Posted in reviews

Disorder by Israfel Sivad Review

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

A truly unique memoir tells the story of a young writer who struggled with addiction and mental health, and found a way to overcome it all through love in author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder”.

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The Synopsis

Disorder is the story of Michael Adams, the man behind the pen name, Israfel Sivad. At 37-years-old, Michael wasn’t sure any longer if he was hipstered out or truly beat. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He’d been in psych wards, and he’d spent almost a decade writing his second novel. But then, he found himself inspired in a whole new way. He believed he might be falling in love…

Disorder traces Michael’s experiences from a period of homelessness at the age of 32 through his battles with alcoholism and psychosis back to his birth in Southern California. Simultaneously, it weaves a tale of the relationship Michael is trying to build with his girlfriend, Pam.

In this story, the author develops a groundbreaking, nonlinear style that captures both the disjointed madness of psychosis and the natural rhythms of memory. He reveals the reality behind what many of us believe we would never be able to live through: drug addiction, alcoholism and psychotic breaks… and his ability to overcome those demons to discover love, even when it seemed he was already too damaged to let that emotion take hold.

The Review

The author does a fantastic job of conveying a powerfully painful and harsh period of time in their lives, using a non-linear style storytelling device to convey the author’s life. From memories of childhood having lost a grandfather and best friend to dark times living in and out of psych wards and the streets of Richmond, the author doesn’t hold back on the physical and mental toll his life took when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and the psychosis that he endured as well. 

The imagery really conveys the struggle the author had in his life to the reader, while the story between himself and Pam is the beginning of a path to redemption that anyone who is struggling in life can hang onto and see for themselves that the trials and tribulations in their life aren’t forever. While the writing style can change sometimes throughout the narrative of the author’s life, it adds to the allure and interest of the non-linear storytelling, making this a fascinating read.

The Verdict

Powerful, emotional, and a brilliant read, author Israfel Sivad’s “Disorder” is a truly one of a kind memoir both stylistically and intellectually, giving voice to the struggles of those with mental health struggles and addiction in a way that few have ever really captured before. Grab your copy on September 8th, 2020, and see for yourselves how this amazing author came to be.

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About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

https://israfelsivad.com/

Posted in reviews

Blackacre Rising (Ivy Spires #2) by John C. Adams Review

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

Loyalties will be tested and lines will be crossed as the fight for humanity wages on in author John C. Adams’ latest entry in the Ivy Spires dystopian series, “Blackacre Rising”. 

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The Synopsis

From Horror Tree reviewer and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a disturbing tale of scientific experimentation and sadistic cruelty. The sequel to ‘Souls For The Master’, ‘Blackacre Rising’ features a stunning cover by Fiona Jayde Media.

Leaving the chaos erupting in the Metropolis behind, Gerald speeds north to his cousin Brett Flint’s farmhouse, Blackacre. He is certain that their vehicle is being followed, but returning to the capital with Don and Ivy is simply too risky now that Janus Fidens has taken over the Resistance and declared the pair to be outlaws who have betrayed the Revolution. Arriving at Blackacre, Gerald begs Brett and his wife Radclyffe to shelter Ivy and Don under their roof without asking too many questions about why his young companions have had to flee to the sparsely populated uplands and need their presence there kept secret.

Distraught at saying goodbye to Gerald, Ivy admits how much she has come to care for him since they have been battling the authorities together. They snatch a few moments alone together to say a private farewell before Gerald drives back to the capital, hoping to persuade Janus to drop his pursuit of Ivy and Don. En route, Gerald is followed by the same car that tailed them northwards. Lured into stopping to assist at the site of a road traffic accident, the trainee surgeon is captured and transported to a shadowy underground scientific research facility, where he is disturbed to discover that Sinister Tungsten, sister to his arch nemesis Hendra, awaits him.

In the Blackacre library, Don is welcomed by the Seven. This mysterious group includes the Master he fought to defeat down in the Metropolis, five other strange figures with bizarre powers and, of course, the malignant farmhouse itself. Brett, Radclyffe and their twin baby sons reside in the oddest place Don has ever encountered. He reluctantly agrees to become involved in the Seven’s project to assassinate Dr Luther Honigbaum, who funds the facility where Gerald is being held prisoner and runs the asylum in Austria which supplies its young female test subjects.

Learning how to transport herself from one location to another shocks Ivy. Unlike Don, who has wielded great power his whole life, her skills as an assassin are more practical in nature, and she worries that having shifted safely to Austria she’ll be unable to return safely. Finally, she is ready to undertake her mission to kill the evil man behind the gruesome experiments that serve no purpose other than to gratify the rampant cruelty of Honigbaum and his acolytes.

Meanwhile, the Seven show Don another facility, this time in Antarctica, where equally cruel experiments take place upon men. When the Seven tell him he is too young to witness exactly what it taking place, he uses his unique powers to advance his age by three years so that he is now eighteen. He gladly sacrifices a part of his natural life to rescue the men kept prisoner there and tormented by sadistic experiments with no scientific value whatsoever.

Arriving in Austria, Ivy is horrified to discover that her cover is already blown and Honigbaum lies in waiting for her. He has a sinister agenda of his own and will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who resists both his sadistically cruel medical research and his repulsive sexual advances. When Brett Flint’s cousin Henry turns up at Ubersneller, Honigbaum locks him up in one of his asylums high up in the mountains to ensure his silence. He has particularly dark designs on Ivy, and is determined that her close friendship with Don will enable him to reach out to his estranged son. Drugged and forced to comply, Ivy is young enough to provide the ageing Honigbaum with everything he wishes. Gerald’s imprisonment ends when Sinistra’s elder sister Hendra returns and the authorities brutally re-establish law and order, but he is no safer with her than with her sibling.

The Review

A truly gripping, intense, and engaging dystopian sci-fi read. The author does a brilliant job of creating a large mythos in this dystopian world rich with a multitude of main and side characters that readers will be able to both loathe and root for. 

Although I had not read the first book in the series, the author writes in a way that allows readers both new and established to be able to delve into this new narrative, as the central characters find themselves split up and fighting brutal battles all on their own. Each finds their path fraught with horrifying trials and monstrous adversaries, all while their own abilities grow and develop over time. 

The story really benefits from a strong character arc for the central protagonists and antagonists. This lengthy read delves into the hardships and struggles each character undertakes in this world divided by class and exposed to horrors unlike anything seen before. In the midst of powers and action, the author really brings about complex characters that readers can identify and support throughout this narrative.

The Verdict

A must-read dystopian sci-fi thriller, author John C. Adams’ “Blackacre Rising” is a fantastic sequel in the Ivy Spires series. Emotionally driven character arcs and action-packed scenes all come together under strong mythology and ends on a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more. Be sure to preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m a non-binary author and critic of fantasy and horror.

I review for Schlock! Webzine, the British Fantasy Society and Horror Tree, as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. I’ve been a Contributing Editor for Albedo One Magazine and the Aeon Award since 2016. Before that, I was a Submissions Reader with them.

My debut horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. Likewise, my debut fantasy novel, ‘Aspatria’, is 99c on Smashwords retailers and 99p on Kindle. The sequel to ‘Aspatria’, ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, is out now on Kindle and Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an author and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!

http://johncadams.wix.com/johnadamssf

Twitter: johncadamssf

Posted in reviews

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

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

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

Story Origin 

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

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The Synopsis: 

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

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

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

The Review

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

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

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

The Verdict

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

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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

Christy’s Young Adult Fabuliers:

About me

Gender Male

Industry Science

Occupation Novelist and Science Writer

Location Sylvania, Alabama, United States

Links Wishlist

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

The Girll They Sold to the Moon, Intrigue Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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 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 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!

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Interviews

Interview with Author Rita Pomade

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

I think I’ve been writing since the day I learned how letters combined for words. I had quite a collection of poetry before I graduated high school. Later, in order to support myself as a single parent, I took contract work with Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia editing down articles for their year book. They sent me galleys enabling me to be home with my children. Years later, while living in Mexico I was hired by Mexico This Month, an English language monthly tourist magazine, to do interviews. From then on, I continued freelancing to supplement my income as an English Second Language teacher.

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What inspired you to write your book?

I met my second husband in Mexico. We talked about a sea voyage together. The idea of writing about it was part of my motivation for setting sail with him. Life at sea was harder and more precarious than I could have anticipated, and I didn’t have the mental space to do it. Some thirty years later he asked me if I’d sail with him again—this time from Tunisia to Tahiti. I told him I’d think about it, and wrote a childhood friend in Belgium about his offer. She mailed me all the letters I had written her during those years. Reading the letters triggered insights I didn’t have back then. I wanted to share my unique story and all I had learned from it. Had I written Seeker at the time, it would have not gained from the expansion that hindsight brought.

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

On one level Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is an adventure story filled with pirates, monsoons and raging seas. But it’s also a story of love, betrayal and forgiveness. I dealt with challenges and survival on many levels, healed wounds and found my voice. I hope readers can relate to my insights and find their own strengths through reading my journey.

What drew you to this particular genre? 

In the sixth grade I had written the class poem for graduation, but it was given to another child to read as though it was her poem. I seethed at the injustice, and thought about other unfair situations I had seen. At that moment I decided I wanted write about them, so the world would know and put things right. I remember thinking I didn’t have enough life experiences to make a difference, and knew I’d have to grow up and experience as much of life as I could. I actually did that, and writing and sharing insights about what I have learned through life experience lends itself to memoir writing. 

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

I met many people at sea who had interesting stories—interesting pasts. Some traumatic or life changing experience caused them to drop out of society. One such character was Johnny. We first met Johnny in the Philippines and met up with him again in Cypress. He had been in Hitler youth, but was never deprogrammed after the war though many others were. At one point, he told us his father had denounced and stolen the property of a Jewish friend.  His mother had a nervous breakdown over the event and never fully recuperated. He carried the burden of parents’ story, felt at home nowhere and drank too much. I’d like to ask him why he refused to be deprogrammed, preferring to carry guilt and needing to share this part of his family story with others. The writer in me always wants to know the interior conflicts that define character and motivate behavior.

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

I’m a bit of a luddite, and don’t use much social media though I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey has received good reviews and was shortlisted by the Quebec Writers’ Federation as the best first book for 2019. I’m hoping word of mouth, combined with readings and interviews will bring readers to the memoir.

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

 Don’t give up. Rejection is part of the process. If you aren’t receiving rejections, you aren’t sending out your work. But don’t send indiscriminately. Research and know what each publisher or publication is asking for so that you pinpoint your market.

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

 I’m working on a childhood memoir tentatively titled Genesis. It covers the period of my life from embryo to eleven years old. Research in the field of epigenetics is lending credence to the idea that trauma passes down through the genes. We come into the world innocent, but we carry family history from earlier generations. It’s a fascinating discovery, and I’d like to show how it relates to my childhood and how I believe it shaped my early development. 

Seeker: A Sea Odyssey is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million. You can also add this to your Goodreads reading list.

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About the Author Rita Pomade

Rita Pomade— teacher, poet, memoirist—lived six years aboard a small yacht that took her from Taiwan to the Suez to Mallorca, dropping anchor in 22 countries. She and her husband navigated through raging monsoons, encountered real-life pirates, and experienced cultures that profoundly changed them. Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, published by Guernica Editions under the Miroland label tells her story. 

Rita Pomade, a native New Yorker, first settled in Mexico before immigrating to Quebec. During her time in Mexico, she taught English, wrote articles and book reviews for Mexconnect, an ezine devoted to Mexican culture, and had a Dear Rita monthly column on handwriting analysis in the Chapala Review. In Montreal she taught English as a Second Language at Concordia University and McGill University until her retirement. She is a two-time Moondance International Film Festival award winner, once for a film script and again for a short story deemed film worthy. Her work is represented in the Monologues Bank, a storehouse of monologues for actors in need of material for auditions, in several anthologies, and in literary reviews. Her travel biography, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, was shortlisted for the 2019 Concordia University First Book Award. .

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— Blog Tour Dates


June 29th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

July 2nd @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog
Visit Fiona’s blog and you can read a guest post by the author about how she could have enriched her journey at sea.
http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/


July 5th @ CK Sorens’ Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s memoir Seeker.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 6th @ Create Write Now
Visit Mari L. McCarthy’s blog where you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post about what she learned about herself through writing.
https://www.createwritenow.com/


July 7th @ The Faerie Review
Make sure you visit Lily’s blog and read a guest post by the author about cooking on a shoestring at sea.
http://www.thefaeriereview.com/


July 8th @ Coffee with Lacey
Visit Lacey’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://coffeewithlacey.com/


July 10th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 11th @ Bookworm Blog
Visit Anjanette’s blog today and you can read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://bookworm66.wordpress.com/

July 12th @ It’s Alanna Jean
Visit Alanna’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the ten best traits you need for living aboard a yacht.
http://itsalannajean.com/

July 13th @ The New England Book Critic
Join Vickie as she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.thenewenglandbookcritic.com/


July 14th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 15th @ Reviews and Interviews
Visit Lisa’s blog today where she interviews author Rita Pomade about her book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/


July 16th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog where he reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/


July 17th @ 12 Books
Visit Louise’s blog and read author Rita Pomade’s guest post discussing sailing myths.
https://12books.co.uk/


July 18th @ Author Anthon Avina’s Blog
Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his interview with author Rita Pomade.
https://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com


July 20th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog
Visit Bev’s blog again and you can read author Rita Pomade’s guest post featuring her advice on writing a memoir.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


July 21st @ Jill Sheet’s Blog
Visit Jill’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how her handwriting analysis skills made her a better writer.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/


July 22nd @ A Storybook World
Visit Deirdra’s blog today and you can checkout her spotlight of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
http://www.astorybookworld.com/


July 23rd @ Choices
Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about the benefits of spending time abroad.
http://madelinesharples.com/


July 24th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Visit Ashley’s blog today where she reviews Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey.
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/


July 24th @ Tiggy’s Books
Visit Tiggy’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker: A Sea Odyssey. She’ll also be chatting a bit with the author!
https://tiggysbooks.com/


July 26th @ CK Sorens Blog
Visit Carrie’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about how she jumpstart her writing process.
https://www.cksorens.com/blog


July 27th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Visit Kathleen’s blog today and read her review of Rita Pomade’s book Seeker.
https://www.krpooler.com/


July 28th @ Lady Unemployed
Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade talking about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.
http://www.ladyunemployed.com


July 31st @ Wild Hearted
Visit Ashley’s blog where you can read a guest post by author Rita Pomade about why she jumped at the chance to go to sea.
https://wild-hearted.com/