Monday, May 16, 2016

Behind the Mask by Heather Carnassale

Heather Carnassale’s debut Behind the Mask is a great leap into the ever popular thriller genre. Written through the experiences of a young adult woman, still trying to find her place in the world and traumatized by the aftermath of a hostage taking situation at her bank in Philadelphia, the book reads like a mystery where everyone but the protagonist is in on the secret. 

Remi and Liam are a pairing thrust into an awkward coupling by the former’s new employment as a bank teller and the latter’s double life as part of a thieving ring. The story starts out with the bank robbery, its purpose revolving around a high end divorce and five diamonds in a safe. When the crime goes bad, Remi is taken hostage by Liam into a bank vault for several hours; his only disguise is a mask. Hardened by life, Liam finds himself drawn to the subtly feisty girl with the big blue eyes still dependent on her parents and trying to make a go at adulting for the first time. 

The book weaves through the streets of Philadelphia after Liam feels compelled to both ensure Remi’s safety from his band of thieves who are hunting for the missing diamonds and ultimately keep tending to the bond they formed while in the vault. Remi is not aware that this mysterious stranger who seems to keep bumping into her is the same masked man. 

Heather’s style is quick and to the point, like readers should expect thrillers to be. Her characters are well rounded and the connection between them comes through in her writing. While Liam is dark, and at times too emotionally removed from the rest of the characters, he is written as one who sits on the sidelines overseeing the results of his handiwork and influencing its outcome in small bursts. He is flawed but you still root for him. Remi is every young woman out there living life as a treading water exercise rather than something to claim. The story allows for a continuation and my understanding is that this is the first of a series. 

Great first novel by this up and coming independent author!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Book Review: The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn

the before now and after then paperback 3d_peter monn

Peter’s debut Young Adult novel is more about a teenaged American boy coming of age than an LGBT genre specific book.

Goldilock-ed Danny loses his twin brother in a terrible accident, forcing him to confront the fact that he really never had his own identity. It was always wrapped up in his brother. They may have looked just alike but they were very different: His brother was popular, athletic, smart and straight. Danny was none of those things.

Danny manages normal teenager ups and downs, such as bullying at school and coming of age and first love and new friendship and divorcing parents. However, because of his brother’s death, he seems to be dealing with several big challenges all at once. That is difficult for anyone, no matter their age. Adding onto the pile is the fact that he is gay in a world where that is still something separating you from most people – whether you are accepted or not.

Peter does a great job of making this book about more than being a gay teenager in the modern world. He dispels several stereotypes about gays, and in my opinion, that is the real benefit of homosexual authors coming out (ha ha – really bad pun, sorry) and writing fictional stories about regular people doing regular things. Because that is what is actually happening in real life.

Your average heterosexual doesn’t want to read LGBT genre books necessarily. Peter’s book does focus on the fact that Danny is gay; however, you can substitute any difference in any teenager and the rules and cruelty of life still apply. Instead of homosexual, it could be about the quiet geeky girl who likes Manga books and Anime conventions rather than flirting with boys and Coach purses. It could be about the shy boy who hates football and likes to paint pictures instead of bragging about his keg fueled weekend. There are many reasons for feeling and being different. When you’re a teenager, those reasons are only magnified.

This book, in its purest form, is about love. Loving yourself. Loving your family. Loving your friends. Loving your significant other. Loving your dog. There are many life truths implanted within the story telling, and Peter is an excellent writer. I highly recommend this book for all readers, especially young adult ones, and I look forward to seeing what Peter writes next. 

Lastly, there are many good insights inside of the book…but this one stuck with me the most because I feel exactly the same way. It was in Peter’s Acknowledgements section: “It has been said that a dog is man’s best friend, but I will take that one step further; a dog is the true companion of a writer’s soul.”

To see Peter's work, visit his website at

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Finding Dori


I have decided to use my blog as a way to provide reviews for independent authors and writers. While my opinion is just one of many, I do try to be fair and bring out what I find is the best within a person's work. As a writer myself, I know what it takes - emotionally - to write. As a published author, I also know what it takes - in every other way - to put and then have a piece of your heart and soul thrust out into the reading void for all to devour.

I am in a neighborhood book club. Most of the books chosen within the club are books that "everybody else" reads. Classics, Publisher's Weekly picks, best sellers, well known authors, highly pushed books, big market items. Here on Finding Dori, I am going to focus on independent authors who are either putting out a debut, getting started in a writing career, and not in the mainstream. I will review books that in many cases will not find their way to the women's book clubs of the world. Some, I actually might recommend to a club. I will read anything.

So far, I have several reviews of indies posted on my blog. I am not going to have any kind of policy or official format for this. When I'm done reading an indie, I will post a review here, on Good Reads and on Amazon. I will share the review to all of my social media.

I am currently reading The Before Now and After Then by Peter Monn.

Here are the indie book reviews I have at this point:

When Life Hands You a Lemon by Mike Hansen

Eight Days by Scott Thompson

The Bomber by David O'Sullivan

A Safe Place With You by Cesar L. Baquerizo

Antiartists by Ralph Pullins

We're All Mad Here by Leigh Raines

I, Peter Wood by Paige Hardt

The Drunken Spelunker's Guide to Plato by Kathy Guiffre