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John L. Betcher RSS Feed (Red Wing, MN USA)
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The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1)
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1)
by Jacqueline West
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.99
163 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Middle Grade Fantasy, July 10, 2012
I'm a fifty year old guy. So I'm not the target audience for this book. But I read it anyway...and it is a fine example of good writing, great plotting, and compelling characterizations. Your kid will love the heroine -- who is both afraid and courageous -- and the supporting cast -- who are appropriately scary and/or quirky! I know there are already two more books in this series, with more to come. If you want your middle grader to read, get them this book!

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the book from author with no expectation that I would review it. But I just had to anyway. :)


Walking Tall: A Memoir About the Upside of Small and Other Stuff
Walking Tall: A Memoir About the Upside of Small and Other Stuff
Price: $7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Memoir, May 19, 2012
In WALKING TALL, we take a peek into the life of four-foot-tall actor, designer, and Radio City Music Hall "elf," Clay Rivers, who also has experience as Disney World's beloved Donald Duck character. Rivers tells his personal story with wit and charm. And make no mistake, he has lived (is living) a unique life as a "short" person in a tall world.

I recommend WALKING TALL to anyone who enjoys a well-written memoir. This one is truly a remarkable read!


Black Loon Lake
Black Loon Lake
Price: $1.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this British Columbian's Debut, May 4, 2012
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This review is from: Black Loon Lake (Kindle Edition)
BLACK LOON LAKE depicts the wilds of British Columbia as awe-inspiringly beautiful, and at the same time, a deadly force to be reckoned with. This novella is at times relaxing, at times titillating, at times intense. Entertaining and informative -- not to mention spooky -- BLACK LOON LAKE is a fine first offering for Coelho.

One aspect of this book I found particularly remarkable is the skill with which Coelho interweaves poetry with chilling suspense. On one page, Coelho lulls the reader with lush greenery and idyllic vistas, while launching us into brutal realities on the next.

This novella is tautly written and very well edited.

Brava and kudos, Ms. Coelho! I shall watch with anticipation for your next offering.


12|21|12
12|21|12
Price: $2.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind Bending, March 30, 2012
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This review is from: 12|21|12 (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed Mr. Enright's version of the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. Larry tells a great story...as he always does...bringing together unusual characters who face a common fate. Larry's knowledge of science, and tidbits of history, add texture and interest to the plot. In the end, you may be unsure whether there's more than one "Final Day" and exactly for whom the bell has tolled. But rest assured, as John Donne says, if you read this book, "it tolls for thee."

Keep up the great writing Larry. I love your style.


The Ninth District: An FBI Thriller (Book 1)
The Ninth District: An FBI Thriller (Book 1)
Price: $3.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Action, Likeable Characters, March 11, 2012
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FBI Agent Jack Miller is unhappily separated from his wife. And he's got a serial bank robber turned murderer to deal with as well. The robberies yield fairly small money, so no one, including Jack, suspects that the robber has his sights set on the biggest bank target in Minneapolis -- The United States Federal Reserve.

The Ninth District is a first rate thriller. In fact, I liked it tons better that the last David Baldacci book I read. The plotting is deft, the action is nonstop, and the good guys are eminently likeable.

Well done, Mr. Dorow. I shall anticipate your next book.


Whiskey Rebellion: An Addison Holmes Mystery (Addison Holmes Mysteries Book 1)
Whiskey Rebellion: An Addison Holmes Mystery (Addison Holmes Mysteries Book 1)
Price: $0.00

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and delightful, December 8, 2011
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This offering from author, Liliana Hart, is a real charmer.

Engaging, quirky, and humorously cursed with bad luck, history teacher turned detective, Addison Holmes (not to be confused with Sherlock or Katie), has to roll with the punches as she solves the mystery of her high school principal's apparent murder in the alley behind a seedy strip club. But the principal's death proves to be only the tip of the investigative iceberg. There are more dead bodies in her future

Holmes is an exceedingly likeable character who manages to get herself into all sorts of unusual "situations." Hart's heroine smacks of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum or Lois Greiman's Chrissy McMullen. The plot moves along at a good clip. (If you read a lot, you can probably read this book in an afternoon.) And there are a number of "laugh out loud" moments throughout the book.

In all honestly, there were a few more proofreading issues than I would have preferred to see. But they weren't frequent enough or of great enough consequence to keep me from enjoying the read. It's well worth the $2.99 price tag.

I'd like to see Hart continue the Holmes series. As Evanovich winds down, writers like Hart and Greiman have proven that they can pick up the slack.

Delightful book, Ms. Hart.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 2, 2014 7:00 PM PST


Viridis - A Steampunk Romance & Mystery (The Viridis Series Book 1)
Viridis - A Steampunk Romance & Mystery (The Viridis Series Book 1)
Price: $0.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steamy and Well Written, October 26, 2011
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Kudos to Calista Taylor for the fine job on her debut novel, VIRIDIS. I must admit that I, myself, am not really a big romance reader. But my adult daughter found the book to be very enjoyable -- and exceedingly well edited. (And she tends to be a critic of editing errors.) Well done, Ms. Taylor.


Simple Simon (An Art Jefferson Thriller Book 4)
Simple Simon (An Art Jefferson Thriller Book 4)
Price: $4.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Action and Ingenuity, June 25, 2011
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I just finished reading Ryne D. Pearson's SIMPLE SIMON. I have to say it was a book I found very difficult to put down.

The action begins early in this story as we meet an autistic teen named Simon. Although Simon's social interactions are severely stunted, his doctors have discovered that he has amazing puzzle-solving abilities. As a sort of experiment, one of Simon's physicians gives him a MENSA-type magazine for the super-intelligent, just to see if the puzzle section interests Simon.

As Simon sits in his room flipping through the magazine, a page filled with seemingly random number sequences catches his interest. But it's not just a puzzle. It's the NSA's newest cryptography algorithm -- an "unbreakable" code that goes by the name of KIWI. To Simon's great misfortune, he breaks the KIWI code, then unwittingly informs its creators of his success. Now unethical bureaucrats want him out of the picture.

This all happens in just the first few chapters of SIMPLE SIMON. I won't spoil the story for you by telling the rest. Suffice it to say that the action doesn't let up.

Some readers have noted that this book contains "gratuitous violence." I'm not a big fan of blood and gore myself. And I could have done without a few of the more graphic scenes. But overall, this is a great book with a well-researched and intriguing story -- a human story, a spy story and a story filled with action and suspense.

If you haven't read SIMPLE SIMON, I highly recommend it. (Probably an age 15+ selection, though.) Then watch the movie SIMPLE SIMON inspired - Mercury Rising. That's my next stop.


The Middle-Age of Aquarius
The Middle-Age of Aquarius
by Barry Parham
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.36
10 used & new from $3.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and Irreverent - Parham Strikes Again!, June 25, 2011
In his latest foray into the full-length "literary" format, THE MIDDLE-AGE OF AQUARIUS, Barry Parham befuddles, amazes, provokes, enlightens, and most of all, entertains.

As a member of Parham's middle-aged generation, I found myself wandering through the stages of my existence, a big smile on my face, amazed at the clarity of Barry's memory of MY LIFE. At many points I nearly fell out of my chair laughing . . . and I was in a barca-lounger!

Is there a truth in life that this man holds sacred? It doesn't seem so. And what a blessed relief! PC takes a beating when Parham's pen is in hand.

As a man of the Eisenhower generation, this brief exert really hit home with me --

"These days, personal victories consist of a list of things you've managed to stop doing (smoking, drinking beer from holes punched in the bottom of the can, wearing pants with holes in the knees, drinking in some frat-hole until you end up on your knees, flicking a lighter and yelling "Free Bird" whenever you're confronted with live music)."

I even remember singing "The Age of Aquarius" as a teen, dreaming of the chance to see the Broadway musical from whence it came -- mainly hoping to catch a glimpse of onstage nudity. Heck, even offstage nudity would have worked fine. I was a teenager for Pete's sake!

Can you see that just reading Parham's book has turned me into a giddy almost-flower-child again? And I'm a stodgy lawyer, with a "reputation" to burnish.

If you're a member of Parham's generation, or even wish you were, do yourself a favor. BUY THIS BOOK. Put it in your bathroom where it belongs and try not to fall off your seat in laughter. And even if you do . . . what the heck, "you've come a long way, baby," and "you're not getting older, your getting better."

Parham can turn a phrase with the best, and bash a politician with the worst. Indulge yourself in THE MIDDLE-AGE OF AQUARIUS. You'll be overjoyed that you did.


Dead of Knight
Dead of Knight
by William R Potter
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from $23.65

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Top-Flight Crime Thriller, December 21, 2010
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This review is from: Dead of Knight (Paperback)
Author William Potter has penned one of the more realistic and dramatic crime thrillers I've read in a long time. Dead of Knight tells the story of the "Birthday Boy" serial killer who terrorizes the small town of Hanson, British Columbia. He has earned his name by brutally murdering his victims on their birthdays.

Potter renders true-to-life insights into small town and RCMP police procedures and politics. Dialogue is spot-on, breathing life into the many characters. Cop-speak is entirely realistic -- and appropriately loaded with expletives. (In my opinion, the cursing comes with the territory.)

While the cops beat the bushes for clues to the perp's identity and whereabouts, Potter leads the reader into the twisted mind of the psychotic killer, revealing the pathologies that made "Birthday Boy" the murderous menace he has become.

Editing is, for the most part, superb -- better than in typical NY Times Best Sellers. And Potter crafts the plot line with skill and artifice.

I don't want to give anything away. But suffice it to say that this book is well worth the price of admission.

I rate it a MUST HAVE for crime enthusiasts!


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