Book Reviews


Out of Granada by Ben Fine

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Reviewed by Charles Robertson

Author of The Elijah Conspiracy, The Children, The Omega Deception, Red Chameleon, Directive Sixteen, and Strike Zone

 

Enjoyed the book.

Out of Granada, new author Ben Fine’s leap into historical fiction is a rollicking good ride into a venue that few of us have known.  Fine masterfully weaves the historical events of 16th century Spain and the expulsion of the Moors from their centuries long dominance in Spain with the fictional Jewish Benzoin family and their heroic son Miguel who are also being evicted by the newly dominant Spanish Inquisition.

To save his family and its fortune, Miguel embarks on an incredible journey that takes him on a voyage to the Caribbean, where he is captured by a band of madcap pirates led by an off the charts captain whose insanity is only equaled by Miguel’s bravery and fortitude.  A return to the Old World leads to more derring-do and ultimately to a tear jerking finale.

This is an story of adventure, incredible struggle, and, yes, even a love story into the bargain wrapped in a terrific history lesson that will leave you marveling at Fine’s deft intermingling of all the composite parts.

Bravo to Ben Fine for an exciting beginning to his career as a novelist.

-Charles Robertson


Out of Granada by Ben Fine

Review by Lynne Heinzmann

Recipient of the Fairfield Book Prize and author of Frozen Voices (New Rivers Press, 2016)

 

In Out of Granada, Ben Fine demonstrates his abilities as a master storyteller, spinning the tale of the handsome Granadian commander, Don Miguel Benzion, as he flees from the Inquisition in Spain only to be captured by pirates in Cuba who force him to fight his way back to Europe to reunite with his family. Throughout the novel, the author’s descriptions of scenes and characters are so lively and vivid that the experience of reading the novel feels almost like having a talented raconteur perform the story in person. He also carefully weaves many relevant historical facts into the novel, allowing the reader to easily place this 16th Century tale within its historical and political context. In keeping with the tradition of oral storytelling, Fine slowly reveals the distinctive traits of Don Miguel, interspersing his descriptions throughout the novel, so the reader gets to know the character gradually, like a friend. But the author utilizes his storytelling prowess on his antagonists, too. The pirate captain, Jerusalem, is ruthless but loving, insane yet calculating, all combining to make him one of the many intriguing characters in this swashbuckling historical novel.

 

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Nocturnal Natures: A Zimbell House Anthology

Zimbell House Publishing

Release Date: September 4, 2016

Reviewed by GerrySWO rated it really liked it

****

As a contributor of this anthology I would like to say I am pleased to be in the company of such talented writers. I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories in this anthology.

In particular I would like to offer what I believe is the highest praise one author might give another, and that is to say I wish I had written that story.

There was something very natural and pure in Lana Cooper’s “It’s Been a Long Trip.” I obviously don’t want to give the story away, but I can say that John’s unique power and his struggle to do the right thing felt as though it could have actually happened in a neighborhood bar, and you as the reader could actually have been a patron watching the events unfold from a corner booth.

Well done, Lana. I’m jealous.

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Blue is for Murder by E. W. Farnsworth

Zimbell House Publishing, LLC

Release date: January 10, 2017

Reviewed by Ross A. Phelps

Author of Lleyellyn and Two Shots Quick

****

I was privileged to have the opportunity to review an advance copy of the third volume of the John Fulghum Mysteries, Blue is for Murder. Publication of this latest book in the series is scheduled for January, 2017.

This is a mystery novel in the classic sense with a show down of all the possible murder suspects assembled in one room where the identity of the killer is revealed consistent with the story line, but unexpected nevertheless.

Make no mistake, this is not the retelling of a staid early drawing room confrontation like might take place in the hall of an English manor house or in the smoking car on the Orient Express.

The action here centers around the solution of numerous murders (mostly by sarak, a poison used by nobility in historic Korea), with the victims ranging in age from the yet to be born to at least one centenarian.

Fulghum’s investigation harkens back to the Korean Conflict of the early fifties, and the goings on in and on behalf of North Korea up to Kim Jong-un, its current leader. He deals with local detectives, CIA operatives and South Korean agents. Along the way Fulgham prevails in at least two shoot-outs, avoids an attempted poisoning, goes fishing twice, and succumbs to the wiles of at least two beautiful women.  He also manages to enjoy more than his fair share of Jack Daniels whiskey and Marlboro cigarettes.

In fact, the product placements in this novel could be predictive of future cinematographic treatment for the fast paced and tightly wound plot line.

At the end of the book the author includes a glossary of Acronyms and a Reading Group Guide. Missing is an Order Form. More than one reader might want to contact the distillery gift shop in Lynchburg to order black silk pajamas bearing the JD monogram. John Fulghum picked his up somewhere.

Fast paced. Interesting twists. Satisfying conclusion. No loose ends. I liked it.


Reviewed by: Martha Jackson rated it really liked it

****

I was hooked from the first page. It kind of spooked me how well the story mirrors reality.
Martha Jackson

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The Black Marble Griffon & Other Disturbing Tales by E.W. Farnsworth
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Reviewed by Valerie /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient
****
I really enjoyed this book. I absolutely love scary stories and this book is full of them. The Black Marble Griffon & Other Disturbing Tales is very well written and the stories keep you on the edge of your seat. My daughter is now reading it because she also likes scary stories. Thank you to GoodReads!
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Fairy Tales and Other Fanciful Short Stories by E.W. Farnsworth
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: August 9, 2016
Reviewed by John Wheeles /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient
****

It was amazing.

Twelve stories, quite a diverse selection of fantasy, mythological, and desire. A favorite? Of course I have a favorite, and you will too. I particularly loved “The Chess Master”, a tale of longing, ambition, adventure, and unfulfilled desire. Having a favorite takes nothing away from the other stories, each as entertaining for different reasons. We get quite a myriad of offerings here, with a few seemingly related. Pick up a copy, you won’t be sorry you did!
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Skullduggery by Robert Frusolone
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Reviewed by John /Goodreads Reciepient
****

Skullduggery is not typically a genre that I read but I really enjoyed. Seemed to be written well with really good character development and I found it to be a really entertaining and more so because it’s not one of my normal genre’s. I won this my copy on GoodReads and like I do with most my wins I will be paying it forward by giving my win either to a friend or library to enjoy.



Reviewed by Michelle M. Monagin, author

A Rollicking Tale of Pirates in the 18th Century

Skullduggery, a novel of piracy in the New World by Robert Frusolone, makes an interesting read. From the Bahamas to Virginia, this book gives a fascinating look at the people and landscapes that made up the New World before the American Revolution. Grayson Fallon, as protagonist, captured my interest at once and kept it for the entirety of the novel.

The story begins when a man wakes up on a desert island, surrounded by bodies, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He is picked up by a ship and he learns that his name is Grayson Fallon and he is a pirate. The name seems right to him, but the idea that he might be a pirate does not. So, he starts a voyage to discover the truth.

I only had one major problem with the way this story is constructed. That problem is that the author writes from too many points of view, diluting the sympathy the reader should have for the main character. We learn about the main character and his situation from the outside—which would be fine, but the main character should be learning these things. Grayson Fallon has amnesia, so he doesn’t know any of the things we are seeing from the outside.

However, the scenery is well-drawn and consistent. I found it fascinating to walk through the towns of Virginia in the 18th century. And the ships they had at the time were described very well. The author gives an excellent taste of the times.

I was also very interested in the tale of what happened to Grayson Fallon, how he was lost, and how he found himself. There was enough suspense in that story that I felt I had to keep reading until I found out what would happen.

Finally, Robert Frusolone managed to pull together all of the strings at the end of the novel. There were no questions that were not answered at the end. I believe this is the most important thing. It made the novel a satisfying experience.

 

  
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Baro Xaimos: A Novel of the Gypsy Holocaust by E.W. Farnsworth

Zimbell House Publishing

Release Date: June 14, 2016

Reviewed by Sandi Cunningham /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient

****

This interesting, fictional novel details the Roma resistance fighters from the beginning of the Gypsy Holocaust prior to the Jewish Holocaust and WW II. This extended family of German Roma Gypsies escape to Russia and become trained assassins while continuing to live, love, marry and have children.

Both men and women in the families are sent on many assignments throughout Europe and help to bring more of their family out of Nazi Germany and the prison camps. Their eventual slaughter is planned by the Communist USSR they work for, but they try to escape to the Western Taiga region. Hardship and living off the land, as Gypsies had done for ages, become their lives for years while living in Gypsy Caravan wagons. The culture of the Roma, including fortune-telling, self-sufficiency and family life, depict a different view of one of the hated, considered asocial races during the prewar era.

Throughout one wonders what will become of this growing family and all they love. It is a quick read, a fascinating look at Socialist/Communist life and a group of endearing characters, in spite of their dangerous work as killers and spies.


Reviewed by Marilyn Katz /Goodreads rated it really liked it
****
This book was a quick and very interesting read because it follows what happened to a small group of European gypsies from 1936 to 1946. The characters were believable and although some of their situations were a stretch, I learned a lot about their plight. I wish the author had written a longer book with more historical detail.
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John Fulghum Mysteries, Vol. II by E.W. Farnsworth
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Reviewed by Roxanne /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient
****
This is a Goodreads win review. My grandpa was a cop so I just loved this book. John Fulghum is a P.I. who investigates homicide cases that others cannot solve. He works with others who think like him. The book is compiled of different cases he worked on. I read it in one sitting, great book.

Reveiwed by Sue Hieber /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient
****
Thanks to good reads giveaways for giving me this book free! A very nice, enjoyable piece of writing.maybe not quite to the level of Christi, good on its own merit. I liked it.

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Pirate Tales by E.W. Farnsworth
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: March 18, 2016

Reviewed by Kayla Tornello /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient

****
This book tells the tale of Captain Abe’s pirating adventures on the high seas. I enjoyed all of the nautical details and the different settings all over the world. There is plenty of action and adventure, although parts of it seem a bit repetitive at times. These are definitely some great pirate tales!

Reviewed by Chad /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient

I enjoyed this book of pirates who sailed completely around the world. Each chapter found this group of pirates in a new setting as their carried out their terrible deals on the high seas and on land. The stories became somewhat repetitive with killings, sharks and sinking ships…but still an enjoyable read.
I received this book through the goodreads giveaway program. What a great program and I thank all those involved in getting this book into my hands.
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Redemption by Victoria Price
Zimbell House Publishing
Release Date: November 15, 2015
Reviewed by Victoria  /Goodreads Giveaway Recipient
****
I won this book on a Goodreads giveaway and really enjoyed it.

 

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 John Fulghum Mysteries  by E. W. Farnsworth

Zimbell House Publishing, LLC

2015

310 pages

Reviewed by Ross A. Phelps (Author of Lleyellyn)                            

*****

This collection of interrelated noir crime stories is a far cry from the tales of gumshoes tracking figurines made on the island of Malta or delving into backroom deals involving the Los Angeles water supply. No Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart or Jack Nicholson private eyes here.

It’s true, John Fulghum, private investigator, has a dingy upstairs office and enjoys his Marlboros, Jack Daniels, and betting on the ponies.  His cases could be ripped from today’s headlines. His clients are old friends from his military past, law enforcement colleagues, clandestine government agents, officers of multinational corporations, members of Congress, and the like. And he gets paid more. A lot more.

Think Matthew McConaughey, perhaps, for the role of Fulghum, ex-special forces, with contacts everywhere.

In these fourteen stories, Fulghum takes on the mob, drug dealers, industrial spies, Muslim terrorists, and other miscreants.

My favorite might be Brown Recluse Bust. Health inspectors and pest control experts have never meant so much to national security.

Farnsworth, a former military officer and current consultant to intelligence agencies and law enforcement, brings an insider’s point of view to his stories. He has added a helpful glossary of acronyms to give the reader special cache to the vernacular of clandestine international intelligence and crime solving.

If you like non-stop action and a hero who has what it takes to tackle today’s enemies, both private and public, this book is for you.

Fortunately for his fans, the author has recently released volume two of the John Fulghum Mysteries. The John Fulghum Mysteries Vol. II is available at Amazon.com.