Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is a mile-a-minute crime mystery drama. Aussie Matilda is new in town and new to the force. She is teamed up with Jacqueline and makes fast friends with her. The two, along with their team, are investigating a string of murders with odd similarities. Dead and drained bodies are popping up with unexplainable circular wounds. Simultaneously, they are investigating street drug, Ice, and its effects. They want to know if they are connected. Storylines intertwine to connect the dots as they discover something more sinister than they could have imagined is afoot.
I enjoyed the relationship and humor between characters Matilda and Jacqueline. It’s nice to see the silly side of two highly trained and adept women. It makes the otherwise tough characters relatable. It shows their duality. They can have fun and joke and play around. They can also be independent and self-reliant and handle a weapon. I think readers, especially female readers, will appreciate that the women aren’t one-dimensional. Steele did a great job in developing the major characters.
Steele’s writing is very descriptive. This helped me picture the creatures in the sewer before I actually knew what they were. It also helped me picture the victims. This was not a read for those with weak stomachs. That being said, the gnarly details were relevant to the story. They were necessary in filling in details of the mysterious crimes.
The Ice storyline really hits home. It borrows from the front pages of newspapers and doesn’t paint over the ugly parts. Steele pulls in similarities to the current opioid crisis in America while tying it to Nazi-led drug experimentation of the past. The characters’ altered state while on Ice is scary, but an important cautionary tale. It serves as a warning of what could be, and readers will see similarities to our current climate.
I’ll admit the sight of 76 chapters and 600+ pages felt daunting. I’m afraid other readers may feel the same way, but I read the book over a week and it didn’t feel long and the plot flowed well. There are several instances where incorrect homophones are used, some sentence fragments due to misplaced periods, and some plural vs. possessive mistakes. But this does not detract from the overall entertaining story.
Craig Steele’s Time’s Up: She’s Breaking the Ice is well written and the characters are intriguing and deftly developed. The main characters were likeable, and the villains were easy to hate. I’d like to read more work by this author.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B07F5X4782
Posted in Book Reviews
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Slay the Dragon follows Cesar as he rises from his working class roots to fight against the opioid crisis while navigating South American politics. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a book about this topic?
Years ago I enrolled in a creative writing class at New York University. The professor required us to write short papers about what protagonists and antagonists would do in various scenarios. For one assignment, I used a magazine article about drugs and corruption for inspiration. My professor graded my paper A+ and strongly encouraged that I develop this theme into a novel. I did and then for various reasons put the novel aside for many years. During the presidential election, I became aware of the extent of the opioid crisis. I was astonished and particularly concerned that this epidemic was hardly reported by the media. I realized that this crisis would work well into my existing novel and was a way to highlight the gravity of the issue to a wider audience. So, I spent the past year updating my manuscript. The result was SLAY THE DRAGON.
I felt like this book could have easily been non fiction. What kind of research did you undertake to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?
I enjoy reading novels that are somewhat based on fact. I find reading realistic fiction a casual way to learn about issues and locations. Combine realism with suspense and conspiracy and I am sold. As a writer, realistic fiction gives me the opportunity to loosely express experiences and issues while being creative. For SLAY THE DRAGON, I traveled to Latin America and observed. I visited several countries and cities, explored the countryside, walked the streets, and spent time with locals– all the while taking notes. I love destination novels and wanted my book to capture the essence of the location. Since I am an economist and worked on Wall Street, it seemed natural that my protagonist would be the finance minister and that much of his efforts entailed economic issues. I did little research for the economic side of the book. For weeks, I researched the opioid crisis– reading articles and medical surveys. I wanted to learn how, why, and who. I could not find a single article that addressed the complexity of the crisis. Most articles are biased toward one reason or another. However, there are many causes and many to blame. SLAY THE DRAGON attempts to encapsulate all the forces and entities that contributed to this tragic epidemic.
Cesar was an intriguing and well developed character. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing his character?
César Rosada is the conscience of SLAY THE DRAGON. He is a decent man with good intentions who faces reality. The themes I attempted to capture through Cesar include: good vs. evil, doing the right thing, power and corruption, personal responsibility, self-reliance, how actions of a few affect us all, and why social ills exist.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next novel will address themes expressed in SLAY THE DRAGON but will be set in the digital world.
Slay the Dragon is a political suspense novel set in Latin America that explores how corruption and inefficiencies feed into social ills and how leaders exploit these conflicts to cling to power. César Rosada is on a crusade. Descended from generations of coffee farmers, the former professional athlete turned politician is determined to improve life for the working class of his country. As Minister of Finance, César is committed to righting decades of corruption, crime, and misguided economic policies, and defending progress made in the fight against the illegal drug trade. He anticipates resistance from those with money, power, and vested interests. However, he now confronts a burgeoning challenge—America’s opioid epidemic. This deadly crisis poses more than the usual conflict between law enforcement and organized crime. It is a complex and insidious challenge with pervasive and deep-rooted origins. César’s adversaries intent on maintaining the status quo conspire and threaten everything for which he has worked. The stakes are high—a reversion to the days when drug syndicates rule, politicians collude and profit, and the people remain hopelessly trapped in a cycle of poverty. César is conflicted, but must decide on a course of action. Weighing choices between what is perceived as right versus wrong, he pursues a path that for some is morally ambiguous.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, america, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, conspiracy, crime, crisis, ebook, economic, economist, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, latin america, laura zubulake, literature, mexico, nook, novel, opioid, political, politics, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, slay the dragon, smashwords, spy, story, suspense, thriller, wall street, writer, writer community, writing
Slay the Dragon is an action-packed mystery about a man named Cesar Rosada. He is descended from a line of coffee farmers, a former professional athlete and now a rising politician with a single goal; to help the working class of his country. He is determined to fight for the rights of his people but there is one crisis he can not see a way out of, the opioid addiction. Working as the minister of finance he will stop at nothing to fight against corruption. This leaves him with a choice that will test his own morality.
This book was written by author Laura A. Zubulake who worked for years on Wall Street and is a frequent world traveler. She has written non-fiction before, but Slay the Dragon is her debut fiction novel. The prologue got my attention from the very beginning and is an engaging start to an intriguing novel that hits on a subject that is destroying families and individuals in America. Slay the Dragon does a fantastic job of using fiction to understand a complex problem, and helps you visualize the enormity of the opioid crisis today. I enjoyed how the world unfolds slowly, detail by detail, we get to piece together a seedy world reminiscent of the show Narcos. César’s character development reminds me of George R.R. Martin’s characters. They are characters changed, dramatically, by circumstances out of their control, and they’re just trying to adapt.
This story is exciting, dangerous, thrilling, and full of adventure. Cesar is the kind of character you can’t help but root for with his pure ideals and determination to help those around him. When his actions enter a moral gray area you can empathize. How do you find such entrenched corruption? Zubulake has written a world that feels real in its gritty depictions of South American politics.
From beginning to end this book held my attention and kept me guessing. This is definitely the book for you if you like political thrillers that leave you thinking long after you’ve closed the book.
Pages: 289 | ASIN: B07BH2VMNQ
Tags: addiction, adventure, alibris, america, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, conspiracy, crime, drug, ebook, fantasy, fiction, george rr martin, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, latin, laura zubulake, literature, mystery, narco, nook, novel, opioid, politics, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, slay the dragon, smashwords, south america, spy, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writer community, writing