Posts by Erik McManus | Breakeven Books

I am a Web Designer and Developer! Im very tall, love comic books, and I'm very outgoing. Check out my book blog Breakeven Books!

Book Review: Justice Gone

Review Time! Rounding off the week with another great book. This one was called Justice Gone by Nicholas Lombardi Jr.

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Synopsis: When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?

Another legal thriller that really kept me on my toes. Right from the get-go, this book grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. It was about a war veteran that is wrongly accused of the murder of three police officers and the ensuing legal case that is played out in court.

Right away, you are drawn to Tessa Thorpe’s compassionate character. She really cares for her clients and works with them to overcome their PTSD (overcome may not be the best word, more like manage and deal with their PTSD). She gets caught up in a case where one of her clients is accused of murder and does everything she can to help.

I really like that this book isn’t afraid to voice how veterans are treated once they come back from war. In most cases, they are treated poorly and often have a hard time readjusting to society or attaining another job. These men and women should be honored in the highest regard for protecting our countries.

The best character by far was Nat Bovine (the defense lawyer). I’m not sure if the author intended to do this but he reminded me of Matt Murdock aka Daredevil because he was a blind lawyer that was very good at his job. All of his witty remarks were a nice touch too.

The ending was quite a shock. I thought I had it all figured out just to be thrown for a loop. This was a good thing because I love when the author can have me thinking one thing and then completely prove me wrong.

Overall, this was a great legal thriller with a steady pace that didn’t let up from start to finish.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find the author on their website and buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

Kobo Canada

Top 5 Book Box Subscriptions

Hey bookworms, it has been a while since I have just sat down and taken the time to appreciate books and all they have to offer. Most of my posts involve a review or a highlight of some sort but today I wanted to talk about Book Subscription Boxes and where to find them. I believe they are becoming a huge part of the bookish community as they give us (the readers) a monthly dose of some good (or bad, depending on how you feel about it) literature with some fun/exciting book themed goodies.

I personally have collaborated with one and I have observed many others through my Instagram page and Twitter feed so I will list the ones that appeal to me and include links to their websites so you can check them out for yourself!

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Book Box Love was created to enjoy, celebrate and support incredible Canadian talent. I personally acquired a sponsored box from this company and only had good things to say about it. Each box includes:

  • The best new books by Canadian authors!
  • Hand-made, exclusive bookish gifts by local artists.
  • Treats.  Because you deserve it.

A monthly box goes for about $60 which I realize is a little expensive but it is because all the products come hand made from local Canadian vendors. We are giving back to Canada by supporting this box. *Insert Canadian Mountie chant for more maple syrup and poutine*.

2. LitJoy Crate

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LitJoy Crate is a simple, creative, and easy way to read more and more often! They offer products that create lifelong readers and foster a love of literature! Each box includes:

  • Receive a new release YA novel and 2-3 items directly related to the book every month
  • Perfect for any reader age 14 and up
  • Ships on the 20th of each month (except in December it ships on the 10th)

They have 2 options for this. One is the full bundle which costs $29.99 and then there is the box with just the YA book in it and this one is $18.99.

3. SweetReads Box

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Pour yourself a cup of tea, cozy up into your favorite chair and get ready for some well deserved ME time. This is another Canadian book box subscription. Each box includes:

  • Bestselling Fiction Novel
  • Beautifully Crafted Items
  • Artisan Drinks
  • Gourmet Goodies

Each of these boxes has quite a bit in them which is why this one goes for $58.99 + shipping. It is a little more expensive but well worth the cost for the value of items in it each month.

4. Unplugged Book Box

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Unplugged Book Box is a seasonally inspired monthly subscription box featuring one hardcover NEW RELEASE Young Adult or New Adult book (published within 2 months of shipment) + 4 to 6 bookish self-care goodies that help you focus on you.

Each of these boxes goes for $34.99 if you choose month to month. They have other options for 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month payments.

5. Totally Booked Crate

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They are always seeking to create the BEST box every month and are committed to offering you a great read. Their team will do all the necessary research or even read the book, to carefully select the one special book they know you, their reader, will enjoy and love. And they are dedicated to providing you with the perfect crate made with high-quality materials. Each box contains:

  • A new release book
  • 3-5 curated items
  • Book swag

This box goes for $29.99 a month. It also has the option for longer commitments.

And that wraps up my list! Let me know in the comments below if you agree and what you think! If you have any other recommendations, let me know!


There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Book Review: The Afters

Two days in a row that we have Chris Connors reviews! He is a very fast reader. This one is called The Afters by Christopher O’Connell and it is the first book to a series.

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Synopsis: It’s the end of the world as we know it and Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII feels just fine. Not only is he surviving the zombie apocalypse, but he’s also enjoying it too. But Charlie’s idyllic life as a daydreaming zombie killer takes a turn when he finds two lost children. One of whom is hiding an amazing, powerful secret. Meanwhile, Kalila Trout is on a quest for revenge. The only survivor of an attack by the warlord known as King George, Kalila’s vengeance is only stopped by his distinct advantage in numbers. When King George kidnaps one of Charlie’s children, Kalila finds an unlikely ally to help her get the closure she needs. But even if Kalila and Charlie manage to make it out alive, a new race of zombie might ruin everything they are fighting for.

What a good read! A real page-turner, if such a cliché can still be used for e-books. Christopher O’Connell’s writing reminded me of Chuck Wendig’s writings as found in his post-apocalyptic book series, Double Dead. He channels some of the best of Wendig’s qualities in his writing; O’Connell has a knack of rounding out his characters in your imagination without the need for long descriptive paragraphs that interrupt the story; the pace of the action is enough to keep you hooked, but not so repetitive that is like an interminable Hollywood car chase; and the dialogue/internal monologues are tinged with dark humor and witty wordplay without taking away from the realism of post-apocalyptic life.

Charles/Charlie/Chuck is a tough, resourceful, smart and likable character, who finds himself better suited for life in the apocalypse. As an aside, I wondered if Chuck’s name was a homage to Chuck Wendig himself given the similar styles?

Connell also handles backstory flashbacks deftly, inserting them into the main narrative at points that feel like natural breaks in rhythm, while still maintaining the tension of the plot.

Given how well-plumbed the zombie apocalypse genre is it is hard for writers to breathe new life into some of the tired old tropes. No matter what an author writes there will be someone who has already at least partly covered it. Chuck’s rules for staying alive reminded me a bit of Columbus’s rules in the movie Zombieland (2009). Some zombies are capable of intelligent thought and organization (I Am Legend movie remake); however, like any good author, he finds the small things that make the world his. E.g. his zombies aren’t dead or undead—they’re alive, feel pain, and can die from regular wounds. Such a small difference, but it seems to alter the novel in a way that is his.

The story eventually leads to a big showdown, which had me e-flipping through the pages fast as I could read. There is then a secondary climax after the resolution of the first. I thought perhaps some of this could have been written into a second book rather than trying to cram it into the last 15% of this book. However, I learned that this is just Book 1 so this exciting development from the second showdown will continue on with Book 2.

If this first book of his is typical of what he can do I’m hoping he’ll make a bigger name for himself like the way other writers (e.g., John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire under her Mira Grant name, and the aforementioned Wendig). A hearty 5/5 stars for this book and I hope to see much more writing from Christopher O’Connell.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.


There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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Smarthome, Inc.

Book Review: Toxic Waters

We have another review come in from Chris Connors! He has been very busy but he put some time aside to read a book that he has been meaning to for a while and then review it for us. This one was called Toxic Waters by David Ferguson.

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Synopsis:
In the tradition of Clive Cussler, comes a new novel of suspense and adventure set on the big water of the Great Lakes. Erin Franklin will do what it takes to take down Mid-Con, a waste management company that has been playing fast and loose with the law. An environmental crusader, known in the industry as the Iron Maiden, Erin doesn’t know what she is getting herself into this time when she is discovered hiding on Mid-Con’s property. Judge Franklin has his own bone to pick with Mid-Con. They are up on new charges and back in his courtroom again. Willard Reiger, the owner of Mid-Con, has had enough of little miss eco-crusader sniffing around his business, not to mention the latest trumped-up charges of illegal dumping. Having built his company from nothing, he is not about to let anyone take it away from him. He will do what it takes to keep it.

Conservation Officer Rick Webb still doesn’t understand why Judge Franklin dismissed the case against Mid-Con. The evidence was ironclad; it was a slam-dunk. Frustrated by the setback, Webb is looking forward to a vacation on Water Baby, a classic sailing yawl and his pride and joy. His first mate is Heywood the cat; otherwise, he is on his own. But his vacation is cut short unexpectedly when he is unwittingly drawn into a fight for his life — and for the purity of the pristine water of Lake Huron. When he realizes that the fates of two innocent people are at stake, he uses all his know-how and his guts to set things right. Non-stop action, tight pacing and believable characters make this an excellent read for anyone wanting to escape into a nautical adventure sprinkled with romance. Because of its setting and authentic descriptions, this story really delivers for sailing and boating enthusiasts and lovers of nature.

Erin Franklin will do what it takes to take down Mid-Con, a waste management company that has been playing fast and loose with the law. An environmental crusader, known in the industry as the Iron Maiden, Erin doesn’t know what she is getting herself into this time when she is discovered hiding on Mid-Con’s property. Judge Franklin has his own bone to pick with Mid-Con. They are up on new charges and back in his courtroom again. Willard Reiger, the owner of Mid-Con, has had enough of little miss eco-crusader sniffing around his business, not to mention the latest trumped-up charges of illegal dumping. Having built his company from nothing, he is not about to let anyone take it away
from him. He will do what it takes to keep it.

David Ferguson, the author, is a retired conservation officer who has written a few books. This, I believe, is one of his first ones. I bought this book because I’m happy to lend some support to a former conservation officer (having worked with a few in the past), and I admire people who continue to take on new challenges (writing a book) especially in retirement. The story is set in places that I know fairly well, the overall premise is one I’ve come across in real life (illegal dumping of toxic waste), and it has
some authentic sailing descriptions (I used to sail) with a good portion of the action taking place on—or involving—a sailing vessel.

So I really wanted to like this book, and I did, but the story and the characters didn’t grip me. I found the romance contrived, the woman stereotypical, the foreshadowing heavy-handed, the characters lacking depth, and the villain and his henchmen almost cartoonishly written. The plot device that set the whole thing in motion seemed implausible given the bad guy is a successful executive of a large company. He
would know that kidnapping and extortion (of a judge) would not end well given the number of potential witnesses and the numerous ways things could go wrong, things that were so far out of his control that he wouldn’t even know if they occurred or not.

You’re not going to gamble your life, freedom, and company with that many unknown and uncontrolled variables, especially when you’ve gotten to where you are by being in control and careful. I was reluctant to write this review so for over a month I haven’t. Then last night I read a book by a published author. The book itself receives glowing reviews, testimonies, and blurbs for several pages in the front; I didn’t like that book. The characters seemed shallow, the people stereotypes, the tragedy contrived, and the unraveling of the main character cartoonishly bad. And I thought David Ferguson writes nearly as well as this author who has a few published books and a professional editorial and publishing team behind him. Ferguson should be proud he’s writing at the level he is and has done so without an editorial team.

His book does have some gripping scenes where you have to keep reading because you want to find out what happens next. The sailing scenes were written well enough that in my imagination I could feel the boat moving and hear the creaks of ropes and wood. His descriptions of the surroundings also painted themselves in my head. I think the only weak areas come from Ferguson’s dialogue or internal monologues. Those are the parts
that feel as if they’re written by an earnest teen. Dialogue is often a weakness with many beginning authors, and in some cases with established authors who now write best sellers with minimal dialogue. They move the plot forward through narrative descriptions with some terse commentary rather than whole scenes of dialogue that highlight their weakness in this area. Ferguson may have improved his dialogue writing in later books, or he may have switched to the style with which he feels comfortable and in which he does well (narrative descriptions). His first book is by no means a “bad” book. It has received some five-star reviews so there are people who enjoy his work.

My lack of enthusiasm for the book could just be due to my personal preferences (there are prolific best-selling authors whose work I also don’t enjoy for the same reasons I didn’t enjoy this book).

I give this book 3/5 stars with the caveat that this is more of subjective rating than normal; other readers, especially ones who like the style of Koontz and Lustbader, may enjoy this book immensely.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was read by Chris and he chose to read it because he wanted to. 


There is a new book on the block that I am promoting. This one is called Justice Gone by Nick Lombardi. Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. You can get it here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1785358766/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641

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GeekBuying.com

Book Review: Intraterrestrial

Our external reviewer Sara sent over another review she is very excited about. She recently read Intraterrestrial by Nicholas Conley and had great things to say about it.

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Synopsis: Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

This novel is a little like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but for young adult readers. It’s a little intense, and if you dissected it enough you could finds all sorts of hidden meaning and perhaps even Biblical allusions to analyze.

This novel follows the journey of a young boy named Adam Helios (even his name warrants analysis!) who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. While in the coma, he is taken by aliens (or is he?) to help them defeat The Nothing Spot which is attacking their ship, The Consciousness. The only catch is, the entire experience is built by his imagination – the aliens only have bodies because that’s how he imagines them, he travels around the ship, which is actually the solar system, because that’s what his imagination creates, and so on. This book also follows the journey of Adam’s parents, who are waiting for him back on Earth, hoping he will recover, and are going through their own journey of discovery.

This book is very strange, no doubt about it. There are times when you have no idea what’s happening, or why, and it frequently gets gross and a bit scary. This book is also beautiful, as it is (perhaps) a metaphor for Adam trying to find himself as a person, through all the self-doubt and uncertainty that he feels as he is becoming an unpopular teenager. He must rescue several different aliens from The Nothing Spot, which endlessly tells him that he is meaningless, and no one cares about him, in order to heal The Consciousness – all while his body is attempting to heal from a traumatic brain injury.

There’s really a lot more to this book than you might think, especially as you consider how everything might tie together for Adam and his family and friends. This is a book about self-discovery, but it’s also a book about aliens, the solar system, and a bit of science.

Overall, I think this book is a win. I would recommend this to any young adult friend who likes things a little bit stranger than the typical coming of age theme prevalent in so many young adult novels.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

GeekBuying.com

Book Review: Sea Raiders by Carey Fessler

We finished a trilogy! As many of you know, we have been reading through Carey Fessler’s middle-grade trilogy. Well, we finished the last one which was called Sea Raiders so check out the review below.

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Synopsis: The battle has begun, and the pirates want blood.

Twelve-year-olds Emma and Scott are on board the dive boat the Sea Urchin, anchored at night off Dragon Island when a band of trigger-happy marauders boards their boat.

So begins their battle to survive a modern-day pirate raid and escape their hostage situation so they can return home to their families. But not before having to fight for their lives and escape to a savage land and the last place on earth they wanted to return–Dragon Island. Can the young hostages stay alive and raise the alarm?

This was a great end to this middle-grade trilogy. The adventure just continued right where it left off and of course the main characters found themselves in another predicament.

There were some new characters added (rich Texans and pirates to be exact) that really progressed the development and culmination of the series. The whole series is set in Australia and the surrounding areas which are places I dream to travel to so it made it that much more exciting for me (exploring it in my mind’s eye if I can’t get there in person).

One thing I really liked was that the author showed their positive feelings about the LGBTQ+ community by making one of the main characters gay. It was revealed in a humorous way and really shows the progress we have made on this front. Kids should be introduced to this at a young age and should be taught that there is nothing wrong with being who you are and being able to love who you love. So I applaud and commend the author for being progressive and including it in their book.

I ended up really liking Brock (he is the mutant). His character developed into a nice and compassionate character compared to the old grump he was in the first book.

Overall, this was a great end to a fun middle-grade series and I hope this author writes another series because I will definitely read it.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

GeekBuying.com

Blog Tour: Knife’s Tell & Victorian Catsup

Explore the shadows of Victorian Era London and encounter a new Jack the Ripper tale like you’ve never read before in Daniel Dark’s Knife’s Tell & Victorian Catsup Blog Tour, taking place February 20-27!

Knife’s Tell contains a tantalizing blend of thriller, horror, erotic, and alt. history elements. As an added bonus, author Daniel Dark (a former Victorian chef) also has included the authentic Victorian Era recipes of the dishes that are featured in the story!

In addition to Knife’s Tell, this tour also highlights Victorian Catsup: Receipts of the Past, which features history and recipes for a wide variety of authentic, Victorian Era catsups. The book itself also has a great story behind its development, and it is attached to a wonderful cause!

About the author: Daniel Dark, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, grew up with homicide every day. Having a homicide detective as a father, he was able to learn about those that were brought to justice, and the ones that were not.

Spending many hours in Central police headquarters and in his grandfather’s hematology lab gave Daniel an unusual childhood and a love for science. Along with this, his great uncle owned the oldest book store in Nashville. His parents took him there regularly, where developed a love of reading and found out about history.

Daniel went on to become an Electrical Engineer and Industrial Maintenance Manager till NAFTA took away his job. A year later he went to culinary school and studied Victorian cooking, after which he opened a Victorian-style restaurant.

He became a heart attack and stroke survivor at fifty years old, where he used writing to rehabilitate his brain. The first book written by Daniel was on Victorian Catsup, which had over two hundred catsup recipes in it from the late 1700’s to 1910, with over sixty different flavors. Daniel used the book to start his 1876 Catsup company as Mr. Catsup.

Knife’s Tell represents his debut novel as an author.

Book Synopsis for Knife’s Tell:   In 1888 one of the most notorious serial killers in history plagued London’s East Side.

Knife’s Tell is not about those murders, but the life behind them. What would cause a normal person to slay in such a horrific way?

Daniel Dark has explored an alternative tale of a doctor lost in reality trying to correct his past. With the help of his personal servant, he searches the Chapel for answers about his connection to the man with the knife.

Where did he come from? And how is the doctor part of his plans for escaping the police at every turn?

Read Knife’s Tell to learn the story behind the blade that killed London

Book Synopsis for Victorian Catsup- Receipts from the Past: The book you now hold in your hands is nothing new, only forgotten by most.

It is, however, how Chef Daniel, the Victorian Chef, recovered many missing segments of his knowledge after having a stroke in 2012. At that time, he had a forty-seat restaurant where he was recreating dishes from the Victorian Era. He was also developing his signature catsups to serve with each receipt that he placed on the menu.

After the stroke, he was forced to give up on his dream for the time being and start the long journey of rehabilitation of both body and mind. When Chef Daniel was able to stand in front of a stove again, he went back to what he knew best, making small batch catsup that he took to local fairs and sold so that he could make more.

This book is a big part of what kept Chef Daniel going each day. Now he wants to share that with others by contributing ninety percent of his proceeds to the Blood Banks that kept him alive by furnishing over twenty units to him when he was in need.

Author Links:

Twitter: @1876Catsup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanielDarkAuthor/

Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

I have been asked questions like this by several different people over the last few years.

My first response is that you find a weak character and then make them powerful, but it is not that easy. When you are writing the characters. whether it is a fluffy bunny named Peter, a young boy named Harry, or in my case Victorian serial killers. it pays to know as much about them as you can. I was lucky to learn this simple trick at one of the first conferences that I attended in two thousand sixteen from a seasoned author.

The trick is to interview them.

Ask them anything that you can possibly think of. Then write out a comprehensive description of them. If you find out you need more info on them, like what did they want to do when they grew up, and you did not ask them before, no problem!  Corner them and ask more questions.

Now you are thinking, ‘Are you not just asking yourself questions and answering them’? Believe me, you are not. Each and every character in your writing has its own personality, background, and things that it will not trust you with until you deserve to know it by writing the story the way they want it to be told. They want to know that you understand their challenges in life and are willing to help them through whatever crap is going on all the way to the end.

The other part that I would remind someone is not to forget the other characters that contribute to the overall story. This is, of course, in my mind the settings, which will influence the rest of the characters temperaments and give their story substance.

Good luck. and write the best stories of the decade.

Tour Schedule and Activities

2/20     The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn
https://saraheglenn.blogspot.com/

2/21     Breakeven Books
https://breakevenbooks.com

2/21     I Smell Sheep
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

2/22     Horror Tree
https://www.horrortree.com

2/23     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews
http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com

2/24     The Book Lover’s Boudoir
https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/

2/24     Books, Reviews, and More
http://bookworm1977.simplesite.com/435597726

2/25     Jazzy Book Reviews
https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/

2/26     MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape
http://mylifemybooksmyescape.wordpress.com

2/27     Honestly Austen
https://honestlyausten.wordpress.com/

2/27     Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions       http://wssthoughtsandbookobsessions.blogspot.com/

Amazon Links for Knife’s Tell:

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Knifes-Tell-Daniel-Dark/dp/1941706665/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Knifes-Tell-Daniel-Dark-ebook/dp/B075RMJ4BJ/

Barnes and Noble Link for Knife’s Tell: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/knifes-tell-daniel-dark/1127157436?ean=9781941706664

Amazon Links for Victorian Catsup:

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Catsup-Receipts-Daniel-Dark/dp/1948042479/

Kindle Version:  https://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Catsup-Receipts-Daniel-Dark-ebook/dp/B07DCFS2RL/

Barnes and Noble Link for Victorian Catsup: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/victorian-catsup-daniel-dark/1128827007?ean=9781948042475

GeekBuying.com

What it Takes to Write a Book

Discover a great new suspense thriller in Dan Jolley’s The Storm Blog Tour, taking place February 18-25!

An intense tale that explores murder, mystery, and race relations in a rural area of modern-day Georgia, The Storm delivers a captivating reading experience!

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About the author: Dan Jolley began writing professionally at age 19. Starting out in comic books, Dan has worked for major publishers such as DC (Firestorm), Marvel (Dr. Strange), Dark Horse (Aliens), and Image (G.I. Joe), and soon branched out into licensed-property novels (Star Trek), film novelizations (Iron Man), and original novels, including the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy series Five Elements and the Urban Sci-Fi Gray Widow Trilogy.

Dan began writing for video games in 2007, and has contributed storylines, characters, and dialogue to titles such as Transformers: War for Cybertron, Prototype 2, and Dying Light, among others. Dan lives with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert felines in northwest Georgia, and enjoys connecting with readers via his website (www.danjolley.com) and on Twitter (@_DanJolley).

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Book Synopsis for The Storm:  

RED SPRINGS.

A tiny town in Georgia’s northwest corner — ninety-five percent white. Five percent black. Utterly unprepared for the devastating tornado that rips and smashes through it one dark August day.

SHERIFF ZANDRA SEAGRAVES already faced an uphill battle. Elected by a fluke, Red Springs’ first-ever black, female sheriff leads the recovery efforts, despite knowing how much the townspeople–and her own department–loathe her. But Zandra has no idea just how hellish things are about to get.

Because one of the relief workers stumbles across a ghastly secret: the tornado tore a long-abandoned house off its foundations, revealing a grisly, recently-used torture dungeon below it.

A monster has been dwelling in Red Springs. Undetected for years. Preying on the unsuspecting populace. His atrocities only brought to light because of the storm.

Now, amid the tornado’s wreckage and surrounded by people who want her gone, Zandra has to hunt this monster down before he disappears again.

And to do it, she’ll have to peel back all of Red Springs’ dark, corrupted layers. One vile secret at a time.

Author Links:

Twitter: @_DanJolley

Website:  www.danjolley.com

Guest Post: What it Takes to Write a Book by Dan Jolley

There’s a series of blog posts on my website, danjolley.com, called “How to Write the Way I Write,” which goes into the nuts and bolts of how I put a comic book script together.

I didn’t want to call it something like “How to Write Comic Books,” or “The Right Way to Write Comic Books,” because the path every writer takes from beginning to end of a project can be wildly different. I explain the way to write a script that’s worked very well for me, but I don’t have the necessary hubris to think my way has to be The Best Way™, and I don’t want to fall into the trap that so often afflicts creative writing teachers — which is that they tell you how to write the way they would write, if they wrote.

So. In this post, I’m going to talk about what it takes for *me* to write a book. If you find something useful in here, fantastic. If you reject everything I say and do it your own way, fantastic. You do you.

To boil it all down, the way I get a book written is to walk a fine line between personal leniency and personal discipline. Let’s get into the discipline first.

Every so often, a complete, finished idea falls out of the heavens and into my head and lives there until I’ve banged it all down on paper. I wish that happened a lot more often than it does. Usually, I get a scrap of an idea, a hint of a thought of something that might become a compelling character or an engaging story, and I need to develop it before I can do anything else with it. To facilitate that, I use the twelve steps of the Writer’s Journey, as outlined in the book, The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler. I’m not going to put those steps down here, in part because I think that might constitute a wee bit of copyright violation, but mainly because I want you to go buy a copy of the book. It’s immensely valuable.

Vogler took Joseph Campbell’s work in outlining the classical Hero’s Journey and refined it specifically for writers. The twelve steps are, essentially, common elements found in 99% of stories from every time period, in every culture, all over the planet. They’re common threads, common ideas that go into the makeup of every kind of story, whether it’s a far-flung sci-fi space opera or a quiet, personal story about a lonely widower learning to love again. The twelve steps just fit.

Now, this is not to say that they have to be adhered to slavishly. You can play around with them. Maybe you don’t have to hit every single one. Maybe you want to present them in a different order. Whatever. They’re a guideline, and it’s a guideline I use when I need to flesh out my puny scrap of an idea into something that can run for a hundred thousand words.

Once I have those twelve steps mapped out, I do a chapter-by-chapter outline. This usually looks like one or maybe two chunky paragraphs for each chapter in the novel. It doesn’t have to be super-polished; half the time, I’m the only one who’s going to see this thing. (You might need to spruce the outline up a bit, though, if you’re giving it to a publisher as part of a deal.)

When the outline’s finished, I set myself a realistic deadline (or, if I’ve already signed a deal to write this book, I make note of the deadline set by the publisher), and I figure out how many days I have to get all the chapters written, leaving myself time for a revise or two before it gets sent in. I can usually do a reasonable-sized chapter in a day, but it’s better if I leave two days, and I try really hard to keep weekends free. I’ve found through painful experience that it’s better for my mental health that way.

So you start writing. And that’s when the discipline has to kick in HARD. A friend of mine, comic book, and novel cover artist extraordinaire John Nadeau, once commented that “making comics equals ass in the chair.” He was right. You have to get the chapters done. Maybe it’s a pretty day and you’d rather take a walk. Maybe an awesome new video game just came out and you’d rather play it. Maybe your significant other got the day off work and you’d rather spend time with them.

Well, depending on where you are in relation to your deadline, that might just be too bad. You want to get your book finished? Then you have to FINISH YOUR BOOK. It can be exhausting. It can make you feel like you’re going a little crazy. It can make your family and friends irritated at you.

But here’s the thing: you’ll get better at it. Writing consistently is a lot like lifting weights. The more you do it, the more you’ll be able to do it.

Plus, you can train yourself to be creative on demand, like one of Pavlov’s dogs. The way you do that is that you establish certain conditions, or perform a certain ritual, every time you write. Maybe you wear a particular hat. Maybe you sit in a specific chair. Maybe you do twenty jumping-jacks beforehand, it doesn’t matter, as long as you do that one thing every time you write. Because if you do that, eventually your brain connects that ritual or those circumstances with the act of writing. And then, even if you don’t feel like getting your chapter done one day, you put on your writing hat and sit in your writing chair and your brain lights up and says, “Oh! Hey! It’s time to write!” And you’re off to the races.

All of this leads to my CARDINAL RULE #1 about getting a book written. This is super-discipline-oriented, and you just have to grit your teeth and do it. The rule is this:

Do not read what you have written until you’re done with the whole thing.

Do not go back and read the chapter you’ve just finished. Or the page. Or the paragraph. Don’t look at it. Scroll up. Put that sheet of paper away. Try to forget about it if you can. Because the creative part of the brain is different from the editing part, and you need to open the throttle on the creative part and just let it run wide-freaking-open until the work is finished. If you don’t, you run the very real risk of getting stuck in an “editing loop.” You think, “Oh, I can make that scene stronger,” or “Oh, I can make that line wittier,” or “Oh, I can find a better adjective,” and in your efforts to improve what you’ve done, you never get past that to the next page. You just keep going back, and going back, and going back, and the whole thing peters out and turns to dog poop.

You’d much rather have a finished manuscript than dog poop.

Now! On to the personal leniency part!

While you’re writing your outline if you find that your story is deviating from your twelve-step chart? It’s fine. If you like the new direction better, go with it. You’re not locked in.

Then, when you’re working from your outline and writing your chapters if you find that your manuscript is deviating from the outline you worked so hard on? It’s okay. Run with it. No one’s going to penalize you if, in the middle of a chapter, you suddenly realize a character is gay, or that a pivotal scene needs to take place in a parking lot instead of on a roof, or that someone’s mother is actually not dead.

I’m not saying throw your whole outline out the window. You still need the discipline to follow through with it. I’m saying you don’t have to be a stickler for all the details.

An outline is a bit like a road map, and the writing of the manuscript is you, in a car, taking a pre-planned, charted-out road trip. Yes, you’re using that map, and yes, you’ve got some great destinations and tourist attractions marked down that you know you want to visit. But if, along the way, you see a sign advertising “World’s Best Peanut Butter Milkshakes,” and you decide, “Hey, I would like a peanut butter milkshake,” and you veer off the road and get yourself a tasty frozen dessert? Great! Do it! Maybe while you’re there, you realize one of your characters has a ferocious peanut allergy. Maybe the person behind the counter turns out to have some information that’s valuable to you. Maybe you get a flat tire, and the sympathetic motorist who stops to offer help becomes someone important.

Let yourself explore. Just don’t forget where you’re going.

Okay, so, you’ve maintained your discipline, you’ve done a few side-quests along the way, and you’ve reached your destination. If you’re like me, you grow more and more excited the closer to the end you get, so that by the last few pages you’re hammering your fingers on the keyboard, and suddenly BANG! YOU’RE DONE!

You’re done with the first draft.

You may be in a sort of daze. You may sit there, staring at the screen, thinking, “What did I just write?” You may not remember half of what went into those chapters that you so studiously did not go back and look at. And now, when you flip to Page 1 and read everything again, you may discover that a lot of it verges on nonsensical gibberish.

Which brings us to CARDINAL RULE #2:

It’s okay to write a crap-tastic first draft.

Seriously. It’s fine. More than fine, it’s expected. Almost everyone’s first drafts are just freaking awful. My first drafts might be fit for lining birdcages if I’m feeling generous.

You know why it’s okay? Because now you’ve made The Great Switch. You’ve shifted gears from Creative to Editorial. Now you can go back and FIX IT ALL.

The task may look daunting at first, but don’t sweat it. Just take it one chapter at a time. You’ll probably find that there’s a lot more good stuff in there than bad, and you can either fix the bad stuff or just chuck it. That’s actually one of my favorite ways to edit a bad passage: highlight that whole stinky chunk and hit DELETE.

You can fix it. You can fix it all. Because now, after all those days and weeks and months of disciplined creativity, suddenly you’ve got a big-ass manuscript sitting there. The book exists! It’s real! Hot damn, YOU JUST WROTE A BOOK! And now you can dig into the bad parts and edit them until they’re the way you want them.

But you cannot, under any circumstances, ever, fix a blank page.

And that’s my secret. That’s what it takes for me to write a book.

Make sure my pages aren’t blank.


Tour Schedule and Activities

2/18    Jazzy Book Reviews    https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot. com/      

2/19    I Smell Sheep  http://www.ismellsheep.com/        

2/20    Breakeven Books       https://breakevenbooks.com   

2/21    Sheila’s Guests and Reviews http://sheiladeeth.blogspot.com  

2/22    Jordan Hirsch http://jordanrhirsch.wordpress.com 

2/23    Sapphyria’s Books     https://saphsbooks.blogspot.com/ 

2/23    The Book Lover’s Boudoir     https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres s.com/     

2/24    Horror Tree    https://www.horrortree.com   

2/24    Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions     http://wssthoughtsandbookobse ssions.blogspot.com/      

2/25    The Voluptuous Book Diva    http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com


Amazon Links for The Storm

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Dan- Jolley/dp/1948042665/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Storm-Dan-Jolley- ebook/dp/B07LC78379/

Barnes and Noble Link for The Storm: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-storm- dan-jolley/1130007043?ean=9781948042666

GeekBuying.com

Giveaway Winner

Our February giveaway has come to an end and we have randomly selected a winner!

Congratulations to Faith (@xPhantomessx) on winning the book and sticker pack!

We are so glad you entered and look forward to hosting more giveaways in the future. Enjoy your prize and let us know what you think of the book when you are done.

Keep up to date with us at Breakeven Books as we host 1 to 2 giveaways each month. Talk to you later bookworms!

GeekBuying.com

Book Review: Shipwrecked by Carey Fessler

Have I ever been busy this week! I finished the second book in the middle-grade trilogy I am currently working through. This one was called Shipwrecked: Dragon Island by Carey Fessler. Besides reading, I have been preparing for a weekend trip to Toronto where I hope to visit ECW Press and House of Anansi. These are 2 book publishers that I have been collaborating with. But for now, back to the review.

SHIPWRECKED 140KB

Synopsis: The trek has begun, and the trail will show no mercy.

After escaping a rogue submarine, twelve-year-old cousins Emma and Scott wash ashore on the beach of a remote tropical island lurking with jungle dragons and headhunters.

So begins their trek to find safety and civilization so they can return home to their families in Australia–but not before having to fight for their lives across a savage land. Can the young castaways survive long enough to find help?

I find that when I talk to people about trilogies, I am always an advocate for the middle book. It is the same case for this series. I really enjoyed the middle book in this trilogy.

The characters were already fleshed out so you know what to expect in their behaviors and the story picked up right where it left off so it felt like you were watching the next episode of a show in a series.

In this one, they were on what they thought was a deserted island and were trying to find a way to escape and get back to Australia where their families were. Little did they know that this island had more to it than they expected and thus ensued an eventful adventure from one side of the island to the other. This tale is filled with dragons (yes, I said dragons), tribal sacrifices,  and creepy crawly critters.

Emma and Scott further develop in bravery and courage as they are faced with more dire situations. Compassion and trust is something they need to find in themselves if they are to escape this island alive. Brock (one of the mutants) actually becomes likable in this one and I can safely say that I hope there is more of him in the finale to this trilogy.

Overall, I think this was a great middle book for a middle-grade series. It kept it interesting, fun, and engaging with all the predicaments that our main characters kept finding themselves in! And it was a quick read to at only 185 pages!

Book rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in ebook format by the author to read and give an honest review.

GeekBuying.com