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Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue

Songs from Richmond Avenue by Michael Reed is a dark novel about characters that could be found in any town. The main character is a journalist that seems to know all the questionable characters that hang out on Richmond Avenue in Houston. He meets a beautiful woman named Michelle that he becomes infatuated with from the start. Michelle could change things for the journalist, but not before he gets caught up in some seriously crazy shenanigans that include kidnapping, booze and roommates. Among everything else, you get to know some barflies who have very interesting stories and a love for alcohol and bets.

This story isn’t long, but packs quite a bit into such a small package. I can imagine this story set in any small local dive bar. There would be those regulars that have extremely colorful stories that are darkly humorous. The writing is unique and paints a descriptive image of all the characters in the book. Each one has personality and detail that many authors gloss over. His descriptions made it easy to visualize and even smell each and every one.

There will be a number of readers who will identify with the different characters and most likely sympathize with them as well. I felt as though I was getting a glimpse into someone’s real life experiences, not the work of fiction. The journalist doesn’t even have a name, yet throughout the story I didn’t even notice. I made it pretty far in before thinking, “Hey, what the heck is this guys name?”

“Songs from Richmond Avenue” could almost be called a drunks love story, as the journalist finds himself wishing for a future with Michelle. He may not exactly be a romantic character, it’s love just the same. Throw in some depressing thoughts while mixing in some humorous parts and that sums up this story.

It took me some time to really get into the story. Michael Reed has a unique way of developing his characters that takes a bit of adjusting to. Once I got farther into the story and got use to the craziness, I was in for the long haul and wasn’t bothered in the slightest. This is definitely not a light and airy read, but I think that is part of the appeal. I had to read slower than I usually would have with any other book which made me connect with the locations and situations. I honestly don’t want to tell you too much, so that you can have the same experience as I did. The antics that take place are so off the wall I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for the next reader!

While it did pick up later, it was a bit hard to get into at first. Many readers I know would put down a book they weren’t drawn into from the beginning. While I know that a slow beginning doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t make you not feel a bit frustrated. I would suggest anyone who enjoys dark humor and crazy drunken stories to give this book a shot.

Pages: 185 | ASIN: B01N039ZM7

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Sleepeth Not, the Bastard

Sleepeth Not, the Bastard by [Matthes, Dave]

Dave Matthes’s irreverent, profanity-laced, often hilarious novel, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard, is a fascinating work of writing. It’s half sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, and half a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects family and friends around the incident. Sleepeth Not, the Bastard follows two separate but surprisingly intertwined characters: Lew Ferranna, a deadbeat dad, drunkard, and generally unsavory character, and Sarah Fox, a famous drummer and rockstar from the all-female rock band, The Bastards. Matthes reveals in the opening pages of the story that Lew’s son committed suicide at the age of seventeen, and spends the rest of the novel’s tumultuous pages examining how that incident affected not only Lew and his family, but also how Sarah’s hardcore band, The Bastards, and their wild, rough-living producer, Wolfgang Stephanopolis fits into the mysterious puzzle of life.

I have had the privilege of reading several of Matthes’s works, and he has a skill that I have only seen before in Kurt Vonnegut. He is able to create completely unlikable, frustrating, and obnoxious characters, and turn them into protagonists that, for some unknown reason, you find yourself pulling for. The two stars of Sleepeth Not, the Bastard are superficially very unlikable: Lew has abandoned his daughter and wife after their son’s suicide; Sarah is standoffish, erratic, and crude. But perhaps what’s appealing about Matthes’s characters is the fact that they are so relatable. Though hopefully few of us know people who would commit some of the frankly horrible acts that Matthes’s characters perform, it’s a fact of life that everyone has flaws. It is refreshing to see characters dealing with problems that we, as readers, have likely seen or experienced ourselves: the demise of relationships, parental-child fights, addiction, depression, and death.

Fortunately, though, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is not all doom and gloom. In his solid novel, Matthes manages to create humor (albeit dark) in the absurd situations he places his characters in. Whether it’s a tiger outside of Vegas, a minivan driving through the garage door, or the insanely gaudy (and proud of it) producer Wolfgang Stephanopolis, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard manages to bring a smile to readers’ faces in the most surprising moments. The story lacks only in a few small facets that irritated me personally, specifically the lack of double L’s in all of Lew’s parts of the story (meaning “walls” would be written as “wal s”).

Though it covers potentially disheartening topics, Sleepeth Not, the Bastard will not dishearten readers. Similar to Matthes’s other works, it manages to address the most unpleasant topics of life while also instilling a positive and motivating force in readers. It often feels as if Matthes’s charactesr are saying to readers what we all know but sometimes want to forget: Life can be ugly, hard, and miserable; but life can also be beautiful, surprising, and wonderful. As a reader whose family has experienced the pain and loss of unexpected death by suicide, I found this novel to be painful, at times, but overall uplifting and a reminder to appreciate the beautiful moments in life.

Pages: 453 | ASIN: B00N53IMWW

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Blow Out Summer

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.

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The Enigma Rising

The Enigma Rising

The Enigma Rising, written by Charles V. Breakfield and Roxanne E. Burkey, is a modern-day techno thriller that explores a world of cyber crime, kidnappings, and drug cartels. R Group, is a contract team,who provides intel to businesses and is hired to find a missing heiress. Their lives collide with former drug traffickers turned money launderers in an unexpected meeting of fate. Here they must learn whether they can work together to uncover intelligence through the deep underworld of cyber crime.

The Enigma Rising begins with a concerned father Thiago meeting with his head of security team to discuss finding his missing daughter Lara. The novel then turns back to 8 months prior to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico where two brothers Juan and Carlos and a group called the “On Brothers” are meeting together to collect a mysterious shipment. This is where the novel kick starts the action with missing drugs and carefully curated criminal plans and soon spirals into a world of technology.

Drug rings, drug trafficking, and crafty criminals all band together to make up this technology thriller. At times the story has a James Bond feel except you are following the crooks rather than the authorities. Then the R Group enter the plot line. Their code of conduct is based on “maintaining the balance of power for economic and human conservancy” and throughout history, they have protected businesses and thwarted evil. This unit has been hired to help find Lara and will follow clues and a data trail in hopes of finding the missing heiress. The action is intense, the suspense is high and you will visit a world where cyber crime is at its most elite.

Even though this novel is an action story, you would be mistaken in thinking it was all guns and car chases. Instead, the crime is clever, from people posing as model agents to a couple Petra and Jacob exploring their romance in the midst of digital security investigations. The dialogue is interesting, the crime intelligent and the characters complex.

Breakfield and Burkey’s manipulation of words creates beautiful imagery for the reader. From the first pages, you feel as though you are in a current of words that flow easily and naturally. At no time did the book feel jaded or stuck which meant I found myself glued to the plot line, eager to find out what happens. Breakfield and Burkey do a fantastic job of the novel with their quirky one-liners and clever plot line.

There are surprising romances within the plot line that at times take a front seat to the action chaos. Carlos and Simone become an unlikely duo whose relationship begins with Carlos meeting Simone as she waits to appear in an adult photo shoot. From here it becomes a whirlwind romance and I enjoyed watching the two characters develop and interact with one another.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a clever action novel with a dash of lust, cyber crime, and mystery.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B00HVCU3JS

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Going Gone!

Going Gone is a fast-paced crime thriller, guaranteed to have you hooked from the very first page. The mood instantly begins with a tense and frightening scene where a little boy attempts to escape his kidnappers. He stumbles out onto the street where a private investigator, Kerry, is on her way home from a weekend with her best friend. She quickly springs into action, determined to return the boy to his family. Forming alliances with FBI Trackers, Kerry quickly discovers that not everyone is who they seem.

From here the story only becomes more intense as you delve into a world of FBI agents, kidnappers, terrorists and drug cartels. Many of the characters involved within the novel are integrated with the government and special task forces, giving the story a political twist. But who can you trust?

Between the chaos and action thrown between the agents and investigators, the young boy Tristan provides an innocent visual amongst a world of darkness. This innocence provides a relief in the heavy plot line and is a beautiful reminder of how precious children are. With children’s lives on the line, you will feel even more invested in the outcome of the story and their fate.

Anita Dickason paints a picture of the world of crime with such accuracy that you feel as though you are right there with the characters, rescuing children, hiding from criminals or driving away at high speeds with gunshots blaring in the distance. You won’t be able to put this novel down as each page takes you deeper and deeper into a world of criminals where confirmation of delivering packages will make your skin crawl.

I would rate this novel a 5/5 and would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, crime drama that will be sure to get your heart racing.

Pages: 301 | ASIN: B0725FL88K

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Black Sky

Black Sky will take you on a  personal journey of addiction through the eyes of a physician, Dr Y. What is addiction? Addiction can come in all shapes and forms and does not discriminate against race, color, age or social status. Addiction has a grasp on our society and Black Sky shows how discovering spirituality and understanding of addiction can awaken someone from the brink of destruction. Follow Dr Y as he unravels the web of addiction and shares his story of life as an addict, his recovery and how you too can overcome the battles of addiction.

Black Sky, written by Dr Y, is a book inspired by addiction and discovering the human soul. From the first few pages, you feel a connection to the author and feel inspired to push through your adversities, regardless of whether you have experienced addiction yourself or not.

Addiction is portrayed in the book as being “asleep” and in order to awaken and begin a life of sobriety, one must overcome their circumstances and begin to feel the void and emptiness that addiction has created. Addiction can also come in various forms such as wealth, drugs, alcohol and sex or even just a compulsive behavior that is rewarding, despite the negative consequences. Regardless of your addiction, each individual must go through a similar process to recovery.

There are religious tones throughout the book, however Dr Y. explicitly states that this book is not centered around one particular religion, and instead is based on the spirituality illness that addicts suffer. One particular quote summed up this sentiment perfectly “It has been said that religion is for those who are afraid of hell while spirituality is for those who have been through hell”.

As I was reading the book, there were multiple times where I felt like I had experienced a “light bulb” moment with understanding people who are battling addiction. It enlightens the reader on the mentality and challenges that addiction creates, but also focuses on the possibility of recovery. There are sections of this book that I believe will be quoted in years to come as Dr Y beautifully explains life and the importance of living. Black Sky shows how complex addiction can be and how hard it is to break free from the chains it has on our family, friends and relationships.

Dr Y allows the reader to explore his personal life and the roads that led to addiction to various substances. Interestingly, there are events which occur due to his addiction earlier on in his life which lead to certain career paths and choices. But addiction is always knocking on the door and it takes a series of events and mistakes that lead to Dr Y’s realization and sobriety.

I would recommend this to anyone suffering from addiction, or for anyone wanting to understand addiction and the hold it has on the human soul. I found the book to be extremely uplifting and truly believe that anyone suffering from addiction would find great solace and understanding from Dr Y’s words.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B06Y3MVXSX

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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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