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Focus Review
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Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan
by Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Henry Holt


"But some men don't move—they can't. Dead or mortally wounded, their bodies lie still, soaking the sand with blood."

History is shaped by time and memory, allowing some facts to take prominence and others to fade away. As a result, Nazi Germany is remembered as the worst offender during World War II, while the U.S. decision to use the atomic bomb is given, by some factions, the moral equivalence of a brutal war crime. ... (read more)

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Featured Book Reviews

 

Is the Honeymoon Over?

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Beckham 101: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"'There's my girl. Baby, you are mineall mine and only mine. I don't share.'"

Fresh from their second and full-sized honeymoon across the Atlantic, Kate and Robert Beckham are back into their routines and enjoying their lives. Resolving the cliffhanger from the previous book, Kate finds herself home alone and confronted by a jealous ex-lover of Robert's, police officer Chris Foss. The conversation between the two women is civil if not icy at first, but before long, Chris has Kate at gunpoint and is ready to kill her to win Robert back. Kate's future brother-in-law Kevin, also a police officer, is able to protect Kate from Chris' jealous rage, but Chris is wracked with grief and ultimately ends her own life shortly afterwards. ... (read more)

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An Epic Thrill Ride

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The Gem Connection: A C.J. Cavanaugh Mystery
by Michael Lane
Booklocker

reviewed by Jennifer Weiss

"Besides not buying the story about Renita, she was suspicious about the extent of my involvement in this case. My weakness for children would have been a plausible explanation."

C.J. Cavanaugh is a well known private investigator. C.J. and his partner Renita Harris are hired by a mystery client to solve the murder of Clinton Windell, but they are not allowed to tell anyone about the case. Instead, they assume a false identity, a false job so to speak, to uncover the facts. Windell has not only been brutally murdered in his home, but also was robbed of his uncut gems worth twenty million dollars. Trying to remain anonymous, C.J. and Renita must become creative and think outside the box in order to solve the case. Michael Lane's story takes readers on a thrilling ride filled with excitement, mystery, and suspense. Mystery fans haven't read a story quite like this one. ... (read more)

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Exciting Coming of Age

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Hush Now, Don’t Explain
by Dennis Must
Coffeetown Press

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"I pulled him to me as I had Billy the night before. But here I wasn’t holding a man. Instead I was holding a past."

Sometimes what is unsaid speaks loudest. Now and then a writer has the confidence to hint rather than hammer. This author’s story of the loss of innocence and the search for one’s future in the secrets of the past uses revelation sparingly—which is to say well. Nor does he burden the reader with expositional excess. No sentence, paragraph, or page feels overwritten. While one is eager for the start of each new chapter, there’s no overt attempt to create cliffhangers. This is a novel where the writer’s measured pace makes it all the more enjoyable. ... (read more)

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Death on the Sea

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The Body on the Lido Deck
by Jane Bennett Munro
iUniverse

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"[I] saw something fall. With a squishy thud, it hit the edge of the swimming pool and bounced into the water. Red-tinged ripples spread out from where it went in. ... A trick of the light? Or was it blood?"

Pathologist Toni Day is supposed to be relaxing on a cruise to the Caribbean, but when a decapitated head nearly lands in her lap, she just has to get involved. Someone has killed a woman then stuffed her body into the roof the Lido deck. The captain is acting suspiciously, the crew's doctor is nowhere to be found in crucial moments, and, as far as Toni is concerned, no one can be trusted. How did the woman wind up in the closed roof? How does this case connect to an unsolved murder from twenty-five years ago? And why can't any of the evidence ever seem to stay in one place? ... (read more)

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Stunning Stories

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The Best Of Gival Press Short Stories
edited by Robert L. Giron
Gival Press

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"Maybe if Geist had that morning turned left instead of right, he might have been alert instead of being trapped on his plummeting psychic elevator."

Eleven stories comprise this collection. They were selected for quality of writing rather than adherence to any motif or theme. Thus, they cut a wide swath through all manner of timeframes, environments, events, and emotions. In addition to first-rate writing, there is however another element that links them all together. That element is an exploration of the inner self—a searing examination of what makes us behave the way we do—and the consequences that result from such behavior. ... (read more)

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Consideration of the Mystical Path

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The Paths of Destiny
by Lilian Nirupa
AuthorHouse

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"The Jyotishian, or expert in understanding the signs, following specific instructions of the sages stored in many thousands of rules, will use them to depict an interpretation of the person's whole life by creating a Jyotish reading."

Astrology—the belief that planets and other heavenly bodies can influence our lives—is considered by some to be a science which, properly understood and utilized, can provide practical guidance. Author Lilian Nirupa, practitioner of the Vedic astrological system called Jyotish ("light of God"), is a Christian who here expresses her conviction that Jyotish, while grounded in Eastern (Hindu) religion, can also benefit those who follow other spiritual paths. Her book is a basic explication of the Jyotish system, suitable for someone new to both astrology and Vedic teachings. She provides astrological charts and other diagrams to illustrate the many "thousands of rules" mentioned above. ... (read more)

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The Kate and Robert Romp Continues

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You and I: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"My Robert showed me his vulnerability, and it was me. I meant so much to him as he did to me."

For Robert and Kate Beckham, the wedding is over and the honeymoon is about to begin. Fresh from their hurried matrimony in Las Vegas, the newlywed Beckhams head to San Diego for some alone time full of relaxation, sightseeing, and plenty of physical intimacy. Focused on her husband—the over-possessive, at times frighteningly intense, madly in love police officer Robert—Kate is interested only in showing her love and passion for her new husband. Pleasant times in San Diego are over in a matter of days, but Kate has her wedding reception followed by an extended honeymoon across the Atlantic to meet Robert's parents to look forward to. In the blink of an eye, the couple are off, and Kate falls in love with the natural beauty of Ireland. Also to her advantage, Robert's mother, family, and seemingly the entire village take a shine to her immediately, and she becomes a popular addition to the scenery, serving as a matchmaker to those around her stuck in unhappy relationships as she once was. ... (read more)

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Frankie's Journey

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Frankie Jones
by J. R. Klein
CreateSpace

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"And so the summer days turned shorter and the nights cooler and autumn arrived in Paris and the leaves changed color and spun to the ground like painted toy helicopters."

It’s the 1990s, not the 1920s, yet echoes of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises linger in the white spaces of Klein’s beguiling novel. Instead of disillusioned youth reeling from the horror of World War I and finding solace in the cafes of Paris and the bullrings of Spain, Klein writes of the disaffected upwardly mobile seeking answers in the restaurants of La Jolla and the cantinas of Mexico. ... (read more)

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Taking Office

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Run: Your Personal Guide to Winning Public Office
by Senator Marian Walsh
Grand Cove Publishing

reviewed by Donna Ford

"Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams – experienced a day in their lives when they stopped complaining... It's in our DNA as a nation to make changes..."

Whether you are called to run for office or simply wish to support a candidate by donating funds and time or by posting a sign on your lawn–Run can help you become a motivated citizen. Many people see politics as a complicated maze. Walsh's advice is to start with the issue that matters to you. Learn the law involved and investigate opposing viewpoints. ... (read more)

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Challenging Love

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Inceptions: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"Then I briefly thought about past women and quickly barred them from my brain. He was mine! He wanted me!"

Kate Quinn's life went into a downspin in a hurry. In her late 20's, Kate works as an in-home nurse with a family that loves and respects her while she also has to deal with criticisms from her own family, whom she still lives with. Topping this all off is Scott, her one and only boyfriend of six years who, as Kate has just discovered, is cheating on her. Kate cuts Scott off immediately and tries to deal with her problems with the help of two friends: Pepper, her headstrong dance instructor best friend, and alcohol. Scott is trying desperately to win Kate back, but what neither of them counted on was Robert Beckham, a police officer friend of Scott's that has been interested in Kate since they first met. ... (read more)

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Storytelling Now

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Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse
by Peter Quinones
iUniverse

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"He would be the first to tell you that he could make no sense of human nature. Theories? Something for classrooms. Psychology? Please. An abstraction. A lounge conversation."

This fellow can write. His sentences illuminate the screen of an e-reader like neon against wood paneling. His vocabulary runs the gamut from obscure antiquity to verbose hyperventilation to graphic street speech. He breathes flesh and blood heartbeats and brainwaves into intellectually agile characters that wrestle as competitively in coffee shop conversation as they do in sweat-soaked battles between the sheets—though surprisingly for this day and age, he mostly alludes to the latter while dramatizing the former. ... (read more)

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Being Human

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UFOs and God
by Michael R. Lane
Bare Bones Press

reviewed by Lee Ware

"I was actually doing well until I heard her voice and all that changed. She resurrected the void in my life. I hated her for that, her and Alexander Graham Bell."

The stories range from a couple of pages to over thirty. They begin with two boys tossing pebbles and making wishes into a well, and they end with a writer awaiting the return of his wife while he contemplates the lives and scenery surrounding him. In between, we have World War II soldiers, a devout believer in UFOs, a man deciding whether to live or die, and many others creating a varied spectrum of characters and settings allowing the reader to slip from one world to the next. The stories themselves are not centered around a single idea or place, but are rather like a patchwork, a blend of time and people scattered across the pages like colored pieces of fabric. But while seemingly unrelated, Lane connects the patches, the times, and the people through his voice... (read more)

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Epic Humor

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Hail to the Chief: An Inauguration Poem, or a Lament for What Might Have Been
by Tanyo Ravicz
Denali Press

reviewed by Priscilla Estes

"It's your turn now—the Ascent of Rodham—
You get on top, I’ll take the bottom."

An epic poem may seem a curious device to trace the rise of Bill and Hillary Clinton, ending with her imaginary inauguration as 45th president of the United States. Epic poems conjure Homer’s The Iliad and Dante’s The Divine Comedy, classics expressing deep thoughts and moral consciousness. Epic poems also tickle the mind and ravish the intellect, grant more freedom of imagination than prose, and exaggerate both virtue and vice in a way that teaches, pleases, persuades, stirs, and entertains. ... (read more)

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Poems of Life

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Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing
by Margaret Dubay Mikus, Ph.D.
Three Heart Press

reviewed by Donna Ford

"...take this lifeboat with me through some rough seas and calm, into the streaming light on the far shore. Let me tell you a story..."

Whether in the midst of a stormy period of life or having recently passed through such a time, you will instantly relate to what the author means by being thrown into the Frazzle Machine. Beating multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and other health issues, Mikus remains so much more than a survivor. Taking inspiration from her full life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, she demonstrates how to overcome. ... (read more)

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Strong Voice Poetry

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At the Threshold
by Gedda Ilves
Aquarius West Press

reviewed by Michael Radon

"I am an altruist
and decided:
worms also get hungry."

Romantic, intelligent, and poignant, this third anthology of the author's poetry draws from a lifetime of international and interpersonal experience. Many of her poems deal with a disconnect in communication, one person yearning to share feelings with someone who is away on business or no longer alive. At the same time, these selections bridge continental and political borders, showing the universality of the human experience from Honduras to Hong Kong. Each poem comes from the narrative perspective of a unique character that readers will see for just a glimpse into their most private thoughts. The final section of the book is specifically reserved for poetry about children, containing little vignettes ranging to the precocious wanderings of toddlers to the silent terrors of living as a child with an abusive adult. ... (read more)

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Think Better

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Giant Steps: Learn to Think, Create, and Move Ahead
by Dr. Marvin Stern
Lambert Academic Publishing

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"Learning how to write is, in sum, a basic step in learning how to distinguish truth from fable."

In 122 pages, Giant Steps focuses on ways to utilize a more thoughtful process in reading and learning, often using sports metaphors as a way to relate. In 29 chapters, 7 readings in the epilogue, and a listing of suggested readings, the book examines steps on how to read, write, proofread, and utilize knowledge including substance, functions, and images. These concepts allow a process to actively participate in learning. It uses examples of works by philosophers such as Socrates and Plato and books and documents such as The Maltese Falcon and The Declaration of Independence. ... (read more)

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Death Becomes Us

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Deny the Father
by M. Duda
CreateSpace

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"Sewer-rat children screamed obscenities at one another and laughed. Somewhere far away, a siren wailed. ... I felt her claw my hand and heard her weep. I never did learn her name. My breath whistled through red-stained nostrils."

Hope, greed, and desperation are very powerful—and very human. Deny the Father is a collection of three stories that delve into the chaos that these forces can cause. The stories contained within this short book engulf the reader in despair and leave a dark mark in their wake. The author dissects his three male protagonists in search of the meaning of humanity, then leaves them for dead. In fact, death is the central thread that connects the three tales. "A Sarjeta (The Gutter)" begins with death in the lowest of places; "Good-bye, Sweet Mercury" discovers death from a different plane of existence and points the reader's mind to the planets; and "Yesterday Never, Tomorrow, and Today" vaults the narrative into these very same planets. Together, the stories form a complete thematic arc, painted in clear prose and dark imagery. ... (read more)

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A Rise from Dispair

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Broken Teen Scars: T. D. Series, Volume 2
by Patrice M. Foster
patricemfoster.com

reviewed by John E. Roper

"At that time, I felt like I was the most unloved, worthless thing that ever existed. My parents didn't care whether I lived or died."

Esther never fit in with her family. Although raised by successful and well-educated immigrant parents, she found she couldn't conform to the expectations placed on her. Her father especially was always getting angry at her, wondering why she couldn't be like her brother and sisters. He felt he knew what was best for her in life, and that was to study hard and become a lawyer. Esther, however, didn't want to be a lawyer. Art was her passion. Yet rather than working hard to convince her parents that her chosen path was a valid one, she slipped into defiance, skipping school, and hanging out with a rough crowd. Eventually, at age seventeen, Esther left home after flunking out of school, but life out from under her parents' roof was even worse. ... (read more)

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An Intelligent Thriller

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Missing Girls: In Truth is Justice
by Larry Crane
Breadalbane Publishing

reviewed by Joe Kilgore

"The TV pundits wondered how the father of a missing child could be so calm. And, by the way, would a proper mother let her nine-year-old walk to school?"

Author Larry Crane has penned an absorbing novel of the unremitting fear, pain, and guilt parents go through when their child is abducted. He has chosen to distinguish it from similar storylines by inserting an event that actually happened, then fictionalizing elements of that crime to interweave with his primary tale. The result is a complex yet credible story rich in both emotional and dramatic detail. ... (read more)

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The Real Story

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The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan
by Steve Wiley
Lavender Line Press

reviewed by Brittany Smith

"You be careful... because in the city of wind, a twinkle may blow out. The wind here, it twirls and sings like a music-box ballerina. It plays tricks and tells stories like an old-man magician."

What if the city of Chicago wasn’t at all as it appeared, but instead the enigmatic host to an entire underground world of magic, awaiting the arrival of an adventurous young boy Tich and his companion before it came alive? This place is not powered by the factories of the industrial revolution as the history books say, but by the enchanted eastern most part of the city that has been obscured for many years. The young boy’s adventure started in one of the city’s parks, where he met the fairy maiden... (read more)

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Life Lived Freedom-Style

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Groovin’: Horses, Hopes and Slippery Slopes (The Hippie Adventurer Series Volume 1)
by Rich Israel
Sandra Jonas Publishing House LLC

reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

"A couple of days later, I picked up a copy of Steinbeck's memoir at a used bookstore in Aspen... I started reading about his journey across America with his French poodle. But it struck me as boring version of my life, and I quit after three chapters, leaving it on an empty picnic table for someone else."

Writer Rick Israel decided to pen his autobiography after the birth of his daughter, to give a future generation a sane look at the crazy 1960s, a time when he was totally “groovin’.” Contacting old friends and dredging up old memories, he constructs a tale that is almost unbelievable, but the more you read, the more you are convinced that the author is someone who could have done all the things he claims. Starting with his first acid trip, in a cabin in Yosemite in 1967, and winding up with a plan to hike to Alaska, maybe, in 1969... (read more)

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Not a Lifestyle, but a Life

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A Book of Revelations
by A.C. Burch
illustrated by Madeline Sorel
Homeport Press

reviewed by Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW

"At nine sharp every Sunday morning, Hyman mounted Xaviera for an impressive hour of lovemaking. She was either clueless or astoundingly indifferent to the acoustical vagaries of the old place, for, with each of her frequent climaxes, she screamed 'Hyman, hold me' at the top of her lungs."

In a compilation of eight short stories, this 285-page book is a fun look at a variety of characters whose stories examine life differently than most. Each story has fascinating plots, delightful adventures, and characters who may shock you with the drama, the mundane, fun, sadness, and the spirited life. From the usual to the unusual, the rendering of the bubbling lives of these people will entice you from start to finish, for there is not a weak story among them. ... (read more)

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Surviving, Growing

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Tainted By Hate: A Novella about Friendship: T.D. Series, Volume 3
by Patrice M. Foster
patricemfoster.com

reviewed by John E. Roper

"They kept her from feeling like she might blow away or evaporate, like she was invisible. These pills made her feel solid, tangible, an immovable object that couldn't be brushed aside as nothing."

It started as an accident. Angela had been reaching into Julie's diaper bag for more snacks for her baby sister when her hand came into contact with a sharp point on the underside of the park bench. Curiosity caused the second wound, and this time a bead of ruby red blood on the tip of her middle finger was her reward. But what about the third cut, the fourth, and so on? What drove Angela to continue to seek out the hidden danger, to scrape her wrist back and forth along the jagged metal, to bleed intentionally?... (read more)

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Heart Healing Wisdom

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Heart Rending - Heart Mending: Saved by Modern Surgery - Healed by Ancient Wisdom
by Marylou Kelly Streznewski, M.Ed
J.G. Witthorne Press

reviewed by Yuliya Geikhman

"You will have noticed by now that I received world-class care from a host of caring peoplefor my body. But no one warned me about dealing with my emotions, mind, and spirit."

Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of women over the age of 25, yet not many women know the symptoms. If a woman survives her encounter with heart disease, her doctors are likely to cure her body but overlook the equally important emotional healing. In this informative book, Marylou Kelly Streznewski brings these discrepancies to light through an exploration of her personal struggle with heart disease and its subsequent consequences. ... (read more)

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Being Human

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Katabatic Wind: Good Craic Fueled By Fumes From The Abyss
by Stephen Crimi
Logosophia

reviewed by Mihir Shah

"Lead me from the unreal to the real. Lead me from darkness to light. Lead me from death to immortality."

In a world that eternally powers forward, Stephen Crimi’s Katabatic Wind presents his audience with an opportunity to awaken the wisdom from within using sacred origin stories that help readers be more cognizant of the ever-important question: who am I? This compilation of essays begins with a dive into the abyss of the underworld, a katabasis, with an analysis of the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, and culminates with a deep dive into the significance of geometry and the number 108.The most extensive and intriguing aspect of Katabatic Wind, however, is the discourse of dharma—duty—and its juxtaposition in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the epic poem... (read more)

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New Directions for Kate & Robert

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She's Got the Jack: The Kate and Robert Chronicles
by Suzanne Eglington
Xlibris

reviewed by Michael Radon

"He sighed as I looked at the screen full of photos of me. 'What's this?' He answered very monotone, 'My wife in another man's eyes."

At the end of the previous book, Kate and Robert's near-idyllic, passionate whirlwind romance and marriage was struck with family tragedy at the car accident her pregnant sister and brother-in-law were in. This story opens with the joint funeral of this crash that claimed the life of Kevin and Stacey. Just when the situation seems like it can't get any worse, the dark twist that Kevin has been spying on Kate and taking photos of her, chasing after his unrequited love, comes to the surface. Kate and Robert must come to terms with this information in their own ways, while also dealing with Kate's eccentric Uncle Jack, who has seemingly appeared out of thin air. Robert loves Uncle Jack for his wealth of training and combat knowledge... (read more)

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