Reviews Published

Friday, September 27, 2013

Never Go Back – Lee Child

Lee Child has done it again - created a masterpiece of a page-turner in NEVER GO BACK.

Now, in a traditional thriller, the reader keeps reading because the hero is in jeopardy, or his world is in jeopardy. The Jack Reacher series is unique in that you never really worry about him. He’s like a super-realistic superhero: his wits, training, experience and sheer physical superiority combined make us trust him to get himself out of any situation. As I mentioned before on this blog, he will figure a way to scale a fence using a water bottle and a piece of chewing gum, or blow up the baddies with a cell phone, or make a helium balloon  into a deadly weapon – and I’m only exaggerating a tiny bit. In fact, the cell phone example is true.

So, as I said, you never have to worry about Reacher. What’s more, the plot of NEVER GO BACK doesn’t rely on a deadly virus being released into the population or an asteroid hitting the earth. So, contrary to all thriller rules, there is no immediate danger. And yet, the way the book is written, you keep on reading. You want to solve the mystery, you want to know how things will work out with Susan (if you don’t know who Susan is, read 61 HOURS), you want to spend time in Reacher’s world.

Lee Child is known for the brevity of his writing style. He can have a page-long conversation full of he said / she said. His descriptions are factual, often with exact metrics, often noting the absence rather than the presence of objects. This usually works well and serves as a Lee Child signature. In NEVER GO BACK, he goes a step further. Without compromising his voice, he adds an extra layer of detail to his narrative, making it easy for the reader to sink into the book with all five senses.

If I had to pick my favourite Lee Child book, it would be this one.

Friday, September 20, 2013


An inhuman agenda…
A clandestine organization…
And the killing isn’t over yet…

Yvonne Walus’s latest book discusses the uncomfortable issue of atrocities committed by both sides of a battle for freedom.

In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population--already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid and fighting back with everything they have.

Operation: Genocide is different from other books on the topic in that it presents opposing views: both those of the racist government and those fighting to overthrow it. The book has already attracted negative reviews for portraying the apartheid regime as a monster, and it is on the fast track to become one of those controversial books everybody will read just to be able to form their own personal opinion.

Yvonne is an award-winning author who lived in South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. Her outsider’s perspective helped her see the country in a unique light. Although the plot details of Operation: Genocide is fictitious, there really did exist a secret government organisation dedicated to discovering scientific ways of killing the country’s enemies.

Buy it in paperback or e-book.

Operation: Genocide
by Yvonne Walus
Publisher: Stairway Press
Release Date: 17 September 2013
ISBN: 9780984907076

Friday, September 13, 2013

Desolation Row - Excerpt

“Deception, intrigue  and authentic sixties nostalgia. Those who remember this turbulent time-gone-by will connect with the tension and conflict of the passionately anti-war generation that hoped  to give peace a chance, but in this entertaining mystery, wound up with murder instead.” 

    -Hank Phillippi Ryan, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity award-winning author 


The telephone was ringing when Austin entered the apartment. She rushed to answer, hoping for good news about David.

“Austin Amelia, it’s time for you to pack up and come right home.” Mother spoke without preliminaries.

Austin’s teeth clenched, and her stomach tightened in knots.

Mother pressed on, not waiting for a response. “Your father and I agree that’s the best thing to do. We‘ll wire the money for a plane ticket tomorrow. How soon can you be ready to leave?”

The moment she heard the words “Austin Amelia,” Austin had prepared for the thousandth battle with Mother in their ongoing war. Her middle name irritated Austin since it was Mother’s first name,
making it harder for Austin to ignore her connection with the woman who’d tried to control her since time immemorial. Or at least for as long as she could remember.

How wrong Austin had been, thinking she’d won independence by marrying David. Mother merely changed the nature of the war and moved to another battle, one called “how a young matron should behave.”

The distance between Cuero, Texas, and Toronto, Ontario, was seventeen hundred miles, but unfortunately, the mail and the telephone could bridge that gap. She focused on the provocations pouring from her phone.

“Your father’s very concerned about this turn of events.”

“Naturally Daddy’s upset, and who wouldn’t be? Don’t you think I am?” Austin’s anger was reaching gale force. “This is no picnic for me either, you know.”

“My point is that you don’t want to upset your father, do you?” Mother’s tone was civil, but nevertheless she’d upped the stakes of the current battle by deploying her not so secret Daddy weapon. It was obvious to everyone—especially to her mother—that Austin adored her father, a fact that infuriated Mother.

And it was always Mother—never Mama or Mommy. But Daddy got the loving endearment.

“Where’s Daddy? Put him on and I’ll tell him why I can’t leave Toronto.”

“He’s not here. He’s sitting on another well and won’t be back for days. But I know what he’d say if he were here.”

Austin’s family ran an oil production company, and her father and uncle were often out in the field while new wells were drilled. How she’d envied their freedom. 

“Mother, you’re the one who always told me that a woman’s place was beside her hus—”

“Not if he’s in jail.” Her mother’s voice went up an octave, and the word squawk leapt to Austin’s mind.

“All the more reason to support David,” Austin said. “He’s been wrongly accused.”

“And what makes you so sure, Austin Amelia?”


Austin banged down the receiver, then looked in awe at the phone. That was a first. She doubted anyone had ever hung up on Amelia Starr before. She allowed herself a smile. She was feeling better already. If only she’d remembered to ask Mother to send boxes of grits before she hung up on her.

She ran to the refrigerator and opened the freezer compartment. She unwrapped a package of  brownies, used a butcher knife to separate them, and began gnawing on one. She immediately relaxed.

Thank God for baked goods and chocolate.

The freezer in her parents’ garage held leftovers from their daily desserts. The freezer was padlocked, ostensibly so no one could sneak into the garage and steal her mother’s prized baking. Austin
knew the real reason had been to keep her from doing the sneaking. The goodies were meant for Daddy, who loomed large at six feet five inches, but Austin always wanted to eat as many cookies as he did.

“Little ladies do not eat like that,” Mother would say, the words often intermingled with the warning, “No boy will want to marry you if you’re fat.”

Alone in her rental kitchen in Toronto, grinding through frozen brownies, Austin recalled hunting for the freezer key she’d known was secreted in the garage. She eventually found it but until she had, she’d obsessed over the mystery.

Right now she felt the same. Obsessive.

Someone had murdered the senator’s son, and that someone wasn’t David. Austin had no choice but to track down the killer. All she had to do was find the missing key.

Want to read more?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Interview With Kay Kendall

Yvonne: Welcome, Kay! Please tell us the title and genre of your book and its tagline.

Kay: Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery. In 1968 a young bride from Texas uses her CIA-honed skills to catch the real killer when her husband lands in a Canadian jail for murdering the draft-resisting son of a United States senator.

YW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

KK: My primary audience is female baby boomers—readers drawn to mysteries set in a tumultuous era they
lived through. Also, younger readers are having fun learning about hippie times. On the cover of my
book is a recommendation from bestselling thriller author Norb Vonnegut, who said “Kay Kendall is one author who knows how to burrow into your heart.”

YW: How did you come up with the title of your book?

KK: My amateur sleuth Austin Starr is a fan of Bob Dylan’s music so each mystery featuring her has a title that comes from one of his songs. The titles do double duty. To those who know the music from that time the titles signify the era without having to say something dull like – “a mystery from the sixties,” or some such. Future titles are Rainy Day Women and Tangled Up in Blue.

YW: Tell us about your cover art.

KK: When I brainstormed with my publisher and publicist at Stairway Press, we wanted an image to connote the time of the Vietnam War without being too hard-edged. I didn’t want to use peace signs or protest scenes because I thought those would be a turnoff and also they didn’t represent what the book is about. Really, this mystery is propelled by a love story. A young recently married couple far from home is pulled apart by mistakes of the American and Canadian authorities.

We decided to show a young woman with a slightly hippie vibe and I found the photo. Everyone loves the
cover, and I’m very pleased with it. One of the benefits of working with a smaller press is that an author gets much more input into all aspects of the publishing process than she would have at a huge publisher.

YW: Give us an interesting fact about living during the Cold War.

KK: The Cold War was the background theme of my childhood.  An intercontinental ballistic missile was housed in a silo on the outskirts of my hometown, and I thought that was very exciting. I took entrance exams for college during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I remember driving to the tests thinking it wouldn’t matter if I bombed on them or not, since the world could blow up the next day. It was so surreal that I didn’t expect it but I did think about it. War was everywhere, and the mass media was still uncovering facts about World War II, and almost all our fathers had fought in that huge conflict. I went straight from reading Nancy Drew mysteries to suspense stories set during World Wars I and II. On the Beach was required reading in my high school English class. Published in 1957, the novel was a bestseller for a decade afterwards. Its subject was nuclear annihilation, with only parts of Australia had survivors, but they were doomed too. This was all thrilling to me, and I wasn’t scared as many said they were. It was too terrible to have happen so I treated it all like fiction.

YW: Do you have any unique hobbies?
KK: My husband and I have house rabbits—five of them currently. We belong to an organization in Houston, Texas, called Bunny Buddies. This is a rescue organization that saves at-risk rabbits that get abandoned and taken into shelters. We’ve had bunnies for almost twenty years now, and they are charming pets. The one that I hold in my author’s photograph is Dusty, and the other four are jealous. He was chosen
because he could hold still for a pose the longest. We also have a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named
Wills, but he doesn’t get to play with the bunnies since he’s too frisky. Rabbits are very nervous since they are preyed on by almost all other creatures. They have been called “the cheeseburger of the forest” to illustrate that they are snacks for all other animals. It’s terrible but true.

YW: How can we contact you and find out more about your book?
KK: You can email me at and I’m on Twitter @kaylee_kendall.  My website is and find me here too –

YW: What can we expect from you in the future?
KK: Desolation Row will soon be available as an audio book, in addition to paperback and E books. Online sales will be by,, and iTunes. The narrator is Tatiana Gomberg, an amazing young actress in New York City. She does a fabulous job, especially with all the different accents in my book—like Texan, Scottish, Russian, and New Jersey! I’m also working on the second mystery in the series, Rainy Day Women. It’s set in rainy Vancouver, Canada, in 1970. This time murder takes place in a women’s liberation group, and Austin’s best friend is the prime suspect.

YW: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
KK: Great question! Readers who enjoy my book can leave reviews on the usual online spots—like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads. My page on Goodreads has lots of information about my book and about me. I’m pleased to say that at this point in time my average rating out of five stars is 4.8. Also, multi awardwinning author Hank Phillippi Ryan says about my book, “Deception, intrigue and authentic sixties nostalgia.  Those who remember this turbulent time-gone-by will connect with the tension and conflict of the passionately anti-war generation that hoped to give peace a chance, but in this entertaining mystery, wound up with murder instead.” I hope my new readers will like Desolation Row just as much as she did.

Six Days Earlier

For people who've read EVERY DAY:

It's not as good. But it's still wonderful to go back into that world for six more days.