The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

JohnsonTheColdDishWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: George Guidall

Publisher: Recorded Books (2007)

Length: 13 hours 18 minutes

Series: Book 1 Walt Longmire

Author’s Page

Set in Absaroka County, Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire is having to deal with a dead body. He rather be drinking. Before long, another body turns up. Four years before, 4 boys were given a suspended sentence for rape of a mentally handicapped Cheyenne girl. Since two of them have turned up dead in a short amount of time, Walt revisits that old case for suspects to the recent murders.

There’s a lot of great characters in this book along with a complex mystery. First, let’s talk characters. Walt himself is an interesting man. He has a keen wit, but rarely feels the need to flash it about. He knows a well-timed silence can bring him more information than blathering on. Four years prior to the setting of this book, he lost his wife. He’s still mourning her in some ways. However, his best friend since childhood, Henry Standingbear, feels it is time for him to clean up, work out, start dating, and complete the final touches on his cabin on the outskirts of town. Henry and Walt served together in Vietnam, and Henry knows just how far he can push Walt when. For the reader, Henry is also a bridge between two cultures (American and Cheyenne). the humor displayed between these two often lightens a dark moment, or adds a touch of poignancy to a dire situation.

There’s plenty of women in this book and while they are all side characters, they have their own personalities and agendas. Overall, they are well written. However, I will say that I find it convenient and a bit amusing that all the women in the book (with the one exception of a mother I can think of and Walt’s daughter) are drawn romantically to either Walt or Henry. Still, I look forward to seeing how the women fare in the rest of the series.

The setting seems to be 1990s, though I might be off about that. There’s computers and a few cell phones, etc. However, I think Walt and Henry are in their 50s, and they both served in the Vietnam war. So, maybe late 1990s. If you have watched the TV series, Longmire, then you will have noticed that the TV series is set in modern times. No matter the year this book is set in, it is a modern-day Western. I really enjoyed the setting as it is somewhat like New Mexico, where I live. Lots of folks are hunters, own guns, plenty of space between homes and farms, and quite often a person can find themselves without backup in an emergency situation.

The murder mystery itself had some twists and turns and I was not expecting. Having it coupled to the older crime of the rape 4 years previously gave the murder mystery some depth. First, Walt had to determine if the two deaths were related to the older crime. If they were, he had a list of suspects. If they weren’t, then he had to find the motive before he could figure out suspects. One by one, his list of suspects dwindles. The ending was a bit of a surprise to me. However, the author did a good job of showing through Walt’s eyes how he missed the clues in front of him.

I’ll definitely be continuing this series. Mostly, it is the characters that drew me in and held me. They each have some flaw in their character that makes them human and easy to connect with. I am very curious to see where the author takes these characters that I grew attached to in such a short amount of time.

The Narration: George Guidall was a good fit for Walt Longmire, through whose eyes the story is told. Guidall is not always my favorite narrator as he has a limited range. for this book, he put it to good use. However, most of his female voices sound very similar to begin with and over the course of the book lose their individuality.

What I Liked: Modern Western; great characters; complex murder mystery; the deep friendship between Henry & Walt; female characters are individuals; the ending was satisfying.

What I Disliked: Nearly all the ladies are romantically interested in either Walt or Henry; George Guidall’s narration of the female characters could use a little work.

What Others Think:

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Back by Sunrise by Justin Sloan

SloanBackBySunriseWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Rebecca Greene

Publisher: Justin Sloan (2015)

Length: 2 hours 38 minutes

Series: Book 1 Eternal Light

Author’s Page

This story is primarily about Brooke and how she deals with a very difficult time in her life. She and her dad have been working on painting a mural in her bedroom. Unfortunately, they aren’t able to finish it together before he is called out to serve his country over seas. Brooke awaits her father’s return only to hear the sad news he will never return. Yet she has this necklace from him, which turns out to be magical. Through her adventures, she learns to let go of some of her anger and to carry the sadness.

This was a rather touching little piece of magical modern-day fantasy. I’ve listened to several other Justin Sloan books and this one is the tamest and perhaps the slowest of pace. Brooke is a typical kid, occasionally arguing with her brother, not always obeying the parents right away, painting on walls, etc. The first part, which sets the scene for the family dynamics, goes by very quickly. Once Brooke finds out her necklace has the power to change her into a bird, the story picks up.

Her adventures as a bird start off pretty small. She stays close to home, makes a friend or two, and learns to eat bird food (which her human brain tells her isn’t very tasty at all). There’s some humor, a little action. Mostly, this part of the story is tame exploration of Brooke’s new world. It is a bit slow at this point and that is my only mild complaint on this book. But then Brooke wants to be a human again and that turns out to be a bit challenging.

My favorite part of the story was the last bit. The action really picks up, Brooke has foes to face (in bird form), and has to figure out how to turn into a human again. This is where Brooke’s emotions towards her mom and her now-gone father really bubble to the surface and she has to make an active decision as to how to deal with them. I really liked this aspect because it shows a kid making an adult decision and I think many of us have had moments like that when we were kids.

The final ending was very satisfying. After Brooke’s sadness and anger, all her adventures, we get this ending that tied up the story nicely. The story started with that bedroom mural and we get to return to it. That really closed the loop on this story, or at least this installment of it, for me.

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

The Narration: Rebecca Greene did a very nice job. She was a very good fit for Brooke. She had these very believable little kid voices, which she used for the kids, but also for the young animals bird Brooke befriends on her adventures. She had an excellent way of imbuing quite the range of emotions into Brooke’s character.

What I Liked: Touching story; a touch of magic; dealing with the difficult subject of loosing a parent as a kid; watching the progression of Brooke’s emotions; the bird adventures; the ending.

What I Disliked: Part of the story is a bit slow, but this minor criticism would not keep me from recommending this book.

What Others Think:

Amie’s Book Review Blog

4LN

Teddy Bears and the Halloween Ghost by Justin Sloan

SloanTeddyBearsAndTheHalloweenGhostWhere I Got It: Free on the author’s YouTube channel

Narrator: Michael Gilliland

Publisher: Justin Sloan (2015)

Length: 24 minutes

Series: Book 2 Teddy Defenders

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 2 in the series, it works fine as a stand alone.

Halloween is my favorite holiday and when I saw Justin Sloan had a Teddy Defenders book set on this holiday, I couldn’t turn it down. It’s Halloween night and Rick and his little sister Tiffany are getting dressed up to go Trick-or-Treating. Meanwhile, the Teddy Defenders alternate between playing deaf and dumb cute toys and discussing the fun of being taken out with the kids on this fun night. However, things don’t go as they planned. Mia, Tiffany’s Teddy Defender, and her friends are able to move around more freely on this night because of all the costumes. They overhear a conversation about a scary ghost scaring the kid’s at Tiffany’s school and they head there to investigate and take care of the ghost. After all, we know that goblins and such are real; why not ghosts?

While this is a short story instead of the longer novella that Book 1 (Teddy Bears in Monsterland) is, I felt that it was better balanced. The pacing is better, the plot tighter, and we have a better mix of the genders. I also like that we get to know Rick and Tiffany a bit more as they had very small, if significant, roles in Book 1. Additionally, the Teddy Defenders have kept some of the friendships they made in Book 1 as well, so we get some non-Teddy characters in the mix.

We learn a little more about the Teddy powers, especially if they are stressed. Plus Tiffany has a little secret and we all know that Halloween isn’t just the night for treats, but also for tricks. Mia was quite stunned at the revelation and it was fun to see the Teddy Defenders caught off guard and their various responses. All in all, this was a fun little tale fit for the family and it makes a good lunch break listen. I’m looking forward to seeing where Sloan takes this series!

The Narration: Michael Gilliland narrated Book 1 and I am glad the author kept him for Book 2 even though most of the character viewpoints are female. Gilliland has pretty good female voices and excellent little kid voices. He does a great job of keeping each character voice distinct. He also does an excellent job of imbuing the characters with emotion when required. I especially liked his determined or ticked off voice for Mia.

What I Liked: The cover art; Halloween!; more time with the female characters; get to know the kids and the Teddy Defenders better; a fun ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing – I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

The Candle Star by Michelle Isenhoff

IsenhoffTheCandleStarWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Michelle Isenhoff (2015)

Length: 4 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 1 Divided Decade Collection

Author’s Page

Set in the late 1850s, Southern Belle Emily Preston has been sent by her parents to live for a spell with her uncle Isaac Milford. She comes from a slave plantation in Carolina and she is in for some culture shock in Detroit, a land where slavery is not tolerated. Also, her uncle insists that she earn her keep and this means chores and attending school, things she did not have to do in Carolina.

This was a very interesting book. Most books I have read that are set in this time period always make slavery and slave owners out to be the big monsters of the story line. In this book, the author does a most excellent job of showing how slavery and white supremacy was handed down generation to generation and reinforced with culture and politics. Basically, it was never a simple black and white issue (no pun intended) and while I knew that from reading nonfiction history books, I had not seen an author willing to tackle that in fiction. So, big kudos to the author for showing the complexity of the times through Emily’s eyes.

While the plot itself was pretty straightforward (rich girl has to learn that other people are worthy of regard) the characters made it very engaging. Emily starts off pretty rude and conceited, but we also see right away that she is suffering from homesickness and is somewhat afraid of the unknown. After all, she has never been to Detroit or met her uncle. So right off, I am a little conflicted over her – I don’t want to like her because of many of her attitudes and yet I totally connect with the homesickness and dread of the unknown. Well played because Emily’s story arc has the most growth and by the end I was wanting to invite her into the kitchen for tea and biscuits.

Meanwhile, Isaac’s boarding house employs several free blacks and an Irish woman. They all still have to cater to whoever is willing to pay for a room, even the questionable Mr. Burrows (a slave catcher)  and his crew. At first, Emily has great trouble accepting the idea of free blacks, and she initially finds the idea of blacks reading and going to school to be preposterous. But over several months, it becomes apparent that everything she has been taught about the supremacy of whites is incorrect. It’s a hard, bitter pill for her to swallow. Malachi, a black teen who is attending school, is instrumental in showing Emily a new way of thinking. Meanwhile, the old slave Ezekial who accompanies Emily on her trip, has revelations about his slave status that rock Emily’s world as well.

I appreciated that the author showed that Emily had prejudice against anyone, white or black, that she felt was beneath her family’s status. She comes to truly dislike an Irish maid at the boarding house, believing her to be beneath her uncle’s notice. It was very interesting to see that Emily came from a plantation-owning family that thought and acted very much like minor nobility. So many people of many colors and backgrounds were below their status. It made me wonder if the ‘minor nobility’ of the Deep South got a little inbred after a few generations.

The story progresses, showing us glimpses of the underground railroad that helped move slaves from the south to the northern states. Emily catches glimpses of this throughout the story but doesn’t truly grasp it until the end. And the end was nicely done too. We have some suspense that culminates in Emily’s choice concerning slavery. I was very satisfied with how this book ended and look forward to seeing what the author does next.

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

The Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a very nice job with this one. He had a very good stuck-up voice for young Emily. I also liked all his regional accents. There’s a speech by Frederick Douglas in the story and Wolinsky made it sound very epic, like a turning point in history (and for Emily it was an important moment). 

What I Liked: The cover art; showing the complexities of the times; Emily’s story arc; the support characters; all the eye-opening moments for Emily; a very satisfying ending; the excellent narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – this was an excellent listen.

What Others Think:

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Audiobook giveaway & Interview: AJ Spencer, Author of The SnowRaven Chronicles

SpencerSnowRavenArt1Everyone, please welcome AJ Spencer. It is with great pleasure that I have AJ on the blog today. I absolutely adored his SnowRaven Chronicles! So I was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed on the blog. We chat about the long road to producing The SnowRaven Chronicles, crazy dinner parties, movies, and plenty more. Also, AJ has offered up a wonderful audiobook giveaway so make sure to check that out at the end of the post!

Saska SnowRaven is a warrior, sexual, strong-headed, loyal, and endearing. How did you come up with such a winning character?

I dreamed up the character more then 10 years ago (her exploits have been rattling around in my head for a long time)

Originally, I envisioned The SnowRaven as a series of stand-alone stories, either as a comic book (one or two pages each story) or some sort of animation (five minute shorts) possibly online, or as part of an established magazine (I pitched the idea to “HEAVY METAL” Magazine many years ago, but they passed…..)

That is why the stories are so episodic in nature.

And why she has the white fur hat, B&W Face paint and fur lined boots, because I wanted to have a wide array or Artists working on the series with their own unique styles (Classic Comic book, American Cartoon, Japanese Anime, etc….) but you would always recognize her as The SnowRaven.

I also thought Linx would be a fun idea for an artist to play with – that he would always be in motion (like a living feather boa).

The SnowRaven books (as they are now) were born from 3 separate story ideas:
One, a LORD OF THE RINGS like epic (with the insect like Vosharian hordes)
Two, a Fantasy Adventure centering on energy orbs (with Tommy Calvoore as the lead character)
And The SnowRaven Shorts themselves.

After many drafts over many years – I had quite a collection of rejection letters – then I had the idea of combining many of the main elements from all 3 stories (with the SnowRaven as the lead). That is why the stories are so dense (a lot packed into them) and how I was able to write them so (back-to-back) fast.

SpencerSnowRavenArt2If you could be an extra on a fantasy series or movie, what would it be?

I think it would be great to be an extra in the new Star Wars (I would luv to be an action figure)…..and become a bit of movie trivia (everyone can point to my one scene and say “That’s the guy that wrote the SnowRaven Chronicles.”)

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

I do enjoy a good mystery the first time, but it’s also fun to watch them again knowing who-dun-it. Come to think of it, I feel exactly the same about many of my favorite movies and TV shows no matter how many times I’ve seen them.

Quite a bit of graphic art went into the creating of the series. Tell us a bit about that please. 

There are 3 things you need to know about writing a book-

#1 You Write what you know

#2 You Must Have a great hook

#3 You need a GREAT book cover

Comic books are in the SnowRaven’s DNA – so I googled Freelance Comic Book Artists – and found OctoGraphics.

They do great work and being a frustrated artist myself (who paints with words), I relished the chance to describe what the SnowRaven looks like – the pose, the weapons…..it was great fun to see her come alive with their help.

I launched a KickStarter Campaign to fund some promo comics a while back – the campaign was canceled but my video intro is still there:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1369659460/the-snowraven-chronicles-comic-book-illustrated-no?ref=nav_search

SpencerSnowRavenArt3If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

My dream job would be having my own Animation Studio – bringing fantasy to life as only animation can.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I do not enjoy that part of self-publishing at all (I wish I had my own promotional team to handle all of that). It is very challenging trying to stand out as a self published author (I often feel like I am being lost in the crowd – or rejected out-of-hand because I self publish……).

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

Ernest Hemingway (A big juicy steak), F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (both would order the salad bar so they can mix and mingle with all the people in the restaurant), Robert E. Howard (who wouldn’t order, but just bang away on his typewriter the whole time), and Hunter S. Thompson, who would order something so completely gonzo that the waitress would just stand at the table with a blank stare.

Oh, what a night that would be…..

SpencerSnowRavenArt4I have to ask about the clothing-optional fighting that often occurs in the SnowRaven Chronicles. I love it but how has the overall response been to this?

I have always loved fantasy artwork – especially Frank Frazetta. Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell’s calendar has hung on my wall for many a year. I wanted to capture some of that look and feel in my books.

I also like to “play against type” – insects do not live in Arctic Regions, and medieval warriors usually wore as much armor as possible. It’s fun to mix things up.

What do you do when you are not writing? 

The usual day to day stuff that makes up Modern American Life. I am a BIG Movie Guy from a BIG Movie Family – a lot of my free time has been spent with my DVD collection over the years.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or not)? Will there be a tasty libation involved? 

The champion of NINJA WARRIOR (did you ever see that show?) no libations….I go through life stone cold sober…..it’s quite an experience!

SpencerGIJoeVX257Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I did write a new short story – part of “The Kindle Worlds” Program. GI JOE VX 257 – based on the classic animated show from the 1980’s – It was great fun!

http://www.amazon.com/G-I-JOE-Kindle-Worlds-Short-ebook/dp/B00SXJ3S18

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesShafra&CopianBook 1: The Shafra-Copian book blurb:

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian – a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom’s wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens – human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

SpencerTheTreasureOfOkra-BaneBook 2: The Treasure of Okra-Bane book blurb:

The lady SnowRaven sets out to claim the fabled treasure of Okra-Bane, hidden amongst the mysterious circle of stones – the ancient remnants of a long forgotten civilization deep in the snow covered mountains of Andora.

But little does she know that a swarm of vengeful Vosharian are stalking her, awaiting the ideal moment to strike, or that the circle of stones holds many, deadly secrets to ensnare treasure seekers. The most terrifying is the ancient creature that sleeps deep within the mountains: a pagan god to the ancients, mere myth & legend to this enlighten age, a force to be feared by all who dare to steal its most coveted treasure.

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesWine&WizardsBook 3: Wine & Wizards book blurb:

It is adventure on the high seas when the lady Snowraven sets sail to reclaim the fabled banner of the doomed expedition, lost long ago.

But, she is soon entangled in the war of ideology that is reshaping the very fabric of her world – between those creating machines of industry, fueled by ethanol, and those clinging to the old ways of “magic” holding steadfast to the glowing Nexil-Orbs and the elite classes that create them.

The Snowraven guided by fate.

For an ancient prophesy foretells the coming of a new age – heralded by a mighty queen to sit upon the throne of Nubodia – the wealthiest realm of them all.

But one inflicted with a truly monstrous foe of both nature and man’s creation. A vile creature that shows the most terrifying enemy – is the enemy within.

SpencerSnowRavenChroniclesThianOilBook 4: Thian Oil book blurb:

The lady Snowraven, fallen out of favor with the duke’s inner circle, returns to the simple life of a humble shepherdess… But to lead her flock through the very heart of the mighty Andereke mountains, she must either cross the fabled bridge of Nelchatta… and pay the troll’s terrible price… or risk being trapped by the nightmarish Thian Oil pits… a dark and terrible fate from which few escape… The putrid sludge from centuries of nexil-orbs – haunted by the vile creatures transformed by its insidious evil.

SpencerTheThol-raWhile this is not part of The SnowRaven Chronicles, I really enjoyed The Thol-ra as well. Here is the book blurb:

A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!

The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects – unleashed by a deposed queen’s vengeful curse.

But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena – the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.

A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city – a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.

But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything – ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!

For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!

Places to Stalk AJ Spencer & The SnowRaven

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All the audio books are available on Audible.com  

Giveaway!
AJ has most generously offered up 5 copies of EACH SnowRaven audiobook! Yes, it is possible to win 1 of each book, but no worries if you don’t. They each stand alone quite well. Enter the Rafflecopter below or answer me the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Leave a way to contact you. 3) What are some of your favorite comic books and/or graphic novels? Giveaway ends August 31, 2015, Midnight.

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Interview: Andrew Joyce, Author of Molly Lee

JoyceMollyLeeEveryone, please welcome Andrew Joyce, historical fiction author. Today we chat about bathroom breaks, Gandhi, women’s undergarments, and much more. Come join us for a most entertaining discussion!

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 mostly write Historical Fiction, and it takes a lot of research to get things right. If I don’t do my research, I can count on at least one of my readers bringing it to my attention. Everything must be historically correct, from any languages I use to the descriptions of the way people dressed, spoke, and lived. I must know about the era; the nomenclature . . . everything about that time period. I spend as much time on research as I do writing my stories. Sometimes more. My latest book takes place in the late 19th century, and I’m presently researching women’s undergarments of the 1890s. If there is anything you need to know about pantalettes, just ask me.

As to how I deal with mundane things such as bathroom breaks, I can best illustrate that by showing you a short excerpt from my last book. The setup is that my protagonist has been kidnapped. After hours traveling tied up in the back of a wagon, her kidnapper stops and orders her to start a fire and cook them a meal. The conversation starts after he has cut the rope binding her hands.

“Why have you done this to me?”

“Never mind that. You’ll see soon enough. You just be a good girl, and you won’t get hurt.”

I would take great joy in plunging a knife—right up to the hilt—into his heart! However, I didn’t let that thought show on my face. Instead, I asked if it would be all right if I used the convenience while he got the firewood.

“Ain’t no conveniences out here. You can go behind that bush over yonder, and don’t be all day about it. I’m hankerin’ for some coffee.”

When I had finished my business behind the bush, I collected what I needed from the wagon and set about making breakfast.

I don’t dwell on bathroom breaks, but I feel they must be addressed if the situation calls for it, as it did in this instance. The woman was abducted coming from a dinner party and spent ten hours tied up in the back of a wagon. I figured asking about a “bathroom break” would be one of the first things anyone would think about. I keep the cussing to a bare minimum. I wrote 100,000 words for MOLLY LEE and used only one cuss word (the “F” word) in the entire manuscript because it was necessary for the scene I was writing.

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

Some jobs I’ve had in the past have been real doozies. I’ve done back-breaking physical labor. I’ve worked as a waiter for a short spell and hated every minute of it. I worked with and breathed in chemicals that have done a number on my lungs. But the worse job I ever had was when I was eighteen. I worked at a McDonalds for one day. At the end of the shift, I walked out never to return. I didn’t care about the pay I was owed or anything else. I just wanted out of there.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Gandhi and my mother. Gandhi because he defeated a super power without firing a shot. My mother because of something that happened a long time ago. We lived in the South, in an all-white neighborhood. The year was 1968. Then the unthinkable happened. A black family moved in across the street. The “For Sale” signs appeared immediately up and down the block.

My mother was beset with rheumatoid arthritis. She was bed-ridden, but when she heard about the family moving into our all-white neighborhood, she got out of bed and baked a cake . . . from scratch. She was in a lot of pain. I begged her to go back to bed, but she would not.

When the cake was iced, she instructed my eighteen-old self to carry it across the street and welcome our new neighbors to our slice of heaven. She would have gone herself, but baking the cake had taken everything she had. She died shortly thereafter.

My mother lives on in me when I show love for my fellow man, regardless of the color of his skin.

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

I don’t think I’d like to travel to the past. I study history, and I love history, but the comfort level must have been pretty low back then. I mean, they had no air conditioning! And getting from point A to point B must have been a nightmare on a horse or a mule. Having said that, here are three places I could tolerate for a while.

  1. I would like to watch The Great Pyramid being built.
  2. The North American Continent before it was discovered by Europeans.
  3. Atlantis during its heyday.

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

There is only one: the collected plays of William Shakespeare.

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?

Though it is not considered a work of art, per se, I’d love to own the Shroud of Turin. I would not display it. Not out of selfishness, but because I would not want to deal with the crowds.

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

I haven’t read any reboots of the classics. Although, I did write one. It’s entitled, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. I have them as adults in the Old West. It’s getting very good reviews on Amazon.

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

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke.

JoyceMollyLeeMolly Lee book blurb:

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

Andrew Joyce is the author of the best-selling novel, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

Places to find Andrew Joyce

London Warriors by Paul Rudd

RuddLondonWarriorsWhere I Got It: Won a copy

Narrator: Fred Wolinsky

Publisher: Thorstruck Press (2015)

Length: 10 hours 24 minutes

Author’s Page

The world as we know it no longer exists. The boundaries with Hell have fallen and a variety of demons and mutated humans run amok. London has taken drastic measures to protect some of its human population by building a big wall around the inner city.  Plenty of humans, mostly the poorer ones, have been left on their own. Now Roman leads a band of disgraced and hardened convicts on a suicide mission to thwart the demi-god Demiurge.

This book had a lot of potential. I dived into it thinking it would be a great hit. On the surface, it has a lot of elements that I enjoy: mutated humans, supernatural forces, suicide mission, questionable heroes. But as I got further into the book, I realized this one wasn’t for me.

Let’s start with the questionable heroes. Some of these guys, and one gal, had interesting jobs, like bounty hunting, that got them in hot water and then incarcerated. Some were incarcerated for rape and murder. So it is a pretty interesting mix of ‘heroes’ for this book. Because some of these guys have impulse control problems coupled with a violent nature, they often made sexually violent remarks to the few women. At first, this added to the flavor of the book and gave me a few characters to hate. But these remarks, and later actions, became so common place they outshone the plot.

There is a lot of threatened, implied, and carried out violence towards women in general in this book. It was not balanced out with strong, competent female characters. I’m not a squeamish reader. I enjoy books with cussing, violence, sex, and the occasional terrible event that defines our characters. However, the author chose to put our female characters in skimpy hot pants for the fighting. Yep, hot pants. Who in their right mind wears hot pants to a suicide mission? None of the men did. Also, we were often told how awesome the few female characters (I recall 3, but there might have been a few more) were instead of shown. Much of their awesomeness happens off stage and we don’t get to live through their great deeds. Plus they often have to be rescued. Also, nearly all the plot decisions are made by male characters.

I will say the pacing was fine and I kept getting sucked back into the plot hoping things would even out. Many of the characters have some sort of super power and those were fun to explore. There’s a touch of romantic feelings between Roman and Eden (they use to be on the same espionage team until Roman got thrown in prison and Eden captured while on a mission). Yet despite the individually interesting characters, the action-packed plot, and the Hellish setting, this book was dud for me. It started off strong but then devolved quickly with the overboard gender-biased violence.

I won a copy of this book from the publisher via the Beauty in Ruins book blog.

The Narration: Fred Wolinsky did a fine performance. He had strong voices for the demons and other monsters and had a fine, commanding voice for Roman.  He had quite a range of characters to perform for this book and he did them well. 

What I Liked: The cover art; the story’s premise; mutated humans; Hellish monsters; suicide mission; questionable heroes.

What I Disliked: Overboard with the gender-biased violence; weak female characters; much of the women’s accomplishments happen off stage and we don’t get to live them; while the women get skimpy outfits, the men are dressed appropriately for the mission.

What Others Think:

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