I Know When You’re Going to Die by Michael J. Bowler is a Young Adult fiction novel about a sixteen-year-old boy named Leonardo Cantrell. While working at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles, Leo meets a man who passes on a gift–or a curse–the ability to look into a person’s eyes and see their Death. He knows when it will occur, but the details of how it will happen are hazy. When Leo sees his friend, J.C.’s murder, he can’t stand by and do nothing. Can Leo and J.C. discover the killer’s identity and prevent J.C.’s death before it’s too late?
I Know When You’re Going to Die was a book I enjoyed reading because of the author’s unique writing style couple with an intriguing plot. The book raises many interesting questions and left me with many interesting fantasies in my own head; can you change the future if you know what’s going to happen? And even if you can change things, should you? What are the consequences of that decision?
I liked the mystery driving this story forward and I had a fun time trying to put the clues together in order to guess who wanted to kill J.C. The story is replete with red herrings and misdirection that left me spinning, I couldn’t figure out how all the pieces fit together until everything was revealed at the end of the book; which was fantastic. The inclusion of the old house with the secret passages was a fun element in the story.
I liked reading about the juxtaposition between Leo, J.C., and Laura’s typical teenage life, going to classes and dealing with bullies at school, and the life-and-death matter of the trio trying to figure out how they’re going to prevent J.C.’s murder.
Although I thought the characters were well developed, and interesting, I had a bit of an issue with some of the reasoning behind the characters’ actions. At times, it didn’t seem logical. For example, why would Leo automatically assume the killer was not after him when he had never looked into his own eyes in the mirror to see his own death?
But this is a mild issue born out of my fascination with the novel. I Know When You’re Going to Die is an enchanting novel that had me hooked right until the end.
Pages: 210 | ASIN: B07Z48BHH4
Dogs Don’t Lie by Lisa Shay is an exciting story that’s part murder mystery and part psychic fiction mixed with a hint of romance. Shay’s protagonist, Kallie, is a strong and independent woman. She is a veterinarian whose gifts go well beyond stitches and x-rays. She has developed the ability to clearly communicate with animals. Animals can “talk” to her in a way through feelings, senses, and visions. Kallie is called in to see about an animal at a murder scene, and soon becomes an invaluable resource to local authorities. She meets Ben, a detective on the scene, and soon it becomes apparent that Kallie and Ben’s relationship may go beyond work.
Shay does an amazing job of giving the animals in the story a “voice.” The way the words are written come across in a way that you could imagine an animal would communicate. The animals pick up on things that people wouldn’t likely notice. They see, smell, and observe things in a much different way from a much different perspective. Shay writes these communications in short choppy sentences. “Warm sunshine. Insects buzzing. Sweet grass. The scent of fresh turned soil.” This is a brilliant way of conveying the stories of our four legged friends who can be such important witnesses.
I love a protagonist like Kallie. She is a tough girl. She is strong without being hard. She can handle herself for sure. She doesn’t need much help from anyone, but decides to let someone in now and then. I love her grit and independence. As stated, she is tough but animals certainly soften her edges. This is something that most everyone can identify with. She’s very relatable. Another relatable theme is her somewhat meddling mother. She’s constantly commenting on her clothes. She’s always looking to set her up with a potential mate. She’s basically in her business. Kallie resists, but keeps a close relationship with her family.
Kallie and Ben feel like an age-old boy meets girl kind of story. More aptly, it’s city boy meets country girl. It’s subtle, but Shay conveys a little spark from the moment the two meet. There is some good-natured ribbing between the two from the start. This is a far cry from a typical romance novel. However, their budding relationship gives some relief from the heavy murder mystery story-lines.
The book has a comfortable pace. It is well written with no noticeable errors. It has excitement without being overwhelming, and lulls without being boring. It is a good mix of heart pounding moments and simple everyday life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The human/animal exchanges between Kallie and the animals showed a fascinating dynamic. I also enjoyed the relationship between Kallie and Ben. I’d love to read more by Shay.
Pages: 191 | ASIN: B07XJTNPPC
Darrell has a lot going on. He’s made a name for himself as the football coach of the local high school team. It’s quite possible he has finally met the love of his life, but he’s still dealing with being accused of providing steroids to his players. Just as he begins to hope things will take a turn for the better, the supernatural starts to take over and he starts seeing ghosts. Darrell, not wanting to admit a ghost is foremost on his mind, attempts to live his day-to-day life, but it’s not working.
Darrell, the main character of Randy Overbeck’s Crimson at Cape May, is doing all he can to overcome the accusations laid against him. His current situation has put any future he might have with Erin on the edge of ruin, and the ghosts that plague him are relentless. He is struggling to overcome the stigma that now hovers over him while he battles the dark looks and cold stares from the townsfolk with whom he once traded pleasantries. In addition, Darrell is concerned about a connection between one of his troubled players and the new ghosts he has seen in Cape May.
One of the most fascinating aspects about Overbeck’s books centered around main character, Darrell Henshaw. As he moves from place to place, spirits are drawn to him and each one seems to know about the other. Overbeck uses this amazing trait to flawlessly move from one book to the next and seamlessly connect subplots.
I appreciate the introduction of Cassie. She brings a down-to-earth feel to the ghost story that spans the length of the book. Darrell is, for all intents and purposes, the one on whom the story-line relies. Cassie, however, somehow grounds the book and gives readers a truly relatable character. She questions her decisions, struggles with a low-wage job, and is conflicted about her own place in this world. She breathes a new kind of life into an already fascinating story.
The tragic subplot surrounding the young football player, Josh, and his sister, Josie, brings everything into perspective. As Darrell and Cassie team up to find out more about the ghosts plaguing them both, they are actively solving a missing persons case about which no one else in town seems to care. Along with Cassie’s story-line, Josie’s story makes the book engaging and palpable. No one wants to imagine what can happen to a young person who has run away or been abducted. The fact that the town is so hush-hush about her disappearance makes this reader’s heart skip a beat.
With both elements of mystery and suspense, readers across genres will find this second book about Darrell Henshaw intriguing. Overbeck includes just enough romance to appeal to readers who require complicated relationships in their reading as well. I thoroughly enjoy the style Overbeck uses and highly recommend Crimson at Cape May to anyone who has not tried his work before.
Badajoz is an area near the Spain-Portuguese border. Gordon Stone had never guessed that he could ever have a connection with that part of the world. You would think that by 60 you know everything there is to know about your lineage. However, Gordo discovers something new about his family at 60 years of age. The death of Mrs. Harrington throws his entire world in disarray. His retirement was supposed to be relaxing but that changed one morning. How will he handle this new information?
Badajoz is a story about one man who thinks he has everything in check. This is an interesting account of one man’s journey to discovering a side of himself he has not known about for 60 years. It is a thrilling tale of history, politics in the 1930’s and family.
Mike de Val has sculpted a story provide a different view of history. Badajoz is a masterfully written book with simple language and vivid descriptions. From the wet lycra to the whistling wind and even the image of Extremadura. In the beginning, when he gets back from cycling, you can feel the passive-aggressive tension in the room as Gordon and Emily bicker as only an old married couple can. The author ensures that the reader has everything they need to build mental images of the scene being set with vivid descriptions that feel effortless.
The characters in Badajoz come alive once you start reading. Gordon says that he is a semi-retired teacher because teachers never really stop teaching. This is so typical of teachers and also very typical of Gordon as we have come to know him. All the characters are properly introduced and remain distinctly true to their personalities throughout the novel.
It is amazing how history has been woven into this fictional story. You learn things but you also enjoy the events of Gordon’s life. This book will grab your attention from the moment you join Gordon as he watches the sleepy librarian to the moment he becomes ticked off with Manuel. You will remain rooted and supportive as he grieves his wife.
This book is complex, interesting and surprising. You will invest in this story emotionally and love the adventure. You might love Mrs. Harrington more for opening this can of worms.
Pages: 281 | ASIN: B082QWFPRN
I enjoyed the illustrations throughout the The Haunting of Smock Hill. What was the art collaboration like for this novel?
I have an ongoing creative relationship with, I believe, one of the greatest artists ever. She goes by Ergoshwampy and we have collaborated on my last six books. When I get an idea for a drawing I relay to her what I am thinking and leave the complete design up to her. She never disappoints when it comes to the artwork. She also designs the covers for the books as well and again, I let her know what I am thinking of for the cover and she wastes no time in coming up with a fantastic cover.
The plot and it’s twists were really engaging. What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this story?
The challenges were trying to make sure I had the historical information as close to accurate as I could get. The coal industry in the late 19th and earyl 20th century did not have a lot of information. I managed to get a lot from the Smock Historical Society. As I started out writing about a haunting I had an idea as to what it would be like if someone was using modern technology for their own reward and how that same technology could be their downfall. The ending I left open in case I want to continue the story.
Do you plan to write more stories about the town of Smock Hill?
Yes, I do plan on writing more. This was my third storyline that takes place in Smock. My first was a four part series on an old Tai Chi instructor who mentors a young boy back to health using Tai Chi and Qigong along with other Chinese health practices.
A Dark Spirit has apparently returned to the former mining town of Smock, Pennsylvania, terrorizing the residents. Julia and her cousin Edward try to find out why it has come back and how to defeat it before the residents flee. What is this Dark Energy? What sinister reason does it have for returning?
The Mendelian Protocol starts with two genetic researchers dead on a beach which begins a deep and twisting mystery. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
I wrote the novel many years ago. I was initially inspired by the X-files as well as my interest in the premedical classes I was taking in genetics and molecular biology. I eventually tried to incorporate an element of classic murder mystery as well.
Natalie is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some ideas you wanted to explore with her character?
I basically saw her as the young physician (which I was at the time) who found herself pitted against an imperfect system. This is represented by her boss, the chief, who keeps trying to steer her investigation in the direction he wants it to go.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this novel. Did you plan this out or did it develop organically while writing?
I literally wrote about 100 pages without any plan whatsoever and then eventually realized I had to come up with a plot. It took me weeks or even months to develop an original plot that I can honestly say has never been done before to my knowledge. I wanted to drop hints and make it a “solvable mystery” while keeping it hard to predict. In that regard I feel I have succeeded.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am writing a more traditional mystery set in Nantucket in the 80’s but since I work full time and have kids… we will see.
Two genetic researchers are brutally slain on a remote beach in the Bahamas. The investigation falls to Dr. Natalie Franklin, the small-town Medical Examiner working her first murder case. She doesn’t mind dealing with dead bodies, but dealing with her boss, the Chief of Police, is another matter entirely. As she struggles to make sense of the bizarre forensic clues, she learns that sometimes the truth is a casualty that no one wants revived. She vows to find answers to explain the evidence that is seemingly impossible to reconcile.
The Keller Corporation is the main employer on the island of St. Angela. When researcher Greg Cooper is hired, he initially thinks he has landed in paradise. After a few days of crunching data, though, he realizes that his dream job is more of a tedious grind than anything else. Out of boredom he begins to poke around and soon suspects that the Keller Corporation is up to something unethical or even sinister. When Greg discovers another dead body, it seems like a horrible accident, and that’s what Dr. Natalie Franklin thinks, too. But it isn’t long before Greg and Natalie are racing to unlock the secret of the Mendelian Protocol before becoming victims themselves.
Not Dead starts with the abduction of a little girl but slowly builds into something more ominous. How did this idea for the novel start and change while writing?
The doll on the cover exists. It’s sold as a prop for Halloween houses. Several years ago, the picture of the doll standing in a decrepit, ramshackle room was the subject for a short story contest. Intrigued by the image, I entered the contest. While the doll was designed to frighten, I wanted a different twist. That’s how NOT DEAD got started. The original story was 500 words, and the title was Not Dead, Not Dead. I won third place. And, that’s all it took to get me hooked on writing.
I have always wanted to go back to that first story and turn it into a full-length novel. With the foundation of the plot in place, it was perfect for the expansion of the characters, location, and the dolls.
I felt that the mystery and intrigue was built exceptionally well in this novel. What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer for this book?
I enjoy creating a plot with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing, right up to the last page.
This novel highlights how difficult it can be to lose someone. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this novel?
I’m not certain there were any themes. It’s more my law enforcement experience and knowledge that add realism to my plots and characters. As a cop, children were the best and worst of my experiences.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
NOT DEAD is a deviation from my FBI Tracker novels. For the next book, I am back with the Tracker team in high gear as they deal with espionage and murder. I don’t have a title yet as my titles are inspired by a phrase or idea in the plot. So far, inspiration hasn’t struck, and the file is still titled—no name. My goal is to have it ready to publish by late spring/2020.
A small-town Texas cop who is haunted by his past.
A reporter who risks it all, even her life.
A kidnapping that crosses into an unearthly realm.
Focused on the abduction of four-year-old Mandy Norton, Chad Bishop, Meridian’s Police Chief, ignores the twinges of foreboding triggered by an eerie fog that shrouds his town. What he can’t ignore is the editor of the Tribune.
When Ashley Logan becomes embroiled in the search, nothing stops the hard-hitting, investigative reporter, including Chad’s threats to throw her in jail. She’s Mandy’s aunt.
As the mystery of Mandy’s disappearance deepens, unnerving details emerge. Chad refuses to believe they’re connected to his past until the case turns deadly. He’s forced to face the terror that haunts him. It’s waiting in the shadowy depths of the unearthly fog.
This time, it could cost Chad more than his sanity.
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In Dark Times Michael Gerhartz explores the delicate yet sadly relevant organ trade problem. In this fascinating novel readers get a glance into the complicated and cruel organ trade business. The narrative is constantly changing its perspective, from the lucky recipient to the doomed donor while following the incredible adventures of the engrossing main character, Natascha.
Michael Gerhartz creates a globe-trotting and energetic crime drama that is full of unexpected twists and deadlt turns. I felt that there was a focus on painting the bigger picture while discounting the details. The overall plot was engaging and stimulating, but at times I felt like the characters were acting against their own principles because a certain act was required to propel the plot. While Natascha was a stand out character to me, she was so well constructed that other characters felt underdeveloped in comparison. The personality that is exhibited by the characters is exceptional and authentic but I wanted to see more of it. This story reminds me of Pulp Fiction, where many smaller plots and character stories all interweave to make one complex story. Although this keeps the tension high and kept me flipping pages, it could be hard to follow at times. I enjoyed the way in which the author portrays security companies and the human face he gives to people working in Masad.
I can confidently say that I had a great time reading Dark Times by Michael gerhartz. The story is perfect for readers who like to follow clues to solve intriguing mysteries. Dark Times reminds me of Tom Clany’s Jack Ryan where agents embark on clandestine and deadly missions to overcome a terror menacing the world. Perfect for readers who embrace a bit of romance in their action adventure stories.
Pages: 738 | ASIN: B07MTQ9YWC