Hauling Checks by Alex Stone Review

Author Alex Stone takes readers on a hilarious, dark and unexpected ride through the world of aviation and in particular “freight dogs” as they are known in his novel, “Hauling Checks”.

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

Author Alex Stone takes readers on a hilarious, dark and unexpected ride through the world of aviation and in particular “freight dogs” as they are known in his novel, “Hauling Checks”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

I’m a cargo pilot. In the industry, I’m known as a “Freight Dog.” I fly canceled checks and other types of high-value cargo around the country, mostly at night, in airplanes that are older than I am. Flying freight-or “work” as we call it-in small, twin-engine aircraft is a lesser known side of the aviation world. Our day starts when banker’s hours end. Thousands of flights move millions of pounds of work from city to city every night while the rest of the country is asleep. We’re out there in the freezing rain getting de-iced when you’re laying down for bed. We’re sweeping the snow off our wings with a broom at three in the morning. That horrible thunderstorm you heard last night while you were sleeping, we were flying through it. The fog you woke up to in the early morning hours, we were landing in it. 

Hauling Checks is a comedy about the darker side of aviation. A cast of degenerate pilots, who work for a shady night time air cargo operation, take you on a flight through the unfriendly skies. The pilots abuse every Reg in the book in their quest to make deadlines for their high value cargo. As the company falls on hard times, management resorts to questionable measures to save the failing airline. 

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The Review

This was one of the more unique, creative and funny books I’ve read in 2018. The author’s experience as a pilot blended well into the fictional story being told, bringing with it a sense of adventure and realness that other fictional stories don’t always have. The cast of characters are not only flawed, but some of them are downright despicable or clueless. Yet despite their flaws the humor shines through the entire book, because they represent the flawed and painful encounters so many people have throughout their lives. It was like a blend of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Seinfeld within a cargo flight setting. 

The imagery throughout was incredibly vivid, bringing a sense of both familiarity and realness to these out of control situations the pilots and crew found themselves in. From drunken tales of debauchery from a useless co pilot to the fictional tales of a woman’s husband who may or may not be real, to the arial acrobatics some of the pilots take (literally) when faced with a crumbling company, this book had it all.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel for anyone who is a fan of fictional comedy novels, aviation and hilarious yet mind-numbing characters. The book was fantastic and well written, and the author brought a sense of experience to the novel that made it feel even more real. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Alex Stone’s novel “Hauling Checks” today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Alex Stone grew up in Munster, Indiana.  He’s been flying since age fourteen and received a Bachelors Degree in Aviation Science from Western Michigan University.  He has worked as a flight instructor and was a “Freight Dog” in the air cargo industry for seven years.  This is his first novel.

Excerpts

     I glanced out the side window as I struggled to stay awake. Suddenly, something caught my attention that instantly woke me up. There was oil running out of the left engine. Not just a small leak like there always was. This was a steady flow that trailed down the top of the engine cowling and off the back of the wing.
     “Wake up!” I said to The Co. “We’ve got a problem.”
     “That’s fine,” The Co mumbled in his sleep, “you can take care of it.”
     I quickly scanned the gauges for the left engine and found that the oil pressure was dropping, and the oil temperature was rising. This confirmed that we were losing a large quantity of oil quickly. There was no way of knowing how much we had lost already, but judging from the extremely low oil pressure, it wouldn’t be long before the engine quit.
     The proper procedure in this circumstance is to shut down the left engine. If it lost all of its oil, the engine would seize up, destroying itself. By shutting it down prior to that happening, the engine could be saved, the oil leak could be repaired, and the engine reused.
     I’d had enough for one day though. I was pretty disgruntled at this point and decided that I didn’t care if the engine was destroyed.
     “Let them pay for a new engine,” I growled. “That’ll teach them.”
     I left the doomed engine at weekend power*; I figured I’d just run the hell out of it till it blew up. This kind of abuse of the engines, which happened on a daily basis, was a big part of the reason the planes had so many problems in the first place. That, combined with the lack of proper maintenance, of course. But when a company constantly treated you this poorly, it became hard to care about taking care of their airplanes.

* – Weekend power means full throttle even if that takes the engines over redline. This may result in airspeed exceeding the maximum speed for the airplane, which would set off a warning horn. If that happens, you just pull the circuit breaker for the warning horn, disabling it. This would allow you to overspeed the airplane without the annoyance of that pesky horn.
     Weekend power got its name because no one wants to fly on the weekend, so, if you have to, you fly full power, getting the flight over with as fast a possible so you can go home. Some pilots have also used the terms “Horn Fridays,” and “Overspeed Sundays.”

Hauling Checks can be purchased at the following online stores:

    Paperback:

        eStore

        Amazon.com

        BarnesandNoble.com

    eBook:

        Amazon.com(Kindle)

        Smashwords.com(ebook)

        BarnesandNoble.com (NOOKbook)

Website

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Interview with Author Bo Wu

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

 

I was born and raised in North Carolina. I’m not really into Astrology, but my sign is Pisces, so that may explain the book about the ocean and all the wonderful creatures who call it home.

 

I fell into the same routine my friends did after graduating university. I joined in the workforce and tried to convince everyone I had “it” figured out as much as they did, but I never really felt like I fit in. It all felt like such a charade at that time.

 

As my friends all started getting married and settling down, I decided to do the opposite. I picked up and moved overseas. I took a TEFL ( Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Prague, then ended up in Taiwan. When I left the States, I really started searching for myself and experiencing life. I ended up all over Southeast Asia, tried Europe once more, and gave Mexico a go, as well.

 

I’ve always been praised for my writing, but I never did anything with it. That changed a few years ago when the book popped into my head.

 

 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

 

I came up with the idea in December/January 2015-2016 while meditating. I was going through a difficult time in life. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was dealing with multiple failed attempts at other ventures, and I was searching, really searching for something.

 

The final scene just popped into my head. That idea caught fire, spread, and Mermaids Are Real became the next venture to focus my energy on. I moved twice so I could put myself in a better position to finish the book. Every decision I made was for the book. It turned into my obsession.

 

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

 

There are several messages in the book. The largest would be ocean conservation.

 

I’ve traveled all over the world. I’ve lived in six different countries. Living someplace really opens your eyes to things. When you’re traveling, you’re jaded by the newness. Having said that, there are certain areas on this planet where people really have no clue about trash and what to do with it. Most of it’s an educational problem. That’s where I want Benji and his pals come in to save the day.

 

My ultimate goal is to be able to use this book as a platform to help raise awareness, to use the characters and scenes as an incentive for people to be more mindful of their actions. I have a feeling there’s going to be a time in the future where the younger generations won’t be able to see or experience these aquatic creatures in real life. That’s a shame.

 

There are some other underlying messages regarding family, success, and life in general, but I’ll refrain from divulging much about those and let the readers discover them on their own.

 

 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

 

I’m a kid at heart. I grew up on Disney movies and Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner Saturday morning cartoons. I think I have a lot to pass on to the next generation, too. I might not have a Ferrari in my garage (I don’t even have a garage), but I’ve seen a lot more and done a lot more than a good majority of people on this planet. I don’t have any children, so this is my way of playing dad. Hopefully, on a much grander scale.

 

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

 

That’d be a tough choice. If I could cheat on that question, which I’m going to do, I’d prefer a town hall-style meeting where I get to talk to all of them. Or maybe a party where they’d all be there, and I’d get to bounce around the room chatting with each one of them at my leisure.

 

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

Goodreads has been good so far. I’ve relied on it the heaviest. I’ve used Facebook sparingly, but I don’t have an author page set up. I’ve been pumping out reviews and news through my personal page which is the only thing I use it for. I told myself when I started out, I wouldn’t get drawn into the whole social media scene.

 

Aside from writing a book people want to read, marketing is the most important. However, I don’t believe I have to be everywhere or everything to everyone. If you’re looking for a place to focus on readers, Goodreads makes the most sense to me.

 

 

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

 

Read. A lot. Figure out what you like, then write a book that you would want to read. After that, get others to help you develop it. Get feedback. A lot. But in the end, remember that you’re the captain of the ship.

 

You can find beta readers on Goodreads, too. That’s something I wish I had done more of. I used a group of friends, family, and their friends and family. If I could go back and do it again, I would have begun using Goodreads much earlier in the process.

 

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

 

The biggest thing I’ve been praised for about the book is the detail. I built such an immersive world with the first book. I have plenty of room to expand on with another. I’ve laid the foundation. Once I slow down with the marketing, and I feel like I’m ready, I’ll dive into the next one. I see myself getting to that point before the end of the year.

 

Extra Info:

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Goodreads Author Profile –

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18267464.Bo_Wu

 

Goodreads Book page –

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40966179-mermaids-are-real?ac=1&from_search=true

 

Amazon Author Profile – https://www.amazon.com/Bo-Wu/e/B07G3C8P1K/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

Amazon Book page –

https://www.amazon.com/Mermaids-Are-Real-Mystiq-Prong-ebook/dp/B07FTMLGQS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1541335981&sr=8-2&keywords=mermaids+are+real

 

Facebook page – (feel free to add me as a friend)

https://www.facebook.com/mebowu

 

Book Release Day Blitz: Not So Wicked by T.A. Moorman

 

Not So Wicked by T. A. Moorman

Published October 30, 2018 by GothicMoms Studios

YA Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

Synopsis:

Caught in a realm they know next to nothing about, in a time
where they’re hated for not what they are but how they look, these supernatural
teens may find it harder to curve their bloodlust than they thought.

 

Like most teens, even those with supernatural powers and
abilities, Elvira thinks that her days at Be Prepared High are a colossal waste
of time. Especially Feeding 101, since she’s a cursed vampire that was born
without fangs. She and her friends view most of the classes as useless since
they never plan on venturing to the human realm. Why would they when Underlayes
was made specifically for every factions’ safety, where they could roam free
day or night with not a care in the worlds.
But just like her parents always told her, sometimes you’re
put into situations you can’t control.
Elvira’s life takes an unexpected turn when a wizard hell
bent on misplaced revenge kidnaps her and several of her friends. Not only does
she send them with a one-way ticket to Detroit, Michigan, she sends them to a
time when the tension amongst the races is at its highest. And having to deal
with race issues is the one thing that has never even been so much as a thought
to any of them and is the one course not on the roster.
But will everything they’ve learned in school be enough to
keep them alive? What will they all do when racism stares them in the face?
Most importantly, how will they get back home?

 

 

 

Chapter
1

Once
upon a time… Really? I’m not starting my story off with that lame ass cliché. Fat chance. Not when my story is anything but
classic. You can think of this as the life and times of a teenage vampire. A
real one, not one that sparkles as though we were sprinkled with some type of
fairy dust. Oh! And we’re born, not made by just being bitten, consuming blood
from another vampire, or any other legend you may have researched somewhere. The
bitten one is the most ridiculous theory any of us have ever heard of. I mean
really, think about it, if everyone ever bitten by a vampire were to turn into
one how could they ever go back for seconds on the same victim, er donor? Could
you imagine how large the vampire population would be? Anyway, you wanna hear
my story? Just sit back, grab a pint of blood, or milk, and have a listen.
First
off, I don’t live in your dimension, I live in a separate one called
Underlayes. Where the things that go bump in the night – werewolves, vampires,
mermaids, sirens, witches, and so much more – truly are real. Underlayes has
regular neighborhoods just like Earth does, we don’t live in a ton of dug out
caves, or cryptic looking castles; besides the royals anyway. We used to live
amongst you guys, but that was way before my time, and a story way too long and
boring for me to bother with repeating. Just know that we all truly do exist
and a very few of our number walk alongside you still. So, you may want to
think about that before you lay down at night after bullying the school nerd or
your shy co-worker. If they’re the silent and quiet type they’re more than
possibly plotting your untimely demise and deciding what side-dish you’d go
best with. Or what curse to place on you. Something my Mom should have thought
about a long, long time ago.
Me?
The names Elvira, yea, Mom and Pops have a sick and twisted sense of humor.
Which when you come to think of it is actually a very good thing, since Mom was
dumb enough to piss off a witch when she was preggers with me and my brother,
Dracula (yup, again with the humor), Drake for short. During one of her many
mood swings dear old Mom went completely off on an already pissed off witch;
something about the witch crossing in front of her, and Mom thinking that would
make us come out cross eyed (and you thought your mom was superstitious, Ha!).
Miss Witch decided to do her one better and really did curse us both. I was
granted with the gift of being the only vampire known of with NO FANGS! Since
Underlayes doesn’t have hospitals bagged blood isn’t exactly just lying around.
Why not just bite down extra hard you say? Probably because that leaves a big
chunk of meat in my mouth and vampires can’t digest meat; we have a strictly
all liquid diet. Why not just slit someone’s wrist and pour it in a cup you
ask? If you were on an all liquid diet, would one glass a day keep your hunger
pains at bay? NO! And draining someone completely dry doesn’t work either,
unlike how they portray things in your human movies, blood clots up pretty
quickly when it hits air; unless pumped up with nasty anti-coagulants which
leave a horrible aftertaste and makes the blood nearly impossible to digest. So
the blood shortage on your neck of the veil? Feel free to blame that on us, Mom
and Dad had to feed us somehow during the experimental processes of properly
bagging and storing the blood the way humans do. But no worries, they haven’t
had to raid your neck of the realms in a long time now. The alchemist’s studied
the components your scientists used and now have it down pact.
I’m
not really sure if Drake’s curse is worst or pretty much just as bad. Him? He
goes into a full-blown shock at the very sight of blood; fainting spells,
seizures, black outs, the works. Though lucky for him rarely all of those at
once. Lucky for Mom and Dad, he could still at least savor the taste and smell
of it. But talk about being seriously dependent upon someone else, hard to
nourish yourself when you can’t even look at your food. And as a baby? You try
putting a blindfold on an infant, especially one with fangs, and let me know
how well that works out for you. Ah, but it made for some fangtastic pranks
when I was thirteen, which also ended in a lot of punishments. But they were so
worth it!
So
that’s us, Elvie and Drake, two of the only known vampires forced to live on
bagged blood. Though Drake may get lucky one day and be able to savor a neck or
two, as long as he keeps his eyes shut tight and doesn’t dribble.
Can’t
we just break the curse you ask? Ask Aunt Flo that one. Did I fail to mention
the witch in question was, and still is Mom’s best friend? She’s also a witch
with more power than she can handle who needs to watch what she says at ALL
times. The curse was supposedly never intentional and trying to undo it has
proven pretty much impossible.
 Mom, Trinity Alkaev, is a beautiful creature
with a body neither skinny nor large, but what one describes as buxom
perfection. Also, one of the most patient females you will ever meet, and a
truly ferocious beast, fangs and all, when pissed. Dad, Borya Alkaev, is the
strong not so silent type, with a chiseled chin and sculpted cheekbones in
which I heard would give Michaelangelo a run for his money. Born after the
creation of Underlayes, he’s only two hundred years old, so I never understood
how he ended up with such a thick accent as if he just left the great
Motherland of Russia. The exact opposite of Mom when it comes to patience, but
the best dad any set of unorthodox twins could ask for. Neither of them were an
only child, but both are the youngest and only surviving children from both of
their respective lines. Many died before the dimension of Underlayes was made,
some during the move. And Aunt Flo, I’m not even getting into that one. And as
far as looks go Drake and I are a perfect combination of the two, with the
exception of the fact that I have no fangs.
THUD. CRASH. SCREAM.
What
in Hel’s name was that?
“Elvira
Esfir Alkaev!” Moms blood-curling screams vibrated through the floorboards,
“How many times do I need to tell you not
to leave your blood bags lying around? Get down here and help me clean up this
mess. And carry your brother to his room!”
Well
there you have it, the usual beginning of a day in the house of Alkaev.
“Now
young lady!”



About the Author:
When you become a Mom, you begin to put yourself last, and your
combat boots begin to collect dust. Going to your child’s PTA meetings in full
Gothic, especially industrial, regalia is pretty much frowned upon. Especially
by your own children, and your teens would die of a heart attack. But, one
should not have to completely stop being themselves, uniqueness is greatness.
So all of that darkness is put into words in her books, and designs in her
jewelry sold in her Gothic Moms Dark Charms shop on Etsy and Rebels Market.
Single mother of five beautiful children, but by
far more than just that. T. A. Moorman is an artist, a former violinist, a
seamstress, a crafter, a writer, a blogger, a reviewer, a dark confidant and a
darkly dangerous, fiercely protective friend. She still hopes to one day find
her Dark Knight in shining armor, since Prince Charming would never be able to
handle her. And currently broke, so go buy something of hers and tell everyone
you know how much you love this book.
Author Links:

 

http://eepurl.com/cELB79




a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Blog Tour: COMES A SPECTER, Book 2, Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo

Hello everyone! I am excited to share with you guys the official blog tour stop on Author Anthony Avina’s Blog for author Keta Diablo’s COMES A SPECTER, Book 2 in the Ghostland Series. First we have a fun interview with the author, followed by an exclusive excerpt from the book and finally a fun giveaway you can enter to win a great prize. Enjoy the tour everyone!

The Interview

Keta: First of all, thank you so much for hosting my latest Western Romance Ghost story, Comes A Specter. Your generosity is much appreciated.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Keta: I live in the Midwest part of the United States on six acres of gorgeous woodland. When I’m not writing or gardening I love to commune with nature. A pair of barn owls returns to the property every year to birth their young and show them off in the high branches of the oak trees. Nothing more adorable than these white fluffy babies with heart-shaped faces. A lifelong animal lover, I devote my time and support to the local animal shelter. Emma LaPounce, a rescued feline, has been my furry companion for the last ten years.

I’m an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. In a past life, I wrote Gay Romance. My books have received numerous accolades, including RWA contest finalist, Authors After Dark finalist, Top Pick of the Month and Recommended Review from top review sites, and Best Romance Finalist from The Independent Author Network.  

Ps: For some strange reason, ghosts often show up in my stories, no matter the genre.

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Keta: Oh, no. My mother, now 91 years young, reminds me that I always wanted to be number 1) a boy (I had four brothers), number 2) professional equestrian (course I called it a cowgirl).

Tell us a little about the last/latest book you’ve written

Keta: See above in my Author Bio – for some strange reason ghosts always show up in my stories. No different in Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series. Several reviewers said they loved the book, but the ghost scared the bejeebers out of them. Gee, I wasn’t scared.

Anyway, I didn’t even know I was writing about all these ghosts. One day, as I was going through my back list of books, I said, “Oh. My. Gosh. Keta!! You write about ghosts all the time.” Read some of my blurbs and you’ll see what I mean. No matter what genre I choose, somehow a ghost shows up. I used to see them—ghosts—when I was a toddler, but that’s another story for another day. Maybe subconsciously, that’s why they keep showing up in my stories.

Where did you get the inspiration for this particular book?

Keta: Let’s see, where were we? Oh, yeah…inspiration for Comes A Specter. I love Western Romance, and since I have such a penchant for dead people, er, I mean those who have crossed over, I created sort of a new sub-genre, Western Romance Ghost Stories. I love writing about cowboys, cowgirls, horses, ranches, rodeos, and…did I mention translucent spirits?

On average how long does it take it for you to write a book?

Keta: That depends on many factors. First, a writer has to be at the top of her/his game physically and mentally to pull this off. Second, she/he has to create a great plot and well-developed characters (no cookie-cutter walk-ons). Third, he/she must plant their butt in the chair and write, write every day, even if you have to pull the words out of the air. Better to have gibberish at times than a blank page, right? Fourth, it depends on whether one is writing a novella or a novel. A novella, two months; a full-length novel 4-5 months. Caveat: Keta is a slow writer compared to many others.

Do you have any unpublished/unfinished scripts?

Keta: Yes, we all have those. Some I keep under the bed, never to see the light of day. Others are sitting on my computer and flash me now and then to finish them.

What types of books do you read?

Keta: Across many genres, but never romance when I’m writing romance. Thrillers, suspense, angels/demons, Native American fiction, and small town contemporary (serious stuff). I hardly ever read humorous. I bet that doesn’t surprise you coming from a person who saw ghosts as a child, huh?

What books are you reading right now?

Freefall (Kristen Heitzmann)

The Dead Game (Suzanne Leist)

and…1,697 waiting for me on my Paperwhite Kindle (sad)

Which are your three favorite books of all time?

Keta: To Kill A Mockingbird, Man On Fire, Gone With the Wind, Legends of the Fall.

Do you/have you ever read a copy of your book after it has been published?

Keta: Gosh, no. I read it so many times while writing it; I’d get bored to death with the same old, same old. LOL.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author who is just starting out?

Keta: Well, I’m really no one to be giving advice to other writers. I made plenty of mistakes starting out myself, so maybe that’s it – study the craft of writing. Know the basic rules at least, and then get good enough at writing you feel comfortable breaking some. I mean, there are some you should never break, but breaking one now and then won’t cause the earth to stop spinning. I have a lot of books on my Kindle (see above). I can’t tell you how many times I read one chapter and delete the book. If it doesn’t grab me right away with lots of questions, then I’m outta there. Take for example Harper Lee’s opening line in To Kill A Mockingbird: Scout: When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

I mean, she hooked me. Completely. I was in the sixth grade the first time I read that line, and from that moment on, I wanted to know who Jem was and how the heck did he break his arm? That book really opened my eyes to reading, gave me an appreciation for love of the written word.  

I hope all your reads are good ones; I hope you fall in love all over again with the written word every time you sit down to read a book.

Keta

* * *

About Comes a Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series

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Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman

.

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and her son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.

When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GXBF25X

Available on All venues November 1st

The Excerpt

EXCERPT: Sutter confronts the ghost.

Chapter Fourteen

“Make my enemy brave and strong, so that if defeated, I will not be ashamed.”

Plains Tribes

Tendrils of darkness breached the room as Sutter slipped through the window of Anya’s room. He didn’t want Willie-boy to see him dressed for war, the ebony handprints –chin to cheek—the tunic and leggings splashed with blood red paint. If he didn’t return, he wanted the boy to remember how he looked the last time he saw him. A misty cloud of energy trailed Sutter as he sprinted through the woods, a sign the wraith was on the prowl and primed for killing. That suited Sutter just fine. He had one goal in mind—lead the ghost toward the pit. He’d worry about how to implement the second part of his plan when the time came. An odious stench spiraled up his nostrils, another potent omen the heavy, scuffing footsteps behind him belonged to Ten Wounds.

Moments later, a cry from the dead and damned cleaved the dark, chilling Sutter’s blood. No wonder Lewis had cracked, no wonder Anya and Willie-boy were terrified of the evil spirit. No wonder Cobb had said, ‘Run, brother. Take Anya and run.’ Close, the Zeuzeu was close now. Sutter imagined the ghost’s rank breath stirring the long, dark hair at the nape of his neck.

The pit loomed ahead. Sutter spotted the pine branches and broken boughs he’d placed over the illusory grave. “Now or never”, he said to the full moon overhead and came to an abrupt halt. Drawing a deep breath, he mustered up his courage and turned to face Ten Wounds. A haze of gray mist swirled around the spirit’s form, his human form. If the situation weren’t so serious, Sutter could have shouted with joy.

He took in the ghost’s visage. A quiver hung from his shoulder stocked with sharp, pointed arrows—a sign he’d transformed into the fierce warrior who once walked the earth. Steeped in blood (no doubt from his recent kills), his clothing hung in tatters around his massive frame—a vest made of animal hides, a breechcloth and fringed leggings. Sutter’s gaze traveled to his painted, pock-marked face. Yellow and white stripes marked his forehead and chin, and black circles blended into his dark eyes. For a brief second, Sutter’s insides quivered and ropes of tension knotted every cord and fiber of his body. Bleary, unearthly eyes speared Sutter when the wraith raised a hand of claw-like fingers and pointed at his enemy’s chest.

The wind, much like the sound of a thousand women wailing, keened into the deafening silence. Fire exploded from the ghost’s eyes—flames the fires of Hell couldn’t compete with. Sutter shouted over the infernal noise and flames. “You are not welcome here! Hear my words, you are dead!”

Like a misty cloud of energy, Ten Wounds lurched forward, a staccato rhythm of hisses and howls spewing from his foam-drooling mouth. Sutter had never imagined such a demonic apparition.

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Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott | Blog Tour and Review

It is my pleasure to be the latest stop on the fantastic blog tour for Derek Philpott’s novel Dear Mr. Pop Star. Before we get into the review, here is what the book’s about.

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…

A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…A collection of hilarious letters to iconic pop and rock stars with fantastic in-on-the-joke replies from the artists themselves: Eurythmics, Heaven 17, Deep Purple, Devo, Dr. Hook and many, many more…For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing deliberately deranged letters to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs. They miss the point as often as they hit it.
But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back… 
Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T’Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

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Now, onto the review.

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

How often has this happened to you? You are sitting in the car, bopping your head along to one of your favorite hit songs, and you suddenly start to think about the lyrics. You start to wonder, what does that lyric mean? What was the artists trying to convey in that moment? Well author Derek Philpott took this idea, and wrote an entire book detailing letters he wrote to several artists and bands and their responses in his novel “Dear Mr. Pop Star”. Here’s the synopsis:

The Synopsis

For nearly 10 years, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing good old-fashioned letters to pop and rock stars (sometimes even sent to their home addresses with prior consent!), either picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, mixing sharp wit, confusion, and unarguable logic in relation to questioning the offending chart hits under scrutiny.

What makes this project especially deserving of attention, however, is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. With the missives online for all to see on what was becoming a hugely popular website, the artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong…or right.

Also, crucially, nearly all of the responses were procured via ”the back door of the industry”, via roadies, mutual fans, cousins of bass players, and even other famous participants telling the artists directly of the Philpotts’ written pressing inquiries. This marvellous online community, which stretched as far afield as Europe, Canada, Japan, the U.S.A, Australia and Stoke, even cultivated and organically evolved the whole surreal venture by offering up willing stars that the authors would probably not have thought of corresponding with themselves, establishing contact through personal connections.

‘Dear Mr. Popstar’’ proudly features nearly 100 of the best letters and responses from famous and legendary names spanning the whole pop and rock spectrum, all relishing their involvement and revealing their own, in many cases, hitherto unknown humorous sides within what could well be the most interactive dialogue compiled between music stars and their audience ever undertaken. Of course, it is not always possible to reach certain targets, hence many unanswered observations are also included, as they were considered too amusing not to be.

Those to be saluted for their great sportsmanship are:- Deep Purple, Dr. from Dr. and The Medics, Nik Kershaw, Judas Priest, Starship, Tears For Fears, The Eurythmics, Wreckless Eric, Smokie, The Strawbs, The Belle Stars, Van Der Graaf Generator, Martha and the Muffins, Thunder, Squeeze, Dean Friedman, Fairground Attraction, The Ruts, Neil Innes from The Bonzo Dog Band, DEVO, Melanie, Alannah Myles, Ian Gillan, Was Not Was, Republica, Then Jerico, Dr. Hook, Toploader, Cutting Crew, Lindisfarne, Spinal Tap, Mott The Hoople, Fuzzbox, Men Without Hats, China Crisis, Mental As Anything, David MacIver and Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump), Timbuk 3, The Rezillos, Saxon, John Otway, The Human League, Chesney and Chip Hawkes, Tenpole Tudor, Shakatak, Katrina and the Waves, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Heaven 17, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Matthew Wilder, Middle of the Road, Liquid Gold, The Christians, Paper Lace, Dodgy, Daevid Allen, Bruce Woolley, Sad Cafe, The Housemartins, Francis Dunnery (It Bites), Johnny Hates Jazz, The Wurzels, Peter Noone, Suzi Quatro, Strawberry Switchblade, Danny Wilson, Racey, Electric Prunes, The Waitresses, Fiddler’s Dram, Bauhaus, Climax Blues Band, The Jags, EMF, T’Pau, Nu Shooz, Owen Paul, Steve Hackett, Steve Ellis of Love Affair, Hazell Dean, The Knack, The Maisonettes, Del Amitri, The Skids, Jesus Jones, The Soup Dragons, City Boy, Modern Romance, Wang Chung, The Kursaal Flyers, Fischer Z, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions, Scarlet Fantastic, The B52s. Junior, Spear of Destiny, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

Ultimately, this book explores how when a song is released into ‘the wild’ the artist loses all control over it, especially pertaining to its interpretation. It is also testimony to the community spirit capable of being created over social media and how positive and fun it can be.

The Review

I have to say, this was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. The humorous interpretations of these songs not only had me laughing but sometimes thinking about the lyrics in those songs and questioning things. Equally entertaining were the responses from the artists themselves. For instance I loved the letter to and from Tears for Fears about their hit song “Head Over Heels”. I love that song as it’s a classic, but not only hearing the author’s hilarious theory about the lyrics discussing things like chem trails and asking to meet in a public place rather than in private had me laughing out loud, while the band’s response detailing the incident that led to the song’s lyrics, including a failed attempt to ask a local weather girl out on a date that literally had the singer tripping and having his “head over heels” moment.

The book is incredibly witty and well written. The style of posting the author’s letters in the book as if on a professional stationary and then incorporating the artist’s responses was a stroke of genius on the author’s part. Music is a huge part of my life, as I not only write reviews for artists and incorporate music as inspiration for my own writing, but have music on constantly throughout my normal everyday life. Getting to see such a humorous and intimate look into popular songs and artists was a thrilling read to encounter.

The Verdict

This is a must read book! A hysterical, laugh riot that gives pop and rock fans alike a fresh perspective on their favorite artists, bands and songs, Dear. Mr. Pop Star is a fun filled ride through music history. Author Derek Philpott does a wonderful job of weaving these letters together in a funny way, and the contributions of the artists themselves makes this a true page turner like no other. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Dear Mr. Pop Star by Derek Philpott today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it-

‘’This is an ingenious and extremely inventive concept. You have given us a platform to answer questions that have been asked of us for years by our fans, and respond on a public platform of immense fun. You’ve created a weird and wonderful world loved and admired by 1,000s of people worldwide, and you have your own army of loyal fans. That pretty much makes you part of ‘us lot’ now!’’

Excerpt

Dear Hazell Dean,

I found your song on the internet whilst looking for how to get to friends in Hazeldene, Chieveley.

In these celebrity and appearance-obsessed times it is admirable that you are searchin’ (looking for love) for a man who needn’t be handsome or have fortune or fame.

I fear however that you may be setting your sights a bit low, Ms Dean. You appear, rather than ”looking for someone to share your life” with’ on nights out with friends or on tentative dates, to be ”seekin’ ” a long-term partner either on the train, or, more worryingly, as reinforced by your disclosure that you ”want no disguises”, a Police I.D. Parade, as you ”move on down the line”.

It is suspected that your judgement may have been impaired by ”never sleepin”’ and that there is no guarantee that a stranger on the Underground, or for that matter, from the Underworld is likely to be ”sweet and kind’.’

”Whatever You Do, Wherever You Go”, Ms. Dean, I implore you to be cautious in your quest and not to explore ”every place you can”.

Yours

Derek Philpott

Dear Mr Philpott

Think not of “Searchin’” as a light-hearted missive, extolling the virtues of promiscuity.

No! This work should be considered a seminal piece – a late 20th Century celebration of the seeking of love above all else.

“Searchin’

Looking for love

All the time I can.

Searchin’

Looking for love

I’ve got to find a man.”

This is not a transient pop song, but should be compared as contemporary to the popularist lyrics of Byron, Browning, Rossetti and Wilde.

Were these great romantics ever concerned by the trivialities of sleep sir? I think not.

As the great Oscar Wilde himself wrote:

“You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.”

Additionally, aspersions cast on my predilection for members of the criminal fraternity are most unwelcome and unfounded,and I would therefore be grateful if you could leave me to my insomnia and romantic musings in peace.

Further to this, over the past 35 years I have received 100’s of photographs of dull establishments bearing any vague semblance of my name, in its many variants. The highlights of which include a B&B in Blackpool, and cattery in Crewe and a hovel somewhere slightly South of Brighton.

Why people presume these will interest or even slightly amuse me, I do not know.

Would you enjoy receiving a steady and annually persistent selection of “Philpotts Avenue’s”, “Philpotts Crescents” and “The Philpott Home for the Perpetually Ridiculous”? The novelty wears off very quickly I can assure you.

Quite frankly Mr Philpott the locating of your friends at Hazeldene, Chievely, is of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever.

Yours aggrievedly

Hazell Dean

You can find the book and the author at the links down below, and be sure to check out the official blog tour graphic to see where the blog tour will be next!

Social Media and Blog Tour Info

Blog Tour Flyer black 2

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40719521-dear-mr-pop-star

https://unbound.com/books/dear-mr-pop-star/

@DerekPhilpott   Twitter

https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilpotts/

http://amzn.eu/93h4fYH    Amazon 

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Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist Review

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

A chilling and fantastic new look at the YA Fantasy genre, author R.D. Crist is set to release “Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch”. The first in a series, this new YA adventure takes a classic supernatural group of individuals and gives them a brand new spin. Here is the synopsis:

Synopsis

After the unexplainable death of her mother on the eve of Natalie’s fourteenth birthday, she is suddenly forced to grow up. Compelled to leave her dismal and deceptive life behind by a mysterious woman who claims to be an old relative, Natalie carries with her the highly coveted, scarlet stoned ring she reluctantly retrieved from her mother upon her death. 

Following Natalie’s irreversible decision, she unexpectedly finds herself alone and thrust into a peculiar all female orphanage where her arrival was strangely anticipated by the inhabitants, and greeted by some with ire. Ultimately, young Natalie must quickly learn to fend for herself against bullies, unexplained forces, a male suitor, and something lurking for revenge. Does she have both the strength and resolve, and can she set the past aside, to uncover the secrets necessary in order to fulfill her destiny?

The Review

This novel was fantastic. With the YA genre stronger than ever before, the author has found a way to not only create compelling characters and a heart-wrenching story, but make the story have a fresh twist in the YA Fantasy world. The story follows a classic young woman thrust into a hidden world theme, but takes this theme and pairs it with the emotional realm of loss and what children experience after the loss of a parent.

What I really enjoyed was how the author managed to not pit two different groups of supernaturals against one another, but instead showed how a group of supernaturals can have division within itself, and how there are good and bad people in any group. The writing was evenly paced, descriptive and yet left readers with enough space to imagine the scenarios in the novel playing out. The action started from the first page and only escalated from there, leaving readers on the edge of their seat as they waited to learn the secrets of this orphanage and where Natalie truly belonged.

The Verdict

This is a must read for any YA Fantasy fan. With fall approaching and the Halloween season approaching, this is the perfect book for YA fans to jump into to begin their holiday adventures in literature. A powerful story that promises an engaging and shocking series, author R.D. Crist has done a fantastic job of creating a world worth diving head first into, and I for one cannot wait for the next book’s arrival. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch today!

Rating: 10/10

Here is the book website: www.scarletreignbooks.com

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41555714-scarlet-reign

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Reign-Malice-Dark-Witch-ebook/dp/B07GTPZ4KN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537547997&sr=8-1&keywords=scarlet+reign+malice+of+the+dark+witch

Author Bio

R.D. Crist is a psychotherapist who generates creativity via long walks and majestic views of nature. True inspiration to write, however, derives from personal hardships that have sparked a desire to help others manage life’s various struggles.

Although R.D. Crist has only released one book, three have been written and several more begun, which span a variety of genres.  The focus of these stories are intended to center on Crist’s favorite dynamics of a story – personal conflict, relationship development, inner growth, and social revelation.  Each story is created with a greater purpose to stimulate a person to reflect on common challenges, be they personal, interactive, or in principle.

Childhood influences include Ray Bradbury stories and character conflict movies like Twelve Angry Men.

Socializing, listening to people’s stories, spending time with family, and relentlessly exercising (as if those last ten pounds cared) are some of Crist’s favorite ways to pass the day.

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Runnin Buddies: (A True Story, Vol II of V) by Josh Holliday | REVIEW

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

Trigger Warning: This is an adult level book and has graphic content. Drug use, as well as some triggering sexual encounters and subject matter is involved in the book. The author has made clear he does not support drug use or the actions herein, but told the story as events occurred. If situations like this trigger you, be warned.

The continuing tales of the drug fueled, crime ridden 60’s and two men who dove head first into the era come to life in author Josh Holliday’s novel Runnin Buddies: (A True Story, Vol II of V). Here is the synopsis:

The gripping story of two young adventurers just out of high school in the late 1960’s. Drugs are rampant in society in California. Follow them as they barely escape drug deals, confrontations with the police, smuggling across the International Border with Mexico, a risky trip into Arizona, and the final “Bust” at the Mexican border. Your eyes will bulge at some of the true adventures they skated though. Several times they barely escaped death. Based on true lives lived in this book II of V Books, a Series.

Once again this series continues to highlight the shocking, often deplorable actions of those fueled by sex and drugs in the 60’s. Using graphic and detailed images to highlight the stories told within, the author goes to great lengths to showcase the power of drugs and highlight the toxic, misogynistic and often heinous acts used against women in that era. In today’s day and age that sadly still occurs, but more often than not public support and the use of the internet has allowed victims to come forward, share their story and rally support to highlight these crimes. Yet in that era, when drugs and sexism ran rampant, not only were women more susceptible to these crimes, but convinced themselves it either didn’t happen or just went along with it out of fear. The author highlights these acts to show just how toxic this mentality is to have and to show how we can do better to teach future generations to respect one another and to view these acts for the crimes that they are.

The author did a great job of highlighting the way people living a life like this often miss the signs to change their ways. The book begins where the first left off, with one of the buddies in jail and the other lost without him. Yet rather than learn from his friend’s mistakes and making a change, he finds himself where many drug addicted people find themselves, and that’s back in the thick of it, tumbling further down the rabbit hole into disparity and illegal acts that they don’t even see themselves. While the book is graphic, (and on a technical note to the author, I would recommend going through the book and looking for grammatical and spelling mistakes more thoroughly. They didn’t hamper the story whatsoever but using quotations in dialogue will help separate the thoughts and make it easier to see who is speaking), the book’s importance of showing the rampant drug use and unspoken crimes committed in that era can help us to learn from the past and grow as a society, especially in this era of so much political turmoil, sexual harassment and abuse scandals, and global uncertainty.

Overall this was a fascinating, sometimes uncomfortable but wholly necessary read. The author did a wonderful job of highlighting these events and showing the way those involved in these crimes rationalize their actions so much that they believe their own lies. As the series looks to continue in book three, one can only hope the people involved in the true story this book is based upon will see “the light” and find a way to end these actions. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up Runnin Buddies: (A True Story, Vol I and II of V) by Josh Holliday today!

Rating: 8/10

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GN4FHNC/ref=cm_cr_ryp_prd_ttl_sol_0