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The Preservationists

When teenage fraternal twins Daniel and Dustin lose their mother during their senior year of high school, their life journeys split apart. Daniel moves off to a distant city full of romance and history, seeking a new start and finding unusual allies, including his challenging and highly accomplished new boss. He also meets a young viola player, who helps him explore the world around him, and with each new adventure captures another piece of his heart.

Meanwhile, his brother Dustin is lured into drugs and criminality by the town’s most seedy individuals and has to be forced back on track by his brother with the help of an intelligent, well-traveled older woman.

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To End One’s Own Life

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Dave Matthes Author Interview

Sleepeth Not, the Bastard is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at suicide and how it affects the people around the tragedy. Why was this an important book for you to write?

While I myself have had no direct experiences with suicide, I’ve been around many people who have, and have also been stuck in situations surrounded by people who literally teetered on the edge of themselves with staying alive being on one side of that edge, and ending it all being on the other. It’s a sticky subject to talk about because so many people have a fixed concept in their minds that suicide is always, always, ALWAYS a bad thing. I’ve often questioned it myself, the idea of what it would be like to kill myself (albeit not seriously, just what the scenario would be and why and what would happen after the fact). I suppose it may be strange to think that yes, there can be reasons for one to want to end themselves. After all, we aren’t asked to be born, why can’t we have the freedom to decide when enough is enough? Then again, that’s not exactly the motive behind the suicide factor in this book. It’s become a wonder to me why so many people see victims of suicide as being selfish or even cowardly when it feels as though those left behind couldn’t possibly make that call themselves. To end one’s own life, depending on the circumstances of course, may be the most brave thing someone can do. I wanted to explore that with this book, because when Josh does take the leap, he puts into motion a train wreck that can’t, but also SHOULDN’T be stopped.

Your characters are always well thought out and often go through dramatic transformations throughout the story. What is your writing process like in developing your characters?

Generally, especially as of late, I can’t plan out from the start where my characters will end up by the end of the story. Most of the time I just start writing, and sometimes something in the background or from my memories will inspire me to expand upon said idea. The characters, as with all if not most writers out there, all have a little part of me in them. Sometimes characters turn into what I wish I could be. Sometimes they exist in a world in which I wish I existed, and so on. With “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard”, the characters just sort of came out of me; the dialogue, the exposition, the plot surrounding their actions and influencing their motives. I can’t describe it as well as I’d like. Maybe, if anything, I take the worst of me and put it into the story hoping the characters can figure out for themselves what would be the best course of action.

I understand that you work in the service industry and often travel from state to state. How has your work helped you write your books?

Travel has had a huge influence on my writing. Constantly being in a state of motion is more or less the cheapest drug I’ve ever been able to get my hands on, but with it also comes a slew of emotions. Being away from the people I love, not being able to feel the comfort of my own bed, things like that have a heavy effect on what goes on the page. Meeting people everywhere I go aids significantly in fueling the personalities and behaviors of my characters. As nasty as my job can get, even with the worst days I’ve had while on the clock, being on the road is more than enough to make up for it.

Your stories often cover a wide range of themes in many different genres. What is one genre or theme that you haven’t yet touched but want to write about?

I’ve dabbled in science fiction and fantasy in the way WAY past but don’t think I’ll ever go back, but that could change. I’ve considered tackling psychological horror, sort of in the vein of Edgar Allen Poe and Eli Roth, but there’s very little in the works in that department. Sometimes I’ll watch a horror movie and think, wow… I could definitely write something like that, and it’d be fun and terrifying. But then I get stuck on my other writing, my contemporary fiction kick that I’ve been on for a while. Who knows? After the book I’m currently working on, I might make a go at something completely different.

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Sleepeth Not, the Bastard

“The gravity of fate is nothing in comparison to the fleeting warmth of a loved one’s last kiss…”
….thus reads the final words of High School Senior Joshua Feranna.

Several years later, Lew, his father, currently working for a faceless loan shark, has dipped into a drug and lust-filled method of cope. Separated but not divorced, his wife Autumn finally tracks Lew down, begging him to come home to help take care of their identity-in-crisis daughter Zoey.

But when Lew’s friend from high school, Sarah Fox, having lived the life of a drummer in the all-but extinct rock band “The Bastards” returns to town stalked by a rumored “Resurrection Tour”, Lew’s world truly becomes a thing of legend….and doubt.

What transpires from then on is a continuing snowball effect that will inevitably lead to the cataclysmic destruction of one family and others as the world continues to busy itself around them in seamless melancholy.

“Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a story about people, each one steadily climbing towards a foreseeable yet undeniable end. Each person influencing the other in one massive string of events escalating and culminating at the end of their respective worlds whether those worlds be of mental, emotional, psychological, or delusional origin.

Part drama, part dark comedy, part rock ‘n roll epic, with a copious and perhaps endless helping of sex, drugs, and infamy… “Sleepeth Not, the Bastard” is a romp for this generation, an homage to those that came before, and a warning for those that follow.

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High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober

High-Functioning Alcoholism: Live It Sober4 Stars

High Functioning Alcoholism: Live it Sober by Gray Nomad is a non-fiction book on how to recognize high-functioning alcoholism in yourself or someone else. There is also a short fiction piece with the purpose of illustrating how widespread high-functioning alcoholism is within people. The piece shows anyone, of any status, can be a high-functioning alcoholic. The book also contains some tips on managing high-functioning alcoholism. Nomad stresses the importance of seeking professional help if you suspect an alcohol issue and the importance of education. Furthermore, the book provides concrete examples of high-profile people who had issues with high-functioning alcoholism.

This book is an informational introspective work. The short story produced by Nomad unquestionably opens your eyes on who could have a high-functioning alcoholism issue. The book is short, about 40 pages, and it’s all focused on education and awareness regarding the safety and hazards of consuming alcohol. What I enjoyed most about this work is that it gives examples of how to safely enjoy alcohol.

One of the more important aspects I got out of the book was the author’s mention of talking with children and teaching them about alcoholism at a young age. Teaching is a type of intervention, which is an essential part of preventing future issues. Conversations about sensitive and taboo topics like this one are crucial, which is why a book like this is great. Nomad uses their knowledge of the health science field and their personal experience to bring you in.

There are a few grammatical issues that could use some polishing. However, it does not take away from the overall message or enjoyment of the book. The book is well written and informative which left me wanting more after 40 short pages. It’s informative and interesting. However, I think more information and a more in-depth look at the case study could increase awareness on the topic. I believe it would give more potency if there were more details, especially with high profile cases and the case study.

Overall, this book was enjoyable. It is a quick, compelling read. The purpose is to “wake up” someone to the dangers of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and it does just that. There is good, solid advice on not only how to recognize the dangers of alcohol consumption but also tips on managing high-functioning alcohol issues, the importance of educating others and talking about this subject, and the importance of talking to professionals.

After reading this book I had to reflect on my own life to see if I was a high functioning alcoholic! I did have a glass of wine last night. Oh no! (You’ll be happy to know that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not. Thanks Gray Nomad!)

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to know more about alcoholism. As a person who is concerned with people’s health, this is a good read. It gives you a glance into the world of alcohol abuse and how it is more pervasive than one might think. Nomad makes a significant contribution to health services and humanity.

Pages: 39 | ASIN: B01N95RT4E

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Eden’s Apple

Eden's Apple4 Stars

In a whirlwind of emotions and laced with tragedy, the lives of two women are laid out in Pamela Blake’s Eden’s Apple. Both of their lives are fraught with heartbreak, circumstance and secrets. Between drugs, sex and violence these women barely eek out an existence. Both are tainted, both are damaged. One of them will recover, the other will not. Rose and Lucy; our two heroines who are connected to each other by the special bond mother’s and daughter’s share will lose themselves for the sake of love and at the hands of love. Barely out of childhood Rose finds herself forced to endure her father’s expression of love that ends up changing her life forever. Lucy, a product of that illicit union is damaged not because of who her parents were, but because of the loss of love that she should have been entitled too. One woman will break from her burdens and the other will fracture almost irreparably.

The books opens with a scene of violence: Rose is being raped by her father. While readers won’t be aware of who the man is until chapter 2, Blake handles the violation with a strange sense of delicacy. It is through Rose that the reader will understand how damaging to her mind the act is. Set in early 1930’s in England Rose faces more discrimination and humiliating isolation than a modern woman would hopefully need to bear. The regret and self-loathing her father goes on to feel throughout the book seems a bit unrealistic, but it lends to the story.

Rose is damaged by this act of love; an act that is supposed to bring two people together. She bears her incestuous child, only to leave little Lucy with her parents and attempt to live a life that a girl of her age is entitled to. Blake does a good job of showing the delicate state of Rose’s mind as she struggles to understand what happened to her and what she needs to do to regain her sense of self. This is a dangerous path for writers to tread: too much realism can make a reader uneasy. However, not lending an air of reality to how a character handles such critical moments can be damaging to the novel as well. Blake teeters on the edge of this line. As we move forward through Lucy’s life and her experimentation of drugs and sex, the lack of consequences seems unfathomable. While one of her children does suffer from illness later in life, the fact that she gave birth to two healthy children while being addicted to opiates and other drugs steals some credibility from the tale.

The story itself is a captivating read. While Rose certainly had her life altered against her will at such a young age Eden’s Apple is more about Lucy and her struggle to find the love she should have received as a child. She struggles with loving too much and desperately needing confirmation of love in return. Pamela Blake tells this story of two women scorned by fate who struggle to overcome the cards that have been dealt to them. Eden’s Apple is a devastating tale of desperate love, true love and the agony laced between.

Pages: 260 | ASIN: B01C4F5QCU

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Sprk.It

His Methods of Madness

Author Interview Dave Matthes

Author Interview Dave Matthes

Bar Nights is a chronicle of the life of Arlo Smith who walks away from his life after finding his wife in bed with another man. Arlo’s finds his life in a troublesome spot in the beginning of the novel. What was your inspiration for his family situation and how he removes himself from it?

The inspiration never really came from anything first hand. One day I just started writing the book because I had nothing else to do, and I had already scrapped several ideas for other books, some of which became short stories. I think mostly though, that feeling of desperation that comes with having had enough of a certain situation that’s been going on for far too long, was something I’ve been through before. How Arlo feels, that sense of apathy, but also pleasure, with starting over, was my biggest takeaway from my own personal life that applied to the birth of the character “Arlo Smith”.

The plot to Bar Nights seems simple, a man tries to bury his pain with alcohol, but there’s complexity in Arlo’s pain and the people he meets. What was your writing strategy in terms of plot design when writing this story?

Thoughts and thought processes. A lot of the time we don’t actually think about the process of “thinking”, and sometimes the point in which we change direction in our thoughts is lost completely. The way I employed the use of “chapters” in Bar Nights and the rest of The Mire Man Trilogy reflects that. The plot design really had no design, at least while writing Bar Nights. I just started writing it one day and kept going with it. There wasn’t really a story, in a literal sense, I was aiming for. Bar Nights was originally intended to be just a short book about a guy living in a bar and all of the people he met there, nothing more.

Arlo is locked in a vicious cycle of self-hate, addiction, and depression that is reflected in the people he meets. Did we get to meet everyone you planned to write or did you take out any characters?

I did take out a few, but at the time that they would have existed in the story of Bar Nights, they were very minuscule. Once I decided to make Bar Nights the first book in a trilogy, I placed those characters in the following books in the trilogy as supporting characters that would hopefully help Arlo more on his journey.

I feel like Bar Nights is an examination of addiction and desperation. How do you feel Arlo deals with these things that’s different from other people?

Different? I think that his methods of madness are only different because at first, he really doesn’t have much to lose. Once he finds his way to the bar “Purgatory”, that’s it for him. He really doesn’t have anyone who cares enough to tell him to stop. And if he never met Constance, for all we know, he would have died there. So in a sense, all he really uses to deal with his addictions, is apathy. Complete, pure, remorseless apathy. He knows he has problems, and he reflects upon them constantly, but he really doesn’t care enough to examine them on a level that may or may not lead to his redemption. Not yet anyway.

Bar Nights is the first book in the Mire Man Trilogy with Madlands being the third book. How do you feel Arlo has developed over the series?

Well, in Bar Nights, even though it’s the first book, we sort of meet Arlo at his middle. In the second book, Paradise City, we’re taken back to “where it all began”, so he’s still a child in those days, and definitely hasn’t reached that purified level of “sheer apathetic asshole”. By the third book, Return to the Madlands, Arlo is pushed passed his “breaking point” in the first book, and beyond to a point in which he is literally faced with the choice of “live your life like this and die like this” or “live your life like THIS, but still… die like this”. The difference being in the choice of the latter, he’d be taking a chance, forsaking what he “set out for” from the very beginning altogether. His story arc definitely reaches a point he never expected (and I never expected while writing it).

Bar Nights (The Mire Man Trilogy, #1)“Bar Nights”, the first volume of the “The Mire Man Trilogy”, is a story revolving around Arlo, a man who’s just turned 39. Fed up with the way his life has turned out thus far, he leaves his cheating wife, out of control preteen slut daughter and her “fiance”, his unbearably demeaning job, and hits the highway.

It isn’t long before his car dies on him, and he’s forced to take shelter in the only place available at the time: the for-rent room above a dive bar, named “Purgatory”, positioned seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

Convincing the owner to let him work off his rent, he spends his days drinking and care-taking the bar, running odd jobs for his boss, and spends his nights tucked away in his room drunkenly passing out to the sounds of whoever is playing the music downstairs…until one night he ventures out into the storm eternally encapsulating his world. And their paths unexpectedly converge.

The meeting sets in motion a relentless and remorseless onslaught of emotions, bringing Arlo to the absolute breaking point of insanity and introducing him to a realization that redefines why he ended up at “Purgatory” to begin with.

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Gifts of the Crysnix

Gifts of the Crysnix4 StarsWelcome to the beautiful world of the Crysnix. The author introduces us to these small fairies that have the power to grant wishes to the people of the world, as well as provide comfort and positive thoughts in our times of need. The story takes place in Galvin Cove, a small fictional town in a New England kind of setting of the United States. The nearby forest holds the small village of Crysnix, where the fairies learn to deal with their own issues so that they may mature and help the nearby town of humans with their problems. Elixir, a fairy with a troubled past, finds himself struggling to be the knight that his father could not. Learning from his past and from those around him, he prepares for a showdown with the Dark Prince Onyx. If Elixir fails, it might be the end for his village of Crysnix. Princess Amethyst struggles to mature from a life of pampered wealth, Aderra suppresses feelings of jealousy over Elixir’s misplaced attention, and the humans of Galvin Cove deal with several of their own issues in the story, including drug use, stealing, violence, love, and compassion. Will the Crysnix be able to guide the humans to the right choices while dealing with the unseen forces of evil around them?

This novel is filled with so much goodness, it’s difficult to feel a negative thought. Lisa Shore gives plenty of sage-like advice in these pages that I couldn’t help but feel like I was better off after reading it. There is so much variety between the characters and situations in the story that almost anyone would find something to which they can relate. However, one downfall of this variety is that not every story line gets the attention that one might want it to receive. Some of the lessons come off as oversimplified because the plot moves along quickly. Still, the story does what it seems to set out to do at its core. It gives the reader an inside look at the Laws of Light, which are rules that fairies (also called Crysnix) know very well, but humans struggle with when it comes to their implementation. Through this device, the author is able to deliver great advice from all of the wise, caring fairies, and sometimes even from the humans. There are meaningful quotations at the beginning of each chapter to set the tone for these lessons, as well. While some of the quotes will not hold the same weight for every reader, their positive effect on the novel as a whole is undeniable.

Overall, this book was a fantastic read. The plot holds enough meaning to make the lessons learned both insightful and valuable to any reader that pays attention enough to take it to heart. I would love to enter this world again and see how the characters continue to progress!

Pages: 226 pages | ISBN: 1504339657

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Rude Boy USA

3 StarsAuthor Victoria Bolton pays homage to the 1960s gangs of New York with her book Rude Boy USA. It’s the classic story of an underdog gang trying to take the seat of power in a world of murder, corruption, sex and drugs. The story follows the four members of Chimera; a gang led by the driven but big-hearted Bernie. John is his second in command; African American, good looking and unhappily married. Ben, the Italian American ex-veteran struggling with a drug addiction, is the little brother wanting desperately to be taken seriously. And Jerome, the well-adjusted African American with intelligence and a dream, is the son Bernie never has to worry about. Together they make up the misfit family of Chimera, flawed in their own ways and equally determined to make something of their lives.

These characters have numerous dimensions that create a clear picture with their narratives, but in contrast, the two female characters Bolton introduces, feel somewhat two-dimensional. On one side you have Edina who is a white, manipulative woman, both offensive and single-minded with her bigotry. And on the other side is Celia; a beautiful African American woman who is the angel to Edina’s devil, extremely attractive, with a heart of gold. Moreover, Celia’s motivations in the story stem from a desire to better educate herself, but are quickly reduced to a will they/won’t they love saga that overshadows her previous occupation. Though not an uncommon occurrence, the story would have only been meatier had the female characters received the same attention to detail as their male counterparts.

Character development aside, the story touches well upon racial tensions that would have been rife at the time. However, some situations err on the side of stereotype rather than exploring any deeper issues, but where it can, the story embraces some of the realities of the time and the author is able to keep the reader interested.

Nevertheless, this is indeed a crime thriller with a topic that has obviously been well researched by Bolton. She takes you deep into the heart of New York City and provides a picture of a community that the reader can see very clearly. Ultimately this feels like a story about loyalty and belonging to something. With an underlying romantic story threaded throughout, Rude Boy USA has something for everyone, with enough twists and turns to keep die hard thriller fans engaged and want to immediately pick up the next book in the series.

Pages: 283 | ISBN: B019E76CMY

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If The Bed Falls In: A Man in Two Minds; Are Either of Them His

If The Bed Falls In: A man in two minds; are either of them his? (Bedfellows thriller series Book 1)4 Stars

Tom Friday is a middle-aged photographer, and an ex-cocaine addict whose mind is playing tricks on him; he has begun to experience terrifying hallucinations. He tries to cope with these delusions while also trying to make sense of them, but Tom’s cocaine-hangover plummets him into a world riddled with murder, conspiracy, and espionage. However, his alter-ego, that he becomes in his hallucinations, believes he has come up with a solution to the dire problems of the world, and unlike Tom, is willing to take the risks necessary to put things right, but his mind is as addled as Tom’s, and his plan is always a little out of focus. Slowly, Tom, the photographer, begins to believe that his alter-ego (Joseph Miller, an MI6 agent) is reality, and that Tom is the hallucination, but how can he be sure what is real. He races against time to discover who he truly is, and what he must do to succeed and come out alive.

If The Bed Falls In by Paul Casselle is the first book in his Bedfellows thriller series. If The Bed Falls In is a chilling psychological thriller that attaches itself into your subconscious and refuses to leave. Paul Casselle is a story-teller who deftly weaves his tale into a thrill ride of a page turner. He creates multilevel characters that remain with the reader long after the book has been closed. His characters leap off the page and scream to be heard.

Casselle explores the realms of hallucinations and the idea of a person beginning to lose sight of reality, as well as the world of dirty government manipulation. The novel contains graphic scenes and strong language, but those elements add a realistic depth to the story. The atmosphere of the story would honestly be altered if those elements were withheld; the story would lose its intensity. Casselle perfected a realistic world that is unparalleled in other novels. The book starts out slow, but then as it progresses through background story it begins to pick up the pace. Casselle spends a good amount of time setting up the tone and atmosphere of the story through descriptions and dialogue. The descriptions are so vivid and detailed that the reader feels as if they are amidst the turmoil watching Tom struggle to find the fine line between reality and fantasy.

I would highly recommend this book, but keep in mind there are scenes with adult content some readers may find offensive. Anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller would enjoy this book as well as anyone who likes a governmental conspiracy type of book; the magic is in the blending of the two genres. If The Bed Falls In: A Man in Two Minds; Are Either of Them His is a book that is difficult to put down.

Pages: 317 | ASIN: B019MONHMM

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Paradise City: The Mire Man Trilogy

Paradise City (The Mire Man Trilogy, #2)4 StarsParadise City by Dave Matthes is the second book in his Mire Man Trilogy. The story goes back twenty years to Arlo Smith’s teens, a time of many firsts for him. The story opens with Arlo and his best friend, James Landon, skulking through the woods in order to peep into a local stripper’s window, trying to see what any puberty-addled boy hopes to see. What they see and experience there is a first that changes them, their friendship and perhaps, their lives.

High school isn’t fun for everyone. Arlo and James’ freshman year pulls them apart, and while they remain friends, they meet new people, experience first love, infatuation, and learn the pleasure and pain of drinking and smoking weed. Arlo’s mother introduces him to a parade of boyfriends who drag him into a world of alcoholism, and abuse. Through it all, Arlo learns that he can write, his teachers think he’s good at it, but it isn’t enough to keep him from the lure of drinking and brawling.

If you’re going into this book expecting an uplifting coming-of-age story, you will be sadly disappointed. Paradise City is a dark, no-bull look into the brutal world that Arlo grew up in. His mother’s boyfriend uses him as a punching bag, his best buddy is a drug dealer, and he has nowhere to turn to except for the booze he steals from home or gets at parties every chance he gets.

Interludes from Arlo’s adult life are interspersed within the novel. He’s getting treatment at the Moriarty Institute, where he admitted himself for psychiatric care. This adds insight and ties Arlo’s past and present together. Whatever confession his doctor hopes to get out of him might be something from his past, or it could just be the ramblings of a man with mental illness.

The author really nails the emotions and reasoning of a teenaged boy. Arlo’s thoughts and decisions are spot-on for a teen. No one but his guidance counselor seems to care one way or another about his future. The counselor has good intentions and Arlo is infatuated with her; she speaks to him like he’s an adult, but she’s not that much older than he is. Their relationship skirts the line between propriety and danger more than once.

One of the problems I had with the book was placing it in a time period. I’m not sure if it’s inconsistency, or if it’s intentional. Music has a role in the story, and all of the songs and bands mentioned are from the late 1970’s. In one scene, there’s a reference to a flat-screen monitor for a computer playing music, but later, in the same office, the music is playing on a record player. The students at the school don’t mention cell phones or social media, yet Arlo has a cell phone. The pop culture references are from late twentieth century, yet the few mentions of technology feel like the twenty-first.

Though it’s second in a series, Paradise City holds up on its own. While you don’t need to have read the first book, if you start with this one, you’ll certainly want to go back to book one and catch up before the final installment of the trilogy.

Pages: 250 | ISBN: 1512223530

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