Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is a mile-a-minute crime mystery drama. Aussie Matilda is new in town and new to the force. She is teamed up with Jacqueline and makes fast friends with her. The two, along with their team, are investigating a string of murders with odd similarities. Dead and drained bodies are popping up with unexplainable circular wounds. Simultaneously, they are investigating street drug, Ice, and its effects. They want to know if they are connected. Storylines intertwine to connect the dots as they discover something more sinister than they could have imagined is afoot.
I enjoyed the relationship and humor between characters Matilda and Jacqueline. It’s nice to see the silly side of two highly trained and adept women. It makes the otherwise tough characters relatable. It shows their duality. They can have fun and joke and play around. They can also be independent and self-reliant and handle a weapon. I think readers, especially female readers, will appreciate that the women aren’t one-dimensional. Steele did a great job in developing the major characters.
Steele’s writing is very descriptive. This helped me picture the creatures in the sewer before I actually knew what they were. It also helped me picture the victims. This was not a read for those with weak stomachs. That being said, the gnarly details were relevant to the story. They were necessary in filling in details of the mysterious crimes.
The Ice storyline really hits home. It borrows from the front pages of newspapers and doesn’t paint over the ugly parts. Steele pulls in similarities to the current opioid crisis in America while tying it to Nazi-led drug experimentation of the past. The characters’ altered state while on Ice is scary, but an important cautionary tale. It serves as a warning of what could be, and readers will see similarities to our current climate.
I’ll admit the sight of 76 chapters and 600+ pages felt daunting. I’m afraid other readers may feel the same way, but I read the book over a week and it didn’t feel long and the plot flowed well. There are several instances where incorrect homophones are used, some sentence fragments due to misplaced periods, and some plural vs. possessive mistakes. But this does not detract from the overall entertaining story.
Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is well written and the characters are intriguing and deftly developed. The main characters were likeable, and the villains were easy to hate. I’d like to read more work by this author.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B07F5X4782
Posted in Book Reviews
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Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.
This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.
This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.
From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ
Tags: addiction, adventure, alibris, america, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, conspiracy, crime, drug, ebook, fantasy, fiction, george rr martin, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, latin, laura zubulake, literature, mystery, narco, nook, novel, opioid, politics, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, slay the dragon, smashwords, south america, spy, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
YEGman is a thrilling crime novel taking place in the underworld of Edmonton, Canada. Why did you want to set your story in this location?
I had several reasons why I wanted to have the story take place in Edmonton. I prefer to write Canada-based stories and I’ve spent a lot more time in western Canada than I have out east, so can craft stories in these locations easier. A second reason is the name YEGman itself. YEG is the airport code and a common hashtag for the city. It is easier to say than – for example – YYCman for Calgary.
I also have grown up in Edmonton and have seen the city change over the decades. It is a pretty (no offence Edmonton!) bland city when it comes to major issues. So it is a good thing. That raises the question, how can you make a tame city feral and gritty? This was an interesting challenge to me.
This story takes a uniquely gritty look at the Edmonton crime scene. What were some ideas you wanted to capture when developing this underworld?
For YEGman’s version of Edmonton, I wanted to paint a crime-infested city that has some similarities seen in superhero comics. Daredevil/Hell’s Kitchen and Batman/Gotham are examples. A city that is in dire need of help. It becomes a motivator for someone to become a vigilante when they feel the city isn’t making any progress.
The details of the drugs and music scene I wanted to make real by showing there are good people that get caught up in these dark worlds of gangs and violence. Either they feel trapped or do not know any better to get out and just try to keep their friends safe.
Where did the idea for YEGman come from and what were some book titles you considered?
YEGman actually was birthed from the album that accompanies the launch – Sounds of Society. Both YEGman and the album tell a story of someone who can’t handle the constraints of society and go off the deep end. They also share similar content in the lyrics. Originally I was working on this album in 2012.
The plot and character of YEGman came to me in the summer of 2015 when I was at a book signing in a comic store. It was a quiet period and was daydreaming about super heroes because of the increase in popularity due to the Marvel movies, DC movies, comic expos and I was in a comic store at the time. Personally I am not a huge comic book far so I asked myself – what type of superhero story would someone who doesn’t like superheroes read?
From there I drafted out the concept of the superhero YEGman. Quite quickly I decided against super powers and made him very earth-bound. This helped map out the ending as well. If he was just an average person, and didn’t have any tech toys, money or ninja training, he’s going to have a pretty difficult time being a crime fighter. After writing out the outline for the ending I reverse engineered the story – a process I do not normally do with writing.
In November of 2015 I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo but shelved the concept because my horror novel, Seed Me, wasn’t fully edited yet. That took a higher priority and I didn’t revisit YEGman until 2017 after doing some heavy research into police procedures and psychology. These two points of study helped craft the inner thoughts of Michael.
So overall, comic books were the inspiration and I looked at comics such as the Punisher, Sin City, The Watchmen, and Hellboy to name some.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I really need to wrap up the dark fantasy series Mental Damnation. Book three is coming out in the fall of 2018 and the fourth is in the works. I also am working on a slasher novella but it is in the early plot outline stage.
In the darkest streets of Edmonton, crime is around every corner. The police have exhausted their resources. Citizens are in a constant state of fear. The city is in dire need of justice. Someone needs to give the felons what they deserve – skip the courts and deliver their verdict with a fist full of fury!
At least that is what Michael Bradford tells himself. He struggles with violent tendencies while personally investigating the Crystal Moths, Edmonton’s most notorious gang. His vigilante methods get caught on film and are uploaded to the web with the hashtag YEGman. These videos catch the attention of a rebellious journalism student whose aspires to cover the developing story on the city’s underground hero.
Posted in Interviews
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Blowout Summer follows Dee Dee as she reflects on one memorable summer filled with surfing, drugs and experimentation. What served as your inspiration while writing this wild summer?
It was a different time. Everything about living in a small beach town was easy. California was changing right under the States noses. People and their crazy experiences during that time, led me to write about their antics.
Dee Dee is a character, I felt, continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her characters development?
She was on the verge of becoming an adult and she still wanted to have fun making bad or detrimental choices. She needed to become independent instead of going with the crowd.
This novel takes place in the 70’s when a lot of experimentation was going on. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
The world of surfing, clothing styles, and the music of that time.
What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?
It features the same characters. They can’t seem to stay out of trouble. It should be done this year.
Surf, party, and romance take center stage in the breezy novel Blow Out Summer, as a group of local surfers in Huntington Beach, California, enjoy a summertime of hanging out and having fun.
Their story takes place in the mid 1970s, when no one was paying much attention to the drugs being brought into California at an alarming rate. But Dee Dee’s eyes are about to be opened.
Dee Dee lives in a very well-to-do area and is introduced to social drug experimentation and drug trafficking while maintaining a normal family life. She and her friends enjoy the surf up and down the coast of California.
Her friends run the gamut from the very wealthy to beach bums she met at the pier. Dee Dee’s lazy summer is spent under beautiful sunny days with slow drifting clouds and perfect barrel waves. But the ups and downs in her relationships and the dangers of dabbling in drugs ultimately force her a decision that will change her life.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: 70s, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, blowout summer, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, california, crime, denise, drug, ebook, experimentation, family, friends, goodreads, Huntington Beach, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, music, nook, novel, party, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, stock, story, surf, trafficking, writer, writer community, writing
Man with the Sand Dollar Face is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a thriller, mystery, and crime fiction as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I wrote the rough draft for Man with the Sand Dollar Face in less than twenty-four hours without concern for where the story was going or where it would end. I have written like this before, and I have always found it to be a wild and thrilling experience similar to watching a heart-pounding adventure movie. I laughed at Hattie’s antics and cried over the tragedies she faced.
Hattie is a quirky widow in her sixties when she pursues clues that get her caught up with drug traffickers. What were some themes you wanted to explore while writing her character?
Some of the themes that came through were issues of tremendous importance; for example, compassion and personal expression. Hattie was like a quirky aunt that you could not help but love. I wanted her rambling thoughts to drive the reader crazy as they unknowingly became emotionally attached to her child-like innocence.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to explore was Vic; he had a complex personality that was at times compassionate and other times terrifyingly brutal.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I am currently working on the revisions for an adult fiction that delves into Quantum Physics that I hope to have ready for release in 2019 along with a sequel to Man with the Sand Dollar Face.
Hattie Crumford, a quirky widow in her early sixties, takes her first job answering the phone in a private investigator’s office. Running a little late one morning, she discovers an agitated man pacing at the office door. He insists he must see the PI immediately. In the midst of his anxious demands, he clutches his chest and collapses. Shocked, Hattie runs for help. Upon returning, the man has disappeared. Detective Hugo Gabby and Hattie’s boss, Wallace C. Woodard, are skeptical and dismissive of her story. To prove it’s not her wild imagination, Hattie sets out to find the missing manusing only the cryptic note he left in his place and his last words as her clues.
Meanwhile, the private investigator is onto something and tells Hattie to retrieve a disc in his file cabinet, which must be delivered to the police immediately.
When Hattie returns to the office the next morning, she’s met by two men who usher her out at knife point and drag her into a waiting limo. Abducted and held hostage, she’s drugged by her captors who are trying to get the mysterious disc.
As the story unfolds, Hattie Crumford finds herself embroiled in an international drug trafficking ring. Everything hinges on the man with the sand dollar face.
Posted in Interviews
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The very personal story of The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga will give you a first class seat straight to the heart of hell. And you will thank Katsonga for it. This first-person narrative follows the life of a young man caught up in the life of drugs in detail that is rarely found in literature. Katsonga is pulling no punches in showing us the mind of a junkie in this satisfying novel. While sometimes getting very close to it, The Ghost Years is careful not to put its characters into situations just to prove a point. What it does is allow them, and the reader, to grow as people in this hard-hitting and memorable study of the seedy underbelly of society. Several action scenes and a couple of twists and turns keep the story going to its well-earned conclusion.
I felt that many events that the main character had to endure do often seemed to be laid out just to have him fail. The character of Buzz, for example, with his never-ending optimism and somewhat expected twist revelation does come off as a narrative tool more than a real person. But still, somehow it works, and the story is better for having him in it.
Katsonga’s style of writing could be best described as “tell, don’t show”. I felt that exposition was overused to get us into the mind of the main character. Lines and lines of text are expended on questions about life, death and society. Because of this, I felt like the narrative and the view of the world appeared to be spoon-fed to me.
However, the advantage of this style quickly gets the reader up to speed. We are left with a great understanding of the motivation that drives the story line. The logic that his character follows is consistent and that was Katsonga’s goal all along. Some may not approve of the drug use in the story, just as in life, but we can give his character that one thing he was craving his whole life – understanding.
Previously moot and tired questions about the meaning of life get a whole new context when asked with an empty stomach and the craving for a new “hit”. The Ghost Years will have you asking about the reasons that make you get up in the morning – are you doing it because you are told to do so or because you choose to? How far do you have to drift aimlessly before you decide to take a direction for your life?
The Ghost Years by Mutch Katsonga gives us several clear and memorable lessons about the value of choice, life, drugs and society in this crude but honest and hard-hitting book.
Pages: 179 | ASIN: B079KSFGSS
Tags: addiction, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, choice, contemporary, depression, drug, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, life, literature, motivation, Mutch Katsonga, nook, novel, optimism, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, society, story, the ghost years, writer, writer community, writing
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
Tags: action, addiction, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, beach, blowout summer, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, college, denise stock, drug, ebook, fantasy, fiction, friends, goodreads, Huntington Beach, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, life, literature, love story, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, sex, shelfari, smashwords, story, summer, surf, suspense, teen, thriller, writer, writer community, writing
“Ya know, it’s my understanding that the success rate of funerals is impeccably high.”
The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down is the latest book by author Dave Matthes. I very much enjoyed the style and tone of Dave Matthes’s writing. The story is about what Matthes describes as “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.” In the story, we follow several characters. Wendel Trope battles his anxiety attacks with alcohol, Jerry, the owner of the run-down hotel where the story takes place, Bush Betty, a prostitute, and Lotus, a young girl struggling with her past. This collection of characters creates a strange community that holds each other up. The relationships between the characters were one of my favorite parts of this story. The peculiar and subtle interaction of people who haven’t known each other long but are connected by struggles and traumas.
The morbid humor of the book fits perfectly with the setting and the characters. That being said the subjects of this book are pretty dark, including a suicide early on, so if you find yourself triggered by these kinds of subjects this might not be the book for you. The way Matthes deals with these emotional subjects throughout the book is done with a gritty artistic class. He is not afraid to talk death, addiction, and mental illness, subjects that are often considered taboo to speak about. Matthes deals with them in a relatable and real way. They are apart of peoples lives, even if society would prefer to ignore it. The matter of fact tone of the book allows life to stand on its own two feet, not shied away from or glorified. This story was a whirlwind to read as it took me on an emotional roller-coaster. The story itself really captures the moment in time aspect where there doesn’t need to be a grand arc because it is simply a fragment in the lives of people. I very much enjoyed reading this intense book and look forward to delving into more of Matthes’s extensive collection of works. I would definitely give this book five stars and would highly recommend it.
Pages: 350 | ISBN: 1975607597
Tags: addiction, alchoholism, alibris, anxiety, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, contemporary, dark, dark fiction, dave matthes, drama, drug, ebook, emotion, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, gritty, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, prostitute, publishing, read, reader, reading, sex, shelfari, smashwords, story, The Sounds from the Hills Go Away When the Sun Goes Down, writer, writer community, writing
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.
Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.
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Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is the story of your life, from childhood to retirement, told with an honesty that lays bare some remarkable and sometimes scary moments in your life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?
I lived only 25 miles from where I worked and grew up in a middle class neighbor that was so different from where I now went to work. It was definitely cultural shock for me. This was early 80’s and crack was on the scene and people were dying by the thousands. Life, in a sense, was cheap. As a young cop I often wondered why people hated me when I was on patrol. I got to see the anger in their eyes just walking down the street. I later realized they hated the uniform and what it represented. I wanted people to know that there was a person in that uniform. So I used what God gave me and used my life experiences to show that as people we are not that different, we all have struggles and lose, and that there was “A Life Beneath The Shield” and so came part of the title to my memoir.
Each chapter tells a story from your life. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
I found it to be a very cathartic experience writing about my life. There were many difficult areas to write about. Certainly one that was hard was the passing of my mother and coming to terms with our relationship. But the most difficult was the chapter regarding 9/11. This event changed the world and the way we live. A lot of innocent people lost their life that day. But what hurts the most is that first responders are continuing dying every day and a lot more are suffering from the after effects of that day. Many are in treatment for cancer and other health issues related to 9/11. I have written a stage play based on this chapter of my book. A working title for the play is: “9/11…Never Forget…I can’t”.
You retired from the New York Police Department after 20 years. What is one common misconception you find people have about police officers and detectives?
I believe most people base their opinions of cops either on a one-time, first-hand bad experience or form their opinion from a news story, or a second or third-hand story. Cops are human beings. We make mistakes. we hurt, we bleed, we cry… more than you will ever know. There are good and bad in every profession. Priests-teachers-CEOs…you name it. Police officers are faced with life and death situations every day and only have a split second to decide a course of action. We have families and friends who we love, and who love us. It is our duty to make sure we come home safe. Believe me, no cop ever wants to fire his gun in the line of duty. The responsibility and consequences are enormous. We are truly here to serve and protect.
Are you working on another book? If so, what is it about and when will it be available?
I have written an unpublished novel titled: “Core Four”. I have written a screenplay with Erik Wolter which is currently being reviewed by some interested production companies. It is a coming of age story about four 11 year old boys. Danny’s struggles with the loss of his father (cop) to 9/11 related disease and his expectations. Danny and his 3 closest friends go on an adventure that brings them face to face with a gang of thugs and find a hero in the most unlikely person.
As a kid growing up on Long Island, I struggled with an unknown psychological need to wear a uniform and a strong desire to be a part of an organization. My search would take me through Little League, Cub Scouts, and various fraternal organizations. This desire would only be fulfilled after joining the NYPD in February of 1984.
Somewhere during my twenty-year career, I was transformed from that kid into a veteran New York City police detective. This is my evolution from a middle-class suburban kid with simple values who naively thought the “projects” were a homework assignment into a veteran detective working in some of the most unforgiving neighborhoods of New York City. With this transformation comes the ability to separate the daily exposure to the dark side of human nature from your own life-sustaining core beliefs. Many will fail to acquire this ability and fall victim to drugs, alcohol, divorce, crime, and even suicide. This is a process which I have come to call Turning Blue.
This is my story of how I dealt with life-changing experiences at home while my gun belt and uniform hung safely in my locker. In my twenty years of experience as a police officer, I can honestly say that I have been scared and feared for my life. Could you go back to work after crying yourself to sleep, reliving your partner’s screams as he lay bleeding to death in the backseat of your unmarked car, and the only thing keeping your heart in your chest was your department-issued bulletproof vest?
Posted in Interviews
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