Release Date: December 25, 2000
Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud
Goodreads Rating: 4.26
My Rating: 5
A murder mystery novel. The story of Phillip “Dutch” Cleland, a man with a hidden past and a future about to explode in his face. A seemingly average man whose love for two women drives him to such extremes that deception, even murder and suicide are no longer unthinkable.
When a lovely corpse is discovered near Dutch’s hometown, the nearby ditches begin to yield a harvest of secrets, none of them comforting for Dutch. Soon he is forced to flee for his life, before his past and the police slip a noose around his neck.
Things In Ditches is peopled with small town characters that are so humorous and eccentric, their oddball antics enliven every paragraph and page. A reader can’t help but be reeled in by the strange citizens of Willow River, until soon discovering they’re really not so different from all of us and Dutch’s story is the oldest story on earth; good and evil, betrayal and laughter. And finally, the power of love and friendship, forging one man’s determination to overcome all odds, even death.
My Take On The Book:
One of my favorite shows this last summer was a show called “Motive”. I am not exactly sure what it was about the show that drew me in but something did and this book was no different.
Just like the show, you are given the names/face of the killer and his/her victim with in the first 30 seconds, what you are lacking is the motive. Sure, we all have our own ideas as to was the motive is and more often than not, those ideas don’t pan out but it the case of this story, a clear line starts forming from point a to point b and everything starts to make sense… if you’re paying attention to detail that is.
Before I delve too deeply into the story’s plot let me say, one of the most appealing things about this title was the simplicity of its design. Things in Ditches does not have a flashy cover or fancy design, but that’s part of the appeal, it’s understated like the book’s many characters and the small town it takes place in. When you crack open he book, you are greeted by a clean and aesthetically pleasing font that is easy on tired eyes and a story to match. The title itself may have no real significance to readers at first but in due time, once you’ve gotten to know each character a little better, everything makes sense.
Each character is well planned and their story executed pristinely with no apparent inconsistencies. It’s a book I can really get behind.
I think one of the things that attracted me most was not the synopsis like most stories I review, but a review by John Molene from The Saint Cloud Daily Time. In the review he states “His name may be Jimmy Olsen but he writes like superman…” I’m a nerd and damn proud, so that complement in itself sold me. After reading Things in Ditches, I have to admit I agree wholeheartedly. Jimmy Olsen is one helluvah talented author who writes a gripping tale of a small town man that does the unthinkable and cheats on his wife, years later after the affair has ended the betrayal still strong in his heart leads him to commit an even more heinous crime, murder…
It is a murder mystery but definitely one that’s not written in the normal or typical sense. You have all the information almost off the bat, just a few missing key points. The story itself revolves around those few missing pieces, like what exactly would drive a many to kill his former lover years after their affair ended. This is the kind of book, with the kind of mystery to keep you turning pages without you even realizing it. Before you know it, you’ve reach the ‘about the author’ page.
Keep a look out for my next review on “The Hero of Blind Pig Island” by this extremely talented author. I honestly forgot how much I enjoyed books that didn’t have a paranormal aspect until I read this book. If you have not read this, you might regret it. My only real disappointment with this book was its end. Not the ending of the book but just that the story had ended, that and my schedule being so packed that I didn’t get to read a review this title earlier.
About The Author
Jimmy Olsen didn’t start writing fiction until he was well past 40. In the tradition of American writers like Jack London and Louis L’Amour, Olsen spent much of his life seeking adventure. He began scuba diving in 1961 at age 13 and continues today. A machine-gunner in Vietnam, after two tours he settled down awhile, married, started a family, and graduated college with a BS in English. Still at college, he published his first national story in a diving magazine. A year later he moved his family to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where he taught at a private American school and started the Republic’s first professional diving school, Scuba Dominican, C por A. Hearing rumors of shipwrecks and gold, Olsen and a small group of adventurers discovered the site of the French Man-O-War Imperial and several other vessels. After five years in the Caribbean, Olsen completed his MA at the University of Alabama and returned to writing, taking a job with a daily newspaper in Athens, Alabama for a year before becoming an editor back home in Minnesota. This lasted four years before the thirst for adventure overtook him again and he was back in the diving business, traveling to dive destinations from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. The snorkeling scene in Thing In Ditches comes directly from the author’s own rich experiences. Jimmy Olsen has written two additional novels, Scuba, due to be released next year and YR-71, a Vietnam seafaring adventure set near Da Nang. In addition, he’s completed 20 short stories, some set in his native Minnesota and others from around the globe. Several of these have recently been sold and will soon be in print. Olsen continues to travel extensively, returning to the Dominican Republic to dive his old haunts only hours before Hurricane Georges. Equally at home at the keyboard of a computer or his ancient Royal, Olsen spends his writing days in a north woods setting without even the basic comforts such as running water or electricity and at his modern office in the city. He has three children, now grown, and lives with his wife in Minnesota.
Thanks for stopping by,
“I received a free copy of the book from the author for my honest opinion. I was in no way compensated for this review and all opinions are expressly my own”
Four Weddings and a Werewolf
Seattle Wolf Pack
misery. But when he’s hired to protect a hot-to-trot wedding planner with a werewolf stalker, he’s forced to put his feelings aside. Not such an easy task when the damsel can turn him on with a single smoldering glance.
The chemistry drawing Logan and Veronica together seems fated, but with Logan’s playboy attitude, Veronica’s hatred for werewolves, and a stalker lurking in the shadows, these two need more than passion to keep them together.
My Take On The Book:
I guess I might recommend this book as a light read but with a disclaimer stating that I didn’t particularly enjoy this story due to the main character. The premise of the story is great, something I really was drawn to but the way it was executed is not my cup of tea.
edge-of-your-seat adventures. After graduating from Humboldt State University, Kristin taught high school and middle school English, married her college sweetheart, and had two beautiful munchkins. In 2008, she took time off from teaching to raise her children, and started writing while they napped.
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Tour Run Dates: 10/28-11/8
Behind The Mask
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Publisher: First Realm Publishing
Published: Oct. 02, 2013
Word Count: 26,000
and one sexy masked man happen.
Guest Post – Keeping It Short
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 3rd 2013
Word Count: 74,722
Goodreads Rating: 3.93
My Rating: 3.5
Half-vampire, half-human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents who quietly take down rogue monsters — the human world none the wiser.
She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt. Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city’s community of witches.
But Nina’s investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.
An urban fantasy set in a decaying Providence, Rhode Island, HELL’S BELLE is a fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled roller-coaster ride through a city on the cusp of becoming an urban wasteland. An energetic, expansive, and cinematic, HELL’S BELLE was called “captivating” by Kirkus Reviews.
Book Chick City gave it 5-stars, calling it “one of the best urban fantasies I have read this year!”
My Take On The Book:
Let me just begin this review admitting that I tend to dislike books written in first person. More often than not, the story tends to read like a script or have this dry feel to it. Hell’s Belle definitely had its moments but, I’ll freely admit to liking it. There was a lot that I didn’t like but I feel like what I did equaled out or over powered the negative. Karen Greco, as stated in her author bio admits to being a playwright and that definitely translates to this book. If this was a movie review I’d probably have given it a higher rating just for the visuals alone since there was definitely a bunch of flashy bits but as it stands, as a book I found myself unable to delve into it head first as I usually do with books.
I had a lot of hope for this book and in some ways it met or beat those expectations but in other ways it let me down immensely. Truthfully it’s hard to explain without this turning into a rambling so I’ll just delve into ‘The Good’ and ‘The Bad’ and let you decide for yourself.
The Great (Pros):
- Frankie. Hands down, the best part of the book. He just had this complete enamoring quality that draws you in. From his witty little comments and to his badass fighting. He rocks! Plus her description of him made him pretty swoon worthy so that’s always a plus lol. I loved the dynamic that he had with most of the characters and the back story to his character. I liked his history with her father. I liked almost everything about him but with every good thing there is usually a bad.
- Babe. I love Babette. She was the coolest. I loved her loyalty, the mentor, the spunk. She was just the epitome of a well written adult character. She had this ability to feel a familial bound.
- Dog. I loved Dog. She was the best animal character ever. This might also be because, I love animals and tend to make those annoying aww sounds when I read or see something cute involving an animal. Seriously I tend to annoying anyone in my general vicinity while reading (which might be why my friends try to stay away or distract me when I pick up a book)
- The bar cat. Her name was hilarious and truthfully I could spoil it for you all and dish but this is definitely something that should be read in the context of the story. I loved it and this proved to be one of the funniest moments in the book.
- The setting. I like the ‘different’ feel this book had in that sense. Truthfully one of my favorite things about a book is the ability to transport me to a place I’ve never been and I have to give credit where credit is due. Karen Greco staged the book perfectly in that sense. I was able to visualize everything from the bar to the strip to the hotel.
- The fighting scenes. While this is proof to the script like feel at time during this read, it added character to this story. The author was able to describe the scenes perfectly, not once over embellishing and annoying. I found myself truly enjoying all the action scenes.
The Not So Great (Cons):
- The Romance. It seemed too forced. There was absolutely nothing natural about it, the flirting seemed forced and out of place. Sure there were a few cute moments but for the most part, this seemed to be my least favorite aspect of the book. I found myself bemoaning the passages that had anything to do with romance and that is just one big ole no-no in my book.
- The Love Triangle. Well overplayed and not really my cup of tea. I found myself enjoying the prologue and genuinely falling in love with Frankie, who only got better throughout the book. After initially hoping for a spark of attraction you realize, or at least it seems that she is simply his best friend. They seem to have this sibling vibe going for them which I was totally down for…. Then Ms. Greco totally flipped the switch on my later in the book and that seriously peeved me. I went from loving this sibling bond between Nina and Frankie, only to find that Frankie’s feeling are more deep than that and truthfully it seemed like a childish move for an old ass vamp to pull. Not at all suave like he was supposed to be. Not to mention his close ties to her father and the creep factor to the fact that he’s witnessed her growing up from literally a little bean to the woman she is now. And then there is Max, one minute he’s hot then the next he’s cold and really it was way too many twisty turns and loop-de-loops for me to take. I didn’t find myself rooting for either boy and I say boy because that’s exactly how they read. They seemed almost adolescent instead of the adult males they are supposed to be.
- Nina’s attitude. She just came off as a flighty child most times and unfortunately, weak. Sure there’s a lot about her I like but I think her character was better suited for a younger age group. Also, the way she handled the obstacles that were thrust upon her was just blah. Once again she came off as whiny.
- The Secrets. Jeesh, talk about Pandora’s box. It was literally one reveal after another and that leaves much to be desired. Personally I like books that reveal a little bit each time. I don’t want all the characters ducks in a roll, I want a chance to discover more of them through each book. So while I understand the importance of these secrets and what they mean for this story it just seemed that it was too much and too soon. Since they had to be done for story progression I think it might have done better if there had been more spacing between each reveal.
- The imagery. So the setting was cool. Very well done. But that’s not what this is about. It’s more about the portrayal of each character. As I said above, they all seemed too young for their actual age. I mean Frankie is what 500 yrs. old and Max is supposed to be some hot shot detective and Nina some super bad ass chick, but really all I got from them was confusion. It’s like kids playing dress up. Seriously though, one second I absolutely adore these character then they do something utterly childish and devastating. ::sigh:: it was just too much.
To me it seemed like a stretched book. Something better written in smaller books. An odd thing for me to say since I usually complain about the opposite. I truthfully liked the book regardless of the negatives I found. Often times, you’ll find that the first book of a series tends to either suffer from the overshare bug or the underdevelopment curse. So I can’t say I’m really all that disappointed. I’d definitely recommend the book, mainly because I loved the concept of this story. It’s not often you read a book with half-breeds, at least not one like this. They tend to be way over powered and one of my favorite things about this book way definitely that lack off that overpowered aspect. She was faulted and human so you could relate to her in a sense. I look forward to the next installment. Only then will I decide the fate of this series on my bookshelf 😉
An award-winning playwright, Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. A life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity. HELL’S BELLE is her first novel.
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“I received a free copy of the book from the author for my honest opinion.”
Lucky you, I’m offering a free digital copy of Awakened the prequel to the upcoming ‘Gifted’ book one of The Birth Curse Series. The book will be available to all who sign up for my free newsletter before the release of book one.
To sign up to the newsletter just fill out the form below. Once you’ve signed up for the newsletter, you’ll receive an opt in email which basically just confirms that you meant to sign up. Once you’ve confirmed you’ll receive a records email and it in that final email, that you’ll get your digital download.
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Also, I’ve uploaded a new excerpt. This time, it’s for the book titled ‘Knock Me Off My Choos’. The book is the first in the series titled Heels Over Head. It’s a romantic comedy type book and the first I’ve written in that genre so I’m really excited. Remember, this is an excerpt and it might change a bit once I’ve finished the book and its gone through multiple edits and re-writes lol.
Now all I need is to find those half coconut shells filled with ice cream like they sell in the Icecream trucks
🙂 this right here is writer’s brain food
Gifted: A Birth Curse Series Excerpt
My on site document viewer is a tad glitchy at the moment so the excerpt is available via Scribd. Please feel free to comment here, on the actual excerpt page or on my website blog. I would really love to hear your thoughts!