Tag Archives: Mike Dellosso

Book Review: Centralia

17 Aug

519xgTW6z6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Peter Ryan wakes up on a typical morning only to find his house empty, his wife and daughter nowhere to be found. His world is shattered after a phone call to a friend confirms the impossible: his wife and daughter died in a car accident he does not remember. Haunted by faint memories and flashes of details, Peter becomes convinced that something isn’t right and begins to question reality. When he discovers a note in his daughter’s handwriting, strange memories begin to surface that cause him to second-guess nearly everything he once believed. Suddenly armed men show up at Peter’s home, turning the mysterious puzzle of his past into a dangerous game of cat and mouse. On the run and unsure whom to trust, Peter has to discover what’s real and what isn’t . . . before he loses everything.

71p4CBCcmtL._UX250_Mike Dellosso is the author of seven novels of suspense and several short stories. He also writes family dramas under the pseudonym, Michael King. In addition to his novels he’s written for periodicals, websites, and is a regular conference teacher and speaker. Born in Baltimore, Mike now resides in Pennsylvania. He is also a colon cancer survivor and speaks often about dealing with suffering. Find out more about Mike on his website, http://www.MikeDellossoBooks.com.

 

My Impressions:

I have read several of Mike Dellosso’s novels — all have been breathless suspense/speculative books that leave the reader slightly off-kilter. In Centralia, he has stepped it up a notch. Page-turning, with jarring images and ideas, this book is for those who want an adrenaline-laced read and a mind bending concept. This one kept me wondering to the last page and beyond.

Peter Ryan wakes up one morning with a memory like Swiss cheese. A confusing mix of holes and conflicting memories leaves him searching for his wife and daughter that others assure him died tragically months ago. But Peter knows that can’t be right, especially as gun-wielding assassins keep showing up. Images skirting on the edge of his mind give him flashes of insight and a muscle-memory of guns, martial arts, and strategy keep him alive as he searches for those he loves and the truth that may set him free or bind him forever.

Centralia is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are lots of scenes with gunfights, car chases, and hand to hand combat. One especially cringe-inducing scene involved a hot grill in a diner. Eww! And while the physical is front and center, the psychological aspects of this thriller may be the most disturbing. Peter is a complex character that the reader roots for from the beginning. Secondary characters aid in the advancement of the plot. One such character, Lawrence Habit, was the most intriguing — is he a good-guy or manipulative villain. Centralia is a Christian thriller, but is not preachy in any way. It’s compelling message of God’s faithfulness is woven seamlessly throughout. As Peter finds “they tried to take him away from God, but God just wouldn’t let go”. At the end of the novel, the reader is left with more questions than answers, literally and figuratively. The discussion questions at the end really helped this reader process what I had just read.

Fast-paced, with physical danger and psychological trauma, Centralia is recommended for those who like lots of action, twists and turns, and an intellectually challenging reading experience.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Tyndale for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Fearless

17 Jun

362418When a nine-year-old Louisa mysteriously appears in the middle of a house fire with no memory of how she got there or where she came from, Jim and Amy Spencer agree to take her in. Wrestling with the recent loss of their own child, they soon discover Louisa has a special gift. But when the same gift unknowingly puts her in contact with a serial killer, the grieving couple must unite to face all odds and save themselves and Louisa before it’s too late.

mikedellosso180Mike Dellosso lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and four daughters. He blogs regularly about matters of faith and life at http://www.mikedellosso.wordpress.com. Keep up to date with what’s going on in his world by “liking” his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/mikedellosso.

My Impressions:

I have read several novels by Mike Dellosso — Darkness Follows, Frantic, and A Thousand Sleepless Nights (written under the name of Michael King) — and have found all of them to be well-written, and with his suspense/thrillers, novels that had me holding my breath while they held my attention! His newest novel, Fearless, is in my opinion, the best so far. Just how do you combine stories detailing the miracles of God and the deepest evil in man? Not sure how he did it, but I am glad he did.

Fearless begins with the discovery of a mysterious child found at the scene of a house fire. Only knowing her name, Louisa is taken in by Jim and Amy, a couple still reeling from the miscarriage of their first child. It soon becomes evident to them and the rest of the town that Louisa has more mysteries than just amnesia. This child can see into the lives of people and touch them in a way that often brings healing — physical and emotional. Meanwhile a ruthless man looking to earn respect has embarked on a killing spree. Both the otherworldly nature of Louisa and the serial killings have the town on edge, and the two story lines suddenly intersect causing a wild ride for the reader.

Fearless is a complex novel examining the issue of seeing and knowing others and the need of man to truly be seen and known. Both plots are meticulously developed and seem completely separate until Dellosso brings the characters and the action together. There are a number of supernatural elements that just cannot be explained and Dellosso doesn’t try, letting the reader come to his/her own conclusions. He also created a wonderful secondary character in Clare Appleton, a woman who faces evil with a determination and  fearlessness of her own. If you like thrillers, there is also enough creepiness in the murders that will keep you watching just as you want to turn away. Not really for the faint of heart, but if you can stand the tension and the stomach clenching, you won’t be sorry. Another great book from Dellosso.

Highly Recommended.

(I received Fearless from Booketeria in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase a copy of Fearless, click on the image below.

Book Review: A Thousand Sleepless Nights

20 Nov

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Realms (October 16, 2012)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Dellosso, writing also under the pen name Michael King, is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is a popular conference and workshop teacher. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters. Mike is also a survivor of colon cancer, diagnosed in 2008.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Set in the beautiful horse country of northern Virginia, A Thousand Sleepless Nights is about a family torn apart by neglect and hurt and brought together again by a most-unlikely force.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (October 16, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616388358

ISBN-13: 978-1616388355

My Impressions:

I have read two of Mike Dellosso’s suspense/supernatural novels and they were great. So when I heard he had written an entirely different type of novel, under another name no less, I knew I had to read it. Boy am I glad I did! A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a powerful story of regrets and redemption. Drawn from his own experiences with colon cancer, Michael King brings forth a novel that has raw emotion, fierce love, and a God that never lets anything be wasted. The characters ring true, the setting is brought to life and the message of hope and faith shines through even desperate circumstances. This is not an easy book to read, but well worth the tears! Make sure you have time to savor this book and enough tissues to get through the ending!

Highly Recommended.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Nena Hutching loved being out on the porch first thing in the morning; it was her favorite time of day. On clear mornings the sun peeked above the black willows and painted the sky brilliant shades of pink and orange. Sometimes deer would gather in the front lawn as they crossed from one pasture to the next. She’d seen upwards of thirty or forty at a time. And if the temperature gradient was just right, a low mist would settle across the ranch, hovering like slow-moving water, giving the whole property a dreamlike appearance.But Nena’s dream had long ago been shattered. Gathering her legs under her, she pulled the blanket up to her shoulders and took a long slow sip of her tea, letting the mug linger at her mouth so the steam could warm her face.

As a child she used to sit here with her father and watch the sun rise, listening to the sounds of the ranch stirring. The smell of cut grass and her dad’s coffee, the sounds of Spanish chatter and horses nickering for their morning meal, the hum of truck engines and men shouting . . . it had all been so familiar, so com- forting. There was a sense of peace here, of purpose and right- ness that she had come to rely on.

But now the place was a ghost town. The pastures were over- grown, the stables empty. The hands had moved on long ago, finding work and fulfillment elsewhere. The black willows, once the landmark of the St. Claire ranch, had aged without care. Some had died and been cut down; others were in desperate need of pruning. And the ranch house, once so noble and pris- tine, the signature of the success of Jack St. Claire, had fallen into disrepair. Porch paint peeled like an old sunburn, one of

the steps needed a new board, and the wisteria had long ago stopped blooming.

Jim did his best to keep up with the place, but it was just too much work for one man. Nena took another sip of tea and listened to the silence. There had been no sunrise this morning; the sky was heavy with dark gray, furrowed rain clouds. A storm was on the way, and in her bones Nena felt it would be much more than just a meteorological event.

The bleeding had started three weeks ago. At first it was spotty, nothing too alarming. But as the days passed it increased, until finally an appointment was scheduled, a colonoscopy performed, a tumor found. Now Nena could do nothing but await the results of the biopsy. Nothing but sit here haunted by regrets, sipping her tea, reminiscing about the better days the ranch had seen.

The sound of tires rolling on dirt broke the morning silence, and Nena saw an SUV making its way down the lane. She knew immediately who it was—Dr. Les Van Zante—and called for Jim to join her on the porch.

Les had never made a house call before. Of course, she told herself, maybe it wasn’t a house call. Maybe he was just stop- ping by to say good morning and tell them he hadn’t gotten the results yet, so she should stop fretting and breathe easy. He’d been their family doctor for well over thirty years; more than just a physician, he’d been a friend. But the lump in her throat and the chill that crept over her skin told her this was more than a cordial visit.

Jim emerged,  coffee mug in hand, hair still disheveled, face unshaven. “What’s the matter?”

Nena nodded toward the vehicle halfway up the lane. Jim sipped his coffee and said, “Les.”

“Why do I feel like an innocent defendant about to receive a guilty verdict?” Nena said.

Jim rested his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “Don’t do that, Nena. You don’t know why he’s here.”

The SUV stopped in front of the house, the engine shut off, and the door opened. Les stepped out and closed the door behind him. He nodded. “Jim, Nena.”

Nena noticed the absence of a “good morning.” Clearly it wasn’t a good morning.

“Morning, Les,” Jim said.

As Les made his way up the steps, avoiding the rotting sec- tion of the first board, he neither smiled nor frowned. His face was as stone-still as any world-class poker champ. He shook Jim’s hand then Nena’s.

The knot in Nena’s throat tightened, preventing her from swallowing, but her mouth had gone so dry there was nothing to swallow anyway.

“No ‘good morning’?” she said.

Les was a tall, handsome man, with a long face and sharp nose framed by a thick crop of woolly white hair and a neatly trimmed beard. His deep-set eyes were such a light shade of blue they almost appeared to be gray. Creases outlined his eyes and mouth, and deep frown lines appeared when he was in thought. He shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels. “Nena, Jim, we received the biopsy results.” He scanned the land around the house as if searching for a way out of deliv- ering the news.

Nena tilted her head to one side. “And?”

Les rubbed his nose, ran his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, Nena. You have colon cancer.”

The last two words that registered before everything blurred were “colon cancer.”

Les kept talking, but Nena heard little of it, just bits and pieces, like scattered raindrops that occasionally land on your nose, catching your attention. She heard “MRI” and “ultra- sound,” “surgery,” and “chemotherapy.” But they were just isolated words, foreign almost. Her ears picked up the sound of them, but to her brain they made no sense.

She looked at Jim, her husband, the man who had fought for her all those years ago and risked his life and won. The man who had never left her side because he’d promised he never would. His eyes were glassy and distant. He nodded in time to what Les said, but he too appeared to be in some other place, a place where couples grew old together and enjoyed reasonably good health, where they traveled and spent lazy afternoons walking outside or sitting on the front porch, where they spoiled their grandchildren. A place where people weren’t blindsided by cancer. He held her hand, but she didn’t feel it. Her body was numb, paralyzed. She wanted to get up and run off the porch, find a safe place in the stables, but she couldn’t. It was as if she were glued fast to the seat of the wicker chair.

Memories came clanging into her head, just images really, her father sitting atop Warlord, his prized Arabian. Her mother hanging laundry as her hair blew in the breeze and a smile crinkled her eyes. Her three children, running, laughing. Rocking her baby girl, her youngest daughter, and singing her a lullaby—Baby, my sweet, don’t you cry. Baby, my sweet, don’t you fear. Mommy will take care of you, I’m here. Her children, grand- children . . . how long had it been since she’d seen them?

As these thoughts drifted in and out, that word, that awful word clamored like an old noisy cowbell. She hated that word. It had taken her father and her grandfather, the only man she genuinely admired (except for Jim, of course). The word itself sounded like a sentence, like Les was not really telling her “You have colon cancer” but “You’re going to die.”

The porch began to spin then, slowly at first, in a perfect circle, then faster and faster and off-center. Her head suddenly felt as light as helium, and she thought she would vomit.

“Nena, honey, are you okay?”

Jim held her with both arms. She’d slipped from the chair. Had she fainted?

Somewhere in the distance, in the pasture behind the house, she heard a horse whinny. Or was it only her mind playing tricks, hearkening back to a time of simplicity and innocence?

“That’s enough for now,” Les said. He too was near her, his hand on her shoulder. “Nena, we’re going to fight this thing. We’re going to throw everything at it.”

Jim helped her to her feet, but her legs were weak, and the porch undulated beneath her.

“We’ll set things up for the MRI, CAT scan, and surgeon,” Les said. “Someone will call you with the appointment times.” He bent forward and looked Nena right in the eyes. “Nena, are you sure you’re okay? We can bring you into the office and check things out right now.”

She shook her head. “No. I’m fine. I just need to get back in the chair, have some tea.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m fine. Jim can help me.”

But could he? Could he help her this time? It was cancer, after all, the same cancer that had taken her father and grand- father. A monster that had tasted blood, and not just anyone’s blood, but her family blood.

She drew in a deep breath, but the air was so heavy with moisture and the promise of rain she had a difficult time filling her lungs. Les said his good-byes and left, promising to call later and see how she was doing.

When the SUV had disappeared down the lane, Jim stroked Nena’s hair and said, “Nena, it’ll be all right.” His other hand rested on hers, but she still couldn’t feel it. It would be all right. How did he know? He didn’t. That was the plain truth. Those were the words everyone said, the words everyone would say to her. It’ll be all right.

Jim said, “Did you hear what Les said?”

She shook her head. “No.”

Her throat felt like it was the size of a straw.

“He’s going to set you up for tests to see if it’s spread to any other organs. Then we’ll see a surgeon and talk about getting it out of you.”

It. He couldn’t bring himself to say the word: cancer. “The surgeon will set us up with the oncologist,” Jim said. “And then what?”

“Radiation, chemo.”

“More tests, prodding, poking, cutting.”

“Probably. But I’ll be right next to you the whole time. We’ll beat it, Nena. We will.”

“Maybe it’s not that bad,” she said. “Maybe it’ll just be a matter of cutting out the tumor and being done with it.”

The words sounded so hopeless, like someone lying there with a compound fracture, bone jutting through the skin, leg cocked at a sickening angle, saying maybe it was just a sprain.

Jim looked out over the ranch, his eyes so distant and worried.

“Maybe.”

Book Review: Frantic

23 Feb

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Realms (February 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Dellosso is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. He is an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College and frequent contributor to Christian websites and newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and FaithWriters, and he plans to join International Thriller Writers. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters. Hometown: Hanover, PA
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Gas station attendant Marny Toogood thinks it’s just another ordinary day on the job until an urgent message from a young girl in the backseat of a car draws him into a daring rescue attempt. Now he is on the run with Esther and William Rose from their insane “uncle” who thinks it is his mission from God to protect William, a boy with incredible faith that gives him supernatural powers.

As they face kidnapping, underground cults, and other evils, can Marny trust the simple faith of a child and stand his ground against a power so twisted?



Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (February 7, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616384808

ISBN-13: 978-1616384807

My Impressions:

Light overcame darkness.  Just one truth found in Mike Dellosso’s speculative thriller, Frantic.  This was a strange, yet wonderful book.  You will gasp, hold your breath, turn your eyes, but you will continue to read, faster and faster, to find out just what is happening.  Marnin Toogood decides to actually do something, forget about the curse he has lived with from birth, and go after the girl in the back of the car that is in trouble.  Throughout, he struggles with doubt, fear, grief and guilt, but something keeps him going.  Maybe it is the faith of a special 11 year old boy that keeps him going.  And in the end Marny finds out what real faith is.  Frantic is probably not a book for everyone.  It contains violence and a darkness that may turn some away.  But if you are not afraid to be uncomfortable, try Frantic.  I recommend it.

Recommended.

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The night Marny Toogood was born it rained axheads and hammer handles.

  His grandfather made a prediction, said it was an omen of some sort, that it meant Marny’s life would be stormy, full of rain clouds and lightning strikes. Wanting to prove her father wrong, Janie Toogood named her son Marnin, which means “one who brings joy,” instead of the Mitchell she and her husband had agreed on.
 But in spite of Janie’s good intentions, and regardless of what his birth certificate said, Marny’s grandfather was right.
 At the exact time Marny was delivered into this world and his grandfather was portending a dark future, Marny’s father was en route to the hospital from his job at Winden’s Furniture Factory where he was stuck working the graveyard shift. He’d gotten the phone call that Janie was in labor, dropped his hammer, and run out of the plant. Fifteen minutes from the hospital his pickup hit standing water, hydroplaned, and tumbled down a steep embank- ment, landing in a stand of eastern white pines. The coroner said he experienced a quick death; he did not suffer.
 One week after Marny’s birth his grandfather died of a heart attack. He didn’t suffer either.
 Twenty-six years and a couple of lifetimes of hurt later, Marny found himself working at Condon’s Gas ’n Go and living above the garage in a small studio apartment George Condon rented to
1

Mike Dellosso

him for two hundred bucks a month. It was nothing special, but it was a place to lay his head at night and dream about the dark cloud that stalked him.
 But his mother had told him every day until the moment she died that behind every rain cloud is the sun, just waiting to shine its light and dry the earth’s tears.
 Marny  held  on  to  that  promise  and  thought  about  it  every night before he succumbed to sleep and entered a world that was as unfriendly and frightening as any fairy tale forest, the place of his dreams, the only place more dark and foreboding than his life.
  On the day reality collided with the world of Marny’s night- mares, it was hotter than blazes, strange for a June day in Maine. The sun sat high in the sky, and waves of heat rolled over the asphalt lot at the Gas ’n Go. The weather kept everyone indoors, which meant business was slow for a Saturday. Marny sat in the garage bay waiting for Mr. Condon to take his turn in checkers and wiped the sweat from his brow.

Man, it’s hot.”Mr. Condon didn’t look up from the checkerboard. “Ayuh.

Wicked hot. Newsman said it could hit ninety.”

“So it’ll probably get up to ninety-five.”Mr. Condon rubbed at his white stubble. “Ayuh.”He was sixty-two and looked it. His leather-tough skin was

creased with deep wrinkles. Lots of smile lines. Marny had worked
for him for two years but had known the old mechanic his whole
life.

Mr. Condon made his move then squinted at Marny. Behind

him Ed Ricker’s Dodge truck rested on the lift. The transmis-
sion had blown, and Mr. Condon should have been working
on it instead of playing checkers. But old Condon kept his own
schedule. His customers never complained. George Condon was
the best, and cheapest, mechanic around. He’d been getting cars
and trucks through one more Maine winter for forty years.

Marny studied the checkerboard, feeling the weight of Mr.

Condon’s dark eyes on him, and was about to make his move

2

Fr antic
when the bell chimed, signaling someone had pulled up to the pump island. Condon’s was the only full-service station left in the Down East, maybe in the whole state of Maine.

 Despite the heat, Mr. Condon didn’t have one droplet of sweat on his face. “Cah’s waitin’, son.”

 Marny glanced outside at the tendrils of heat wriggling above the lot, then at the checkerboard. “No cheating.”

His opponent winked. “No promises.”

Pushing back his chair, Marny stood and wiped more sweat
from his brow, then headed outside.
The car at the pump was a 1990s model Ford Taurus, faded blue
with a few rust spots around the wheel wells. The windows were
rolled down, which probably meant the air-conditioning had quit
working. This was normally not a big deal in Maine, but on a rare
day like this, the driver had to be longing for cool air.
Marny had never seen the vehicle before. The driver was a large
man, thick and broad. He had close-cropped hair and a smooth,
round face. Marny had never seen him before either.

He approached the car and did his best to be friendly. “Mornin’.

Hot one, isn’t it?”

The driver neither smiled nor looked at him. “Fill it up. Regular.”

Marny headed to the rear of the car and noticed a girl in the
backseat. A woman, really, looked to be in her early twenties. She
sat with her hands in her lap, head slightly bowed. As he passed
the rear window she glanced at him, and there was something in
her eyes that spoke of sorrow and doom. Marny recognized the
look because he saw it in his own eyes every night in the mirror.
He smiled, but she quickly diverted her gaze.
As he pumped the gas, Marny watched the girl, studied the
back of her head. She was attractive in a plain way, a natural pret-
tiness that didn’t need any help from cosmetics. Her hair was rich
brown and hung loosely around her shoulders. But it was her eyes
that had captivated him. They were as blue as the summer sky, but
so sad and empty. Marny wondered what the story was between
the man and girl. He was certainly old enough to be her father. He
3

Mike Dellosso

looked stern and callous, maybe even cruel. Marny felt for her, for her unhappiness, her life.

  He caught the man watching him in the side mirror and looked at the pump’s gauge. A second later the nozzle clicked off, and he returned it to the pump. He walked back to the driver’s window. “That’ll be forty-two.”
 While the man fished around in his back pocket for his wallet, Marny glanced at the girl again, but she kept her eyes down on her hands.
 You folks local?” Marny said, trying to get the man to open up a little.

The driver handed Marny three twenties but said nothing. Marny counted off eighteen dollars in change. “You new in the

area? I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Lately, seems more people have been moving out than in.”

  Still nothing. The man took the money and started the car. Before pulling out he nodded at Marny. There was something in the way he moved his head, the way his eyes sat in their sockets, the way his forehead wrinkled ever so slightly, that made Marny shiver despite the heat.
 The car rolled away from the pump, asphalt sticking to the tires, and exited the lot. Marny watched until it was nearly out of sight, then turned to head back to the garage and Mr. Condon and the game of checkers. But a crumpled piece of paper on the ground where the Taurus had been parked caught his attention. He picked it up and unfurled it. Written in all capital letters was a message:

HE’S GOING TO KILL ME4