Archives for January 2014

Blog Tour: The Runaway Daughter by Juliet Philip (review)

runaway daughterThe Runaway Daughter
written by Juliet Philip
published by SparkPress

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by BookSparks. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
Once I got involved in the story, I did enjoy this rather quick read. The story is interesting. It is endearing. It is a story you want a happy ending to.

Kamada has a decent life, but it is rough and trying. Her mother is a prostitute (a well-paid prostitute) who expects Kamada to do the same. Kamada doesn’t know who her father is and her mother is not exactly a loving, nurturing woman. Kamada wants more from her mother but she knows it isn’t going to happen. She has the servants to protect her and take care of her. Kamada is intelligent and has a vivid imagination.

Her imagination took some getting used to though. It was a bit difficult at first to get immersed in the real world and the imagined world. Sometimes I wanted a warning before the cauliflower started talking. And her nicknames for the predators took awhile to get straight. The green ticks on the stairs were an interesting way of determining if she was on the right path. And her goal to get out of India was a lofty one that she worked very hard toward.

The Runaway Daughter is a fascinating read with a wonderful glimpse into India and Kamada’s life. Her imagination was tough and made the read a bit more difficult than it had to be. I wanted more from this book, more about Kamada’s life. Not a lot, but a bit more than the snapshot we are given would have been nice.

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Would I recommend it: I would recommend it, just be prepared for some out there imaginings.

Will I read it again: I will not.

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About the book:
Kamada, Tara’s daughter lives in a world of magic. A world of gremlins, fairies, an airavata—spotless white elephant having four tusks and seven trunks and talking magical entities that shield her from a society where strange men act like they own the women walking down the street and where her mother sells her body in exchange for a life of luxury.

Kamada knows she doesn’t belong here. She is on a mission to escape the dirty streets of a gritty Bombay and her mother’s house which feels like a prison. Only her magical friends, a parrot astrologer who tells of the future and a neighboring family know that her dream is to leave home to study in America.

As she plans her escape, Kamada’s world is turned upside down when her mother reveals a secret and she must struggle to get an education she envisions.

 

JulietPhilip-authorAbout the author: Juliet Philip loves magic, faeries, and creating things. She believes in infusing each of her creations with all the positive energy that she can manifest. Some of the things she likes to make are books, drawings, magic, and connections with people and the universe.

She leads a self-sustainable, simple (yet busy!) life and is so very excited to share her everyday magic with you all. The Runaway Daughter is her debut novel.

Find Ms. Philip here: web, Facebook, Goodreads


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Blog Tour: The Rainy Day Killer by Michael J. McCann (review, giveaway)

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Rainy Day Killer Cover using Viper2 jpgThe Rainy Day Killer
written by Michael J. McCann
published by The Plaid Raccoon Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Tribute Books. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I really did.

I can make this review really short and simple: Stop what you’re doing and go buy this book.

This story grabs your attention on the first page and doesn’t let go until the end. Mr. McCann skips the stereotypical characters and predictable storyline to create an original and exciting murder mystery.

Being a native of Virginia, where a lot of the action takes place, I found some of his geographical references a bit off. But no one will notice that but me. He is from Canada. And this is fiction. So I guess I can let our author off the hook on that one.

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Would I recommend it: Seriously y’all. Stop reading this and go get the book.

Will I read it again: I never read a mystery twice. Once you know the outcome, it’s no fun.

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About the book:
A man in a business suit offers the protection of his umbrella to an unsuspecting woman, and several days later she turns up dead on a river bank, raped and strangled. The terrifying serial killer known in the press as the Rainy Day Killer is now hunting new victims in the city of Glendale … whenever it rains.

Homicide Lieutenant Hank Donaghue leads the investigation as the killer begins to communicate directly to him through phone calls and grisly packages containing body parts of his victims. Assisted by FBI profiler Ed Griffin, Donaghue and Detective Karen Stainer pursue an elusive predator who leaves no physical evidence behind.

The timing couldn’t be worse, however, as Karen Stainer’s attention is divided between the investigation and preparations for her upcoming wedding. Distracted and uncertain about her future, Stainer is furious when she learns that the Rainy Day Killer has followed her to Virginia, where the wedding will take place, and that he intends to make her his next victim!

 

michael mccannAbout the author: Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned a B.A. (Hons.) in English from Trent University and an M.A. in English from Queen’s University. He has worked as an editor and a project and training consultant and manager with the federal government. He is an author of crime fiction and supernatural thrillers. His Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series includes Blood Passage, Marcie’s Murder, The Fregoli Delusion, and The Rainy Day Killer. He is also the author of the supernatural thriller The Ghost Man and is currently working on another supernatural novel.

Find Mr. McCann here: web, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest

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Blog Tour: Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story by Freddie Owens (spotlight, guest post)

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Then Like the Blind Man 7Then Like the Blind Man: Orbie’s Story
written by Freddie Owens
published by Blind Sight Publications

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: A storm is brewing in the all-but-forgotten backcountry of Kentucky. And, for young Orbie Ray, the swirling heavens may just have the power to tear open his family’s darkest secrets. Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story is the enthralling debut novel by Freddie Owens, which tells the story of a spirited wunderkind in the segregated South of the 1950s and the forces he must overcome to restore order in his world. Rich in authentic vernacular and evocative of a time and place long past, this absorbing work of magical realism offered up with a Southern twist will engage readers who relish the Southern literary canon, or any tale well told.

Nine-year-old Orbie already has his cross to bear. After the sudden death of his father, his mother Ruby has off and married his father’s coworker and friend Victor, a slick-talking man with a snake tattoo. Since the marriage, Orbie, his sister Missy, and his mother haven’t had a peaceful moment with the heavy-drinking, fitful new man of the house. Orbie hates his stepfather more than he can stand; this fact lands him at his grandparents’ place in Harlan’s Crossroads, Kentucky, when Victor decides to move the family to Florida without including him. In his new surroundings, Orbie finds little to distract him from Granpaw’s ornery ways and constant teasing jokes about snakes.

As Orbie grudgingly adjusts to life with his doting Granny and carping Granpaw, who are a bit too keen on their black neighbors for Orbie’s taste, not to mention their Pentecostal congregation of snake handlers, he finds his world views changing, particularly when it comes to matters of race, religion, and the true cause of his father’s death. He befriends a boy named Willis, who shares his love of art, but not his skin color. And, when Orbie crosses paths with the black Choctaw preacher, Moses Mashbone, he learns of a power that could expose and defeat his enemies, but can’t be used for revenge. When a storm of unusual magnitude descends, he happens upon the solution to a paradox that is both magical and ordinary. The question is, will it be enough?

Equal parts Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn, it’s a tale that’s both rich in meaning, timely in its social relevance, and rollicking with boyhood adventure. The novel mines crucial contemporary issues, as well as the universality of the human experience while also casting a beguiling light on boyhood dreams and fears. It’s a well-spun, nuanced work of fiction that is certain to resonate with lovers of literary fiction, particularly in the grand Southern tradition of storytelling.

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A Less Than Easy Experience With Author Freddie Owens

Orbie Ray Tells All…

Then Like The Blind Man is a book about me – Orbie Ray – when I was nine and didn’t have nobody to play with; when I put dents in Granpaw’s hubcaps with a ball peen hammer and killed a bunch of flies on Granny Wood’s back porch. It’s about when Daddy got killed at Fords and Momma had off and married his boss, a slick talking man with a snake tattoo; it’s about all the god awful sum bitchin things that followed – like the insides of a Frankenstein storm, geechy witch doctor rain, Elvis and Johnny and nig.., I mean, colored boys galore! It’s a goddamn good story, Blind Man is, but I been told not to cuss about it. I try not to, at least not in front of Momma, but sometimes I cain’t keep from it ’cause of how Freddie Owens made me. Freddie Owens lives above the keyboard there. He’s the one sent down the words what turned into things – like lightning and bad breath; like a sand papery beard on smooth skin.

At first I didn’t know how it would turn out. I mean I was real worried at first ’cause Freddie killed off Daddy and had Momma marry that man and dumped me off on a dirt farm in Kentucky with all those hillbillies gawking about – colored people too, at church, crying and jumping together like something electrocuted and handing out snakes – and me just a city boy from Detroit, about to pee in my pants watching it all. He put me in a bunch of bad places, Freddie did, but I showed him; I had to, to make the story come true. And it did, I figured it out; it wasn’t Freddie at all; and don’t let him tell you it was either. It was just me, and me alone; fact was, I had to whisper it in Freddie’s ear; I had to let him in on the secret, that there was something special here, something nobody had tried, something I had to find out about myself first – in all the mess Freddie had made.

I probably knowed Freddie better than Freddie knowed Freddie. I mean I was the one got him to keep writing even when he was – after so many years – about to give up on the thing. I think it was ’cause of what a weird kid I was turning out to be, looking at things in ways what made them walk off the page – like if you was to watch a picture show or something and the people on the screen all of a sudden started going every which way, coming out in the audience, touching your face and smelling like body odor.

I kept telling Freddie not to give up on me; I kept telling him I had a bunch of things to tell about and I could do it real good cause I could see and feel things like nobody else could see and feel things and it’d be so good and people would love it and him too for writing it all down. And I told him he had to keep on even after he was done with writing the thing, even after nobody wanted to make it into a book you could buy at a for real store. I kept saying to him, Look Freddie, people will love me, you’ll see, you got to keep trying and he went on and did what I told him; put it all down in this book he made all by his lonesome and then them people who read things for a living, they came and said it was just a goddamn good book – and there I go cussing again – and anyway other people came too, what bought the book and liked it and wrote about it on Amazon – what made Freddie and me go Hot Damn!   You should read it, it’s good.

 

Freddie Owens 7About the author: A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from NaropaUniversity in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Find Mr. Owens here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: The Cloud Seeders by James Zerndt (review)

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The Cloud Seeders 7The Cloud Seeders
written by James Zerndt
published by James Zerndt

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
I liked it.

The resolutions felt a bit rushed, as though the author wanted to write a second volume, changed his mind, and then tried to fit everything into the last few chapters.  I guess I just really wanted it to be longer.

At any rate, I’m enamored with Zerndt’s juxtaposition of dystopia and poetry.  It’s unexpected, and it works.

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Would I recommend it: Sure.  It’s a quick little read, and if you can handle a bit of poetry with your doomsday forecast, I say go for it!

Will I read it again: Not until I shrink my to-do list a bit, but I’m pretty sure I could squeeze in some time for a sequel.  Is there a sequel?  Will you pretty please write a sequel, Mr. Zerndt?  For me?  =)


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About the book: 
Serve Your Country, Conserve Your Water, Observe Your Neighbor

This is the slogan of the Sustainability Unit and of a country gone eco-hysterical. After nearly twelve months without rain and the hinges of the world barely still oiled, Thomas and his younger brother, Dustin, set out across a drought-ridden landscape in search of answers. What they discover along the way will change their lives, and their country, forever.

The Cloud Seeders weaves humor and heartache, as well as poetry and science, into a unique novel that defies categorization.

 

James Zerndt 7About the author: James Zerndt lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son. His poetry has appeared in The Oregonian Newspaper, and his fiction has most recently appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal and SWINK magazine. He rarely refers to himself in the third person.

Find Mr. Zerndt here: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

 

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Blog Tour: Mounting the Whale by Colleen McCarty (spotlight, guest post, excerpt)

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Mounting-the-WhaleMounting the Whale
written by Colleen McCarty
published by Cloud Cover Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: “Cartel got me, tell mom”

The siblings, drowning in their own problems, are forced to focus on the task at hand: a half-cocked rescue mission that involves a borrowed yacht, a favor from a notorious drug kingpin, and a shocking reunion none of them expected.

When the family decides to sneak into Mexico, mother Cybil is forced to deal with a rival CEO whom she’s developed feelings for in secret. Her only son, Tom, is willing to risk bodily harm to save Janine while his other sisters, Carlyle and Valerie, suspect that the kidnapping is less than legitimate.

The long sea voyage tests the limits of the family’s already frail bonds. Dark secrets of infertility, drugs, gambling and extreme taxidermy begin to float to the surface. But nothing compares to what they begin to learn about their missing sister.

If they’re going to make it out alive, they have to recognize they’re fighting the same battles and facing life’s greatest challenges: love, loneliness, and the struggle to find a place in the world.

Amidst all the chaos, the Pierce family is brought face-to-face with the ugliness of Janine’s addictions, the truth about their mother’s fortune and the most terrifying question of all: Can you really save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

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“Tommy, are you still there?” Carlyle said in her most kind, sisterly voice. “We’ll meet you at Mom’s house in a little bit, okay? We’re going to try to get a handle on this.” She hung up, even though he was still trying to form words. “What are we going to do?” She directed her attention towards her mother. Even though she made a thousand decisions per day, she left the really hard ones to the woman in charge, and this was no different.

“Simple. Find out if it’s real. If it’s real, pay them. If it’s not, then clearly Janine needs to go back to rehab.”

Carlyle fought the urge to laugh. How ridiculous it all sounded when her mother broke it down like that. The problem was that figuring out if it was real wouldn’t be all that easy.

“Well, I’ve had Marius playing detective. He was able to find one man who is connected to a cartel in Progreso. His name is El Toro—er, Diego Malecón.” Carlyle told Valerie and Cybil about Malecón and

with each word their eyes got bigger. She left out the part about the mystery blogger.

“So you mean this could really be… well… real?” Valerie questioned.

“It looks like it might be. We can’t get any information off the email address. They probably created it just to send this email. I have Marius looking for a connection between Janine and El Toro. If we find anything there, we can assume she works—or worked—for him. That either means it’s fake—they’re in collusion—or she worked for him until she pissed him off and now he’s keeping her against her will. It probably wouldn’t have been too hard to find out that her family has money.”

“Wow—looks like you’ve made some good headway.” Cybil was clearly impressed with her daughter’s P.I. alter ego.

 

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Hey…tell me something.

The woman sitting alone eating her lunch, what do you notice about her? She has plain, straw-like hair—stiff and unforgiving. She’s probably around fifty-five. She doesn’t wear a wedding ring, and yet she looks up from her plate every few minutes bursting with something to say. She buttons back up when she remembers no one is there.

She seems, at first glance like someone who’s just lost her husband—struggling to acclimate to an oxygen-free world, when he was the air she breathed.

Look again: she’s drinking champagne. She’s just ordered the Lobster Rolls with Asian Pear sauce—the most expensive thing on the menu. Her neck is adorned with a chiseled porcelain ankh, the Egyptian symbol for everlasting life.

When her head bobs up again, in response to some imaginary conversation, she touches her ear. Her eyes shoot to the corner of the room. She adjusts her bejeweled clutch so that it’s perpendicular to the table edge, smoothing the tablecloth beneath it.

Is she celebrating—a black widow, satisfied at another successful web weaved?

Is she bereaved—toasting a lost soul and honoring him with his favorite delicacies?

Or is it neither? She’s a CIA Operative running an op. There’s a camera in that clutch and a voice in her ear. She’s doing surveillance that will secure the proof to put a dangerous man away.

Thanks for playing! You just got a peek at what it’s like inside a writer’s head during a nice lunch out!

 

colleen mccartyAbout the author: Colleen McCarty is a graduate of the University of Tulsa and an entrepreneur. She and her husband own Tulsa restaurant Mod’s Coffee and Crepes. She’s been featured onEntrepreneur.com, and in the Wall Street Journal. This is her first novel. Though Colleen has ghostwritten books for CEOs and New York Times Bestsellers, this is her first foray into publishing her own work. Colleen lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and two large dogs. Follow her writing at colleen-mccarty.com.

Find Ms. McCarty here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Review: everything you know by Mary Beth Bass

everything you knoweverything you know
written by Mary Beth Bass
published by Boroughs Publishing Group

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
I . . . I thought I did.  I wanted to.  It’s the sort of thing I usually enjoy, and yet for some reason about halfway through I found myself reluctant to keep reading and I couldn’t figure out why . . .

You know how sometimes you get sick and don’t notice, and then a few days later you mention to your husband that you’re struggling to find motivation to do the dishes and he says, “Well, it’s probably because you’re sick,” and you think, “Holy Crap!  I AM sick!  No wonder I’ve been feeling so tired/yucky/cranky this week!”  Yeah.  This book was like that.

. . . So, once I figured out I wasn’t actually enjoying the book, I realized why.  There’s too much of it.  For one, there’s too much poetry.  I hate it when characters in books just happen to be able to quote stanza after stanza of classic poetry.  If you’ve written a book, I assume you’ve also read a few.  You don’t need to wow me with your love of poetry by having your characters recite it.  I get it.  You’re well read.

There was also too much sex.  Well, no, that’s not exactly it – there wasn’t very much actual sex, but the details were a bit too gratuitous for my taste.  I don’t, for example, need to see the protagonist masturbating.  Really I don’t.  He’s a teenager and he’s got a crush on a pretty girl.  I’m smart enough to figure out what he’s doing in his spare time without you spelling it out for me.

There was just, generally, too much.  There were too many bad guys, too many subplots, too many secret powers and weird, hard to pronounce names, too much magic-that’s-not-really-magical terminology.  It was just too, too much.

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Would I recommend it: No.

Will I read it again: No.

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About the book: 
Images of a dark forest, a screaming woman and blood haunt Emma Mathews from the moment she meets Joe Castlellaw, and everything she thought she knew about life, her family, and herself is about to change forever.

Emma Mathews never believed she was like everyone else, but neither did she think herself crazy. Meeting Joe Castlellaw, Henry Dearborn High’s newest student, was like waking on a cold rock in a strange place, the world bathed in liquid moonlight. Everything is different now…and fraught. Visions of a dark forest, a screaming woman and blood haunt Emma’s dreams, and not only at night. But Joe’s lonely beauty makes her float on air, and she would follow him anywhere: out of high school and through the great tree, to a world of poetry and political savagery, of magic and murder, to a life that is entirely theirs and yet unlike anything they have ever known.

 

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Blog Tour: The Gathering by Randy Lindsay (spotlight, interview)

The GatheringThe Gathering: End’s Beginning
written by Randy Lindsay
published by Cedar Fort Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: Robert Williams didn’t expect an early honorable release from his mission, but upon his return home, he sees the reason for the surprise decision. Unemployment, rampant violence, and frequent food shortages have put the United States on the brink of another civil war. As the threads of society unravel, the Williams family must adapt to drastic changes as the long-foretold gathering begins to take place.

 

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What was your inspiration for writing this particular story? People tend to fear the unknown. There is a strong reaction to anything we haven’t encountered before. The events leading up to the Second Coming will be a whole new experience for all of us and I wanted to make it just a little less terrifying. If people have a chance to look at what’s coming, even if it’s just a fictional account of the events, then I felt that they could deal with the situation better when it actually happens.

The Gathering is fiction based on prophecies about the end of the world. How much of your story is fiction and how much of it is recorded prophecy? Good question. The Gathering is a piece of speculative fiction. That means I started with a premise and then tried to imagine how that would really happen. The further away the story moves from the initial event mentioned in prophecy the more speculative it becomes. In this first novel, I started with a couple of premises that have been prophesied: the United States government in turmoil, the increasing occurrence of powerful natural disasters, and the literal gathering of the Saints. Then I built my story from there.

How close to the prophecies are the events in The GatheringI did my best to keep The Gathering as close to the prophecies as possible while putting them in situations that the reader would accept. Some events are easy. Depicting the super storm that sweeps through the region was not only believable, but stayed very much within the framework of what has been prophesied. Now, the return of the lost Ten Tribes will be a different matter. That is an event that will be mostly speculation and very little prophetic fact.

How many books are planned for the series? Five total. Each one focuses on a specific stage of the apocalypse. The next one deals with a war in Europe and the general reaction to the Saints gathering together during a time of hardship and chaos.

How did you come up with the title? I didn’t. The wonderful folks at Cedar Fort Publishing did that. They were able to boil down the essence of the story into two words. The Gathering. As soon as I heard it I knew they had nailed the title.

Are any of the characters in The Gathering based on people you know? Not exactly. In my spare time (whatever that is) I do family history. Many of the names I used were combinations of my ancestor’s names. The personalities of my characters are totally made up. Although, I do know quite a few characters in my life and I can imagine they would make for one exciting story if I threw them all together.

Are any of the scenes in The Gathering based on an event in your life? One. I seldom use elements from my life, but the scene where Robert takes the tests to become a security guard is based on a similar event that I experienced.

Were there any challenges in writing this book? Yes. The Gathering was a challenge because it is not what I usually write. It primarily deals with a normal family, in a normal environment, and only slowly brings in elements of the fantastic. I’m used to writing stories about aliens, or monsters, or angels who routinely interact with the human world. It was tough to turn the challenges of everyday life into an adventure.

Did you have any challenges in getting the book published? Yes. I actually wrote this story twice. My first manuscript was rejected for being too political. I asked the editor I was working with at the time if he would take a second look at it if I made changes. Well, those changes ended up being a complete rewrite of the book and the second story was much better because of it.

What was your favorite chapter to write? The last one. That one meant I had finally finished telling my story. However, Chapter 27 was the easiest for me to write because it was closest to what I normally do and I had the most fun writing Chapter 20 where Robert goes on a date with Sierra.

What are you working on now? Too much. I am almost finished with a murder/comedy with the working title of Exit Stage Left. I’m also putting together an anthology of quirky Christmas stories that I plan to self-publish. And while neither of those projects fit into my current published category my fans can look forward to a play/novel that I’m working on that I have titled Nine Months with Angels.

Is there anything you would like to share with your readers? Tough times bring people together. Please, keep that in mind whenever tragedy strikes. If you can, reach out and help and if you are the one that needs help reach out and accept it. We’re all in this together.

Randy1-smallAbout the author: RANDY LINDSAY is a native of Arizona. He lives in Mesa with his wife, five of his nine children, and a hyper-active imagination. His preoccupation with “what if?” has led him to write speculative fiction. Although The Gathering is his first novel, Randy has had short stories published in Penumbra e-zine and several anthologies during 2013. If you want to find out more you can check him out at RandyLindsay.net.

Find Mr. Lindsay here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

 

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Blog Tour: The Warrior & The Flower by Camille Picott (spotlight, excerpt, giveaway)

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WARRIOR & THE FLOWERThe Warrior & The Flower (3 Kingdoms #1)
written by Camille Picott
published by Pixiu Press

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

About the book: Yi, a retired soldier, has lost everything he loves—his wife, his daughter, and his home. He seeks refuge from his heartache by plunging into a secret mission for the World Emperor. The assignment takes him to the doorstep of a brothel, where he witnesses the madam beating a young girl. Drawn by the child’s striking resemblance to his lost daughter, Yi rushes to her defense and negotiates for her purchase—after all, how hard can it be to care for one little girl? But between the child’s inquisitive nature and the dangerous secret she carries, he gets more than he bargained for.

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Cloud Shaman
Yi resisted the urge to whistle as he rode. Just because he was less than an hour’s ride from home did not give him an excuse to be a fool. Whistling could attract the attention of a menghai, the spiky bovine-like creatures that stalked this area of the mountains.
Sweet little Jian would be terrified if her papa arrived home covered in quills and bleeding from a tumble with a menghai. Sei, on the other hand, would be overjoyed to have the quills for her embroidery work, even if she did have to pull them from her husband’s backside. Of course, she would not be pleased if the beast managed to kill him. Damnable menghai could be harder to kill than cloud shamans. The last time he’d come up against a menghai—
Beneath him, Fire Foot hissed and shied sideways.
Yi snapped out of his reverie and drew his sword, scanning the evergreen forest on either side of the road.
“What is it?” he asked his kylin, pressing one hand to the beast’s scaled flank.
Fire Foot snorted and hissed again, his forked tongue flicking out to taste the air. His ears pricked forward beneath a bushy red-and-gold mane. He flared his nostrils, pausing to paw at the ground with a cloven hoof.
The kylin carried him forward another hundred yards before Yi caught the faint scent of smoke. The forest was tall and thick on this section of the road. He had little visibility beyond the trees on either side and the ribbon of blue sky overhead. He urged Fire Foot toward a rise up ahead. From there, he would be able to see more of the land.
The kylin broke into a canter, red-and-gold scales rippling beneath the afternoon sun. As they crested the rise, a thick column of smoke became visible in the northwest—from a small village comprised of tidy pine cottages.
It was Fen-li. His village. And it was burning.
Smoke obscured most of the houses and shops from sight, but great gouts of orange flame licked at the clear sky.
How could there be a fire? The earth was still wet from the spring snowmelt. Even when the elders did burn fields, they never burned this early in the season.
“Sei,” he whispered. “Jian.” He drove his boot heels into Fire Foot.
The kylin shrieked and bolted forward, galloping down the road and toward the village. Yi wrapped a free hand in the mane and leaned low over his neck.
A shadow flickered above them. It blotted out the light for a fraction of a second. Had he not spent fifteen years of his life as a soldier, he likely wouldn’t have noticed it. But in that split second, he knew exactly how the fire had started. More specifically, he knew who had started it: cloud shamans.
They can’t be this far east. They can’t be.
But they were.
Was this a supply raid, or had they discovered the location of the House of Liquid Steel? Very few knew the secret location of the house, but the emperor’s inner circle was fraught with malice and duplicity these days.
Looking up, he saw a lone cloud shaman bank sharply on his cloud. Dressed in a sleeveless leather vest and the tight-fitting leather pants of the Sky Kingdom, the man rode the cloud with his knees slightly bent. As he spun it around to charge at Yi, there were several heartbeats when his body was parallel with the ground.
Yi jammed his sword into its sheath and pulled out his bow. He snatched an arrow with black fletching from his quiver. It was tipped with a liquid steel arrowhead, the only metal in the Three Kingdoms that could obliterate a shaman’s cloud.
The cold metal gleamed with a blue-gray hue.
The cloud shaman raised his hands, honey-jade bracelets winking pale yellow beneath the sun. Honey-jade rings adorned his fingers. The stone jewelry glowed, the honeycomb interior charged with lightning harvested in the SkyKingdom.
Fire Foot screamed at the sight of the bracelets and rings, his mane fluffing with anticipation. The kylin craved lightning the way Jian craved sweets. Even from this distance, the beast smelled it. He reared and pranced, straining in its direction.
In that instant, the cloud shaman hesitated. If he fired at Yi, he risked hitting Fire Foot instead—and a lightning-charged kylin was dangerous, even more dangerous than Yi. A kylin in a lightning frenzy was deadly.
That hesitation was all Yi needed. In one smooth motion, he drew and fired. The first arrow barely left his bow before he fired a second one. Both shot forward in whistling arcs.
In his youth, he’d been the best archer in Emperor Chen’s army. Even in retirement, his shots flew true. There was the solid thunk of one arrow hitting flesh, and the telltale hiss as the other pierced the cloud and turned it to insubstantial mist.
The shaman cried out. As he plummeted earthward, he raised one bracelet and fired. Yi was blinded as lightning blazed forth from the honey-jade, flashing straight for him.
He threw himself against Fire Foot’s neck for protection. The kylin reared and hissed with excitement, his body guided by instinct. Yi felt Fire Foot take the strike square in the chest. It reverberated through his body like a gong, sending out shockwaves that made the beast quiver.
Lightning crackled across his scales, and he shrilled in ecstasy. The blast quickly disappeared, absorbed by his body. He glowed red-gold. His eyes emitted a white-hot light, and even his dark gold antlers glowed.
“Home,” Yi said. “Run, Fire Foot.”
The kylin took several dancing steps sideways, his neck arched in the direction of the fallen shaman.
“No,” he said, digging in his boot heels.
Fire Foot hissed, glowing eyes glaring at him. It was only at times like this, when he was charged with lightning, that he was difficult to control. Near frenzy, the muscles along his neck tensed as he once again arched it in the direction of the shaman—in the direction of the lightning-infused honey-jade.
“Home!” This time Yi gave him a rough kick in the ribs.
Fire Foot reared up, illuminated hooves scraping at empty air. Then he plunged to the earth and streaked down the road, a glowing red-gold beast that moved at three times the speed of a galloping horse. His stride ate up the distance, carrying them homeward.
Yi never once looked over his shoulder for the cloud shaman. If the man survived his fall, he’d be in no shape to come after them. Besides, no cloud could fly as fast as a lightning-charged kylin could run.
I’m coming, Sei, he thought. I’m coming.

camilleAbout the author: Camille Picott is a fifth-generation Chinese American. She writes science fiction and fantasy books with Asian characters and/or Asian settings. Camille grew up reading speculative fiction stories largely devoid of Asian characters and culture. This, coupled with a passion for her heritage, is the reason she strives to bring some aspect of Eastern myth, legend, culture, and ethnicity to all of her writings. To visit Camille, go to www.camillepicott.com.

Find Ms. Picott here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Review: Kingdom of the Sun by Ariffa Bevin

kingdom of the sunKingdom of the Sun
written by Ariffa Bevin
published by Ariffa Bevin

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the author to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book: 
I found parts of it interesting.

Mrs. Bevin definitely gets points for creativity. I love the imagination she puts into creating Sooryan’s kingdom. And it’s beautifully edited which is something self-published books often lack.

But I’m going to have to play the role of old school marm here. While this story has potential, it’s too simple. I would have enjoyed it more if there were sub-plots, plot twists, and more in depth descriptions.

For example, the author tells us the people of Sooryan are suffering. But we see no descriptions of it. I say this all the time:  It’s not enough to simply tell your story. You have to allow the reader to experience your story.

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Would I recommend it: Not yet.

Will I read it again: I hope this story gets re-packaged, jazzed up, and re-released. Throw in a few twists and turns, maybe a love story sub-plot, and background music (okay, maybe I’ve gone too far on that one) and yes, I’d like to see it again.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Truth. Hope. Honor. Happiness…In the modern-day Kingdom of Sooryan the meaning of these four words fade as light leaves the sky during sunset…But as reassuring and as promising that the sun will rise again each day, Helena will fight for something that most want, but are not brave enough to make: Change.

Kingdom of the Sun reflects the desire that most of us have to make a change, whether it be in the world or in our own lives, and how we may lack the strength or the courage to do it. The novella highlights the significance of what it truly means to be educated as well as the power that one possesses when they are. It questions what we may value as important and necessary, and challenges several societal conventions.

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Cover Reveal: The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris

I am so happy to be a part of Ms. Harris’s cover reveal for her upcoming release, The Fine Art of Pretending.

 

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The Fine Art of Pretending

written by Rachel Harris

published by Spencer Hill Contemporary

release date September 30, 2014

 

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About the book: According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you’re friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

Rachel Harris

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