Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

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.

Posted in Interviews

Author Interview with Andrew (A.G.) Rivett

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

I think rather, writing got into me. At school I found writing a good way of expressing my imagination, while reading showed me how to do it. My father was always one for good speech. He taught physics, but he told his pupils that all they knew about physics was worthless if they couldn’t express it in English.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

Two huge literary influences on me as I was growing up were JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. Of course they have a lot in common, not least that they worked together at Oxford. And also they have this: an imagination to create other worlds – many other worlds in Lewis’ case, and worlds where some sort of passage between is, rarely, possible.

Placing my own new world in a Celtic setting I blame on the last holiday my first wife, Janice, and I had together, on the west coast of Ireland, maybe twenty years ago. The untamed landscape and rugged coast; the self-contained, straightforward nature of the people; the transient weather. I had several chapters written – later to be torn up – long before I moved to the croft on Scoraig.

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

If nothing else, I hope people will gain a glimpse that the prevailing materialist world-view is very limited: that there is so much more to life. Organised religion has done us no service in this regard, with a quite undue emphasis on rigid dogma and rules: dogmas that are too often taken too literally, causing many intelligent people to reject spirituality en bloc.

I don’t apologise at all for the spirituality in Seaborne. Not only is it appropriate that such a people would have a highly developed spiritual sense, but also this is so much what I want to express.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Mostly, laziness. A fantasy genre means that you can invent your own world, and needn’t be too tied down by research. The only catch is that if you want your world to be believable, you find you then have to research what a parallel culture in our own world would look like, and make your world something like that. I take my guidance from Jill Paton-Walsh’s Knowledge of Angels, set on an island ‘somewhat like Mallorca, but not Mallorca.’

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So I had to do a fair amount of research into what life was like in the eleventh century on the Western Isles, and I have Cathy Dagg, a former neighbour and archaeologist, to thank for much of that. Among many other points, she picked out that houses on the Western Isles in the eleventh century didn’t have the chimneys that I had alluded to. Of course I could just say, for instance, that in my world they do; but every time you say that before someone who knows otherwise, you lose some credibility and distance yourself further from our world, the one that you want to speak to.

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

I thought a lot about this question: which character? There are many candidates. Eventually I settled on my hero, John (or Dhion). I think I’d like to ask him, maybe a few years after the book ends, ‘Do you think you made the right choice? Or have you thrown away a life that you could have returned to and lived it with a deeper wisdom, long, comfortable and secure. Have you thrown that away for (as Conchis in John Fowles’ The Magus puts it) ‘the satisfaction of a passing sexual attraction’?

The John whom we first meet, running away from his failures, could not have answered that question, and felt he didn’t have a choice. But as the story progresses he grows in depth: he becomes Dhion. 

I think he would answer that this is no passing sexual attraction. He is not choosing Shinane instead of Helen: in the end he is choosing the self he has come to be with Shinane, and with that a world that seems more real than the one he left behind, in which he had felt driven by the demands of his work to betray everything else, and everyone else, of value in his life. It is a choice between two world views. I think of Archbishop Thomas A’Becket in TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral. His first three tempters offer him material advantage in various ways, but he knew, as Dhion knows now, that there is more, so much more, than mere materialism.

Will Dhion regret his choice when he lies dying? I think he might, for more than a moment. But, as Shinane says of herself, who knows what he will think in the future. The point is to live most authentically, now. I think of Robert Jordan in Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls as he lies dying, casualty of the Spanish Civil War. And yet, with Maria, for a fleeting few hours, he had known something that Pilar, the wise older woman of the novel, says most people never experience. Who is to say that wasn’t worth it.

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

For six months or so, while Seaborne was coming up to launch and after, I kept a Facebook page going, and this was helpful in building up an audience for a book-launch tour. But I’m not someone who engages with social media, or enjoys it, and I’ve totally ignored my Facebook page for a few months now. There always seems to be something I’d much rather be doing, out in the field with my hands – or getting on with my next novel.

However, my wife, Gillian Paschkes-Bell, and I do have it in mind to set up a website to include the books we write or edit, with an added blog content about what we’ve been reading or thinking. Probably next year, when we’ve finished the self-build we’re currently working on. Perhaps then I can re-awaken my Facebook page and link it in with that.

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

Study English grammar, syntax and punctuation, and cultivate a deep enjoyment of the sound of language. It’s only when you thoroughly understand the rules of good writing that you can begin to break them, appreciating the cost of doing so.

Study people – their appearance, mannerisms, ways of talking, unconscious leaks of feeling in facial or bodily expression.

Play with ideas – the ‘what if?’ sort of ideas. What if the world was flat? If the Russian Revolution had never happened? If the Civil War had been won by the South? If there really are fairies at the bottom of your garden? Or what would it be like to be an unmarried mother in the Puritan colonies back in the seventeenth century? A fisherman in the westernmost parts of the British Isles of the eleventh century?

And read. See how the experts do it. Read anything but trash.

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

I think I’m clear about what the future doesn’t hold for me: fame, wealth, best-sellers, Booker Prizes. I write because I love writing and I love the worlds I can create with my writing, and I’m grateful that enough people have appreciated what I’ve written, first to publish it and then to purchase the book and read it – and say they found the readingworthwhile and make complimentary comments about it after.

I want to complete the trilogy of which Seaborne is the first book, and I have a first draft completed of Book II; but I alsohave lots of other things I want to do. I’m an inveterate fixer – I can’t stand anything that doesn’t work without taking it to pieces and putting it together again. Between us, Gillian and I have built our house – with a lot of help from people who actually knew what they were doing – and there are still many things both inside and outside the house that need finishing. And a whole eco-system that needs encouraging out there on the field where we have the privilege to live.

Finally, I am myself a project that needs finishing – and probably won’t be finished in this lifetime. I have a lot of flaws, and side-shoots that need to be pruned away, and branches that must be encouraged and brought to fruition. When all’s said and done, that’s the most important project for each of us – and the most exciting.

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About the Author

Andrew (A.G.) Rivett was born in London. He has lived in England, Nigeria, Scotland (where The Seaborne was drafted) and now in Wales.

The inspiration for The Seaborne, his debut novel, came twenty years ago on holiday in Ireland, at which time he wrote some opening chapters, relics of which remain in the published book. The Seaborne, the first book of the planned Island trilogy, was published in November 2019.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

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).

Posted in reviews

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

Posted in Interviews

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

Posted in reviews

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

Posted in reviews

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

Posted in reviews

The Patient by Linda Thackeray Review

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

After centuries of the realm of magic being separated from humanity, one psychiatric doctor, one homicide detective and a slew of others are about to discover the hidden evil that threatens the world and the magic that has been hidden from them for so long in author Linda Thackeray’s “The Patient”. 

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The Synopsis

Four hundred years ago, the elven realm lost their greatest magician to the modern world. Now, they are returning to avenge the forces that took him…

When the world was known as Avalyne, humans and magical beings lived in harmony upon it. But over time, the elves retreated behind the Veil that separates the modern world from the magical realm.

In the present day, New York psychiatrist Doctor Dan Ellis finds himself treating an elderly homeless man, brought in for vandalizing the imposing Malcolm Industries building. The old man insists on calling Dan ‘War Dragon’ but can recall nothing of his own past or identity.

But Dan is not the only one interested in the old man’s treatment. Malcolm Industries are keen for Doctor Ellis to hand the petty criminal over to them, for reasons unexplained…

Meanwhile, three elven brothers slip from behind the Veil to search the world for the evil that befell their greatest protector. But all is not as it appears, and it seems their allies are every bit as concealed as their foes.

As Dan struggles to reinstate his patient’s memory, he discovers a dangerous secret that threatens not only his life, but the lives of those around him.

Can magic triumph over an invisible evil that has ruled the planet for centuries?

SCROLL UP AND GRAB YOUR COPY TODAY!

The Review

This was a phenomenal and truly unique fantasy read. What starts out as a psychological thriller/drama tone quickly shifts into a full-fledged fantasy realm that turns the genre on its head. 

What really stands out here is the author’s creation of creative new mythology. The fusion of not only magical realms but incorporating it into the history of our own world and even the origins of one of the greatest legends of the world, that of King Arthur. The relationship developed between characters like Dan and his allies only serves to enhance the growing mythology of the author’s brand new mythology. 

The Verdict

Evenly paced, action-packed, and hard-hitting, this is a must-read summer fantasy read. Full of grit and creativity, the story’s shifts in tone are quite natural and engaging to readers, and the story leaves the audience wanting more from what one can only hope becomes a prominent new fantasy series. Be sure to grab your copy of “The Patient” by Linda Thackeray today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in a village in Malaysia and delivered by underpaid midwife, and Ann, an irritable new mother (who wouldn’t be after 48 hours in labour?), X was named by a deranged grandmother with too much creativity for her own good. Once out of her pain-induced stupor, Ann decided to give her new daughter a proper middle name to avoid the risk of being put into a home later in life.

And so, she was called Linda.

Linda was an unremarkable child, save a few notable incidents, the discovery that a pot lid is not a substitute for Wonder Woman’s tiara (five stitches), four-year old don’t need to shave (no stitches but lots of toilet paper) and utility truck drivers are not necessarily qualified operators of their vehicles (seventy stitches).

At eight, Linda received religious enlightenment when she saw Star Wars at the Odeon Theatre and hence began her writing career.

For many years, the cages of various pets in the Thackeray household were littered with pages from Linda’s scribblings. Subjects usually ranged from whatever science fiction show was on television or at the movies. There was lots of Star Wars.

At 17, Linda moved to Sydney, Australia and was disappointed it was not occupied by Paul Hogan types with big knives and croc skin jackets but pot-bellied blokes with zinc cream and terry towel hats. Linda’s father (also known as that bloke who buys me stuff to piss mum off when she’s mad at him) settled in the town of Young, a community of 6000 people with no movie theatre.

Linda survived this period in the wilderness by raising kangaroos and writing original works but eventually got saddled down with the necessities of life and though she continued to write, work came first. Work, HBO, comic books and rent. It’s a kaleidoscope.

Even the kangaroos left out of boredom.

In 2014, Linda decided to start writing seriously again. Mostly because Australia’s strict gun laws make it very difficult to ‘go postal’ in the workplace. Moving to Woy Woy, which is Aboriginal for ‘Big Water’, she’s dipped her toes into the Indie pool and found she needs a pedicure. Her books are labours of love and championed by her friends on Facebook.

Eventually Creativia Publishers, appalled by Linda’s inability to conduct any marketing, offered to publish her books out of sheer exasperation.

Supported by two cats named Newt and Humphrey, she spends her days trying to write novels while having unclean thoughts about Michael Fassbender and Jason Statham, sometimes together.

Author Page: https://www.lthackeray.com/

Amazon Central Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Thackeray/e/B00NE63G76/


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Scribee31oz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Scribe31oz


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8331182.Linda_Thackeray

Posted in reviews

The Ocean Raiders by Jackson Coppley Review

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

Nicholas Fox returns as a mysterious artifact tied to the ocean and the death of a close friend lead him to a mysterious villain named Frost and a group of assassins in author Jackson Coppley’s “The Ocean Raiders”. 

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The Synopsis

More Action and Adventure

With

Nicholas Foxe and His Team of Code Hunters

Nicholas Foxe jets to Venice to spend time with an old flame. Expecting romance, Nick instead finds himself immersed in murder and intrigue.

Nevin Dowd, a billionaire who owns a number of high-tech companies, is in Venice to help save the city from the next big flood. His underwater excavation work uncovers a mysterious object with curious markings. He calls on Nick to decipher the code.

In Istanbul, British intelligence discovers an ancient letter which tells of a machine hidden in the ocean that can draw massive power from seawater, but at enormous risk. Is this seawater energy machine connected to the object Nick is trying to decipher?

In Switzerland, Nick’s team guards a device that contains advanced knowledge, including details of the seawater energy machine. A group of assassins working for someone known only as Frost, attempts to steal it. Who is Frost, and is he responsible for the murder of someone close to Nick?

Can Nick and his team of code hunters get to the machine first before it destroys Venice?

The Review

One of the hardest things an author can do is not only maintain but capitalize on the momentum of a first novel and put it all into the sequel, and yet that is exactly what author Jackson Coppley has done. The action, the intrigue and the mystery all came together naturally and left me as a reader on the edge of my seat. 

The author equally balances the sci-fi and historical action and mythology with great character development in this sequel. The shocking turn of events through the novel keeps readers invested in the protagonist Nick Fox’s journey, and the reveal of the mysterious Frost will leave readers floored as the nefarious actions of the criminal are revealed. 

The Verdict

An evenly paced action-adventure and science fiction narrative, author Jackson Coppley does a marvelous job of upping the stakes and drama of this harrowing historical fiction/sci-fi series with “The Ocean Raiders”. Full of intrigue, romantic promise, heartbreak and unimaginable threats, this is the perfect summer thriller for fans of a good action-adventure read, so be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jackson Coppley, a consummate storyteller, illuminates in his writing what happens when technology intersects with human behavior and emotion. Coppley weaves his stories from a sophisticated knowledge of technology and an understanding of human behavior. Coppley’s resume includes a dynamic career with leading world communications and technology companies, and the launching of what the press called “a revolutionary software program” during the rise of personal computing. As a world traveler, Coppley developed an interest in and an understanding of cultural differences and nuances which play an important role in his stories. His YouTube video on the Hmong people of Vietnam, as an example of how he investigates other cultures, received thousands of hits. It is this sensitivity about human behavior combined with the understanding of the potential of technology that brings to his writing a glimpse of what is yet to come.

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jcoppley

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jcoppley

Website: www.JacksonCoppley.com

Check out this amazing review over at Author Anthony Avina’s Blog!