Posts Tagged ‘fiction ebook review’


Ebook Review: Evil Angel

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books, Fiction, Suspense/Thriller

Book Details

Title: Evil Angel
Author: RD Larson
Format: Paperback, Kindle, LIT, PDF, PDB, EPUB, RB, FUB, KML, LRF, PRC, IMP
Number of Pages: 192 (Paperback)
Summary: A beautiful girl, tortured by insane jealousy and twisted love, is possessed by an Evil Angel who leads her on a path of manic violence and death in a bid to crush a real love story. Not for the weak-stomached, this is a fast paced, sharp adult thriller full of action and excitement.
Price: $5.50 – $14.27, depending on format.
Author Bio: RD Larson is the author of Evil Angel, Mama Tried to Raise a Lady, and Saving Reverend Clayton, co-authored with Louise Ulmer. She has had stories published in The Paper Journey, and several anthologies.
Evil Angel by RD Larson


I have to admit I felt slightly annoyed right from the start when I read Evil Angel. That annoyance became outright irritation by the middle and end of the book. So much so that I complained about the book to my husband and mother-in-law afterwards! But first I’ll tell you what I liked about the book. I enjoyed the main plot: Terri, a mentally disturbed young woman marries her “dream guy” and has a child with him, only to drive him away with her emotional instability. She attempts to win him back by exacting revenge on anyone she thinks is standing in the way of her true love. We watch as she slowly spirals deeper and deeper into vengeful insanity. Watching her
self-destruction was fascinating.

Larson’s writing style is generally good, suspenseful, with some pretty phrases here and there. That said, what annoyed me from the start was the lack of proofreading and editing. I can overlook a typo or two, especially in an ebook, but not mid-sentence revisions and repeated sentences. And not starting in the very first paragraph of the novel! But even that wouldn’t have bothered me if the characters had been more likable. There’s Jack, who has been on the receiving end of his wife’s violence, seen her attempt suicide (apparently more than once), knows that she isn’t seeing her psychiatrist as she claims, and
yet he sees no problem leaving his baby daughter alone with her. Especially so he can get away to ski for a few days and clear his head. Selfish much? And though he now sees the foolishness of having jumped into the relationship with Terri after his first marriage abruptly ended, he doesn’t see the irony of now jumping into a sexcapade with instant ski buddy Hillary the day after he leaves Terri.

For her part, Hillary starts out as a sensible, sympathetic character. Still grieving over the death of her long-term boyfriend, we see her stand up to a bullying dad at the ski resort, and learn she’s a social worker who helps abused children and women. But within hours of meeting Jack she’s willing to throw out all sensibility in order to bed him. Never mind he’s married with a baby. When said wife and baby show up in town, this would be a cue for Hillary to quietly bow out, but she still pursues the relationship. But the “jump the shark” moment for me was when Hillary is attacked and beaten. Does she call the police the first chance she gets? Does she warn others who may soon
be in the path of her attacker? No, she decides to just go home and forget all about it. If she’d had a history of abuse, her reaction could be understood. But this is the first time she’s ever been smacked around, and that, combined with her career fighting for victims of abuse, makes her reaction totally unbelievable.

One last annoyance was when Jack is in the emergency room after a minor accident. A nurse brings him and Hillary bowls of onion soup, French bread, and tapioca. I had to roll my eyes. First, no one is served food in an emergency room, let alone both the patient and his visitor! And onion soup and French bread? In a hospital? You’ve got to be kidding me. The tapicoca I can believe, though green Jell-O would’ve been spot-on.

With a little revamping, I could’ve given Evil Angel 4 stars, but as it is I have to give it 2.

Click Here to buy Evil Angel from Amazon
Click here to buy Evil Angel from Fictionwise. Includes Chapter 1 excerpt.
Click here to read Chapter 3 excerpt

Disclaimer: I received a PDF review copy of Evil Angel. My reviews are not influenced by receiving free review copies, nor am I compensated any other way for reviewing books. I may provide affiliate links where books can be purchased, but I do this of my own volition.

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Book Details
Title: The Skull Ring
Author: Scott Nicholson
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Epub, PDF, RTF, LRF, PDB, txt, HTML, Javascript
Number of Pages: 160 (PDF)
Summary: Julia Stone will remember, even if it kills her. Many years after the night her father disappeared, a night of chants, pain, and strangers in robes, the past follows Julia tot he North Carolina mountains when a mysterious silver skull ring makes her the focus of a shadowy, sinister cult. Walter, a local handyman, tries to help her, but he has his own secrets. And the ring is closing in…
Price: $1.99 – $14.95, depending on format
Author Bio: Scott Nicholson is the author of seven novels, including The Skull Ring and The Red Church. He’s also written more than 60 short stories, most of which are collected in Flowers, Ashes, and The First. He’s written six screenplays and several comic book series, including Dirt and Grave Conditions. Nicholson is also a freelance editor and operates the interactive writing manual Write Good or Die. His Web site is and his blogs are at and



Julia Stone’s locked door is unlocked. Wood blocks spelling out her nickname are on her coffee table. Her digital clock is stuck on the same time; 4:06. Her shut window is wide open. Eyes stare at her from the darkness outside. Someone is obviously trying to gaslight her. Or maybe she’s just crazy. After years of therapy, Julia is having trouble distinguishing between what’s real and what isn’t. And she doesn’t know whom to trust. Her therapist who’s trying to help rid her of panic attacks? The local handyman who keeps showing up at her door? Her long-time boyfriend who is anxious to get married? Her nosy old neighbor? Or are they all just creeps like the nameless, faceless entities she conjures in her mind?

The Skull Ring is a psychological thriller, one that had me hooked from beginning to end. In fact, I stayed up till 2:00 a.m. reading the last six chapters because I just couldn’t put it down! I particularly liked Julia Stone; she keeps fighting to maintain her sanity, and rather than act like a helpless victim, she uses her background as a reporter to investigate her own past. She’s determined to overcome her panic attacks through therapy rather than drugs, and once she realizes the true character of someone she trusted, she doesn’t hesitate in rejecting him. She has moments of wanting to give in and give up, but she doesn’t. She keeps trying to overcome whatever obstacles are holding her back, whether they be real or imagined.

The Skull Ringis well written, highly suspenseful, and avoids being preachy despite its religious undertones. The ending was fairly satisfying, because I totally believed the methods and motives of some characters; for instance, the sheriff and the therapist. They had vastly different outlooks on how they wanted this story to end, but I believed them both. I liked the idea of a “long con” being played, and I like the idea of one (or more) fanatical true believers in a cult. But I don’t buy big decades-long conspiracies, especially one that leaves mutilated bodies in its wake. No one notices a pattern? Really? I won’t go into any more detail because I want to avoid spoilers. But I was a bit disappointed in some of the concluding reveals.

I also felt a few loose ends were left hanging, such as Julia’s aversion to a barn near her childhood home. She has a horryfiing memory while in the barn, but it’s never clearly explained how she came to have that particular memory. We’re left to our own conclusions about it, but I prefer things more clearly spelled out at the end, especially when the story has us constantly guessing between the reality and fantasy of the main character’s experiences. We also never find out specifically what happened to Julia’s father–we pretty much know what, just not the how and where. I would like to have known. Morbid curiosity, I suppose. And how the heck do you get a digital clock to stay stuck on the same numbers?

But despite my complaints here, I did enjoy the story overall and look forward to reading more from Scott Nicholson. Be sure to read my interview with him.


Click here to buy the paperback or Kindle version.from Amazon
Click here to buy the PDF version from (Read part of the 1st chapter for free)
Click here to buy all other versions from (Read Chapters 1 – 3 for free)
Click here to visit the Author’s website
Click here to buy a signed trade paperback

Disclaimer: I received a PDF review copy of The Skull Ring. My reviews are not influenced by receiving free review copies, nor am I compensated any other way for reviewing books. I may provide affiliate links where books can be purchased, but I do this on my own.

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No Date for Gomez!

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books, Fiction, Humor, Romance

Book Details
Title: No Date for Gomez!
Author: Graham Parke
Format: Ebook: Epub, Kindle, PDF, Custom PDF
Number of Pages: 38 (PDF)
Summary: Gomez’ attempts to secure a date with the new girl in his building are nothing if not unorthodox and alarmingly awkward. But, as fortune would have it, this is not your typical girl next door. This strange creature hides a dark secret, one in which Gomez may well find himself caught up.

No Date for Gomez! is a prequel novella to the No Hope for Gomez! series. It is a complete and stand-alone story. No Hope for Gomez! is now available from Amazon.
Price: Free
Author Bio: Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.

No Hope for Gomez! is Graham’s fiction debut. You can visit his website at



When Graham Parke sent me an email requesting a review of No Date for Gomez!, my initial inclination was to turn him down. The description of his novella didn’t quite appeal to me, and neither did the cover. (I know, I know, don’t judge a digital book by its cover*.) But since I like to give authors a chance to win me over, I looked to see if by chance there was a preview of the first chapter to read. (I like to read a snippet of any book before I pass final judgment.) To my surprise, the entire ebook was a freebie! I downloaded the PDF version, figuring I’d read the first few paragraphs, hate them, and thus feel no guilt in sending a kindly rejection email.

But the first sentence got me interested, so I read more, then a little more, and by the time I finished the first chapter–a mere 2½ pages later–I was hopelessly hooked. I had planned to do some productive work on the computer (paying bills, working on taxes, etc.), but instead I spent the next hour or so reading the entire story, smiling and laughing practically the entire time. No Date for Gomez!is absolutely hilarious.

Gomez is a nerdy, nice guy (sort of like Peter Parker at the beginning of Spider-Man, before he gets his spidey superpowers) who is completely clueless when it comes to people of the female persuasion. He falls for the beautiful new girl in his building, Gretchen, and immediately tries to come up with schemes to get her to go out with him. His priority is to show her how cool he is, so that when he gets around to asking her out, she’ll say yes. Unfortunately, he becomes tongue-tied whenever he runs into her, so their conversations typically go something like this:

I could remember talking to people. Knowing the kinds of things one said in polite conversation. I could remember making people think and laugh. But, at that very moment, I couldn’t put my finger on any of the words one might use when running into a fellow human being in a hallway.

Gretchen smiled and said, “Hi!”

Which was one of the words one might use.

“How are you doing today?”

Which, I now recalled, was a bunch of others.

Gomez soon becomes convinced Gretchen is annoyed with him, which turns out to be true, but not for the reasons he imagines. My only confusion after finishing the novella was that the dark secret Gretchen is hiding isn’t revealed or even hinted at. When I asked Parke about that, he said that there is more to come. I can’t wait!

No Date for Gomez! is the most fun read I’ve had in a long time. Do yourself a favor; turn off the depressing news, skip the latest episode of Lost, and read this instead. It’ll put you in a better mood.

Click here to download No Date for Gomez!
Click here to visit Graham Parke’s website
Click here for a chance to receive a free signed, printed copy of No Date for Gomez!

*Update: Parke provided a new cover that I like better; that’s the one posted here. 

Disclaimer: “No Date for Gomez!” is a free download. My reviews are not influenced by receiving free review copies, nor am I compensated any other way for reviewing books. I may provide affiliate links where books can be purchased, but I do this on my own.

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Walking With Elephants

   Posted by: Lynne    in Chick Lit, eBooks/Print Books, Fiction

Book Details
Title: Walking With Elephants
Author: Karen S. Bell
Format: PDF, Microsoft (lit) formats
Number of Pages: 260
Summary: Suze Hall is at a crossroads. Her nemesis at work, Wanda, has been promoted and now will be her boss. Her husband, Bob, is leaving her and the three kids for a six-month sabbatical down under. To top it off, her best friend, Marcia, is missing in action–playing footsie with some new boyfriend! Adding to this disaster stew, David, the gorgeous hunk who broke her young-girl’s heart has coincidentally popped back into her life and has something she desperately needs to keep her job. Walking with Elephants, a lighthearted slice-of-life story, brings to the table the serious work/family issues facing women today. It explores the modern dichotomy of a workplace that is filled with homemakers who still must cook, clean, carpool on nights and weekends, shop for prom dresses, and “create” the holidays—such as Suze. But it also is filled with women who have the same drive as men, have no family responsibilities, and will do what ever it takes to get ahead. So step into the shoes of Suze Hall and commiserate over workplace politics, titillate your sexual fantasies, ride the wave of a working mother, and fall-down laughing.
Price: $5.99
Author Bio: Karen S. Bell was a theater critic and celebrity interviewer for a weekly tabloid in Jacksonville, Fl and earned a Master’s in Mass Communication from Oklahoma State University. For 15 years she worked in Corporate America as a technical editor/editor/writer. She experienced first hand the politics and intrigue that goes with that territory and the balancing act that comes with being a working mother.


I totally related to Suze Hall. She’s a forty something, graying, slightly overweight, associate editor who has the boss from hell. I fit that physical description, and though I had a different job title, I’ve had a female boss almost as nasty as Wanda Walsh. I empathized with Suze as she dealt with the kind of office politics I left behind four years ago. Her family struggles were also totally believable–how to become a career woman while still staying connected to her children’s lives, and how to understand her husband’s desire to temporarily leave her just when her old boyfriend shows up after twenty years. Her reactions are at once contradictory and authentic. When she tells a big lie at work that only her old boyfriend can rectify, we feel her dread as everything spirals out of control.

I loved the humor Bell brought to her writing–and her character’s personality. In the beginning of the book, Suze muses,

I have come to understand that the big questions such as, What is my purpose in life? and Why am I here? converge with the little questions like, Where is my other shoe? and When will pot roast go on sale? Big questions, little questions, big thoughts, little thoughts, even famous people have them. So we’re not so different.

Except for the limos.

Bell writes well, capturing the clever, mundane, and sometimes random thoughts running through Suze’s mind perfectly. During a romantic escapade, the writing suddenly turns more and more florid, which at first confused me, until I realized the reason for the purple prose, and loved the jest. The ending is satisfying, though I would have liked an epilogue to let us know if everything turns out where it seems it’s headed. The ending is also preceded with an essay written by the character which seems too much like a “moral to the story.” Although I liked the essay itself, it seemed too long and I soon wanted to get back to the real story.

But overall, Walking With Elephants was a fun read, and I recommend it.

Buy Walking With Elephants (pdf)
Buy Walking With Elephants (lit)
Read the first chapter
Karen S. Bell’s website



A Worthy Legacy

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books, Fiction

Book Details
A Worthy Legacy
Author: Tomi Akinyanmi
Format: Paperback Print. Also available as Hardcover Print, Ebook, and Amazon Kindle.
Number of Pages: 101
Summary: The Harmattan wind scorches across Nigeria, and an old man lies dying. His community gathers to pay its respects; their haunting songs echoing in the warm twilight. Around his bed his family is gathered and they listen as he speaks his last words. Yet in the face of death this old man doesn’t talk of regrets, neither does he talk of petty grievances, instead he talks softly about life; how to survive, how to be happy and how to achieve self-respect.

A Worthy Legacy has won the following awards: Silver Award in the Inspirational/Spiritual Category of The Young Voices Foundation’s 2009 Young Voices Award, Second position in the Inspirational/Spiritual Category of the 2008 Reader Views Literary Award, Second position in the Young Adult Non-fiction category of the 2008 Reader Views Literary Award, and Top Book Awards by Black Pearls Magazine sponsored by EDC Creations.

: $13.95 (paperback)
Author Bio: Tomi (aka Ibitomilade) Akinyanmi discovered her enthusiasm for writing at an early age, and has been writing for over twenty years. Though poetry is her first love, Tomi was inspired by personal experiences to create A Worthy Legacy as her first book.

Her works include Voices in the Wind winner of the inaugural Voices Anthology Contest sponsored by The Voices Anthology Network. Some of her poems have also appeared in Free Focus, Northern Stars and Soul Fountain as well as online on poetry websites.

A Worthy Legacy

A Worthy Legacy


In the eloquently written A Worthy Legacy, a granddaughter hurries home to her Nigerian village to gather with family as her grandfather lays dying. Although technically a work of fiction, the words of wisdom conveyed by the grandfather in the story are based on years of conversations the author had with her own father before his sudden death due to a car accident. She wrote A Worthy Legacy as a loving tribute to him, preserving his memory and the impact his teachings had on her life.

Akinyanmi sketches out the story’s setting, letting us feel the scorching sun and hot winds of the Nigerian village, but doesn’t dwell on the scenery. Characters are named but not fleshed out; their backgrounds and personalities remain untold. Instead, the focus is on the parting words and writings of the grandfather. At barely 101 pages, A Worthy Legacy promises to be a quick read, but the truths presented by the grandfather necessitate a slower pace to truly appreciate the insights imparted.

A Worthy Legacy should be viewed not so much as a novel, but as a book of poetry, quotations, and age-old wisdom. Much of the book reminded me of the Biblical Proverbs; filled with advice and admonitions from someone who’s lived and learned it the hard way–and who hopes subsequent generations heed the guidance.

Read Akinyanmi’s comments about getting A Worthy Legacy published.

Learn more about A Worthy Legacy and Tomi Akinyanmi.
Buy A Worthy Legacy here.
Check out the book trailer on Youtube

eBook Reviews Online is just one stop on Tomi Akinyanmi’s blog tour!
Visit the other sites of the tour here:

Write for a reader July 5
Merry Weather Book Blog July 5
Drey’s Library July 6
Violet Crush July 6
A Bookworm’s World July 6
Lost in books July 7
Book Nest Reviews July 7
Mis(h)takes July 8
A Circle of Books July 8
Peeking between the pages July 9
Reading Frenzy July 9
A Book Blogger’s Diary July 10
Luxury Reading July 10
Bella is reading… July 11
Jenny loves to read July 11
Belle of the books July 12
The Unadorned Book Review July 12
Worducopia July 13
Poisoned Rationality July 13
Socrates’ Book reviews July 14
My thoughts…your thoughts July 15
eBookReviewsOnline July 15
Grace’s Book Blog July 16 July 16
The Friendly book nook July 17
Just Another New Blog July 17
I’m on a bookathon
Simply Stacie
Real page turners
Booksnake reviews
The Eclectic Reader
The Bookworm

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Uncommon Valor

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books

Ebook Details
Title: Uncommon Valor
Author: William Todd
Format: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) Also
available in HTML and Microsoft Lit
Number of Pages: 34
Summary: During the fall of Fallujah in the Iraq war, two long-time friends Corporals Kyle and Davis find themselves trapped in an abandoned home and surrounded by insurgents after their assault vehicle is hit by an IED. With Davis severely injured, Kyle strikes out on his own to find help for his injured friend and fellow Marine. Davis, a Marine by choice, feels guilt for Kyle, whose sole purpose for joining was to protect Davis. A shocking event when they were eleven years old precipitated Kyle’s obsessive protection of his friend. In the end, he illustrates just how deep friendship goes by showing . . . Uncommon Valor.
Price: $2.49
Author Bio: William Todd has been writing online for almost ten years. He was the third most popular author on the website before it shut down. He has an 8 year old son Kiaran, who is a budding author himself, and a 6 year old daughter Alina, who has Down’s Syndrome. He and his wife Joan have been married for 10 years, and make Erie, PA their home. When not writing, he is a full time histologist and a part time pathologist assistant at a local hospital. His hobbies are writing, running, reading, and watching old movies.


With a story by William Todd, I guessed something supernatural would happen in Uncommon Valor, but what I didn’t anticipate was getting teary-eyed at the ending instead of spooked. I’d read Todd’s anthology of macabre short stories Bumps in the Night, so I had a feel for the kind of tale he likes to spin. I rightly predicted Corporal Kyle and Corporal Davis would experience something otherworldly when they end up wounded and trapped in an abandoned house in Fallujah during the Iraq war. However, instead of the story ending with the revelational twist as I expected, it continued on with a rather introspective analysis by the characters as to what it all meant. I was actually touched by the ending.

Todd’s stories tend to have a period tone to them (think Victorian England), but in Uncommon Valor he does a great job keeping a consistant modern-day voice to the action and dialog. Though I predicted the main plotline and guessed the “twist,” the story kept my attention, especially when it veered into unexpected territory. I look forward to reading his other works.

Click here to order
Read an exerpt here
More by William Todd

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Bumps in the Night

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books, Fiction

Ebook Details
Title: Bumps in the Night
Author: William Todd
Format: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) Also available in HTML and Microsoft Lit
File Size: 473kb Unzipped (.pdf).
Number of Pages: 111
Summary: A collection of nine chilling short stories of the supernatural and the macabre.
Author Bio: William Todd has been writing online for almost ten years. He was the third most popular author on the website before it shut down. He has an 8 year old son Kiaran, who is a budding author himself, and a 6 year old daughter Alina, who has Down’s Syndrome. He and his wife Joan have been married for 10 years, and make Erie, PA their home. When not writing, he is a full time histologist and a part time pathologist assistant at a local hospital. His hobbies are writing, running, reading, and watching old movies.


Bumps in the Night hits a few bumps in the road in its endeavor to terrify the reader,
but for the most the part the anthology contains well-written and entertaining tales. William Todd has a great knack for capturing the narrative style of nineteenth-century characters, which enhances the gothic feel of two of my favorites: The Whitaker House Curse and Jack. And either Todd has a vast vocabulary–or made ample use of a good thesaurus–because several words sprinkled throughout the stories sent me searching
for definitions at It isn’t often a fiction writer stumps me with a word, much less several, so I’m impressed with that alone.

The Whitaker House Curse is a first-person account in which the protagonist hurriedly relates his fateful tale under threat of an imminent deadline. It has such great voice I almost felt I was reading something from Edgar Allen Poe. However, the epilogue seemed a bit tacked on and unnecessary, and it almost ruined the ending for me. I think the story would be better without it. On the other hand, Jack, a chilling first-person take on the infamous serial killer, probably has the most surprising–and ultimately,
pleasing–endings in this collection.

Rounding out my favorites of the bunch are The Night Stalker and Bumps in the Night. In The Night Stalker, a prostitute suspects her latest john may just be a killer when he drives her down a dark, isolated road. The second half of the story is terrifying, and I loved the ending. Bumps in the Night is told from the viewpoint of a Down Syndrome girl–a delightful young protagonist with a fresh, new voice–who once a month listens to the horrifying sounds of her father’s transformations. My only quibble with this story is that because it’s written with Todd’s wonderful slightly turn-of-the-century tone, the mention of computers by the protagonist jarred me; until then my mind’s eye had placed the setting in the distant past, not modern times.

Similarly, the characters in The People Under The River speak like 1930’s gangsters, so their references to 1970’s pop culture (and use of a weapon created in the 80’s) made me reorient my initial impression of the time period. This story, in which two killers’ dumping ground is at risk of discovery by an innocent young couple, is the least frightening, since it doesn’t deal with anything supernatural, though it has a satisfying ending. The malevolent entity encountered in Ghost Hunters had the potential to be the most terrifying for me, but the ending fizzled instead of sizzled. The same was true for The Delivery, in which a scientifically-minded courier has his beliefs turned inside out, though the narrative benefits from Todd’s period tone of voice.

In Eyes, an arrogant businessman disses the wrong old woman and finds himself fighting for his life. The storyline was predictable, but I found the consequences of his actions chilling nonetheless. An FBI agent investigates the disappearance of several people in the creepy and macabre Flesh and Blood, and though I thought the ending was darkly humorous, I couldn’t tell whether it was intentionally so.

I generally don’t read (or watch) horror, because though I enjoy being scared in the moment, I typically regret it by nightfall when I urgently feel the need to go to bed with an ornately bejeweled cross and a spray bottle filled with holy water. So Bumps in the Night elicited just about the right amount of spook for me–I was entertained but slept just fine after reading it. While not all the stories are perfect, Todd has great writing style, likable characters, and knows how to keep the reader in suspense. I look forward to reading more from him.

Click here to read an excerpt
Click here to order Bumps in the Night

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Breathe of the Flesh

   Posted by: Lynne    in eBooks/Print Books, Fiction

Ebook Details
: Breathe of the Flesh
Author: Jack Allen
Author Bio: Jack Allen is the best unknown mystery author in the Detroit area. He lives with his wife and their boys, hoping one day to build his dream hot rod Mustang, and get the basement cleaned out.
File Size: 1391kb Unzipped.
Format: Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) (Also available in Mobipocket, Word, text, MS eReader, and Kindle.)
Number of Pages: 451 
: It’s 1942, the middle of WWII. New York City is filthy with German spies. But the Abwher, the intelligence branch of the Nazi military, has a special mission for its most lethal and dangerous spy, and it has nothing to do with his passion for girls.

Breathe of the Flesh is a WWII period espionage novel about FBI agent Thomas Leopard’s tragic descent into failure and loss. He is drinking and suicidal, selfish, loathsome and hateful. And he has a killer loose in his city, a killer who favors innocent teenage girls. This killer is the German spy “Der Tiger”, a man who has a taste for fresh blood in his coffee. He has been dormant up to that point of the war, when he comes up with his own plan to go to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington D.C. and steal the printing plates for U.S. currency. When he learns how closely he has been stalked and nearly caught by Leopard, Leopard’s own daughter becomes Der Tiger’s next target.


Breathe of the Flesh is a solidly written, intriguing thriller. I read the last 150 pages
at a breakneck pace, which shows I was fully engaged in the story and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The story sweeps from New York City to southern France, from London to Berlin, and from Washington, D.C. to Portland, Maine, as
numerous characters fight their own personal battles amidst the war around them. I found myself quickly getting into the story, and every time I thought I knew where the plotline was headed, it took yet another unexpected turn until finally coming to a
bold, unconventional conclusion. 

There were times, however, when I felt a bit lost due to the sheer number of characters introduced, some of whom made their entrance early on with no explanation as to their relevance and then didn’t reappear till several chapters later (or never reappeared.) By the end of the book, though, it was clear who the characters were or at least how they fit into the overall story.

The protagonist, Thomas Leopard, is an unlikable character, but still I found myself both feeling orry for him and rooting for him to finally have some success in catching his prey, no matter how bittersweet the victory. His prey, the German spy Der Tiger/Hermann Van Roeple/William Birch, is a serial killer as loathsome as Hannibal Lector; a sociopath whose spy assignments and career ambitions are only a sideline to his real passion for killing teenage girls. He leaves a swath of bloodshed wherever he goes. But Der Tiger’s not the only repulsive character; many are unpleasant; and I’m not just talking about the Nazis. And even most of the otherwise likable characters seemed morally distasteful.

Miriam Roth, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving employee, for instance, is a lonely, desperate woman so full of self-loathing that she’ll throw herself at any man who’s bound to use and abuse her, while at the same time showing abject disdain for the one man who offers kindness. June Anderson Prien, the American actress married to a Nazi General, finds herself in the deplorable position of having to sleep with her husband’s subordinate in order to extract useful information for Allied agents. And MI6 agent Lynn Nevers, one of the most likable characters, finds herself envying women who can have meaningless affairs without emotional consequence after engaging in a disappointing coupling herself.

Which brings me to my only real objection to the novel: it has more sex scenes than a Harlequin bodice-ripper. Towards the end of the story I tired of them; they seemed included only for titillation rather than to advance any plot. Probably what bothered me most was that the majority of the scenes were between people who barely knew each other and/or didn’t care for each other, so a few of the encounters ended more like rapes than consensual lust. These were pure sex scenes, not love scenes. Call me a romantic, call me a prude, but I can tolerate only so much licentiousness. That said, an old-fashioned romantic entanglement between two characters who meet two-thirds of the way in the novel brought me a glimmer of hope for some sort of character redemption. (I was tragically disappointed.)

If this novel were made into a movie, it would easily garner a NC-17 rating, what with the aforementioned dozen-plus sex scenes, and close to a dozen murders–neither of which group includes the two gruesome rape/murders explicitly described (with a couple more discussed after the fact.) This is adults-only fare, so be forewarned.

In the end, Breathe of the Flesh just wasn’t my cup of tea. Chalk it up to my personal taste in fiction, which runs more towards Pride & Prejudice and Lord of the Rings. Stories with likable characters that follow the standard formula: the bad guys die, the good guys win, the hero gets the girl, and they all live happily ever after. If I wanted to be depressed at the end of a book, I’d just re-read 1984.

Bottom line: Is Breathe of the Flesh well-written? Yes. Does it keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat? Yes. Would I read it again? No. Do I recommend it? Not really. But I admit I would probably read a sequel, if Jack Allen chose to write one. I may read his previous novels. His character Josh McGowan in his novels Change Of Heart, An Innocent Among Them, and Widow of Calcutta sounds more to my liking. 

Click here to read the first chapter of Breathe of the Flesh
Find out more about Jack Allen’s novels at Burping Frog Publishing
Click here to order Breathe of the Flesh in pdf, Word, text, Mobipocket, or MS eReader
Click here to order the Kindle edition on Amazon

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