Last Night in Sturgis written by JJ Spain is the first book in a Mike Salas detective series. The novel follows Salas’ journey as he hunts for a killer who is attending the largest motorcycle rally in the world with over one million riders.
The eventual setting of Last Night in Sturgis is predictably, Sturgis, South Dakota. Prior to this, the setting rolls through various towns and cities across the United States on the way to Sturgis. The descriptions are rich and colorful and immediately draw the reader into the story. Author JJ Spain describes the natural landscapes and cities in detail; however the most vivid descriptions are saved for the numerous motorcycles in the book! Descriptions include visual sights, smells and sounds, which all serve to give this contemporary mystery novel an authentic feel.
There are a large number of characters in Last Night in Sturgis including vivid descriptions of all the characters physical appearances and even their clothing. The free flowing dialogue also helps to differentiate the many varied characters. The two main characters are described in complete detail, which really delivers a complete portrait of our protagonist. Detective Salas’ character is further developed through his somewhat dubious actions, his sharp dialogue and interactions with other characters – particularly his partner – a new police officer named Ronnie. Albert, the character Salas is searching for is also well developed, and I really enjoyed the insight we get into his dark and disturbed mindset. This is given through monologue in the chapters he narrates which provides variation to the tone and atmosphere of the story. His motivation and fixation on the past lead him on a journey with far reaching consequences.
The storyline is easy to follow, which is a benefit since the various colorful characters pull you in many directions, but the mystery at the heart of the story is still alluring.
Last Night in Sturgis is an entertaining crime fiction novel. The setting is richly described with numerous intriguing characters and a plot that follows a traditional structure but has enough twists and turns that transforms this standard murder mystery into a riveting crime thriller.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B08WJKQDG1
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Loved by Night by Mildred Osei-Diko, is a fast-paced sensual fantasy novel about a forever war between vampires and werewolves, told through the eyes of Rebeka, an orphan girl, and her connection with four very different brothers, Stan, Nicholas, Antoli and Rikah. Each of them is forced to make terrible sacrifices to protect their family and the people they have come to love.
The engaging character-driven plot locks us into an intriguing world where vampires and werewolves are at war. Their savage war was sparked by the brother’s actions, and the dilemmas these characters face to survive.
I really enjoyed how Osei-Diko beautifully captures the frustration felt by orphaned Rebeka as she dreams of moving far away from the drudgery of her village life. In contrast, the four brothers, Stan, Nicholas, Antoli and Rikah are portrayed as living a care-free life growing up, practicing the combat skills their father had taught them. The brothers were born 1000 years ago, which gives this novel a vague but interesting historical aspect. The brother’s lives are changed forever in one traumatic night when the horror of their true natures is revealed. These invigorating twists and revelations come without warning and certainly keep readers on their edge of their seats. In the same way, there is a shocking revelation about Rebeka’s identity in the final battle, but I don’t want to ruin the ending, so I’ll just say the book has some wild twists.
The existence of these two warring is woven into the storyline slowly and makes really comes to fruition later in the novel. I did enjoy the backstory scenes which describe the terrible dilemmas that the four brothers face as they try and balance respect for human life, sexual attraction, and their need to feed. When Rebeka meets Stan, Nicholas and Antoli in a modern-day restaurant, the author cleverly contrasts her old life with their world of fierce fighting, luxury, and sexual power battles.
Rebeka falls almost instantly in love with Nicholas which will appeal to ardent romance fans that enjoy the genres tropes. The vampires are portrayed as sexually voracious and Rebeka is a willing ingenue and their is an alluring intimacy, but I wanted to explore it deeper and see their mutual desire for each other be drawn out. Why would Nicholas and Rebeka be so attracted to another at first sight if they come from opposite factions? What’s given is captivating, which makes me want to know more about their backstory.
I’m not sure if this is a warning or an invite, but I will say there are some erotic scenes and violence that will appeal to readers who enjoy provocative storytelling. Loved by Night is a fast-paced paranormal romance novel, with a page-turning plot that will appeal to readers of erotic romance and mainstream vampire and werewolf fantasy readers.
Pages: 103 | ASIN: B08LH6VCL6
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Nicholas Powter’s The Gauntlet of Pong Wu is a tragic story of love, family, and treachery. Set in the mystical land of Pong Wu, this story follows the life of Antatirgo, a local chief’s daughter. While the story begins with two warriors dueling for her hand in marriage, things soon take an apocalyptic turn.
Demons invade her village and she is tragically separated from her sister Wytgo. In a last-ditch attempt to save herself and find her sister, she lets a demon possess her after he promises to help her. Ultimately, this decision takes her down a dangerous path, one of pain and unexpected challenges.
As expected from a story with gods, angels, and demons, a lot of the language used in this book is quite unique – this particular story posses a flair for horrid descriptions and uses a lot of old English terms. While this adds authenticity to the spellbinding narrative that immerses you in the well-crafted world, I think it can be overwhelming at times. While the dialogue is substantive and sincere, delivering much of the emotional impact of the novel, I felt it was ponderous at times and ti was hard to nail down who was talking.
These minor quibbles aside, the plot of The Gauntlet of Pong Wu driving this riveting story forward is absolutely enthralling and sets up some very impactful scenes that will stay with you long after you’ve put the book down. The author has a way of always keeping you on your toes. This epic paranormal fantasy novel expertly depicts how much one is willing to endure for the love of family. I really enjoyed the ending to this dark fantasy novel as well, it is quite tragic and unpredictable, and left me with a lot of mixed feelings, which I think is what a good novel is supposed to do.
The Gauntlet of Pong Wu is an emotionally charged adventure novel with a rich backstory and fascinating characters that make it hard to put this book down.
Pages: 97 | ISBN: 198229065X
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FoxHide follows a family of foxes and the adventures they embark on to create a life for themselves in the forest. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Well, I wanted to make a new story that was a pleasure to read, it made you happy and made you think. I’ve learned a lot in life and wanted to PASS IT ON. One of the main concepts that I have learned is the ability to use “WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW” for troubleshooting. I am a retired IT professional of 35 years. Using that skill & thought pattern brought me great success. In life, as I have been able to communicate that concept to those around me, once they GRASP the concept, they become better people. Smarter people. Happier people. Over time, they thank me for teaching them that. I tried to weave into FoxHide all the GOOD, POSITIVE, THINGS IN LIFE I have learned.
The characters in your story were endearing and well created. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
My Family – Mom and Dad – Wife – and Co-Workers. I had MUCH good material to work with. I took all the GOOD things from all the people I knew in life, and used ONLY the GOOD PARTS of them. I was able to use many people to make each character. Then wove all that into a story that I wanted to be new and original. ‘Strike’ was my BOSS for many years. He was always so sharp, very sharp and smart. Even if he did not know something, he would be able to think it through and make up a solution. ‘BoomBoom’ is my little brother in life. To this very DAY, he is a Spoiled Brat and he is 52! He has never grown up! So, he made me really angry one day by his behavior. I told him I would write a book and change his name to BoomBoom because he is so thundering and mean and thoughtless of other people. HE then said, “I DARE YOU”. So I did. It worked. He is now called BoomBoom. ‘SlitherChameleon’ – was all my other MEAN bosses mixed together over time…..
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Telling the Truth. Working hard. Paying attention in LIFE, to make My Life and the lives next to me better and more pleasant and more successful.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I don’t think there will be a FoxHide II. Maybe, but not in the plans. IF there were to be a FoxHide II, it would be along the lines of a ‘Pawz and Foxxy Babe’ relationship. It would be a Men R from Mars, Women R from Venus. Where PAWZ has to figure out the mind of a WOMAN now that he has conquered the physical world around him. It would be fun, but a LOT of WORK.
Posted in Interviews
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Still recovering from jat lag as a result of his last case, Tom Sipowicz, the Polish Dragon P.I., is needed yet again. This time he is asked to go undercover at MaGed Material Handling to get to the bottom of a couple of mysterious deaths, with suspicions of theft and drugs just to make things a little more interesting. As Tom makes his way around the warehouse, trying his best to blend in, his well trained eye is quick to pick out a few suspects and odd happenings among his new peers. With the help of some friends as well as his own set of skills, Tom soon finds just how deep the problem goes!
In The Polish Dragon P.I. (Midnight Cranes) by Steve Zimcosky, we again get to follow the intriguing exploits of Tom Sipowicz as he seeks to solve all manner of enthralling mysteries. This time he’s asked to help solve a couple of deaths at an international company that specializes in building hardwares. The president isn’t satisfied with the official report by the authorities, and Tom is recommended to him. Instead of his usual methods, Tom is asked to go undercover so he can better assess and observe those at the warehouse, knowing that at least one of them is potentially responsible for the deaths. This provides for an entertaining narrative twist that puts the P.I. in different situations. Along the way, Zimcosky does an excellent job of fully immersing the reader in the environment Tom is living and working in. The plot moves fast even with lots of details given to the reader throughout the story.
Like the other books in this series, Midnight Cranes is a fun and quick read. Tom is the kind of character that is instantly likeable and seems to be capable of just about anything; a trait that provides him with his many adventures. The quick references to past books makes everyone seem more relatable and familiar, which makes the book even more enjoyable.
Midnight Cranes is the perfect book for some light and fun reading that delivers intrigue and entertainment on par with a full length novel but Zimcosky does it in under 90 pages. This is a book that will excite long time fans of the series as they’ll find the tried and true protagonist in new situations, but new readers will enjoy the easy story and alluring mystery.
Pages: 213 | ASIN: B093MX47QX
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When the mysterious new boy in town shows up at Jasmine’s baseball game, she is immediately intrigued. Dylan is kind and handsome, and he drives a gorgeous car. But there’s something strange about his relationship with his brothers, Kevin and Kyle. Witnessing a violent altercation between Dylan and Kevin is Jasmine’s first clue that something is very wrong. As she gets to know the brothers, she discovers that the family is hiding a dark secret: criminal charges of horrible crimes that occurred in their old town. The question is, whose crimes are they—Kevin’s or Dylan’s? Is Jasmine’s boyfriend who he says he is? The Cooper Brothers: In the
Beginning is a young adult suspense novel about a first romance gone wrong.
Posted in book trailer
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Misadventures Memoirs: Little Girl Scream by Al E. Boy and F. Carod is a murder mystery set in the premium luxury resort, Hotel Amatista in Cancun. It centers around two main characters, Sofia Hernández, a woman in charge of many of the hotel’s facilities, and Dale Mathis, a visiting professor. The paths of these two intriguing characters intertwine when hotel guests start going missing to then be found tortured and murdered. They both must work together to find and stop the culprit.
The two protagonists are the highlight of the book, personally. Mathis is a simple English professor, but he holds a strong, unmovable personality where he doesn’t take nonsense from anyone but will call out someone’s faults immediately, which proved to be very entertaining. Sofia, on the other hand, is a dedicated and diligent hotel worker but where she shined was in the more casual settings that would reveal her to have a more teasing and eccentric side to her. Pairing the two of them up like this caused for amusing scenes that offered a break from the heavier aspects of the novel.
At first glance, Misadventures Memoirs: Little Girl Scream seems to be a horror novel with mystery elements, but it turns out to be more of a thriller mystery. Authors Al. E Boy and F. Carod play to the strengths of the mystery novel with interesting dialogue scenes where you could never really tell who was speaking the truth and the detective-like Mathis confronting those he thought were. I think the opening scene misrepresented the tone of the novel as a whole, however, since it started aggressively and gruesomely and gave off the impression that the novel would be more violent. This was smoothed out eventually though and didn’t impact the experience. The hotel setting feels like it is a throw-back to classic ‘whodunnits’ novels, although this has a unique resort culture and Boy and Carod avoid the usual clichés. In the end the mystery at the heart of the story was alluring and getting to the truth revealed a number of dark, surprising plot twists with a satisfying ending and culprit reveal.
Boy and Carod have created a very enjoyable mystery novel with vibrant characters that play off each other in extreme circumstances. The plot and character twists and developments had me ruminating in the days after finishing it. Misadventures Memoirs: Little Girl Scream is a thrilling murder mystery that is deeply intriguing and effortlessly spellbinding.
Pages: 419 | ASIN: B08QZ8C6N3
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Hidden Meridians follows a young man who sets sail on a magical ship, but secrets about his family lead him to a place of myth where an age-old war is being fought. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I wanted the setup of this story to be as boundless as our own world, and that also meant that the themes it tackles would also be incredibly broad. This was ambitious to say the least, but also provided a sense of freedom to play with the world-building. In that regard, I was inspired heavily by nature; especially the ocean as nothing else on our planet is as fluid or as constant. As for the setup on an antiquated ship, I first conceived the idea for Around Curiosity’s Edge while moving around the world, including places like Germany, South Korea, and India, and was inspired to use Curiosity as a major mode of transportation as I found it instills a timelessness vital to maintain a core element of the story’s plot, namely the bridge between the Commons, that is the world of humans, and the Fringe, the world of myth.
The tension between the worlds of humanity and myth were inspired by the current tensions playing out between our current world of industry, technology and growth, and that of nature. I think the story of the mythical creatures known as fringers in Around Curiosity’s Edge is the story of the biodiversity we are losing every day due to human greed.
The global cast of mythologies and characters which appear in the book(s) are inspired by the multicultural experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have throughout my life.
In short, diversity in all its wonderful shapes and forms inspired the setup.
Salem is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I was that kid always lifting up rocks and looking for bugs, or catching salamanders and fish in the ponds and streams by my house. I think Salem comes very much from that place, while also mixed with some of the social anxieties many young adults face through their teenage years.
When I first started writing, I noticed that Salem was more of a sounding board for the adventure, rather than a true character with flaws and doubts. After listening to some wisdom of my editor, I shifted my character development of Salem from: this is happening to him to this is happening for him. From then on, Salem had felt much more natural as a soul who could learn and grow in the story.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Three major themes pervade for me throughout the book:
- The importance of diversity and inclusion for a balanced and healthy world.
- Overcoming loss by building resilience.
- Acknowledging failure as a chance to grow.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My goal is to have book two of the Around Curiosity’s Edge series out at some point next year. I’m so excited to continue to the journey and see where this story goes.
A shorter term goal that I am also so excited about is audiobook narration and production of Around Curiosity’s Edge: Hidden Meridians. I love narrating the book though I will say figuring out the many character voices is incredibly challenging. It should be available within the next few months.
Posted in Interviews
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