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Archive for August 28th, 2017

Red Right Hand

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Red Right Hand (Michael Hendricks – 2) by Chris Holm

If the good guys can’t save you, call a bad guy.
When viral video of an explosive terrorist attack on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge reveals that a Federal witness long thought dead is still alive, the organization he’d agreed to testify against will stop at nothing to put him in the ground.

FBI Special Agent Charlie Thompson is determined to protect him, but her hands are tied; the FBI’s sole priority is catching the terrorists before they strike again. So Charlie calls the only person on the planet who can keep her witness safe: Michael Hendricks.

Once a covert operative for the US military, Hendricks makes his living hitting hitmen… or he did, until the very organization hunting Charlie’s witness–the Council–caught wind and targeted the people he loves. Teaming up with a young but determined tech whiz, Cameron, on the condition she leave him alone after the case, Hendricks reluctantly takes the job.

Of course, finding a man desperate to stay hidden is challenging enough without deadly competition, let alone when the competition’s shadowy corporate backer is tangled in the terrorist conspiracy playing out around them. And now Hendricks is determined to take the Council down, even if that means wading into the center of a terror plot whose perpetrators are not what they seem.

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Chris  Holm 

Author’s Bio

Chris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, THE KILLING KIND, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. It won the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel, and was also nominated for a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity. His second Hendricks novel, RED RIGHT HAND, is now available. Chris lives in Portland, Maine.

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My Review

4 stars

Seven years ago, Frank Segreti was a mob informant. He went to the FBI about an organization called The Counsel. Shortly thereafter he finds himself dead. Zip to present day and a family that it taking a photo at the Golden Gate Bridge when a tug boat full of explosives goes off. On review of the file, FBI agent Charlie Thompson is surprised to see Frank. But she can’t really investigate his appearance so she called in Michael Hendricks. Michael is still smarting after his last run around with The Counsel and has no problem fighting The Counsel.

This is a great, action filled story. Michael is not just the killer of killers. He will kill for an exorbitant amount of money. And after his last tangle with The Counsel, he has them in his sights. Michael teams up with Cameron to keep ahead of the FBI and mob bosses to get Frank Segreti. But The Counsel expects Michael and he is going to have a harder time fighting them this time around.

This is an action filled great story. It’s a great thriller that will have you cheering for Michael. I liked Cameron. She adds a bit of a fresh approach to the story and I hope she is around for the last book. If you like action packed thrillers you need to check this series out.

I received Red Right Hand from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Guardian Angel

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Guardian Angel by William McCauley

Thirteen-year-old Markus has good friends, loving parents, and a strong need for more in life. When the A-list kids in his social-studies class ask him to work with them on their Holocaust project, he jumps at the chance, but he suspects that they just want to exploit his German grandmother, who was in Auschwitz during the war. He wrestles with his grandmother’s reluctance to talk about the past, his mother’s strange behavior, and his friends’ and classmates’ demands. Then long hidden and mysterious secrets from the past begin to surface, and they turn his world upside down. Markus must come to a new understanding of the very concept of truth.

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Author’s Bio

I was born and grew up in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, in a delightful little town called Vienna. My B.A. in German and M.A. in English are from George Mason University, and at the ripe old age of 29 I “ran away from home” to do doctoral work in linguistics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After two years, my Wanderlust attacked again, and I trekked on down to Miami, FL, where I did more doctoral work at the University of Miami. Then the powers that be at The German School Washington, where I had taught English for six years, tracked me down and asked me to come back. That brought me back to the DC area, where I taught at the German School for another eighteen years. I finished my career in education at the end of school year 14-15, retiring after ten years as a Gifted and Talented Education specialist with Howard County Public Schools in Maryland.

As a kid, I was a bookworm nerd – I was NEVER far from a pile of books! This led to my love of storytelling, and my longtime work as an English teacher helped me to recognize and value quality literature. Because I work at a middle school (grades 6-8), when I started writing, it was natural for me to concentrate on this age level.

I’m passionate about animals and animal rights. As a vegan, I don’t eat, drink, or wear anything that comes from animals. I won’t use products (shampoo, deodorant, etc.) that have been tested on animals. I would never go to a circus that features animal acts. I don’t believe that animals were put on earth for our entertainment, exploitation, or consumption.

I care deeply about nature. There is no doubt in my mind that all of nature is connected and interwoven, and one small change or act of damage done here can have rippling ramifications everywhere else. My love of nature was a natural precursor to my veganism.

Having grown up in the ’60s, I wear my liberal badge proudly. This means that I always have fought, and always will fight, for equality for all. I’ve marched for African-American rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights. I admire the Wiccan rede: “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will.” I also feel drawn to the eastern concept of ahimsa: refraining from doing harm.

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been obsessed with languages. The only one I speak pretty fluently besides English is German, but I’m happily conversational in French and Spanish, and I’m working on modern Greek. I also had two years of college Russian, and I’ve studied Dutch and Italian on my own.

Last but certainly not least, I care about my students. I remember navigating the turbulent waters of middle school, and I notice the metaphorical sea-sickness in many of their faces. If I, as a teacher and writer, can do anything to help them through this storm, I’m there for them.

I can’t imagine writing without weaving in some of my passions. My first book, Guardian Angel, deals with the struggle young people often have to understand that beast of a concept called “the truth.” My current project, Revenge, will draw heavily on my knowledge and activity in animal rights. But hopefully it will also be a page-turner!

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My Review

5 stars

Markus has been giving a school Holocaust project and it seems the cool kids want his help. Well, he knows that they really want his Grandma Oma’s help. Oma was in Auschwitz and could give a firsthand account of what happened but she is refusing to talk. Then it seems someone has recognized her as a guard and Markus has his world ripped apart. How could his Grandmother be a Nazi with everything that they did to the Jews? Now Markus is embarrassed and trying to cope with the news, but there are many more surprised to this story.

There are many books out there on the Holocaust geared to young adults. But I have to say that I really enjoyed this one. There is no much more to the Holocaust than just Nazi’s torturing and killing Jews. Guardian Angel explores the grey areas of the concentrations camps. That there is so much more to this history than we first see and it was refreshing to watch Markus go through the wide spectrum of emotions as he realizes there are many more truths than what we read in the history books.

This is a remarkable story and one that shows that there is so much more to history than we first see. I think this should be a required reading for mid-graders to adults. It is heartbreaking yet warming at the same time. I admit that I didn’t get through it without shedding some tears at a couple points.

I received Guardian Angel from Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.

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Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I couldn’t pry my eyes away from the wrinkled skin of her forearm.

It could have been somebody’s zip code, guiding letters, bills, and tons of junk mail to people’s houses. It could bring birthday greetings and Christmas cards, and sometimes it could deliver news that we just don’t want to hear. It might show where a lot of people live when it’s on an envelope, with a stamp parked neatly in the corner.

But this number wasn’t on an envelope. It didn’t delight anyone with news about a new baby or winning the lottery. It had nothing to do with where people lived. It’s tattooed on an old woman’s arm, and it’s from a camp of torture where a lot of people died. And like always, when I visited my grandmother at the nursing home this afternoon, the number hypnotized me.

Oma snored lightly, and my eyes lingered on those five digits on her translucent skin, almost transparent in the overhead industrial lighting. They told me more than she ever had about her time in Auschwitz. And I had tried. I’d ask her about the camps, she’d talk to me about tents. I’d mention Nazis, she’d bring up the National Guard. I’d say something about gas chambers, she’d talk about the rising prices at the gas pump.

So, I stood staring at the number on her arm and at the scar from a deep gash right in front of the “2.” Puddles formed under my arms when I thought about why I was there. Visiting was never fun – more like a grandson’s obligation. But today the stakes were high. My fingers played with the frayed edge of the pink blanket, and then my gaze wandered up to her face. She was staring at me with eyes like warm, blue ice. I almost peed myself.

“Jeez, Oma! You trying to scare me to death? When did you wake up?”

The eyes sparkled. “You’d prefer maybe that I did not?”

“Not funny. When you leave here, you should maybe be a stand-up comic.”

Her long fingers guided a wisp of white hair behind her ear, and the scar that stretched from the corner of her left eye down to her mouth glared at me. I looked away, and when Oma shifted in the bed, the strong smell of her gardenia-scented bath soap washed over me like a tidal wave. My sneakers squealed on the tile floor when I shifted from foot to foot.

I looked back at her face. She stared at me hard.

“Something on your mind, child. I can always see it. That crooked little grin gets even crookeder.”

The time had come – now or never. I crossed my arms over my chest. “Well, actually, yes…” I heard – and hated – the squeak in my voice.

“Speak.” She took my hand in both of hers. They felt weak but warm.

“It’s like this, Oma. In social studies class we’re starting a unit on…well, on World War II…and I was wondering…”

Her gaze shifted to the window, and she dropped my hand. “You ever notice that window looks out on nothing?” I looked over at the window but didn’t answer. How could a window look out on nothing? The room grew quiet except for the humming of the fluorescent lights. Finally she sighed and said, “You mean you’re going to study the Jews.” She blinked rapid fire about five times.

“Yeah, well… I just wondered if I could ask you some questions, sort of interview you.” Her lunch tray with its remnants caught my eye. The lime Jell-O looked sort of like bright green puke. And the chicken…well, I appreciated the gardenia smell.

“Interview me? You think maybe I’m a movie star? This is a fancy spa I’m relaxing in instead of a place where old people come to finish out their days? With this broken-down junk they call furniture?” Her skinny hand

pointed across the room. “Look at that dresser with the drawer that won’t close, so it looks like it’s always sticking its tongue at me!”

I turned to the dresser and almost stuck my tongue back out at it. This wasn’t going exactly like I had hoped. I tried to get a grip. “You know, you could tell me some things about what it was like.”

“What it was like? Why a teacher would want kids today to know what it was like, I’ll never understand.” She looked back to me, but the eyes had stopped sparkling. “No, child. Some things are better left in the past.”

My stomach twisted and turned, and I pushed my sleeves up a little. Oma’s hands shook, and her scar jutted out like a welt against her pale skin. That couldn’t be good for her health. And I had done this why? Because some cool kids back at school were depending on me to come up with a killer project because I had a grandma who had

survived Auschwitz? Really? My hand reached for hers. It felt cold as snow. Her eyes – cloudy now – looked through me, and it sounded like she was breathing underwater. Little drops of drool spilled out of the corner of her mouth next to the scar.

“But, Oma…just a few questions…”

“No!” The thunder in her voice made me jump. First that she would shout at me and second that she was strong enough to shout at all. “No! For that you must look elsewhere.” She shook her head back and forth. “Oh, Markus, this has been my burden alone all these years. It would be a sin to unload it on my only grandchild now!” Her gaze dropped to her chest.

Oma, I didn’t mean…” I didn’t have a clue how to finish the sentence. What did I mean?

“Leave it alone, child! So many things you are better off never knowing about.” My skin prickled when I saw a tear run along her scar like a drop of water terrified of being consumed by the desert. “Please, leave it alone.”

Then she closed her eyes and turned away. I knew that the interview had ended. And her breath still came in rasps.

I tiptoed into the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to swing by the gas station on the way home, and I stopped at the mirror. The little kid peering back at me looked so different from Oma in her bed. I figured that someday I would have her white hair, but for now, I pushed the reddish-brown mess away from my face and hooked it behind my ears. I looked at my cheek. No scar there. And when I pictured Oma in the bed in the next room, I saw guilt in those ridiculous green eyes glaring back at me accusingly. I loosened my hair again and let it fall in my face.

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