Drama Queen by Joe Cosentino

CosentinoDramaQueenWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Michael Gilboe

Publisher: Lethe Press (2015)

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Nicky and Noah Mystery

Author’s Page

Nicky Abbondanza is at the center of this murder mystery. Set on the Treemeadow college campus that focuses on the theater arts, there are plenty of characters that are literally trained in the arts of deceit, deflection, deception, and out right artful lies. It’s going to be tough to figure out who is racking up the bodies. And then there is Noah Oliver, an assistant professor who is up for tenure. every time Nicky sees Noah, his heart does a little flip.

As you can tell by the name of the series (A Nicky & Noah Mystery) these two eventually team up. First, we have to go through all the cutsy stuff of them figuring out that they like each other. That was pretty sweet. Once their romance is off and running, it moves really quickly. In fact, that is probably one of the things that I found a bit silly about the plot. I think they went from friend/colleagues to lovers to moving in together in less than a week. Such a fast romance wasn’t really necessary for the plot.

The murder mystery itself was fun. There are plenty of suspects and plenty of bodies. So of course we have to wonder if we have one killer or multiple killers. The suspects have good motivations too for wanting some or all of the victims dead. I was guessing until the end. The final culprit(s) was a total surprise and I felt it came out of left field a bit. It left me a little unsatisfied.

Humor and wit twine together in this twisty murder mystery. Some of the humor was punny and a little predictable. I did laugh a few times. There were plenty of jokes about people being in the closet and being rather frustrated, angry folks because of it. The first time or two, it fit the plot and was worth a chuckle. Then some of the jokes kept being repeated throughout the story. This was one of those books I had to be in the mood for so I listened to it in chunks. This book definitely lives up to it’s name with plenty of characters having dramas big and little.

Now for the sex scenes. They are steamy and hot, sometimes lengthy and sometimes brief. Sometimes we get plenty of detail (including measurements of people’s personal equipment), and sometimes it was some kissing and then the curtain closed so we don’t get to see what they did next. It worked with the story and gave a little break from the action (of the murder mystery).

I really, really liked that we have such a representation of the LGBTQ community. In some cases (especially for the minor characters) that was their defining character. But for the main characters, their sexual preferences was secondary to their person (job, likes, believes,etc.).

Overall, I enjoyed this flawed tale. It was fun and unlike any other murder mystery I have listened to. The uniqueness definitely grabbed me up front. While the dramatic humor weared on me here and there, I was hooked by the plot and really wanted to know who did the deed. While the ending left me feeling luke warm on the plot’s resolution, I still wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another Cosentino book to see what he comes up with next.

I received a copy of this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Michael Gilboe did a very good job on this book. It had a pretty large cast for a fairly short novel. His male voices were distinct and varied enough to keep everyone straight. He managed the same for the ladies with the added bonus of having believable female voices. He also pulled off the exaggerated gay accent when needed.  

What I Liked: The cover art; the setting; a unique murder mystery; Noah and Nicky (sigh); the romance is cute; a higher body count than expected; the murder mystery had me guessing the entire time; great narration.

What I Disliked: Sometimes the repeated dramatic humor wore me down; Noah’s & Nicky’s relationship moved really, really quickly; the ending left me wanting a bit more.

What Others Think:

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Giveaway & Interview: Peter Golden, Author of Wherever There Is Light

GoldenWhereverThereIsLightFolks, please give a warm welcome to Peter Golden. We chat about historical works, art, Paris, and much more. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway at the end of the post! Enjoy!

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

The writer Anton Chekov observed that if a gun is hanging over the fireplace in the first act of a play, it must be fired in the next act. This is true of characters. Each one must have a role that fits in the story. No such thing as a throwaway character for the careful writer.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. I’d like to re-experience my discovery of Paris in literature. It was magical. It sill is, but not like that first time.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

Everything serves the story. Mundane events can help with pacing or reveal character, but if they don’t, then bye-bye.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

William Shakespeare, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, and Ernest Hemingway. We won’t necessarily be discussing books. I’d want them to talk to me about writing, to teach me what they think is important.

GoldenComebackLoveConventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

That’s easy. My favorite is communicating with people. My least favorite is blowing my own horn. I try to be reserved, because I find it embarrassing.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I worked in a locked psychiatric ward right after college. It was heartbreaking. Writing can also be heartbreaking, but at least I’m the only one I see doing the suffering.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Too many to list here, since I rely heavily on books and archives for my historical novels. I will say this: I’ll read any new book about Paris, World War II, the Cold War, the 1950s, and the Holocaust.

Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

The six-volume set of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Any painting by Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall. I’d keep it for six months and share it for months.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’d be a painter or photographer.

GoldenWhereverThereIsLightBook Blurb for Wherever There Is Light:

Julian Rose is only fifteen when he leaves his family and Germany for a new life in 1920s America. Lonely at first, he eventually finds his way—first by joining up with Longy Zwillman and becoming one of the preeminent bootleggers on the East Coast, and later by amassing a fortune in real estate.

Kendall Wakefield is a free-spirited college senior who longs to become a painter. Her mother, the daughter of a slave and founder of an African-American college in South Florida, is determined to find a suitable match for her only daughter.

African-American colleges rescued hundreds of German Jewish professors and their families from the Nazis, and one evening in 1938, Mrs. Wakefield hosts a dinner that reunites Julian with his mother and father, a famous philosopher. It also brings Julian and Kendall together for the first time. That encounter begins a thirty-year affair that will take the lovers from the beaches of Miami to the jazz clubs of Greenwich Village to postwar life in Paris, where they will mingle with Sartre, Picasso, and a host of other artists and intellectuals. Through his years serving in American intelligence and as an interrogator at the Nuremberg trials, what Julian wants most is to marry and find the joy that eluded his parents. Kendall craves her freedom, and after trading her oil paints for a Leica camera, becomes a celebrated photographer, and among the first American journalists to photograph the survivors of a liberated concentration camp. Yet despite distance, their competing desires, and the rapidly changing world, their longing for each other remains a constant in the ceaseless sweep of time.

Captivating and infused with historical detail, this is the epic tale of three generations, two different but intertwined families, and one unforgettable love story.

Author Bio:

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who, during the course of his long and varied career, has interviewed Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush; Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, George Shultz, and Lawrence Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Yitzhak Shamir; and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Golden’s Quiet Diplomat, published in 1992, was a biography of industrialist and political- insider Max M. Fisher. It made the Detroit Free Press bestseller list and was widely reviewed. Commentary magazine declared the biography a “meticulously researched and gracefully written book” that “gives us a concrete view of the emergence of American Jews into the mainstream of national politics since World War II.” In his review of the biography, historian and political analyst J.J. Goldberg wrote that Quiet Diplomat was “a disturbing, challenging book. It suggests, without answering, a wide range of questions about the relationship between the American Jewish community and its ‘leadership,’ and between the Diaspora community and the state of Israel. . . . In the end, [Golden] leaves readers free to draw their own conclusions.” One facet of diplomacy Golden uncovered was that during a 1965 visit Fisher made to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm, the president told him that he regretted pushing Israel to pull out of the Sinai. This fact was essentially unknown to historians until Golden wrote about it, and the claim was backed up by President Richard Nixon, who told Golden: “Eisenhower. . . told me—and I am sure he told others—that he thought the action that was taken [at Suez] was a mistake.”

Golden returned to journalism and won, among other kudos, the New York State Bar Association’s Media Award. Some of Golden’s work has appeared in the Detroit Free Press Magazine, The Albany Times Union, New Jersey Monthly, Microsoft’s eDirections, Beyond Computing, The Forward, and Capital Magazine.

In 2000, Golden co-wrote the memoir, I Rest My Case, chronicling the life of J. Stanley Shaw, one of the preeminent bankruptcy attorneys in the United States.
Golden’s first foray into fiction were the five interactive novels for computers he wrote as part of a joint venture between Imagic and Bantam Books that became known as the “Living Literature Series.” His interactive computer novel, Another Bow, was a Sherlock Holmes mystery set aboard the S.S. Destiny and was a Waldenbooks bestseller.
In 2012, Golden’s traditional novel, Comeback Love, which explored the changes in America during the 1960s, was published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Reviews were excellent—“Golden’s breakout debut fiction is a passionate story of love, loss and reconciliation. . . Grab a handful of tissues. . . then start speculating on actors best suited to bring Gordon and Glenna to the big screen.” (Kirkus) “Glenna and Gordon’s romance rises and falls with the familiar but engrossing tempo of reckless, youthful passion.” (Publishers Weekly) “Golden’s first novel resonates with the great experiences typical of a life—love, sorrow, loss, lessons, resolutions. . . . The sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic emotional dancing Gordon and Glenna engage in reads as honestly and accurately as any love story between two people who come together, come apart, then reconnect decades later.” (Booklist) “In this extraordinary debut, Golden unfolds the shimmering story of Gordon and Glenna, two joined-at-the-hip lovers, who meet and meld in the swinging sixties, only to be torn apart by the Vietnam War and Gordon’s draft lottery number. But Gordon never forgets Glenna, and years later, he tracks her down, fighting against the secrets of the past to struggle to rekindle their bond. A tumultuously wonderful novel about lost love, passion and regret.” (Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You.)

That same year, Golden’s history of the Cold War and its relationship to the Soviet Jewry movement, O Powerful Western Star! was published by Gefen Books. Of the history, Professor Henry L. Feingold, the dean of American Jewish historians, wrote: “The rescue of Soviet Jewry was an enormously complex happening. Now Peter Golden has woven the entire story in a broad-ranging tapestry of historical incidents and processes. A talented novelist has been let loose to make sense of this crucial exodus with the result that a dense history has been magically transformed. O Powerful Western Star! reads like a good novel.” Publishers Weekly deemed the book “an extensively researched history” and observed that “given its politically-charged subject matter, Golden is remarkably even-handed.”

On November 3, 2015, Atria Books will publish Golden’s Wherever There Is Light, a sweeping, panoramic, historical novel that covers three generations in the intertwined lives of two families—the Roses, who are Jewish, and the Wakefields, who are African American. The novel delves into the little known history of the rescue of German Jews from the Nazis by traditionally African-American colleges. Julian Rose, a former bootlegger, and his love interest, Kendall Ann Wakefield, whose family founded the college and becomes a world-renowned photographer, are the main protagonists of the story. The novel looks at the problems of interracial love affairs starting in 1938 and takes place in New Jersey, South Florida, Greenwich Village and Paris. It concludes in 1966 by tracing the fate of all the characters, both major and minor, as they struggle to come to grips with the fact they were all as haunted by the times they lived in as they were by their own private battles.

Places to Find Peter Golden






This giveaway is courtesy of Mr. Golden and JKS Communications. It is a blog tour wide giveaway. The prize is a VISA gift card equal to the number of entrants, up to $1000. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below!

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Interview: Kim McMahill, Author of A Dose of Danger

McMahillADoseOfDangerFolks, please give a warm welcome to Kim McMahill.We chat about Wyoming, snakes, how to win at an obstacle course, and plenty more! Enjoy!

How does modern pop culture influence your work? Do modern cultural references date a piece or add touchstones for the reader?

My stories are generally set in the present and several are even futuristic, so it’s impossible not to be influenced by modern pop culture in order to write realistic stories. In my latest novel, A Dose of Danger, a researcher believes she’s found a miracle weight loss supplement. In the U.S. the diet product industry is a 40 to 100 billion dollar a year industry, driven by the need of many to conform to social pressures to be thin or strive for a trendy look. We’re constantly deluged by what the perfect body image should be and the latest fad promising to deliver. But what if we were all thin and fit? Those invested in the diet product industry might not be too excited to see their profits disappear.

Modern cultural references definitely date books. Ten years from now that diet supplement might actually exist, so the plot no longer delves into a “what if” scenario. But hopefully the overall story is strong enough that it really doesn’t matter and the reader will see it as a touchstone, not an outdated story. Sometimes when I read an older book I get those nostalgic, “oh I remember that” feelings, and the memories evoked only make the story more enjoyable.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

During summer breaks throughout high school I cleaned motel rooms. There’s no comparison. Writing novels can take me on any grand adventure I can dream up and I get to share those stories with the world. The only thing I dreamed of when cleaning motel rooms was being done, and I seldom wanted to share any of those adventures with anyone.

McMahillMarkedInMexicoDo you have any phobias?

I can’t even look at snakes when I go to the zoo or I’ll likely have nightmares. We didn’t have a lot of snakes where I grew up in Wyoming, but we did have rattlesnakes. The up side was that my dad let my sister and I have all the cats we wanted since keeping the rodents (common snake prey) away from the house and barn also kept the snakes away.

When trekking through Khao Yai National Park in Thailand every time our guide stopped to show us a flower or mushroom, my heart nearly stopped. They have some seriously poisonous snakes in Thailand. Finally my husband asked the guide to quit pointing excitedly at the ground, because every time he did I was sure it was a cobra.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I absolutely loved The Lord of the Rings Trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels. I re-watch my DVDs at least once a year, sometimes more. I wasn’t quite as excited about The Hobbit, and it was definitely a bad idea to mess with The Wizard of Oz.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

Kids that grow up in the country tend to be self-entertaining and often very creative, and I was no different. We only had about four channels of antenna television, so sitting around the house wasn’t an option. I had a pony, but no tricycle since those aren’t conducive to dirt roads, and dogs and cats for companions. When I got a little older I had a mini-bike. My sister and I would ride around the hills behind the house exploring all the gullies and rises all day. I loved to downhill ski, which I find ironic now since I’ve grown to dislike the cold. How did I stay out all day, seldom stopping for lunch, not wanting to miss a moment on the slopes?

I never thought about being a writer, but I should have known that’s where I’d end up. I had an active imagination as a kid, and I guess I still do. I love adventure and discovering new places. Now, whenever I can’t get out on the road, I can always read a book or write one and uncover something new and exciting.

McMahillShroudedInSecretsWhat do you do when you are not writing?

I enjoy gardening and spending time outdoors in the summers, reading and jigsaw puzzles in the winter, and traveling as much as I can whenever I can. I also enjoy tennis, playing and watching professional matches, and following my Wyoming Cowboys!

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I don’t remember which specific story was first or my favorite, but I do remember a book of fairy tales that I absolutely loved. I read each story over and over until I wore the book out.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

That’s a tough one. Jack, in Marked In Mexico, is full of surprising skills which came in handy while eluding drug dealers in the Mexican jungle, and Logan in A Dose of Danger is not only smoking hot, but he will do whatever it takes to get the job done, against the odds and a host of professional assassins. But, Dirk Pitt has been part of my reading life for decades. He can get out of any situation, anywhere. I can’t tell you how many times he’s saved the world. Regardless of who participates in the obstacle course there would likely be libations. Dirk loves a fine tequila, Jack has also been known to dabble in the drink, and Logan will go with whatever the situation calls for.

McMahillADoseOfDangerBlurb for A Dose of Danger:

When researcher Grace Talbot and her team discover a possible solution for weight loss they are targeted by a group dedicated to controlling the multi-billion dollar a year diet-product industry. Her unsanctioned testing methods bring tragedy to the family ranch and the attention of the local sheriff’s deputy. With her colleagues either dead, missing, or on the run she soon realizes she must trust the deputy with her life, but can she trust him with her heart?

McMahillMarkedInMexicoBlurb for Marked in Mexico:

An idyllic Caribbean vacation turns deadly when hostages are taken at one of Mexico’s most popular Mayan ruins. The kidnappers believe the abduction will be a simple way to negotiate the release of a colleague from a Texas prison, but the stakes become much higher when they realize one of their hostages is the daughter of a powerful U.S. Senator and another, an ex-Army Ranger who has no intention of playing by the rules. After a daring escape the Senator’s daughter, Jessica, and the ex-Ranger, Jack, must endure a terrifying manhunt and a desperate fight for survival. While trying to stay alive in the unforgiving jungle they forge a bond that will last a lifetime and find love neither wanted, but were unable to avoid.

Places to Find Kim McMahill



Author Website

Author Blog


Fantasy Erotica by Derendrea

DerendreaFantasyEroticaWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Roberto Scarlato

Publisher: Derendrea Books (2015)

Length: 5 hours 29 minutes

Author’s Page

This book contains two short erotica stories: Valkyrie (urban fantasy) and Forgotten (science fiction)

Valkyrie: On a dark and snowy night, Jason comes across an injured woman, but she’s not exactly a woman. She’s got these large, bat-like wings. He’s really not too sure what she is or how she came to be injured but he’s an all-around nice guy. So he takes her in and nurses her back to health. The story then fast-forwards a number of years to when Val (which is short for her full name, Valkyrie) and Jason are living together in a major city in an apartment. The sexual tension between Jason and Val is very palpable and yet they have never completed an act to fulfill those needs. I felt this point of the story was unlikely as we have two full grown people living together for a number of years that are clearly attracted to each other and not attached to anyone else.

Setting that aside, the action really picks up in the second half of the story. Val doesn’t recall who she was before she was injured and left alone that snowy night. But all that is about to be revealed as she meets others of the night. Unfortunately for Jason, he becomes tainted and little more than a beast. Val desperately tries to save him. I didn’t know how this story would end. The author set it up perfectly to give a tragic ending or a fist-pumping save-the-day ending. The suspense at the end was nail biting. The tale is definitely Val’s. She’s the one the story focuses on and the other characters are just there to bounce stuff off of. Even Jason was sadly pretty one dimensional.

This book is more urban fantasy with erotica elements than erotica first and foremost. There’s plenty of sexual tension throughout the book but the sex doesn’t happen until the last quarter. There’s a minor sex scene and then a major love scene (and it is love between the two characters). The second scene was quite lovely and also smoking hot. I really enjoyed this book because we got hooked on the character Val long before we get to the sexy bits. I also enjoy the urban fantasy setting and the challenges for the characters such a setting brings.

Forgotten: In a scifi universe, Lifea is your basic house slave. She’s been a slave for some years and sees to menial chores aboard the spaceship. She wasn’t always a slave and she still has that spark that dreams and hopes for better days. Then, one day the slaver’s ship is attacked. She really doesn’t want to be captured or killed. She ends up in a storage room with this kind of mechanized space suit she found earlier. She was drawn to it then and now it seems this is her only option for hiding, and perhaps escape. Once inside the suit, it chats her up, much to her surprise. Tcai is a kind of ghost in the shell, a being that tied his essence to the suit many years ago. However, an organic being is needed to wear the suit and have it operate.

The two escape, but it’s not exactly to the ideal location. A deserted planet with lots of sand becomes their new foe to defeat. During that time, they learn more of each other. The last quarter of the book has flashbacks to Tcai’s previous existence as the two meet their latest struggle. I was completely taken in by this story and was concerned for the characters. I do believe this is the best story by Derendrea I have read so far. This story is definitely more scifi than erotica, though there are indeed steamy, very sensual, detailed love scenes. If you’re into scifi romance, then check this book out!

I received a copy of this book from the author at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Roberto Scarlato did a pretty good job with this book. He has a rich masculine voice for the male characters and decent feminine voices for the lady characters. He didn’t balk at the love scenes. I especially liked his voice for one of the valkyries in the first story and for Tcai in the second story.  

What I Liked: We get tied to the characters before we get to the sexy bits; the cover art; definitely enjoyed the SFF backgrounds for the two stories; the love scenes were about sensuality and connecting for the most part; really, really enjoyed Forgotten all around.

What I Disliked: In Valkyrie, I would have liked Jason to have a little more personality; I found it hard to believe Jason and Val had lived together for years and not acted on their obvious attraction for each other.

Giveaway & Interview: Marc Johnson, Author of The Passage of Hellsfire Series

JohnsonCatalystFolks, please welcome Marc Johnson, author of The Passage of Hellsfire series, to the blog today. We chat about young kid Marc, Leonardo’s Flying Maching, actress Laura Harris, and plenty more. Also, thanks to Marc, we have two GIVEAWAYS below – print books (for US shipping) and ebooks (for International)! Don’t miss those at the bottom of the post.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I don’t believe that reality is that important in fiction. Every day and every second, people experience reality and its mundane trappings and extreme boredom. Fiction is a nice escape from it. That said, I do sprinkle in realty in my own work. Adds a sense of realism to it and keeps it grounded. It’s also something that people can relate to if they can’t relate to the magic, adventure, and life or death situations.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years and they’ve not been particularly difficult. I choose not to have to have difficult jobs, which for me would be mentally challenging jobs not physically challenging ones. That way, while I’m working I can think about my writing or any other thing I’m interested in that challenges me. If I wrote for my day job or actually had a challenging job, it’d probably make my writing suffer.

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhich ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Can’t say that there is. There’s plenty of books I’ve not read yet that I wish I had. Slowly making my way through some of those. Just wish they were cheaper on my Kindle.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

If I could own something, it would be Leonardo DaVinci’s Flying Machine. I’ve always wanted to fly and it just looks cool. Plus, it would remind me of my favorite Voyager episode.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

When it comes to movies, I would say reboots in the 80s were fantastic. If we’re talking about words on a page, I would say today I don’t much care for them. It’s not because they don’t have interesting ideas, but more because everyone tries to make the retelling “dark” and “edgy,” not to mention violent and graphic.

That said, I did enjoy Wicked. But those stories that retell or reboot the classics without making them dark, edgy, gritty, or sexualizing them are rare. Not that I’m a prude, but doing that doesn’t add to the story and makes it lose focus of what the story was about.

JohnsonReawakeningIf everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

Warning: An extreme case of pride.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

As a kid, I was a pain in the ass. I had quite the mouth on me and an extremely sharp mind. Those parts of me haven’t changed. I was also very hopeful for the world and for people. That part’s long gone.

In any case, I did envision myself being a writer, among other things. I have a lot of stories I want to get out and plan on everything from books to short stories to film to comics to television. I want to do it all!

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I once met Laura Harris as I was getting meat from my local butcher. She was my butcher, in fact, and I told her that she once looked like the actress from 24, Dead Like Me, and The Faculty. She told me she was! Never expected to meet an actor as I was buying meat. She was pretty low key and cool, and far more attractive in person.

Sadly, no one has ever gushed over my work to me. That’s all right. It would be extremely awkward if it ever did happened.

JohnsonCatalystCatalyst book blurb:

For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace.

Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.

Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands.

Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power—power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.

In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn…

JohnsonWhatOnceWasOneWhat Once Was One book blurb: 

Lead by the dark wizard, Premier, the kingdom of Alexandria was almost overrun by the foul creatures from the Wastelands. With the help of his friends and neighboring kingdoms, Hellsfire was able to defeat him, but only at the cost of his mentor.

Hellsfire is now a wizard, but he must finish what he started by hunting down Premier and retrieving the Book of Shazul. He must venture deep into the Wastelands, bypassing his way through thousands of creatures bent on killing him.

Beating in the heart of the Wastelands, is something far more dangerous than Premier or his beasts waiting for Hellsfire. It will force Hellsfire to make a devastating choice—a choice that will have repercussions not only for the Wastelands and Northern Shala, but for the entire land and the one he loves the most.

What once was one, will then be two, and never again be as whole…

JohnsonReawakeningReawakening book blurb:

To undo a mistake made a thousand years in the past, the wizard Hellsfire used his magic to bring down the Great Barrier that once divided the northern and southern lands. In doing so, he nearly brought war to his own homeland, and he afflicted the love of his life, Princess Krystal of Alexandria, with a potent and deadly curse.

Since then, Hellsfire has been working in Tyree with its Elemental Council, to rebuild its war-torn land and find a way to break Krystal’s curse. Now Krystal’s time is running out. As the princess fights for her life, Hellsfire learns that the wizard responsible for the curse—his old enemy Premier—is heading to the Burning Sands to steal the mysterious Jewel of Dakara.

If Hellsfire can capture Premier and learn the secret of the curse, he can save Krystal. But the Jewel of Dakara holds its own deadly secrets, and the hunt will take Hellsfire farther than he ever imagined, and cost him more than he bargained for.

The past is never gone nor buried…

Places to Find Marc Johnson






Folks, Marc has generously offered up two giveaways. 1) Open to US only consisting of both Catalyst and What Once Was One in print and Reawakening in ebook, as it’s only available as that for now. 2) Open internationally, winner will receive all 3 books in ebook format via email. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Are you USA or international? 2) What piece of art would you like to own? 3) Leave a way to contact you (email preferred). Contest ends October 27th, 2015, midnight.

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The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

PatakiTheAccidentalEmpressWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Madeleine Maby

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2015)

Length: 18 hours 5 minutes

Author’s Page

This is a story of Empress ‘Sisi’ Elisabeth of Austria. The tale starts in the mid-1850s in Bavaria where Sisi and her older sister, Helene, reside with their parents and younger siblings. The Emperor Franz Joseph and his mother Sophie are seeking a bride for Franz and Sophie at least would prefer the bride to be a cousin. She selects Helene and she, her sister, and their mother (Ludovika) travel to the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph.

Not everything goes as planned. Franz seems to only have eyes for the younger sister, Sisi, instead of his mother’s intended, Helene. Sisi is a little outspoken, for her time, loves riding, and is a decent conversationalist. Meanwhile, Helene is much more the scholar preferring to stay indoors with her books. She is painfully shy around strangers. Pretty soon, Franz makes his intentions clear and he has chosen Sisi. There’s a bit of a dust up but he won’t be swayed out of it. Eventually, there is a wedding.

From there, we follow Sisi closely as her power ebbs and wains as she carries on a mostly silent battle with her mother-in-law. This book is a great behind-the-scenes look at the early years of Empress Elisabeth’s reign. We see the difficulties she has not only with Sophie but also with her husband and, later on, her children. She married Franz, who was 22, when she was 16 and was pregnant shortly thereafter. She left all she new behind at Possenhofen in Bavaria, a rural duchy. Indeed, she had so much to get use to on her own at the royal court. Her mother had her own little brood to raise and her sister was too shy to attend her at court as a Lady in Waiting. She had to rely on herself. It took her some time to figure that out.

Franz is the Austrian Emperor at a tumultuous time. He was born into a large Austrian empire that stretched much of the European continent, over to Russia, down into Germany and Italy. However, during his life he will see this change drastically. Of course, he insists on keeping Sisi out of politics for much of their marriage. Yet she goes the extra mile and educates herself on at least one political front, the Hungarians. She learns about their food and culture, and even becomes fluent in the Hungarian language. It takes many years before Franz acknowledges Sisi’s political savviness. The book leaves us in the late 1860s with the situation between Austria and Hungary in a stable place. I am hoping we get a sequel that explores the latter half of Empress Elisabeth’s life.

I really enjoyed much of this book because it educated me on a subject I knew little about – the massive Austrian empire of the 1800s. I was amazed at the decadence of the royalty and over all prosperity of Austria at the time. While women in general had some rights (education, riding horses) they still lacked in over all equality with men. Indeed, there is a theme of a husband’s marital rights throughout the book. Sisi was a character I easily connected with. She has her flaws, made some bad choices here and there, but she persevered. Several times, she had to pick herself up and come up with a new plan.

For me, the book slowed down in the last quarter. The romantic side story became the main plot and I felt it was all a little dramatic. Yet, aside from that one complaint, I was entertained and educated by this novel. As an added bonus, the publisher included a short interview with the author at the end talking specifically about this book. I always enjoy it when an author comments on where and why they chose to deviate from the known facts.


I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Madeleine Maby did an excellent job. She had a great voice for Sisi and she portrayed the emotions of the character well. Her male voices were believable. There were several times when Austrian-German and Hungarian phrases were used in the book and Maby also did a great job of making these believable. I especially liked her voice for the over-bearing mother-in-law, Sophie. 

What I Liked: A little slice of history in an easy to digest novel; Sisi was easy to get attached to; the politics play a role in the marriage, creating stress; Sisi has many challenges and sometimes makes mistakes; the ending leaves us ready for a Part II.

What I Disliked: The last quarter of the book was a little slow to me as the emphasis was the romance.

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Small Review

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Matthew Davenport, Author of the Andrew Doran Series

DavenportTheStatementOfAndrewDoranFolks, please welcome Matthew Davenport. It’s a pleasure to have him on the blog today. I really enjoyed his book The Statement of Andrew Doran several months ago and jumped at the chance to pick his brain. Today we chat about dead authors, networking, side characters, and much more! Also, we have an awesome AUDIOBOOK GIVEAWAY for you all. Scroll to the bottom to check that out!

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

Not in any of my works. Sidekicks all have value to some degree. I try to keep to giving anything that I introduce value. So, if you meet a new character at the beginning of a story but don’t see him for a while, just hang in there, because it’s very likely that he’ll have a pivotal role in the end of the story.

A great example of this is in my Andrew Doran novels. Andrew…collects certain people in his travels. At first they are just a means to an ends, but somewhere along the way, Andrew finds value in keeping these people along as more than just tools, they become friends and allies in his battles.

Comparatively, my horror novel The Trials of Obed Marsh does this as well. Instead of collecting people in his travels, Obed Marsh has family and friends that you might meet near the beginning of the story, but it isn’t until the story begins to climax that you realize their true role.

I’m a firm believer that every name, object, or place that an author focuses on needs to have some sort of reason that it was introduced. If you’re just going to say “Look, an apple!” and never use that apple as a plot device, it has absolutely no reason being in your book. Cut out the fluff before your editor does.

DavenportTheTrialsOfObedMarshIn my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?

My first two novels (Random Stranger and Stranger Books) didn’t have any research…at all. But they were fictional accounts completely based on character development. The little research I did was focused on mythical creatures and their evolutions through different cultural interpretations. While that sounds heavy, it really wasn’t. A quick Google search of “All the names Santa Claus ever had” gave me most of my research.

Alternatively, The Trials of Obed Marsh and both Andrew Doran novels demanded a heavy amount of research. All three are heavily influenced by both the eras that they take place in, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I wanted the horror and adventure aspects within Lovecraft’s stories to resonate with the true fans, and read everything that Lovecraft wrote (again, as I was already a fan), taking very extensive notes. Once those notes were done, I looked toward the expanded works. A lot has been added to the mythos since Lovecraft died, and I wanted the relevant pieces to make it into each of those stories as well.

On top of that, the eras that these stories were placed in made a huge change to the flavor of each story, and they needed to be right. The Trials of Obed Marsh was a 19th century sailing story. I didn’t want to just guess at what sailing culture was back then, or how the boats would circumnavigate the globe, so I studied up on how it was done.

With Andrew Doran, I wanted it to be a sort of history lesson that had nothing to do with history. Each chapter of the first book takes place in a new city in Nazi-controlled Europe. I sprinkled in facts explaining the states of those countries during those years, and then I added monsters.

As for how I decide what to research, I start writing my draft notes and if I don’t know how something was done, I start searching the web for everything I can on it until I feel I could hold my own in at least a basic conversation about the subject.

It helps to read…a lot.

DavenportRandomStrangerAs a experienced author, what non-writing/reading activities would you recommend to aspiring authors?

First: Networking. Outside of my author stuff, I run Davenport Writes, LLC. It’s a company that offers publishing resources for authors. I offer consulting, freelancers (cover artists, voice actors, editors) and book signings for the local folks. The most powerful tool in any author’s toolbox is a handshake. The more people that you can tell about your books, the more people who are going to want to help you get your books out there. What I’ve found is that everyone wants to help you, but they can’t help you until they know about you.

Second: Live. Say yes to everything. Even if it doesn’t sound entirely fun. Once you’ve had the experience, it’s a tool in your toolkit for writing. If I have a friend that wants me to do something that I find unpleasant, that little bit of life I’ll be living will be material for the next story. That adds realism and realism makes great writing.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Arthur Conan Doyle, Terry Pratchett, and Douglas Adams. Let’s start with a serious dinner and end on the lightest. I feel like we’d also end drunk, and drunk with Douglas Adams sounds more fun than drunk with Lovecraft. *shiver* A drunk Lovecraft would be a terror I don’t think many are prepared for.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I manage Davenport Writes, LLC, read, watch horror/adventure movies, and enjoy my evenings with my wife.

DavenportAndrewDoranAtTheMountainsOfMadnessWhat is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The first full novel I read, and it wasn’t really a novel like what I read today, was an old book called My First Toolbox. The book was about a kid who purchased a toolbox with his allowance in order to build…something or another…and then he found he still didn’t have enough money to make whatever it was he wanted to make. That was when he learned that he could make more money by fixing all the neighborhood kid’s stuff. I read that in first grade, and I was more excited that I had completed such a huge book (not even 60 pages, I’m sure) than about the book itself.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

I guess this would depend on the types of obstacles. I’m not inviting some lanky author to some sort of duck and jump obstacle course. On the other hand, I’m leaving the shorties behind if I’m going to have climb or jump on anything.

…I take it back. Ralph Macchio. Why not?

And yes, libations. I never say no to libations. Celebratory Templeton Rye

DavenportTheStatementOfAndrewDoranThe Statement of Andrew Doran Book Blurb:

Dr. Andrew Doran has been out of touch with the major civilizations for quite a while. When an emissary from his Alma Mater demands his assistance, Andrew is in such a state that he has no choice but to help. The Nazis have taken the Necronomicon from Miskatonic University’s library. With it they could call upon every form of darkness and use the powers of the void to destroy all who stand in their way of unlimited power. For years Doran has been at odds with Miskatonic University. Putting his negative feelings aside, Andrew takes charge and heads straight into the Nazi controlled territories of Europe. Along his journey from America and into the heart of Berlin, the dark Traum Kult, or Dream Cult, has sent beasts from the void between worlds to slow his progress. This is adventure and monsters unlike anything the anthropologist has ever experienced, and only with the assistance of the trigger-happy Leo and the beautiful Olivia, both members of the French Resistance, does Dr. Doran have any chance of success. Nazis, zombies, wizards, and beasts roam the path before Dr. Andrew Doran. A sane man would flinch. Dr. Andrew Doran charges in.

DavenportTheTrialsOfObedMarshThe Trials of Obed Marsh Book Blurb:

Innsmouth was a corrupted and fallen town, consumed by its greed and controlled by the Esoteric Order of Dagon. In 1928, the Federal Government destroyed Innsmouth and the nearby Devil Reef based on claims made by a man who had visited the town.

Four years after the mysterious disappearance of Robert Olmstead, the man who sent the FBI to Innsmouth, his closest friend has discovered new evidence into the reality of what Innsmouth truly was: He has found the Journal of Captain Obed Marsh.

The journal paints an intense scene of a vibrant town and how one man’s good intentions can pave the way to Hell itself.

Or in this case…to Y’ha-nthlei.

What can test a man so intensely as to break him from his righteous path?

Only the journal can shed light on that.

Places to Stalk Matthew Davenport






Davenport Writes, LLC


Matthew Davenport is generously offering up 5 audiobooks of The Statement of Andrew Doran and 5 audiobooks of The Trials of Obed Marsh. You’ll need an Audible.com account to receive one of these books if you win. You can enter to win either book or enter to win both! To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Which book (or both) do you prefer to win? 3) What’s the first book you remember reading? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends October 26th, 2015 midnight.

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