Military

“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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“Up Country” by Nelson DeMille

 

Book Cover - Up Country

In these days between the U.S. celebrations of Memorial Day and July 4th, it seemed appropriate to review “Up Country,” a detective/thriller that places war firmly at its center. DeMille considers the U.S. involvement in Viet Nam and the sacrifices made by all concerned. War never seems quite real unless someone close to us is affected, but lest we forget, the body bags are always bringing home someone’s brother or father or sister or mother.

 

Paul Brenner is close to retiring from military service, but must return to Viet Nam one last time to solve a crime committed during the war almost thirty years before. Was an American soldier killed in Viet Nam back then, actually murdered?

 

In Brenner’s search for the answers to what seems to be a colossal cover up in “Up Country,” we travel through Viet Nam, feel the anguish of a country still reeling from the destruction of the war, meet descendants of the original soldiers who had nothing to do with the regimes of the time, but are still suffering. And, the very men who lost the war now rule it.

 

Brennan interacts with ex-pat Susan Weber to supposedly smooth his in-country travel arrangements, and at times (even during their on-the-road affair) we wonder whether she is a friend to Brennan or an agent of the enemy. Corruption and betrayal at every turn, a harrowing unauthorized trip into North Viet Nam, many tense dealings with a suspicious North Vietnamese Colonel, political as well as military agendas, seeing Viet Nam as a country, not as a war – all blends together in a sobering clash of values and hindsight.

 

DeMille’s ‘Alpha Male’ lead characters are always fully developed, with strong language and active inner dialogue. In “Up Country,” we experience Brennan’s thought process as he assesses his limited options for solving the crime. We are persuaded that he should continue his dangerous mission even as he observes the behavior of the former/present enemy that still lives in the past and can’t let go of the hatred of the U.S.

 

“Up Country,” published in 2002, was based on DeMille’s own experiences upon his return to Viet Nam in 1997, almost three decades after his own military service. DeMille is a master storyteller, as his legions of fans will agree, but in this book, he brings a great deal of himself to the page and in doing that, creates a completely absorbing, gritty tale. One wonders how much is in reality, fiction. DeMille’s other books are great reads, but “Up Country” just may be his best.

 

Visit www.nelsondemille.com for more information about the popular John Corey series and the many other bestselling DeMille thrillers.

 

 

 

 

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