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The Road Renounced

Packing up her father’s effects ahead of his funeral, Sam Ryan’s daughter discovers her grandmother’s diary. Her reading takes us on a twisting journey through history – WWI, the Spanish flu, prohibition, and the depression. Moving back and forth between the present and the past, from the USA to Belgium, Kaye Schmitz’s The Road Renounced straddles time and space. Finally, the worlds converge when her grandfather, an aspiring baseball player, goes to war and, once more, briefly, at her father’s funeral. By then, we know a whole lot about her grandparents’ life that the narrator wisely chooses not to tell the rest of the family.          

One would expect a book that presents graphic scenes of war, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and suicide to be depressing. Not this one. The Road Renounced is a pleasure to read from start to finish. The opening “Letter to My Readers” pulls readers in immediately because Kaye Schmitz talks to them like an old friend, just like Maude writes in her diary. “Who would have thought a diary from a hundred years ago would have kept you glued like this?” (305) The narrator’s curiosity and compassion compel readers to read on. They might even do just as she did, for example, searching on Google for a song her father sang. 

Weaving family history, homage, and meticulous research, Schmitz creates engaging scenes with a Forrest Gump effect – recognizable historical moments revisited with a fictional character present. Need to know where historical fact ends and fiction begins? Check out the detailed “Author’s note” at the novel’s end. The structure is masterful. Logical devices bridge the spatial gap till our Americans arrive in Europe. And then there is the trunk to link the past and present. There are concerns about women’s rights, war and patriotism, parental responsibilities, self-esteem, and mental health. Readers will be left with much to consider as they follow along on this journey with the protagonist.

The Road Renounced is a gripping drama and family saga that takes historical events and gives them a personal touch. Readers will find themselves drawn into the lives of this family as they learn about their past, good and bad, and are compelled to see the story through and learn who these people really are.

Pages: 440 | ASIN : B0BLVVVJYJ

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Hot Passionate Sex

Keith is just a man looking for love in Hot Passionate Sex: A Man’s Way to Love, written by Donell McCollon. However, during his childhood, he didn’t see his parents showing affection for one another. The only romance advice he got was from older men that didn’t have successful relationships. Keith had many sexual partners, but only two pleased him and his overactive sex drive. Keith could go multiple times a row, and most women couldn’t keep up with that. The two women that could keep up ended with one being the woman of his dreams and the other his worst nightmare.

Hot Passionate Sex: A Man’s Way to Love was a quick read but enjoyable. The sex scenes were written out well enough to imagine them in my mind. It starts with a set that makes the book hard to put down! I loved that it paused for a moment, and we learned about Keith’s childhood. The whole story kind of reads like a memoir even. I liked that.

Keith was a great character. I felt like he really developed as the story went on. He was definitely selfish when he was younger but grew up quite a bit once he met the love of his life. Pamela was another great character. She seemed like someone easy to be with and be around in general. Finally, Tammy was a surprising addition and led to a dramatic end. My mind was blown as her character developed and the story progressed. The author made this a must-read just for that ending!

Overall, I really loved this book. The only part I didn’t like was when Keith was thinking about how women should hold value to themselves and not give themselves to whomever. So many women enjoy sex as just sex. If both parties are consenting adults and there is mutual respect, it shouldn’t matter.

Hot Passionate Sex: A Man’s Way to Love is a surprising and tastefully written story about a man discovering who he really is and what he actually wants and needs from a relationship. This unique romance story told from a man’s perspective is one that will entertain readers.

Pages: 134 | ASIN : B0B1TGHG9K

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A Dramatic Way to Murder

Samantha Goodwin
Samantha Goodwin Author Interview

Murder at Macbeth begins when a young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage which casts suspicion on her castmates. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I was actually inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.

I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery. Plus, I found the concept of interviewing suspects who are also actors really interesting; they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this story. Was the mystery planned or did it develop organically while writing?

A bit of both. I had the main story arc of who was the murderer planned out from the start, but the nuances of the story and how things were revealed throughout developed more organically. I enjoyed drip-feeding subtle clues along the way, including ones to throw people off. Ultimately, I wanted readers to be shocked by all the twists and turns, but with the benefit of hindsight would think, “yeah, that makes sense.”

The characters in your novel were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favourite character to write for?

I think one of the key elements of a great mystery is to have really compelling characters. In Murder at Macbeth, I put a lot of time into creating multidimensional characters who really drove the story as everybody had a legitimate motive that could drive them to murder. I think my favourite character to write was actually the victim, Nikki. She was initially presented as a lovable, charismatic golden girl who everyone adored, but I enjoyed writing the flashbacks to show her seemingly perfect life start to unravel as secrets are revealed to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail and deceit.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently working on a non-fiction book called Indie Writing Wisdom, which will come out this Winter. With the aim to inspire the next generation of writers, this book will provide an inspiring collection of practical advice on a wide range of subjects from crafting interesting characters, writing motivation and plotting to editing, cover design, book marketing and much more.

Eleven successful indie authors from all around the world will be sharing their expertise about their own self-publishing experiences and the useful approaches they took to ensure their books stood out effectively in a marketplace that has millions of books vying for attention.

Author Links: Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Whose deadly secret has taken centre stage?

When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates. But who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady?

As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit. Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

Set against the backdrop of a gritty London theatre production of Macbeth, this compelling novel explores a dark world of mystery and intrigue. All is not as it seems…

A hugely gripping police procedural full of unpredictable twists and suspense, Murder at Macbeth will captivate you from the very first page and keep you guessing right until the end.

With an intriguing plot and distinctive characters, this English murder mystery is a compelling whodunnit which is perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins, Joy Ellis, Karin Slaughter and LJ Ross.

A Dancer In Depth

A Dancer in Depth provides an in-depth look at one mans unique journey through life and the entertainment industry from Broadway to television. Readers are given a personal view into Stanley Howard Mazin’s life where  he holds nothing back and treats readers to his many encounters with celebrities over the years, or just encounters with generally interesting people. Stanley Howard Mazin has lived a fascinating life, one that few people get to experience, but one that we can all now enjoy and be a part of thanks to this compelling biography.

The subtitle is ‘Paragraphs from a Theater Life’, which I think is apt as it is more of a collection of interesting anecdotes that range from heartwarming to funny. But each piece is succinct and rarely wanders, keeping focus on either Stanley or his interactions and varied relationships. I really got a feel for the hard work and dedication that Stanley put into his work. He makes it seem like anything is possible in 60’s showbiz. But contrast that with his struggle with sexuality during this time and we get a contrast of the light and dark sides of showbiz. This dichotomy is subtle in this riveting biography, but nevertheless it paints a fuller picture of that moment in history. Stanley Howard Mazin has done so many things in the entertainment industry, so numerous I stopped counting. Instead I allowed myself to be completely absorbed by his life, and the simple but alluring way in which he relays it.

This was a much more intense experience than I was expecting. The book cover is unassuming, a man dancing on the cover, but what it hides is a passionate pursuit through life, theater life, dancing, and how Stanley Howard Mazin put it all together to create a life all his own. Readers are treated to all of it with this enthralling biography.

Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07V39LX8R

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Beguiled by Karma Kitaj is definitely a MUST read. One of the greatest things about Beguiled is it hooks you right from the start. Within reading the first two paragraphs I was hooked, I knew right away that this was going to be a book that I couldn’t put down until I had finished it.

The story of Beguiled starts out with a young woman leaving her husband. Upon leaving her husband with her young son this woman finds herself on her parent’s doorstep as she really has no other place to go. As the first chapter closes the reader is taken back in time to this young woman’s childhood. Beguiled isn’t just a romance story, it is a story about growing up and finding your own way in the world.

Beguiled follows the life and adventures of a young girl named Miriam and follows her story as she grows into a young lady. Miriam is a young Jewish girl with Russian immigrant parents who grew up during the 1920’s. The story goes into the hard childhood of Miriam and how no matter what she did she could never please her mother. Miriam’s father loved the theater and took Miriam to as many shows as he possibly could. The love of theater instilled a strong desire in young Miriam to become an actress, despite what her mother thought.

The story takes place during the 1920’s where women were not seen as equals to men. Beguiled does touch upon some political aspects, but the story is not overly political. Beguiled is filled with historical events and is written in a way that allows you to really connect with the characters. Women’s suffrage is touched upon in Beguiled and the author also tackles some other social situations.

As you progress deeper and deeper into Beguiled you will find yourself pleasantly surprised at the way the story is told. As you read one page and then another you can’t help but find yourself wanting to know what is going to happen next in Miss Miriam’s life. Beguiled isn’t a typical romance story filled with wanderlust and girls who are seeing stars; there is only the slightest suggestion of romance towards the very end of the book. The main story behind Beguiled is that of a young girl who grows up and finds out just who she really is and how she can actually make a difference in the world.

Although this story does go back in time, it doesn’t jump around from past to present as many other stories do. Something else that I really like about this book was how each chapter identified the year it was taking place in. If you know your history you can easily follow along with the events that were taking place and perhaps anticipate what was about to happen next.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B079924GDK

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Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont

Historian Wrenn Grayson arrives at the Rosemont mansion expecting to receive payment for her services from the mansion’s new owner, Clay Addison. That expectation dies when she and Clay find Trey Rosemont murdered on the foyer floor. Across town, police officers race to Eastwood University. Priceless Egyptian artifacts were stolen from the history department safe. Wrenn’s longtime love, Eastwood professor Gideon Douglas, heads the department. Only recovery of the artifacts will save his career.

Life in Havens, Ohio, doesn’t stop for this crime spree. Wrenn works for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge. He wishes Wrenn would stop searching down clues ahead of the police and pacify temperamental playwright Barton Reed. Barton’s play is just days away from opening in the town’s historic Baxter Theater.

Amid murder, theft, or curtain calls, Wrenn’s instincts prove sharp. But it’s her stubborn one-woman approach that places her directly in the killer’s path.

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Never a Choice but Always a Gift

Never a Choice but Always a GiftMax Kristoff, a man in his thirties who is living in New York, is about to come face to face with his past. When he walks into a house in Brooklyn, trying to connect with a person from that very past, he is plunged into a haunting situation. This situation sets him on a journey that will reveal—not only his character—but what lies in his heart and soul.

Will Max find what he is searching for?
Will he ever find closure?
Will he find himself along this journey?
Or will he die without every knowing the answers he’s always been seeking?

3 Stars

Never a Choice but Always A Gift By Adam Que is a book about change. Que takes you on a journey of Max’s life. Max was born and raised in the Bronx and currently living life with no real thought of tomorrow. After receiving some surprisingly unsurprising news, his life is bound to change.

Trials and tribulations surround Max and his long time friend, Bibby. Love, sacrifice and pride are challenged throughout the story. Memories are always with us. Can these two forgive and forget, or will they live the remainder of their lives holding a grudge?

Que’s use of vocabulary helps the reader relate to the different characters and really help you feel the emotions. The reader is lead along an easy to follow narrative that is sure to stimulate emotional response. That being said, there are times where the vocabulary becomes redundant and phrases are repeated which disrupts an otherwise sentimental novel.

Max is a well developed character and the story is gripping, but I felt that his thoughts in the beginning of the novel were constantly interrupted by tangents, side stories and information dumps which caused the story to lose focus. But when Max meets his love interest Celeste the background information is given in a less dense format and the novel flows easily and keeps the readers attention.

This novel is one of the more unique one’s I’ve read in 2016. Story detail is revealed through the use of double narrative. Things that Max is not willing to tell the reader is revealed through Bibby’s perspective. The switch of perspectives results in a change of language and tone which truly captures the feel of a new narrator. Few books I have read with a similar method of perspective change have lacked that quality.

I recommend this book to people going through hardships. Hope and unconditional love are cornerstones in the characters relationship. Never a Choice but Always A Gift is about a journey, but not the kind where characters trek through exotic locales. It’s a journey through life, to find love.

Pages: 266 | ASIN: B01EYS4Z9U

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What If The Heroes Were Just Some Schmucks

Tim  Owens Author Interview

Tim Owens Author Interview

The Hobbymen follows Geoff and Book who are Amateur Monster Biologists that are out to separate truth from fairytale no matter how bizarre it may be. Where did the idea for ‘Amateur Monster Biologists’ come from?

It was born out of boredom. After consuming media for over 25 years, I had become bored with the same stories popping up. I was bored with prophecies and characters destined to save the world. I was bored with all these rules about monsters that were in place for no reason other than tradition. I was bored with something as silly as a werewolf being treated with dignity and respect. So I thought, “What if all these myths were only half the story? What if the heroes were actually just some schmucks who had no idea what they were doing? Why don’t we take all the folklore to the stupidest conclusion we can find?” Because I don’t take myself too seriously and thought it was high time modern fantasy reflected that mindset. Also they’re biologists rather than hunters because hunting becomes a game of “find monster, kill monster” and having it be research is not only more fun, it opens a lot more possibility for exploring different aspects of the world they live in.

There is a lot of witty banter and sarcasm being thrown around by the characters. Did you have fun writing this novel?

I really did, sometimes more than I expected. Large portions of the book were sort of mentally written in my head as I was driving or just going throughout my day, but some scenes were completely unplanned and ended up being the most fun by just having the characters bounce off each other. The worst part was always coming up with a bit that got me really excited and it wouldn’t show up for another 3 chapters. I always had to slow myself down and make sure each chapter was worthwhile, even if I wasn’t as excited about it initially.

Liliana is a down-on-her-luck young nun who’s caught stealing a loaf of bread in a little town in Mexico. How did her character develop as you were writing?

Very slow and difficult. That’s what happens when the basis for your character started as “nun that beats things with a bat”. Having her be the audience surrogate in the beginning helped because it gave me a couple chapters for her to breathe before I really needed to know what she was about. I had a good handle on her about half way through the book, and made sure to go back and make sure she was consistent throughout. A lot of things for her sort of fell into place. Her cohorts were each at opposite ends of the spectrum, so she became a mixture of short-tempered and goofy to balance it out.  She needed to be strong and independent, yet still function as a part of a team.  My biggest focus was always to make sure her actions and dialogue came from herself as a character, and not as “the girl of the group” or “stock archetype #15”. I think a lot of the time she was the hardest to write just because she is somehow the least extreme in terms of her personality.

What were some books or movies that you think were your main sources of inspiration?

I tend to take inspiration from many places, which probably comes across as a cop out answer. The real answer is I grew up watching horror movies, reading Stephen King and Poe, and watching a little show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. The latter, for any unaware, essentially aired old B-movies and made fun of them. As a kid I loved the concept and my family ended up doing it on our own for any movie we watched. So unwittingly the concept for a book where monsters and myths are handled with a heaping dose of self-awareness and eye rolling was planted fairly early in my mind. But in terms of writing I tend to find inspiration through a lot of the classics. Like I think Catch-22 is an amazing tool in teaching about how to create the tone of a scene or how Dickens made sure to utilize his prose to make mundane events a joy to read.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?

I am currently finishing up on a short story in the Hobbymen universe titled “Truth, Dare, Scissors” which is going to be released sometime before October. It’s the second short story I’ve written with these characters, the first being “Interview with a Vampire Named Bob” which acts as a prequel to the book. I am currently working on a sequel as well. What can I say, I enjoy these characters and I’m too lazy to come up with new ones for now. The next full novel is too far away to estimate, but I will definitely be finishing it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The HobbymenSister Liliana has not been having the best of days. Between running away from the convent and then being thrown into a desolate prison, she has started to lose hope of having a fun Wednesday. That is until she meets two strange men with a rather peculiar hobby: Amateur Monster Biology. From ancient monsters to urban legends, Geoff and Book are out to separate truth from fairytale, no matter how bizarre or ridiculous that truth may be. And as they have found, there is truth in everything. Soon Liliana is caught in a whirlwind of adventure as they show her a side of the world she never thought existed, filled with fantastic creatures hiding in plain sight. But just as it seems her life is finally turning around, the group get a foreboding message from an unexpected, sinister source. Are the three of them in over their heads this time? Yes…the answer is yes.

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