Posted in reviews

Pipeliner by Shawn Hartje 

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Every wannabe rock star has had this vision for their lives, but never was it more prominent than in the 90’s. For Jason Krabb, that dream dominated his small town Idaho life, as evidence by the coming of age tale Pipeliner by Shawn Hartje. Here is the synopsis:

For seventeen-year-old Jason Krabb, high school life in 1990s Idaho is a world of cargo shorts, cassette tapes, and junk food. Plagued equally by algebra and puberty, Jason sets out to find a girlfriend and become a rock guitarist. His quest is irreversibly jolted when he attends a bonfire and meets an alluring girl from the other side of town and a rag tag crew who are bringing gas lines through the desert in order to keep the lights on in Portland and Seattle, places where Jason hopes to find his nirvana as a guitarist.
Meanwhile, things deteriorate at home. Jason’s pediatrician mom, Leah, sadly faces the twilight of her parenting years while his father, Curtis, contends with the enormity of running a big ticket research laboratory and coming to terms with his son’s wayward path.  
Pipeliner is at once a coming of age love story and a comical timestamp of early 90s family life. Set in the fictional Idaho town of Helen Springs, pop. 58,000, its characters are as vibrant as the lofty peaks and purple sunsets of the high desert. Here we find rich farmers, poor ranchers, dutiful Mormons, government honchos, disgruntled vets, drug-dealing bruisers, irksome teachers, and spirited students, all doing their best to keep the lights on. 
This novel has some amazing themes flowing through the tale. Examining life in a small town in 1990’s Idaho, readers are treated to the social divide between the classes, showcasing a struggle to bridge the gap between a young man with a desire to be free and a passion for a girl with a troubled past. As Jason struggles to associate himself with the drug-fueled lifestyle of some of the lower-class citizens, he must also contend with parents who take a hands-on approach with their parenting. While Jason’s mom has good intentions, readers will learn that sometimes being the younger child brings more challenges with parenting, and sometimes our children don’t grow up to become what we expect them to.
This is a beautifully written story, showcasing the tone of the 90’s with perfection. The setting of the Midwest is the perfect challenge for a young man desperate to escape to a life of rock and roll. The need for freedom is felt as Jason struggles throughout this story, and yet while teens can identify with that, adults can also see and identify with the poor decision making that teenagers often have. 
Overall this was a fantastic story from authors Shawn Hartje. The story of Jason Krabb is a familiar one, and yet it’s told with a vintage voice that 90’s kids can identity with easily, and anyone who has ever wanted to pursue a creative career like music can see the fire that must radiate in protagonist Jason Krabb’s eyes. It’s a wonderful read, and i hope you guys will be sure to check it out for yourselves. Get your copies by following the link below, and be sure to follow Shawn Hartje now!
Rating: 10/10
Twitter: @pipelinernovel

Posted in Book Related Blog Posts

How The Dark Tower by Stephen King Inspired My Writing

How The Dark Tower by Stephen King Inspired My Writing

Hello there everyone! I wanted to start writing a series of posts describing how various books, authors, films, television shows, musicians, video games and even internet stars have influenced my writing in general, as well as the way they have influenced specific storylines within my books. The best writers in the world have found inspiration from the world around them, from world events to nature and the works of other authors. Today, I want to discuss one of the biggest influences on me as an author: The Dark Tower by Stephen King.

This series spans eight novels, as well as short stories, interconnected story points in other works by Mr. King, comics, and now a motion picture with plans for a television and film franchise. This is by far the author’s most famous work, and the connectivity of his works to this series has influenced my own storytelling.

The main plot of the story revolves around Roland Deschain, the last of a long line of gunslingers, who travels his broken world in search of the man in black, a sinister wizard he holds responsible for the downfall of his people. In his search, he also searches for The Dark Tower, a vast tower that binds all worlds and realities together. The man in black works for his master, the Crimson King, to destroy the beams that hold the tower in place, in the hopes that it’s destruction will bring chaos and death to all worlds. Roland must go on a quest to stop this mad plan, gather forces of good to help him stop the Crimson King and save the tower once and for all.

It’s a story the blends several genres, from fantasy and horror to westerns and science fiction. This combination of genres is the first inspiration from this series. The way Stephen King is able to expertly craft a story that incorporates these genres without making it chaotic and unbearable to read is a true source of inspiration. It shows that there is a place for all of these genres to co-exist, and that not one genre is necessarily better than the other.

The second inspiration from this series is the way in which Stephen King connects all of his books. Whether it’s characters like Father Callaghan from Salem’s Lot showing up in book five of the series or the man of black becoming the villain of not one, but at least three different books, this series has shown me the power of connectivity, and how it can inspire larger and more powerful story telling. I’ve begun to apply this to my two main series thus far, Nightmare Wars and The Legend of Electric Fusion. I’ve introduced a character named Larry, who brings chaos with him everywhere and travels between worlds and dimensions to mess with people, and in so doing he appears in both series. My hope is to bring characters from both series together in an epic series like The Dark Tower in the future.

These are just a handful of ways this series inspired me. I’ve learned a lot about the show versus tell storytelling device that I’ve mentioned before in my reviews, and am learning to apply it to my own writing. Stephen King uses this device expertly, subtly leaving plot points within the story that readers pick up on with excitement and eagerness. I’ve learned to apply a more “real-world” dialogue to my writing, in which i don’t worry about applying a vast and expansive dialect that makes me sound like a walking thesaurus but rather i write as if i were just dictating the conversations of real people who experience extraordinary circumstances.

Overall, The Dark Tower is my biggest influence as an author. Mr. King has done a masterful job of creating a narrative that brings heart and emotion to an edge-of-your-seat adventure with scares, thrills and heartbreak. It was a fantastic series that will continue to inspire me throughout my career, and with the major motion pictures starring Idris Elba set to premiere soon, i highly recommend you guys reading this series if you need a healthy dose of writing inspiration. Thank you, Mr. King, for creating such an incredible work of art in The Dark Tower. 

What is your current inspiration, whether its for writing or some other project in your life? Are you guys going to see The Dark Tower when it comes out? Leave your answers in the comments below. 

Posted in reviews

Daddy Dearest by Paul Southern REVIEW

Daddy Dearest by Paul Southern REVIEW
A good writer knows when to live on the edge of their genre and push the boundaries, taking a story in directions the reader would never otherwise have known to go. That is exactly what happens in author Paul Southern’s novel, Daddy Dearest. Here’s the official synopsis:
An estranged father’s weekend with his beloved five-year-old daughter turns into a nightmare when she gets into the lift of a city centre tower block and goes down without him. She vanishes without a trace. It sets off a race against time, and a nationwide manhunt, to find her. As the police investigation closes in, suspicion falls on those closest to her – with devastating consequences. Daddy Dearest is a terrifying story of love, obsession and psychological meltdown.
‘My daughter has always had a thing about lifts. There’s something about the thrill of pressing a button and seeing the lift doors close which excites her imagination. It terrifies me. Every time she walks in, I imagine it’s the last time I’ll see her. What if she hits the button before I get there? What if the lift doors close and I can’t get her out? It drives me nuts. There are eight floors in the Sears building, nine if you count the basement, and the lift is fast: more like a fairground ride, really. It does top to bottom in twelve seconds. I’ve timed it. Taking the stairs, I’ve done it in forty-two. That leaves a gap of thirty seconds. You’d be surprised what can happen in that time. I was.’
This book was a whirlwind read, taking the reader through twists and turns galore. The plot of the story is ever changing, as is the protagonist of the book. In one minute, you hate the man who narrates the story, revealing his prejudices and hatred as if they were simple facts of life. In the next instance however, your heart goes out to the guy as you learn about his close relationship with his daughter and the pain it causes him when she’s gone. The back and forth struggle with his character is a breath of fresh air in the thriller genre, as it depicts how often we view people in our own lives. So often our heroes become villains, and those we condemn end up being the people we need most in our lives. 
The writing from the author is superb, showcasing a talent for exploring the mind of people, and how a person is able to justify their actions to fit their own purposes. The pacing was perfect, delivering each twist with elegance and grace that allowed the reader to be surprised and yet able to accept each new reality with ease.
Overall, this was a fantastic read that any fan of the thriller genre should immediately read. The writing was phenomenal and by the end of the story, fans will be left breathless as the final outcome is revealed. Will this little girl be found? Who took her? Find out when you pick up your copies of Daddy Dearest by Paul Southern today!
Rating: 10/10
Daddy Dearest