I love reading books. I love sharing my opinions about them with others. Therefore, a book review site seems a natural for me.

I’ve been posting my book reviews on another of my websites, but that site also has heavy political content. I thought it would be a good idea to collect all of my reviews here, on an independent site just for those of you who love to read.   Hence, The North Country Review of Books. Also, here, you can post your own reviews. In addition, should publishers wish to quote from a review of mine (assuming that it’s positive), they might feel more comfortable linking to it here, rather than from my political blog.

You may contact me via email:  jeff@northcountryreview.com

I should point out a few things:

1. I receive the majority of my books from publishers as advance review copies (ARCs). My promise to you is that I will not let that privilege bias my review. I have no financial stake in any of the books that I review. There is no advertising on The North Country Review of Books. There is no “tip-jar.” I am not an Amazon Associate. I receive no benefits from a good review. Some of the books are sent to me by authors or publishers. Some are purchased by me. Most are requests to the publishers for “Advance Review Copies.” I tend to request ARCs that I believe I will like, either from publishers or authors I’ve had good experiences with in the past. I’m even more selective regarding purchased books. Hence, I don’t often read “stinkers.”

2. Note that I run a side business of copy editing books for self-publishing authors on Amazon. I do not review those books.

3. My main interests (since this site is strictly a hobby by a compulsive reader) are science-fiction, mysteries, horror, and thrillers. I also enjoy science texts. That will be reflected in what categories of books I review the most.

4. Your comments are encouraged. A comment can be a response to my review, or it can be a reply to another comment. Comments are nested. Just leave the ratings table blank if there is one shown. If you’ve actually read the book in question, please leave a review of your own and rate the book with the “star table” below the comment form. Hover over each category for an explanation of it. The purpose of offering multiple ratings categories is to make both my — and your — reviews more meaningful to other readers.

5. The ratings table has five stars. You can (with your mouse) rate each category in 1/4-star increments. Really! My own definition of the stars is: 1-bad, 2-fair, 3-good, 4-very good, 5-great.

6. The beautiful and comfy-looking illustration at the top of all pages was done by a former co-worker and professional artist, Jay Trefethen. If you’d like to contact him to commission work for you, email me and I’ll put you in touch with him. And no, I don’t receive a commission on that, either. He’s also done some of the other b&w illustrations scattered elsewhere on the site.

7. Like cats? So do I. We should probably go to therapy together.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Jeff Soyer
Fairlee, Vermont


Recent reviews:




13 Hollywood Apes: A Layla Remington Mystery, by Gil Reavill

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in Thriller | 0 comments

From Random House, the first of a new series of detective stories: 13 Hollywood Apes: A Layla Remington Mystery, by Gil Reavill (Amazon link). Oddly enough, this is the second such thriller involving apes that I’ve reviewed this month at The North Country Review of Books. I wish I could say that it is as good as the first one. Parts of it are, and it is certainly an original plot idea. It all starts with a California brush fire, and the murder of 13 chimpanzees at an animal care facility in the hills of Malibu. It ends with a series of...

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Dark Screams: Volume One

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Horror | 0 comments

Random House has started a new series of horror story collections edited by Brian Freeman and Richard T. Chizmar, famed editors of the magazine Cemetery Dance. The first of these short volumes is titled, Dark Screams: Volume One (Amazon link). Featured are stories by Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, Bill Pronzini, Simon Clark, and Ramsey Campbell. While the variety of stories is decent, the quality varies. Note to parents: The stories are fine for young adults, and gore is at a minimum. Here’s a brief look (without any spoilers) at each...

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NY Court: Chimpanzees Aren’t “Persons”

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

It does seem a case of kismet that just a day after I posted my review of Solomon’s Freedom, a court has determined that chimpanzees do not have rights: A chimpanzee is not entitled to the rights of a human and does not have to be freed by its owner, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday. The three-judge Appellate Division panel was unanimous in denying “legal personhood” to Tommy, who lives alone in a cage in upstate Fulton County. [ . . . ] “So far as legal theory is concerned, a person is any being whom the law...

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Solomon’s Freedom, by Dennis Meredith

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Thriller | 2 comments

Around here, I consider a “Grand Slam” to be a book that earns top ratings in every category.  Solomon’s Freedom, by Dennis Meredith, (Amazon link) is a grand slam. It’s a thriller with fabulous characters, witty dialogue, plenty of action, and most importantly, it raises questions about whether man’s closest neighbor in the animal kingdom should be granted any rights. Bobby Colter is a criminal defense lawyer who can usually be found defending some of the slimier denizens of the criminal world. He’s good...

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State of Terror, by John Brown

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Political | 1 comment

American citizens have seen a drastic increase in the surveillance of themselves by police and government. Supposedly this is all done in the name of “Homeland Security” and fighting crime. Cameras on street corners, license plate readers on police cars, mass collection of your emails, phone calls, and websites visited. Even the United States Postal Service now photographs every single letter and package sent through its offices. What if it’s all taken to the next level? That’s the frightening premise of State of...

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The Genome, by Sergei Lukyanenko

Posted by on Nov 29, 2014 in Science Fiction | 0 comments

The psychological interactions and tensions between humans, genetically engineered humans, clones, and aliens, is probably the best way to describe The Genome, by Sergei Lukyanenko (Amazon link) in this unusual entry into the science fiction field.  It’s also about the ethics behind “Spesh” — humans who had their DNA altered at conception to become specialized in an occupation at a later time during their teens. All of that specialization comes at a price, as they — and you the readers — will discover. The...

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Shoot To Win, by Chris Cheng

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in How To... | 0 comments

The winner of season 4 of the History Channel’s Top Shot has written a book, Shoot To Win, by Chris Cheng (Amazon link) that has as a subtitle, “Tips, Tactics, and Techniques to Help You Shoot Like a Pro.”  That might lead you to believe that the book is aimed primarily at experienced shooters who would like to improve their game. While there are a few chapters along those lines, the bulk of Shoot To Win deals with the very basics of firearms and safely handling them. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that and this book...

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Paradigms Lost, by Ryk E. Spoor

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in Horror | 2 comments

Originally written in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and published as Digital Knight, Baen Books has just released a revised and expanded version titled, Paradigms Lost, by Ryk E. Spoor (Amazon link). According to the author’s preface, he made a few changes to existing stories to clarify a few incidents. The major difference is that he’s added about 50% new material. This should make this revision well worthwhile to readers of the original book (which I have not read — this review is based solely on this one)....

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The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Thriller | 0 comments

New, from Bantam Books, this is the third book in the FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare  and wanted criminal (*wink*) Nicolas Fox series. The Job, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Amazon link) is fast paced and fun, with nicely breezy dialogue. O’Hare and Fox team up again and hatch a plot worthy of the best from Mission: Impossible. Indeed, The Job would make a terrific movie. How do you go about taking down and financially ruining one of the world’s largest narcotics dealers? Especially when no one has any idea where he is or...

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Billy Lovecraft Saves the World, by Billy Lovecraft

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Horror | 1 comment

The Cthulhu Mythos are real! Ostensibly written for the “young adult” market, Billy Lovecraft Saves the World, by Billy Lovecraft, Curiosity Quills Press (Amazon link) is wonderful fun. I’m 60-years old, and as a long time H.P. Lovecraft fan, I loved this book. Well written, endearing characters, scary, but with a big-sized dollop of humor thrown in, I believe that you will get a kick out of this story, too. Billy Lovecraft is 12-years old. His parents are killed in a plane crash caused by a terrifying creature. His parents...

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