Posts Tagged ‘books’

You Can’t Walk Away From the War, June 1, 2012


Patricia H. Parker “Bookwoman”

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)

T. J. Dunn has seen much more of life than most women her age. Right out of college, she went on active duty as an Army Lieutenant in Iraq. When we first meet her, she is traveling in a UAH along a street in an Iraqi town. Her unit is attacked, they find themselves surrounded, and her Platoon Sergeant is shot in the head right next to her. She realizes that the unit’s 50 calibre gun is running low on ammunition, and the only supplies are strapped to the outside of the UAH. As she crawls out on the outside of the vehicle, she is shot in the arm and falls off onto the road, out in the open, and she knows she is going to die. As she watches her vehicle pull away from her, leaving her all alone, it explodes.

The reader next finds T. J., still in a drugged fog, in the hospital, three days later. The chaplain and one of her and her fiancé’s best friends, David Strickland, come to her, and she knows they bring news that her whole unit was killed in the explosion of the UAH. However, they also bring the news that her fiancé, Captain David Halle, has committed suicide. T.J and David were not stationed together, but he was also on active duty in Iraq. She is confused and distraught. Captain Halle was not the type to commit suicide. Also, he is the second man close to her who has taken this action. Her father, also an Army Officer, had committed suicide, without warning, a few years earlier.

Having been released from active duty, we find T.J. a year later, having run away from everything and everyone from her past, working as a stripper in a bar in Albany, New York and spending her spare time as a volunteer on a Suicide Hotline for a local charity.. She has no friends and keeps to herself. A few of the dancers and a couple of the other volunteers have become acquaintances, but she doesn’t let them get close, and she never speaks about her past. However, her past haunts her, and she is in counseling to help with the pain, but, to her, this is a new day, and she doesn’t want to even consider the old ones. Then, one night, she looks up during her performance, and thinks she sees David Strickland in the crowd. She looks for him later, but he has disappeared. From that point on, the story gets deeper and murkier. She finally realizes that, for some unknown reason, someone is trying to kill her, and it has something to do with Iraq, David’s suicide and secrets she may or may not know.

“Getting Dunn” is an intriguing book with a thrilling story. The reader is led from one point to another until the truth is laid out and the secrets are revealed. It is a well constructed tale with T. J. not knowing which are the good guys and which the bad until the very end. Mr. Schreck has written some other books which have won top awards in their genre. I recommend this book highly as it never lets up, and there are no down spots as this young woman fights her way back to some semblance of normalcy in a life which hadn’t known much up until that time.

This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Good story and really appropriate for the time and generation. The mental health issues are brought out with compassion and frustration. T.J. is a perfect example of someone using their physical body to cover the emotional and mental damage done to them through no fault of their own.

Unfortunately, the bad guys are probably our neighbors and friends because they wear friendly faces. I will definately go looking for this authors other books.

Tom Schreck Brings It! Not a disappointment as usual, May 17, 2012
This review is from: Getting Dunn (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Although tough, TJ Dunn knew the risk when she entered the army. Her team is ambushed in Iraq and when she’s the only survivor left, albiet physically and mentally tramatized she also finds out her fiance has taken his life.

When she comes back home, she drifts through life depressed and then she gets this anonymous call who says maybe her guy didn’t kill himself. Maybe the government or somebody else is making it look like suicide to cover up some drug conspiracy.

Life jumps back into her and she sets out to find the killer.

This was the second book by Schreck and I was burning the midnight reading this suspense! Good job … again!!

Ex-military topless pole dancer? Why not?, June 7, 2012

Unaccustomed as I am to heroines who relieve stress by kick-boxing, and then head for an establishment called “Taco” to entice men by topless pole dancing, I must admit that I was able to relate eventually. What makes this unusually interesting is that Dunn is experiencing a devastating grief for both her father and her love, who were both in the service, and who both committed suicide. The act was not something she would have thought either of them capable of – so something else was going on. She makes it her business to find out – all the while, in grief counseling with a psychiatrist who plumbs her depths with great professional precision. This process is aided by an author, who, himself, is a psychologist – so it’s all very real.

I must admit, the pages were turning and I did get caught up in the intrigue. This novel wasn’t the best of its kind – but it was a departure from the usual – and I celebrate a plot that is creative. If you like tough heroines (I wouldn’t want to meet this one in a dark alley), you might consider this novel a “diamond in the rough”.


Great!, March 28, 2012


Richard A. Mitchell “Rick Mitchell” (candia, new hampshire United States) – See all my reviews

Other reviewers have compared Mr. Schreck to Coben and Parker. They are absolutely right. He is definitely in that league. I was shocked this is his third book. I immediately went and bought his first. This book has all the humor, intelligence and human warmth of their best stuff.

This book has a few intrigues going on at once. Like the best of Parker and Coben, Schreck’s main character, the professional sparring partner and social worker, Duffy Dombrowski, is well-developed and with great depth. This enables the plot to include some real human interest elements to go with the humor and the mysteries.

Although classified as a mystery, this is not a standard whodunit. Duffy is going through life in his usual take-it-as-it-comes manner. There is a parallel under story of murders of Mexicans in Las Vegas, but this does not impact him for quite some time. For most of the book, Duffy is dealing with the vagaries of being employed by the Russian mob.

There is a lot of good humor here to go with the good story lines. Duffy’s “posse” of four, who normally don’t leave their usual bar stools is priceless. Their conversations are laugh out loud funny while being perfectly believable despite their absurdity. Duffy’s bassett hound, Al, adds to the book in unforeseen ways.

I have only one caution. In the first 60 or so pages, there was a lot of scatological humor that would put a 14 year old boy on his knees with guffaws, but not so much for adults. I was pleased and relieved that after that start, the humor became much richer.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for a good fun read.

“Just Knockdown Refreshing”, April 17, 2012


John Mercier

I gave this story five stars because it was so refreshing in the truest sense of the word. The main character, Duffy Dombrowski, is the most likeable boxer that you could ever meet; being a social worker might have something to do with him being a people person. He helps people all throughout the story and being a professional heavyweight boxer and black belt in martial arts he is really able to help in some rough situations.

Duffy works as a social worker in upstate New York, but because he is a decent “South-Paw” boxer he is offered a chance to go to Vegas to spar with a Russian boxing heavyweight to get him ready for a championship bout for the best money that he has ever made. Of course he can’t turn it down; he just has to get out of going to a social work training camp in the Catskills. With Duffy where there is a will, there is a way. Nothing is ever simple for Duffy and his big heart and since he gets a whole house to live in at a “Brothel” he invites four of his friends to come on out. Oh yeah he couldn’t leave his basset hound, Al behind either. It’s so funny how he gets Al there. While in Vegas, Duffy helps out prostitutes, illegal, and legal Mexicans, with the help of Al, of course.

Duffy’s character reminds me of Nelson Demille’s John Corey, who always keeps me laughing. Tom Schreck is a very good story teller and his words go smoothly onto the paper and back to this reader’s mine to create a very refreshing story. I am going to read the two previous Duffy Dombrowski novels, since this one was so enjoyable. Like the author, Tom Schreck, I live in the Albany, NY area.

A Real Page Turner, May 30, 2012


Chris Warren

This is the first Tom Schreck book that I have read. I found ‘The Vegas Knockout’ to be a highly readable, funny and action-packed read with a very human element to it. The characters in general were very interesting, and Duffy Dombrowski, the main antagonist, was a flawed but likeable man’s man that would not be far out of place in a Hemmingway novel. I recommmend this light, highly entertaining book as the perfect laying on the beach with an adult beverage type read.

Loved It – Want More!, April 3, 2012


Brenda Frank “Eclectic Reader”

Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

This is my first Tom Schreck/Duffy book, and I loved it. J.A. Konrath who writes the Jack Daniels series is one of my favorite authors. Konrath’s stories are irreverent, funny (sometimes on a juvenile level) and the good guys win. Tom Schreck is a likely winner for me since he has collaborated with Konrath to write: “Planter’s Punch,” encompassing both the boxing and the mixed drink themes.

Consider Al, a “rescue” basset hound given anthropomorphic qualitites. like dogs and stories including dogs as characters. Al is a hoot and gave me many laugh out loud moments. Duffy, the lead character, is a boxer, sort of. He’s really hired as a sparring partner for really good boxers. Basically, he’s paid to be a piece of meat to pummel. More important, Duffy is a really good guy prone to help the needy.

Adventures ensue in Los Vegas, in a brothel, in the gym, in the ring, and in the casinos. There are subplots, tearful and touching moments, lots of jabs, hooks and low blows. In the end, of course, the good guys win and happiness prevails. It works for me.

Vegas Knock Out, June 26, 2012


Rebecca Townsend (Indianapolis, IN United States) – This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

Tom Schreck landed the perfect punch with Vegas Knock Out. His cast of babes, boxers and bassets grabbed quick attention, which was held by a rampaging murderer, a damsel in distress and a loud, ugly Russian in need of a good smack down. Schreck admitted to encountering a seeming impasse during his writing process. Glad he got over it. Maybe Elvis is watching over him with a little help from Boggsy.The Vegas Knockout

Exceeds Expectations…Once Again, June 21, 2012


Abby Mead “Abby” (Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Once again, another fantastic book from Tom Schreck.

His narrative and writing style makes it seem that you’re right there in his head while he’s writing it. It’s as if while you’re reading it, you can imagine how a film version would be.

It’s great to see Al, Duffy & the gang back, because, honestly, I was going through withdrawal. If you haven’t bought this book yet, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. I think that this is the best one yet.

The Vegas Knockout

Short chapters full of suspense!, June 9, 2012


Kat “kttykat16” (San Francisco, CA) – See all my reviews

This is a great book and and easy read. With an eclectic cast of characters and 80 short chapters full of suspense, author Tom Schreck shows you the life of Duffy Dombrowski and Al, the basset hound and side-kick. Duffy is a social worker and professional boxing sparing partner who encounters the Russian mob, prostitution rings, illegal immigration and of course murder. If you love Vegas, boxing, or Basset hounds you’ll love this book even more. Chapter 7, and 13 and 14 where so funny I had to share those chapters with my wife and she was just as amused as I was. This is my first of the Duffy Dombrowski series and I jumped in not even realizing that there were three previous books. Tom knows his audience and how to appeal to the masses, with his master’s degree in psychology he keeps you reading, in fact after the first few chapters it was difficult to put the book down until I was finished.

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This One’s Got A Strong Heart And A Nerve Of Steel, May 15, 2012


W. Dolan (USA)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m a fight fan, a rockabilly fan and rescue dog fan (anything with a white tipped tail and an annoying howl will do) so it was inevitable I’d find Tom Schreck’s ‘Duffy’ series.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Duffy books and looked forward to reading ‘The Vegas Knockout’ since I heard about it.

The new setting opened up avenues that couldn’t be traveled back East. I liked the change of scenery and Las Vegas was a natural place for a fighter to end up.

Duff and Al have their usual dynamic that I’ve found hilarious and spot-on. Some of Al’s this-must-be-comic-relief-made-up-for-a-work-of-fiction antics are anything but fantastic. Live with a basset and you’ll laugh as you mentally commiserate with Duff (and know (some of) this stuff ain’t made up).

Happily, “The Fearsome Foursome” make their way to Glitter Gulch to hang out with Duffy. They are regulars at the bar back home and their conversations kill me every time. They’re the scene-stealers in all the Duffy books, IMO.

‘TVKO’ isn’t all fun, fluff an’ fightin’, though. Racism and nationalistic xenophobia figure into the story as well and the morality themes aren’t as subtle as in earlier editions of the Duffy Dombrowski series.

Not to worry, there’re hookers, mobsters, fights and breathless running through the streets of Sin City for you action hounds, too. It *is* a whodunit, after all.

I won’t go into the nuts & bolts of the story- Amazon’s ‘Book Description’ gives you that.

I can’t not mention the old stage hand at the Imperial, though. My favorite part of the story, and the parts I found most touching, involved him. Duffy (or is it Al?) is the hero we love and root for but the old timer gives TVKO huge added touches of heart and humanity.


Every thing you could want in a book., June 11, 2012


Siobhan Bourbeau (Billerica, MA USA) –

Another great book by Tom Schreck. I’ve been waiting anxiously for another Dombrowski book and this one did not disappoint. The story takes Duffy to Vegas for the opportunity of a life time and of course his best 4 legged friend, Al and the 4some have to come along as well. As a basset hound owner I found myself laughing out loud at Duffy and Al’s journey through the airport. The book delivered it usual great story line, filled with humor and suspense. Tom has a way of really bringing his characters to life and making you care about what happens to them. Once I started it I couldn’t put it down, I need to know how it ended.

Life imitates art imitates life


M. Hegeman (New York State)

This review is from: The Vegas Knockout (Paperback)

I’m also a social worker, drug counselor, Elvis lover, rescued basset hound parent. I don’t punch or get punched as a side job, but other than that have found my Doppelganger in Duffy Dombrowski. The scenes at his job, as a hapless therapist trying to help people who are too messed up to see how messed up they are, are bittersweet funny and true. Duffy has wit, good sense, and a heart for helping others. Plus he’ll kick your ass if he has to.

Schreck has created an original, endearing character. Duffy doesn’t want trouble; he’d just like to do his job, hang with his friends, and tend to his dog. But if you’re looking for trouble, you’ve come to the right place. Duffy is a reluctant hero; often as not he’s literally pulled into his adventures by his rambunctious basset hound, Al. But once he’s in, Duffy is in all the way, and the reader cheers him on.

Enjoy your wild ride with Duffy and Al. I defy you to read the scene at the airport check-in without laughing out loud!

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Ted and Gloria


Ted and Gloria Feit

Gloria and Ted Feit are a husband and wife team of reviewers and they decided to be interviewed together. If you recognize their names, I’m not surprised because their reviews turn up all over the place. Spinetingler, I Love A Mystery, Dorothy L, Amazon and others feature their mystery reviews.

On their first blind date, Ted showed up with a Dick Francis under his arm and that was about all it took for Gloria. Engaged in a month and married within six, this husband and wife will never run out of things to talk about as long as there are books.

And for that we can all be grateful.

What really gets you interested in a mystery?

Characters who you can believe [or want to believe] exist, with realistic

dialogue, good plotting, good pacing that keeps you turning the pages. In other

words, a well-told story that keeps moving forward without delay, but with

enough diversions to keep your mind engaged.

What bores the hell out of you?

Wooden characters whose dialogue would never take place in real

life, unrealistic plotting. Badly written novels, with outlandish situations and


What clichés would you really like to see go away?

Copycat plots, characters and situations that have been done thousands of


What topics, themes, etc. would you like to see moreof in mysteries?

Most are currently being done well, but the Scandinavians certainly have

come up with a lot of twists.

What mistakes do you think authors make?

Take the reader for a nincompoop, giving no credit for any intelligence.

Do you write? Would you like to?

Neither of us has aspirations as a writer. Gloria’s only writing in the past

has been in the nature of legal correspondence and briefs. Ted has had a great

deal of experience writing, but not fiction, essentially business reports, press

releases and the like, having been an editor of daily, weekly and monthly

publications, as well as a public relations professional.

Who are your favorites?

This is a long list there are so many! For one or the other, but most often

both, of us: Michael Connelly;John Connolly; Henning Mankell; S. J. Rozan;

Steve Hamilton; Val McDermid; JoNesbo; Ian Rankin; Gayle Lynds; Peter Robinson;

the aforementioned Dick Francis; Alafair Burke; James Lee Burke; Peter James;

Stephen White; Julia Spencer-Fleming; Mark Billingham; G. M. Ford; Robert B.

Parker; Asa Larsson;George Pelecanos; John Harvey; Linda Fairstein; Denise Mina;

James Sallis;Frank Tallis; Wm. Kent Krueger; Stuart MacBride; Barry Eisler; Lee

Child;Arnaldue Indridason; Barbara Seranella; Laura Lippman; Robert Crais;

CynthiaHarrod-Eagles; and others I’m sure we’ve left out, of equal talent and

ability, whose work we love.

Why did you become reviewers?

Kind of a natural progression after Gloria became a DorothyL list member,

and it sort of took on a life of its own after a short while. If either of us

really hates a book, but can find something good to say about it, we will review

and point out the negatives and the positives. If there are none of the latter, we

feel we’re not doing anyone a favor by writing a review if by somewhere between pages

50 and 100 we just can’t find any redeeming features.

For more Reviewing the Reviewers click here.

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Looking for a new place go on the internet while goofing off? Here’s some of my absolute faves:

The Simple Dollar A site about being frugal but also about self-improvement and quite a bit about life.

The Art Of Manliness This one is filled with info all men should know…useful for women as well. talks about skills, social situations and issues men face all the time.

Awkward Family Photos Exactly what it sounds like with amazingly funny comments from readers.

Jen’s Book Thoughts A great site about crime fiction, thrillers and mysteries.

Does anyone else get this?

It’s Monday morning and the work week is two hours a way and you get a sickish feeling in your gut.

I know what lies ahead this week and it’s nothing special. There’s certainly nothing to be scared of. Yet, I got this sense of impending doom. it will fade by 9:30 or so when i’m in the office.

What is it about?

I like my job. I like the people there. Tomorrow morning i won’t have this feeling.

It makes me wonder how much energy of mine is sucked up this anxiety. I wonder if it makes me avoid things or if I underperform because of it.

Is it this tension that tightens my shoulders and gives me a headache?

No Monday hee bee gee bees for Willie

If I let it go, really let it go i would feel far less uncomfortable both psychologically and physically.

Why don’t I?

Is there a secondary payoff of feeling crummy?

Is it the reinforcement of feeling like a victim? Is it because when it ceases I feel so good so i deliberately bring it on? Is it because worry makes me focus on what needs to get done?

Is it just human nature to want immediate gratification and not have to put ourselves in any form of discomfort–and going to work is less gratifying than sitting on the couch eating Girl Scout Samoas?

As I type this the three hounds are snoring. They’ve been fed. they got no walk because of the rain. Wilbur is starting to talk because I think he wants to go outside.

None of them seem worried.

Are bassets a more evolved life form?

I’m not sure that the ability for rational thought is always a good thing.

Wilbur changed his mind, stopped talking and just went and lied down.

I wish I could.

For centuries, the most inane debates have taken place at the bar.

Why? You gotta do something while you drink.

Here’s some of my favorites and the correct positions to take.

Ginger or Mary Ann–Easy, Mary Ann. Ginger is a stuck up beauty queen. Mary Ann is the hot girl-next-store who you know will try harder and has been smoldering her whole life.

Is golf a sport? No, it is not. I don’t care if it’s hard. Billiards is hard. Darts is hard.  I don’t care if Tiger can bench his weight. It’s something rich guys do to try to be cool. They fail.

Is NASCAR a sport? No, but it’s cooler than golf. NASCAR actually grew out of the Prohibition rum runners. That makes it cool. But driving a car fast doesn’t make something a sport.

Boxing or MMA? Both. They’re different and not a threat to each other. No, they aren’t.

Namath or Marino? Namath is one of the coolest guys ever. He’s almost as cool as Elvis. Marino does weight loss m.

The Beatles or Elvis? Easy. Elvis came first. There were four Beatles. Elvis was the Beatles’s hero. Elvis was a black belt. Elvis looked cool in jumpsuits.

Jennifer Anniston or Courtney Cox? This one’s too personal for me for obvious reasons.

Boxers or briefs? Briefs. Boxers ride up and fail to give adequate support. Alternative answer: Commando.

Jordan or LeBron? Who cares?

Designated hitter? No. The pitcher should have to bat. “Tough” guys like Roger Clemens wouldn’t be so “tough” if they had to stand in the box while some coward through a ball at him.

Clinton or Bush? Easy, Clinton. Bill was an Elvis fan. Bush the first, made fun of him for that. When the Bushs screwed up people died in goofy wars. When Bill screwed up he got a blow job.

And finally…

Yankees or Red Sox? Yankees. Why? Because the Red Sox suck.

Okay, right off the bat, let me tell you, this isn’t a gag article.

The other night in the chemical dependency course I teach I asked the class if addcition to substances was a disease. Many fervently said yes. Others fervently said no.

Some said it was the same as diabetes or even cancer.

A woman in the class who has cancer disagreed strongly and said she did nothing to get her disease.

When we say something is an addiction what does that mean?

Does it some absolve the individual from responsibility for behaving poorly?

Just Don't Do It!

When someone gets drunk and acts like an asshole does it somehow serve their interest to say that that person is addicted? Being addicted may free someone from being stigmatized but might they discontinue self-defeating behavior if it was condemned rather than labeled and legitimized?

I asked the class as the discussion went on if all things human beings do compulsively should be considered diseases. Many said they should.

So if an individual has a compulsion to please themselves sexually all the time should we consider that an addiction or even a disease?

Might there be a body chemistry variable that makes resisting urges more difficult?

Some people are allergic to shellfish and others to strawberries. Maybe some people have a body chemistry that acts differently when it interacts with their sex drive. If that were true, it could make getting compulsive about something much harder to resist.

What if it did? That might mean it would be more difficult to make good choices and avoid self defeating choices.

Many people stop taking drugs or stop drinking too much with the help of rehab stays and lots of therapy. Many get help from the 12 Step programs.

When people quit smoking they often just quit, tough it out and deal with discomfort. Why is that addiction seen differently?

Ultimately, stopping compulsive behavior entails, in plain words, knocking it off. Just don’t do it to paraphrase Tiger Woods’s top sponsor. Therapy and medication can help but ultimately, people need to not screw off the cap of the liquor bottle, light the crack pipe or get the heroin spike ready to inject.

If sex is the issue, they need to keep their pants on, not do unhealthy things and stay true to whatever promises they made to their life partners. Therapy can help.

Labeling it an addiction may help some people with shame and if they gets them help, I guess it’s a good thing.

In the end, stopping a self-defeating behavior takes discipline, commitment and the ability to postpone immediate gratification.

It probably doesn’t need carefully scripted apologies and press conferences.

The New York Post rant this story on March 14, 2010

H.P. Albarelli Jr. spent more than a decade sifting through more than 100,000 pages of government documents and his most startling chestnut might be his claim that the intelligence community conducted aerosol tests of LSD inside the New York City subway system.

Strange Trip?

“The experiment was pretty shocking — shocking that the CIA and the Army would release LSD like that, among innocent unwitting folks,” Albarelli told The Post.

A declassified FBI report from the Baltimore field office dated Aug. 25, 1950 provides some tantalizing support for the claim. “The BW [biological weapon] experiments to be conducted by representatives of the Department of the Army in the New York Subway System in September 1950, have been indefinitely postponed,” states the memo, a copy of which the author provided to The Post.