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Review by Betty Dravis, Amazon Vine/Top Reviewer

“Nobnobody has to knowody Has to Know” blazes through your mind with an original kind of perversity. I can’t believe how good Frank Nappi is, whether he’s writing about military veterans, an autistic baseball player and his caring coach (as in previous award-winning books, see endnote below) or about illicit feelings of love and lust between a teacher and his student…as in this shocking, gripping book.

According to Amazon’s book description: “‘Nobody Has to Know,’ Frank Nappi’s dark and daring new thriller, tells the story of Cameron Baldridge, a popular high school teacher whose relationship with one of his students leads him down an unfortunate and self-destructive path. Stalked through text-messages, Baldridge fights for his life against a terrifying extortion plot and the forces that threaten to expose him. Nobody Has to Know is a sobering look into a world of secrets, lies and shocking revelations, and will leave the reader wondering many things, including whether or not you can ever really know the person you love.”

Why is Baldridge attracted to the young girl in the first place, especially when he has such a good, normal life: nice job, lovely fiancée, the whole works? What problems does she share with him? What happens to interrupt their budding attraction/addiction to each other? After a tragedy, how does someone find out about his frightening predicament?

How does his fiancée react when she learns “another person’s” version of the truth? And most important, does this unfortunate teacher ever get his life back?

Nappi answers those questions and more as he transports his readers through an intricate web of lies, deceit and betrayal (first by Baldridge; later, directed at him). Although it’s hard for most people to sympathize with a man with such “lustful” desires–no matter how altruistic they seem to him at the time–Nappi weaves his story in such a way that Baldridge is, indeed, a very sympathetic character…a victim of circumstances beyond his control.

In fact, I generally view vice and foils with scorn, profound dismay and tragic sympathy, but my feelings for Baldridge are such that I view the actions of his extortionist (and others who may be helping) to be far more reprehensible than what he has contemplated… My heart goes out to him.

But you will have to read for yourself and form your own opinion.

Even though this is Frank Nappi’s first thriller, he pulled it off to perfection! He made his characters come alive in the high drama of real life. In my opinion, Nappi always hits his mark; I’ve never begun a Nappi book and been able to put it down. As always, he paints his characters in such a fashion that I feel like I know them. Just as in real life, I care for some and hate others, depending on their deeds. In this book, the only one I really cared for was this teacher; even though he was not always a paragon of virtue, he was human and tried to do the right thing.

And Nappi’s pacing is spot on; I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough…er, perhaps with so many people using e-readers, I should say “couldn’t scroll fast enough.” 🙂

Be forewarned: After a series of hair-raising twists and turns (that not even the most cunning reader will guess), the ending left me gasping for breath. I’m still panting as I think back on it (an unforgettable kind of book).

Frank NappiEndnote: I have been a huge fan of author Frank Nappi since I read his debut novel, the award-winning “Echoes from the Infantry: A Novel” in 2005. At that time I predicted he would be a huge star in the literary world. And my faith in his great potential was rewarded; since then he has gone on to write “The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel” which was released as a film last September and is now a DVD. Movie title is “A Mile in His Shoes,” starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Next, Nappi penned “Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel,” the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.

Dare I say, “I told you so?” I dare! And now I say: “Frank Nappi will soon be a household name!” You know, like James Patterson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…and the list goes on. And it couldn’t happen to a nicer man; Nappi is a very popular school teacher in real life; happily married with two teen sons.

Jacob Kuisl, a public executioner, called a hangman, lives in a small Bavarian town during the 1600s. Although considered a necessary official, Jacob and his family are ostracized by the townspeople and it is expected that his offspring will marry the children of executioners in nearby towns as no one wants to be part of a hangman’s family. When a young boy’s body is pulled from the river with a crude tattoo on his back, the town’s midwife, who is a friend of Jacob, is arrested and accused of witchcraft. Jacob places her in jail in hopes of keeping her safe from a mob that seems intent upon killing her. Jacob and his friend Simon, a young physician who is considered a dandy by the townspeople, take it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation into the child’s death and prove the midwife innocent. When another child’s body is found with the same tattoo, Jacob is pressured to torture the midwife to obtain a confession at soon as possible which he puts off by giving the midwife a concoction to sedate her. But politics are at play in this small town and it seems preordained that the midwife will burn for murders she did not commit.

The mystery here is a good one, although the plot, which begins quite interestingly, lags and sputters out. The hangman, who supposedly is intent upon proving the innocence of the midwife, spends most of his time sitting around contemplating or discussing the mystery with Simon. He never seems to be in any sort of hurry to find the murderer although the midwife’s days are numbered. Simon plays the dandy well and his relationship with the hangman’s daughter carries no chemistry at all. In that regard, the hangman’s daughter is only peripherally part of the story; she seems to have no real significance. It could be that the book’s slow pace and amateurish writing (at times) are due to translation, but this version does not live up to the hype.

Mackie Sue Beanblossom and Daisy Marie Hazelhurst, best friends since birth, have shared trials and tribulations together through the years. But nothing has prepared them for menopause and all the horrific accoutrements that accompany it. Mackie Sue, a principal, has a demanding job that keeps her busy most hours of the day. Daisy Marie, a cosmetologist, owns her own business but deals with the stress of pleasing her clientele. Both find themselves facing challenges in their marriages, one of which becomes stronger while the other faces loss and hardship. Through it all, their friendship remains steadfast and true and their commitment to one another unwavering.

Susan Whitfield has penned a humorous tale of the menopausal effects on women and their ways of dealing with it while trying to live as normal a life as possible. The friendship between Mackie Sue and Daisy Marie is endearing and their antics provide for lots of laughs. But this is not limited to a comedic book. There’s also action, suspense, romance, a bit of a mystery and a touch of sadness. Consider Slightly Cracked one of those books that begs to be read in one sitting, one the reader will not want to put aside even after they are finished.

Nick and Amy Dunne live the good life in New York City, both with careers they love and lots of money to spend. But when the recession hits and they lose their jobs, they’re at a loss as to what to do. Nick decides they should move back to his hometown in order to take care of his mother, dying of cancer, and his father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Nick quickly fits into this completely diverse lifestyle but Amy has a hard time adapting. On their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy mysteriously disappears. At first the police treat it as a missing person but when evidence of a massive blood spill in the kitchen turns up, they begin to suspect murder and their eyes turn toward Nick, who has been acting suspicious since the beginning. This book is told in two sections, each one with alternating points of view of Nick and Amy.

Flynn does a good job slowly revealing facts and providing nicely delivered twists while peeling away the layers of the personas of Nick and Amy, These two are not likeable characters although this does not take away from the read but rather enhances it. The ending may bother some readers although others may see it as the ultimate twist to the story.

There’s trouble in the neighborhood of the Grapevine Detective Agency. A woman is murdered minutes after leaving a mysterious envelope with the owner of a local bar, a nearby wig shop is broken into and vandalized, and a black car constantly cruises the neighborhood. Neighbor Helen Tattaglia asks the detective agency to follow her husband, son of the head of a crime organization, but Elvin Suggs, Di Redding, and their friend Cobra, a former Marine sniper, are a bit suspicious of her real reason for hiring them. When the owner of the bar and Helen are subsequently murdered, Detective Reggie Combs calls on his friends at the detective agency to help look into the murders. Their investigation leads them back to the Tattaglia family and a doctor of ill-repute performing mysterious experiments.

This latest installment of the `Nam Noir series is as thrilling as ever. Applewhite’s unique writing style – think hard-boiled meets cozy – is intriguing and makes for an enjoyable read. The diverse personas of Elvin, Di and Cobra are a good combination and enhance the fast-moving plot. Readers will be challenged as they try to solve this not-so-easy-to-figure-out whodunit.

Xmucane leads a time-travel expedition of 16 from Omeyocan to Earth, each landing at different places and different times, the last arriving 6000 solar years after the first. Their goal: to gain the healing properties of Earth’s natural environment in an effort to save the population of Omeyocan from extinction due to a genetic flaw that prevents future breeding of males. As time draws near for the expedition to end, Xmucane, aided by her Great Serpent, leaves her original destination and travels to present-day Machu Picchu in the year 2011 to save Earth at the end of the Mayan Calendar in December, 2012. When Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu, she quickly learns her past is not what she thought and that if Earth and the civilization of Omeyocan are to be saved, she must join with her birth mother Xmucane to help defeat the Lord of Darkness and reestablish ties with her sister.

T.W. Fendley has certainly written an interesting, suspenseful book. Genred historical fantasy, Zero Time could be classified as one heck of a sci-fi involving time travel and aliens, all tying in with the Mesoamerican culture and the end of the Mayan calendar. Although the names of characters are at first a bit difficult to read, with practice, the reader quickly overcomes this and is rewarded with an imaginative, compelling, smartly written read.

Young Ellen Brodsky feels as if she’s always been at odds with her mother, who makes it clear she regrets having children. Ellen’s father, a distant, cold man who works long hours, expects the children to be in bed when he comes home, offering Ellen no counterbalance to what she perceives as a loveless existence. Into her life steps Ellen’s grandmother, who died before Ellen was born, to become Ellen’s confidante and role model. As Ellen grows up, her dysfunctional family fractures and Ellen is forced to act more mature than she is as she struggles to take care of others with only her grandmother to console her and offer advice. When things seem to be improving, a tragedy occurs, and only then is a secret about her dead grandmother revealed to Ellen. Lissa Brown offers an intriguing look into the dynamics of a dysfunctional family circa the 1950s, told through the eyes of a young girl struggling to understand the reasons behind her parents’ actions. Baby boomers most especially will identify with this book due to the author’s skillful portrayal of the time and culture.

Brown shows a great aptitude for describing scenes so realistic the reader will feel as if s/he has stepped back in time and become part of the story. The characters are well-developed and the story one that will stay with the reader long after the book is finished.

Dietrich Kohl, who calls himself Diet Cola, thinks he has the winning ticket for the lottery, but he’s scheduled to go into the pen for the next little while so breaks into the home of Brody and Carrick Durgin and hides the winning ticket in a vase on their mantle. The vase is actually an urn containing the ashes of the partner and friend of their son Mack Durgin, a retired cop who has relocated to Arizona. The Durgins send the urn to Mack, who carries it with him while he decides what to do with the ashes and along the way meets up with Calliope Vrattos, who’s on her way to California, trying to escape an overzealous Elvis impersonator whose jaw she broke. When Diet Cola gets out of prison, he breaks into the Durgins’ home only to learn the urn is now in Arizona. During the bus ride to Arizona, Diet Cola hooks up with Frosty and Ace, two dim-witted shoplifters who know Mack and are just dumb enough to think they can get in on whatever Diet Cola’s after. Once there, they pair up with the Elvis impersonator stalking Calliope who has planted a GPS on her car. Into the fray steps Zippy, a druggie with a shaved head toting a zipper tattoo, who thinks Mack’s having an affair with his girlfriend. And one can’t forget Poindexter, the javelina, who’s been set free in the desert and misses eating brussel sprouts and TV time with his owner yet manages to lumber his way into the lottery ticket caper.

Bob Sanchez provides his reader with one hilarious romp, rapidly firing scenes so over the top and humorous, the reader is constantly smiling or laughing. Sanchez even offers the javelina’s point of view on occasion, raising the comedic bar even more. Think Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen, which makes for a fun, enjoyable read.

Brandy Alexander has a new job as puff piece reporter for a local television station in Philadelphia. Brandy replaced a popular reporter who was fired for being too hefty and none of her coworkers likes her because of this with the exception of anchorperson Tamra Rhineholt who befriends Brandy. But their friendship is short-lived when Tamra is found dead, apparently of a suicide. Brandy thinks there’s more to it than that and is intent on proving her friend didn’t kill herself, which places her own life in danger. To the rescue are the two sexy guys in her life, ex-boyfriend and cop Robert DiCarlo and new friend and bad-boy Nicholas Santiago. It’s bad enough someone’s trying to kill her but to make matters worse, Brandy’s mother and father return to Philadelphia to attend the bar mitzvah of Brandy’s brother and Brandy’s still dealing with nightmares from her last life-threatening escapade.

Shelly Fredman’s Brandy Alexander No Such Thing As series offers readers humor, suspense, romance, and mystery, all delivered with great panache. Brandy is an endearing character, a somewhat klutzy woman who finds herself torn between her feelings for two men, one from the past, the other in the present and hopefully future. Her attempts at amateur sleuthing always get her in trouble but Brandy manages with each installment to land on her feet, ready to take on the world.

ONE SHOT TOO MANY by Maggie Bishop

CSI wannabe Jemma Chase is back for another thrilling adventure in the latest addition to the Appalachian Adventure Mystery series. Jemma’s hosting a meeting of the local photography club when newspaper photographer Scott Barker convulses and dies. Jemma calls her boyfriend, Detective Tucker with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, to the scene. Knowing Jemma’s propensity to engage in amateur sleuthing, Tucker warns her to quell any desire to help investigate. Jemma’s life is pretty busy as trail-leader, photographer and carpenter for her parents’ dude ranch, yet she keeps her ears open for any information she can pass on to Tucker. Once poisoning is confirmed, Tucker and his partner begin to focus on the members of the photography group and it seems everyone has a secret that could possibly lead to murder if revealed. When a past love steps back into Tucker’s life, he tries not to let this distract him from his case or his feelings for Jemma.

Maggie Bishop excels at pulling her reader into the moment with vivid, colorful descriptions of locale and fauna. Jemma Chase is an appealing character, a strong young woman who matures more with each book. Her life as trail-leader for the dude ranch is an intriguing concept and Bishop’s description of daily activities at the ranch is interesting and fun. With great skill, Bishop delivers subtle clues as to the murderer, providing her readers with a challenging mystery.

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Interior Designs, by Laurel-Rain Snow

Front Cover-resized-small
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