Military

Jump into June with Four Books, Four Genres

 

 

The books couldn’t be more different, but each is a great read in its own genre. Each has the potential to be fodder for a TV or big screen movie, with thoroughly interesting characters and visually descriptive writing.

 

Cozy Mystery

“Kernel of Truth” by Kristi Abbott, is the first in her Popcorn Shop Mystery series set in Grand Lake, Ohio. It’s an engaging murder mystery, complete with a personable poodle and a gourmet popcorn shop.

Rebecca Anderson hesitates when she hears screams coming from outside, having to choose between taking her sauce off the stove and investigating the screaming. Her conscience and her dog’s interest prevail and she discovers that the screams are from her friend’s chocolate shop next door. Her beloved friend, Coco, is dead and Rebecca’s life is about to change in unexpected ways.

 

While coping with the shock, Rebecca’s ex works to get her back, and Coco’s niece publicly denounces Rebecca with having ulterior motives. Accused of theft, her popcorn business in peril, and her reputation besmirched, Rebecca must solve the murder of her friend in order to regain the trust of the customers and the town. The characters are well-drawn in this nicely plotted beginning to the series. Recipes included.

 

Thriller

Nick Heller is back in “House on Fire,” the fourth entry featuring the former Special Ops soldier, now Boston P.I. An Army pal dies from a drug overdose and Heller is drawn into an investigation about the death. Who’s responsible? The easy answer is to blame the buddy himself, but Heller agrees to dig deeper.

 

In typical Finder fashion, “House on Fire” combines current events with a page-turning thriller. Undercover work reveals a surprising ally and loads of twists to surprise the reader. Family politics, personal tragedy, greed, government contracts, and billions at stake drive the story. Who can be trusted? Will Heller get out of this alive? Not everyone does. Prepare to be thoroughly entertained.

 

Legal Suspense

Functioning within the limitations of sporadic donations, the overworked guardians find the evidence to exonerate the wrongly incarcerated. The ‘Guardians’ in the title refers to Centurion Ministries, an organization that Grisham learned about some years ago while conducting research for another project. The work the Centurions did and still do, stuck with Grisham and this story is based on an actual case written about in the New York Times in 2018.

 

Grisham’s writing is compelling as fictional Cullen Post, a pastor and lawyer, doggedly pursues every lead to help those with one last hope. Post is not in it for the money, only justice for those less fortunate. The process followed to uncover new evidence in the various cold cases, with some witnesses long dead, and evidence lost or buried, is grueling and sometimes dangerous. A well-written, fascinating read, one of Grisham’s best.

 

Non-Fiction

“The Lost City of the Monkey God” by Douglas Preston, is non-fiction, but the events described are so wildly dangerous that it reads like page-turning fiction. The search for the ancient White City begins deep in a Honduran rainforest, probably untouched for hundreds of years.

 

Preston presents a fascinating look at the tremendously complicated planning that a legitimate investigation of a major archeological site requires. Helicopters, sophisticated technology, local government with access to permits and soldiers to guard the expedition, the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent even before the explorers put boots on the ground, the right people to pull it all together, all come into play.

 

The field of archeology appears to be highly competitive and the expedition itself was surprisingly controversial, but the group of which Preston was a part, was the first to document their expedition and findings and go through official channels. The book includes photos of the search, finding the astonishing cache of artifacts, and an insane snake story, but also discusses Preston’s serious brush with death. Preston and half of his (and subsequent) expedition people contracted a potentially lethal parasitic tropical disease, one that is hundreds of years old. The interviews and research in “The Lost City of the Monkey God” are thoroughly footnoted and documented, and also reference modern epidemics and pandemics. Excavation of this extraordinary site continues today.

 

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Book List: Fiona Quinn

 

Fiona Quinn writes “smart, sexy suspense with a psychic twist.” The series that started her path to becoming a USA bestselling author, the Lynx Series, is centered around a character that her readers love. Click on the titles in Fiona Quinn’s Book List to find out more about each of them.

 

In the Lynx Series, Lexi Sobado protects the greater good through her finely tuned psychic awareness and the expert operators charged with protecting her.

 

 

Weakest Lynx”  read my review here, one of the NBR ‘beach read’ choices that year.

 

 

Missing Lynx

Chain Lynx

 

 

 

Cuff Lynx”  read my review here.

 

 

Gulf Lynx

 

 

 

The FBI Joint Task Force Series Iniquus, the ex-special forces teams that Lexi works with, partners with an FBI Joint Task Force. Pulse pounding series.

Open Secret

Cold Red

Even Odds

 

 

Uncommon Enemiesfocuses on international action adventures. So much fun!

Wasp

 

 

 

 

 

Relic”   read my review here.

 

 

 

 

Deadlock

Thorn

“Survival Instinct” – coming soon.

 

Strike Forcethe members of the Iniquus strike force are highlighted in each book. With psychic suspense, romance, murder, and mystery woven into each, Quinn’s fans have loved the guys tasked to discover the truth behind various operations.
In Too Deep

Jack Be Quick

Instigator

 

The Kate Hamilton Novella SeriesA former science teacher from Boston goes to Virginia to hide out, but finds that danger follows her even to the small town where she grew up. Excellent novella series.  🙂

 

Mine

Yours

 “Ours” 

 

Fiona Quinn (as Lexi Sobado) has also been a Visiting Detective at Kerrian’s Notebook. Click on the links to take you to the individual posts.

 

Read “Visiting Detective Lexi Sobado

 

and “Everyday Carry (EDC) for Police,” one of KN’s most popular Visiting Detective pieces.

 

 

If you like strong women with unusual talent, danger, a bit of romance, and lots of action, check out Fiona Quinn’s always entertaining books.

 

 

 

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“The Gun Also Rises” & “Let’s Fake a Deal” by Sherry Harris

 

Sherry Harris has delivered two exciting new books in her Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series. “The Gun Also Rises” and “Let’s Fake a Deal” continue to follow Sarah’s life as a former military spouse who is (mostly) successful at navigating singlehood and establishing her own identity and livelihood.

 

Sarah Winston is a warm, relatable character and when she has moments of doubt, we struggle with her, weigh the pluses and minuses of her romantic choices, cheer her achievements, and groan when tragic/terrible events take over her life. She has a delightfully varied recurring support system of friends who lend texture to the stories and act as sounding boards. Sarah even has a serious ‘don’t-ask-what-he-does-for-a-living’ backup guy when needed in tight situations. We know that Sarah will eventually get through the latest challenge, but Harris creates a world so compelling that we enjoy every question, every impulsive move, and every ‘gotcha’ moment along the way.

 

 

 

In “The Gun Also Rises,” Sarah takes on her wealthiest client yet, the owner of perhaps the most extensive collection of mystery novels ever assembled. While Sarah appraises and prices the books, a treasure is uncovered – so valuable that people are willing to kill for it. Complete with scheming relatives, a stalker, a group of cult-like League of Literary Treasure Hunters, Sarah’s reporter brother Luke, clever plotting, and an original take on a famous real life missing manuscript, “The Gun Also Rises” surprises and entertains from start to finish.

 

 

 

“Two police cars squealed to a halt at the end of the driveway, lights flashing, front bumpers almost touching.” That’s the eye-popping beginning line for Let’s Fake a Deal.” Everything at Sarah Winston’s latest garage sale has been stolen from the actual homeowners and Sarah is arrested for being in possession of those stolen goods. Worse yet, the storage unit that contained the goods until the sale, had been rented using her credit card. Say what? Sarah Winston is the victim of identity theft.

 

In addition to that hot topic, Harris takes a look at sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the military in “Let’s Fake a Deal.” The decisions that women in the military must make – that men rarely face – are highlighted: report the incidents and face the innuendo and name-calling (and worse) while the case is adjudicated – or accept the objectionable behavior and keep to the chosen career path. Another timely theme, indeed.

 

Several great characters assist Sarah’s efforts to find the real thieves and to prove that her friend did not commit murder. Angelo and Rosalie are back and supportive as ever, dishing out advice and the best pizza anywhere in New England. Luke makes a brotherly appearance in tandem with another character, help comes from an unexpected source, and investigations reveal some astonishing associations – including a shocking link with the past. “Let’s Fake a Deal” includes an important romantic turn of events and if she can stay out of jail, Sarah’s future is hers to choose.

 

One of the reasons that the Sarah Winston series works so well is the importance of relationships between the characters. There are natural, warm connections that evolve with the storylines, that ebb and flow as they would with real friends and family. I come to the end of each book, wishing the next one was already at my fingertips.

 

Start with the first book in the series, “Tagged for Death,” and read them all.

 

 

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Author Profile: Fiona Quinn

 

Fiona Quinn and I met several years ago at a Writers’ Police Academy weekend held in North Carolina. We learned a ton, laughed a lot, and with a shared sense of the strength and power of independent women, hit it off. I knew that weekend, when she was demonstrating her high kick past an ATF agent’s ear, that she would bring an unusual range of experience to the written page. Her savvy heroines can do those high kicks and more to quell their opponents, while maintaining a softer side for the guys when called for.

 

Quinn is a three-time USA Today bestselling author, a Kindle Scout winner, and has been listed as an Amazon Top 100 author in: Romantic Suspense; Mystery, thriller, and suspense;  Mysteries, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

She writes suspense in her Iniquus World of books including: Lynx, Strike Force, Uncommon Enemies, Kate Hamilton Mysteries, and the FBI Joint Task Force Series.

 

The Lynx books were her first series, featuring under-the-radar, 20 something psychic Lexi Sobado, assisting Iniquus agents.

 

 

Read my review of the “Weakest Lynx” here.

 

 

and my review of the fourth book in the series, “Cuff Lynx” here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quinn’s series, Uncommon Enemies, still has Iniquus crews providing the adventure, but features other members of the Strike Force that Sobado assisted in the Lynx series.

 

 

 

 

Read my review of “Relic” here.

 

 

 

 

She writes urban fantasy as Fiona Angelica Quinn for her Elemental Witches Series and just for fun, she writes the Badge Bunny Booze Mystery Collection with her dear friend, Tina Glasneck. 

 

Quinn is rooted in the Old Dominion where she lives with her husband and children. There, she pops chocolates (a LOT of chocolate), devours books, and taps continuously on her laptop with Little Bear (the beloved family dog) sleeping near her feet.

I asked Fiona what part of her day is her chosen time for writing. Her response:

 

“That’s an interesting question. Writing for me is much more than sitting down and tapping at the keyboard. In my mind, I am constantly writing. Everything I see and do; every person I meet; every conversation I overhear; it’s all fodder that I’m collecting. It’s all possibilities that I churn. My busy brain is constantly telling me stories. I’m involved in the writing process always. As to the tapping? I sit down in the morning, and I’m finished after I’ve composed two-thousand good words. Some days that’s very easy. Some days, I’m sitting there well into the evening working things out. I try to write every day once my research and outlining are done. I don’t like to take a break mid-project.”

 

Fiona’s favorite place to work is a small office at the back of the house. It’s quiet and private. When she’s editing, she prefers to be on her back porch amongst the trees. That’s when she’s biting her nails, hoping that she’s creating a wonderful reading experience. Nature keeps her company.

 

How does Quinn come up with her characters? “I usually know someone that reminds me of the basic character and that’s where I start. As I write and learn more about the character, the real person takes a step back. Through the story, I get to know my characters, what motivates them, how they respond to different situations, what makes them tick. I love this part of the writing process. It’s like meeting someone and then getting to know them as we interact.”

 

I asked Fiona why she decided upon paranormal as a genre in which to work.

“The characters in my suspense thrillers have backgrounds that put them in life-threatening situations. In my time as a counselor working with clients with PTSD, and in my experience with others, I’ve found that people who live lives on the razor’s edge, develop their sixth sense. In many of my novels I like to use this to enhance the storyline, giving me a new place to explore the human experience.”

 

Fiona Quinn has a number of activities she enjoys when not tapping away on the latest story. Her blog http://thrillwriting.blogspot.com/ has been super popular because of its interviews with experts in various fields of research, and her own personal forays that tie in to the action in many of her books. She chats about her experiences working with:

  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) part of FEMA
  • Medical Reserve Corps for Counseling (part of Virginia Department of Emergency Management)
  • Search and Rescue also part of VDEM

This involvement out in the field lends authenticity to the drama in all her series. If she lives it, the activity will most likely wind up on the printed page.

I’m delighted to say that Quinn has also guest-posted twice on www.kerriansnotebook.com as Visiting Detective Lexi Sobado.         

Quinn’s book, Thorn, takes place in Toulouse and Paris, France, both places she lived during her college days. One of the recipes she found wonderful was TART TANTIN – think of it as a kind of apple pie, but so much more. Here is her quick and easy version.

 

Fiona Quinn’s TART TARTIN

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

9 gala apples peeled and sliced, sprinkled with lemon juice

1 prepared pie crust.

½ stick of salted butter.

 

Preparation

STEP ONE – make the caramel

Pour a half cup of sugar into a non-stick pan over a medium heat. You can sprinkle some lemon juice over it if you like. Just let it sit and melt. As the sugar liquifies, watch it carefully as it can scorch quickly. Once it’s golden brown, quickly pour it into a pie pan. Rotate the pie pan to cover it with your caramel. This is a very quick move as the caramel will cool/harden if you delay.

 

STEP TWO – the apples

Peel and slice about 9 Gala apples and arrange them in the pan on top of the caramel in concentric circles. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and put this in the oven 425 degrees F. for about 25 minutes. The apples should be soft. Remove from oven. Slice the chilled butter and spread it over the apples. Cover with a round of prepared pie crust, return to oven and bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.

 

STEP THREE – finish

Remove from oven. Pan will be very hot. Carefully turn upside down onto a serving dish so the crust is at the bottom, then the apples and the caramel is running over the top (similar to a flan)

Serve with ice cream (praline ice cream is yummy, so is rum raisin, or go with vanilla if you prefer) and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just downloaded “Thorn” and bestselling “Cold Red” and can’t wait to read them!

Please visit Fiona Quinn at www.fionaquinnbooks.com for more information about her series and links to the latest books.

 

 

 

 

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The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor

 

 

The Scot Harvath series by Brad Thor, delivers action that never stops. The highly successful seventeen novels feature counterterrorism as the central theme, more topical with each new title.

 

Back in 2013, when I reviewed "Takedown," Thor arranged for an entire year of “Thrills, Threats, and Thor.” He invited his fans to read each of the books (one a month) in order, starting in January, 2013, with the first, “The Lions of Lucerne.” Thor’s website has videos and extras about each of the books and of course, an opportunity to buy them.


Scot Harvath is well written, with depth and a sense of humanity despite the gravity of his tasks. We experience moments of his deep commitment and never question his patriotism as the books unfold. “Takedown,” first published in 2006, dealt with post September 11th terrorism action in New York City. See my review here.

 

If you’d like to catch up with the Thor 2013 reading plan, here are the books in order. Click on the titles:

January’s Book: The Lions Of Lucerne
February’s Book: Path Of The Assassin
March’s Book: State Of The Union
April’s Book: Blowback
May’s Book: Takedown
June’s Book: The First Commandment
July’s Book: The Last Patriot
August’s Book: The Apostle
September’s Book: Foreign Influence
October’s Book: The Athena Project
November’s Book: Full Black
December’s Book: Black List

Additional books published since then are (in order):

Hidden Order

Act of War

Code of Conduct

Foreign Agent

Use of Force
 

Please visit www.bradthor.com to read about the current books in the Scot Harvath series, as well as Thor's new release coming in July,  “Spymaster,” the highly anticipated #18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Fiction and Non-fiction

 

 

As we approach Memorial Day in the United States, I am reminded of the many friends and family members affected by war and its fallout, but rarely do veterans talk about their experiences. The authors below have captured the challenges and realities soldiers have faced throughout history. If you read Military Fiction and Non-fiction, these are among the best.

 

Mark Bowden: “Black Hawk Down,” true story of American forces in Somalia.
 

Philip Caputo: "A Rumor of War," the riveting true story of Philip Caputo's experience in Viet Nam.
 

Tom Clancy: “The Hunt for Red October,” based on a story rumored to be true.
 

Stephen Coonts: “Flight of the Intruder,” gripping story of Navy carrier pilot during Viet Nam, based on Coonts’ experiences.
 

Bernard Cornwell: “Sharpe’s Rifles,” part of a fictional series about Napoleonic warfare.

 

Nelson DeMille: “Up Country,” one of DeMille’s best. My review can be read here.

 

Ken Follett: “The Eye of the Needle,” Edgar Award winner.

 

Christopher Hibbert: “Red Coats and Rebels,” American Revolution told from the British perspective.

 

Laura Hillenbrand: “Unbroken,” WW2 true story of resilience, review here.

 

John Keegan: “The Face of Battle,” the story of what real soldiers go through, with information about famous battles in history.

 

Phil Klay: “Redeployment,” award-winning book contains 12 short stories centered around deployment in Afghanistan & Iraq.
 

Marcus Luttrell: “Lone Survivor: Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.”

 

Tim O'Brien: "The Things They Carried," award-winning book of the Viet Nam conflict.

 

Thank a veteran. Give him/her a job. They sacrificed much and fought to keep you free.

 

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“Cuff Lynx” by Fiona Quinn

 

Book Cover - Cuff Lynx

Lexi Sobado is back in Fiona Quinn’s fourth book in the Lynx series, “Cuff Lynx.” Lexi has mostly recovered from her last mission and on the first day back at the Iniquus office, senses something is not quite right with the headquarters of her top secret world. Iniquus is under attack and she needs to figure out how and why even though she’s not yet 100%.

 

Lexi’s regular role at Iniquus is to ‘puzzle’ the plans and tactics of field missions. She has the unusual skill of ‘knowing’ when something isn’t what it should be. She has a sixth sense, a psychic sense that becomes heightened well beyond the norm in the presence of evil.

 

Her skills are put to the test when she hears that Ops are failing, the founder of Iniquus, General Elliot, is in a coma, clients are losing confidence, valuable art is involved, and to top it off, Striker Rheas, Lexi’s heart’s desire, is teamed up with a gorgeous woman with few scruples. What else could go wrong? In “Cuff Lynx,” quite a lot.

 

Lexi has out-of-body experiences that help her gather Intel about the location of other people without having to leave the office or use a computer, and when she goes ‘behind the Veil’ at great risk to herself, we believe it. Quinn’s descriptions of those psychic missions are absorbing and keep the pages turning. The concept underpinning the use of the ‘Veil’ raises questions about how intelligence is gathered in the real world. If fact-gatherers were able to use this technique, would the Intel be of better quality or be obtained more quickly? Fascinating futuristic talking points.

 

The problems multiply, the evildoers abound and in “Cuff Lynx,” we’re not sure if the good guys (including her lover) are on Lexi’s side. Our heroine is a mix of sweetness, naiveté and single-mindedness unusual for an average person her age and that mix is what makes Lexi Sobado so refreshing as a central character in a thriller. The supporting characters are dedicated Special Ops professionals and Lexi’s softer character makes an intriguing contrast to the hard-core military types.

 

Over the course of the series, she is widowed, stalked by a killer, held in captivity, chased, scarred, loved, and trained in special skills that not even her Iniquus team can know about – all at a break neck pace.

 

“Cuff Lynx” can be read as a stand alone, but it’s much more fun if you read them all to experience the development of Lexi’s character and her relationship with the various members of her team. Quinn told me recently that she plans to feature the other characters in their own books. Cool.

 

Please visit www.fionaquinnbooks.com for information about the rest of Quinn’s work in fiction and non-fiction.

 

 

 

 

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