Monday, March 31, 2014

Let's Review - Midnight Son

Let's take a few minutes today to spend a little time way down, down, down deep below.  South Africa is where we're going in Taz Roux's suspenseful romantic tale Midnight Son.  Time to take a gander.

Book Blurb:
Caoimhe is trying to rebuild her life after her husband walks out on her. On the first weekend she has to face alone, she hopes to escape from the thoughts she doesn’t want to face by reading a damaged book she bought cheaply at a second hand book shop.
Right from the start, she notices parallels between her life and that of Duane, the luckless main character in the book. As her empathy with the storybook character grows, she starts fantasizing about Duane and dreaming vivid dreams in which she alters the outcomes of his unfortunate experiences.
By chance, Caoimhe’s sister finds her an expensive apartment which is renting out cheaply, but it is surrounded by mystery. The owner of the apartment had vanished on Halloween eleven years earlier, and the only indication that he may still be alive is his indirect contact, every year on the anniversary of his disappearance. 
Caoimhe moves to the apartment, but she can no longer ignore the strange coincidences between her life and the book, which now seem to involve her mysterious missing landlord as well. As she tries to unravel the puzzles, reality starts blurring into fantasy.
Meanwhile, the next Halloween is approaching.

My Review:
Caoimhe (pronounced Kee-va) is a young lady who has been beaten down by life with her soon-to-be ex-husband.  Over the years, all of her friends slowly drifted out of her acquaintance because of his attitude.  Not only did he leave for another woman, but he left Caoimhe high and dry when he cleaned out their bank account.  Now she can no longer afford their tiny apartment and has little to live on until her next paycheck and only her job to look forward to each day.

I immediately connected with Caoimhe when she's standing in the used bookstore trying to decide if a worn book is worth the few cents she has left in her pocket.  Earlier at the grocery store, she'd felt the keen embarrassment at checkout when, after carefully calculating what she had in her cart, discovered that she still didn't have enough money to get the most expensive item on her list - a simple bottle of shampoo.  Then needing to save the precious fumes of gas remaining in her car, she'd trudged home carrying the heavy bags in the midst of a sudden downpour.  Then she slopped into the front door only to slip and fall in the foyer - but instead of injury, her hip is saved by the cushioned padding the new book provides.

And thus begins the mystery surrounding Midnight Son.

As Caoimhe begins reading the book over the course of the next few weeks, her life begins to change in ways that mirror the events of the book's protagonist - subtle at first and then growing as she realizes her life has become entwined within the pages.  There's a sense of reality to Duane's story that comes crashing into her reality.

Duane is in the medical profession, as is Caoimhe, trying to save lives.  Duane's love life is also a shambles.  They both end up getting a kitten.  They both like or have experienced similar things.  Duane takes on a partnership of a clinic to try and save it.  Caoimhe is trying to save patients who were part of a clinic study.  The clinic names...

I don't want to give too much away, but needless to say I felt like some of the surreal moments as Caoimhe pieces the puzzle of the two worlds together were a bit like the movies "Lake House" meets "Inkheart".  Interesting premise and a nice, slow build that kept me reading.  Even though I'm not a big romance person, the romantic elements never felt overly gratuitous nor made me want to gag.  There was enough mystery and other life elements to balance it out.  I really liked Caoimhe's desperate attempts to find out what was causing severe renal failure and death in so many of their patients.  I'd like to have seen this expanded a bit into a larger segment of the story.

Throughout the novel, Caoimhe realizes her friends really do like spending time with her (just not her ex), she is more than capable of standing on her own two feet, and that she is very competent in her field.  She also earns the respect and admiration of her peers for her ability to first recognize that a medical problem exists, and then for her diligence in trying to solve the mystery.

So even though I liked the story, I have to point out a few touchy issues (yes, I'm a stinker that way).  Point-of-view was first person in Caoimhe's scenes with clean scene breaks to where she's reading about Duane.  Duane's scenes at first threw me until I realized these were actually Caoimhe reading, though they are written from Duane's POV as if he's a character in the overall story and not just a character in the book Caoimhe picked up.  Once I figured this out, I didn't mind this aspect and it made more sense as I slowly got into the story.

Tense shifts occur frequently within scenes and sentences from present to past as if the novel was originally written in present and then changed to past or vice-versa.  It becomes mostly past tense, however, from about the middle to the end.  Some missing words and minor duplications or misspellings along with overuse of comas peppered the story, but eventually I was able to read past most of this since I was enjoying it.

The only other thing I'd have liked to see was the ending drawn out just a bit more with a little more explanation of how what happened to Duane occurred.  It would have also been nice if there would've been some sort of award or recognition ceremony from the medical community for Caoimhe and to tie together the real-life events with the book's events.  I'm just saying here from my own personal reaction, but it just felt as if the end needed something bigger to solidify what Caoimhe accomplished between the two.  I can't say anything more here without giving away an important component to the ending, so I'll leave it at that.

So if I haven't yet confused you with my ramblings and attempt to avoid spoilers, I want to say I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Midnight Son once I got into the story.  It's not rocket science.  It isn't chock full of action.  It's not earth-shattering.  But it's a nice, suspenseful story dealing with the ups and downs of life and how sometimes the seemingly insignificant mysteries can impact not only our lives but the lives of others - but only if we take the time to become aware and then fearlessly act.

I find it hard to assign an adequate ranking here.  Structural problems and errors would probably make me give a two, but story would be a four.  So lets average it out and call it a very solid and enjoyable three stars.

Author Bio:
Taz Roux grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, the daughter of a reserved computer programmer and a volatile journalist.  She has written for as long as she can remember, mainly to entertain her friends, with the occasional poem, article or short story getting published - when she puts her mind to it.

Ms. Roux lived on the outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique for almost four years, just after the war, when people were still ducking RPG rounds and landmines. Books could only be obtained by asking someone to bring them from South Africa. She was considerably more revered for the stories she wrote than for her work in the medical field. That sparked the idea of writing for a larger audience.

She is currently living in a quiet corner of her hometown with her children and a mute cat, putting another of the stories in her mind on paper.  Visit her website at


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blindsided by "Blind Evil"

So after slogging through several chapters of my own book the last couple of weeks, I took time last night to attack my ever growing list of review books.  Yes, it's review time again.

Today we address Eric Praschan's psychological thriller Blind Evil.  Makes you think twice about who you befriend.

Book Blurb:
Sometimes you can be so close to evil, you can't even see it.

Police detective John Grayson's worst nightmare comes to life when he investigates a chilling double homicide and discovers that his best friend, David Vincent, is the prime suspect. As John unravels the mystery and trails the killer across Missouri, he finds himself caught in the web of David's twisted psychological schemes. The terror increases when Emily Dolon, the woman both John and David have loved since childhood, becomes the target of David's macabre mind games.

Trapped between his duty of solving the case and his devotion to his best friend, John struggles to find the truth, knowing he must execute justice, even if it costs him lifelong loyalties or his own life. Blind Evil is a taut psychological thriller that explores the dark place where sanity and madness collide.

My Review:
When John is called to investigate the gruesome murder of newlyweds recently returned from their honeymoon, the first thing that strikes our detective is that the scene is so carefully plotted out to the last detail.  It feels orchestrated - too personal.

As well it should.  In just one month, John is set to marry Emily, the love of his life since seventh grade.  Now those plans are on hold until he can stop the serial killer known as The Wedding Slasher.  And John is afraid he might well know the killer.

David is a brilliant psychiatrist with a dark past.  His childhood was filled with so many beatings and unimaginable atrocities at the hands of his meth-addicted parents, it's a wonder he grew up to be a sane adult.  It was that chance friendship with John and Emily in middle school that gave David an escape from the household of horrors.

Or did it?

Blind Evil is written in two simultaneous first-person points-of-view, that of our two protagonists John and Emily.  The division between was clean and concise and never muddled or blurred.  First person is not always easy to write with just one character, much less two, so I applaud Mr. Praschan for keeping these clear.

Grammar and punctuation errors were almost non-existent.  It's always nice to read a book with minimal errors and proper formatting, not something you always come across in the traditional publishing world, much less in the indie publishing realm.

David is more than adequately evil, twisted, and maniacal - but at times he was so over-the-top that he became more of a caricature instead of a real human being.

And characterization was where I struggled with Blind Evil.

When the murders occur, John is immediately suspicious of the man who is characterized as his best friend.  How would someone who is supposed to be a smart detective have such a friend in his back pocket?  I could understand this if David at one time was considered a best friend, but something about this supposed dynamic of best friends between these two in the present did not work for me.  John came across as too naive to be a streetwise, gritty detective.  With his close association to the primary suspect, he would have more likely been removed officially from the case.  But this did not occur.

Then there's Emily, John's fiancee who is also best friends with David (and dated him for eight years when John failed to make a move first).  Emily works with David in their joint practice, helping with his unorthodox methods of "therapy" that I found horrifying - and there is a disclaimer at the end of the book that says how this would never be considered an acceptable practice in therapy (thank you!).  So if Emily broke up with David because she was afraid of him, why then does she continue working with him in the practice and participating with these unorthodox methods as if there's nothing wrong with it all?  This says to me that there is something wrong with Emily as well, but that is never addressed.

I wish there would have been more moments of internalization with John and Emily to better understand the why of how they maintained this odd friendship with David when they didn't trust him and were actually afraid of him.  When the murders first begin, David is immediately suspect and John tells Emily not go to work, lock herself in the house, and not to answer the door for anyone - especially David.  So if John is too close to evil to see it, why then does he see it immediately as David at the first murder scene?  Most of the storyline is made up of a few moments of action, mostly dialogue and moments where I as the reader watched the characters "watch" themselves on video.  I felt very disconnected from the characters because of this distance and lack of internalization to understand their motivations.  Therefore, I never developed much in the way of empathy for any of them.

The plot had a lot of potential, but the overall inability to connect with the characters and the lack of grounding in reality left me feeling flat.  Again, however, the book was written cleanly and concisely and that counts for something with me.  Overall, I'd give Blind Evil two and a-half stars.


Barnes and Noble:



Author Bio:
Eric Praschan has been writing for more than 20 years, focusing on suspense fiction. He holds a B.A. in English and a M.A. in Theological Studies. His favorite authors range from Stephen King to C.S. Lewis. He has many years of experience in drama, music, teaching, and higher education. Eric lives in Missouri with his wife, Stephanie.  For more information, visit Facebook:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cover Reveal from Dog Star Books

We've got a cover reveal from Dog Star Books!

What could draw poet, explorer, loner and paranoid Mykol Ranglen away from the relative peace of his own ring-in-space habitat? He has no choice in the matter as one by one acquaintances are murdered or disappear altogether. Propelled by ever changing and deepening mysteries Mykol embarks to uncover secrets which could make people rich beyond their wildest dreams…or tear apart human civilization. The escalating quest takes him through worlds of many dangerous extremes, leading him to confront the deadly alien Fist of Thorns, extinct species refusing to give up their power over the future, and those racing against him to uncover the secret first. But in the course of his pursuit, he must also face his own secrets. And some of these are even more dangerous.  
The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes by Albert Wendland Cover Art by Bradley Sharp Foreword by William H. Keith Space Opera Paperback coming from Dog Star Books in June 2014 ~~~ What They’re Saying About The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes
"Mystery, heart-pounding adventure, and the dazzling wonders of far-flung space play significant roles in Wendland's breakout novel, all while gifting us with a mesmerizing tour of alien landscapes destined to get under your skin and remind you of the very reason science fiction exists: Not to escape to other worlds, but to find ourselves within them." --Diana Dru Botsford, author of THE DRIFT and FOUR DRAGONS Inside are alien worlds and titanic space habitats and a brilliant and paranoid hero, all skillfully blended together with long-vanished galactic secrets. Science fiction… good science fiction, by a college professor of literature who loves good SF." --From the foreword by William H. Keith, New York Times Bestselling Science Fiction Author

Friday, March 14, 2014

Delve into the Code Realm with "Guerrilla Internet"

What would you do if some entity hacked your internet profiles?  Laid bare your private correspondence?  Accessed your bank account?  Found your home and threatened you or your loved ones?  Would you cower in fear and continue on in your mundane existence?

Or would you do something about it?

That's where we find ourselves in Matt Sayer's novel Guerrilla Internet, as he explores the real-world attacks on privacy in the digital age.

Book Blurb:
How careful are you with what you say in a phone call? In a text message? Are you strict enough to never reveal personal information in an email, or on Facebook? Most people aren't.

Charlie, a soon-to-be unemployed software tester struggling through remission from depression and anxiety, is about to discover just how lethal a weapon information can be in the wrong hands. When one of his colleagues is murdered for the sake of stealing his company's innocuous in-development phone app, his life is upended and shaken like one of James Bond's martinis. With the aid of Mel, a technologically illiterate but worldly-wise security guard, Charlie must conquer his inhibitions and venture outside his cloistered comfort zone in order to prevent a cyberterrorist conspiracy so devastating it threatens the very future of the internet itself... 

A technological thriller set in modern times, Guerrilla Internet tackles the themes of privacy, security, and freedom of expression in the age of a constantly connected society. A tale of subterfuge and doublespeak, of plots within plots, where laws and morals clash to decide the meaning of freedom in an always-online world.

My Review:
Confession first - I know very little about what is lovingly referred to as "geek-speak" so I was lost when this book got brass-tacks technical.  Just call me Mel.  Outside of that, I really enjoyed Guerrilla Internet.

Charlie is a computer whiz kid, fresh from university in Australia and enjoying the surroundings of his first job while living on his own - for the most part.  He's struggled in the past with severe anxiety and bouts of depression, but with medication and intensive counseling he's learning how to cope in a crowded and fast-moving world.

But then Charlie's carefully constructed world comes crashing down when he shows up for work to find a co-worker murdered in cold blood, the small company's server files all stolen or destroyed, and a chilling note from his boss informing him the company is ruined and he's closing up shop.

Then Mel shows up, a tough-as-nails woman posing as a detective in the investigation.  Soon Charlie realizes Mel is not who she says and is merely a security specialist traveling the world trying to sort out what she sees as a global conspiracy.  But Mel can't put her finger on exactly what the globe-trotting thieves want with all of the stolen servers.

That's where Charlie shines.

Charlie and Mel are in a race to puzzle the pieces back together before the nefarious plot is released.  From Australia to Seattle and finally Japan, this unlikely pair must find the criminals - and save themselves along the way.

Charlie's internal struggle was very realistic.  You sensed it keenly as he fought to stay in control among the crowds, as he self-talked his way back from the edge, and worked to discover confidence in his competence. 

With Mel - I could sooooo relate to her cluelessness when faced with the gaming references and just technology in general.  Felt like me around my son and his friends - HUH?  Mel also faces her own demons through the story - a little abrupt on the turnaround from tough chick to the softer side, but very touching nonetheless.  I especially liked the part where she goes to the church to "talk" to her deceased mother.

The writing is very vivid and plays well with the character of Charlie.  A couple of references really spoke to his nature:  "...fingers questing into his pocket to extract his phone" and my favorite "An alarm bell claxon tore Charlie from his wispy dreamland with all the tenderness of a blood-lusting T-Rex."

Point-of-view was decent for the most part with only a few snarls, but nothing terribly jarring.  There was only one part toward the end where I questioned the flow and choice of scene placement.  Charlie and Mel get on a plane from Seattle to Japan and then they've landed.  The next chapter opens with a step back 24-hours earlier and we're back in Seattle with the bad guys.  This felt like major whiplash to me.  I think it would have flowed much better and kept in tune with pacing to have Mel and Charlie take-off from Seattle, scene break to the bad guys and their machinations, then break back to Charlie and Mel landing in Japan.

Then there were a few little things that bugged me.  Maybe it was Charlie's youth and inexperience, but he seemed just a bit too naive to me to not figure out sooner that Mel wasn't initially who she said she was - meeting at McDonald's and then a hotel?  Yes, he questioned it the first time, but that could be understandable simply because he was so discombobulated with what was going down concerning his job and co-worker.  But after...?  Mel's seemingly unlimited financial resources were eventually explained, but that stuck in my craw until then that a mere security guard who was the daughter of a mechanic could jet-set around the world with money being no object.  Lastly, I had to suspend reality a bit concerning the time-frame it would take to apply for a visa to go somewhere out-of-country.  Not a huge thing for a novel probably, but this question popped up for me every time they went somewhere new.  Yes, I'm a pesky realist. :-)

There's not much in the way of action here, but for the most part - and considering the nature of the criminal activity - this didn't bother me, because the writing was so strong and descriptive I rarely got bored sitting in front of the computer with Charlie.

For a second release novel, Mr. Sayer I applaud you and offer up Guerrilla Internet four stars.  It's probably not something my mother would enjoy (and there are flashes of rough language) and I struggled a bit to keep up with the "geek speak", but for the technologically savvy crowd - they'd love it.

Author Bio:

By day, he is a voracious code-monkey, building websites, writing programs, diving into databases, and practically anything else involving computers in some way.

By night, he has taken to wresting his serpentine thoughts into semi-coherent prose, leaving the ideas in his head to fester and rot no longer.

Matt resides in Melbourne, Australia, and dreams of one day being lucky enough to entertain his passion for writing full-time, sharing to all the universes in miniature that exist within his head.

Visit his blog at

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Checking In with Julie Clements

It's been a busy week here at the blog, and that doesn't stop as we begin the slide into the weekend.  As we head for home plate, I'm pleased to welcome an author to the blog to highlight what it's like to not only write novels for a living - but to also balance that with a writing day job.  Let's give a warm welcome to fellow indie, Julie Clements.

DAB:  Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

JC:      I have always loved to write since I can remember. When I was a child I would take my note pad and pencil and sneak around the outside of our house peering in windows to see "what crimes were being committed." After investigating the crime, I would go in and write the story. I would do this all summer. I also liked writing skits for me and my friends to perform.

DAB:  So what I hear you saying is you were a Peeping Tom all summer, is that it?

JC:      I guess you could say that, but I don't think it counts since it was my own house.  Just don't turn me in.

DAB:  Where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

JC:      No where specifically. They just pop into my head. Usually I will be working on something else when another idea will come to me. If I can't stop thinking about it for a few weeks, I know I'm going to have to write it. 

DAB:  Tell us about a typical day in your writing world.

JC:      I also work full time as the editor of my local newspaper. It is a small staff, so I write a lot of the stories. After I get home from work, then I find time to work on my novels. How much I get done in the evenings usually is affected by how many stories I had to write at work that day.

DAB:  Do you write full-time or part-time?

JC:      I am managing editor of the Butler County Times-Gazette. It's a great job that lets me meet numerous people in and around the area, as well as learn about a vast variety of topics. I often find a lot of that knowledge helps out in my novels later. It also allows me to do what I love at work -- write.

DAB:  So you write all day and then write again in the evening.  Do you ever get tired of writing?  How do you find time to get anything done around your house?

JC:      I have to admit, some days I get home and the last thing I want to do is write more, but usually I am excited to get back into my story. It's a completely different kind of writing. As for the house, well...I try to find a little time.

DAB:  What kind of research practices do you utilize for writing?

JC:      It depends on what I am writing about. If I can, I base my stories in places I have been, whether where I live or places to which I have traveled. If I choose a different location, I will use the Internet to research the area, such as scenery, landmarks, etc. If my topic gets into an area I'm not real familiar, I also will research that. An example of this is in my first novel, "The Eleventh Hour," where it deals with DNA and medical experiments. I did a lot of research to decide exactly what I wanted to be happening in my novel.

DAB:  Have you ever experienced writer's block?

JC:      Sure. If I can't get past it one day, I'll put the novel away and do something else, such as work in my garden. I usually find if I put it out of my mind for a while, the next time I sit down to write, the writer's block is gone.
DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

JC:      I prefer not outlining my story. I usually know how it starts, where it will end and have a general idea of how I'm going to get there. The fun part of writing is the ride it takes you on. I discover the story as I write, which keeps me going so I can see what happens next. If I get to a chapter where I seem to be stuck on how to keep the story moving ahead I will do a rough outline just to get back on track.

DAB:  Do you belong to a critique group?  If so, tell us a bit about it.

JC:      I belong to GK Brainstormers. It is a critique group that was formed from a novel writing class. They are a great support group and inspiration to keep writing. They provide valuable insight into my story and offer suggestions I may not have thought of. It's also great just to get together with other writers and share ideas. We've become good friends over the years.

DAB:  Usually authors are also avid readers - what are you currently reading?

JC:      I'm currently reading "Lone Survivor" by Marcus Luttrell. I had heard a lot of great reviews of the movie when it came out. I didn't make it to see the move, so I decided to check out the book.

DAB:  What are some things you’ve done to get the word out about your novel(s)?

JC:      I have a writing blog, as well as have done a lot of promotion on Facebook Twitter, and of course, word of mouth locally.

DAB:  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

JC:      I was going to start the third novel in my series, but one of those "other" ideas wouldn't leave me alone, so I have started a different novel, "Past Regrets." It tells the story of a man who is running from the mistakes he has made in his past and that lands him back in his home town where he is forced to face the things he has done in order to turn his life around.

DAB:  Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

JC:      I have two, "The Eleventh Hour" and "Double Time." Full of mystery and danger, they tell the story of Tad Moreland, who in the first novel finds a young girl who's family has mysteriously disappeared and he has to reunite them. This leads him to a web of deceit and medical experimentation. In "Double Time," Tad's investigation into a house fire, brings more questions than answers. Too late to back out, Tad finds things spinning out of control as his home is torn apart in a search and his daughter disappears. He sets out to get to the truth -- discovering tales of murder, deception and cloning along the way. Both novels are available as e-books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. You can find "The Eleventh Hour" at or  You can find "Double Time" at or

There you have it then, dear readers!  Thanks to Julie for providing this insight into what it means to write, write, write.  Some days I should take a cue from her and just keep at it, I think.  Good luck on The Eleventh Hour and Double Time.  I look forward to seeing Past Regrets soon too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Delivering the "Undeliverable"

Among the wind whipping through the trees and scattering the smattering of autumn's leftover leaves, I bring to you a book with a cause.  Tonight we review Rebecca Demarest's debut novel, Undeliverable.

Book Blurb:
When Benjamin Grant's son disappeared a year ago, he felt it was his duty as a father to do everything in his power to find his son, and he tried.  He threw himself into the search, but his obsession left him without a home, wife, or job.  Now he's managed to find work at the United States Postal Service's Mail Recovery Center, which he hopes will prove an invaluable tool in his search.  With the help of Sylvia - a kleptomaniac artist - Ben learns the ins and outs of a warehouse full of lost mail and explores every lead in his son's case.  But when that investigation leads him to Leonard Moscovich, Ben fears the worst.

My Review:
First off I want to draw attention to the fact that your purchase of Undeliverable helps to support the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).  To learn more or donate to the Center's efforts, visit

Ben Grant is a driven man - and being driven mad.  His overwhelming desire to find his son, now missing a year, has destroyed the happy life he once lived.  Everything he is, everything he does, everyone he meets is nothing more than a means to an end - an end he tenuously clings to merely to get through the mundane activities of his day job in order to get back to his "real" job. 

That of finding his one and only son.

His driving need has separated him not only from his son but his wife, his home, and their joint business venture.  Settled in a new city and into a new job, Ben returns home every night to a virtually empty home save for the desk piled high with news reports, police tipline transcripts, and a wall dotted with maps pin-pointing everywhere his desperate search has taken him.  This is, of course, because in his eyes the police don't care.  They've moved onto bigger fish to fry and left him to do the job they wouldn't - or couldn't - do.  Doesn't matter to Ben.  He's more than capable of finding his son, that is if he doesn't increasingly drink himself into a stupor every night.

Undeliverable is heartbreaking!  Ben's grief, fear and grasp for hope is palpable.  At times it overwhelmed this reader.  But that's when Sylvia would step into the picture.

Sylvia was the breath of fresh air the novel needed to keep from sinking into a mire of despair.  She was witty, charming, a little loopy and rather Pollyanna'ish in that she worked so hard to find the silver lining in every situation and throughout each day.  And it took a lot of her determined spirit to pull Ben out of the dumps from time-to-time.  But Sylvia too has darkness in her past - but she's also come to terms with it and learned how to keep the past in perspective to avoid having it crash upon her present and future.  Sylvia was the life-blood of this wonderful novel.

Then there are the "Bunion'isms" that begin every chapter.  I came to look forward to a new chapter, knowing I'd get a nice little funny to break into Ben's frustrations.  Ben's predecessor left him a huge, personally constructed manual to help him understand the in's and out's of his position.  I'd have loved a chance to see Madam Buin in the pages here - as a matter-of-fact, I rather feel like I did through her instruction book. :-)

So getting down to brass tacks, point-of-view was strong and handled nicely with appropriate scene breaks.  As a reader, I felt Ben's pain and anguish, his frustration and anger, and then his horror when the police finally caught a pedophile due to his research, then felt his anxiousness as he waited to find out if one of the small bodies found on the farm was little Benny.  We followed along with him through all of this, so showing was excellent.  There were very few editing issues.  Major thumbs up!

However, because of the subject matter, please realize that this can at times be very difficult to read, but that's also because it is so well written and you feel Ben's pain so deeply.  There were a few f-words but nothing overly gratuitous.  Maybe I'm feeling generous because of the fact that this elicited such strong emotion in me as a reader, but Undeliverable earns from me a rare five stars.

Author Bio:
Rebecca A Demarest is an author, designer, and illustrator living in Boston, MA.  She has had stories published in several journals including Epiphany and Far Off Places, and Undeliverable is her debut novel.  In her spare time, she crochets, gardens, and goes climbing with her boyfriend.  Connect with her through her blog on Twitter @RebeccaDemarest and on Facebook  

Amazon eBook $6.99
Amazon Paperback $14.99
Also available in large print for $16.99
Coming soon on audiobook

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sitting Down with Charles Prandy

Today's interview guest comes to us through Standoutbooks, Charles Prandy with his newly published crime thriller The Avenged.

DAB:  Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

CP:      The desire was always there to be an author. I've always written poems or short stories throughout my life.  But it was when I found myself daydreaming about stories that I was creating in my head more so than the actual work that I was doing, that's when I knew I should pursue my dreams of being an author and storyteller.

DAB:  What was the catalyst for this novel’s premise?

CP:      The Avenged is actually a combination of a couple of stories that I had been working on. I wanted to write a story about a sniper who was out for revenge, and I also wanted to write a story about a corrupt judge. When I started playing with the plots a little bit I said to myself, why not mesh the stories together. The first two Jacob Hayden novels were originally going to be the two separate stories noted above, but as I began combining them together, I saw that the story was more complex and creative and there was more wiggle room to create plot twists and suspense. So by merging the two stories together I created, The Avenged.

DAB:  Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

CP:      When I first started writing I found it hard to write a female character. The problem I had was keeping the female character feminine. In the first draft of my very first book I remember I had one of the female characters walking in rain and getting wet. One of my readers told me that a woman wouldn’t let her hair get wet in that situation. I thought about it and said, “oh yeah, guess you’re right.” Something as blatant as a woman not wanting her hair to get wet was a different way of thinking for me because I routinely walk in the rain, unless is a torrential downpour.

DAB:  Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?

CP:      I’d have to say, Jacob. He’s the main character and is featured mostly in the books. I like his work ethic and tenacity. He’s the type of person that if he believes strongly in something he’ll go to hell and back to defend his point. I like that he loves his wife and treats his in-laws like his own parents. He’s dedicated to fighting crime and making Washington, D.C. the best city it can be.

DAB:  How long did it take for you to craft this novel?

CP:      The Avenged took a little longer than expected to write mainly because while writing the first draft my wife and I found out that our oldest daughter had a tumor. She was only three at the time and upon hearing that I pretty much stopped what I was doing for over a year while she went through her chemo treatments, hospital visits, surgery and radiation. Once she was better and cancer free I went back to writing. But normally I try to get the first draft done within four to five months.

DAB:  Have you ever experienced writer's block?

CP:      All the time. It’s frustrating when I’m ready to write and nothing wants to come through my head. In those times I do what any writing teacher would tell you to do: I just write whatever comes to mind. Anything and everything. And surprisingly after a few paragraphs or even a page, things start to flow and eventually I’ll start putting cohesive words and sentences together. The funny part is going back later and seeing what I wrote to get out of writer’s block.

DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

CP:      I choose not to outline. I usually write a two page summary of what the entire story will be about. Then from there I go through the natural progression of building the story: conflicts, dialogue, suspense, etc. Stephen King wrote that he likes to see where the characters take him. I totally agree with that. Even though I kind of have a big picture idea, I like it when the characters lead and develop the story themselves.

DAB:  How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?

CP:      I think I’m a pretty good sport about it. It’s human nature to get a little upset when someone doesn’t like you’re work, but for the most part I’m an opened minded person and I realize that not everyone will like my writing. However, I think as long as the negative feedback is constructive and not just ignorant rambling, then I’d take the negative feedback into consideration and try to understand what it was about my writing that person didn’t like. If it’s something that I think I can improve upon I definitely will try.

DAB:  Usually authors are also avid readers - what are you currently reading?

CP:      At the moment I’m not reading anything just because I’m trying to finish the next book in my detective series. Having said that, the last book I read was one of Harlan Coben’s, Myron Bolitar, books.

DAB:  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

CP:      I’ll soon be finishing up the third book in my Detective Jacob Hayden series entitled, The Game of Life or Death, which will be released sometime in late April. In this book Jacob has to solve the murders of a close family that he’s known his whole life. He’ll also come face to face with the man who’s been sending him threatening letters.

DAB:  Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

CP:      The Avenged has everything you want in a crime thriller: love, suspense, betrayal, sex, violence, intriguing characters and plot twists. If you haven’t had a chance to meet Jacob yet, download a copy and see what he’s all about.

Thanks for visiting the blog, Charles!  For more information about him and his writing, visit Charles on his website or contact him through the social media links below.  And check out the blurb for The Avenged!

Book Blurb:
Alex Cross isn’t the only detective in D.C. In this thrill ride of a debut novel, D.C. Homicide Detective Jacob Hayden investigates an underground operation that ultimately changes his life forever. 
When a seventeen year-old kid is shot point blank in the chest, the investigation leads Jacob to a storage facility where he finds three crates full of something that he never expected seeing. 
The next day, a Sniper sits on top of a building with a Parker-Hale M85 rifle aimed at Dupont Circle’s park in Washington, D.C. The Sniper scans the perimeter from right to left until he sees his target. When he sees him, he steadies his aim and takes the shot. But what happens next, even the Sniper wasn’t prepared for. Prominent Superior Court Judge Frank Peters’ business operations take a hit when one of his partners is murdered in Dupont Circle. 
The murder investigation, led by Detective Hayden, threatens the very core of the Judge’s business. Follow Detective Hayden’s investigation and see how the Sniper and the Judge are linked to this underground operation.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review a Dangerous Past

We've got another Tribute Books blog tour happening this month, and I picked up a copy of A.F. Ebbers Dangerous Past to review.  Let's get started.

Book Blurb:
Senior Airline Captain Frank Braden is being stalked in his home town of Austin, Texas, by unknown assailants who must arrange his death to look like a suicide or an accident before a specific deadline. The assassins almost succeed several times, in the air and on the ground. In fact, Braden’s surgeon wife, Nicole, saves his life twice from ground assailants. Both of them don’t know why people are trying to kill him.

Later, he receives a message warning him not to attend a forthcoming Senate hearing in Washington. If he agrees he will receive a million dollars and his wife’s life. When Braden turns to the FBI and local police for help, they doubt his stories since they have been led to believe he is schizophrenic and suicidal, exactly what his assailants want the authorities to think.

Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive by allowing a murderous and powerful Washington VIP to escape his past.

My Review:
Dangerous Past opens with a flashback to Vietnam with events surrounding Jack Braden.  Then we jump forward to the present day where younger brother Frank Braden is conducting himself in his everyday existence as an airline pilot.  Then all you-know-what breaks loose.

The next few chapters are explosive (literally) and exciting as Frank holds the lives of over a hundred passengers in his hands when attempting to navigate the landing of his damaged plane.  It isn't until later he discovers that it wasn't merely structural damage that brought down his plane - but a bomb.

And all fingers point to Frank as the culprit.

So not only is Frank having financial difficulties after huge market losses, relational difficulties with his wife Nicole, and facing an empty nest with both of his children off to college, but now he's grounded from his job and fighting an uphill battle to clear his name.  Then there's the question of who would be trying so hard to frame him, and why?  There was good development of the mystery surrounding Frank's credibility.

But after this is where the story started losing steam for me.  Inconsistencies started popping up starting with simple things like a green and yellow taxi shifting to a green and white taxi to bigger inconsistencies like the CIA destroying all records of an operation known as "Dragnet" but then Nicole brings up remembering Newsweek or Time breaking the "Dragnet" story back in the seventies, so obviously there are still records out there (plus CIA wouldn't be able to completely destroy files - they'd be "lost" or severely redacted, unlike what you see in the movies).  Senate hearings were presented more like a courtroom trial hearing.  Then the reader is asked to suspend reality too much when in broad daylight a helicopter is landed in Frank's backyard, and no one driving by the area or neighbors will notice?  Even if the neighborhood is divided up into three or five acre parcels, neighbors will notice when a large helicopter drops down from the sky and lands nearby - they'd hear it too, so the fact that there would be no official record of the flight doesn't mean there won't be witnesses who report it.

Then there's the fact that the antagonist is up for this big presidential appointment - but Frank thought he'd long died in Vietnam.  So for almost forty years this bad guy has been alive and in a position of power and yet no public references have been made of this man either in print or television.  This stretched credulity too much for me.

Point-of-view was all over the place within a scene (and we all know by now that is a hot button for me as a reader).  There were occasional shifts between present and past tense, and a few grammatical errors and missing words all writers tend to miss after staring at a page for months on end.  I can forgive that.  There were moments when I enjoyed the jumps back to Vietnam as Frank and his witness relived some of their mutual history.  Reliving a bit of history in fictionalized form was interesting to this reader.  But by the time we got to this back half of the novel, the story had already lost me and by the end it all felt anti-climactic.

But if you have any interest in the machinations of the Vietnam War (in fictionalized form) behind the scenes and that explosive opener of what an airline pilot goes through in an emergency, pick up a copy of Dangerous Past.

Author Bio:

A. F. Ebbers, a journalism graduate of Ohio University was a reporter/writer for major newspapers, ad agencies, and in public relations for Cessna Aircraft Company. He also graduated from Army Flight School and flew for the Ohio and Kansas Army National Guards. Later he was called to active duty and served two flying tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, he flew for corporations and for regional airlines. A dual rated ATP pilot, he has written for numerous national magazines, Sunday supplements and trade and travel magazines and has written screenplays and short stories. Today he lives with his wife in the Austin, Texas area and, when not writing, enjoys tennis, flying and piano. Dangerous Past is his debut novel. Visit his website at

Formats/Prices: Ebook ($0.99), Hardcover ($10.00)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
ISBN: 9780978948238
Pages: 240
Release: May 1, 2007
Publisher: SilverHawk Books

Kindle buy link - $0.99

Nook buy link - $0.99

Amazon hardcover buy link - $10.00

Barnes and Noble hardcover buy link - $10.00

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Interview with Indie Author Tinika Ross

Tonight we sit down for an interview with new indie author Tinika Ross as she talks about writing and the release of her first novel Madness.  Welcome Tinika!

DAB:  Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

TR:       I reached a point where I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  I've always loved to write, but I was very reluctant about becoming an author.  Writing is fun for me, and I thought if I pursued it professionally, it would stop being fun.  I pursued other passions and interests, but they didn't feel right.  National Novel Writing Month came around and I wrote an amazing book so I figured I'd go for it.

DAB:  Where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

TR:       I like to draw from my personal life or the lives of my family and friends.  Music and movies inspire me too.

DAB:  What was the catalyst for this novel's premise?

TR:       I was dealing with some heavy emotions when I got the idea for Madness.  I tried talking to a few people about it, but most of them were dismissive.  They kept telling me to get over it, that I should be okay and move on.  It wasn't that simple though.  I couldn't let it go and it was eating away at me.  So I wrote the novel as a way to purge and express those negative emotions that I couldn't express otherwise.

DAB:  Do you have a character(s) in your novel with whom you closely identify?

TR:       Two come to mind.  Langston and Giselle.  Langston is the female protagonist and Giselle is a woman Langston meets in Paris.

Although they do it in different ways, they try really hard to hide their true feelings and their pain.  They don't want others to see them as weak.  I'm the same way.  I'd rather put on a brave face and push forward than be perceived as weak or damaged.

DAB:  I can relate with you there.  Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

TR:       Sometimes.  The tricky thing about writing from a male perspective is they don't seem to analyze things as much as women do.  They also respond to conflict differently too.  Sometimes I forget that and my male characters end up being a little more emotional than I want them to be. 

DAB:  How long did it take for you to craft this novel?

TR:       I wrote Madness for National Novel Writing Month in 2012.  It took 27 days to write.  The editing process took a lot longer.  It took about 8 months to get it right.

DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference? 

TR:       I hate outlining.  It makes me feel restricted and sucks some of the fun out of writing for me.

DAB:  I hear you!  Have you ever experienced writer's block?

TR:       Yeah.  It happens a lot.  A few years ago, I had a really bad case of writer's block that lasted several months.  Another blogger suggested that I immerse myself in new and unusual things like sitting in a dark closet.  It worked wonders.  Whenever I get blocked now I do something new or go somewhere new and let my senses and imagination take over.

DAB:  Oh that's fascinating!  I'll have to try the dark closet thing sometime.  Now when I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters.  Have you ever written to music?

TR:       All the time.  Music helps me focus.  If I'm writing emotional or action scenes, I listen to rock.  For other scenes I usually listen to hip hop, rap, or pop depending on my mood.

DAB:  Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?

TR:       As cliche as it sounds, write.  The more you write, the better you'll get.  Share your work with others.  This will help you build a platform and a fan base.  Also, share the work of other writers.  It will make their day and could building some friendships.  Most importantly, don't give up!  Keep trying and writing.

DAB:  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

TR:      Of course.  Right now I'm working on a couple short stories.  Hopefully, you'll see them this year.  I'm also working on a new novel.  This one is about a wannabe rock star that falls on some hard luck.  It should be released in 2015, but there will probably be teasers available towards the end of this year.

DAB:  Now's your chance - give us the final plug for your novel. 

TR:       Madness follows two people: Langston and Tripp.  On her way home from work one evening, Langston has car trouble and gets sexually assaulted.  The same day in Iraq, Tripp and his unit are ambushed.  As a result, Tripp gets a traumatic brain injury and is guilt ridden over the severe injuries his best friend receives.  Through a few chance meetings the pair become friends and try to help each other overcome their issues.

Madness is available on Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

Virtual Bookworm:

Thanks again, Tinika, for stopping by the blog to share a little about your experience publishing Madness and giving us a sneak peek into your writing world.  Congratulations on this release and much luck with your future work!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

J.R. Rogers' "Doomed Spy"

Winter has returned, and with it another book to review.  Join me in my white, winter wanderings (and sometimes wonderings - hmmm) as we delve into J.R. Rogers' novel Doomed Spy.

Book Blurb:
A psychological spy thriller set in 1960 in the quiet South American capital of Montevideo, Uruguay an unconventional distant posting at the height of the Cold War. The city is at first glance an unassuming battleground: the Rio de la Plata lapping at its shores, cobblestone streets lined with narrow buildings decorated with filigree ironwork, and overall a distinct colonial feel, but also with a palpable old European influence. At the center of the intrigue are two Cold War intelligence officers, a British MI6 officer, and the Soviet KGB Rezident. Both are seasoned operatives in the shadowy clandestine world of spies. Outwardly, the two are enemies but the Britisher is not what he seems. He has close secret ties to the Rezident who recruited him years ago in Belgium as a double agent. The intricate chilling details of the eventual betrayal of the MI6 officer as his life and work suddenly unravel ends climactically in faraway Moscow.

My Review:
I had mixed emotions about this novel and am having difficulty placing a rating on it.  As a child growing up in the Cold War era and the saber-rattling threat of nuclear war at the forefront, I was immediately intrigued and drawn into once again visiting the realm of the spy network.

I secretly dreamed of being a spy, you know.  Confession time too - I actually know someone who was a spy during this time period. :-)

So going in, I was immediately pulled into the espionage and intrigue on the sides of the Soviets and the British, their work dancing with one another as they attempted to turn the other into double agents.  The urgency of the young Soviet spy worrying about his wife back home was palpable, the worry of the aging agents as they tired of the game and looked forward to retirement - but couldn't let their guard down yet, and the myriad of support teams on both sides of the equation as they tried to read one another and discover who was real and who was Memorex.

But before a quarter of the way into the story, it was pretty obvious who the turncoat was and then the story blatantly revealed that information - and I didn't like that.  Immediately the palpable tension and sense of urgency in the story deflated like a popped balloon and the wind in my sails died out with the revelation.  Yes, again it was already obvious, but I feel it would have been so much better if that information had been strung along - like Kevin Costner's character in the movie No Way Out.  After that the story merely rambled for me, and I quickly lost interest about events and what happened with the characters.

The initial descriptions of the scene and setting were great, giving me a sense of actually being there.  However, description at times became overwhelming and rambling about the smallest details that began to detract from the story instead of enhance it.  Pacing dragged and made it feel as if I was slogging through heavy, wet concrete.

Point of view changed many times within a scene but avoided being jarring most of the time because once it switched hands, it typically stayed in that one head until the next switch within that scene.  This could easily be fixed in most cases by simply adding a scene break.  I personally feel that would also help speed pacing somewhat by breaking up several overlong chapters.

Initially the characters were intriguing, but as the story moved forward they rather lost a sense of depth and seemed to be making decisions or doing things simply because that was the way the story was supposed to go.  I could understand if someone did something out of character once or twice, but to change entirely was a bit much.  Some motivations felt muddled, as if even they weren't sure why they were doing something but they did it anyway - and most of the time to their own detriment.  Most people learn to trust their instincts and respond accordingly (especially trained spies).  It left me scratching my head several times that the characters didn't stay true to themselves.

I kept reading, though, expecting some big, spectacular finish that maybe I wasn't seeing coming.  The end came and went - and I turned off my Kindle feeling even more deflated.  When I picked up this novel I expected something along the lines of the aforementioned movie.  Sadly it didn't stir me.

Were there times when my heart was pumping?  Yes.  Did I feel like I was present in the location(s)?  Yes.  Was it intriguing revisiting the Cold War?  Yes.

And for that I'll settle on a very tentative three star rating.


Author Bio:

J.R. Rogers grew up primarily in Paris, but also in Antwerp and Kinshasa, an international influence he finds frequently tainting his historical novels of intrigue and espionage with settings and scenes set in the various parts of the world: France, Belgium, Peru, Brazil, French Guiana, Uruguay and Morocco. He holds a B.A. in French Literature.
His novel influences were those of classic spy writers such as Eric Ambler, and John Le Carre, for instance but his interests in writers of the genre are all over the board.  He is currently at work on his fourth novel, a story of intrigue set in 1944 French Morocco entitled Mission to Morocco. The novel will become available in early 2014.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Cover for Running into the Darkness

Wait for it.......

Here's a peek for you, dear readers, at the new cover for Running into the Darkness.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks to Genevieve at LaVO Design.

Stay tuned for the paperback release!