Is That Your Aunt in the Attic? is a creative fiction novel that focuses on the characters of Edna and Edith, two sisters that are private investigators. The sisters have traveled across the country to get away from the wrath of an escaped convict whose plans to murder were foiled by the sisters. The ladies travel to San Francisco to get away and visit family, but they still find themselves as a target for the mobster’s hitman. What comes out of it is a strange sequence of events that proves how resourceful the sisters are in solving problems and getting answers to their questions.
One of the aspects of this story that I enjoyed was the whimsical situations that Edna and Edith seem to get themselves into. The authors, Barbara Fletcher and Cheryl Gauthier, are mother and daughter, and at the beginning of the novel, they mention that some of the events that take place in the novel are somewhat true and have happened to them in real life. I liked that disclaimer, because as I was reading the novel I could more easily picture some of the silly events that were happening to the sisters actually happening to someone like me and my sister. Some parts of the novel induced a good chuckle as I read them.
The only thing that I thought took away from the novel was the small talk that Edith and Edna made with each other. For instance, they would bring up a memory of a saying from their father or mention something weird or funny that they did a long time ago. In a way, the small talk adds a more realistic value to the novel; however, it seemed out of place and took away from the overall plot and momentum of the story.
Overall, this was a fun book and I would love to read another novel in this series.
Pages: 262 | ASIN: B0794PB8FR
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Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.
In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.
They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.
The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humanity. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed.
The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.
If he survives…
Finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 Halloween Book Festival
Runner-Up in the 2015 Southern California Book Festival
Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2015
Bronze Medal in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards
Honorable Mention in the 2015 San Francisco Book Festival
Winner in the 2015 Hollywood Book Festival
Posted in book trailer
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Einstein’s Fiddle begins with a man abandoning his child on a doorstep of a stranger’s home; the rest of the novel seeks to reveal and understand this man. What was the inspiration for the setup to this emotional novel?
Like my first novel (A History of the World), Einstein’s Fiddle began as a short story. The story form was abandoned quickly – perforce, as soon as Davy abandoned Mitchell. The inspiration for the setup was a simple disturbing question that presented itself: What if someone – no, not just someone – a dad – left his baby boy on a doorstep? The image that first came to mind was of the proverbial unwed mother from earlier decades in this country – desperate, ashamed, alone, afraid, and apparently out of options. The obvious second question followed hard upon the first: why would any person – at least any loving father – do such a thing? And these were questions that led quickly to others – questions of personality, motivation and experience – and my poor powers certainly could not answer them, or sufficiently illuminate the depths of such a father (Davy Calhoun), in a short story.
Davy Calhoun is a multilayered character that is deftly developed. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?
The relationship between fathers and sons has been at the heart of my writing from the beginning. It was there in my early stories and my first novel, and it is at the center of Einstein’s Fiddle. The desire for his (or her) father’s love, approval, guidance and acceptance is deep in every child’s heart from the first breath. It is a ‘natural’ yearning and part of each one of us because God put it there. I wanted Davy Calhoun to be a character with whom we all (if we are honest about it) share common ground; and of course – like each of us – he has his own story, his own unique experience and narrative, which I hope makes the book singular and engaging. There are a number of fathers in the novel, all of them flawed and fallen in his own ways – and one particularly outstanding in his degree of fallenness; but my ‘ideal’ father in Davy’s story is the dad in Jesus’ story about The Prodigal Son, a parable which one of the characters in the book’s third section relates to Davy. Perhaps the one ‘driving ideal’ behind Davy’s development is best summed up by something a friend of mine has said more than once: “Love is the most powerful force in the universe – just largely untried.”
It’s hard to not get emotional when reading Einstein’s Fiddle. Did you pull anything from real life or personal experience to use in this novel?
I spent time in all the places where the narrative unfolds – Charlottesville, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco – and I used a lot of my experiences of those places (and the places within those places) in the book. As I imagine any author does, I created whole characters with pieces of people I know or have known. Whenever it worked well in the narrative, I used – call it stole, if you like – real-life stories that friends have shared with me over the years. In the last section, when Davy is in San Francisco, there is a scene near Pier 39, which completely replicates something that happened to a good friend of mine in New Jersey. It was a wonderful gift to me, and I gave it joyfully to everyone who reads Einstein’s Fiddle.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The working title is Thomas, but that could change in an instant. I expect it to be much shorter than Fiddle…but that could change too. I don’t want to say much about it right now, except that it is about a life-changing relationship between a white doctor in Charleston, South Carolina, and the black man he hires to build a stable for his horses. You can safely bet that there will be fathers and sons in this book too…. I hope it will be available in a year or so. I’ve begun to work on it in my head, but I have yet to write the first word.
What kind of man leaves the infant son he loves on a doorstep in a strange town and drives away? With its present set in the summer of 1985 and its past reaching from 1950 to 1974, Einstein’s Fiddle is a dramatic examination of Davy Calhoun’s journey from home to the far country and back. The language and landscape of the novel vary between the existential and familial, tragic and comic, as the non-linear narrative – by turns realistic, lyrical, magical – focuses fearlessly on Davy’s fall, dishonor and redemption.
Posted in Interviews
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A good mystery novel is one that will challenge the reader, misdirect suspicion, and keep the reader turning the page to find the next twist to see if they were right. Accidental Killer by Tong Zhang meets all these requirements, as well as throws in some Chinese Mob style twists. The main character, Sarah, is a bright mid twenties writer that also has a degree in programing and seams to draw out the good in people. The book is filled with technology references and science information but this does not impact the reader’s ability to grasp what is going on even if they don’t understand the technology being discussed. There is a small amount of romance in the book that adds to character development rather than being the center of the plot.
This is a contemporary story that takes place in California’s Silicon Valley area, with some outskirt resorts and the mountains of Tahoe. One of the key plot points is on nanotechnology, but the author does not go so in-depth into the science that the average reader will be lost. The same goes for the genetics discussion that some of the characters have. What is nice about this novel is the strong female protagonist. Sarah is not a fluff character, and she is very relatable. She talks about finding balance between traveling the path that was expected of her, computer science/programing, and her passion, writing. She over comes personal tragedies of being left by her mother and later her aunt that raised. We learn a lot about many of the characters through their interaction with Sarah, she is able to bring out their best sides and show the readers passion rather than just flat characters that move the plot forward. Hardly any character brought into the novel is fluff. This is important because it means that Zhang is writing with a purpose and not just trying to fill the book up with pages on pages of meaningless content.
Accidental Killer starts as if you’re stepping into someone’s life as a spectator. There is no preposition so (without spoiling things) the beginning of the story is confusing, but becomes clear a chapter in and the realization of what is really going on is magnificent. Several other characters are mentioned as well with no clue as to who they are or where they fit in, Scotty, Ramsey and Mr. Bash being a few. You will eventually learn who they are and how they fit into Sarah’s life but it takes times. While confusing, it does add to the mystery aspect of the novel; who are these people and what are their stories. If you can stick with the writing through the first two chapters you will be engrossed and unable to put the book down. There are definitely some memorable characters that I can see making a repeat appearance if Zhang continues the series, namely Jake and Madam Wu. Both are left with the impression they have more stories to tell. Overall a good mystery novel, quick read, and entertaining characters.
Pages: 189 | ASIN: B01527IF84
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Wilder Hearts is a historical western and romance novel. What draws you to the old west and makes it ripe for you to write such a great romance story in it?
I’ve been reading romance novels since high school. My mom and grandmothers taught me to love history, and my dad taught me to love westerns, science fiction, and the paranormal. Growing up, I used to watch western TV shows and movies with my dad all the time. We still watch western movies together. I think I’ve seen every western ever made starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, but my all time favorite “old” west movie is Support Your Local Sheriff– a western romantic comedy staring James Garner.
I thought the historical accuracy was spot on. What research did you do for this story?
A lot of research went into this novel. I have dozens of hard cover books on British and American history. When I began researching historical crimes a few years back, my husband gave me The Chronicle of Crime by Martin Fido, a book that chronicles the most infamous crimes in modern history. I also get a lot of my book ideas from watching Mysteries at the Museum. While doing internet research on American crimes similar to Jack the Rippers, I ran across a single article on the Servant Girl Annihilator. From there, I began searching the web for more info, and low and behold, just after I finished the first draft of Wilder Hearts, Mysteries at the Museum featured a segment on the Servant Girl Annihilator. The show even made the connection between Maurice, the Malay cook and Jack the Ripper. I was thrilled.
It’s time to make Wilder Hearts into a movie! What actress and actor do you picture playing the leading roles?
I think Melissa Rauch who plays Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory would make the perfect Ellie. She’s older than Ellie and her hair is blond, but in Hollywood, anything is possible. And I think Chris Pratt would make a great Jake.
I enjoyed the romance that was weaved into the mystery story. Where do you see Jake and Ellie, oh let’s say, a year after the novel ends?
As secondary characters in the sequel. I still haven’t settled on a title for the book. Obviously, it will be something with “Hearts” in the title, but in the rough draft already in the works, Ellie suggests that Brett Henderson (the rancher who helped Jake rescue Ellie) consider answering an ad for a Mail Order Bride she read in the San Francisco paper, Matrimonial News (a real paper in the late 1800’s.) Jake, of course, will be against the idea, but Brett is desperate to find a wife for his son in the dying town of Harmony.
Writing about the outlaw, Jake the Snake, could be the opportunity of a lifetime—if it doesn’t get her killed. When Ellie Wilder takes her sister from their grandfather’s home, she’s determined to put her family back together and write of their adventures. Then she runs into Jacob Harper, a man who resembles Jake the Snake, a notorious outlaw who once rode with Billy the Kid. Is it possible the outlaw who escaped justice has mended his ways? Or is the handsome Mr. Harper now murdering servant girls in Austin? Finding out the truth could be the journalistic opportunity of a lifetime. Former Texas Ranger Jake Harper has returned to Texas to help solve the Servant Girl Annihilator murders. But when a similar murder occurs in Harmony, Texas, Jake goes undercover as Jake the Snake to find a connection between the series of brutal murders. Then Ellie Wilder shows up. Her snooping could blow his cover and get her killed, but Ellie soon becomes a bigger threat to his heart than his investigation.
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