Book Review: One Night’s Stay

*Intro to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”*

I read a thriller and I liked it. The taste of suspense was fantastic 🙂

New book review of One Night’s Stay by C. B. Collins. This one was an exhilarating thrill ride of a novel.

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Synopsis: Thirteen strangers check into the Sunset Inn hoping to find rest. When one of them is murdered in the middle of the night, the survivors realize they’ve found something else entirely; an ancient evil looking to satisfy an undying hunger. If the guests want to make it through the night, they’ll have to discover the secret behind the motel and the mysterious town it serves. However, in uncovering the truth, they might find that the town’s past is nowhere near as dark as their own.

I have been on a role of good books lately. This one was added to the “loved” shelf. It was a perfect blend of thrill, suspense, mystery, and intrigue all wrapped up in a game of cat and mouse with a bunch of strangers and a dark plotting force.

There were so many parts of this book that I did not see coming and that’s what made me love it. I hate when you can tell exactly what is going to happen all the way through a book. It takes the fun out of it. But not with this one. I would just be reading the book, enjoying my little stroll down the narrative lane when BOOM, one of the main characters gets offed. The characters weren’t built too much that you had an attachment to them and for once I liked this because then I wasn’t too upset when they died but I would continue to look forward to what was going to happen next.

I didn’t really expect the book to take the turn it did. It was done in a very “Clue” like style mixed with some “Resident Evil”. I would strongly suggest this book to anyone that likes a little thriller mixed with a fantasy/mythical style.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

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


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Book Review: In the Dark

New review from Sara Mac hot off the press and available for your reading pleasure. Check out this review as she shares her thoughts on In The Dark by Becca Fox.


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Synopsis: How far would you go to save your family?

Movies and books have made being a monster sound cool.

Lindsay can’t wear silver jewelry or get drunk with her friends, but hey, she sprouts fur and fangs during the full moon. Totally rad, right? Not. Forget about exploring the beast within, Lindsay just wants to graduate from nursing school. When a stroll in the park ends with her and her little brother being surrounded by masked goons who want to sell them overseas, Lindsay has no choice but to change.

Despite her best efforts, these kidnappers know how to handle a werewolf inexperienced in hand-to-paw combat. She regains consciousness hours after the scuffle to find her brother gone. In a panic, she turns to the only werewolf she knows: Wayne, Mr. Werewolf Pride, the guy Lindsay rejected none-too-kindly several years ago. Being the forgiving kind of guy he is, Wayne agrees to help. . .so long as Lindsay joins his pack. Living among others of her kind is the last thing Lindsay wants, but for her brother’s sake, she bites her tongue and agrees.

Lindsay learns a few things while traveling through Europe in search of her brother. One: Being a werewolf can be pretty badass when you know how to use your abilities. Two: Being a freak isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by other freaks. And three: She might have misjudged Wayne.

When she and Wayne stumble onto the mastermind behind the kidnapping, this werewolf mafia king decides they know too much. Lindsay and Wayne should get out of dodge but, they know that unless this man is stopped, innocent people will die.

In this novel, Lindsay, a young adult werewolf, is kidnapped, along with her brother, her ex-boyfriend, and a few high-profile children. Though Lindsay eventually manages to escape, the rest are taken and flown across the world to be sold as slaves, and she must work with an old acquaintance in order to rescue them all. It is a story about coming to terms with who she is, with some romance, adventure, and action thrown into the mix.

The overall plot of the book was interesting, and the premise, though common, is entertaining enough.

Unfortunately, the book isn’t very detailed, and so often reads like a synopsis of itself. The characters are well developed, but unfortunately, they are developed into cliché, predictable archetypes of themselves. For example, Lindsay, a young werewolf, struggling with the beast inside, torn between loving two men who both aren’t capable of expressing their affections, and uncontrolled anger over saving her brother – well developed, but kind of boring.

I feel like this book is a good first draft of itself. I liked the story well enough to finish it quickly, but I just wanted MORE from it. I would have loved some more unique character development, more detail, and explanations throughout, and a little less predictability in the plot. Maybe I’m just getting pickier, but this book just doesn’t stand up well compared to other novels in the genre.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

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

Also, we are still pretty excited about it and if you haven’t seen, we are on the Top 100 Book Bloggers list of Canadian Book Bloggers! Check out that post to see all the other brilliant bloggers.


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Book Review: Constable Outreach 35

Book reviews galore! I have been flying through books lately whether it be paperback, hardcover, or kindle; they are all being read :). This one is called Constable Outreach 35 by Jay Cadmus. You might remember Jay from an Author Interview I did with him a while back. Well here is the review of his book that I promised.

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Synopsis: Insurgency forces build against the Sandinista Government of Nicaragua. The story opens in Tegucigalpa during Contra War in 1985. A covert airdrop malfunction leaves C-123 Loadmaster in Sandinista territory. Troop supply by air delivery the next phase in this operation. Agency Operations Manager uses all available resources in locating…setting scenes of interaction between unlikely partners. Opposition forces appear as foreign ideologues and members within the U. S. Administration they serve. A little-used document is constructed to reset international and regional diplomacy. The downed American flyer – and other human assets – become pawns in a war of ideology. Some characters find themselves imprisoned within the ideology they serve. Personalities fall and rise. Knights surface in seeking to serve the White House. Others fall as a normal course by their purging. Quote: “In honor or disgrace, the death of my adversary is with me forever.”

Calling all history buffs and army veterans. This book is right up your alley. It isn’t typically the type of book I enjoy but I made my way through it and liked how it turned out. There was a lot of technical army terminology that I didn’t understand at times but I bet an army vet/history buff that enjoys planes would love to read this.

There are multiple characters that develop as the story unfolds. I’m not sure who the main character was because it keeps switching scenes between Lester Russell and Tom McKay (so I guess these two are the main characters).

The one critique I have is that the author tends to write in fragmented sentences. For example, “The plane was ready for take-off. Standard issue bolt wings. Landing strip ready for take-off” (this is just an example that I made up). I feel like some of these sentences could have been put together to form one descriptive sentence but that is just my personal opinion on the matter. I guess it is better than run on sentences :P. Also, there were quite a few spelling mistakes that bugged my inner grammar nazi and I had to move past it.

The book was mainly set in Nicaragua which was so cool because I have been to Nicaragua on a missions trip and it helped me picture the scenes in my head as if I was there. Managua is the capital of Nicaragua and there are multiple scenes in Managua. When I was in Managua, our bus driver ran through all the traffic lights because they said that if they stopped, we would be robbed. Nicaragua was a very hot place with really beautiful landscapes. It is rare that a book is set here so this was definitely a plus for me.

If you get a chance, reach out to the author! He is a very nice welcoming person and I’m sure you would have a great conversation with him.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

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


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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 🙂


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Book Review: Betrayal of Justice

Book Review Friday!! Oh wait, I don’t think that is a thing….well now it is. This one was called Betrayal of Justice by Mark Bello (if you remember, my last review was for Mark’s other book Betrayal of Faith). I enjoyed some cider while I read this one on the backyard patio.

Synopsis: High-profile attorney Zachary Blake returns in this action-packed legal and political thriller, representing a desperate client who tried to solve a crime, only to find herself charged with murder.

A new president, determined to “make America pure again,” is elected and inaugurated and a white nationalist, inspired by the new president’s hateful rhetoric, firebombs a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan. After Arya Khan, a young Muslim woman, believes that the local police are not serious about solving the crime, she does some investigating of her own. Arya identifies a suspect and follows him, only to become a witness to his brutal murder after police find her standing over the body, holding a bloody knife. When Arya is arrested for the murder, she and her family turn to Zachary Blake.

Blake races against time to prove her innocence before the police complete their investigation. At the same time, a white supremacist group tries to cover up any connection to the crime and the new president seeks to use the case to jumpstart his Muslim deportation effort.

This was the second legal thriller I have read and I have to say I am really being drawn into the genre. Mark Bello continues to keep me entertained with his character of Zachary Blake. In fact, almost all the characters from the first book made an appearance in this one.

There was a very obvious villain which was the new president of the United States. He was essentially Trump ( I am fairly certain the author created this character based on Trump) and made all the same promises during his campaign. The white supremacist groups wanted to help this president achieve his goals by carrying out some of them on their own. One being the firebombing of a Muslim mosque.

The main character is Arya Khan. She gets herself in quite a mess when she tries to follow the potential suspect of the firebombing to his home and witnesses him being murdered by another white supremacist. She goes to help him and gets caught by the police hovering over his dead body. Enter Zachary Blake to save the day by representing her in court.

The novel takes some intense turns and has quite a finale. I was loving all the technical law terms again. It feels like I learn the process of the judicial court system as I read this book :).

I was very fond of the theme of the book which was inclusivity. Basically, it was anti-Trump and stating that we should treat each other equally because we are all mankind and life is better without discrimination. I fully support this notion and will get behind a book that fights back against bigotry.

The only con I would have for this book was that Arya was spelled “Ayra” a couple times at the beginning of the book so at first, I had no idea if her name was Arya or Ayra. But after Chapter 2, she was called Arya the rest of the book so it settled itself out.

Overall, it was a great book that was captivating from start to finish. I won’t say anything about the outcome of Arya’s case so that you can read it and find out for yourself!

What are your thoughts on legal thrillers? Have you read this genre before? If not, I think you should try it out 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find the book on Amazon!

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


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Book Review: Betrayal of Faith by Mark Bello

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews! I currently have 3 different books on the go but I managed to finish one of them. This one was called Betrayal of Faith by Mark Bello. Just look at the cover of the book and I’m sure you will guess what the book is about. I took a picture of it beside a candle to give it that ominous feeling (the candle smells amazing by the way).

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Synopsis: “Betrayal of Faith” is an award-winning novel by Mark M. Bello. It is a riveting story of a lawyer’s struggle for redemption, a sinister organization’s attempt at a cover-up, and a mother’s fight for justice for her sons. Zachary Blake is a down-on-his-luck lawyer with little hope of turning his career around. That is until Jennifer Tracey calls with the case of a lifetime against one of the world’s largest religious organizations. Jennifer discovers that the parish priest has harmed her two sons. She recalls the attorney who handled her husband’s industrial accident case – Zachary Blake. But Blake is not the same man he was three years ago; he has fallen on hard times, divorced and living case-to-case, handling traffic tickets. Despite some reservations, Jennifer takes a chance on him. As Blake and his private investigator, Micah Love, dig deeper into the case, they discover a clandestine, sinister organization within the church tasked with the responsibility of taking care of such incidents quickly and quietly, at all cost. Traveling across the state line, Blake discovers that two families have disappeared after an encounter with the same priest; and the one person who may provide some answers has died under mysterious circumstances. While the courtroom drama heats up, the action outside the courtroom spirals out of control. Will Blake be able to resurrect his troubled career and obtain the justice Jennifer seeks for her kids? Or will the church, the Coalition, and its mysterious leader circumvent justice and cover up the depraved acts of this rogue priest? Betrayal of Faith is dedicated to survivors of abuse and the lawyers and advocates who fight for the justice these victims deserve.

I wasn’t sure what to think about this book when I busted it open and started reading but I have to say that it definitely drew me in. What happens to the Tracey boys is tragic and I would not wish that upon anyone. Child Molestation is no joke and a very serious problem that needs to be dealt with. In this case, the priest was the one doing the molesting. The boys feel so guilty because the priest uses the Bible and religion to make them do the things he wants. He tells them it is what God wants. It was so sick that he did that too them and I felt like I was in the jury on this court case while I was reading this book.

Legal thrillers are a rather new genre to me but I am glad I started with this one. It was entertaining and fun to see the entire legal process from start to finish on how one gets the justice they deserve against a true monster.

Zachary Blake was a very likable character as you see him start off the story in a slump and then progress back into the brave, intelligent and courageous lawyer he once was.

The only thing I didn’t like was the format of the book. It was shaped like a textbook (very wide) so it was awkward to hold at times. I have no complaints about the story itself, just the way the book was formatted. I checked online and the newer versions of the book are formatted to novel size so I approve of this (easier to hold in one hand while you drink a coffee :)).

All in all, a great book to keep you on your toes as you root for the Tracey family (at least I hope you root for them, otherwise well….ewwww) in the intense trial case to take down a predator.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find the book on Amazon!

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


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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: The Road Ahead

One more book review to post before I depart for Iceland today! This one is called The Road Ahead by Hali Broncucia and I finished it last night after packing.

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Synopsis: A viral epidemic has wiped out 99% of the world’s population leaving scientist Heather Morgan to fight off thieves and scrounge for food and shelter near Denver, Colorado. When Heather befriends the young, naïve Jodi, she learns that a biotech company in San Francisco is rumored to have created a vaccine. Together, the women trek by foot to find the lab.

After suffering a near-fatal attack, Heather and Jodi find a safe haven on a farm with two young men, Cam and Elliot. Their security is short-lived, however, when irrevocable consequences threaten Heather’s mission. Will Heather be able to overcome loss and tragedy to find the vaccine or will she let sorrow overtake her and turn back? How many lives are worth the risk for a hope that rests in only a rumor?

I liked this book. I have been enjoying the books I have been reading quite a lot lately. This one followed Heather’s travels as she journeys from Colorado to California to find a cure for this horrible disease that has wiped out most of the population. She meets a young adult woman named Jodi who ends up joining her on her journey and they become good friends. They have some intense encounters and meet others along the way which keeps the book interesting.

There is one thing I would have added if I had the choice though. Can anybody guess what that would be? 😛 Yup its zombies. I love a good virus/infection that spreads and turns people into zombies because it adds in the extra factor of suspense where you are no longer just trying to survive a disease but also a horde of zombies.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an intense YA survival story. It has the adventure for those explorers and a little bit of romance for you love junkies out there.

The finale of this book is very open-ended and leaves you with an impression that there will be a sequel. Some characters are no more and some are coming together in a way you wouldn’t expect. I look forward to continuing the series when it is out 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

Go follow the author on her Instagram to keep up to date on the book.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author for an honest review.


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Book Highlight and Author Interview: Depths of Night

I was asked to partake in a book tour! Woohoo, this is the second one I have participated in and the book looks amazing. I am here to give you a highlight of the book and an author interview so here we go!

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Synopsis: 

After a harrowing end to a long sea journey, the famed northern warrior Ragnar Stormbringer and a force of warriors step ashore in the lands of the Petranni, a tribal people known for their workings in silver and gold. The search for plunder takes a sharp turn when homesteads, villages, and temple sites show signs of being recently abandoned.

When it is discovered that the Petranni have all taken refuge within a massive stronghold, Ragnar and the others soon fall under the shadow of an ancient, deadly adversary. Wielding his legendary war axe  Raven Caller, Ragnar finds his strength tested like never before.

Sounds great eh? I interviewed the author and here is what he had to say!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

The author of the book is Stephen Zimmer and you can find him on Twitter as @sgzimmer !

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

I am a mix between those two approaches.  In writing my various series, I came to appreciate the importance of having a sense of direction and destination.  I never want to write myself into a corner, and I do want to know where I am headed in a story.  This requires a core structure in advance, in terms of a basic outline.

At the same time, I do not want to constrict myself in the instance that a great new idea pops up in regard to new subplots, twists and turns of the core plot, or new characters.  I like to be able to give my stories room to breathe during the creation process, so I do not plot or outline to the point where I don’t have any room to maneuver if new elements strike me in the process.

I have found that this balance works very well for me, both in writing series and also in the creation of stand-alone tales such as Depths of Night.

 

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

The hardest thing about writing in today’s world is handling the many hats that need to be worn on a regular basis.  A writer has to dedicate a lot of time to marketing, publicity, the business end, appearances, and many other things beyond the actual creative process.

These areas can be very time consuming and sometimes exhausting, and the writer must find ways to make sure that the creative path continues forward and is not too inhibited by all of the other things involved in a writer’s world.

 

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

I love to read!  I am currently reading Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Heinlein is a favorite author of mine, but other favorites include J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Clive Barker, R.A. Salvatore, Paulo Coelho, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Gemmell, Robert E. Howard, and many others.  Reading engages the imagination like nothing else and I think that it is very important for writers to set aside some time for reading on a regular basis. You always learn something about writing from reading!

 

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

In today’s flooded market, a good cover and title are extremely important.  Every week there is an enormous number of new releases, so you do not have long at all to catch a reader’s attention.  A good, catchy title, coupled with a strong cover, can help to gain the interest of a reader to consider buying your book.

I should also mention that a good cover requires more than just eye-catching artwork. A good cover involves skillful design and layout, including the section of title fonts and their placement.  A cover designer that is adept with both art and layout is worth every penny to a publisher or indie author who self-publishes.

 

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

My mother read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was just seven years old, and she followed that with buying me a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis in paperback.  I credit all of these incredible books for being the foundation of my inspiration to start down the path of storytelling and speculative fiction.  These powerful novels opened my eyes to the incredible possibilities of fantasy literature and I never turned back. 😊

Thank you for having me as a guest today at Breakeven books!

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Book Review: Pray for the Innocent

Another book review to add to our library of posts! Chris Connors is back with another of his magnificent reviews for Pray for the Innocent by Alan Orloff.

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Synopsis: Can former best-selling novelist Mathias King—now a rumpled, grizzled English professor—save America from a terrorist of his own making? In the shadow of the Pentagon, a secret DoD brain research experiment goes terribly wrong, and an ex-Special Ops soldier escapes, believing he is Viktor Dragunov, the Russian operative from the 80’s thriller novel, Attack on America. To capture him, the Feds turn to the person uniquely qualified to predict his next moves, the man who created the fictional character, best-selling author Mathias King. Now a reclusive English professor, King is reluctant to get involved, having sworn off the culture of violence after a deranged fan murdered his wife. But when innocent people start dying, King is thrust back into that dark world. With help from his enthusiastic graduate assistant Emily Phan, King must outsmart his own creation—while outmaneuvering the cover-up-loving Feds—before Dragunov succeeds in his hell-bent mission. To destroy America.

It is often easy to tell if a book is written by an author working with a publishing house, or if the book is a self-published indie book. Alan Orloff’s book, Pray For The Innocent, is one of those indie novels that feels like it was run through a publishing house. The writing is clean, elegant, not clunky and tortured, and has a polished edge that you often obtain after professional editors have commented on it.

Orloff knows how to write characters that feel real. He uses little details that bring his characters to life. He does it so well I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d taken a class on how to write good characters. I was even concerned about one of his minor characters when the person she loved was killed. He had managed to make her “real” in just a few scant pages even though most of our knowledge of her came from her brother’s thoughts rather than her own scenes.

As I read the book, which had me up way too late, I was also thought, “Why hasn’t a publishing house grabbed this guy? He is better than some established prolific *coughLustbadercough* authors”. The premise was intriguing; some spy stuff, cutting-edge neuroscience research, an old professor with a tortured soul, an experiment that goes wrong. While the Amazon synopsis sounds a bit over-the-top with an ex-Special Ops soldier thinking he is a 1980s fictional Russian spy on a “hell-bent mission” to destroy America the author doesn’t let the novel turn into a jingoistic pile of patriotic propaganda. Instead he makes a rather implausible premise come across as more realistic without devolving to simplistic black-and-white ‘rah-rah USA!’ style writing.

I will nit-pick a few small things, and I mean really small, nothing that affects the book or writing. Nit-pick the first: A character watching birds, among other things, has a copy of the Kaufman Field Guide to Advanced Birding to help him identify birds. That is not the book he’d use, it isn’t conducive to quick identification of tricky species—the bird seen is not tricky at all either—as there are pages of information about just one bird, often involving the bird in its drab fall plumage (the book is set in mid-summer so birds would still be in their brighter breeding plumage). One of the quick identification guides like Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America, or the ones by Peterson, or Sibley, or Stokes, or National Geographic are better.

Nit-pick 2: A scientist in the book says we shouldn’t try playing God. It is hard to imagine any scientist saying that. We recognize that we’ve been “playing God” for thousands of years when we treat and cure diseases, alter ecosystems on a vast scale, breed plants and animals to produce things that don’t look much like the original species, and now manipulate the genetic code.

Nit-pick 3: There is a serious misconception here. A character thinks his brother-in-law’s suicide is cowardly and selfish. This is a misconception that mental health professionals, among others, have been trying to correct for decades now. While the character might think this I was hoping somewhere in the novel this misconception would be addressed, but it was not.

Prior to this book, I had read two other excellent books—by publishing house authors—in two days so my standards for a good book were now pretty high. I was reluctant to start Pray For The Innocent in case it killed my reader’s high from the previous two books: I needn’t have worried. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That it was written as an indie book makes it all the more remarkable. Definitely 5 stars out of 5.

Book Rating: 5/5

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in digital format by the author to be read and honestly reviewed.

Charles Tyrwhitt