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Good Guys Don’t Always Win

Ken Cressman Author Interview

Ken Cressman Author Interview

Sins of the Father is a non stop adventure novel following two detectives as they hunt down a dangerous drug kingpin who seeks revenge. What was the inspiration to the setup to this exciting novel?

This is actually the third installment in the Larkin and Colt series. As I was preparing to write the first book I established, just for myself, extensive backstories for the main characters, including their years as undercover ‘contractors’ for the government. Among the stories I created was the takedown of a notorious and supposedly untouchable drug kingpin. After I finished my second book, I found myself wondering what the possible long-term repercussions might be of some of Larkin and Colt’s past actions. The opening scene of a gang of assassins breaking into Larkin’s house popped into my head almost fully formed. From there, it was pretty much off to the races.

My favorite character was DEA Agent Scott Bowman, whose dry humor kept me smiling throughout. What themes did you want to capture while developing your characters?

I wanted to create a character who was dedicated to his job and trying to do the right thing, but who had been doing it for so long that he knows that achieving any kind of long-term solution is pretty much impossible. He’s a realist, and he knows that he’s pretty much rolling a rock up a hill, but he still refuses to give up hope. When he’s approached by Larkin, he sees a chance to maybe do a little bit of good, despite his knowledge that the good guys don’t always win, and the bad guys are incredibly hard to stop.

Sins of the Father is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a adventure, thriller, and action as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

I try to write the story I’d want to read. I don’t outline, but I pretty much have the whole plot worked out in my mind before I start. I have the major story points, but not necessarily all the fine details. I sort of let the characters tell me what happens next and where they want to go, as long as we’re always moving toward the outcome I have in mind. I try to let the story and the characters’ actions flow naturally, at the same time hoping to surprise the reader.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a sequel to my science fiction adventure Pegasus, which is not a Larkin and Colt book. It’s entitled Intrepid, and where Pegasus was about a trip to the moon and back, this time they’re going to Mars. When they arrive, things go horribly wrong, and the crew has to figure out how to get their crippled ship back home before their air and food run out. It’s sort of Apollo 13 meets The Martian. It should be out sometime in the fall.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Amazon

Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3) by [Cressman, Ken]“I was in my kitchen making breakfast when the three men broke in and tried to kill me…”

So begins the latest exciting episode in the adventures of David Larkin and his partner Samantha Colt.

Eight years ago, Larkin and Colt were part of a team that terminated notorious drug kingpin Francisco Salazar. Now Salazar’s son Ramon has grown up, taken over the family business and sworn his revenge upon them. Their only option is to follow the trail of drugs and bodies backwards, from Virginia to Miami to South America, to stop young Ramon before they become his latest victims.

Sins of the Father is loaded with the exciting action, wry humor and memorable characters that fans of Larkin and Colt have come to expect.

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Sins of the Father

Sins of the Father (Larkin and Colt Book 3)

A page turner from start to finish, Sins of the Father is a captivating adventure that kept me wonderfully entertained. Almost a decade ago, notorious drug kingpin Francisco Salazar was taken down by a crack unit. His empire fell, and for years remained in ruin. Now his son, Ramon, is grown and ready to take on his father’s mantle. This is where we join David and Samantha, a pair directly involved in the elimination of Salazar Sr., as they undergo a mission spanning several countries, with the task of bringing down Ramon and destroying the Salazar empire for good.

I appreciate a book that can capture my attention. With this book, Ken Cressman is able to do just that. The very first chapter brings you into the fray as you struggle through a home invasion, and from there the action ramps up. The world is filled with vibrant and unique characters, from the main duo: David Larkin and Samantha Colt, to the variety of interesting supports, I never once found myself wanting for more. My personal favourite was a DEA Agent named Scott Bowman, whose dry humour kept me smiling throughout even the darkest of scenes. There was a sense of real, tangible rapport between each of the characters that sucked me in, with realistic, intelligent dialogue. That being said, I would sometimes find that the characters never strayed too far from their stereotype. The cocky DEA agent, the classic Colombian kingpin, it could all feel a little too generic at times. Now, this isn’t necessarily a problem, (I mean, who doesn’t love slick detectives?), but straying away from the herd wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Each character was well developed, but it all seemed to happen behind the scenes instead of right in front of me. I was being told who a character was instead of being shown.

As an avid reader, I need something that can keep me entertained. That’s something that Cressman has complete success with. The story takes Larkin and Colt through a variety of settings, from the thriving city of Miami to the lush jungles of Colombia. Every time I found myself settling down, becoming too comfortable, there will be a sudden shift in dynamics and the scenery will take a drastic shift. Cressman’s attention to detail brings each location to life, and it felt like I was alongside these characters every step of the way, whether it be bundled in the trunk of a car, or sneaking through the halls of a cargo ship. The pacing of the plot is rhythmic, with perfectly timed twists and turns, culminating in a satisfying conclusion that will leave you eager for more.

Ken Cressman has crafted an intense adventure story that is consistently entertaining.

Pages: 151 | ASIN: B01G3UZKLY

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Glossolalia

Glossolalia: Psychological Suspense (The Agents of the Nevermind Book 1)

Nancy is like any woman in the prime of her life; active, engaged with hobbies, and busy with a normal day job. But underneath the surface, she is anything but ordinary. Plagued with a strange form of narcolepsy, Nancy can’t help but feel the grip of forces other than her own. With her uncle’s seemingly gracious help coming into question, she is soon exposed to the world of government conspiracy, mind control and espionage. It’s up to her to find out who’s behind it all, but can she get a grip in time to save herself and others?

Tantra Bensko’s Glossolalia is a thrilling and bumpy ride through the mind of a woman who comes off initially as relatively boring and normal. She’s crushing on a co-worker and at the mercy of jokes from her cube mates. She has her hobbies, piano and karate, and a good friendship with a girl named Alyssa. After Nancy’s parents died mysteriously when she was younger, her uncle Geoff took her into his care and provided her with a stable job at his corporation. Plagued with fugue states and narcolepsy her whole life, her uncle has also been giving her a steady supply of pills that she can’t seem to break her addiction to. She starts to question her uncle’s intentions and in an effort to break free from him and the pills, she coincidentally starts to reveal Geoff’s much darker agenda for her.

Initially, I began to question Nancy’s motives and her own sanity. The writing was quite scattered and jumped around enough to make me wonder if Nancy was just in a constant state of a psychotic break. In one moment her mind was scrambling for answers and in the next it was calm and reasonable. It took quite some time to figure out the relationship between Emily, Angela and Nancy, but the slow reveal did add to the suspense. Nancy’s tenacity and constant questioning of her life kept the book moving along at a nice pace. And there is plenty of references to the Nevermind, the CIA, MKULTRA, and other government groups which helps to build the psychological suspense of the novel.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B01I8SLVTY

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Operation Piňata

Operation Pinata: Revenge on the Mexican Cartels (OMICRON series Book 2) by [Rayner, G.J., Rayner, E.M.]

In this thrilling investigative tale, writers G. J. Rayner and E. M. Rayner create a realistic fictional world that revolves around crimes within a Mexican drug cartel. The story revolves around a private security company called OMICRON that works closely with American government, Secret Services specifically. The company gets involved with crime happening in Texas when the CEO Mike Cabott promises to help his old friend from school out by solving his wife’s mysterious murder. Through many twists and sudden developments, undercover agents work the case from many angles to get to the bottom of the drug cartel ring.

Undercover agents Mark Lockabee and Carlos Zepeda look into the suspicious murder of a successful Mexican business women under the order of a private security company. Originally taken on as a favor to a friend, as the depth of the cartels crimes develop, the CEO Mike Cabott realizes they’ve stumbled onto an important project.

Most of the story is comprised of undercover investigation, the operation control at headquarters, and the work that OMICRON conducts to try and sabotage and eliminate the drug cartel lead by El Jefe. The dynamic between the group leader Hans Brock and the other agents is really interesting to watch play out, too. They all do their best to work together as a well-oiled machine, but different issues arise that create problems within the workforce.

As the investigation heightens dangerous situations abound punctuated by explosions, leaving rarely a dull moment. The OMICRON team spies on the drug cartel and works it from different angles which treats readers with a dual view of the story. Intense action and perplexing mysteries keep you turning pages.

When Rita Malone, another special agent for OMICRON comes to replace one of the best on the scene, things really take a turn in the story. Her character provides startling action, and the dynamic between her and Carlos is really fun to read. I was rooting for her the whole time and she gives the story the needed presence of a strong, kick-ass female character to liven it up.

This book was really exciting to read. I loved that they added shock value in the first pages of the book. The writers really allowed the plot to take it’s time unfolding but kept things going in a fast enough pace that I never grew bored with the story. The characters were all unique and humorous, and I loved that the company’s mainframe computer CLEO even had some personality thrown in.

This is another action packed novel from the Rayner writing team that you shouldn’t miss.

Pages: 264 | ASIN: B071YJ5MDL

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Ronnie and Lennie

RonnieandLennie3 Stars

Ronnie and Lennie are blood brothers in the realest sense of the word—as conjoined twins, they literally share the same circulatory system, connected at the chest for life. Set in the hippie days of 1960s and Woodstock, RonnieandLennie by Herb Schultz depicts the challenges (and sometimes the benefits) of being incredibly close to family at all times, along with the consequences of messing with nature. With a complicated backstory that provides some insight into the twins’ condition and emotional state, this novel takes the reader through a journey of understanding the prison of chronic adjustment disorder through the multitude of Ronnie and Lennie’s dangerous experiences.

Set in the 1950s through the 1960s, Ronnie and Lennie, the titular characters of Herb Schultz’s novel RonnieandLennie, are conjoined twins who grow up attached at the chest, held together by a band of skin that connects their circulatory system and their liver. Connie, their absentee mother, never figures out how the twins ended up this way, but she believes it was caused by fallout from an atomic blast that occurred close to her while she was pregnant. Schultz leaves out details of how the fallout may have caused their condition, but this sense of mystery also helps keep the plot from falling into a strict mystery novel format.

Instead of overcoming her struggles, Connie abandons her children in Statesberry, North Carolina, with her aunt Vera. The backstories of the minor characters throughout the novel left me wanting more, as questions about these characters (and the twins) do not feel resolved by the end. The jolty shifts between past and present made the novel feel more like a collection of vignettes rather than a fluid, linear read. Despite this, though, these backstories did provide a great foreshadowing for the dysfunctional futures of the twins.

While being a moody teenager is rough, Ronnie and Lennie make the best of it— they read and play music together and experience the drug culture of the 1960s. With numerous vulgar sex scenes and excessive drug use, the novel seems to exaggerate this culture; however, they help the reader with understanding the difficulty of being a teenage boy without independence. Resentment grows between the twins, but through fortuitous circumstances, the twins eventually end up separated, finally getting what they’ve always wanted: to have an unattached life.

This freedom comes at a cost— Ronnie is depressed while he’s off at school, and Lennie falls prey to destructive vices. When Ronnie learns more about his mother, he leaves school, only to find himself in perilous circumstances that cause him to go to jail. Lennie has a similar fate, ending up in jail for a period of time himself. Years later, they end up intersecting again in their hometown. Upon realizing they both have chronic adjustment disorder, which has been causing their impulsive behavior and depression for many years, they make a life-altering, permanent decision to never be separated again.

RonnieandLennie is carried by the unique titular characters who stumble through life experiences, sometimes falling really hard. But they ultimately blossom into introspective individuals with a future that will break away from the destructive habits of their pasts.

Pages: 238 | ISBN: 0982351607

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The Undercover Name I Used

G.J. Rayner Author Interview

Taurus, Taurus, Taurus, is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a action, thriller, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

When I started to write this novel, I knew how it was going to start and I had a vague idea of the end, but the body of the novel just flowed from my finger tips.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

I must say the character of Joe Garner, who is my alter ego. It is also the undercover name I used on the street as a Drug Enforcement Special Agent.

There is a lot of military references in this book along with some science to get the genetics down. Did you do a lot of research to maintain accuracy of the subject?

I spent several hours doing research on not only the correctness of the military side, but also much reading on Genetic Modification and making sure my facts were correct on subjects such as the number of beef cattle in the world (over one billion). Google Maps was a great help in maintaining the accuracy of geographic locations, like the street names in the city of Osh and other places.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

My next novel, Operation Pinata, is about drug cartels in Mexico, something I am more familiar with than GMO. It is currently in its 6th or 7th editing, by myself and my co-author and editor.

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Taurus, Taurus, Taurus: Genetic Modification Held for RansomDr. Gambil, a Genetic Modification scientist, worked for ABBA, a US beef company with world-wide operations, owned by Livingston Tec, a large conglomerate. His goal was to improve the quality of beef cattle. In 1989, angry at government interference, he destroyed the ABBA lab and was thought to have died in the explosion. Eleven years later, in 2000, he sends an e-mail to ABBA demanding a ransom of fifty million dollars or he will destroy their world-wide operation. The threat is not taken seriously, until the ABBA ranch in Argentina is attacked. ABBA hires OMICRON, an international security company, to interrogate the lone surviving attacker, who reveals Dr. Gambil has trained and sent out four teams to destroy the breeding stock on ABBA ranches throughout the world. Our protagonist, Joe Garner, an intelligence analyst, has quit his US government job over an ethics question and is hired by OMICRON. Seven years before, he had done a tour in the Marines in Kyrgyzstan, and was almost killed in a terrorist attack. Because he is fluent in Turkic, he is sent to Argentina to interrogate the Islamic survivor. Dr Gamble has fled to Kyrgyzstan, where he has developed a serum, which, when injected into breeding bulls will deteriorate the quality of their sperm. Joe also learns Dr. Gambil is related to the terrorist who led the attack on him seven years ago and the ransom money will be used to support the Islamic terrorists from Uzbekistan. OMICRON is hired to stop the attacks. After they intercepted the attack in Kansas and the ABBA ranch In Kenya is decimated, they must find Dr. Gambil and stop his mad plan. As they track Dr. Gambil to Kyrgyzstan, there is one question: Do they terminate or rehabilitate him? Joe Garner also learns that the terrorist that wounded him is behind the plot and his need for revenge grows. The story culminates with explosive action in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.

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The Mind and Heart of a People-Watcher

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Return to the Madlands follows Arlo in the final chapter of the Mire Man Trilogy and brings to a close Arlo Smith’s wild and messy journey. What was your inspiration for the wild journey you take readers on in this novel?

Trilogies, by definition, usually sum everything that has transpired throughout the course of the story, if not most everything up in the final entry, and while that was of course my drive for finishing the story, it wasn’t necessarily the inspiration behind it. I once considered not writing it at all, and simply leaving the ending to Book II the way it was, sort of like a… “…and he got away” type of ending. Maybe it was out of greed on my own part that I wrote a Book III, because I wanted more of the character, I wanted him to engage more in the world around him at a different time of his life. I wanted Arlo Smith to finally be presented with the fact that death is in his, quite possibly near, future, and what that would mean for him in terms of deciding which one of these new, completely unprecedented paths he would take. I wanted Arlo to be presented with a final choice concerning Constance, and work in also the idea that there are no actual “final choices” in life, or at least there doesn’t have to be. And I think that reflects in a few of the supporting characters throughout the book.

Arlo often meets many interesting people on his travels. Were there any characters that you especially enjoyed writing for?

Arlo’s father, most definitely, considering the parallels of their individual existences and their already established roughness in what they think/thought of each other. I toyed with the idea of writing more for Arlo’s father in a separate novel, or short story, and even considering throwing in a twist at the end of “Madlands” that tied Arlo’s father to a character in a past novel of mine. There’s so much time that has passed since Arlo’s father left him until now, so much history and mystery that anything could have happened. I like to think though that sometimes it’s best to leave the mystery as it is; the idea of ascertaining the truth is not always as romantic as wallowing in the unknown.

Arlo meets his estranged father and forms a tentative relationship. Why was this event important to Arlo’s development?

Arlo’s chaos stems from his youth, and by extension if unintentional or not, his father had a hand in that. At this point in time, Arlo and his father, one has always assumed the worst had happened to the other, and in some ways, assumed they had been dead. So when they finally reunite, neither one of them wants to part with those assumptions because those beliefs have become such an essential part to their existences, that any interruption in said life has the potential to cause an insanity-driven rift. Neither Arlo or his father, in the beginning, wants anything to do with the realization that they are both still alive in the world. But as the story progresses, through intended subtlety and background “what-if’s”, Arlo’s father and Arlo himself in their own way begin to wonder if their reunion is fate, and even if it isn’t, why would that stop them from taking a chance at rewriting their futures?

How do you feel now that the Mire Man Trilogy is done? Did you accomplish everything you set out to?

I think I’ve said what I set out to say. The story’s been told and I don’t have any intentions of returning to Arlo’s world. That doesn’t mean any of the other supporting characters may or may not get a spot somewhere down the line, though it’s mostly unlikely. For me, “The Mire Man Trilogy” is a brief glimpse into the mind and heart of a people-watcher; someone who enjoys the company of people only as much as he can tolerate them. It’s a story within a story within a story within a story, and it could be that, more or less, to anyone who reads it. And even though it was me who wrote the story, I’ll never look at a glass of whiskey or listen to a piece by Miles Davis the same way again. People have said to me that they could never expect Arlo to have a happy ending, and maybe they’re right. I like to think of the ending of the trilogy as a reminder that it’s not important whether or not you leave the world on a happy note, but rather you instill in the people around you, and the people you’ve crossed paths with, some measure of self-inquiry, instead of simply letting the world and everything that it could be, slip through their fingers. Finding life’s answers isn’t as important as never giving up the search for them.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be available for readers?

Currently, I’m working on another volume of poetry and short stories alongside a novel. My fourth volume of poetry/short stories is titled “Slaughterhouse After-Party” and the novel is tentatively titled “He Showed Me All the Neon Tombstones and Together We Embraced the Abyss”, which is written in episodic form, in that each chapter deals with a different story in the life of the main character, who writes obituaries from the point of view of the deceased. Every chapter has to deal with a different client/family. The main character also has horrible anxiety and depression, for which he takes medication for. That medication has had a strange side-effect in that it more than occasionally causes him to hallucinate a version of himself, calling himself Chauncey, speaking in an English accent, with skin painted over its entirety, a deep, royal blue. Chauncey basically exists with the intention of mocking or critiquing every move the main character makes. So there’s some psychological bafoonery at play, along with the melancholy, always-present scent of death. Neither of these two books will be available for a while…maybe not for another year or two, depending on the stability of my own particular sanity.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Return to the Madlands (The Mire Man Trilogy, #3)A decade or so following the events of “Paradise City”, Arlo Smith finds that he is still somehow clinging to life. Fueled by the revelation that Constance may also still be alive and waiting for him somewhere out in the world, Arlo Smith, now feeling older than ever, decides to make one last stand against himself. Obliging to the last wishes of a recently-deceased love one, and perhaps succumbing to his own obsessions, Arlo embarks on an open road quest one last time in hopes of finding what he’s been searching for since that fateful day near the end of his high school years. What he discovers is an unexpected , and obligatory companionship with his estranged father, self-exiled in a lonely Nevada town, and more revelations that could either cement his perception of his very existence, or tear it down completely, rendering him beyond saving. Feeling the promise of death in one direction and the lure of Constance in another, Arlo is forced to decide to stay or leave… to obey the itching bones of his lusts, or to do what is right… and finally put to rest what may have started him on his path to damnation all those years ago.Buy Now From Amazon.com

Return to the Madlands

Return to the Madlands (The Mire Man Trilogy, #3)3 StarsArlo is on a journey across the country to find Constance, a long lost love. Throughout his trip, the reader is treated to his interactions with random individuals, many of whom this reader wishes he could know more about. However, the brief glimpses are more than entertaining. The owner of a motel and the story behind his sword on display, the female police officer who pulled Arlo over for swerving while driving, and Lenny, the former man of faith who shoots a gas station iguana, they all help Arlo along on his journey. Aside from the cast of supporting characters, Arlo is also dealing with his health. With the years of whiskey catching up to him, it made this reader wonder if he would survive long enough to find Constance.

This story is more like a collection of stories, rather than a novel with a driving plot line. While Arlo is technically on a journey that has a defined ending, the real value of the text comes from the small stories that Arlo collects from the people he meets along the way. Many of them share experiences that give the reader plenty to think about, but too many of them are too ready and willing to give “advice”. Most readers will anticipate this pattern of meeting, backstory, lesson. Because of this pattern, many of the lessons lose their weight due to the seemingly formulaic inclusion. If these lessons had been blended into the story with a bit more tact, then they would have a stronger impact.

Regardless, there is still some beauty in watching Arlo learn from these characters. Many of them are from walks of life that do not get much respect in our society. Hookers, drug addicts, hitchhikers. All of these people are human, and they have experiences that Arlo asks about. When he asks, and if the character responds, then the reader is treated to some of the most well-thought lessons in our society

Overall, the novel is entertaining. Arlo is a main character that everyone loves to hate, with his poor decision making skills and general negative views of the world around him. His interactions with the side characters tell a different story, though, and we get to see him grow as a person because of them. Perhaps it is a wisdom that has come with the aging of his character, but Arlo’s transformation from the previous entries, and even from the beginning of this entry, is something to behold.

Pages: 302 | ISBN: 1530041619

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First-Hand Experience With The World of Drug Addiction

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

Michael A. McLellan Author Interview

American Flowers is a fantastic story that follows Chris who’s a drug addicted young man trying to find his way in life. What was the inspiration that made you want to write about drug addiction in this way?

I made a lot of poor decisions when I was a teen and gained first-hand experience with the world of drug addiction. Most particularly the meth subculture. I witnessed young people completely unravel their lives in weeks. A lot of times it begins with no more than a weekend of partying. Meth addiction is insidious in that way. I came out the other side. Many never do. All these years later I feel compelled to share some of my experience with others. I don’t think there’s many of us here in the U.S. who hasn’t been affected by drug addiction in some way; either first-hand or through a loved one or coworker.

After Chris meets Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and gets her addicted to the needle, things go south quickly. How did you set about creating their relationship and what did you want it to be like in the end?

Their relationship was toxic from the start. Chris was already deep into his addiction and Allie was vulnerable, regardless of her self-confident exterior. As far as setting it up and where I wanted it to lead, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve written three novels and several short stories and I’ve never written an outline. I just let the story sort of go where it wants to go.

I felt that there was some inspiration from Stephen King in this intriguing story. What authors have been an inspiration for you in this story and in your writing?

I’ve always been amazed by Stephen King’s talent for writing truly three-dimensional characters and his ability to tell engaging stories in plain language. I believe these two things are the main reasons he’s so successful. Beverly Cleary is responsible for my earliest interest in reading, and John Steinbeck and Harper Lee inspired to write about social issues.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will the book be published?

My third novel is completed but as of today I still haven’t decided on a title. The story is set in the 19th century and it deals with racial tensions and injustices in the years immediately following the civil war. The events are seen through the eyes of a freed slave, a wealthy heiress, a disgraced army lieutenant, and a Native American. I feel it’s timely. I hope to have it on the market (complete with title) in the next six weeks or so.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads

American Flowers by [McLellan, Michael A.]People thought nineteen-year-old Chris Shafer had everything going for him. Lives, however, are rarely as they appear from the outside, and not all scars are visible. Seventeen-year-old Allie Laughton’s life is turned upside down when her trust in another is horribly betrayed. Finding herself in a strange town, a chance meeting with Chris Shafer changes her life—and his—forever. American Flowers follows the lives of Chris and Allie as circumstance and poor choices transform them from promising, young adults to something else entirely. Caught in the undertow of drugs, crime, and death, their lives spin out of control. Ultimately pursued, they are forced to reconcile the people they believed they were, with the people they’ve become.

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American Flowers

American Flowers4 StarsThis novel follows Chris, a drug addicted young man who is trying to find his way. After meeting Allie, a young lady who has her own set of problems, and getting her started on the needle herself, things go south quickly. He quickly finds himself on the wanted list of the police, his supplier, and Allie’s relatives. The plot quickens and keeps the reader entertained as Chris struggles to come to terms with his past and find a way out of the mess he has created.

The novel has a dedication to Stephen King at the beginning, which influenced my reading of the rest of the text. The descriptions of the characters and the gritty diction is King-esque. The author creates a believable world with characters that act just like one might expect when under the influence. While the world and characters are believable and relatable, they do fall flat in a couple of areas.

First, Allie and her naiveté lead to some questionable choices on her part. As an example, she chooses to trust and follow Chris on his downward spiral even though she had known him for less than a week and had never done anything more than marijuana before the events of the novel. The author provides her background, which some would indicate as an influence on her choices, but it is still too much self-destruction for this reader to find believable.

Second, the plot is just a little too predictable, and a little too gritty for my taste. Chris’ choices are too simplistic in the first third of the book, leaving the reader to easily decipher how those choices are going to play a role later in the story. This is especially true of Jesse James, a character who only appears for a couple of pages before the plot moves itself forward. The middle of the book gets violent and shows just how far Chris had fallen since the events of his past had derailed his life. This reader won’t post any spoilers, but Chris’ choices are extreme and the text is not for the faint of heart.

The final third, though, is fantastic. To see how the author deals with his characters and their pasts is just beautiful. I won’t say anything more, no spoilers!

Overall, the novel is more than entertaining. Once the reader sees the mess that Chris created for himself and starts to see how his past is affecting his current situation, it makes for a thrilling, heart-wrenching read. Watching Chris and Allie try to battle their pasts while dealing with an ever more dangerous present causes the pages to turn faster and faster through all of the poor choices and self destruction to the conclusion. Personally, it was heartbreaking to watch Chris and Allie cling to each other as they attempted to find a way out of all of the wrong choices they had both made. Any reader who gives this story the time will not be disappointed.

Pages: 297 | ASIN: B0147NL0UE

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