If you ever wanted an inside look into what it’s like to be a police officer in America, then Dark Nights by Robert L. Bryan is exactly what you’re looking for. This book is a collection of short stories that span Bryan’s career in the police and security forces. Twenty years is a long time to spend in such a dynamic field and Bryan shares his experiences with readers. Told in a fashion that makes it easy for those unfamiliar with police work to read, this book is a rare insight into the world of police officers. The way in which he writes shows that officers are human too, no matter what they face.
Reading a genre like crime can be intimidating: there is vocabulary to learn, culture to absorb and processes to understand. This can be a lot for someone who is reading in this genre for the first time. The reason why this book stands out is because it’s a prime example of non-fiction in the genre and it’s reader-friendly. There is no complicated vernacular that the layman would have a hard time understanding. The stories flow nicely and aren’t too jarring when we jump from location to location. The central character, the author himself, has a clearly defined role in each story that he tells. This might not seem like a big deal, but oftentimes autobiographical works, no matter how loose they are, can get away from the author. This is not the case in this collection. It is clear that Bryan’s paid attention to how he wanted to share his experiences with the rest of the world.
There is the right mix of macabre intrigue and humorousness in the stories that are shared. It goes a long way in showing that police officers are human beings like the rest of us. The fact that this is a non-fiction collection might tug at the heartstrings of readers because this means that the people we meet, the things that happen in these stories, all happened to real people. While we might understand that on a fundamental level, it’s another thing to read the accounts of such reality. It helps bridge the divide between a civilian and an officer. Showing the humanity, the slight ridiculousness and the sometimes inappropriate interactions makes the stories come alive and shows how real they are.
Police officers and everything they stand for seem so far removed from the regular civilian. Yes, we appreciate their presence and the work they do to keep our communities safe. But we generally don’t see them as ‘normal’ people like the rest of us. They are special, different, because they hold this position of power and trust. Robert L. Bryan takes his experience working in the force for twenty years and shares bits of it with his readers in Dark Nights. This collection of short stories told from his perspective is a clever way to break down those barriers between ‘us’ and ‘them’. He shows the humanity of officers and gives readers a taste of what they deal with every day. These short stories are fun to read and are worth picking up.
Pages: 345 | ASIN: B0711CB8K2
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Damaged follows Kiera as she is struggling to deal with her painful past and her emotions for a love from her past. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
I never wanted to be a writer. It honestly never crossed my mind. This novel developed because I had a scenario that kept repeating in my head over and over again. One day I figured I would write it down and maybe it would stop. Once I started writing everything began to click together. Kiera is a lot like me. She is very self conscious about the way she looks. She suffers from severe anxiety and PTSD. These are elements that hit close to home with me and my family.
Damaged is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, mystery, and thriller as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
This happened organically as I wrote. I actually wrote the scene at the club first and branched out from there. I love books that keep you on the edge of your seat. I’m one of those readers that will put a novel down unless it catches my attention and holds it. I tried to soup that into this novel.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
I loved writing about Kiera, but Anna has been my favorite. She’s sassy, independent and knows exactly what she wants.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I’m currently writing Anna’s story. I had to take a break as I entered into the US Army as an Officer. I’m back at it now and hope to have it out before the end of the year.
Ethan can’t forget the day he’d found her, beaten and bloody on the side of the road, barely alive. That one unsolved case changed Ethan’s life as a detective.
Kiera never told anyone what had happened to her the night she’d gone missing. In the aftermath of the attack, she flees town, leaving everything behind. Over time, she manages to build a new life for herself, keeping the painful memories locked in the deep recesses of her mind. But a chance encounter releases them with a vengeance, along with an attraction she never expected to have.
When her past threatens her future, will Kiera be able to trust Ethan to help her once more? Will Ethan still want her after he learns the truth?
Posted in Interviews
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Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is like reading Lawrence Hoffman’s diary. This is a not a fiction novel, it is all real life told from Hoffman’s voice. The book starts out when Lawrence is just a boy and his fascination with uniforms. We walk though his college and young adult life as he takes different jobs and finds his way eventually ending up taking the police officer exam for the NYPD. From here the book is a series of stories, like sitting and listening to a relative recount their life. As a reader you get to hear his emotions, see what he sees, and experience life on the New York city streets from the eyes of the police from the moment he takes his exam, to his retirement over 20 years later.
One of the first things that grabbed me in this book was the details of New York, Lawrence describing growing up on Long Island (LI) and the city boroughs and bodegas it was almost nostalgic. I could imagine his life growing up on LI with his friends and their experiences with school and sports and even the crazy neighbor that he ends up respecting and admiring as he grows older. I felt like I was in the city the way Lawrence described the locations and the people he encountered, it made me want to keep reading. Aside from the great detail of NYC, the book is just engaging. The chapters are all individual memories and stories and each one is entertaining. You follow his career and you feel like you are right there with him as his partner. Some moments are horrifying, others are deeply emotional and touching. This account isn’t political, it isn’t written to sway readers to love or hate the police, it is just an account of his life. It is told on such a realistic level, he explains all the police codes and jargon as he goes along so you don’t need to Google search to constantly look up what each code calls for. It is written for the novice level reader when it comes to police terminology. A lot of this is explained though his stories as it was explained to him by his peers. It adds to the authenticity for me, Lawrence isn’t trying to impress anyone with his technical terms or fancy language, it is all just plain and simple to understand so you can focus on the experiences.
Reading Turning Blue: A Life Beneath the Shield is like watching the life of Lawrence Hoffman play out in front of you. You can’t help but become attached and be transported to those streets of New York. Even the scary moment and horrifying experiences you are right there with him and you don’t want to stop reading, you have to keep going to see how things turn out. It is not a book of happy stories, it is not all horror and gore, it is real. Life is full of good and bad, and Lawrence shows it all, he doesn’t hold back on corruption or the really good people that care deeper than you can imagine. This book drew me in and kept my interest all the way though, it is a worthy read and one you won’t regret picking up.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B01B54DUU6
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West Point, the school for those that value honor and tradition. A group of elite students and soldiers that want nothing more than to continue the long-standing traditions and be the absolute best out there. It is also a school that has long been a boy’s only club, stuck in the mindset and traditions of the male gender. However now, women are there. They are changing things and not everyone likes these changes. When Jan, Kristi, and Pamela start leaving a trail of bad luck behind them they are branded as witches. Jan is convinced someone is out to kill her. It isn’t long though before Kristi and Pamela are also targets, someone wants them gone for good. Susan Spieth takes readers into the world of being a West Point cadet in her novel Witch Heart.
The novel starts out at Army Airborne School in Fort Benning GA. At first the novel is mildly humorous as you realize that Jan the main character is afraid of heights. Why is she at Airborne School? The simple answer is, she is a West Point Cadet and she will not fail at anything. We start getting some of the back story of her bad luck and how her old roommate Violet killed herself. The reason for why this happened lies deep into the novel and Spieth takes the reader on an emotional journey to get to the answers. Along the way you find romance with Jan and fellow Cadet Rick, and friendships so deep hazing and Honor Courts will not rip them apart.
The plot deepens and the witch hunt continues, all we know of the antagonist is that it is a male that wares a black ski mask. This mask holds a special meaning for him but you don’t know what that meaning is. After there are three deaths all from the time Jan, Kristi and Pamela arrive at West Point, they become known as the witches’ coven. The mystery intruder braking into rooms is only known as the man with the ski mask and he reveals his plans and hate for two of the women especially.
The author has given a lot of time into explaining the environment at West Point, it is a boy’s club atmosphere that is just tolerating women in the ranks. I feel this is still relevant today, that many feel West Point should still be an all-male environment. The author uses higher ranking officers to brush off hazing rituals as good old fun and traditions. It speaks of the hostility that women face when they are told “you want to be one of us deal with it” and are left with little options; all too real of a situation. Susan Spieth is able to tap into the fears and anger that these female cadets feel.
While not overly complex in plot lines, the social structure and interactions of the characters make this a complex novel. The reader is drawn into the stories of Jan, Kristi and Pamela and how they have survived to be 3rd year cows’s at West Point. This is not your mushy feel good novel, but it does speak to the strength of women cadets and their ability to overcome the odds against them.
Pages: 237 | ASIN: B01MCYSLQB
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Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?
I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.
Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.
How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?
I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?
I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.
Soul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.
Posted in Interviews
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