Book Review: Solving Cadence Moore

It has been a minute people but we are back and we have a review for you! This one is called Solving Cadence Moore by Gregory Sterner and it’s a murder mystery documentary style book. What genre is this do you ask? Um, thriller? Goodreads is no help here so if I had to classify it then I would say slow-burn thriller.

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Synopsis: Ten years ago, famous young singer Cadence Moore disappeared without a trace on a remote highway in western Pennsylvania. To this day her fate remains unknown. Was she kidnapped or murdered? Or did she simply run away in search of a new life, leaving behind the abuse and heartbreak that haunted her?

Charlie Marx, host of the popular conspiracy radio show “Underground Broadcast,” is obsessed with Cadence. Desperate to find her after deceiving his boss to save his job, he launches an investigation of his own, digging deep into the missing woman’s past and uncovering her darkest secrets. Working feverishly for weeks, he claims to have solved the mystery and promises to reveal Cadence’s fate at the end of a groundbreaking podcast series and live radio special.

But is it all a lie? As years of twisted details slowly unravel, Charlie races to solve the biggest mystery of the decade. If he succeeds, it will mean closure for Cadence. If he fails, his entire world will come crashing down live on air–and the truth may be lost forever.

This was the first time that I read a book like this where it was set up in a documentary style with a plot that was revealed through a set of podcasts. So right there, it wins with originality on my eyes.

I liked the book because it had a lot of build up with explanations into backstory so you were able to have all the pieces of the puzzle while trying to figure it out yourself.

The whole time you are wondering yourself if this girl actually survived or if she has been dead the whole time and who murdered her if she was even murdered. It really makes you think the entire way through. She is very much a mystery and you follow along with the podcast as they figure her out.

I will say that at parts of the book, it felt like they were going a bit far into the descriptions. It was a book I could put down if I needed to do something else but was still gripping when I picked it back up. A slow burn I as one would say.

And the cover of this book is just so beautiful! Props to the designer who draws the eyes to this book with their great design.

There was a point about 3/4 of the way through the book where the characters condoned drinking and driving which I get was part of the scene but I didn’t think that was necessary. I mean why put this as the action of a “good” character and then let them do it (or at least allude to them doing it)? It may just be me but I find that a big subject like that shouldn’t be shown as a thing to be OK with. I will say that this and some other derogatory terms they used when describing other characters was what brought it down to a 4 star instead of 5 star read.

Everything else I thought was fantastic and it really progressed well to a thrilling conclusion! I would recommend this to someone that wants a murder mystery that is given to you in a different style than usual but just as captivating.

Book Rating: 4/5

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

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


I made a TBR video for the month of May and talk about all the books that I will be trying to read.

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Book Review: The Secrets You Hide

Gimme a Thriller! Gimme a Psycho! What does that equal? A Psychological Thriller! I read this one during the day tours we took while in Scotland. All those long bus rides gave me ample time to read and then I finished this book on the airplane on the way back home. This one was called The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm and was sent to me by NetGalley.

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Synopsis: In her eyes, no-one is innocent…

A knock-out read for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Anatomy of a Scandal and Apple Tree Yard.

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying . . .

This book was phenomenal. The way the author fleshed out the characters and had them start out as one type of person and eventually become another type of person was just fantastic.

It was written in such a way that you could almost feel what the characters were going through. And the main character had a backstory that was slowly revealed as the book progressed, giving you layer by layer of her past (like peeling an onion).

I can honestly say that I did not see the end coming. It was like one of those things where you read and read and think that you have it all figured out and then get to the end and realize that you knew nothing.

I couldn’t put this one down. It was so captivating and thrilling. I wish I would have got to it sooner. It was fun too because it is a book based in the UK and I noticed that they were using some of the slang terms from the UK that I was actually hearing people say while exploring Ireland and Scotland. For example, when someone is asking you to come for tea, they will say “want to come in for a cuppa”. Things like this added to the book and gave it that authentic feel.

I would recommend this book to anyone that wants a very well written psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes!

Book Rating: 5/5

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

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by NetGalley and Bonnier Zaffre in ebook format to read and give my honest review.


I did some book hauling while I was away on vacation because who doesn’t like UK book covers. Check out the video below to see what book I picked up!

Visitors Coverage

Cover Reveal: Sketch by Didi Oviatt

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Wow! Talk about cover love! I am so happy to reveal this unique cover of upcoming book by Didi Oviatt, Called Sketch. Today, I also have a sneak peek for you, so be sure to read on!

Sketch

Expected Publication Date: June 2019

Genre: YA Thriller/ Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Creativia

When the body of the local girl, Misty Crawl, is found dismembered in an underground bunker, the town is thrown into a whirlwind of panic and speculation. Times aren’t exactly smooth sailing with a depression in full swing. The spaced out community of farmers pull together as one, trying to uncover the guilty party.

Thrown smack in the middle of such chaos, is a group of teens. They’re known troublemakers, but have good hearts. Although they’re innocent, the local law enforcers believe otherwise, and the true killer is lurking far too close for comfort. Will the four be able to uncover the truth before one of them pays the price for Misty’s death? Or will the brutal killer strike again, attacking the heart of the four?

*Sketch is a young adult psychological thriller. It’s a quick easy read, appropriate and gripping for mid-teens and up, with no sexual content and some bloody gore. Parent’s be advised.

Excerpt

As soon as Steven’s dad, Robert Smith, pulls down the road, they look mischievously at one another and then take off in a sprint down the steps into his basement. Steven’s always wanted to know what’s locked away down here. His father told him years ago that it was just a room full of old newspapers. But, Steven’s always known there has to be more to this dingy looking door all locked away. It doesn’t take Chloe long to pick the lock. She’s getting better and faster at it with every lock she opens. The door creaks as it swings open, and there it is.

“Holy shit,” gasps John.

“This is the best day of my life,” says Michael.

“Look at the dust on all this stuff. I’ll bet this door hasn’t been open in years! No one will even notice if we take it!” adds Chloe.

Steven whispers in fear, “I don’t know guys, my dad will kill me if he finds out.”

“No he won’t, Red, I can take him,” jokes Michael.

Staring back at them from the wall to wall metal storage shelves are two small crossbows and an open chest of arrows. Along with old war paint, hatchets, a couple machetes, rope, and one box of newspapers setting on the floor.

“What the hell was my dad doing with this stuff?” Steven asks, more to himself than the others.

Steven’s dad isn’t an adventuress man, and aside from the yearly deer and occasional bear he shoots, he doesn’t even like to get out and do much.

“The bears are getting out of control around here,” and, “we gotta’ have meat to survive,” is his logic for hunting.

He doesn’t enjoy hunting as a sport like the majority of other men and even women in town. It’s more of a chore for him. Which is only one step away from insanity, in Steven’s point of view. Hunting is Steven’s favorite thing to do with his dad, aside from throwing a football.

“Who cares why he has this stuff!?” John says, always the planner of the group. “Let’s just take it now and hurry, in case he forgot something and has to come back home. We don’t want to get caught carrying it all out of your house.”

They grab as much as they can lift and head straight for the woods. Distracted by all the cool things, they don’t even bother to glance at the newspapers in the box on the floor.

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About the Author

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Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Sketch, Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, Justice for Belle, and New Age Lamians. Along with a six-piece short story collection called the Time Wasters. She’s also collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology The Suspenseful Collection. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid back outdoorsy life. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, sun-bathing in the desert heat, along with watching the relaxing dance of a campfire plays an important part of her day-to-day lifestyle.

Didi can be found on her Website/Blog, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and most importantly AMAZON!

Cover Reveal Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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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.

The Fourth Courier (Arcade)

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: Lure by Jeff Marschall

Hey bookworms. I went and read another book again. I have to stop sticking my nose in all these books. This one was call Lure by Jeff Marschall and it was my first medical thriller book.

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Synopsis: In the cold harsh winter of the Canadian Prairies a secret is about to be unearthed. Medical resident John Mueller finds himself serendipitously in possession of a professor’s coveted research. On the run, John evades enemies and authorities, unsure of who he can trust along the way. John must decode the professors past in order to understand the magnitude of what he has uncovered. While searching for explanations he ignites a new romance and rekindles an old one. But as John begins to realize the magnitude of his discovery, the ultimate decision of how to proceed with this knowledge is far from clear. As he struggles to predict the ramifications of the research, he will ultimately shoulder the responsibility of deciding whether its knowledge will benefit humanity or accelerate its path to destruction.

So this book did not keep me interested. I have quite a few things to say about it, to be honest. Let’s start with the fact that a lot of the characters were very one dimensional and did not have much going for them.

At points, I wasn’t sure if I was reading a medical thriller or a Harlequin novel. There were a couple sex scenes that were quite explicit and it seemed like very much what you would expect to see if you cracked open a heterosexual chauvinistic male brain and took a peek inside.

The thriller part lost me as well. It was more of a soap opera drama vibe that I got from the book. Not once was I really “thrilled”. I kept hoping for something to catch me off guard but it never came.

The ending was also quite disappointing. It was wrapped up very quickly in the last 2% of the book. It seemed like it was all condensed to just finish the book without any thought into if it was a good ending or not.

That being said, I did like that it was set in Saskatchewan as this is a part of Canada and I don’t believe it gets highlighted enough. I mean, there were other places that it was set in, not just Saskatchewan but it was cool to at least have some of it there. This may just be a Canadian pride thing but I love my country and I like when books are set in its beautiful landscape.

Overall, I can’t really say it was good. There were medical terms throughout and it was somewhat interesting but I am glad I am moving on to the next book. Maybe medical thrillers just aren’t my thing. But remember, this is just my opinion. Maybe someone else out there will really like this book. Who knows?

Book Rating: 2/5

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

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

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Book Review: Justice Gone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Rating: 4.5/5

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

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

Kobo Canada

Book Review: The Afters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Rating: 5/5

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

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


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

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Smarthome, Inc.

Blog Tour: Knife’s Tell & Victorian Catsup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links:

Twitter: @1876Catsup

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

Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

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

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

The trick is to interview them.

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

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

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

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

Tour Schedule and Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon Links for Knife’s Tell:

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

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

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

Amazon Links for Victorian Catsup:

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

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

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

GeekBuying.com

What it Takes to Write a Book

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

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

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

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

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Book Synopsis for The Storm:  

RED SPRINGS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links:

Twitter: @_DanJolley

Website:  www.danjolley.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now! On to the personal leniency part!

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re done with the first draft.

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

Which brings us to CARDINAL RULE #2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure my pages aren’t blank.


Tour Schedule and Activities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Amazon Links for The Storm

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

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

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

GeekBuying.com