Tag Archives: book blog review

Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye (The Shimmering Eye #3) by Christy J. Breedlove Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A typical investigation on a small Montana ranch leads to a powerful entity that threatens to unleash a paranormal nightmare in author Christy J. Breedlove’s latest entry into the Shimmering Eye series, “Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye”.

Story Origin 

Why is this book special? This is a fictional account of a true story and investigation of the most haunted property in the United States. When I first read the book and watched the documentary of The Hunt for the Skinwalker, I was awestruck, delirious with confusion and so overwhelmed I could think of nothing else. I wanted to pen my own version and theories of what was happening out there by sending in my own Badlands Paranormal Society to solve the riddle and cleanse the property. To this day, theories abound: demons, Skinwalkers, portals, aliens, doppelgangers, alternate dimensions, ghosts and multiple paranormal infestations—a grab bag or horror. I got in contact with the author George Knapp, investigative reporter out of Las Vegas and host of Coast-to-Coast AM radio. I explained to him that I wanted to create my own fictional account of a haunted ranch, but that I would not use any of his pertinent details, names, locations or incidents. It would be an “inspirationally motivated” book only. He gave me the thumbs up and wished me well on the project. This book is solely dedicated to him, mostly for scaring the living hell out of me. I strongly suggest you read and watch George’s account of this horrific tale before you even touch my book. 

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The Synopsis: 

Eighteen-year-old Jory Pike, a half-blood Chippewa, is depending upon her Native ancestry to help her investigate one of the strangest hauntings she’s ever encountered. A 500-plus acre ranch in rural Montana is under psychic and physical attack. The ranch’s owner, the elderly Ambrose Tucker, is determined to hold steadfast and courageously to his beloved property. Answering an ad in Jory’s outfit, The Badlands Paranormal Society, Ambrose hopes to rid his property of evil spirits once and for all. 

Jory and her crew of three other teenagers, each of whom bring to the table their own line of skills and expertise, have brought every known piece of hardware and technical equipment to Granite Springs Ranch. Although the assignment seems ordinary at first, and the answer to the haunting seems eminent, everything spirals out of control and leaves the team terrified. The problem is, they have no idea that they’re being outclassed and sabotaged by a malevolent spirit, who seems to know their every move. 

If Jory and the Badlands Paranormal Society don’t solve the problem in quick fashion, they stand to lose the $50,000 extermination fee, but worst of all, they will allow a dangerous and unmerciful entity to unleash a hoard of vicious mythological creatures that will run rampant over the ranch and surrounding properties. Jory has no idea how she and her teammate’s mettle will be tested, bringing them near the edge of insanity, physical endurance and death.     

The Review

What a fantastic entry in the Screamcatcher series! A wonderful blend of mystery, suspense, character growth, and fantasy and sci-fi blended into one narrative, author Chris Stevenson takes readers on a journey through evolving relationships, powerful new threats, and growing mythology that doesn’t relent as the new creatures in this tale arrive. 

As a fan of the paranormal and with a fascination in real-life cryptid/paranormal investigations, this story really spoke to me. The inspiration behind the story is one I am all too familiar with, and it was a great way of bringing this real-world mystery into the narrative and mythology the author has created in this series. 

The revelation of how these creatures are making their way into the world and the creatures themselves will delight fans of this genre of novel, and the protagonist Jory really does a great job of keeping the reader invested in the growing mystery surrounding this land. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, evenly-paced, and thrilling third chapter in the Screamcatcher series, author Chris Stevenson’s “The Shimmering Eye” is a must-read fantasy and science fiction novel of the year. Powerful imagery and great character evolution really make this story shine brightly, and is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Check out my blog GUERRILLA WARFARE FOR WRITERS (SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS):

Christy’s Young Adult Fabuliers:

About me

Gender Male

Industry Science

Occupation Novelist and Science Writer

Location Sylvania, Alabama, United States

Links Wishlist

Introduction Been writing for 32 years, publishing novels, non-fiction books, radio horror plays, short stories, reviews, interviews, poetry and thousands of non-fiction automotive articles. I’m on my third agent, and have had 10 books and twenty-two short stories published, beginning in 1988. Writing Credits and History BOOK CREDITS: Auto Repair Shams and Scams (Forward–Ralph Nader), 1990, Price Stern & Sloan, Los Angeles–226 pages, non-fiction, consumer warning book. Garage Sale Mania, 1988, Betterway Publications, Crozet, Virginia–190 pages, non-fiction book—1988. Word Wars, a SF novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—May, 2007. Once Upon a Goddess, a Fantasy novel, to Rain Publishing, Canada—January, 2008 Planet Janitor—Custodian of the Stars, a SF novel sold to Engage Books, May 2009 Gate Walker, a Paranormal Fantasy, sold Lyrical Press—January, 2009. The Wolfen Strain, a fantasy thriller sold to LBF Books, February 2009

The Girll They Sold to the Moon, Intrigue Books

Blackmailed Bride to Melange Satin Romance. Screamcatcher: Web World by Melange Books.

Interests Hiking, paleontology, Ufos, cryptozoology, bigfoot, astronomy, lake monsters, ancient Egypt, archeology, geology

Favorite Movies Blade Runner, Time Cop, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Logun’s Run, Transformers, The Time Machine, Kickass

Favorite Music REM, Abbaa, When in Rome, Steve Miller Band, SF and fantasy soundtracks.

Favorite Books Icerigger, Virgin Planet, Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Lord of the Flies, Black Marble, Close Encounters, The Island, Black Marble, Dune, Riverworld, The Mote In God’s eye

How many books have I published? 10 to date, with three out on agent subs, and five more in the wings ready to go.

Amazon Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Harold-Stevenson/e/B001K8UUBK

Christy’s Website:  https://christysyoungadultfabuliers.com/

Blog:  http://guerrillawarfareforwriters.blogspot.com/

The Rising Tide: Liminal Sky: The Ariadne Cycle Book 2 by J. Scott Coatsworth Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Years after Earth’s destruction, those who survived travel on the generational ship Forever, but face troubles as a series of events could lead to the total loss of free will and humanity as we know it in author J. Scott Coatsworth’s “The Rising Tide”, the second book in the Liminal Sky: The Ariadne Cycle series. 

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The Synopsis

Earth is dead. Five years later, the remnants of humanity travel through the stars inside Forever: a living, ever-evolving, self-contained generation ship. When Eddy Tremaine and Andy Hammond find a hidden world-within-a-world under the mountains, the discovery triggers a chain of events that could fundamentally alter or extinguish life as they know it, culminate in the takeover of the world mind, and end free will for humankind. Eddy, Andy, and a handful of other unlikely heroes—people of every race and identity, and some who aren’t even human—must find the courage and ingenuity to stand against the rising tide. Otherwise they might be living through the end days of human history. 

The Review

This was a brilliant sequel to author J. Scott Coatsworth’s first novel in this amazing new sci-fi series. As in the first book the author takes the time to split the book into three parts over the course of several years. Getting to see the evolution of this ship carrying the remaining humans was inspired, from those who knew and loved on Earth and their struggle to adapt to their new home to future generations who know only the generation ship, this was a genius storytelling device. 

What really stands out is the variety and depth of the characters the author utilizes in this book. Jumping around into different generations definitely gives readers new characters rotating into the plot, as well as the Immortals who are part of the ship’s hive-mind. The complex nature of these characters and their connection to the ship help drive the mysterious events of this narrative that put humanity in such danger of losing themselves, making this an instant hit read. 

The Verdict

A stunning, lengthy yet passionate read, author J. Scott Coatsworth’s “The Rising Tide” is a phenomenal sequel that deepens the mythology of the series in a wonderful way. The evolution of mankind and the way they connect to the hivemind of the ship is great to see unfold, and the growing cast of characters help keep the reader invested in this extensive and fantastic mythos the author has crafted. This is a story of survival, love, and of evolving and learning to let the past stay in the past. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author 

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently–he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband, Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.

Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Website/Blog: www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Dreamspinner Page: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1189

QueeRomance Ink Author Page: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

Hinterland by L.M. Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Trigger Warning: Themes revolving around mental illness are present in this novel. If you or someone you know suffers from illnesses such as schizophrenia and are easily triggered by these storylines, reader discretion is advised.

A husband and father trying to take care of his wife and child finds himself struggling as a childhood friend returns home, bringing complex feelings back to the surface and a dark secret threatens to tear apart his family in author LM. Brown’s “Hinterland”. 

The Synopsis

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

The Review

This was a well written, slow-burn style mix of family drama and thriller. The author explores two important themes in this narrative: the lengths a parent would go to in order to protect their child, and the hardships of trying to care for someone suffering from a severe mental illness. 

The protagonist Nicholas is a complex man, with both many faults and a desire to protect his daughter Kate from heartbreaking truths. From the return of his childhood friend Ina to the struggle he has with his wife Kathleen and her struggle with a serious mental illness, the author beautifully focuses on character development to highlight the story within this book. 

The Verdict

An emotionally charged, dramatic, and evenly paced read, author L.M. Brown’s “Hinterland” is a must-read thriller drama. The heartbreaking circumstances that push Nicholas and his family to the edge are truly engaging and keep the reader on the edge of their seat, and definitely felt like the delivery of the narrative was very reminiscent of a classic Hitchcock thriller. If you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab it on October 13th, 2020!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

L.M Brown is the author of novels Debris and Hinterland, and the linked short story collections Treading The Uneven Road and Were We Awake. Her award winning stories have been published in over a dozen magazines. She grew up in Ireland but lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaBrownAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/l.m_brown/

The Day Lincoln Lost By Charles Rosenberg Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A web of conspiracy and corruption makes it’s way into one of the United States most impactful elections in the historical fiction thriller “The Day Lincoln Lost” by Charles Rosenberg. 

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The Synopsis

An inventive historical thriller that reimagines the tumultuous presidential election of 1860, capturing the people desperately trying to hold the nation together – and those trying to crack it apart.

Abby Kelley Foster arrived in Springfield, Illinois with the fate of the nation on her mind. Her fame as an abolitionist speaker had spread west and she knew that her first speech in the city would make headlines. One of the residents reading those headlines would be none other than the likely next President of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln, lawyer and presidential candidate, knew his chances of winning were good. All he had to do was stay above the fray of the slavery debate and appear the voice of compromise until the people cast their votes. The last thing he needed was a fiery abolitionist appearing in town. When her speech sparks violence, leading to her arrest and a high-profile trial, he suspects that his political rivals have conspired against him.

President James Buchanan is one such rival. As his term ends and his political power crumbles, he gathers his advisors at the White House to make one last move that might derail Lincoln’s campaign, steal the election, and throw America into chaos.

A fascinating historical novel and fast-paced political thriller of a nation on the cusp of civil war, The Day Lincoln Lost offers an unexpected window into one of the most consequential elections in our country’s history.

The Review

A truly unique and fascinating story that comes along during a time where our world is facing more injustice and painful experiences in the fight to bring equality and recognition to all people, not just a select few, author Charles Rosenberg’s “The Day Lincoln Lost” is a much needed political thriller with a historical fiction bend. 

The author does a great job of utilizing historical figures into the narrative while also giving ample room for new characters to come along for the narrative and bring about a new depth to the theme of racial equality. The horrors that the Black Community faced during this time period of slavery are showcased greatly within this narrative, and show that although slavery has ended, discrimination and hatred are still very much alive in this day and age, and only by learning from the past can we change. 

The Verdict

A good mixture of meaningful lessons and an intriguing political thriller that highlights the complex fight to end slavery and how the more prominent figures of that time rose to the level people now know them for, the author does an amazing job of introducing enough new material to keep readers invested in the narrative. Fans of the Historical Fiction genre and political thrillers will not be able to put this book down, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author:

Charles Rosenberg is the author of the legal thriller Death on a High Floor and its sequels. The credited legal consultant to the TV shows LA Law, Boston Legal, The Practice, and The Paper Chase, he was also one of two on-air legal analysts for E! Television’s coverage of the O.J. Simpson criminal and civil trials. He teaches as an adjunct law professor at Loyola Law School and has also taught at UCLA, Pepperdine and Southwestern law schools. He practices law in the Los Angeles area.

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.charlesrosenbergauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlesRosenbergAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/whomdunnit

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whomdunnit/

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Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Day-Lincoln-Lost-Charles-Rosenberg/dp/1335145222

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-day-lincoln-lost-charles-rosenberg/1133354517

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/the-day-lincoln-lost/9781335145222

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335145222

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/9781335145222?AID=10747236&PID=7651142&cjevent=dcfae1e7924811ea828701380a1c0e12

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/audiobook/the-day-lincoln-lost-1

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-day-lincoln-lost/id1478903595?ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Charles_Rosenberg_The_Day_Lincoln_Lost?id=x0CtDwAAQBAJ

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-day-lincoln-lost/9781335145222-item.html?ikwsec=Books&ikwidx=2#algoliaQueryId=0cb52dcdba3b997f62ee33523e57409f

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Kentucky

Early August, 1860

Lucy Battelle’s birthday was tomorrow. She would be twelve. Or at least that was what her mother told her. Lucy knew the date might not be exact, because Riverview Plantation didn’t keep close track of when slaves were born. Or when they died, for that matter. They came, they worked and they went to their heavenly reward. Unless, of course, they were sold off to somewhere else.

There had been a lot of selling-off of late. The Old Master, her mother told her, had at least known how to run a plantation. And while their food may have been wretched at times, there had always been enough. But the Old Master had died years before Lucy was born. His eldest son, Ezekiel Goshorn, had inherited Riverview.

Ezekiel was cruel, and he had an eye for young black women, although he stayed away from those who had not yet developed. Lucy has seen him looking at her of late, though. She was thin, and very tall for her age—someone had told her she looked like a young tree—and when she looked at herself naked, she could tell that her breasts were beginning to come. “You are pretty,” her mother said, which sent a chill through her.

Whatever his sexual practices, Goshorn had no head for either tobacco farming or business, and Riverview was visibly suffering for it, and not only for a shortage of food. Lucy could see that the big house was in bad need of painting and other repairs, and the dock on the river, which allowed their crop to be sent to market, looked worse and worse every year. By now it was half-falling-down. Slaves could supply the labor to repair things, of course, but apparently Goshorn couldn’t afford the materials.

Last year, a blight had damaged almost half the tobacco crop. Goshorn had begun to sell his slaves south to make ends meet.

In the slave quarter, not a lot was really known about being sold south, except that it was much hotter there, the crop was harder-to-work cotton instead of tobacco and those who went didn’t come back. Ever.

Several months earlier, two of Lucy’s slightly older friends had been sold, and she had watched them manacled and put in the back of a wagon, along with six others. Her friends were sobbing as the wagon moved away. Lucy was dry-eyed because then and there she had decided to escape.

Others had tried to escape before her, of course, but most had been caught and brought back. When they arrived back, usually dragged along in chains by slave catchers, Goshorn—or one of his five sons—had whipped each of them near to death. A few had actually died, but most had been nursed back to at least some semblance of health by the other slaves.

Lucy began to volunteer to help tend to them—to feed them, put grease on their wounds, hold their hands while they moaned and carry away the waste from their bodies. Most of all, though, she had listened to their stories—especially to what had worked and what had failed.

One thing she had learned was that they used hounds to pursue you, and that the hounds smelled any clothes you left behind to track you. One man told her that another man who had buried his one pair of extra pants in the woods before he left—not hard to do because slaves had so little—had not been found by the dogs.

Still another man said a runaway needed to take a blanket because as you went north, it got colder, especially at night, even in the summer. And you needed to find a pair of boots that would fit you. Lucy had tried on her mother’s boots—the ones she used in the winter—and they fit. Her mother would find another pair, she was sure.

The hard thing was the Underground Railroad. They had all heard about it. They had even heard the masters damning it. Lucy had long understood that it wasn’t actually underground and wasn’t even a railroad. It was just people, white and black, who helped you escape—who fed you, hid you in safe houses and moved you, sometimes by night, sometimes under a load of hay or whatever they had that would cover you.

The problem was you couldn’t always tell which ones were real railroaders and which ones were slave catchers posing as railroaders. The slaves who came back weren’t much help about how to tell the difference because most had guessed wrong. Lucy wasn’t too worried about it. She had not only the optimism of youth, but a secret that she thought would surely help her.

Tonight was the night. Over the past few days she had dug a deep hole in the woods where she could bury her tiny stash of things that might carry her smell. For weeks before that, she had foraged and dug for mushrooms in the woods, and so no one seemed to pay much mind to her foraging and digging earlier that day. As she left, she planned to take the now-too-small shift she had secretly saved from last year’s allotment—her only extra piece of clothing—along with her shoes and bury them in the hole. That way the dogs could not take her smell from anything left behind. She would take the blanket she slept in with her.

She had also saved up small pieces of smoked meat so that she had enough—she hoped—to sustain her for a few days until she could locate the Railroad. She dropped the meat into a small cloth bag and hung it from a string tied around her waist, hidden under her shift.

Her mother had long ago fallen asleep, and the moon had set. Even better, it was cloudy and there was no starlight. Lucy put on her mother’s boots, stepped outside the cabin and looked toward the woods.

As she started to move, Ezekiel Goshorn appeared in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere, along with two of his sons and said, “Going somewhere, Lucy?”

“I’m just standing here.”

“Hold out your arms.”

“Why?”

“Hold out your arms!”

She hesitated but finally did as he asked, and one of his sons, the one called Amasa, clamped a pair of manacles around her wrists. “We’ve been watching you dig in the woods,” he said. “Planning a trip perhaps?”

Lucy didn’t answer.

“Well, we have a little trip to St. Louis planned for you instead.”

As Ezekiel pushed her along, she turned to see if her mother had been awakened by the noise. If she had, she hadn’t come out of the cabin. Probably afraid. Lucy had been only four the first time she’d seen Ezekiel Goshorn flog her mother, and that was not the last time she’d been forced to stand there and hear her scream.

Eden Rising (Eden Rising #1) by Andrew Cunningham Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young teens find themselves in a fight for survival as they become one of the few survivors of a planet-ending event, and must discover how far they are willing to go in order to live in author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

“The Earth died in less than a minute. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. It’s not like the planet ceased to exist altogether. It just seemed like it. Cities were reduced to rubble. Millions of people died that day. I’ve since been told that 95% of the Earth’s human population was wiped out. I don’t know if that’s true—I mean, who can know that for sure? It’s not like we still have any of the technology that we once used to determine such things. But I do know that it was almost empty of people—live ones, that is…”

Thus begins the journey of Ben and Lila, two ordinary teenagers forced to rise to extraordinary heights when faced with a world that has suddenly and inexplicably died. Dealing with the sorrow of all they have lost, but the love they have found in each other, they set off on an odyssey that will bring them to the limits of human endurance and face to face with the frailty of their very existence. From the extreme violence of many of the surviving humans toward one another, to a world physically falling apart at the seams, Ben and Lila are determined to make it through the devastation in their quest for a place to quietly share their life together. In the process, they have to become as violent as the world around them in order to survive, while struggling to hold onto the humanity that will keep them sane. Eden Rising is a survival tale and a love story, but it is also a book that delves deeply into the human psyche to discover just how far we would go to survive, and how much inner strength can be found when things are at their absolute worst.

The Review

This audiobook was not only well read, but incredibly well-written. The action kicks up immediately, as the two protagonists find themselves going from awkward teen romance hanging in the air to waking up and finding the people of the world dead. 

The author does an amazing job of leaning hard into the dystopian YA sci-fi genre, while also bringing a maturity to the narrative by examining the psychological affect an apocalyptic event like this would have on any survivors, let alone two young teens forced to grow up very quickly. The pain of the loss brings to them a bond that highlights a growing romance, while the horrors they endure in the narrative and the lines they must contend with crossing showcase complex and deep character developments, a key to this novel’s pacing and delivery overall.

The Verdict

A must-read, heart-pounding audiobook and novel, author Andrew Cunningham’s “Eden Rising”, the first in the Eden Rising series, is an edge of your seat dystopian YA novel that is not to be missed. Memorable characters, romance and deep psychological character studies all define this amazing novel, and readers will not be able to get enough of this wonderful work. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author 

Andrew Cunningham is the author ten novels, including the award-winning Amazon bestselling thriller Wisdom Spring; the “Lies” Mystery Series (All Lies, Fatal Lies, Vegas Lies, Secrets & Lies, and Blood Lies); the Cape Cod terrorist/disaster thriller Deadly Shore; and the post-apocalyptic Eden Rising Series (Eden Rising, Eden Lost, and Eden’s Legacy). As A.R. Cunningham, he has written a series of 5 humorous children’s mysteries in the Arthur MacArthur series for middle-readers. Formerly an interpreter for the deaf and a long-time independent bookseller, Andrew has been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for the last 18 years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, Andrew finally gave up active training when his body said, “Enough already!” Andrew was a long-time resident of Cape Cod, and he and his wife now live in Florida. He can be contacted at info@arcnovels.com. Visit his website at www.arcnovels.com. He can also be found on Facebook (Author Andrew Cunningham), and Twitter (@arcnovels).

Blood and Silver by Vali Benson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl must find a way to save her mother from a nefarious Madame in the town of Tombstone in author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver”. 

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The Synopsis

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

The Review

This was a fast-paced, intricate character study and intense YA historical read. The author does a great job of focusing on character development within the narrative, and the historical nature of the novel was very well researched and integrated naturally into the book as well. 

The story takes off immediately from the very first pages, with a murder leading to Carissa’s discovery of her mother’s condition and the lengths Miss Lucille will go to secure her business. The young woman risks it all to save those closest to her, and historical fiction and YA fans will love the intricate way the setting plays into the character’s arc and the narrative overall. 

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The Verdict

A must-read novel, author Vali Benson’s “Blood and Silver” is a truly one-of-a-kind read. The historical fiction YA adventure is filled with a gritty Western theme and does a great job of giving a voice to people who are usually relegated to background characters in the typical Western novel, making this a wonderful read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Vali grew up in the Midwest. She now lives in Tucson with her husband, two sons and grandchildren.

After graduating from the University of Illinois, Vali started and sold two successful businesses before she decided to pursue her real passion of writing. She published several articles in a variety of periodicals, including History Magazine before she decided to try her hand at fiction.

In April of 2020, Vali published her first novel, “Blood and Silver”. That same month, she was also made a member of the Western Writers of America.

Website:

Amazon:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53167218-blood-and-silver

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/RealValiBenson/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Interview with Author J. Scott Coatsworth

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My mom got me into reading sci fi and fantasy in elementary, and by the end of third grade I’d read the Lord of the Rings cover to cover. I remember my teacher saying I read at the twelfth grade level LOL…

I always wanted to do what those authors did – painting whole worlds that other people could escape into. Pern, Trantor, Majipoor… so many pretty worlds to visit. Only there were no gay characters – no one like me. Well, there were those green dragon riders…

So I decided to write sci fi and fantasy that included a real diversity of characters.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I wrote my first novel just out of high school, and it will NEVER see the light of day. LOL… But my second one did get sent out to ten big NYC publishers. It was a fantasy/sci fi hybrid story about a world called Forever, and it was roundly rejected. I kinda stopped writing for a couple decades. When I finally ventured back into the waters, I picked up the story, and decided to tell the origin tale of Forever. And so “The Stark Divide” was born.

What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The main theme that runs through book one is redemption. This is especially true for Ana’s journey from ship’s doctor to villain to almost godlike status. But the book is also about hope – that somehow we will find a way to go on, even if everything seems lost. That’s a recurring theme in a lot of my work.

What drew you into this particular genre?

My mom’s sci fi shelf. She was a member of the Science Fiction book club, and new sci fi and fantasy books arrived at our home with an alarming regularity. She has these big shelves in what we called the spare bedroom, and they were double-stacked with her books. After I finished Lord of the Rings, I devoured Pern and then the Foundation, and just about everything else she had. I was hooked.

If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oooh. I’d ask Jackson what he found out about the Divine. He was the first religious character I included in one of my books, and he was less so than his wife Glory. But he was also the first to make the leap to seeing the Divine in the bio minds that ran the Dressler and eventually all of Forever. I’m a bit of an agnostic myself, but I remain open to the possibility of something greater than us, and this was my way of exploring that possibility.

What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve never been able to reach the numbers of folks in the way I can with the site. That said, we have a bit of a love-hate relationship. I don’t like a number of their company policies, and have been in Facebook jail a fair number of times. But at the moment it’s the best way to reach people in the way that I need to grow my readership.

I also like Prolific Works, specifically for growing my email list.

What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Stick with it. I wish I had never stopped. At World Con in 2018, I attended a panel with an author who started when I did but never stopped, and who now has an amazing career as a sci fi/fantasy author. It was a wake-up moment, but despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to build a time machine yet. So I have to make the best of where I am now.

What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

So many things. I am currently shopping my novel Dropnauts to a bunch of agents with an eye to finally snagging one of those NYC publishers. It’s set in the same universe as The Stark Divide, and tells the tale of what happened back on Earth after the Crash.

I’m also writing a new novel tentatively titled “Twin Moons Rising.” It’s set in the same universe as “The Last Run” and is another fantasy/sci fi hybrid. My short story “Tharassan Rain” (out on sub to a number of spec fic mags) is also set on this world.

And I’m subbing a bunch of other shorts as well.

Once I finish this book, I’ll probably return to Liminal Sky (The Stark Divide’s universe) and start telling the “middle” stories – the ones between the Ariadne Cycle (The Stark Divide, The Rising Tide and The Shoreless Sea) and the Oberon Cycle (Skythane, Lander, and Ithani).

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

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About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently–he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband, Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.

Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Website/Blog: www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Dreamspinner Page: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1189

QueeRomance Ink Author Page: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

The Stark Divide: Liminal Sky #1 by J. Scott Coatsworth Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

As Earth is on the verge of collapse, one of three ships makes the journey across the stars to find a new home as several generations look to become humanity’s future in author J. Scott Coatsworth’s “The Stark Divide”, the first in the Liminal Sky series. 

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The Synopsis

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

The Review

A truly engaging, emotional and heartfelt sci-fi epic that does a phenomenal job of setting up the saga the author has laid out before readers. The way the author is able to take a universally used concept of Earth on the verge of destruction and humanity’s last hope and blend this theme into a wholly original mythology and sci-fi goodness was a real work of art. 

The defining drive behind this novel was the amazing character development. These characters quickly became the heart of the story, showcasing the diversity and natural way the characters interacted with one another in this sci-fi epic story. The author’s use of LGBTQ+ characters felt natural and part of the fabric of this universe the author has created more than something forced, making these characters and their stories shine brighter than ever before. 

The Verdict

A truly one of a kind read filled with action, emotionally charged stories spanning multiple generations, and a wonderful cast of characters, this is a great sci-fi story that is not to be missed. The Stark Divide is a magnificent story filled with a unique mythology surrounding the survival of the human race, and the eloquent mixture of epic sci-fi with personal character growth and interactions make this a truly memorable read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently–he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband, Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.

Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Website/Blog: www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Dreamspinner Page: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1189

QueeRomance Ink Author Page: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

SARGE!: Cases of a Chicago Police Detective Sergeant In The 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s by John DiMaggio Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A thorough exploration of what being a CPD officer/detective sergeant in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s takes center stage in the late author John DiMaggio’s “SARGE!”. 

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The Synopsis

“SARGE!” is a fascinating memoir by the late Chicago Police Detective Sergeant John A. DiMaggio, one of the most decorated officers on the force during a career that spanned the years 1957 to 1991. Among his awards are two Superintendent’s Awards of Valor, Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Praiseworthy Acknowledgment Plaque for Exceptional Act of Bravery Involving Risk of Life, a Presidential Citation of Appreciation, the Illinois Police Association Award of Valor, and many more.Upon his retirement in 1991, DiMaggio wrote a fascinating account of his work as a cop. The manuscript languished among his personal effects until after his death in 2008, after which his family decided to resurrect it, spruce it up, and submit it for publication. It turns out that he was an excellent word craftsman and storyteller; in fact, he was no stranger to writing—for many years he wrote the “Ask Sarge” column for the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter newsletter.Told in a conversational, “regular guy” voice in episodic fashion, “SARGE!” reveals to the reader what it was really like to be a cop. The manuscript in many ways takes the form of a prose treatment of a weekly television police drama. A large selection of PHOTOS is included.DiMaggio takes the reader back to the decades such as the turbulent 1960s, when the police department was making a painful transition from “old school” to modernization. The author describes firsthand the legendary riots that occurred in Chicago after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He illustrates the integration of minorities into the department and how that played out. He also goes into famous cases of corruption and the politics of navigating such a large department. One of the “set pieces” of the book is the story of how DiMaggio, as part of the “Three Musketeers”—a trio that included two detectives who were close friends—investigated a series terrifying slasher attacks on women that occurred in the city in the mid-70s. The case became one of the police department’s most memorable. Among the other cases detailed in the book include how DiMaggio found himself entering the home of a crazed young man holding hostages with a shotgun; the investigation of the discovery of a headless corpse; the take-down of the Chicago “Mad Bomber”; how an anonymous audio tape provided clues to the identities of armed robbers; and the manhunt for a cop killer.

A portion of all proceeds will be donated to The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation and The Chicago Police Foundation.

The Review

This was a very well-written, engaging and thoughtful read. This memoir by the late author showcases a vibrant and powerful career as a police officer, from his early years handling emotional cases of attempted suicides and anti-mob task forces that formed in the city to hostage situations and medical procedures from on the job injuries that nearly left him unable to walk again. 

The author uses his years of expertise to highlight the inner workings of the police department of Chicago, how they handle situations and how that has evolved over the decades. The personal way the author writes allows the reader to feel connected to the author’s life and stories, while the chapters are formatted to feel like a crime drama unfolding before the reader’s eyes. 

The Verdict

A must-read memoir, SARGE! by John DiMaggio is a evenly paced and extensive book. The author’s life and experiences are engaging and draw the reader in fully, showcasing how the police department has evolved over the years while highlighting a full and experienced career of a fine officer. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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The Chicago Tribune recently published the article written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Rick Kogan: https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-chicago-cop-book-sarge-kogan-1008-20191007-usmsew4pdffqpi7hoskkachboi-story.html

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42641930-sarge