Tag Archives: novel

Murder in the Heart of It All by Michael Prelee Review

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

An aspiring journalist finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a disturbing individual in author Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All. Here’s the synopsis:

Someone is angry in Hogan, Ohio.

Residents of the small town are plagued by vicious, anonymous letters. The personalized notes land in mailboxes with devastating effect, revealing secrets and deeds better kept unknown. Whoever the sender is, they know the town and the people who live there.

Reporter Tim Abernathy is assigned to the story and tasked with finding out who is sending the letters and why. The letter writer doesn’t want to be found, however, and will kill to keep his secret.

A cat-and-mouse game ensues between reporter and letter writer as the violence escalates, shocking the residents of Hogan. Can Tim discover who is terrorizing the town before becoming the next victim?

I absolutely loved this book. To me it felt like a commentary on the anonymous nature of those who the world has deemed “online trolls”. In a sense, it showcased the overwhelming harshness these individuals faced that made them this way, while also showcasing the painful ramifications these hurtful comments or in this case, “letters”, have on those receiving it.

The story itself was well developed, and the characters themselves were incredibly engaging. It was refreshing to see a change in the typical “journalist” character. Normally in stories involving journalists they are eager to get the story by any means necessary, often hurting the people involved in that story. However Tim was a thoughtful, kind hearted individual who worked not for his own gain, but for the good of his community. The story also showed how easy it is for people to go to such violent extremes, and how fear of discovery can turn a harmless troll into a violent madman.

In the end this was a thought provoking and engaging read. This thriller allowed us to analyze the anonymous nature of the internet through the lens of a small town setting. Substituting emails or comments for letters, this story showed the power words have in our society, and how we can step above and beyond the pain we endure to become better people. Everyone experiences pain of one kind or another. It’s how you handle that pain and move forward that defines you. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Michael Prelee’s Murder in the Heart of It All today!

Rating: 10/10

 www.michaelprelee.com

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1682010635/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1682010635&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Video Review: Spirits of the Heart by Claire Gem

Valentine’s Day Book Giveaway!

I wanted to let you guys know that two of my books will be free starting today and ending on the 17th! The first is Blood and Romance and the second is At First Glance.

At First Glance: A Frightening Romance Novel https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008X0NK56/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_umVGAbMERH74E

Blood and Romance: A Book of Poetry and Horror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0042P5DP6/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_4mVGAbAWZFY7K

Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith Review

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

Slight trigger warning: For anyone triggered by storylines involving dementia or the death of a loved one, reader discretion is advised.

A man’s struggle to keep his family and his life from falling apart plays out artfully in author Daniel Blake Smith’s upcoming novel Mr. Wonderful. A dramatic look into the life of modern academia and the struggle of a family man with an ailing father, a troubled adult son and a strained job put him on a path of self-discovery. Here is the synopsis:

In spite of the world’s struggle and sorrow, life sometimes shows us the wonderful.

Brian Fenton’s life is falling apart. A professor at a bankrupt “directional school,” Brian suddenly learns he must either take early retirement or double his workload. As he confronts the embarrassment of his job going south, Brian discovers that his loopy son, Danny, is paying a surprise visit—which can only mean a hand out for money and a need to crash. To top it all off, Brian is fielding frantic calls about his aging father who’s declining rapidly with dementia.

Once a family doctor in Juniper, the small Texas town where Brian was raised, “Doc Fenton” is going down fast—forcefully reminding Brian of his own mortality and the painful issues separating him from his domineering father—a man only his loving wife could call “Mr. Wonderful.”

When Brian’s father passes, the gathered Fenton family partakes in a volatile small-town Texas funeral—at once hilarious and poignant—which produces startling revelations about Doc Fenton that propel Brian and the whole family into a new direction, a new path forward.

In the engaging vein of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You, Daniel Blake Smith’s debut novel is at once a comic and heart-wrenching family saga. It offers a piercingly honest window into how we struggle to make sense of ourselves, our families, and our life purpose. If we’re lucky, we discover Mr. Wonderful.

This book was fantastic. The writing was honest and vivid in it’s imagery. Delving into themes of hope, dreams and challenging the definition of family, this story takes the reader on a journey with the characters to not only discover themselves but their place in the world. I’m sure many people in the world can relate to that feeling of staleness and restlessness in both your job and your life. This book captures the essence of these feelings perfectly, making you feel every frustration and painful emotion the characters emote in their dialogue both inner and outer. What struck with me was the story of Brian’s father, as he struggles through his last days. I lost my grandfather five years ago and he was suffering from dementia while in the hospital, and so the raw emotion and pain of dealing with a loss after months of dementia hit an emotional wellspring within me as a reader.

The characters are what made this story flow as smoothly as it did. The contrasting points of view between protagonist Brian and his son Danny showcase two very different views of life, and how two paths on the road to life can converge in unexpected ways. It’s a breathtaking study of family relationships, the complicated ties we have to family and how the past can affect the present and the future.

Overall I loved this book. Due out this Friday, January 19th, 2018, the novel Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Blake Smith is a brilliant read that deserves your attention as the year begins, so if you haven’t yet either preorder or buy your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon Review

Love and fate go hand in hand in the romantic period drama Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon. A tale of romance, family feuds and unexplainable
power, this incredible story takes readers through the post World War II mid-west American setting to tell the story of two star crossed lovers
that must fight to be together. Here is the official synopsis:

In the early 1950s, Odessa Drake (Dessa) is rescued from a bleak existence with a single mother. She takes a chance on the unknown to work in a boarding house owned by a widowed great aunt in Mineville, New York. Dessa is devoted to Aunt Flo and especially a young man, Nicholas, who appears and takes shelter in the attic, the only available space. Four years pass. She looks forward to each day because of his presence, in spite of the tedious work. Dessa is now eighteen and knows little more of Nicholas than the day he arrived to work the mines. She knows only he is a remarkable man who has a limp and she trusts Nicholas explicitly. There is a familiarity both recognize and an unshakable bond develops. Nicholas has reasons to keep his past buried. Dangers loom and become evident when Nicholas gets too close and exposes their bond. What is the mystery behind this threat? To discover the answer, they escape by railway heading West, colliding with treachery and uncovering secrets, mile by mile. Their journey is impossible, but, they are supported by friends who risk their lives to make sure a great love and lineage is preserved. Or is it? None will forget their odyssey as they proceed to their destiny farther than they imagined.

The story of Odessa and Nicholas is a blend of Romeo and Juliet with a splash of the supernatural. The mystery behind Nicholas spans the entire
novel, with twists and turns that no one will see coming. The bond between these two lovers is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Its a whirlwind
romance that takes the reader through a roller coaster of emotions.

The writing was fantastic, with a wonderful attention to detail that made me feel as if I were living in the early 1950s. I could almost feel
the biting cold of winter and smell the sawdust on the small farm Odessa lives in. The imagery of the Midwest setting was breathtakingly beautiful
in it’s description, and the emotions felt throughout the novel were evident in every page of every chapter. It’s a wonderful read that’s full of
heart that everyone should read, so if you haven’t yet please be sure to pick up your copy of Can’t Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon today!

Rating: 8/10

Interview with J.G. Dow

  1. Q) Tell us a little about yourself. How did you find yourself becoming an author?  I was born in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire which is in the North of England and have always lived in the area apart from a few years away at University in Manchester which was much fun! I started out with poetry and have written a few other things but never anything in the ‘chick-lit’ category and so this was a new venture for me. I really enjoyed the writing process and so went from there really. It’s quite addictive once you start writing and fulfilling as well. I also like Snooker, comedy and reading.
  2. Q) How did Jane of Manchester come to be written? What triggered the idea for this novel? The book came into being as I wanted to write something that might have a wide readership and also, I felt like the challenge of seeing if I could write something I felt wasn’t in my comfort zone. Time spent in Manchester years before suddenly seemed like an interesting place to set a novel and I knew I could write about real bars and restaurants and areas in the city to make it authentic.
  3. Q) What theme or message do you hope readers take away from this novel? I suppose the message would be to not panic in life that others are moving ahead of you and try and keep to your own path and not be swayed. It’s not always easy to do any of this and looking around at others and how they are moving forward can make you insecure as a person and anxious even but you can’t let that beat you. I think I make it clear that family and friends and a sense of community are important as well for a happy life. Try and relax and enjoy life but don’t expect things to always be rosy otherwise, disappointment will find you every time.
  4. Q) If you could sit and chat with anyone in this story, who would it be and what would you ask them?  Maybe I’d talk to Kate, Jane’s sister and ask her why she has to have a superior attitude the whole time! Some people do think themselves better than others, especially if they have a good job like she does- Junior Doctor- and begin to think others are beneath them in some way. They probably don’t mean to be like this but people like Kate do make others feel unworthy sometimes and so I would put her in her place somehow!
  5. Q) What social media site has been the most helpful building your readership?Facebook is helpful and I have a page- J.G. Dow@homeofjane- which I use to post links to interviews like this and reviews and people check them out and hopefully sometimes buy the book or read it in the kindle library. Bloggers like your good self are also very important not just for reviews but also for giving new authors exposure on their sites, so thanks for that! Twitter is okay but I’m not great at using in effectively.
  6. Q) When writing a story what is more important to you as an author: developing plot or creating characters? The most important initial thing is to have good characters. You can’t do much if the characters are flat and lifeless so you need to start there really and have a good feel for who they are and treat them very much as if they exist in the real world. Plot is obviously important but depends on the book you are writing and as mine is more character driven, the story is a bit looser than a thriller or some crime novel would be where plot possibly comes before characters slightly.
  7. Q) What advice would you give to aspiring authors? To aspiring authors I would say it is important to like writing and don’t see it so much as work, but something you like to do. I think if you enjoy it, that will come through in the content of the writing and if you find it a bit tedious, that will show as well.
  8. Q) What future projects are on the horizon for you? Any future installments in the Jane of Manchester story? I have just recently finished the sequel to Jane of Manchester and will be putting it on Amazon next week sometime probably and will post a link to it on my Facebook page once its out. It furthers Jane’s exploits in the city and hopefully broadens her tale quite considerably as she slowly emerges from her shell and moves forward a bit, albeit at her own pace! That’s it for now really, although I have an unfinished book from ages ago I might try to complete if I can remember where I was up to with it!

 

Why Should You Re-Release Old Books?

Time. 
Time has produced new innovations in the world of writing and publishing. In today’s world of publishing authors have more opportunities than ever to showcase their work without traversing through the process of traditional publishing houses. However as many self-published and traditionally published authors can agree, time allows us all to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves and our writing. With self-publishing it is easier now than ever before to improve on our previous work.
In a month and a half, I will be releasing I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered. This is a three novella series telling the story of Lisa Etron, a seemingly innocent teenage girl with a dark persona bubbling just beneath the surface. I originally published the first novella, I Was A Teenage Killer, in 2010. This story was fun to write, but as the years have gone on i recognize so many grammatical and story based errors that the time to fix it was here. Not only have i and my skills as a writer changed and improved, but the world has changed as well. Whether its our current political climate or the tragedies of our world reshaping our views or the wisdom and strength that comes with age, this book began to feel outdated and in need of serous improvements. So i went through all of the novellas and realized this would make a great remastered novel, and so i began to work.

In the end, i think this remastered book is stronger and more character driven then it ever was before. The themes are more prevalent and the show versus tell style of writing has helped me to improve how the story is conveyed. This is something all authors can do. Our experiences and our understanding of the world can reshape how we view the past, and with the innovation that is online self-publishing it is easier than ever to strengthen the works that came before. I highly encourage any author out there to take the time to reread their books and look to see if time has given them any new insights or views that can improve their work. I hope you guys enjoyed my brief viewpoints on re-releases and book publishing. If you guys want to check out my work for free be sure to sign up for my free newsletter here on my blog, and if you guys are interested in seeing what a remastered book looks like then be sure to preorder your copies of I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered today on Amazon and soon to be available on iBooks, Barnes & Noble and more!
I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0756SVSGD/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_wwqRzb0T6F1VC

Interview with Michael Bernhart1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became an author.

A familiar story: Much like the disgruntled admen of Madison Avenue who labor in the evening over their own redemptive great works of fiction, I started on a novel in the mid-80s as an antidote to a bad professional and life situation. This may work as an escape, but it isn’t a guarantor of good literature. The result – in my case – was a peevish, angry half of a book; the hero is unlikeable – as are all the other characters, come to think of it. Thirty years later I’m still trying to salvage that book.

Capitalizing on one advantage, I’ve enjoyed a singularly rich and diverse (and lucky) life. If I were to peal out the list of places I’ve lived and jobs I’ve held it would come across as boasting. It’s not; it’s gratitude, mixed with wonder. (Dumb luck is important.) The consequence is I can draw on first-hand knowledge of life on five continents and a variety of interesting occupations.

2) What would you say is the best description for your series of books based on Max Brown?

I’ve attached the label ‘philosophical thriller’ to the series. Pretentious? Of course. There is dry/wry wit, which seems to be my forte as a writer, and a travelogue-esque element as the settings are unfamiliar – and interesting – to most readers.

3) What inspired you to create this series and delve into this genre in particular?

Evil. Each book explores a different face. Jane Austen famously said it all comes down to love and money. I disagree; there’s more. As we move up the evolutionary ladder the higher-level species show an increasing propensity for dysfunctional mayhem. Animals fight and kill for survival, either as individuals or as a species. Humans often fight for the sheer hell of it, and to their disadvantage. Why? Paradoxically, the modern religions we’ve created – notably Christianity and Islam – take as their starting point that God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. How can a caring, ever-present, and all-powerful deity be supervising a world that’s convulsing with outright wickedness? It doesn’t square.

There’s no easy explanation for that inconsistency (called theodicy in religious debate) but I did feel some mileage might be gotten out of a closer look at the wellsprings of evil. Hence, greed, lust, ideology and acculturation are central fixtures in the novels. No answers, but if I got it right the questions may have been framed a little differently than in other novels.

4) If you could sit down for a drink with any character from your books, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Ronnie the Redoubtable Scot, a favorite of many readers. I didn’t treat Ronnie well at the end.

I’d ask Ronnie why he does what he does. He’s dedicated his life to the dangerous and underappreciated task of clearing landmines. One of those noble souls quietly trying to clean up humanity’s messes. And a wise-ass.

5) What would you say is the biggest challenge you face as an author when it comes to gaining a readership and marketing your book?

That is the biggest challenge. Each and every blessed day 2,700 new novels are pushed out on an indifferent reading public. Some of them must be good, but average sales are 250 copies, many to family, friends and the author him/herself. How do you break out of the pack? I have no idea. Writing is a losing proposition.

The big houses talk airily about quality control, but there’s little evidence they practice it (e.g., James Patterson continues to be published). I’d like to think the truly good and innovative literature is coming from the independents. The better reviewer/bloggers – like this one – provide a guide and filter but the number of their followers is typically small. 

Are these counsels of despair? Hell yes. If it weren’t for rampant narcissism no one without a signed deal would write.

6) What advice would you give to any new or aspiring authors out there?

I’d like to tell you to scram; we don’t need more competition. More seriously? Read.

7) Any plans for more books in the Max Brown series or any other books on the horizon?

A very difficult one. One of the fascinating jobs I alluded to above was directing a women’s health program in Jordan. Under the umbrella of women’s health I took a brief run at honor crimes . . . and withdrew from the field, unsuccessful. In the current Max Brown novel his wife has liver cancer which leads them to the ‘red-trade’ of organ harvesting and illegal sales. I tie this to honor crimes where victims are plundered for saleable kidneys, livers, etc. Given these topics, it’s been difficult to keep up the dry/wry wit that has received favorable comment in the past.

This is a picture of the author. Some kind folks at a new age festival captured my aura on their aura-cam. They gushed that it was an exceedingly auspicious aura, and they looked sincere when they said it. At least they didn’t ask for money.

Book Cover Reveal: I Was An Evil Teenager Remastered

Hello everyone! I am so proud to announce that my book, I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered, is now available for preorder. It is available on Amazon for $2.99 and will be available for the same price soon on iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and more. Here is a little bit about the book:
Killer. Zombie. Demon.
Evil comes in many forms, and Lisa Etron embodies them all in I Was An Evil Teenager, the three novella series that explores evil and the ways in which it appears. Author Anthony Avina brings a unique look at the work of Lisa Etron, a seemingly normal teenage girl who harbors a dark secret that threatens to tear apart not only those closest to her, but an entire town as well.
Lisa Etron is the girl next door. Lisa Etron is the most beautiful and popular girl in her school. Lisa Etron is the girl of Dave Trent’s dreams. Lisa Etron is a demented killer, hellbent on chaos and murder, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve those two goals. While a seasoned detective works to solve the mystery of a series of brutal murders, Lisa plans a deadly killing spree that threatens to destroy those who have made the mistake of loving her. 
This remastered edition of the book updates the story and brings a deep dive into the battle between good and evil. Showing the lengths in which evil is willing to go to to tear people down, and the way in which people use hope and love to overcome that evil, this novel features the combined novellas of I Was A Teenage Killer, I Was A Teenage Zombie and I Was A Teenage Demon. 
A twisted horror saga like no other, this series follows one group of people who must survive the twisted mind of a killer who refuses to go away and let them live happy lives. In this one of a kind novel, discover whether or not evil ever truly dies…
In honor of the book preorder, I wanted to share with you guys the official book cover reveal. I spent a long time designing this cover and hope it captures the essence of the books. I’d love for you guys to share this book cover on Twitter and Instagram. If you do tag me (@AuthorAAvina on Twitter, @authoranthonyavina on Instagram), and use the hashtag #EvilTeenager or #EvilTeenagerRemastered and I will share your posts on my social media feeds and feature you guys in my upcoming videos on my YouTube channel, Avina Vlogs. Thanks guys, and stay tuned for more information on this book release in the months to come. I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered is due to release on October 20th, 2017! Preorder your copies today!
http://amzn.to/2vHLlhN