When Nick Jenkins is murdered in the most heinous of fashions, Roger Devine vows to stop at nothing and spare no expense in order to find the killer. He enlists the help of hacker, Jack Mill, who in turn succeeds in dragging former detective, Nate Burns, out of retirement to solve the crime. Nate is paired, quite unwillingly, with one Detective Gabe Monet, and a week of lavish living, harrowing investigative work, and favor-calling ensues. Together Nate and Gabe begin to connect the dots between the murder of Nick Jenkins in Las Vegas and a rash of similar murders across the country.
Kwen Griffeth’s Dance with the Devils: Revenge: Best served bloody has everything I want to see in a murder mystery. It is one of those rare read-in-one-sitting novels. I hate to use the phrase, “I couldn’t put it down,” but the term, without question, applies in this case. Griffeth’s writing has a seamless flow that sucks the reader in from the first page. The visuals provided by the author are amazing. I am not one who balks at having to use my own imagination to visualize the setting, but reading is made infinitely more pleasurable when vivid details abound–at this technique Griffeth is a master.
Griffeth’s Nate Burns, is one of those main characters readers will love from his first appearance. There is nothing more endearing than a family man facing inner turmoil and coming out on top. Nate is the perfect picture of both. Watching the efficiency with which he is able to jump back into the saddle after leaving the police department, the reader can see Nate as the incredible force he once was before being shot and put out of commission. His mannerisms, vulnerability, and tendency to second guess himself make him that much more endearing. On the other hand, when Nate is on the job, he is respected, makes himself known, and is determined not to be defeated despite his obvious physical limitations. That being said, Nate Burns has joined the ranks of my favorite characters across genres.
I had a difficult time liking Gabe Monet at the outset. I felt as though she tried far too hard to overcompensate for her shortcomings and her questionable reputation. Frankly, I think Nate and his family stole my heart so quickly and completely that I had almost no room left for Gabe and her shenanigans. The author, however, does a fabulous job of slowly making Gabe Monet a more likable character, and I was left feeling much more at ease with her manner and her commentary.
I am giving Kwen Griffeth’s Dance with the Devils: Revenge: Best served bloody an emphatic 5 out of 5 stars and would give it more given the option. You don’t often find a novel of this genre that isn’t riddled with profanity and sexual situations. Griffeth has more than managed to create an engaging and gripping plot without inundating readers with uncomfortable scenes and unnecessary language. I look forward to reading more of Griffeth’s work and hope beyond hope to see a sequel to Dance with the Devils as the ending leaves the door wide open for more from Nate Burns.
Pages: 318 | ASIN: B07BV6822S
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Author Maria Reinhardt debuts with an exotic family saga about blending love, business, and second chances. In the first Richardson novel, old sensual feelings emerge to test trust, legacy, and family responsibility in the quest for happily ever after.
Can she catch lightning in a bottle?
AFTER THE RAIN is set on the exotic shores of Maui, Hawaii; it is here heroine Katrina Marlowe visits when attending her 10-year class reunion. She is a svelte ex-coed—although she was overweight back in college at the University of Hawaii.
Kat has a lot of hidden talents (she’s a whiz with motors, for one—her calling, interior design, another), and she likes to use them for an element of surprise. She also has a problem. She’s been in love with the sexy, wealthy, Hawaiian property developer, Guy Richardson, since college. And she’s told him so in her series of sensual letters—all of which she thought had gone unnoticed and unread.
Kat’s dedication to her special-needs family and their automotive dealership kept her a shy, hard-working homebody back in Upstate, New York after school; she passed Guy’s perceived apathy off as her insecurity, a penchant for panic attacks, and a weight issue. What she didn’t account for was a second chance, his latter-day response to her letters, and how her unique talents could fulfill both of their dreams.
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Dee Dee is a surfer, an aspiring tennis player, and a girl who is always up for a good party. One summer in particular stands out in her memory as she reflects upon her life. With her close band of friends around her, Dee Dee sets out to thoroughly enjoy her summer off and does not hesitate as she goes about seeking the company of friends new and old. Her “blow out summer,” as she calls it, teaches her some valuable lessons and gives her time to reflect on her own choices as she learns who is worthy of her affection and trust and who falls short.
Set in Huntington Beach, California, Blow Out Summer, by Denise Ann Stock, reads less like a novel and much more like a memoir. The conversational tone of the book makes it a quick and easy read. Dee Dee’s reflections on her experiences with the drug trade and her laid back approach to her participation in drug trafficking read shockingly smoothly. For as deeply involved as Dee Dee seems to be in buying and selling illegal substances, she seems much less concerned than she should be. I attributed her naivety and lack of real concern to the time period, the mid 70’s.
I found myself waiting for that one point in the story that would point to a gripping climax. Everything in Dee Dee’s eventful summer points to an action-packed high point. However, with all her close calls, second guesses regarding her associates, and her relationship woes, there never came that one moment where the entire book seemed to pull together. Reading much more like a diary of the summer, I was a little disappointed not to see a resolution to many of the dilemmas created by the main character and her friends. I believe I was more determined to find answers than Dee Dee herself.
The one scene providing the most harrowing visual comes when Dee Dee’s friend, Jaycee, makes a frantic call about a possible overdose. I felt, as a reader looking for answers, this was an ideal opportunity for the plot to tie neatly together with some life-changing decisions being made on the part of both Dee Dee and her friends. As in real life, however, secrets prevail, and not much changed for those most deeply entangled in drug use and trafficking.
As pleasant as Dee Dee seems throughout the story and as much as her remembrances of her eventful summer kept me interested, I felt the overall story was missing something. The memoir style of writing Stock uses is appealing and will suit readers seeking a fairly light read without highly stressful rising action.
Pages: 360 | ASIN: B01C58JXJI
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The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down explores the lives of three “downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living” people as they battle with their demons while leaning on one another. What were some of the stand out moments for you when writing this story?
Stand out moments… I would have to say some of the quieter, more introspective scenes in which the three main characters collide with from time to time. These moments of theirs are aimed to define them or break them entirely, or both. Particularly, some scenarios in which a resolution is expected to eventually come to fruition, but never does, because many times in life that is what happens. Or a resolution won’t be surmised for an unfathomably long time, and during those long stretches we can either take it in stride with patience, or die.
Once again you are able to amaze me with some realistically gritty characters. Where does the seed for a character start and what is your process for developing them through the story?
In most cases, any character I write, whether he or she is a major character or just an ornament on a mantle in the background, I begin with myself… as I’m sure most writers do. But where the emotion comes from, generally when I’m alone at night after a really, truly bad day at work. The birth of a character’s emotions can also come from the moments immediately following a delicious meal I’ve just enjoyed. So I can’t really say there’s one single place it all comes from. Almost every character I write, they start out as one type, and by the end of the book they become something entirely unintended, and not just because of the story. But because somewhere during the months of which the writing takes place, I think that a part of me sometimes changes depending on what’s going on in my own life, and sometimes… not always- but sometimes that bleeds out onto the page.
The title for this book is interesting. What was the inspiration for the title, and why did you choose a blank cover?
The cover was once full of color and pretty chaotic. But once I finished the first draft and really took a step back to look at everything, I felt a certain pull towards The Beatles’ White Album. And the theme of purity. In the book, the purity of the human soul is constantly at stake, whether it was lost long ago and there might be a chance to regain a sliver of it, or it’s literally on the brink of total collapse. How that theme is encompassed by all of the characters and where it steers them through their adventures, which can take them in very random directions, or keep them on a steady “forward” path, was a big part of why I chose the cover to be what it was. In a way, it serves as a figurative blank slate, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. The title, on the other hand, went through probably the most changes I’ve ever shifted through while writing a book. The title began as something very simple, I can’t remember exactly but it was very one or two-worded. Boring. And didn’t at all convey anything. The title that I landed on at the very end, I feel, paints a picture of emotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with any physical scene of the book, and for everyone I think it will be different. But for me, when I read the title, I picture a very, incredible quiet night. Like taking a deep breath, and being engulfed by absolute relief that the day is over with.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next book I’m currently working on is another story involving Arlo Smith, of The Mire Man Trilogy. The book takes place between the events of Book II and Book III, during his mid-twenties, where he meets a person who introduces him to really good jazz, and a very particular kind of nightlife away from home, when “home” starts to sometimes feel like a prison. It’s a sort of a love-letter to Kerouac’s “On the Road”. It’s tentatively titled “Electric Gypsies Beneath the Whiskey Tree”, and I hope to have it finished by next year some time.
Boots and Bonnets Inn, an isolated motel of questionable quality positioned just outside Moab, Utah, is home and haven to a handful of self-proclaimed societal outcasts who for better, worse, or much worse, have found their way here just in time to live out the rest of their lives. Among these longstayers is Wendel Trope, a slightly overweight almost-nihilist who survives within this little realm of “contentedness” by exercising his right to medicinal and alcoholic experimentation, while battling ruthless anxiety attacks and the “you owe me for last week’s stay” death stares of Jerry, the hotel owner. Holding his proverbial hand in an off-kilter, symbiotic friendship through this chapter of his life is Fag Bush Betty, the motel’s infamous “anything goes” prostitute, who may have more to her history than simply a catalytic reason to defile her own spirituality. And anchoring Betty, is Lotus, a young girl who harbors a shattered past and an as-of-yet untainted future that will inevitably bring her to the doorstep of Moab’s most unforgiving roadside motel. “THE SOUNDS FROM THE HILLS GO AWAY WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN” is a story without direction, without hope, and most importantly without a beginning or an end. It is simply an examination of the present moment during a fragment of time in the lives of several of what society considers downtrodden, gutter-decrepit, low-living, and expendable, taking place in a corner of the world most only have fleeting nightmares about.
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Damaged Beyond All Recognition follows a man who is unwilling to accept an afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?
I finally got around to reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut just before I started my novel. I was blown away by Vonnegut’s masterful handling of such a complicated story. It was the type of book that I had always wanted to write. So, I thought I would give it a try and see what would happen. I had a short story idea about a fractured afterlife, and I took it from there.
I enjoyed reading about your unique take on God and how the Creator is dependent upon others. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing about this topic?
I always found it interesting that humans have such wide-ranging views about God. Some think that God controls our every action while others think He doesn’t even exist. We read about how God created man in His own image, but I haven’t run across too many who see him as another guy. What if He just has the necessary job experience that would come from living countless lives through the Planes of Existence?
I loved Paul and Maggie Mae’s relationship and admired their dedication to one another. Did their relationship develop organically while writing or was it planned?
That relationship is based on a college romance that I had with the real-life Maggie Mae. She is the subject of a chapter (“There’s A Little Black Spot On The Fun Today”) in my first book, Damaged Right Out Of The Box, a humorous and wistful autobiography of sorts. The description of how Paul and Maggie Mae met and how their relationship flowered tracks what really happened. And it was my girlfriend’s career drive that prompted me to walk away. I couldn’t see myself playing second fiddle at the time.
But now I regret what happened and how it happened. So, I thought I would extrapolate the what-if. What if Paul and Maggie Mae said goodbye, but not a forever goodbye? What if he would wait for her while she proved to herself that she could be all that she could be?
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on the sequel to Damaged Beyond All Recognition. It’s entitled Damaged And No Longer Under Warranty, and it continues the story of whether the Paraverse was really the answer to preserving eternity. I hope to have it out in about 18 months or less.
Paul Tomenko is no stranger to the improbable. He became a magazine sweepstakes winner and celebrated counterculture writer by age 19. Now, after reaching for a can of Chef Boy-ar-dee spaghetti and meatballs, he’s traveling to and from God’s library somewhere outside the Universe to prevent the end of eternity.
Because of a DNA flaw, humanity no longer can ascend through the Planes of Existence after they die. They can’t access memories from countless past lives in previous versions of the Universe or acquire new recollections. That means no one will have the needed expertise to replace God when He dies. And, to complicate matters, Paul must enlist the help of his two lovers–Maggie Mae Monahan and Allie Briarsworth–because of their unique abilities. But the trio discovers the preservation of forevermore can turn someone’s soul inside out. Literally.
The novel chronicles the life of an ordinary man under extraordinary circumstances. Paul is unwilling to accept a broken Afterlife that provides nothing more than eternal self-awareness. He is also reluctant to choose between Maggie Mae, a brilliant geneticist who has the uncanny ability to “connect the dots,” and Allie, a novelist who inexplicably senses past and future events in the cosmos. The unexpected is to be expected from an unusual cast of supporting characters: Cher the Gatekeeper and Katharine Ross the Librarian, figments patterned after two celebrities for whom Paul has lusted; Gronk and Grita, two “resurrected” six-year-old neo-Neanderthals who are the most intelligent humans on Earth; Tsutomu Yamaguchi, an innovative bioengineer named after a Japanese man who survived nuclear bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and Dr. Peter Lexington Townshend, the head of a genetics laboratory that already has prevented the Russians from stripping politicians in Washington, D.C., of all their memories.
Be prepared for a book that examines our metaphysical questions with a mixture of mind-bending possibilities, laughter, and tears.
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The Ancient Sacred Tree: Birth of a Hero follows a 12-year-old boy who finds himself thrust into a magical land full of danger. What was your inspiration for this thrilling novel?
My inspiration for my story hit me after several episodes of depressive and manic scenarios with my son Joshua back in 2006. I felt helpless, as I watched my youngest child suffering from the throngs of what I learned to be bipolar disorder. He often would daydream and seem lost in his own world and although I researched to find answers, support and help, I couldn’t imagine this world he lived in, full of darkness. It was dreadful. Anyone with this disorder knows that it can cripple a family. I couldn’t fathom this life and so I created a world in which I wanted him to be the hero, one where he could over come any obstacle, to tell his story.
Joshua struggles with being bipolar and his parents divorce. I felt that you handled both with care and realism. Why did you want to cover such sensitive topics in your novel?
As a mother it was heart-wrenching and I learned so much, but still the world seemed to stigmatize the mental disorder my son suffered with and I wanted to change that for my son and others like him. As a teacher, I felt this story, in the hands of kids, could help them relate to a character like Joshua and they could empathize. Kids like Joshua would also enjoy reading that a character like them could overcome obstacles and become a hero, faltering along the way, but always striving to overcome. These are both important in our world with kids in schools, to help end the stigma and normalize these kids in not only their eyes, but others in school as well.
The world Joshua entered is full of magic and wonder that is described superbly. What were some themes you wanted to capture when creating your world?
I actually wanted to describe a fantastic world, full of intrigue and one in which I felt my son would enjoy, he seemed to love imaginary play outside with his action figures. So in the beginning that’s what I wrote, but as I progressed and the characters formed in my mind, and real life also took us on a journey through darkness, it was dreadful. Secondary to the imaginary world, it was essential Joshua Creed faces grave darkness, soul crippling darkness, although not as prevalent in this book, the series will encompass thematic elements of the darkness in anger and the peace at the end of the tunnel.
Will this book be part of a series? Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?
Yes! The book will be a series of three, possibly more books. I’m currently in the editing stage with book 2 and will come out this year, with book three later this year or early 2019.
The book will pick up two years later, where Joshua continues struggling in school and learns a great deal more about the prophecy of his destiny. If you pick up a copy of the first book, there’s a preview of the first chapter at the end. Enjoy!
Joshua Creed receives disturbing news about his parents, but before he is able to process it, he is flung into a world of intrigue and danger where he must fight for his life and the lives of the inhabitants. He discovers he has secret powers, and the mystery of his eye is revealed, but it isn’t easy being bipolar and only nine years of age. His newly found friends and family help him through his adventure but not before he’s forced to change schools.
The action-packed, fun, and exciting adventures of Joshua begin in this first adventure of his destiny.
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Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul helps one achieve a higher quality of life by realizing one’s own value. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your wisdom into a book?
The inspiration for writing this book came from God’s whisper. Although I have a beautiful heart, my walk in life hasn’t been so great. I love giving to other people, regardless of the color of their skin. One day I was reflecting on all the books that I’ve read and noticed that none of them spoke to my soul. I was looking for a touch of guidance and in doing so, I thought it would be a good deed to provide our youth with a book of wisdom. Now no one can say they were never informed.
This book covers many different topics from happiness to accepting criticism. What were some themes you felt were important to express in this book?
I thought it was important to express: Accepting constructive criticism, the importance of respecting our elders, appreciating and respecting woman and all of the other themes. 🙂 I can honestly say that this book is what my heart needed to express.
Why do you think some people struggle with finding value in themselves and in their lives?
I think some people struggle (as I have) with finding meaning and value for their lives because they weren’t taught about values, emotional intelligence, and how to show love to the next child, woman or man. “America, I am an example of how intelligent and compassionate your prisoners can be.”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be, Traits and Emotions of A Salvageable Soul, Vol. II. Truthfully, it’s already completed. In case you weren’t aware, $1.00 from every book purchased goes to St. Jude’s Children Hospital. A dollar from my next book will probably go to The Ronald McDonald House.
I can’t give away too many details, but I’m working on a deep novel titled, Silenced by a Predator’s Threat. You can look for Vol. II sometime in January or February of 2019. Please, tell the world about this book. Everyone can find me at Inkwater.com or via my Facebook link (below).
All people have their own remarkably intrinsic value, and it’s time we recognize it in ourselves and share it with the people in our lives.
From the wisdom of elders comes Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class, a guide to growing and healing ourselves so that we can live the quality of life we were always meant to live. From life’s hard lessons, Crawford offers the reader encouragement and truth, a path for using life’s challenges to overcome and even thrive.
Don’t give up, he reminds us. Every one of us has great potential and purpose. We just need to have faith in ourselves and courage.
Posted in Book Reviews
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Twelve-year-old Tanner Phillips fishes the Oneida Lake Ice Fishing Derby every year with his dad. Last year, he ruined everything — losing the competition and losing some of his grandfather’s gear. This year, Tanner is determined to not only prove his skills on the ice, but also show his dad, once and for all, that he’s no longer a little kid.
But as soon as they get out on the ice, the competition turns disastrous.
When one of the competitors goes missing and another gets injured, Tanner’s father must leave Tanner and his new friend, Richie, alone on the ice. After their ice hut comes unhitched, Tanner and Richie find themselves blown across the frozen lake in a blinding snowstorm.
Alone. Without their cell phones. Trapped, on thin ice. Suddenly, it isn’t just about the winning the derby — it’s about life and death. In one perilous night, Tanner will have to prove not to his father, but to himself, that he has the courage and determination to survive.
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All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.
Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!
The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!
With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.
Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.
Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.
However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.
The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!
The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.
It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.
If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD
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Imagine if you will for a moment a medieval fantasy drama being brewed in a cauldron: throw in a measure of How to Train Your Dragon, add a dash of Game of Thrones, sprinkle in some of The Hobbit all topped off with a liberal dose of a King Arthurian legend, leave to simmer on a medium heat for few chapters and then you might have replicated Dragon Ascendants by Paul Vaughn.
So let’s get on to the plot, the setting and the highly descriptive cast of characters without creating spoilers for you.
Dragons, shadow-bats, elves, dwarves, bandits, skulduggery, betrayal, magic, fear, treachery, family discord, sibling rivalry, disappointment, parental disapproval, forgiveness, redemption and, lest I forget (although, how could I?) a very good measure of graphic violence – it’s all in there – so what more could I want from a fantasy novel? Perhaps a little romance? If it’s in here I missed it.
The action is all set in a mystical land, named the Luminess, which at first visit seems almost idyllic. That is, until the conflicts of this land are slowly revealed in the following chapters.
In these mountains live the elves, which have been there for centuries happily mining the gems hidden within. Their lives are occasionally interrupted by an assortment of other species, some for good cause some for ill.
Also, as within most fantasy novels, there is a power struggle between the forces of good and evil. From my reading, I felt that we are to consider these two grouping; one under the ‘command’ of the dwarf burrow’s hereditary leader, named Meerkesh, (representing the forces of good) and another under a very angry rogue elf, with unexplained issues, named Fearoc (representing the forces of evil). Such is the power of the latter, we are led to believe that the world has, or is about to, come to an end for the dwarves.
But I am not totally convinced as to which side is really the good and which that of evil is. In this strange land, where sapphires, ruby stones and diamonds are used as currency and the internal ‘politics’ seems to be driven by greed and ruled by bloodshed. On the one hand we have a population that apparently eats nothing other than apples, whilst the baddie mainly feasts on his conquests, we have quite a lot of axe wielding violence, bloodletting, beheading, dragons blinding by fire and melting of opposite forces during this fight between good and evil. Both sides seem as driven by bloodlust as the other. And this interesting dichotomy lends to some thought provoking reading.
This novel left me begging for more. More answers, more character development, more world building. I want to know! Ah, the mark of a good writer I suppose. I look forward to the next book in Paul Vaughn’s Luminess Legends series.
Pages: 217 | ASIN: B07B8STMY4
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