Book Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “The Chestnut Man” by Siren Sveistrup, writer of the TV Show, “The Killing”.

The Chestnut Man Blog Tour

THE DEBUT THRILLER FROM THE WRITER OF THE KILLING

THE CHESTNUT MAN
SØREN SVEISTRUP
10th January 2019 / Hardback / Michael Joseph / £12.99

Introducing the nail-biting debut thriller from the BAFTA and Emmy winning creator of global TV sensation The Killing. Publishing in 25 territories around the world, The Chestnut Man captures all the unrelenting tension, style and atmosphere that made The Killing unmissable viewing and amass legions of fans worldwide.

The Blurb:

One Tuesday in October, Rosa Hartung is returning to her job as minister for social affairs following a year’s leave of absence – granted after the dramatic disappearance of her twelve-year-old daughter. Linus Bekker, a mentally ill young man, confessed to her killing, but is unable to remember where he buried the various parts of her dismembered corpse.

On the same day Rosa returns to Parliament, a young single mother is found brutally murdered at her home in the suburbs of Copenhagen-she’s been tortured, and one hand has been cut off. Thulin and Hess, the detectives sent to investigate the crime, arrive at the address to find a figure made of chestnuts hanging from a playhouse nearby.

When yet another woman is murdered-this time with both hands missing-and another chestnut figure is found, Thulin and Hess begin to suspect a connection with the Hartung case. But what is it?

Thulin and Hess are racing against the clock, because its clear that the murderer is on a mission that is far from over…

The Author:

Søren Sveistrup is an internationally acclaimed scriptwriter of the Danish television phenomenon ‘The Killing’ which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries.

Søren Sveistrup (born 1968) holds a master of Literature and History from the University of Copenhagen and has graduated as script writer
from the Danish Film School.

My Review:

Firstly, I am hugely grateful to Jenny Platt at Penguin Random House and f course to the author Søren Sveistrup for giving me the opportunity of reading and reviewing this wonderful book!

Firstly I want to give you a warning – there is some ‘hard to read’ parts of this book but I also want to add that they are never gruesome for the sae of it and I believe are written wonderfully.  I don’t shy away from gruesome and graphic and actually quite like it when an author portrays things honestly and Søren Sveistrup doesn’t disappoint!

This is another book that is hard to tell you too much abut for fear of ruining the experience for you but needless to say that I HIGHLY recommend it – although it’s quite a hefty book I finished it in just 3 sittings and found myself putting off things that really needed to be done as I just couldn’t put it down!

If you are a fan of ‘The Killing’ TV show, love a good Scandi-noir story and can deal with some dark situations, then pick this up in January when it’s published – you won’t regret it and will have another author to add to your ‘Must buy every book they release’ list – just like me!

4.75 Stars!

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Book Review: The Failsafe Query by Michael Jenkins

I am delighted to be taking part in the bog tour for Michael Jenkins’ book “The Failsafe Query” being run by Rachel’s Random Resources.

About the Book:

The Failsafe Query is a gripping thriller set in the contemporary world of modern British espionage.

Sean Richardson, a disgraced former intelligence agent, is tasked to lead a team to search for Alfie Chapman, an Intelligence officer on the cusp of exposing thousands of secrets to the media. This includes a long lost list of Russian moles embedded since the Cold War, one of whom remains a public favourite in the British parliamentary system.

The action moves with absorbing pace and intrigue across Central Asia and Europe as the puzzle begins to unfold through a deep hidden legacy.

Tense, fast paced, and insightful, The Failsafe Query twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic finale.

Amazon UK

About the Author:

Michael Jenkins served for twenty-eight years in the British Army, rising through the ranks to complete his service as a major. He served across the globe on numerous military operations as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

His experiences within the services involved extensive travel and adventure whilst on operations, and also on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that he led or was involved in. He was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity.

He was awarded the MBE on leaving the armed forces in 2007 for his services to counterterrorism.

The Failsafe Query is Michael’s first novel. He has started work on his second spy thriller, The Kompromat Kill, and hopes to publish it the spring of 2019.

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My Review:

You all will know that i love a conspiracy, political, thriller type book and this does NOT disappoint!

I should also say that I am a proud Army brat (via my father) and love that I can support an ex-Army Officer in his post-Army career!

I found the story easy to understand and follow and was brilliantly paces too – sometimes speedy and sometime slow allowing you time to recover! It is totally clear to anyone that reads this book that the author has first hand knowledge of the subject rather than it being based purely on research.

I found the characters utterly impelling, especially Sean. I was totally on his side form the start and found him more likeable than other spy-type protagonists.

I have seen reviews that liken Jenkins to Le Carre and I would totally agree with that – I think that he has a great future in writing ahead of hi and I am really excited to read more from him – definitely being added to my ‘Authors to watch out for’ list!

Giveaway:

Win 5 x PB copies of The Failsafe Query & a spy linkage map (unframed) (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Go HERE to enter!

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Book Review: The Cleansweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “The Cleansweep Conspiracy” by Chuck Waldron which is being hosted by iRead Book Tours.  This post is again quite late due to personal issues in the last month but I am happy that I have been able to get this review up!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Cleansweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron
Series: A Matt Tremain Technothriller Book 1
Category: Adult Fiction, 310 pages
Genre: Thriller / Dystopian
Publisher: Bublish Inc.
Release Date: April 2018
Tour Dates: Aug 13 to Sept 21, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult language)

The Blurb:

In this riveting technothriller, investigative blogger Matt Tremain is covering devastating riots in Toronto when he learns of a plot to rid the city of “undesirables.” The operation is called CleanSweep, and appears to be led by billionaire Charles Claussen, who want to sweep Toronto clean of all street people and any citizens who don’t match his restrictive screening matrix.
Matt questions whether he has the courage, skill or influence to take on Claussen, but the murder of one of his sources convinces the blogger to put his life on the line. He gambles on the loyalty of a Toronto police detective and a local TV reporter for help. If his trust is misplaced, Matt will become yet another victim of CleanSweep, and the truth will be buried with him forever.

To read reviews, please visit Chuck Waldron’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

About the Author:

Chuck Waldron is the author of four riveting mystery, thriller and suspense novels and more than fifty short stories. Inspired by his grandfather’s tales of the Ozark Mountains and local caves rumored to be havens for notorious gangsters, Waldron was destined to write about crime and the human condition. Those childhood legends ignited his imagination and filled his head with unforgettable characters, surprising plots and a keen interest in supernatural and historical subplots.With literary roots planted in the American Midwest and South, and enriched by many years living in the fertile cultural soil of metropolitan Ontario, Waldron now resides on Florida’s fabled Treasure Coast with his wife, Suzanne. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and the occasional Burmese python, visitors will find Waldron busy writing his next crime thriller.Connect with Chuck: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

My Review:

By now, you will know that I am a big fan of conspiracy, crypto-crime thriller-y type books and this fits the bill perfectly!
I am a firm believer that we are all being watched 24/7 and I am OK with that… for now… I think!
The story of this one drags you into it very quickly and is definitely not a book that you have to force yourself to remember to read!  One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the author doesn’t dumb down the subject matter – he tells it like it is and that does mean the occasional trip to Google to work out what it is – but I don’t mind that in the slightest!
The characters are well written and easily likeable, in particular the protagonist, Matt who I had a real soft spot for and he certainly kept me on tenterhooks throughout the story.  Knowing who can be trusted and is working with you is, as almost always in these kind of books, important and there are some surprises during the story.
I loved it – read it quickly and can’t wait for the second book which I happen to have and will review very shortly too!

 

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Book Review: Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “Palm Beach Finland” by Antti Tuomainen, organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours.

The Blurb:

Fargo meets Baywatch in a darkly funny thriller by the critically acclaimed author of The Man Who Died.

Multi-platform, buzz-building marketing & publicity campaign Bestselling Finnish crime novel of 2017 Challenges the Scandinavian crime-fiction genre formula.


Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’.

The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.

The Author:

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author.

The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later.

In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award.

Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published.

With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

The Review:

I decided to take part in this tour for a couple of (initial) reasons – I have been to Finland and lived in Norway for a while so Scani-anything is attractive to me and on top of that, I saw the cover .. I mean someone who doesn’t pause to look at that as they’re scrolling down an email is just wrong in the head (IMHO). LOL

This book .. is hard to quantify to those asking “but will I like it ..?”. I mean, yes you will but there will be times when you feel confused and times when you feel bad for enjoying it. Antti has a great sense of humour, one that is similar to mine and so I felt at ease with the writing style (albeit this is translated o there will be some of the personality of the translator coming through too).

The story line is just .. bizarre but in a good way. It actually reminded a little of The House by the Cemetery that i recently reviewed and also the Siren and the Spectre .. if you had told me they were all written by the same person and published by the same group, I wouldn’t argue too much .. but they weren’t.

The characters are well written and it’s easy to find yourself nodding and chuckling along with them .. and then realising you have a soft spot for someone that you perhaps shouldn’t ..!

A great read and it has definitely put this author on my radar and so will be checking out his other books soon!

4 Stars.

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Book Review: “Sex Drive” by Stephanie Theobald

Today I am reviewing “Sex Drive” by Stephanie Theobald which has been arranged kindly by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.

Date Started: 13th October 2018
Date Finished: 20th October 2018
Purchase Links: Amazon UK

Blurb:

Arriving in New York with a failing relationship and a body she felt out of touch with, Stephanie Theobald set off on a 3,497 mile trip across America to re-build her orgasm from the ground up. What started as a quest for the ultimate auto-erotic experience became a fantastic voyage into her own body.

She takes us from ‘body sex’ classes with the legendary feminist Betty Dodson to an interview with the former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who was fired for suggesting that masturbation should be talked about in schools. Along the way, we are immersed in a weird, counter cultural America of marijuana farms and ‘ecosexual sexologists’.

Sex Drive is a memoir about desire and pleasure, merging sexuality and spirituality, eighteenth-century porn and enlightenment philosophy. A new sexual revolution has begun – and this time round, it’s all about the women.

About the Author:

 

Stephanie Theobald is a British journalist, novelist, public speaker and broadcaster known for her playful and thoughtful work around sexuality and feminism. The Times described her as ‘one of London’s most celebrated literary lesbians’ and she writes regularly for the Guardian, the Sunday Times and Elle UK. She is the author of four novels, most recently A Partial Indulgence (2010). She lives between London and Los Angeles.

My Review:

Firstly, I adore the cover of this book. So colourful and definitely attention grabbing!

This book is not for the feint hearted – if you don’t like the thought if being told to look at your nether regions in the mirror or pleasuring yourself with a group of other women, then I wouldn’t suggest reading this book!

If, however, you are more of a modern thinking person, like me, that thinks that we need to demystify sex, masturbation and related subjects then this will be a great book to read!

I have to admit to feeling a little squeamish in places BUT .. that’s part of the delight of this book – it makes you think about things that were taught to ignore and event think of as bad/wrong/naughty/disgusting.

The characters that the author got to meet, talk and .. ahem .. do other things with is quite spectacular and all of them add something to the book rather than being names thrown in to brag. It is very much a female empowerment book – I am a quiet feminist (in fact my brother and I joke about the fact that he is more of a feminist than I am) but loved the overall message in this book. I truly believe that if we talked about sex, masturbation and the things that go with it more, the stigmas would break down and things would be understood better.

I also want to mention how jealous I am of her bring able to drive across the USA – it is something I have harboured a desire for for a very long time and one day I hope I will be able to manage it.

I would highly recommend this book to each and every woman out there, and the men too – I believe that if we all know a little more about each other and the things that turn us on and give us the most pleasure, the world would be a much happier place!

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Book Review: Eden Chip by Scott Cramer

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Science Fiction
Date Published: July 1, 2018
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Thanks to nanochips implanted in human brains, the world is at peace in 2055. But not everyone likes having their emotions controlled, or their religion suppressed.
Eighteen-year-old Raissa embarks upon a perilous mission to free the world, just days before the release of nanochip Version 7, which will broadcast every citizen’s thoughts to the Collective.
The countdown has started, and Raissa must make choices that jeopardize the lives of billions, including the only boy she has ever loved.
Note: Some discussion of technology, some “techno-speak”; clean, no sex or swearing; some non-graphic violence, a tiny bit of graphic violence.

About the Author:

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Scott Cramer has optioned two screenplays, written for national magazines, and authored four novels: EDEN CHIP and the TOUCAN TRILOGY (Night of the Purple Moon, Colony East & Generation M). Scott and his wife reside outside Lowell, Massachusetts.


 
Contact Links
Purchase Links

My Review:

The premis of this one is great – and one that you can totally see coming in the future which is equally exciting and terrifying! One thing I liked in particular was that even though it is based in a dystopian future, there are several themes that ring bells and I love that as it makes it so relatable.
This is a face paced book with the twists and turns that I love in a book – books that keep you guessing all the way through, whether it ends as anticipated or not, are my favourite kind!
Despite the warning above, I didn’t find the “techno-speak” too bad and was able to keep up with pretty much all of it which made for easier reading!
The characters were colourful – I had to admit to being a little bored of the ‘orphaned-cum-saviour-of-the-universe’ idea but it does make a good story!
I enjoyed it and would recommend to all dystopian YA fans!
3.5 Stars

RABT Book Tours & PR
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Book Review: The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “The House by the Cemetery” by John Everson, organised by Anne at Random Things Tours.  I must apologise for the late posting of this post but it was due to an admin error after a particularly challenging month.

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: FLAME TREE PRESS; New edition edition (6 Oct. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1787580008
ISBN-13: 978-1787580008
Amazon

The Blurb:

Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls, and fresh blood on the floor: secrets that would be better not to discover. And behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead… she doesn’t intend to stay that way.

About the Author:

John Everson is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of nine novels of erotic horror and the macabre, including his latest, REDEMPTION, the conclusion to his demonic Curburide Chronicles trilogy begun in COVENANT. Other novels include the Fountain of Youth erotic thriller THE FAMILY TREE, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated tour de force NIGHTWHERE and the standalone novels THE 13TH, SIREN, THE PUMPKIN MAN, and VIOLET EYES. He also is the author of four collections of short horror fiction, including his latest, SACRIFICING VIRGINS.
John shares a deep purple den in Naperville, Illinois with a cockatoo and cockatiel, a disparate collection of fake skulls, twisted skeletal fairies, Alan Clark illustrations and a large stuffed Eeyore. There’s also a mounted Chinese fowling spider named Stoker, an ever-growing shelf of custom mix CDs and an acoustic guitar that he can’t really play but that his son likes to hear him beat on anyway. Sometimes his wife is surprised to find him shuffling through more public areas of the house, but it’s usually only to brew another cup of coffee. In order to avoid the onerous task of writing, he occasionally records pop-rock songs in a hidden home studio, experiments with the insatiable culinary joys of the jalapeno, designs book covers for a variety of small presses, loses hours in expanding an array of gardens and chases frequent excursions into the bizarre visual headspace of ’70s euro-horror DVDs with a shot of Makers Mark and a tall glass of Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero IPA.
Learn more about John on his website, where you can sign up for a direct-from-the-author monthly e-newsletter with information on new books, contests and occasionally, free fiction.
Want to connect? Follow John on Twitter.

My Review:

This is another book by the same publisher as Jonathan Janz’ book that I read and reviewed last month and this is brilliant too – I think that Flame Tree Press is fast becoming my favourite publishing house!
Again, a simple sounding premis but one that has twists and turns (literally – it’s a haunted house!) and scary, strange and weird all at the same time!
I have to say right here that Everson is best known for his ‘B-Movie-esque’ books with plenty blood and gore, and this book doesn’t disappoint .. although I was expecting it to start a little earlier in the story .. but that was just me getting excited for the gruesome!
The characters in this book are interesting. I had a soft spot for Mike, the carpenter charged with sorting the abandoned house out; he’s had a hard time and doesn’t really want to be there because of the rumors surrounding the house but money is money and the guy that owns it is a friend – I can totally relate to that!
One character that slightly irked at me was Emery – I mean she was OK but the description of her throughout was that she was plain and forgettable – the author also made the point that she was heavyset and a true wallflower – and it was mentioned almost every time she came into the story, which i felt was just a little over the top.
There are also quite a lot of people to get to know and keep track of which was confusing at the start but once you got to know them, their stories and why we were hearing about them, it made it a lot easier!
The setting of the book, an abandoned house right by the cemetery that has stories about witches and ghosts, was wonderfully written and certainly had my mind racing and goosebumps flaring at various stages throughout the story!
It was an easy read in that it really did feel like a film – and would make a great one so I hope someone reads this and makes the film as I would love to see how they do it..!
I really enjoyed the book and I will definitely check out a few of the authors other books as this was the first of his that I have read.
4 Stars.

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Audiobook Review: Semester Aboard by Elizabeth Kirke

Author: Elizabeth Kirke

Narrator: Starla Huchton

Length: 14 hours and 34 minutes

Publisher: Elizabeth Kirke

Released: July 4, 2018

Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy

Jen Maddox is a few days into her summer study-abroad program and has loved every moment on her cruise ship turned college campus. Everyone tells her the experience will change her life, but none of them realize just how right they really are.

One night, Jen goes out on deck and encounters five other students. She knows Charlie from one of her classes, and he’s a funny, friendly, regular guy. Picture-perfect Dani and his gorgeous wife, Mariana, live right down the hall from Jen, and she has seen TS, who’s built like a truck, around the ship, and recognizes the cute but quiet Thomas as well.

Then Jen sees something that isn’t humanly possible. Jen would have thought that it was all a dream if not for the fact that Charlie, Dani, Mariana, TS, and Thomas are making every effort to cover it up. Suddenly, the five of them are everything but normal, and Jen is determined to figure out what they’re hiding.

When she does, her life really does change. Jen expected to spend her summer studying the cultures of Latin America; she never dreamed she’d learn about a magical culture instead.

But Jen’s childhood fantasy come true is about to turn into a nightmare; there’s something on the ship. Something dangerous. Suddenly, everyone on board is threatened by a creature that Jen never even believed existed. Jen and her new friends might be the only people who can stop it!

Now Jen has to learn everything she can about her new world before it kills her. And her friends. And maybe everyone on the entire ship.

Elizabeth Kirke lives with her husband, two young sons, a hound-mix, and two turtles. She wanted to be an author before she even knew what an author was. She used to say that she wanted to be an artist, but that was only because she was too young to write and had to tell stories with pictures instead. She hasn’t stopped writing since she learned how. It wasn’t long before she dreamed of becoming an author and couldn’t be happier now that that dream is a reality.

If she isn’t writing, she’s probably doing something involving books, baking, gardening, or yarn.

Like most slightly-nosy, avid readers, Elizabeth can’t resist trying to catch a peek at books she sees people reading when out in public to see if she can figure out what it is. While doing just that one day, she realized that it would probably be the coolest-thing-ever if she caught a complete stranger reading one of her books. That’s her new dream.

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Narrator Bio

Since debuting her narration skills in 2009, Starla Huchton has lent her voice to many podcasts and audiobook productions. She has read both character parts and main narration for authors such as Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, and Lindsay Buroker, and her work spans across both fiction and non-fiction in multiple genres.

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I loved the sound of this book, especially as it was likened to Harry Potter PLUS! The protagonist gets to spend a semester aboard a floating college and shortly after her arrival, suffers with sea-sickness and goes to get some air .. and her life changes forever.

The characters are wonderfully written and although there are LOTS of people and types of people to meet, it never gets too much and is easy to follow.

The plot was very obviously well thought out and complex too although easy to follow – I think that I prefer listening to these kind of books as I tend to find that understanding complexities is easier when listening rather than reading!

The narrator was awesome – easy to listen to and definitely one that i am adding to my favourites list so that I can look out for other books in the future.

I only realised once I had finished this that it is the first in a series and I will keep an eye out for the other books in the series.

4 Stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Elizabeth Kirke. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Never in a million years. When I originally wrote the book I was actually posting it, chapter by chapter, in the Original Works section of a fanfiction website! Back then, ebooks were hardly even a thing. Merely publishing Semester Aboard was a pipe dream and having an audiobook never even crossed my mind. I hardly even expected to be where I am now, with three (plus a short story collection) books in the series and three more on the way. Not to mention having Semester Aboard win an award for Best YA Paranormal!
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • Sheer luck! Starla and I were already Facebook friends thanks to the networking power of the author world. We actually sort-of worked together before, when she made a wand for me. (Actually, she made the top half of a wand to fit onto the bottom half of my existing one. The top broke off and I buried it with my beloved cat, but hated to have a broken wand just sitting around.) Anyway, I posted on Facebook asking my friends if they know any narrators and briefly described what I was looking for. Starla replied and sent a link to books she had already done. I knew she was the perfect fit right away, and the rest is history!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
      I gave Starla an absurdly detailed document with pronunciation, bios, and even descriptions and pictures. It was probably above and beyond what she needed, but since she brought it to life, it was worth it! We chatted back and forth a lot for the first couple of chapters, but after she had the characters down I just let her do her thing!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Big yes! I was part of the Semester at Sea program back in college. I spent a summer on a cruise ship, operated (at the time) by the University of Virginia. I took college courses with UVA and visiting professors, while touring Latin America on the ship. I strongly encourage college students to do it! That experience inspired this book, in which the main character is a student in the same program. As she navigates magic and vampires, her voyage takes her to the same ports that I visited. While a lot more magic is thrown in, the characters do have many of the same experiences in different countries and on the ship that I did.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • Interesting question. I think each pro and con play off each other. A con of plotting a series is that you need to plot out multiple books, and come up with character development and arcs that span more than one book. So, the pro of a stand-alone is that you can wrap it all up with a bow. However, it could also reverse! A con of a stand-alone is that you have to keep everything succinct enough to be contained in one book, but exciting enough to keep readers interested. Likewise, a pro of a series is that you can get really in-depth and intricate, and you have room to grow. I think it all depends on your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I think it all benefits from Starla’s amazing performance. That said, I’ve gotten some negative feedback in the past regarding how slow some of the portions in the ports go. As you just read, they were based on my real experiences, so I think I got a bit too wordy and nostalgic as I describe them. But, Starla brings them to life and you really feel the excitement through the main character’s eyes as she reads. I think it really picks up the dragging parts. She also adds a wonderful sense of urgency to the fight scenes!
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I would head straight to 1797 and visit George Washington. I worked for several years as a historical interpreter on his estate and would love to pop in and see it in its prime. Not to mention catch some time alone with the General to talk to him.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • People say that!? Ugh, people will complain about anything for the sake of taking enjoyment away from someone else. 100% disagree. First, there are numerous medical reasons to listen to audiobooks, and that alone should be worth something. Vision impairment, arthritis, dyslexia…The list goes on. Heck, even a nasty migraine that makes opening your eyes torture, but you can’t fall asleep. And who doesn’t want to read a book while stuck in traffic? Why not listen? And, most importantly: people enjoy them. That should be enough. We should be rallying against people who want to censor or limit access to books, not people making them more accessible.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Phew! The very next is Wrought-Iron Roses, the 2nd book in my paranormal romance series, The Curse Collectors. The first book opens with three sisters who inherit their aunt’s antique shop. Upon arrival, they discover that she was a rune-caster, and was in charge of breaking the curses cast upon all of the antiques in her shop. One of the sisters gets cursed, so they have to learn how to cast runes to save her.
      After that, I’m working on the fourth (fifth if you count Danio’s Prelude) book in the More than Magic series! I’m also hoping to get the audio for the next one lined up.
      Lastly, I’m working on the outline for a brand new series! This one is a paranormal cozy mystery series. I’m quite looking forward to writing it.

Jennifer Maddox

  • Height: 5’ 4” and slim
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Brown
  • Favorite Food: Pizza
  • Favorite Movie: Twilight
  • Birthday: June 17
  • Born: Oregon
  • Occupation: College student

In this book: Jen thinks the only “magical” thing about her summer on a cruise will be the cruise itself, little does she know, some of her new friends are quite a bit more magical. In fact, they aren’t even human. Learning about magic seems like a dream to Jen, but it quickly turns into a nightmare; something is on the ship with them. Something dangerous. Now, the lives of Jen, her new friends, and everyone on the entire ship are threatened by a creature Jen never even believed existed. And it’s up to Jen to stop it.

Thomas Clark

  • Height: 5’ 8” and borderline too thin
  • Eyes: Green
  • Hair: Brown
  • Favorite Food: Teppanyaki
  • Favorite Movie: Journey to the Center of the Earth (the original)
  • Birthday: October 8
  • Born: New York
  • Occupation: Special Agent with the Magical Enforcement and Secrecy (MES) agency

In this book: Taking time off for college is encouraged by MES, although Thomas and his friends are pushing the limits by signing up for a college cruise. Nevertheless, he’s ready for a fun summer of cruising and a three-month break from his job as the Resident Magic Coordinator with MES. In spite of all of his experience welcoming magical beings to town, he’s never seen anything like Jen. He’s never felt this way about anyone either. But, when a dangerous magic sneaks aboard the ship, Thomas knows it’s his duty as a Special Agent to stop it, and the lives of everyone on the ship may depend on what he can, or can’t, do.

Char Smith

  • Height: 5’ 6” and stocky
  • Eyes: Red
  • Hair: Red, orange, and yellow
  • Favorite Food: Anything spicy
  • Favorite Movie: The Shop Around the Corner
  • Birthday: June 7 (shared with twin sister, Callie)
  • Born: Arizona
  • Occupation: MES Agent, Magic-Owned Business Liaison Department

In this book: Charlie is less than thrilled to spend a summer surrounded by water; he’s out of his element, literally. But, as long as the ship doesn’t sink, he supposes he can give it a whirl. With the power of fire at his beck and call, he makes a powerful ally for Jen and the others. But, if he loses control, he could sink the very ship they’re trying to save…

Tethys Conall

  • Height: 6’3” and broad
  • Eyes: Dark brown
  • Hair: brown
  • Favorite Food: Meat
  • Favorite Movie: The Shining
  • Birthday: February 10 (shared with four siblings)
  • Born: Ireland
  • Occupation: MES Senior Field Agent

In this book: The only downsides to spending the summer on a ship, as far as TS is concerned, are his seasickness and monthly problem. A potion for the seasickness is easy enough. As for his other issue… well, he’ll just have to spend full moons in his cabin. Of course, it’s also annoying to speak seven languages and find yourself in a country that doesn’t speak any of them. For a Senior Field Agent, thinking on his toes is exactly what TS excels at. Handling a rogue magic on board should be a piece of cake. Of course, he’s also used to having back-up, weapons, and a wider field to work in.

Danio Pelagos

  • Height: 6’ 4” and lithe
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Blue
  • Favorite Food: His mother’s cooking, not that he’d admit it
  • Favorite Movie: The cheesier the better
  • Birthday: November 14
  • Born: Off the coast of Greece
  • Occupation: MES Special Agent, Secrecy Breach Cover-Ups

In this book: Prank-loving Dani was, naturally, the mastermind behind pulling some MES strings to get an all expenses paid vacation. The icing on the cake is being on a ship. Had he known the danger lurking, however, he would’ve taken a rain check. Dani’s no stranger to threats on his life, but he prefers to face them without the people he loves along for the ride.

Mariana Bar

  • Height: 5’ 10” or 7’2”
  • Eyes: Blue
  • Hair: Blonde or Green
  • Favorite Food: Fish
  • Favorite Movie: The Little Mermaid
  • Birthday: April 2
  • Born: Maine
  • Occupation: MES Intern

In this book: Mariana is eager to go along on a cruise with her friends, even if her bestie couldn’t make it. She’s ready for sun, sand, and (mostly) the depths of the ocean. There’s plenty of exploring to do with Dani by her side. But take her out of the water, and she’s not nearly experienced enough to take on the creature hunting them. Mariana feels more like a liability than a future MES agent. Nevertheless, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to defend herself and her friends.

Sep. 13th:

T’s Stuff

What Emma Read Next

Sep. 14th:

Patriotic Bookaholic

What Is That Book About

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Sep. 15th:

Turning Another Page

Sep. 16th:

Smada’s Book Smack

Sep. 17th:

Book Addict

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

Sep. 18th:

Lilly’s Book World

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Sep. 19th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Guilty Indulgence Bookclub

Declarations of a Fangirl

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Book Review: Perfect Ten by Jacqueline Ward

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for “Perfect Ten” by Jacqueline Ward, being hosted today by Anne Cater over at Random Things Tours.

The Blurb:

Caroline Atkinson is powerless and angry. She has lost more than most – her marriage, her reputation, her children. Then one day, she receives an unusual delivery: lost luggage belonging to the very man who is responsible, her estranged husband Jack.

In a leather holdall, Caroline unearths a dark secret, one that finally confirms her worst suspicions. Jack has kept a detailed diary of all his affairs; every name, every meeting, every lie is recorded. He even marks the women out of ten.

Caroline decides it’s time to even the score. She will make this man pay, even if it means risking everything…

About the Author:

Jacqueline Ward is a Chartered Psychologist and scientist working in high hazard safety. She holds a PhD which explored the stories we use in everyday life to construct our identities, and in 2013 received an MBE for services to vulnerable people. She lives in Oldham with her partner and their dog.

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My Review:

OK So I love the cover of this one – and yes I am someone that judges a book initially on the cover!

This is a book about a tough subject and the author deals with it in an interesting way.  There is a lot going on in the storyline and sometimes I found it hard to keep up but I did and I enjoyed it.

One thing that really stood out for me was the characters – I loved the differences between them but also the fact that the main character is a psychologist dealing with this psychological trauma – it certainly spices things up!  She does some questionable tings at times but I think, given the situation, it was in keeping!

I have to admit that it wasn’t particularly the kind of book that I usually read and so my rating may seem low but I think that it was a good book and I know of a couple of people that I will recommend it too based on their tastes.

3.5 Stars

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Book Review: The Austin Paradox by William R. Leibowitz

Book Details:

Book Title: The Austin Paradox by William R. Leibowitz
Series: The Miracle Man Series Book 2
Category: Adult Fiction, 461 pages
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Release Date: May 2018
Tour Dates: Aug 6 to Sept 14, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M

The Blurb:

The Austin Paradox continues the remarkable saga of Robert James Austin in a gripping emotionally-charged thriller that explores the most compelling issues of our time.

Having lost his extraordinary intellectual powers in a laboratory explosion that was intended to kill him, Dr. Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in history, whose medical cures saved countless millions, struggles to find meaning in a life that has become devoid of purpose.

As he embarks on a journey of self-discovery in an effort to regain his abilities, Austin battles private demons, otherworldly forces, and a government obsessed with controlling him. When ruthless political and business interests align to pose an existential threat to humanity, Austin is thrust into the maelstrom.

Doubted even by those who love him, Austin is confronted by a harrowing paradox as time runs out to save mankind from extinction.

The Austin Paradox is the sequel to the critically acclaimed, award-winning novel, Miracle Man, which was named by Amazon as One of the Top 100 Novels of 2015, a Top 10 Best Selling Thriller and a Top 10 New York Times/Amazon Best Seller.

To read reviews, please visit William R. Leibowitz’s page on iRead Book Tours.

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Watch the Book Trailer:

About the Author:

William R. Leibowitz practices law internationally and prefers not spending too much time in any one place. He is a graduate of New York University and Columbia University Law School.

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Author Interview:

Q: What sparked the idea for these two books?

A: In writing Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox, I wanted to create a modern day believable ‘super hero’ who is not a comic-book character and is not interested in celebrity. I thought that such a person could be inspirational when contrasted with the meritless celebrities that dominate media today (e.g., the reality TV stars who are famous for being famous, but have no real talent). I also wanted Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox to be the vehicles within which I could convey, in an entertainment context, certain spiritual and humanistic messages that mean a great deal to me.

Q: What was the hardest part to write in these books?

A: Because of the plot lines in these novels, I needed to do extensive research in several areas: (1) the nature of human intelligence (particularly genius); (2) diseases, treatments, attempted cures—and the medical/scientific methodology relevant to formulating cures; (3) ways in which money is laundered internationally; and (4) bio-terrorism. I knew that in order to really engage the reader and have the stories be plausible and realistic—I had to be detail oriented and know what I was talking about.

Q: How do you hope these books affect your readers? Are the books just for entertainment—or are you aiming at more?

A: Of course – my primary objective is to captivate readers with highly engaging stories that make the books hard to put down. But within that entertainment context – I seek to raise issues that I hope my readers will think about. Issues like the sanctity of human life and how corporate greed has undermined our health care systems and the quest for money has displaced ethical and moral values.

Q: I understand that your protagonist, Robert James Austin, is extremely intelligent. Can you get into this a little more?

A: Austin is extraordinary – there has never been a genius of his magnitude. He has 10x the intellect of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton or Leonardo DaVinci. Where his intelligence comes from –is one of the mysteries that are explored in the novels. Because I wanted the portrayal of Austin to be realistic, I did a great deal of research into the indicia of genius at various stages of life –and how genius is identified and quantified. I read the biographies of known geniuses and from this I gleaned what was “real”; I then “pumped up” the actual realities to reflect the fact that Austin was in a completely different league from the people whom I researched. In this way, I knew that I built my character on a solid foundation.

Q: You obviously are not a big fan of Big Pharma and that theme runs through both Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox. Is it true that there were cures for diseases that were suppressed by Big Pharma because it would hurt their business?

A: I don’t have an absolute answer to that but I do think there is a real problem. One of the powerful forces fighting Austin is Big Pharma which views him as their enemy since he cures diseases and thereby makes many of their “cash-cow” drugs obsolete. Like Austin, I find it incomprehensible that virtually no major disease has been cured in over 50 years. How can that be the case when so much money has been spent over the decades on research? Simply put, there’s a lot more money in treating symptoms than there is in curing diseases. Austin realized that Big Pharma has no interest in curing diseases. It just wants to keep on selling expensive symptom treatments—and as we know, many people are on “medication maintenance programs” for years, sometimes for life. Austin wanted to change that. I think that people need to start questioning Big Pharma on a host of issues –from the astronomical cost of drugs—to the question–“Where are the cures?”

My Review:

To read my Review of the first book in the series, click here.

In my opinion, you need to have read the first book before you read this one.  I mean, you don’t HAVE to have but I think that to enjoy it the most, you should!

This book has a nice, slow start – especially lovely as I went right from finishing book one into book two …. and needed a moment to calm down a bit!  The story builds though and I enjoy watching it ramp up over time.

I enjoyed seeing the ‘fallout’ from the first book – when someone as special as Bobby loses their genius-ness it must be a hard thing to deal with and I feel that the author handled it well and realistically too.  I liked that he didn’t shy away from the dark side of things and dealt with it in a way that i can relate to, even in a small way.

This book was a great continuation of the story and it leaves you wanting more .. and the I think there will be more as the ending lends itself to there being a third book – YAY!

4.5 Stars

 

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