Book Spotlight: The Keeper

 

The Keeper Book Cover

The Keeper (Underground Defenders Vol. 1)

Publication Date: May 28th, 2019

Genre: Mystery/ Suspense

Page Count: 230 Pages

Publisher: Liminal Books (Between the Lines Publishing)

When the Ericksons move home to care for their ailing grandmother, they’re told a stranger has taken up residence in the attic of the sprawling mansion. Upon investigation, the family isn’t sure the tenant is anything more than a figment of old Mrs. Erickson’s imagination—until a mysterious young woman begins to show herself to the family in fleeting, uncanny visits.

When unexplained things start happening under the mansion’s roof, suspicions arise as to just who—or what—she is. In the chaos that ensues, the family is forced to make a decision: trust the stranger or band together as a family against her—and their grandmother who’s protecting her.

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Excerpt

‘She tried to distract herself by thinking of other things, like the invigorating chill in the atmosphere or the soft crushing of the mushy grass under the thin, flappy shoes, but nothing worked. The feelings and emotions around her were too big to be crowded out by minor sensory input.

Amira was aware of darkness rolling off Dr. Bordell like a smothering fog. She could no longer hear the other two men out here with them. They had either straggled far behind or were being strangely silent. Most likely it was just her and the doctor now traipsing out into nowhere. Would she ever come back?

They only walked a short while longer when the doctor stopped Amira in her tracks. He ripped off her head covering in one violent motion that took several long brown hairs with it. He watched her with a sickening grin as she tried to get her bearings.

Amira’s gaze went straight to the heavens, an immediate escape. It was a cloudy night and she couldn’t locate the moon in the sky, only a glowing veil of clouds in its place and a sugar-sprinkling of stars all around. The tree branches that clawed at the atmosphere were unfamiliar in shape, and she couldn’t find a recognizable landmark anywhere in the inky darkness. . . . The doctor gripped the nape of Amira’s neck and flung her to the ground like an unwanted stray kitten. She tumbled several times from the unnecessary force, kicking up loose soil before coming to rest atop a bare, earthen mound.

“She’s in the ground, you stupid moron,” Dr. Bordell replied and laughed, thoroughly enjoying his moment of revelation, “which is exactly where I’m going to put your mother if you don’t do everything I tell you to from here on out.”

Amira clutched fistfuls of dirt in her palms and let the powder cascade through her open fingers. “No,” she whispered as the soil rained against her bare legs.’

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About the Author

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist.

“I read because my grandmother showed me how to immerse myself in books for recreation, relaxation or even as a coping skill.

I write because my head is filled with daydreams and I like to choose the endings.”

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For your chance to win a digital copy of this book, visit the link below to enter!

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TheKeeper

Blog Tour Schedule

June 24th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels@gmail.com

Kim Knight (Interview) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

The Consulting Writer (Interview) https://theconsultingwriter.wordpress.com

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/

June 25th

Where Dragons Reside (Excerpt) https://kernerangelina.live/

Just 4 My Books (Excerpt) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

June 26th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Excerpt) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

Musings of a Final Girl (Excerpt) https://musingsofafinalgirl.wordpress.com/

June 27th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Interview) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

June 28th

Sophril Reads (Excerpt) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

The Genre Minx (Excerpt) http://www.thegenreminx.com/

Entertainingly Nerdy (Review) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com

Misty’s Book Space (Excerpt) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Shalini’s Books and Reviews (Review) https://bookreviewsbyshalini.com/

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours


Check out my May Wrap Up video where I talk about all the books I read in May and what I ended up thinking about them.

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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

Author Interview: Liz Lawler

We had the honor of joining this blog tour for Liz Lawler’s new book I’ll Find You. 

Synopsis: Don’t Wake Up, Liz Lawler’s debut novel, sold over 200,000 copies and was Bonnier Zaffre’s breakout psychological thriller of 2017. I’ll Find You, her second novel, promises to be an even more heart-stopping and electrifying read.
 
This medical thriller breaks away from the traditional domestic sphere and into the fictional Bath Windsor Bridge Hospital. Liz Lawler fantastically uses her own 20-year career as a nurse to instill an authenticity that will truly give you chills. . .
 
Perfect for fans of TM Logan and Leslie Kara, I’ll Find You will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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Author Interview

1. What is your top read of 2018 so far? 

 I read so many books that came out in 2018 and many of them were brilliant, so it is really hard to pick one, but as you asked for my top read I will choose the one which came immediately to mind – Don’t Make A Sound by David Jackson.

 2. What is your favorite book friendship?

 I loved the friendship between Dale and Mr Jingles in The Green Mile. Mr Jingles, a small mouse, gave solace to so many men while they awaited execution. His presence brought light and laughter and hope in a place previously devoid of such feeling. I loved how Dale and Mr Jingles’ relationship united the prison officers and inmates to become guardians of this small creature.

3. What was your most anticipated book release of 2018?

I have still to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, which I’m looking forward to enormously. 

 4. How many books are in your TBR Pile?

Well actually I’m beginning to panic as there are only three books presently by my bedside. I like to have at least half a dozen books to choose from in case I suddenly get cut off from the rest of the world. When I go on holiday for seven days I take five books in my luggage and then buy two more at the airport. Just in case….

 5. Who is your favorite author?

 Really hard to answer as I love so many authors and it is a love list that gets bigger as I find new authors to add. But to mention a few: Sebastian Faulks, Harper Lee, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, Emily Bronte and the list goes on…

 6. How did you start writing? 

Quite suddenly and out of the blue, after dropping my children off at school for their first day back after the summer holidays, I found myself sat at my kitchen table writing a story. That was the beginning.

 7. Where is your favorite reading spot?

 In bed when the rest of the house is fast asleep. 

 8. How long have you been an author?

 Since May 2017 when my first book  Don’t Wake Up was published. I’m still very much a newbie.

 9. What do you like about reading?

I cannot imagine my life without reading. When I think about being on a deserted island I take comfort from imagining finding hundreds and hundreds of boxes of books to read to last me forever.

10. If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

 Chaos.

And that is the end of our interview! If you have any question that I should ask in my nex interview, comment below! Check out the rest of the blogs on this tour (they are mentioned in the feature image at the top).


If you have children, there is a new book out by Carey Fessler called Foiled that would be right up their alley! You can buy it on Amazon!

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Book Review: Blood Will Out

New book review! This one is called Blood Will Out by Jo Treggiari and it was a thrill ride. There were a lot of mixed reviews on this one which surprised me. I finished it about a month ago but just got around to posting it. I have been crazy busy.

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Synopsis: Ari Sullivan is alive–for now. She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous — and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Told in alternating perspectives of predator and prey, Blood Will Out is a gripping and terrifying read.

I had an advanced ARC of this book which I finally read when I had some offtime. The book is published now and in stores all over. It was cool to see it on the shelf when I was taking a stroll through book heaven.

I really loved this book. It starts with the main character trapped in a cistern and just keeps the suspense coming. I pictured myself in this situation and I give props to Ari because she is a beast for everything that she goes through. It was easy to relate with her because she is a swimmer/lifeguard and we both love the smell of chlorine (I have so many lifeguard sweaters that I have lost count).

I don’t see how this book only got a mediocre rating on Goodreads. I thought it was so good. It was a story full of layers that kept slowly unraveling as you went. I thought I knew who the killer was and changed my mind 3 different times to still be surprised at the end.

Jesse was a character I related with. He was the creepy dude that was kind of just did his own thing and was just a blip in the main characters life. A shadow that is there but not seen. Lynn was really fun too. She just stood up for herself and what she believed in and didn’t let anyone tell her otherwise. She and Ari have a strong bond and a friendship that you know will last.

SPOILER (Skip this part if you intend to read it)

I can’t believe it was the librarian! I would never have guessed it would be her in a million years. I had a small inkling that it was going to be a woman because the flashbacks of the killer’s memories made it sound like it was a boy and I figured the author wanted to throw us off the trail. But the librarian?! I thought it was Stroud and then I thought it was Lynn up until the very end when the big reveal showed it was the librarian and then all the pieces fell into place and it all made sense. The fact that she got away and moved on to the next town added that extra level of creepy which is just too good! Unfinished business for the killer 😛 muahahaha

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a suspenseful, intense, action-packed adventure that will scare you to your core. It actually made me feel like I was watching a scary movie in my head when I was reading this masterpiece. Haters can hate but this book was phenomenal! Enjoy it bookworms. Seriously, buy this book! You will love it. Or get scared but it will be worth the thrill.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and in Chapters stores as you can see above 🙂


Get Booked! The hottest spring reads are here!

Book Review: Forgotten Soldiers

Woop woop its Wednesday! Made it halfway through the week 🙂 We have another review for you from our external reviewer Joseph Harrison. This one is called Forgotten Soldiers by Neal Sayatovich.

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SUMMARY:
If you like a story with lots of blood and gore, this story has it and more. The Templars Reborn have taken over America and forced everyone to accept their religion. Ten years
later Magnum or Mag for short is a councilman for a group fighting the Templars. He and his friends Mitchell and Michael raid a Templar weapons cache and are successful only through dumb luck. Mag’s exploits are heard about and he gets invited to another grove in New Hampshire where he meets up with Jace and Rachael. They also meet up with someone named Barclay who is with a group known as the Freelancers, another group fighting the Templars. They raid a prison in Canada where high profile prisoners are brought, but they find no one there. The two main prisoners are Annabelle Carson, whose father James was a high-profile Templar and whose uncle was Barclay. Alex Thompson, daughter to Charles Thompson, is the other prisoner. After the Canadian raid, Mag gets kicked out of his “grove” in Maine and some others in the group join him. They form their own resistance against the Templars. Mag falls in love with Alex. We are also told his real name was Nathan Walsh and he is hiding a secret that he keeps from the others, especially from Alex. There are many fights and skirmishes outlined in gory
detail. I don’t want to reveal what happens in the end so you will have to read it :).

The plot was pretty good, but I couldn’t get over the numerous grammar errors and unbelievable circumstances and outcomes the characters encounter. The main character didn’t come across very sympathetic; by the second or third chapter, he had already killed numerous people. All the characters either smoked or drank heavily and almost every page someone was either drinking or getting drunk or lighting up a cigarette.

CONS:
Just about every chapter has a detailed firefight. It was a little boring after a while. I think the author should have kept the fight scenes to a minimum and explained more in detail about the Templar philosophy and some of the characters. There are some storylines that are completely unbelievable; for instance; Mag seems like he falls in love with Alex before he even talks to her. The Mag/Nathan Walsh character was complicated, but some of the reasons he chose his courses of action were not explained. His mother killed his father and he blamed the Templars for this so why did he join the Templars? Editing was very poor. There were many grammar errors including word usage, incomplete sentences, capitalization, verb-noun disagreement.

PROS:
It read easily, I didn’t have a hard time with any of the concepts or plot developments. The details on some of the fight scenes were pretty realistic. The biggest appeal for me was finding out what was going to happen next in the story. On this point, the author did a good job of keeping me in suspense.

FAVORITE QUOTE: Barclay brushed him on the way to the parking lot, “I am checking out now.” In the scene, he had just blown up the room he was in, so it was funny in a sadistic type of way.

Book Rating: 2.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon!

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


Get Booked! The hottest spring reads are here!

Author Q&A: First to Die by Alex Caan

Hola Bookworms.

Today, I have the honor of doing a Q&A with author Alex Caan! He wrote First to Die and this is a part of his book’s blog tour.

Here is a blurb about the book:

SOMEWHERE IN THE CROWD IS A KILLER 

Bonfire Night and St James’s Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner’s office are called in.

The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead? 

THEY WILL STRIKE AGAIN 

As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behavior resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.

AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT . . .

With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead? 

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I’m definitely a believer in plots. I do my free thinking beforehand, come up with my characters and my ideas, crucial scenes. I love letting my imagination take me places, but when I’m writing I need a structure. More than anything it helps prevent writer’s block.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Shutting off the voices. Sometimes every good and bad review is in your head, acting as a barrier to writing. There’s a constant voice saying ‘you’re rubbish’ or ‘this won’t be as good as the last one and you will be found out’. The key is to try and ignore it and keep writing.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I read all the time, but I’m a very slow reader so I don’t read many books, but I like to take my time to really enjoy the ones I do. My all-time favorite authors are Graham Greene and John Le Carre, I think they capture the human condition so perfectly it’s awe-inspiring. But there are so many other authors that I love. I need to make a list really.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

I think it’s crucial. When you’re looking for your next read you have literally thousands of choices, and most books will have recommendations, positive and negative feedback, more or less marketing and promotion. So crucially what will make one stand out beyond the other is the title and cover, and then the premise and blurb. But title and cover are all about the purchasing impulse, not the content. Eventually, it’s what inside those covers that will drive how a person feels about the novel.

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

Honestly, I can’t remember. I was a voracious reader as a child, and remember 8 year old me telling all my family and teachers I wanted to be a novelist. It took me a long time but I eventually did it.

And that’s the end of our interview. Thanks for tuning in readers 🙂 and I think you should go out and buy Alex’s book! You can find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Also check out this book by author Holly Tierney-Bedord called The Port Elspeth Jewelry Making Club, a thriller/mystery novel about a group of women who form a jewelry club and become unlikely sleuths.

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Here is a US buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Port-Elspeth-Jewelry-Making-Club-ebook/dp/B07DFTDNXY

A Canada buy link: https://www.amazon.ca/Port-Elspeth-Jewelry-Making-Club-ebook/dp/B07DFTDNXY

And a UK buy link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Port-Elspeth-Jewelry-Making-Club-ebook/dp/B07DFTDNXY


Book Review: Booth by Jason Pellegrini

We have a very in-depth review for you guys from an addition to the BreakevenBooks team. Our new reviewer Chris Connors decided to take on Booth by Jason Pellegrini.

Synopsis: At dawn, on the day of his execution, Joseph Bateman finds himself reflecting on his life, one filled with poor decisions and evil people. Even his lifelong best friend played a pivotal role in earning Joseph his seat on death row. A phenomenon occurs as the electricity meant to kill Joseph is sent through him, and his essence is ripped from the body he has known his entire life and thrown into a new one. Only the body he now inhabits isn’t new at all; it is the body of a person who lived over a hundred years before Joseph’s birth. Now living in an unfamiliar era of history and trapped inside a foreign body, Joseph learns he has been sent back for a reason: to earn redemption for his damned soul and to find a sense of peace he has never known. All he needs to do to get there is to prevent one of history’s most infamous murders.

The book blurb captured my imagination right away. Obviously, Joseph William Bateman’s redemption is hinged on stopping John Wilkes Booth—note the initials of both names– from killing Abraham Lincoln, but since Booth did kill Lincoln does this mean Joseph didn’t get redemption? Is there an alternate timeline involved? Was redemption in an unexpected form, maybe a surprise twist? I looked forward to seeing how Pellegrini dealt with this.

The first half of the book starts out with Joseph on death row contemplating how he got there, and the writing in the first few chapters pulls you right into the story.

Murdering one man did not get him to where he was in life (although he’d soon learn he was actually very wrong about that). A long series of unfortunate events had landed him on Death Row. So Joseph Bateman, in the closing hour of his life, chose to reflect.

The small details about his early love for jelly beans (his mother called him Joey Beans), the description of their taste and what jelly beans meant to Joseph are well-crafted, putting you in touch with the child whose imagination helped him escape a bad parental situation by turning the Moon into a giant sweet sugary jellybean that was slowly eaten away only to return anew. Through these chapters, we see how childhood and young adulthood events shaped Joseph’s life and led him to the electric chair.

As Joseph grows older we see him fighting to be nothing like his abusive father, fighting to get away and become his own man, to live happily ever after with his early childhood best friend and later his lover. You feel for Joseph knowing, like Romeo and Juliet, that his dreams will not come true and he is his father’s son, but you still root for him hoping it’ll somehow work out despite him being a few hours from his execution.

It is a great start and whatever Pellegrini did for these first few chapters needs to be applied to the other chapters because the rest of the book seems clunky by comparison. His use of long and short sentences that pull the reader into the story, in the beginning, fades away as the chapters continue; much of the sentence structure is the same type with little variation, and the compelling rhythm is lost.

Subtlety is not put to good use in this book. We’re whacked over the head with the obvious on numerous occasions. Considering Joseph is on death row at the start of the book then foreshadowing his fate with statements like “…just one more step on the path that would lead Joseph to death row” over and over seems a bit of overkill (so to speak).

The descriptions of the abuse his father metes out on his mother are cartoonishly over-the-top. He doesn’t just rape, kick and beat her, but also brings home his gambling buddies to rape her. I worked as a Direct Care Worker for 8 years with youth in the justice system and on the streets and I know these things happen. What makes the book scenario so unbelievable is that 1) the father doesn’t abuse the kids (an abusive man doesn’t make that distinction), and 2) the mother stays with him despite all this.
There are women who will stay with abusive men till she’s killed. However, Joseph’s mom, Emily Bateman, is portrayed as a saint, a good woman, a great mother. You don’t have those qualities and still, put up with such violence and torture for many years. The women who do stay around to be tortured are often so damaged they’re not capable of being good and kind on a long-term or even regular basis.

In this case, I think Pellegrini could have written less while implying more horror without bludgeoning the reader with the abuse. The father could have been given more of a dimensional character to help us see why Emily didn’t leave him. That being said there are still well-written gems popping out in these sections like how Joseph runs out into the yard to find his sister during a particularly horrible beating of their mother; they end up cuddled together in the trunk of an old car comforting one another. Quite
touching, well done.

So Joseph’s reflections– not reminiscences, he tells us (another nice bit of writing detail that makes Joseph a real flesh-and-blood character)—proceed in a chronological order till his execution. The second half of the book deals with Joseph’s death and the transferal of his soul into the late 1800s where he is expected to stop an assassination. I was looking forward to this half of the book.

We meet up with a mysterious figure (the man with eyes) who Joseph has unknowingly met a few times before. This is his guide, called J, a 2,000-year-old soul who betrayed a friend, whose own path to redemption comes from helping others find their redemption (J’s actual name isn’t given, but it’s obvious). Given J’s behavior though I suspect he won’t be finding his own redemption anytime soon. He tells Joseph a few times to watch out for Booth, that Booth will do anything to stop him. However, none of that is true (no spoilers so I can’t elaborate). His early cryptic statements aren’t helpful. He tells Joseph the walls will fall and Joseph will see (I was hoping J would say, “Shaka, when the walls fell; Sokath, his eyes open”, but I guess 2,000-year-old souls don’t keep up with pop culture references).

There’s also a scene where J kills someone by twisting a knife into their stomach and letting them bleed out so the soul can be set free to embark upon a task. Yes, it was necessary, but what happened to a warm bath, a nice bottle of wine, and slitting your wrists? Or a bullet? J will never get redemption if he keeps this up.

This second half of the book is the weakest section. We’re told many times (again) that Joseph is an expert on Booth so knows all of Booth’s movements before and after the assassination. The whole section reads like it was taken from a history book without any fleshing out of characters: he went there, then he saw this, then he did that, next he rode here, he met a doctor, he left a doctor. Bizarrely Joseph re-enacts all of Booth’s movements for the silliest of reasons. If you’re going to change history why not do everything different?

Perhaps a way to improve both sections is to alternate the chapters. Instead of a long chronological recounting of Joseph’s childhood followed by a chronological accounting of his actions in the 1800s, it could be possible to jump back and forth. You end one chapter of Joseph’s childhood wanting to know what happened next, but first you have to read a chapter of him in the past (which when it ends you want to know what happens next, but your next chapter is back to the childhood). It would build and maintain suspense, keep the reader turning pages, make thematic connections between the past and present, and slowly let the story unravel rather than laying everything down in plain sight. It would make us feel we’re traveling between times as the author could add flesh and detail to both worlds.

Fortunately, Pellegrini pulls it back together for the final act. I don’t want to give spoilers, but he delivers an ending and an epilogue worthy of the hopes I had for the book when I first read the blurb. I thought I knew where he was going, and I was partly right, but he still surprised me.

Overall, I liked the concept. It is fairly original. There is some good writing in the book, and an editor would help the author bring that quality writing to the sections that were lacking. I suspect Jason Pellegrini is still on the steep learning curve of writing and will improve immensely with practice. He’s shown he can write well. Now he just needs to do it consistently. I look forward to reading his future books.

Book Rating: 3.75/5

And that is our wonderful review by Chris Connors!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to Breakeven Books by the author Jason Pellegrini for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review – I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

I recently finished I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid and man oh man was it ever intense! I was sent this book by Simon and Schuster Canada for winning their Book Club Pick of the Month contest. Now this happened in the summer and I had a huge list of books to go through but I am finally getting to it.

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I read this book on a flight to the great northern city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada over the Christmas break to visit my friend Jordan. I had my nose in this book from takeoff to landing on the flight home and was completely engrossed in the intricate web of a masterpiece Iain Reid created.

The story starts with a woman in a car with her boyfriend and they are travelling to his parents house so that she can meet them for the first time. Meanwhile, she is thinking of ending the relationship and a lot of the book is her constant struggle in her head about what to do in this situation since she no longer wants to be in the relationship. They get to the farm and she meets his parents but things seem to be out of place and she starts to notice a lot of things that are “off”. Thus ensues a crazy twisted nightmare of a story that I never expected in the least.

I will be spoiling the ending because holy crap it was crazy. But I will clearly define where the spoiler is so don’t worry. Before that though, I wanted to share the best quote from the book.

You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.

This line is so haunting once you know what the ending is. Alright without further ado, spoiler time…

*SPOILER INSERTED HERE, DON’T READ FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK*

So it turned out that this woman was one of multiple personalities inside the boyfriend’s head and she was never real the entire time. When she is thinking of ending it, she is meaning ending his life. After you come to this realization, the entire book becomes so much creepier.

I also never caught it till after but the author just says “a woman” instead of giving the main character a name because she is the one telling the story. It made so much sense at the end but it was a very intense plot twist.

*SPOILER ENDED*

If you wish to read this book, you can find it here: http://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/Im-Thinking-of-Ending-Things/Iain-Reid/9781501103452

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review in any way. I chose to write it because I wanted to.