Book Review: The Mirror Man

I read a sci-fi that was compared to stuff by Blake Crouch! It was called The Mirror Man by  Jane Gilmartin.

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Synopsis: The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. Would I compare it to Blake Crouch? Not exactly, but I can see where those vibes came from. I think the fact that I have read Blake Crouch books before this one made it very predictable and I was calling all the things that happened before they did. That is why is brought down the rating for me.

I believe that someone coming into this with no prior knowledge of Crouch’s books would love it and find themselves completely captured in the story. It is also similar to a book called Foe by Iain Reid which is another great one.

The concept is really cool and it would be so intense if clones were a reality. I like the little touches thrown in there to prove that the clone can’t always be “exactly” the same. I found that the characters could use a little bit more development because when big things happened, I didn’t feel that attached. That being said, when his mother was discussed and grown as a character, I related and felt she was very similar to my grandmother which brought the attachment and had me reminiscing on times with her.

Overall, the book is a good one for any SciFi fan that wants to see a new story told with cloning and consequences!

Book Rating: 3/5

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

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



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It’s that time of year again where we take our final exams for the Magical Readathon and this will be the last one because G from Book Roast will be switching it up which is sad but understandable. So these are all the books I will be reading for my NEWT exams. Check out the video below:

Book Review: Red Hood

Can I get a woof woof? Can I get a woof woof? Oh, dog jokes lol. Anyways, this next book I read was called Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold.

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Synopsis: Since her grandmother became her caretaker when she was four years old, Bisou Martel has lived a quiet life in a little house in Seattle. She’s kept mostly to herself. She’s been good. But then comes the night of homecoming, when she finds herself running for her life over roots and between trees, a fury of claws and teeth behind her. A wolf attacks. Bisou fights back. A new moon rises. And with it, questions. About the blood in Bisou’s past and on her hands as she stumbles home. About broken boys and vicious wolves. About girls lost in the woods—frightened, but not alone.

So first off, this book was unique to me because it was the first book that I have read where it is told in 2nd person perspective. Which I now realize is a perspective that drives me nuts. I can honestly say that I am not a fan of this perspective in a book because I find that the word “you” is used way too much and it just bothered me.

That being said, the book and its plot overall was pretty decent. It was kind of a more modern retelling of litte red riding hood except in this one, you get badass female characters who are strong and independent. I am always down for a retelling so I did rather enjoy the book (if only the perspective it was told in didn’t keep throwing me off).

It dealt with family struggles and some physical abuse as well as rape. These could be triggering to some but I felt it was a good plot device for this book and added more to it because it showed how far someone can come after dealing with these types of things. It also showed women coming together to fight back against wrongful behaviour and serving some sweet justice.

I will say that it is rated YA and I do believe that some parts of this were not necessarily YA in my opinion but that is just a minor issue. Also, the main character’s name was Bisou and I found this to be a very pretty name.

If you want a book that can take pure Little Red Riding Hood and make her into her own powerful protector, then check this one out!

Book Rating: 3.5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in an ARC physical copy by Harper Collins to read and give an honest review.



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I caved and bought more books because its a quarantine and I need more OK! My trigger finger got a little excited on the checkout cart button alright. If you are interested in seeing what I bought, check out the video below:

Book Review: The Only Child

I have been craving a thriller lately so I ended up picking up The Only Child by Mi-ae Seo and it ended up being a pretty good read.

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Synopsis: Criminal psychologist Seonkyeong receives an unexpected call one day. Yi Byeongdo, a serial killer whose gruesome murders shook the world, wants to be interviewed. Yi Byeongdo, who has refused to speak to anyone until now, asks specifically for her. Seonkyeong agrees out of curiosity.

That same day Hayeong, her husband’s eleven-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, shows up at their door after her grandparents, with whom she lived after her mother passed away, die in a sudden fire. Seonkyeong wants her to feel at home, but is gradually unnerved as the young girl says very little and acts strangely.

At work and at home, Seonkyeong starts to unravel the pasts of the two new arrivals in her life and begins to see startling similarities. Hayeong looks at her the same way Yi Byeongdo does when he recounts the abuse he experienced as a child; Hayeong’s serene expression masks a temper that she can’t control. Plus, the story she tells about her grandparents’ death, and her mother’s before that, deeply troubles Seonkyeong. So much so that Yi Byeongdo picks up on it and starts giving her advice.

This book was what I was looking for in a thriller. It was super creepy (anything to do with creepy kids always gets to me) and I was here for it. I really enjoyed how it was told from multiple perspectives because it gave you insight into both sides of the story and helped with the deductions being made as to what you think the ending will entail.

I will say that I found it to be a little bit predictable but that did not take away from the thrilling factor of it. Even still thinking about it now, I bumped it up to a 4 star rating instead of 3 because it creeps me out knowing how it played out.

There were so many aspects of this book that I found I was cringing at (in a good way) because of how obviously creepy they were and I really liked that. I honestly can’t say much more about the book without giving away anything.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to feel thrilled and to be trying to piece together the plot as you go.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical ARC format by Harper Collins to read and give an honest review.


Check out Sean Carlson’s brand new novel called Road To Emmaus: The New Deal which is available now on Amazon! Here is a synopsis of the book: In the midst of the Great Depression, newly elected US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt offers a new deal for the American people. An advisory team, coined the ‘brains trust’ build the foundation of his government’s policies which will impact American families for generations to come. But can human intervention and a new alignment of ‘truths’ resurrect a shared hope powerful enough to save a nation from itself?The dusty road of human history cuts through the heart of every soul. Our search for truth is not easy travel as the deadly allures of myth and deceit call us by name, presiding behind altars of ruin. The illusion is set. And lost in the forgotten timelines of a world under seige, an ancient promise remains.All of recorded history is an understanding of the pieces of ourselves that have come before and the road that remains. This journey is both and ’embarking on’ and a ‘leaving of.’The history of yourself precedes you – going back to the beginning. No piece of history in the cosmos or on earth is exclusive of you. From an exiled apostle imprisoned in the heart of the Roman Empire to Cambodia’s killing fields and South America’s secret horrors. You wear the scars. From a litany of underground movements and failed revolutions, to the fabled utopian kingdom of Camelot, the claim for truth has worn many faces.The long cold war between the icy dominion of Kalashnikov and a succession of presiders struggling to raise the chalice to the parched lips of the world continues. The battle remains yours to fight.You were a part of the old deal and are an even bigger part of the new deal. The dead hand of the past is no longer the end of us. Our history is not confined to the past nor is it bound to the laws of earthly dimension. It is as timeless and free as you. The road awaits…

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You can buy the book here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/0995270295/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_awdo_t1_ixPHEb9GMG63M



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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I am all settled into the new house and am getting back into the swing of things. Here is my TBR for the Bookemon Readathon! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Loveboat, Taipei

A cute contemporary read with a diverse main character perspective…..um hell yea, sounds like a blast! I read Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen and enjoyed it quite a bit.

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Synopsis: When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

I rather enjoyed this book and had a great time with it. Ever goes through a lot of hardship and grows as a character immensely from the beginning to the end of the book. Her growth comes from developing as her own person being away from her family and on her own for the first time. Her life up until this point was very scheduled by her parents and now she has the chance to understand what freedom feels like and to be able to make her own decisions based on what she wants.

It was also very interesting to learn more about Asian culture as Ever spent most of the book in Taipei. She was even experiencing a lot of this for the first time as well being an Asian American citizen and growing up in America.

The romantic scenes in this book were very real and down to earth and some of them were very hard hitting and brought out the emotions in me. That is a sign of a good book.

I felt like the book had a natural flow to it which helped with advancing the plot. It wasn’t everything to me so that is why I only gave it a 4 out of 5 stars but it was a cute, adorable, diverse rom-com and I would recommend reading this one as I did enjoy it!

Book Rating: 4/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical ARC format by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.


Check out Lisa King’s brand new novel called The Vanishing Hour which is available now on Amazon! She is a Canadian author from London, Ontario and I am super excited to share the love on her new book! If you like post-apocalyptic books, then this one is for you!

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You can buy her book here: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B081ZHCPGF/



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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Ever heard of Book Snobbery? Well, I did the Book Snob Book Tag and answered some questions regarding the topic. Check out the video below:

Book Review: Infinity Son

Hey you! Yea you, bookworm over there. Guess what? I read another book. It was the one, the only, most anticipated Infinity Son by Adam Silvera. And now I am going to tell you about it.

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Synopsis: Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

I was a little wary going into this book because I know that Adam Silvera has been primarily a contemporary author and this was his first foray into the fantasy genre. I will say that he could use a little bit of work on his world-building because at times it felt a little rushed and thrown together when it could have used a little bit more explanation into the backstory and how characters/the world came to be in the state that it is in.

That being said, I really liked his character dialogue and interactions with each other (which probably spurs from his contemporary writing) and the feeling he put into them. I liked that things were relatable like Brighton and his Youtube channel (I also have a channel and work hard at it).

The whole power dynamic was fascinating to learn about and I thought it was very cool that they had different ways to acquire these powers. The battles were descriptive enough that they were easy for me to imagine and I felt like I was right there in the thick of it with Emil and Brighton.

I think the superhero nerd inside of me was excited to have a new take on the genre and loved it. Plus, that ending left me wanting more! it kind of sucks that this just came out because I need that next one to know what happens.

All in all, I would recommend this book if you want a new take on superpowers that ties it into the modern world and feels like it could be real.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Harper Collins Canada as a physical format ARC to read and give my honest review.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

This video was so much fun to film! It’s the book version of “Kiss, Marry, Kill”. If you haven’t done this yet, I suggest you try. It was hard! So many books I love. It was like The Hunger Games book edition LOL. 

Book Review: A Treason Of Thorns

This was the first book that I read for Harper Collins as part of their blogger program! It was A Treason Of Thorns by Laura Weymouth. I buddy read this with my friend Amanda from booktube!

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Synopsis: Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.

I buddy read this with my friend Amanda and I enjoyed it. It had a very strong feeling of historical fiction mixed with fantasy. The main character was alright but my favorite was Wyn. He was a side character that acted kind of like a sidekick.

The magic represented in this book was really cool because it all came from the Great Houses. The magic was inside the Houses and they kind of acted as if they were humans with real emotions and reactions to things happening around them.

Violet had a strong connection to the house and could communicate in a sense with it. It was cool that she could do that but I found Violet, in general, a little annoying at times and I felt that she could have made better decisions.

There was one part that was really cool because I didn’t expect it and liked that they went in the direction they did. Sometimes a plot needs a little spark to get it progressing at a more likable pace for me.

If you like fantasy and have a strong affection for historical fiction (it reminded me of a very victorian era.), then you would probably like this book since it is very descriptive with all the scenery, building, and outfits etc. and deals with royalty.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Harper Collins in physical format to read and give an honest review.


December is fast approaching and I wanted to make it an extra special month by creating a readathon and have all you bookworms participate! It’s called the Reindeer Readathon and it will be taking place from December 1st to the 31st! It is a team-based readathon and all the prompts you complete will count as points towards your team! The winning team will have one random person win a prize! Full details in the video below!

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Book Review: Rarity of the Century

I received an ARC of this book way back when I started up the blog and finally got around to reading it as I am trying to make progress on the blog book TBR when I don’t have paid reviews coming in. This one was called Rarity of the Century by Fawzy Zablah and I am using it as my book for “defense against the dark arts” book (had to start with the letter R) in the Magical readathon.

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Synopsis: Chucho, an aimless tramp of Palestinian/Latino descent, has reached a lull in his young adult life that he surmises is directly linked to a long ago, barely spoken of family tragedy that left him an orphan.

After a brief stint and stellar downfall in the fetish porn industry, he is forced to move back home with his flamboyant uncle in South Beach and get a job at a Brazilian steak house. Just as he is getting used to his new position in life, he falls for the hostess Shiraz Zirel who first torments him via her unattainable beauty and then by ignoring him.

Frustrated with Shiraz, Chucho decides to give up on love. But when a Rapture event of unknown origins occurs over all of South Florida, Chucho and Shiraz find that they are the sole survivors. In fact, Chucho realizes with new-found excitement, they may be the last two people on earth.

Can they be together? Are they fated for love? And what is that strange thing in the sky over South Beach anyway? As the star-crossed lovers journey to investigate the inexplicable phenomenon, they encounter a mysterious, yet familiar third survivor that will force them into a fight for their lives.

I’m honestly not really sure what I just finished reading.

There were 3 different viewpoints of the story. It was essentially the same story being retold from the 3 main characters perspectives so a lot of what was happening was already known and it left little to the imagination. I did not like one single character in this book. They were all pretty conceited in the way they thought about and treated others.

There was no love in this book. It was just people using other people for sex. And don’t get me started on the sex. There was so much emphasis on the man being dominant over the woman and how she was supposed to be his “slave”. *Pardon my french* but are you fucking kidding me?! Men and women should be treated equally in a relationship and there were so many parts of this book where they were treated worse than a dog (I also don’t condone treating any animal poorly). I realize that this may be used to build a nasty character but honestly, it was too much for me to enjoy the book.

Also, trigger warning that there is a lot of rape. It made me feel uncomfortable reading these parts. The second trigger warning I would add is that there is quite a bit of racism towards people of Jewish descent. There is a line where the character says that he wants to be Hitler. I had to pause when I read that and think to myself, what was the author trying to achieve with this?

And then the whole post-apocalyptic thing. It never explains how this came to be. I was kind of waiting for an explanation to tie everything together at the end but nope. No explanation at all.

I feel bad about this review because I was hopeful for an interesting book but I just found myself cringing a lot while reading. I believe that the author had an idea and they tried to make it into a story but it did not feel complete in my opinion. I hope that this rating doesn’t make the author feel like there book is not good. This was just my personal opinion of how I felt about the book but someone else might like it.

*I always hope that authors will continue to write regardless of bad reviews to push through and work on their dreams. You guys make the creations that we love to consume as readers.*

Book Rating: 1/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us as an advanced reader’s copy in physical format by the author to read and give an honest review.


I recently uploaded my Booktube Newbie tag video so check it out below if you are interested. I would love it if you subscribed but that is completely up to you!

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Book Review: The Fourth Courier

Hey bookworms! I have another review! It has been a while but I have been working on reading, making videos and planning a trip so that is why. This time, I read an advanced reader’s copy of The Fourth Courier by Timothy Jay Smith.

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Synopsis: It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

I quite enjoyed this book. It is a nice feeling when an author sends you a book to read and you have no idea what you are going in to but then find yourself caught up in this web of mystery and intrigue.

The characters were well fleshed out and they had just enough backstory to let the reader know all the details they needed to for the story to progress.

There is a heavy influence of LGBTQ+ in this book which I wasn’t expecting from this type of genre but I must say I am happy in the way it was used and glad that genres are branching out and including this type of representation.

I felt myself wanting to know what would happen next and kept myself up late at night to just get through the next chapter…..and then the next one…..and so on. This made me pretty tired at work for a couple days as it was a recurring situation :P.

Polish is also a part of my ancestry so it was interesting to read a book that was set in Poland. I had never really thought about the country or what it looks like over there but the book gave me a pretty good visual image of the economy and what it takes to survive day to day in such a place.

Overall, it wasn’t perfect. It had its little flaws where I would questions a character’s decisions sometimes but it was a solid novel with an intense sequence of events and I would be happy to read more by this author in the future.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

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

The author also provided us with an interview he conducted. Check it out below to get to know about him a little bit more.

Timothy Jay Smith (S#1)

THE FOURTH COURIER: AN INTERVIEW WITH TIMOTHY JAY SMITH

You have a new novel coming out, The Fourth Courier, set in Poland. What’s it about?

The Fourth Courier opens in the spring of 1992, only four months after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A series of grisly murders in Warsaw suddenly becomes an international concern when radiation is detected on the third victim’s hands, raising fears that all the victims might have smuggled nuclear material out of Russia.

Poland’s new Solidarity government asks for help and the FBI sends Special Agent Jay Porter to assist in the investigation. He teams up with a gay CIA agent. When they learn that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb is missing, the race is on to find him and the bomb before it ends up in the wrong hands.

My novels have been called literary thrillers because I use an event or threat—a thriller plot—to examine what the situation means to ordinary people. In The Fourth Courier, Jay becomes intimately involved with a Polish family, giving the reader a chance to see how the Poles coped with their collective hangover from the communist era.

How did you come up with the story for The Fourth Courier?

The Fourth Courier book goes back a long way for me. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell and Solidarity won the first free election in Poland in over sixty years. In the same year, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced new cooperative laws in the Soviet Union, which was an area of my expertise. I was invited to the Soviet Union as a consultant, which led to my consulting throughout the former Soviet bloc, eventually living for over two years in Poland.

At the time, there was a lot of smuggling across the border between Russia and Poland, giving rise to fears that nuclear material, too, might be slipping across. While on assignment in Latvia, I met with a very unhappy decommissioned Soviet general, who completely misunderstood my purpose for being there. When an official meeting concluded, he suggested we go for a walk where we could talk without being overheard.

I followed him deep into a forest. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted. Finally we stopped, and he said, “I can get you anything you want.” I must have looked puzzled because he added, “Atomic.”

Then I understood. In an earlier conversation, there had been some passing remarks about the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal in Latvia, for which he had had some responsibility, and apparently still some access. While my real purpose for being there was to design a volunteer program for business specialists, he assumed that was a front and I was really a spy. Or perhaps he thought, I really did want to buy an atomic bomb!

Have you always been a writer?

In the sense of enjoying to write, yes. I actually wrote my first stage play in fourth grade and started a novel in sixth grade, but I didn’t become a full-time fiction writer until twenty years ago. The first half of my adult life I spent working on projects to help low income people all over the world. I always enjoyed the writing aspects of my work—reports, proposals, even two credit manuals—but I reached a point where I’d accomplished my career goals, I was only forty-six years old, and I had a story I wanted to tell.

What was the story?

For over two years, I managed the U.S. Government’s first significant project to assist Palestinians following the 1993 Oslo Accords. One thing I learned was that everyone needed to be at the negotiating table to achieve an enduring peace. So I wrote a story of reconciliation—A Vision of Angels—that weaves together the lives of four characters and their families.

If anybody had ever hoped that a book might change the world, I did. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to bring about peace in the Middle East, but I’ve continued writing nevertheless.

The Fourth Courier has a strong sense of place. It’s obvious that you know Warsaw well. Other than living there, what special research did you do?

Warsaw is a city with a very distinctive character. It’s always atmospheric, verging on gloomy in winter, and the perfect location for a noir-ish thriller.

I had left Warsaw several years before I decided to write a novel set there, so I went back to refresh my memory. I looked at it entirely differently. What worked dramatically? Where would I set scenes in my story?

It was on that research trip when all the events along the Vistula River came together for me. There was a houseboat. There was Billy’s shack, and Billy himself whose “jaundiced features appeared pinched from a rotting apple.” There were sandbars reached by narrow concrete jetties and a derelict white building with a sign simply saying Nightclub. Fortunately, Billy’s dogs were tethered or I wouldn’t be here to answer your questions.

My main character is an FBI agent, and I didn’t know much about it. A friend, who was an assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno, arranged a private tour of the FBI’s training facility in Quantico. That was before 9/11. I don’t think that could be done now. Maybe for James Bond himself but not for a wannabe writer.

If I was going to write a novel about smuggling a portable atomic bomb, I needed to know what a bomb entailed. Weight, seize, basic design, fuel? How would a miniature bomb be detonated? So I blindly contacted the Department of Energy. I explained what I wanted and was soon connected to an atomic expert who agreed to meet with me.

We met on the weekend at a Starbucks-like coffee shop in Rockville, MD. We met in line and were already talking about atomic bombs before we ordered our coffees. He had brought basic drawings of them. He was an expert and eager to share his knowledge.

Can you imagine having that conversation in a café today, openly looking at how-to schematics for building an atomic bomb while sipping skinny lattés?

You’ve mentioned ‘scenes’ a couple of times. I know you also write screenplays. Do you find it difficult to go between the different formats or styles?

The sense of scene is crucial to my writing. It’s how I think about a story. Before I start new work, I always have the opening and closing scenes in my head, and then I ask myself what scenes do I need to get from start to finish.

I think it comes from growing up in a house where the television was never turned off. My sisters and I were even allowed to watch TV while doing homework if we kept our grades up. Sometimes I joke that canned laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood. I haven’t owned a television for many years, but growing up with it exposed me to telling stories in scenes, and it’s why my readers often say they can see my stories as they read them.

For me, it’s not difficult to go between prose and screenplays. In fact, I use the process of adapting a novel to a screenplay as an editing tool for the novel. It helps me sharpen the dialogue and tighten the story.

In your bio, you mention traveling the world to find your characters and stories, and doing things like smuggling out plays from behind the Iron Curtain. Was it all as exciting as it sounds?

It was only one play, and yes, I confess to having an exciting life. I’ve done some crazy things, too, and occasionally managed to put myself in dangerous situations. Frankly, when I recall some of the things I’ve done, I scare myself! By comparison, smuggling a play out of Czechoslovakia in 1974 seems tame. But I’ve always had a travel bug and wanted to go almost everywhere, so I took some chances, often traveled alone, and went to places where I could have been made to disappear without a trace.

It sounds like you have a whole library full of books you could write. How do you decide what story to tell and who will be your characters?

I came of age in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, so I developed a strong sense of social justice. That guided my career choice more than anything, and when I quit working to write full-time, it was natural that I wanted my books to reflect my concerns. Not in a “big message” way, but more in terms of raising awareness about things that concern me.

For example, take Cooper’s Promise, my novel about a gay deserter from the war in Iraq who ends up adrift in a fictional African country. It was 2003, and in a few days, I was headed to Antwerp to research blood diamonds for a new novel. I was running errands when NPR’s Neal Conan (Talk of the Nation) came on the radio with an interview of National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb about a project on modern-day slavery. It was the first time I heard details about human trafficking, and was so shocked by its enormity that I pulled my car off the road to listen.

I decided on the spot that I needed to find a story that touched on both blood diamonds and trafficking. When I went to Antwerp a few days later, I visited the Diamond District as planned, but also visited a safe house for women who had been rescued from traffickers.

In The Fourth Courier, you team up a white straight FBI agent with a black gay CIA agent. Even Publishers Weeklycommented that it seemed like an ideal set-up for a sequel. Do you plan to write one?

Probably not. My to-be-written list is already too long.

I’m close to finishing the final edits on a book set in Greek island village, which is more of a mystery about an arsonist than a thriller. I’ve already started a new novel set in Istanbul about a young refugee who’s recruited by the CIA to go deep undercover with ISIS. I’ve never written a novel set in the States but I have the idea for one.

To date, my books have been stand-alones with totally different settings, characters, and plots. I try to write what I like to read: smart mysteries/thrillers with strong plots and colorful characters set in interesting places. I suppose like me, I want my stories to travel around and meet new people.

You’ve had gay protagonists or important characters since your first novel over twenty years ago when gay literature had not yet become mainstream. How would you say that affected your choices as a writer, or did it?

Friends warned me that I shouldn’t become known as a gay writer because it would pigeonhole me and sideline me from consideration as a serious writer. At the time, I think the general public thought gay books were all about sex and more sex. Of course, already there were many emerging gay literary writers; it was more stigma than reality.

The world of thrillers and mysteries is still largely uninhabited by gays. Hopefully I am helping to change that. I also hope that my novels expand my readers’ understanding of homosexuality in the places where I set them. In The Fourth Courier, the gay angle is key to solving the case. In my other novels, too, the plot turns on something gay, and the way it does is always something that couldn’t have happened in the same way anywhere else because of the cultural context.

What do you want your readers to take away from The Fourth Courier?

What motivated me to write The Fourth Courier was a desire to portray what happened to ordinary Polish people at an exciting albeit unsettling moment in their country’s history. I hope my readers like my characters as much as I do—at least the good guys. The people are what made Poland such a great experience.

The Fourth Courier is my thank-you note to them.


I also released a new video onto book tube recently so feel free to watch it here and make sure to like and subscribe if you like it!

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Book Review​: Treading The Uneven Road

Bookworms! I have the pleasure of sharing another review with you. This one was called Treading The Uneven Road by L.M. Brown and was published by Fomite Press.

Cover of Threading The Uneven Road

Synopsis: The stories in this linked collection are set in a small village in the Northwest of Ireland in the early 1980’s and 90’s. A bypass around the village has rid them of their once busy traffic. The residents feel forgotten by the world. The need to reach out and be heard is explored in every story, from the young woman who starts to have phone conversations with her husband’s gay lover, to the dyslexic man who confronts his cruel teacher years later.

The collection is not only about the characters need for salvation but it is about a society that is unraveling. In Amends, we hear about the Bishop who has fathered a child. A priest is beckoned by a dying man to be mocked. The world inside and outside the village is changing. In every story, the characters need to make a choice on how they might carry on.

This book was a breath of fresh air. Not only did it satisfy my craving of travel with its beautiful descriptions of Northwest Ireland and the surrounding landscapes, but it also brought on this feeling of “lust” (not sure if this is the right word) to go there and see it for myself.

A lot of times, I won’t read a synopsis and jump right into a book so that I am completely unprepared and surprised by everything. An example would be to watch a movie without seeing the trailer for the non-readers out there. So I was very excited when I realized that all of these short stories were connected to the next and previous stories and the characters were the same in most of them. It was like revealing a little bit more of the townsfolk piece by piece from different viewpoints.

The story about Patrick was my favorite. He had a rough encounter that left his relationship with his father very tense (I won’t say what it is, no spoilers here). It made me feel for Patrick and just want him to succeed and be happy. The only downfall to this story is that I wanted more of it. It left me wondering if he would be ok and I just wasn’t ready to leave it at that.

All of these stories were just people being themselves and trying to fit into society or be what society wanted them to be. The feelings were raw and powerful and it came through in the way the author wrote about her characters.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants intricate storytelling of an Irish village and all the components that make up its inner workings. It wasn’t a “WOW this is amazing” book but more of a subtle “wow I quite enjoyed that”.

Book Rating: 4/5

About the Author
L.M Brown is the author of the novel Debris. Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines. She grew up in Sligo, Ireland, but now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, three daughters, a dog and a bearded dragon.

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.

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