#BookReview: EVO by Diane May

What an amazing mix of the believable and unbelieveable, the possible and impossible Diane May has blended into this, her debut novel, EVO. This crime fiction story Is an impressive beginning to May’s writing career. 

Evo is 574 pages of suspenseful reading which might just keep you up late if you read at bedtime. Picture, if you dare, a dark figure who has an augmented ability to hypnotize people to death…their own. Is he real? Yes…and he’s also angry, full of revenge and he has several doctors on his hit list for their participation in turning him into that real life monster. 

With bodies piling up in Verona, Italy, the police are going crazy trying to find this deadly hypnotist. But an even more deadly situation is about to be unleashed, not just on Verona but the entire world. A mysterious virologist, known only as “Doc” has perfected a vaccine that can turn ordinary, healthy human beings into something akin to super humans, both physically and mentally. Such super-humans will enjoy longer than normal lifespans. Just think for a moment of the ramifications of a world where millions of people live a century or two longer than we do now? How will our already over-populated planet sustain all those lives? The simplest solution, of course, would be to have the same vaccine eliminate unhealthy, undesirable humans. Talk about a sinister plot! 

That is a very limited synopsis of what takes place in EVO…but for a simple reason: you just have to read this book! It’s spell-binding! Diane May’s characters are realistic, so much so we feel every emotion experienced by the lovely and gifted, Maya, her ex-boyfriend, Alex, and even the legendary detective, Livio Marchiori as both Alex and Livio try to find not just the Hypnotist, but the madmen behind the vaccine before they, and half the world is possibly wiped out. The tension mounts and runs at an all-time high until almost the last page. Trust me, you won’t be able to put this one down. 

May’s background working as an interpreter in criminal law cases along with her knowledge of weapons, discipline and military life, coupled with the research she has done for Evo give this novel authenticity. If EVO is any indication, crime fiction fans are about to discover a fresh, very creative and gifted author in Diane May. She is already working on her second book, Till Death Do Us Part. Can’t wait to read it Diane!


If I could give "Embracing the Wild in your Dog" by Bryan Bailey, ten stars in every category, I would. Never before have I read a non-fiction book that enlightens, disturbs and  inspires all at once, and leaves me wondering if I even took a breath from the time I opened the book. 

As I read the last page and checked Bryan Bailey's biography, I let out an audible sigh. If the sigh could speak, it would say brilliant and breath-taking. 

"Embracing the Wild in your Dog" is both of those. It is also a memoir and an instructional book. But its premise and its concepts may not be embraced or welcomed by all who cannot think of that little fluffy puppy in their laps as a wolf. But he is...at least instinctively, and Bryan Bailey makes sure you know that by the time you're finished reading. 

As soon as I'd read the first few chapters, I began looking at my little Shorkie, Duffy, through a different lens. I realized that when he first took a light nip of my grand-daughter's lip and our gut reaction was to yell at Duffy for his bad behaviour while we wiped away her tears, that Duffy's reaction to having his neck grabbed in a hug constituted a threat and he was merely issuing a warning...as his now very distant forebears, the wolves would have done. I have now learned that no amount of breeding these "fur covered humans on four legs" is going to breed out the wolf in him. As an Indian chief explained to the author's mentor, "Because a dog carries a wolf inside of him, he also carries the wolf’s prints. The wolf goes with him everywhere he goes." Sadly, today's dog owners live in denial of this truth. As a result, children and adults are being bitten and dogs are being euthanized, while vet bills and law suits drain bank accounts because we dog lovers don't want to acknowledge the wolf in our dogs. 

"Embracing the Wild in your Dog" by Bryan Bailey is also the story of a boy growing up in the harsh Alaskan climate and learning about survival from a soldier who had learned the same from studying wolves. At one point, this soldier took an accidentally self-inflicted bullet to his neck while the two were trekking in the frozen north. Weak and bleeding profusely, he continued the journey because the wolves had taught him that to lie down was to die. Yes, this book is all about being tough and that adage: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going".

When Bailey shares stories like this or others about what happens in nature when animals face possible death, "Embracing the Wild in your Dog" becomes far more than just instructional: it is the beautifully moving memoir of a young man and his mentor. At times, readers may find themselves arguing, even outraged by Bailey's stance on how to raise and enjoy your beloved dogs, but I guarantee that after reading this book, you will never look at your dog again in the same way. The next time little Bella is being a "naughty doggie" you will find yourself  questioning whether it is Bella, or you, who needs to be disciplined. 


A Healing Spot by Onta Jean Allen is an enchanting tale, almost as magical as its canine protagonist, a Dalmation who is, of course, named Spot.

Now, let’s face it: those of us who love dogs or have one as a pet knows they are magical. After all, they can turn tears into laughter and at times, be a greater comfort to us than our human friends and family when we are suffering. They have some innate sense that we need them nearby. 

And that’s how it is with Spot. When he is left, as a puppy, on the Jordan family’s steps, Spot immediately knows it’s 8-yeaar-old Emma who has leukemia who needs him most. His positive affect on her is well, magical. But rascal that he is, when he gets lost chasing a rabbit, desperately hungry he is welcomed into Janie’s home. Janie has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. Just as Spot did with Emma, he enchants Jane’s family. But he hasn’t forgotten Emma and knows he must get back to her. Before he takes off to find his way back home, he leaves one of his spots on Jane’s face. What happens to Jane when she realizes Spot’s gone? It’s magical!

Spot eventually reunites with the Jordan family but along the way, he finds folks who need his spots and makes sure he leaves one with them. He’s a bit like an angel sprinkling magic stardust wherever it can help someone. Once back home with Emma, he has almost no spots left except the unusual red heart spot in his brow. He gives that very special spot to Emma before he leaves again. Why didn’t he stay with Emma? Where did he go?

Read A Healing Spot to learn how not just Spot, but each of us has a healing spot inside us. A beautifully true message in a magical story. 


As a long time fan of Steve Freeman's writing, I couldn't wait to get stuck into Thirty Seconds To Live. The funny part about this is I was reading 2 other books when this complimentary copy arrived. I just wanted to take a peek and you can guess what happened next. The other 2 books got put on the back burner as Freeman swept me, literally, into an ocean of action as a low draft jet boat went out of control, smashed into a rock slab and all passengers perished. As he always does, Freeman had me hook, line and sinker. 36 hours later, I closed Thirty Seconds to Live and sighed with satisfaction. Another great Steve Freeman adventure. 

This book is #10 in the Blackwell Series that stars Alton and Mallory Blackwell who are often called in to investigate and help solve particularly complicated cases. In this case, the action starts in New Zealand and ends up sending the Blackwells to Egypt and back to the US to try and piece together just who was the primary target in this opening disaster and of course, who was behind it and why. 

There are so many possibilities but will readers outguess the Mallorys? Freeman keeps readers in suspense and flipping pages as he carefully times his release of clues, in between the Mallorys being shot at time and again. Somehow the assassin is always a step ahead and knows exactly where the Mallorys will be. And that assassin is prepared to pay huge dollars for their demise. Why?

One of the reasons Steve Freeman is a joy to read is a combination of short chapters that unfold quickly because the author is so skilled in using dialogue. Dialogue keeps the action moving and this book is primarily dialogue. Little wonder I couldn't put it down: I always had to read just one more chapter! It's obvious Freeman wants us to enjoy his stories, not labour over them. And because of Freeman's personal background (check his bio) his novels ring with authenticity. 

Thanks Steve for another great read. I look forward to #11 in this series, coming out in 2019


Is incest ever okay? The most natural and usual response, is “no way”! But then, a book like The Lies Between Us by Yolanda Olson comes along and gives you pause. In fact, your answer, after reading the story of Gracie and Jori might not be quite what you would have instinctively given. 

If you can hold off making judgement calls for now, enter the strange, broken lives of these two young adults who cling desperately to each other in a world that has hurt each of them terribly, a world so full of lies they cannot function without each other. Gracie’s father is awaiting execution on death row for having killed Gracie’s mother. Gracie hasn’t seen him in a decade, but her memories are of a good man, a good father, one of only 2 men she has ever loved. The other man is Jori who loves her almost to the point of obsession.

With her father’s execution imminent, Gracie decides she must see him. She needs him to tell the truth about the murder. Though he doesn’t want to go, Jori feels compelled to accompany her. And now, as each of them, along with her father, takes turns telling readers what really happened when Jori and Gracie were barely teens, the truth is about as ugly as it gets and we understand why both these kids are so messed up mentally. Yet, in each other’s love, they find sustenance and the strength to survive.

For some readers, the details of Jori and Gracie having sex will be too explicit. Skip those pages if you must. But don’t stop reading the rest of the story because The Lies Between Us is absolutely haunting. The events and the  characters stay with you long after you put the book down. 

It’s easy to see why Yolanda Olson is an award-winning author. Jori, Gracie and her father touch parts of us we didn’t know we had or believed we could condone. Don’t be surprised if, when you’re done, you find yourself rethinking your stance on many social issues, including incest. A touching, riveting story that just might be closer to truth than to fiction!

©Viga Boland, 2018