a car had sideswiped the fence and taken down just enough to leave a Snowflake sized hole.  I am sure you all can imagine what happened next as Snowflake darted out onto that winding country  road.  Even as we raced to the vet, I knew my Snowflake was gone.

One week to the day, on that same spot, a shivering, heavily matted, rail thin Winston was found and went home with me carrying him in my arms, the same way Snowflake left that same spot.  Now 18 years later, exactly one week apart, my beloved Winston was gone and another Winston had arrived.  And each time, I knew it was meant to be.  How could it not?  I am not sure I believe in Fate but all these connections?  All these events strung together in order for one magical moment to happen?  How do I not believe in that?  Many people have said that Winston sent the other Winston to me, and I think I can agree there.  During that week of almost overwhelming grief and loss, I swear I could hear the thunk Winston made as he jumped down off the bed to investigate something in the house during the night.  Several times that occurred during that week, but since Winston arrived, not a sound.  This Winston likes to bury his food bowl (on tile no less) just like my old Winston did.  Perhaps one has taught the other his tricks without me knowing.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

My family now includes two rescued dogs, Winston and Kirby whose face adorns the banner of this blog.  They aren’t my first rescues and most certainly won’t be my last.  There are so many dogs (and cats) that need homes in shelters around the country.  And there are so many shelters in need of support, both monetary and in donations of supplies.  I know it is Father’s Day today but perhaps if your Dad is someone who has everything possible and you don’t know what to give him, maybe make a donation to your local animal rescue organization or humane society in his name as a gift.  I know it would be welcome.  I found my Winston by donating food to the shelter.  Who knows if a four pawed love awaits you there as well?  The larger groups, ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States, rescue animals from devastating events such as hurricanes and earthquakes and more.  They need your help too.

So here are some links to get you thinking about rescues and the organizations who need your help to continue their mission to save animals in need:

ASPCA

Humane Society of the United States

Montgomery County Humane Society

Days End Farm Horse Rescue – located locally in MD but travel all over the US to rescue large animals. Truly an amazing organization.

I am sure there are so many local rescue organizations around you that need your assistance.  They are only a tapped computer key away. Check them out as well.  Here are a few pictures of Winston and Kirby playing, they have turned into the best of friends.  Look below the pictures for the week ahead in reviews.  Happy Father’s Day!

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The week ahead in Reviews:

Monday, June 17:               Flawless by Cat Grant

Tuesday, June 18:              Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay

Wed., June 19:                    In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

Thursday, June 20:           Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Friday, June 21:                 The Heir Apparent by Tere Michaels

Saturday, June 22:             Stonewall by Martin Duberman

April 2013 Book Reviews

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Unbelievably, today is the last day  in April and the start of something new for Scattered Thoughts.  I am going to post a summary of each months books reviews on the last day of the month.  Hopefully, this will make it easy to find a new book to read, a book review you might have missed or a book you just might want to reconsider.  It also helps me gather my  Scattered Thoughts when it comes to the year’s Best of in  December.

It was a very good month, with some remarkable stories from new authors and beloved writers and everyone in between.  Trust me, there really is something for everyone here this month:

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           April 2013 Review Summary

5 Star Rating:

Collusion by Eden Winters

On The Lee Shore by Elin Gregory

The General and the Horse-Lord by Sarah Black

Touch & Geaux  by Abigail Roux

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Beautiful Disaster by Willa Okati (4.25)

Brute by Kim Fielding (4.5)

Fire For Effect by Kendall McKenna (4.5)

Freedom by Jay Kirkpatrick (4.75)

Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune (4.5)

Josh of the Damned, Triple Feature #2, The Final Checkout

by Andrea Speed (4.25)

Loving Hector by John Inman (4.25)

Masked Riders by Lucius Parhelion (4.5)

The Fight Within by Andrew Grey (4.5)

The Good Fight by Andrew Grey (4.75)

Unearthing Cole by A.M. Arthur (4.25)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Highland Vampire Vengeance by J.P. Bowie (3.75)

Love You Like A Romance Novel by Megan Derr (3.5)

Sensei by Karenna Colcroft (3)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Astral Mage by Hurri Cosmo (2.75)

Review: The Good Fight by Andrew Grey

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Rating: 4.75 stars

The Good FightJerry Lincoln moved back to Sioux Falls, SD to take care of his grandfather and stayed on after his death.  It seemed the perfect place to live and work, especially since Jerry’s small IT consulting business is run out of his home.  As Jerry’s business grew, his friend talked him into hiring additional help in the form of  IT students from the local college. Of the two men Jerry hired, John Black Raven made Jerry’s thoughts turn to things other than computer code, something that hadn’t happened in a long time.

John Black Raven needs this job and for two very specific reasons, his nephew and niece currently caught up in the SD Child Services Agency and placed with a foster family.  John has been trying to get them back since his sister died with little luck.  Now that he has a good job, John is hoping to prevail in his fight to bring his nephew and niece home for good.

As John and Jerry get to know one another, they start to realize that the relationship being formed is one that will last the rest of their lives and John starts to accept that Jerry will stand by his  side in his fight with Child Services.  Jerry is shocked to find out that Native American children are seen as a source of income by SD Child Services , the agency caught up in politics, greed, and bigotry.  It will take everything the men have got and more to fight the system and bring the children home.

I know I can always count on a well written story with characters of substance from Andrew Grey, but this book surpassed my expectations and then some.  The serious subject matter at the heart of this story was one I was unaware of just as Jerry Lincoln is at the beginning of the book.  I have to admit it sent me on a search for more information, and I was horrified to find out that the situation explored by  Andrew Grey in this story was actually far worse in detail.  It is a heartbreaking case and one that Andrew Grey brings to life realistically and poignantly in The Good Fight. I won’t go into additional details here but will say that you should look up the situation on your own.  It will shock and appall you that things of this nature are still able to occur now with the government’s casual oversight and approval.  When reading this book, I thought surely Grey is overstating the issue, and I should have known better.  If anything he used Jerry (as the mouthpiece for the reader) to voice the amazement and horror we would feel over discovering such a misplacement of judgement and child abuse at the hands of government officials.  Any channel that helps to make people aware of the plight of South Dakota’s Native Americans fight to reclaim their youth should be applauded.  And The Good Fight brings this issue to the reader with heart, immediacy, and a well researched story.  Kudos to Andrew Grey for every aspect of this remarkable story.

Now normally i would talk about characters first, but the subject matter just begged to be put first.  The characters of Jerry Lincoln and John Black Raven are well crafted, full of the flaws and layers I have come to expect from this author.  I liked Jerry, a person still caught up in his grief over the loss of his grandfather, the family member who understood and supported him throughout his life.  Jerry is caught up in his IT world, leaving his house only at his friend’s invitation or to shop for personal needs, like food.  Only the growth of his business forces Jerry to interact with others, this time his employees to a wonderful result.  I loved not only Jerry, but his friends, Peter and Leonard, a couple who have taken Jerry into their hearts.  Through their interactions with Jerry, we actually learn more about Jerry’s past, his grandfather and his current situation.

John Black Raven, a terrific character on his  own, is also used to inform the reader about the plight of Native Americans, not only with regard to the deplorable situation with their children and Child Services, but with the bigotry and racism that is evident not only in South Dakota but elsewhere in the United States.  That is a heavy weight to put on one character but John Black Raven, as written by Andrew Grey, is certainly up to the task.

Finally, there is Bryce Morgan, the other man Jerry employes.  Bryce is a character easy to connect with, so I was thrilled to hear that the sequel to The Good Fight, moves Bryce up from a secondary character to a main one. It is a position he deserves.

If I have any issues with this book, it is that I wished for more resolution for the problems with SD Child Services than what occurs at the end of the book.  I am just not sure I should lay that at Andrew Grey’s doorstep.  While he did resolve the case of John’s niece and nephew, the problems of  disappearing children, well over 700, have yet to be put to rights in almost every way.  So that frustration lingered after the book was over and maybe that is as it should be.  Like a burr too close to the skin, a little irritation can move people to action, even if only to sign a petition. So pick up The Good Fight, you get a wonderful, heartwarming story along with a shocking tale of modern injustice that needs to move into the media mainstream.  And there is a sequel to be read next, The Fight Within.  I can’t wait.  But start here first and check  back with me on the latter.  Again kudos to Andrew Grey, for a remarkable story that is big enough to encompass a love affair while shedding light on the ongoing plight of Native Americans out west.  It does justice to both.

Cover art by Anne Cain.  While I loved that Native American man in the background, the character in front is not my idea of Jerry Lincoln, a misstep in an otherwise gorgeous cover.