Bookish Giveaway & Review: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham (2017)

Length: 6 hours 46 minutes

Author’s Page

Set on Cape Cod island just after July 4th, plenty of folks are heading home after the holiday weekend. Terrorists put an end to their fun by cutting the island off from the mainland killing several and threatening more damage. On top of this, Hurricane Chad is about to hit land and hit it hard.

This was a fast-paced fun action read. There’s Marcus, a CIA operative, who’s been following a suspicious crew and ended up saving Seth’s life. Seth has a key to the terrorists’s plans. Meanwhile, disgraced ex-police detective Sara has noticed Marcus skulking around and the two have to decide whether to work together on this major threat or work independently. Then there’s Joe Doyle who made a very questionable decision to steal from his boss, but he got more than he bargained for and now he’s on the run for his life. With the island cut off, he decides to hide in a little tucked away place, taking the elderly Anne hostage.

I love big weather events and how they impact humans, so the hurricane element of this story was a lot of fun for me. People have to prepare for it. Well, the smart people prepare for it. Hopefully the authorities prepare for it. It was interesting to see how having the island completely cut off affected this aspect of the story. Now the folks on the island can’t expect supplies and recovery crews to come in right after the storm. So they have to adjust, stretching out the supplies they do have to last longer.

My favorite character in this tale was Anne. She’s in her 80s and has weathered many a storm on the island. She’s gone the shelters before and found them wanting so some years ago she made the decision to wait out any storm at home. She’s smart enough to prepare her home for the fury of Mother Nature and has laid in supplies and boarded up windows. But she wasn’t expecting a desperate Joe to show up at her door. I like her response to this situation though I felt that Joe’s ineptness was a bit overplayed. He’s in his mid 30s and yet he acts like he’s in his 20s. Anne treated him like a wayward kid that just needed some guidance, but I think there comes an age where very few of us can pull off being simply a wayward kid who just needs a little push in the right direction.

The back and forth between Sara and Marcus was OK. I liked Sara’s backstory but I found her acceptance of Marcus (who she just witness kill someone with a silencer) to be a little too quick. I don’t recall anyone at any time during the story independently verifying Marcus’s credentials. Seth was a bumbling idiot who was used by the terrorists but he helped move the plot forward.

The plot pulls in many threads. The US President made a promise 3 years ago to spend the weekend at a certain key supporter’s house on the very weekend of the attack. Then there’s anthrax, which may or may not be more of problem with the hurricane coming in. Then a lost valuable that belonged to a murdered priest turns up. The mastermind behind it all has a personal vendetta with a Cape Cod family. All these little strings got pulled into the overall plot and some of them mattered and some of them didn’t go anywhere at all. for instance, I would have liked a line or two to wrap up the ending for the murdered priest.

All together, it was a fun action flick with some interesting characters. I would like to see Sara and Marcus team up again. I hope Anne gets a chance to have a little vacation in Bermuda.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Greg Hernandez was OK. While he was good with some emotions (excitement, surprise, anger), he didn’t really have distinct character voices. I had to pay close attention during dialogue sections to keep track of who said what. His female voices weren’t particularly feminine. His pacing was good and the volume level was steady all the way through.

What I Liked: Hurricane Chad; Anne was my favorite character; how the island was cut off; Sara and Marcus working together.

What I Disliked: It was hard to think of Joe as some wayward kid that just got in over his head; anthrax seems dated; some threads weren’t neatly tied off.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Andrew Cunningham:

I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including  25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

​I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Amazon

Synopsis of Deadly Shore:

It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Greg Hernandez:

For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer.  I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau.  I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House.  I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years.  At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States.  The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period.  They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

Twitter ~ ACX

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $50 Amazon gift card. Open internationally! Ends June 28th, 2017.
Deadly Shore Giveaway

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction & Horror, edited by Mark Matthews

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Wicked Run Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 29 minutes

Editor’s Page

This anthology focuses on addiction, mostly drug and alcohol addiction. They range from science fiction to horror to the paranormal. The editor opens with a short foreword about addiction and his hopes that this anthology will provide some insight into the struggle of addicts and hopefully bring about some compassion for those suffering from addiction. Even if this anthology doesn’t do that for you, it’s still quite entertaining, insightful, riveting, sometimes disgusting, usually disturbing, and chock full of examples of bad decisions made.

A Wicked Thirst by Kealan Patrick Burke

Melinda and this guy, our unnamed narrator of this story, meet at a bar. They go back to her place and have sex, sort of. Then he wakes up out in the street being drowned in a rainwater puddle. A specter of Steven Carver, his former AA sponsor, reminds him of his failures. The timeline jumps around a little as our alcohol-sodden character tries to muddle through the night. What’s real, what’s not? What’s in the present and what’s in the past? This tale did a great job of showing the inner confusion of someone deep in the clutches of alcoholism. There’s this scene where this guy is burying his daughter’s dead cat and he cries, not for the cat, not for his daughter, but for himself and stuff that happened during his own childhood. This scene really brought home how this character has so much stuff that’s left unresolved in his life. 5/5

The One in the Middle by Jessica McHugh

Set in a future 2080s Patterson Park in Baltimore, the new drug of choice is Atlas. Heavy users like to inject it directly into their genitals, giving them a long-lasting incredible high. Perry Samson is still obsessed with his ex-wife Serina. He watches her from afar and thinks of her when he masturbates. He needs another high but his junkie friend Loshi thinks it’s high time Perry be the one to score and share. The author shows us the keen edge of depravity in this story. The Atlas junkies are willing to sell their flesh for a hit and some cash. Meanwhile, the rich who can afford the delicacy of well prepared human meat enjoy it in swanky restaurants. It reminded me of high school and college students who would sell plasma to go buy some pot. This was my favorite story in the bunch easily. I love the future SF setting (there’s TVs spread throughout the park showing The Wire reruns with all the hopeful scenes cut out) and yet we still have this drug culture, one in which there’s those who suffer and those who profit from it. 6/5

Garden of Fiends by Mark Matthews

Terra Snyder is in Narcotics Anonymous, living with her parents and trying to get her life back together. Then her former boyfriend Brett unexpectedly shows up. He’s in the Work Release Program while in prison. Against her better judgement, she goes with him to Russell’s place where they used to buy their drugs and hangout. The author shows us step by step how easy it is for someone to be roped back into the users lifestyle. The point of view bounces back and forth from Terra to her dad Gregory throughout the story. Gregory, Heather, and their daughter Terra (somewhat reluctantly) have been working on this urban farm in the middle of Detroit. Heather is one of those always upbeat, optimistic types who would never give up on her kid. Gregory, while not a perpetual optimist, would do anything to keep his daughter safe. This tale really showed how the blame game turns into an excuse to either shuck responsibility for past bad deeds or to commit more bad deeds. 5/5

First, Just Bite a Finger by Johann Thorsson

This bit of flash fiction dealt with a different kind of addiction, but I feel the spirit of it (exploring a new-to-you high) could be applied to any new addiction. Julia, 39, went to a party, buzz wearing off, so she’s looking to try something new. This guy Toussaint bites off the tip of his pinky finger. Julia thinks it’s a trick. However, as the week goes on Julia notices bits missing from her friends. This little horror flick ended a bit too soon for me. I felt there was more for Julia to tell us. 4/5

Last Call by John FD Taff

Ted is in AA but he keeps falling off the wagon, going from group to group. His sponsor Sam reluctantly sends him to a liquor store with a special card, telling him to ask for the last bottle he will ever need. The store owner gives him a little lecture about choosing life or death. The unlabeled bottle is referred to as a shortcut, which I thought was a great way to show later on that there is no shortcut when it comes to dealing with addiction. The story leaps forward 5 years here, 10 years there, etc., showing how Ted’s life has changed and yet how this shortcut bottle is still tucked away, hiding in his closet. The ending is left dangling and I would have liked a line or two to close it out. It would have made the story more poignant or hopeful depending on how things ended. 4/5

Torment of the Fallen by Glen Krisch

Maggie is headed from Phoenix to Aurora, IL to hunt down her long-lost father, Desmond Gabriel. She can see demons and her online paranormal activities, where she goes by Jenny Halloween, have finally given her a hint as to where her father is. Her father, a homeless man, was mentioned on a paranormal chat site, Torment of the Fallen. She meets a short man that goes by Cheddar near the supposedly haunted house where her father sometimes crashes. I enjoyed this story because it had that urban fantasy feel to it where demons were being investigated and a lost person would be found, hopefully. If this story wasn’t in an anthology that focused on addiction, I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on those elements of the story. I hope we see more of Jenny Halloween in the future. 5/5

Everywhere You’ve Bled and Everywhere You Will by Max Booth III

Jeremy, 26, is bleeding from his urethra. Perhaps the hepatitis is getting to him though he asks his lover Eliza if she bit him. He hasn’t told her about his hepatitis yet. At work, it gets worse so he goes to a clinic where he runs into Nick, a former junkie friend. He has one confrontation after another and things get worse and worse for him. Let me just whisper it to you – spiders. Yep. This was easily the most creeptastic and scary story of the anthology! I don’t even have a penis or hepatitis and it made me shudder. 5/5

Returns by Jack Ketchum

In this short tale, Jill Hunt’s husband’s spirit returns from the dead. She’s been drinking since he was run over by a cab. He thinks he’s returned to help Jill get past his death and not succumb to alcoholism. She can see and hear him but she thinks it’s all in her head. This little story was rather sad as it involved a pet and this failed relationship. I felt that things were left a bit unresolved as I wanted to know what ultimately happened to Jill or her husband’s spirit. 4/5

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a pretty good job with this anthology. There was a lot of ground to cover, that’s for sure! His female voices were pretty good. Melinda and Terra sounded like women. For the most part, he had distinct characters though in the story Garden of Fiends he occasionally sounded a bit mechanical and the characters weren’t distinct (I had to follow closely the dialogue between Brett and Terra to keep straight who said what). In the entire book, I only caught a single mispronounced word – conflagration. It just happens to be one of my favorite words and that’s why the butchering of it stood out. The pacing and volume were all well done. Over all, a well-done narration.

What I Liked: The variety of substances abused; the different genres; the various tones; spiders!; genital drugs!; great cover art; pretty good narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing, it was an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining anthology.

What Others Think:

Grim Reader Reviews

Horror After Dark

The Horror Bookshelf

Horror Novel Reviews

Book Den

Lee Murray

Bark’s Book Nonsense

The American Fathers: Emperor by Henry L. Sullivan III

Narrators: Adrianne Cury, Karin Anglin, Kevin TheisAmro Salama, Antonio Castillo, Jeff Cummings, Scott Duff, Steve Downes, and Tony Dobrowolski

Publisher: Sullivan Serials (2017)

Length: 3 hours 2 minutes

Series: Book 4 The American Fathers

Author’s Page

Note: While this is Book 4 in the series, it works well as a stand alone, though it is definitely enhanced by enjoying the first 3 episodes previously. However, if you do pick this up as a stand alone, you might want to check out the glossary first to pick up some of the lingo, characters, and overall atmosphere of the series. For the audiobook, this glossary starts at the 2 hours 41 minutes mark and lasts just over 20 minutes.

Set in 2032, Victor Daco is at the height of his career, being America’s king in all but name and official letterhead. He’s been the power behind this New Rule movement for decades, setting up this rulership step by step. Now he just has to crush the POP Watchers, a hacktivist resistance group, and have the US President sign the final piece of legislation that will allow him total authority.

This is the book I had been waiting for in this series, the tale that ties all four stories together. The history of how the ruling Houses came into being is clearly laid out, past characters (such as Victor’s daughter Irene) are mentioned or brought into play, and the entire story arc moves forward a bit as Victor’s enemies circle him like waiting sharks.

My one quibble is that the female characters aren’t particularly important to the plot as they were in the first 2 books. Natalia, Irene’s mom, has the most lines. She is clever and elegant but nearly all of her role is to comfort Victor even as she builds up or reigns in his ego. I think she has more to give and I’m doubtful we will get to see that in future installments.

The science fiction bits were great. I love Victor’s chosen mode of transport, all the corporate spying that goes on, and cyber enhancements the rich can obtain. While I did like Victor’s fancy suit of armor, I felt the story was a little rushed in taking us from Victor the Ruthless Businessman to Victor the Iron Man. The story spends plenty of time on the political intrigue (which I like) but I would like to see this level of detail in Victor’s character arc as well.

Hispanic US President – yay! I quite love the multi-ethnic character list this series continues with. Take Victor’s college nemesis, an Arab royal, into account as well because Victor hasn’t made note of him, a failure he will regret. There’s a solid ending to this installment though I do wonder where the author will take the series from here. I expect Big Things to come about from the events of this book.

I received a free copy this book.

The Narration: The audio production and narration for this series continues to be excellent. The full cast provides a range of distinct voices for the characters. There’s also sound effects that enhance the story instead of distracting from it. I especially liked the use of this heavy metal music for this particular scene; it wasn’t loud enough to drown out the story but it was prevalent enough to make me believe the characters were having a hard time with the volume.

What I Liked: Great narration; Victor Daco is an interesting characters; his story arc from college student to the New Rule to his current high station; all the SF bits; the ending of this installment of the series.

What I Disliked: The ladies aren’t nearly as important in this part of the tale as they were for Books 1 and 2.

Medicine for the Dead by Ambrose Ibsen

Narrator: Jake Urry

Publisher: Ambrose Ibsen (2016)

Length: 5 hours 32 minutes

Series: Book 2 The Ulrich Files

Author’s Page

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

Harlan Ulrich is a private investigator whose coffee addiction has led him into financial embarrassment. He’s about to be homeless, but a homeless man with an excellent coffee maker. Some friends of his insisted on inviting him to the bar even though he doesn’t drink. There he meets an old acquaintance who offers him a place to stay provided he looks after the building, which is being renovated. Of course, Harlan can’t turn this down.

The Exeter House has quite the history but the bar downstairs and the soon to be open apartments on the upper floors promise it another life. Vagrants living in the building has been a problem in the past and now Harlan has to walk the building at odd hours of the night to ensure no one is messing about. Of course, something spooky happens followed by more spooky things happening.

The covers for this series make it look like there will be a gorefest but really, there isn’t. There are a few scenes that depict some horror, but the author uses these wisely and they drive home the torture these spirits are in as unfinished business from their life remains to be seen to. Lucky for them, Harlan can see and hear them. Unlucky for Harlan as this keeps him from sleeping.

I loved the cat Sparkles! He added some amusement and suspense to the story in good measure. I look forward to seeing him in future stories. I think the added responsibility is good for Harlan too. Hopefully he will manage his coffee addiction wisely in the future so that he and Sparkles maintain a roof over their heads.

This tale does have two weaknesses and those are that it has a small cast of characters and there’s only 1 female. There’s Harlan, Sparkles, Harlan’s 2 friends from the bar, the old acquaintance that has him building sitting, and the barman working the bar downstairs. Pretty soon this turns into a missing persons case and there’s only so many players I can squint at suspiciously. Early on it was apparent who was most likely involved. With that said, I was surprised by the number of dead, and so was Harlan. Obviously, I would like a better gender balance but that’s not always possible with a small cast.

Once again, Harlan has helped a flailing spirit set things right. For a few moments there, it looked like things could go very badly for Harlan, but since I know there’s a 3rd book in the series, I wasn’t too worried. This was a very satisfying story, despite being able to pick out the culprit early on. I love how Harlan has to argue with himself, convincing himself of what he’s seen and heard, and then using his detective mind to dig into it a bit deeper. In the first book, he stumbled into the paranormal. In this tale, he’s got the experience to build on and I feel he’s really becoming that paranormal investigator the dead so desperately need.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Jake Urry really brings something to these books. Yes, he does have a British accent for some of the words, but I can totally believe Harlan Ulrich is simply a very proper speaking gent that happens to live in Toledo, Ohio. He does great with the other voices as well, keeping each distinct. Harlan goes through a variety of emotions in this book and Urry brought them all to life.

What I Liked: Spooky but not a gorefest; great use of suspense; Sparkles the cat; quality coffee leads our hero into ruin; satisfying end; great narration.

What I Disliked: Small cast of characters so it was easy to pick out the evil-doer; only 1 female character.

What Others Think:

Sci Fi & Scary

My Trending Stories

Quiet River by Natasha A. Salnikova

Narrator: Denise Kahn

Publisher: Natalia Salnikova (2016)

Length: 10 hours 1 minute

Author’s Page

Set in and around Seattle, Washington, the Collins are learning to deal with tragedy and move on. Lisa and Matt work at a small magazine and were expecting their second child until tragedy struck. In recovering from such a loss, Matt buys a small place in Quiet River. They recently had a lovely vacation there and Matt hopes that Lisa and Evan can be happy their during the week while he visits them on the weekends. However, there’s a quiet evil in this little town.

There was much to like about this tale, though it did drag on a bit at times. The story started off very happy happy. Lisa, Matt, and young Evan are all happily expecting a baby. Evan looks forward to being a big brother and Matt is great at tending to Lisa’s crazy food cravings. While they do have an odd experience while on vacation in Quiet River, it wasn’t much. Eventually, the plot does get a kick in the pants when Lisa unexpectedly loses the baby. She’s suffering from depression and pushing her loved ones away. Matt feels a lot of pressure and also sadness and loses himself in an affair.

This too goes on for a while becoming a bit dull. Then Matt decides that Lisa and Evan would probably be happier out in Quiet River, so he makes it so, and indeed, it does seem to help Lisa. She even makes a friend with a lonely neighbor, the elderly Trouby. Meanwhile, Evan has made a few friends with the local kids. They like to play by the river, which makes Lisa nervous but Mandy (one of the other parents) doesn’t seem to be that concerned.

During this time, there’s a lot of suspense being built up even if it drags for a bit. There’s definitely something odd about Trouby, but she might simply be a bit socially awkward. Then there’s Kristine, the woman who Matt had an affair with. She’s rather territorial and needy. Matt called off the affair some time ago, but Kristine is having trouble letting it go. Then someone very unexpected shows up in Quiet River and we have a body! Yes! The plot moved forward once again!

Nearly all the action happens in the last fifth of the book. Because the majority of the book was pretty mellow, having all that violence at the end was a little shocking and it was definitely a shift in tone. I would have liked to have things evened out a bit. All around, the story was OK with the best bits being the scenes that got the plot to move forward.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Denise Kahn was really good at imbuing the characters’s voices with emotions. She had distinct voices for all the characters and accents for a few of them. Her recording does sound a bit tinny here and there and the volume does go up and down throughout.

What I Liked: The setting; the building suspense; Lisa’s character; the mystery of Quiet River.

What I Disliked: The plot does drag here and there. 

What Others Think: 

Readers’ Favorite

Hot Air by Denise Kahn

Narrator: Denise Kahn

Publisher: 4Agapi (2017)

Length: 8 hours 22 minutes

Author’s Page

Sean’s roots start in Ireland with a girl on the cusp of womanhood. She eventually flees to the USA to get a fresh start where she meets the man who will become her husband. Together, they raise Sean who becomes a pararescueman and goes on to battle terrorists in Afghanistan and at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

I really wanted to like this story but it needs quite a bit of polishing. We start off with young Sean and we have several chapters of him being a kid. This part of the story is suited for kids. The sentences are shorter and the vocabulary easier than what we have later in the book. The story shifts when we get a long story about Fiona, Sean’s mother. We spend several chapters with her and then a few with her and Tibi, the Navajo man who becomes her husband and Sean’s father. Yet then we get another shift once Sean joins the military. There’s lots of cussing and some practical joking along with military stuff. Altogether, it felt like I had read 3-4 short stories, all with their own flavor, that had been smashed together in this book. It felt disjointed.

The description of this book makes me think this a thriller full of action and suspense. However, the terrorists and action really don’t come into the story until sometime in the second half. There is a little glimpse into this with the prologue but then we have half the book or more before we return to it.

The lengthy section about young Sean stands well on it’s own. He’s fascinated with the hot air balloons that are common in and around Albuquerque a good chunk of the year. There’s this mystical quality to his dreams as he travels back in time to witness the first European attempts at hot air ballooning. This section is decently written even if I find that it doesn’t really fit the description of the book.

In Sean’s late teens, we get a very lengthy flashback of Fiona’s history. Again, I liked this section on it’s own. There are parts of it that did seem over simplified, but for a short story explaining a character’s motivations for leaving Ireland and making her own way in a foreign land, it was OK. This section includes Fiona meeting Tibi, a native New Mexican and full-blood Navajo. Their romance is sweet, if simplistic.

Once Sean joins the military, things do pick up. There’s plenty more characters to enjoy, like Niko (Sean’s best friend) and later a little more romance as the men find love. I did find the terrorists to be simply drawn, not having much depth. The action follows Sean home and he has to do some heroics at the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

As a New Mexican, I just wanted to point out that there is a difference between salsa and sauce and typically when ordering a New Mexican dish with ‘Christmas’ on it, you are getting both red chile sauce and green chile sauce, not salsa (as the book has it in one chapter). These little inaccuracies just added to the over all feel that this story needed yet one more edit before going to print.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Denise Kahn could do with some polishing on both her narrating skills and her audio production skills. This recording had a tinny quality for most of it and the volume ranged throughout it. Also she took several chapters to settle into 1 pronunciation for Tibi; since she is also the author, I felt this was sloppy. She does make a solid effort to give each character an appropriate accent and for the most part, she is consistent (though I can’t speak to the accuracy of some of her foreign accents). The book does have some nice little bits of music in between each chapter.

What I Liked: The cover art; the over all concept; Sean’s love of being up in the air; the action scenes.

What I Disliked: The book feels like multiple short stories were smashed together and they don’t flow from one to another well; the narration and audio production were tough on this book.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

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

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

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

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

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?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? 

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

Places to Find Colin Falconer

Website

Facebook

Twitter

GoodReads

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Giveaway & Interview: Ryan Hyatt, Author of Rise of the Liberators

Join me in welcoming Ryan Hyatt to the blog! He’s the author of Rise of the Liberators, as well as his science fiction novel Stay Younger Longer. Don’t miss out on his thriller, The Death of Rock and Roll. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win a signed copy of either the military SF Rise of the Liberators or the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

I think I’d have to go heavy on this one … the library of my dreams would contain the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts

I wouldn’t be able to read them, of course, because they’d be written in languages I don’t know, but I’m assuming there’d be scholars on hand in this awesome library who would be wiling to translate these books for me, so I could ask them questions like this: Who was the author of the Bible, really? How does the original draft of the Bible compare to the one people read nowadays in Sunday school? Have any important parts been changed or omitted? Which parts, and why do you think so?

Depending on the answers, more questions might follow: Is it fair to conclude that the Bible really is the word of God, then, because it sounds to me like a lot of people have had their hand in writing and revising this thing? Therefore, how can I be sure God exists, if even the author(s) of His book have come into question? And if God does exist, regardless of who writes His books, who created God, then?In fact, how can there be anything at all  — the stars, the ocean, my laundry, myself? In other words, how can anything come from nothing, including us?

Yet here I am, here we are. These concerns would likely bring me to the final question I’d have for the scholars about the original draft of the Bible and the world’s other religious texts …

How am I to believe in a book whose truths easily contradict my own line of questioning about them? Thus, can I conclude is life a miracle, a charade, or a little of both? To which I would listen attentively to the scholars’ response. I have a lot of questions on this topic, obviously, and some I suspect they wouldn’t be able to easily answer …

And that’s okay, because I’ve had these questions all of my life, but having access to the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts might shed some light on those who wrote these amazingly beautiful and terrifying stories, and perhaps help me and others think better about and beyond them.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Easy. I always wanted to write a science fiction story about a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (like me) who obtains a time machine and uses it to travel into the past to see all of the great concerts he’s missed over the years …

Therefore, the decade I’d choose to live in as a teen would be the sixties — an era of passion and protest and an explosion of the music I love, thanks to millions of youth who dared to make the world a better place. I’d hit up Woodstock the Monterrey Music Festival … I’d see bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie before they were broken up or taken from this Earth or too old to care who wanted to see them play …

Perhaps these concert-hopping visits would be part of my investigation into some of the cosmic conspiracies associated with those famous rockers that died that same decade all at the same sweet young age — the famous ’27 Club’ — musicians like Jimi HendrixJanis Joplin and Jim Morrison

The sixties would probably provide the most bang for the buck for a sound junkie like me, closely followed by the punk rock and funk of the seventies, where maybe I could make a pit stop before returning the present?

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

Back to the Future — Now there’s a funny, family-oriented film similar in theme to the eighties when it was released and worth a review — for me, at least — because that was the magical decade of childhood, a glorious time when suburbs were cool and my friends and I wore netted tank tops and Velcro pants and rode around our neighborhood on Gordon & Smith skateboards, the beginning and ending of innocence …

The Matrix — I’d also like to experience the power of this this film the first time all over again, because it was the first time in my young adulthood that I noticed that Hollywood was starting to finally gamble a little bit and put out edgy sci-fi movies that managed to be both thoughtful and entertaining. I wrote a short story, “Cerebral Cathedral,” years before The Matrix was released, which many of my friends read growing up, eerily similar to the movie — minus the bad-ass action and special effects, of course. (I dare say, the Wackowskis did it better). Still, seeing that movie on the big screen for the first time made me realize that maybe my writing was something others might enjoy, too.

Now we have Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Man in the High Castle, of course, which makes me feel anything awesome is possible in entertainment, as long as Hollywood continues to give awesome a chance!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

Artificially-intelligent bobbleheads, such as Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Lady GagaVoltron, Kevin Hart or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follow their owners around wherever they go and provide them with constant companionship, amusement and advice. These walking talking gizmos would be so distracting, they would not only help ween people off their smart phones for a minute, but they would also allow them to maintain moral standing in a world of ever-changing choices and possibilities, modern sages made in the image of pop culture icons — and to each of our own choosing — that guide us through this overly-complicated existence we have created for ourselves. They’d be available for $500 online or at the local shopping mall.

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

I’ve worked a lot of terrible jobs in my lifetime, too many to count, and most in a pitiful effort to support myself as I write. Nonetheless, in one of my more desperate hours, I signed up with a temp agency to work in a call center on behalf of a famous Los Angeles fitness infomercial guru. I sat side by side a bunch of fellow losers, artists and misfits. We were comrades in customer service!

The first part of our job: when people called to place their orders, we charged them for additional items such as vitamins, video tapes, leotards, jump ropes that they never asked for or wanted or might ever use, and then the second part of our job: refuse to refund their money to them when they called to complain and yell and scream about what we did and how it was so wrong, explaining to them calmly and casually instead that we were “just doing our job.”

I quit at the end of my first day, but it was that first real powerful and ridiculous taste of mindless conformity — a taste of hell, really — which so many billions of people have to put up with every day on this planet, listening to dumb-ass bosses and Presidents of countries in order to put food on our tables and a roof over our heads for ourselves and our loved ones — that made me want to fight and resist in whatever way I could, even if it meant just writing a story once in a while about someone who fights and resists a little better than me, or worse.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Philip Dick and Kurt Vonnegut: we may not return alive, but we’d laugh trying.

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

The two above, plus Hunter S. Thompson, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Henry Miller. They’d order two tofu steaks, whiskey, escargo, and strippers. It may not be the best meal I’d ever have, but I’m sure it would be an interesting one.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My grandfather, Arthur Hyatt, World War II and Korean war hero, a man of great humility and loving family patriarch, definitely one of the Greatest Generation. The odds would be a lot more in my favor with him in play.

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

In April, I was named a finalist in the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition which “aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry — with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.”

A bio on me and more information about my award-winning sci-fi novel, Stay Younger Longer, can be found on the Book Pipeline website.

Stay Younger Longer (2015), along with the recent release of Rise of the Liberators (2017), are part of my Terrafide series, techy tales of woe and hope in which the characters grapple with the economic and environmental realities of their world falling apart.

More information about this series can be found on Amazon or Goodreads.

This summer I might take a stab at turning my print books into audiobooks or adapting them into screenplays, but really I want to start another novel in my Terrafide series. We’ll see. I work as a high school English teacher nowadays and have a daughter, so time is limited. We’ll see.

For more updates on the state of the future, visit my satirical sci-fi news site www.thelalalander.com

Places to Follow Ryan Hyatt

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for Rise of the Liberators:

In 2022, the United States is in the throes of the Greatest Depression, and discharged Marine Corps Captain Ray Salvatore, a 34-year-old father and husband, must either allow his family’s poverty to continue or accept an employment offer to lead a band of military misfits with a new secret weapon into war in the Middle East.

Amazon

Book Blurb for Stay Younger Longer

Dick White, a 28-year-old Los Angeles bachelor and journalist, is put in peril after he learns a popular anti-aging drug called Euphoria is a biological weapon, leaving Dick to find the eccentric criminal who has developed a cure that might save countless lives, including his own.

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Death of Rock and Roll

Talented guitarist Darrell Breedlove is caught in the crosshairs of jealous psychopath Jake McKenzie, forcing Darrell to reconcile his past in order to embrace a promising future.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Ryan Hyatt is offering up 3 signed copies of the military SF Rise of the Liberators and 3 signed copies of the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Where do you live? Which book interests you the most? (You can choose a different book later if you win). Optional: Follow Ryan Hyatt any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 20th, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to the USA due to shipping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: Miss Mae, Author of the SF Tale Through A Glass Darkly

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Miss Mae. She’s the author of the Ahoy, Mischaps! series, the deliciously suspenseful science fiction tale Through A Glass Darkly, and the wonderful murder mystery Catch Me If You Can. If you’re interested in the audiobook version of Catch Me If You Can, Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

1) What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

The mystery of my husband’s illness! That’s nothing like the mysteries I write, I know, but whatever is afflicting him, and we -and the doctor- not knowing the answer, is driving us crazy. That’d have to be a medical kind of mystery book -definitely not what I write- but in a fictional plot, one might could weave that an airborne germ from a too-close asteroid from Mars invaded his bloodstream.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you choose?

I’ve thought on this since I read your question and I honestly can’t think of one. To me, if a character is evil enough to be labeled as villain, then he doesn’t deserve a happy ending (unless it’s satire, or humor, of course).

3) The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

Oh gosh, this is a tough one. Definitely all of Anne Shirley’s ‘Green Gables’ books, plus the DVD’s of the movies (with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie); James Herriot’s books; The Hobbit; Phyllis Whitney; Victoria Holt – wow, I could go on and on, but will stop there.

4) If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A superhero, and his name is Hero Husband to the Rescue! Yes, my hubby is my hero and he wouldn’t hesitate for one iota to risk his own life to save mine.

5) What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

This is funny because I was a teenager in the last century, but I ain’t revealing which decade! LOL

6) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d love to meet James Herriot, along with his partners ‘Siegfried’ and ‘Tristan’. I’d chat with him about his love of animals, and how veterinary medicine has changed since he first joined Siegfried’s practice.

7) What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

One that makes hacking computers a complete impossibility!

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

There is a job that stands out, though it wasn’t exactly my ‘worst’ or ‘most difficult’ (though I won’t say ‘challenging’, either, because I know something is shady when I hear someone try to explain a situation as ‘challenging’.) I held a job in an all male maximum- security prison and I managed their inmate accounts. What always, even to this day, struck me as ironic was when we employees parked our cars in the morning and walked up the sidewalk to go inside. We had to pass a guard in the tower and they always called down, “Any weapons?”

If I had a weapon on my person and meant to carry out a criminal intent, am I really going to answer, “Yes.”??????

9) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. How did you get into creating and designing cover art?

As a young girl, art was my first love. You could always catch me with a pencil in hand, trying hard to sketch what my fevered mind imagined. In 9th grade art class, one of my still-life’s was exhibited at a tri-county showing. However, in my later teens, the more books that I read the more I was drawn toward writing my own stories and that rivaled my love of art. With the invention of computers, though, and programs that manipulate stock photos, I can still create and design to my heart’s content – so I now enjoy the best of both passions.

Thank you for having me at your blog, Susan. I’m thrilled to be here! I’ve enjoyed meeting your readers. I’d be happy if anyone is interested in signing up for my monthly newsletter. When they do so, they can download a PDF of my SF novella, “Through a Glass Darkly” given as a gift. Also Dove Island and Fated Destiny…Oh, Yeah? are available as perma-free stories on Amazon!

Miss Mae’s question to my readers: Everybody is health conscious these days, but do you know where your chocolate was grown?

Places to Find Miss Mae

Website

I. B. Nosey Blog

Facebook

High-Octane Caffeine Coffee Shop FB Page

Twitter

GoodReads

Smashwords

Mailing List

Pulp Radio Audiobooks

Amazon

Audible

Book Blurb for Catch Me If You Can

Are all rules broken when it comes to playing a game? Washed ashore a South Carolina beach, Lois Steinberg learns her shelter, an old plantation house, was scheduled to host a “Catch Me” game convention. When the cook is the first one found murdered, the game environment instantly morphs into a terrifying evening reminiscent of And Then There Were None. This audio book has won the Platinum Award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition.

Don’t Forget: Miss Mae and her publisher is offering up a serious discount. Go to the book’s page on the Pulp Radio’s webiste, add to your cart, and use this code [DABDARK40] to get a 40% discount for the downloadable version of the audiobook.

Pulp RadioAmazon ~ Audible ~ Smashwords

Author Bio: 

Miss Mae is all about romantic mysteries. With her writing style compared to the likes of Agatha Christie, her books “Said the Spider to the Fly”, “When the Bough Breaks”, “Dove Island”, “It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred” and “See No Evil, My Pretty Lady” are award winning best sellers. The novellas “Miss Penelope’s Letters”, and “Through a Glass Darkly” have received top rated five-star reviews. Her latest murder mystery, “Catch Me If You Can”, in audio format, has won the platinum award in the 2017 Hermes Creative International Competition. Tantalizing trailers, and more information, is readily available at her website.

She’s also penned three tales in the ‘Ahoy, Mischaps!’ children’s/humor series. Book #1 is “Ahoy, Gum Drop!” followed by Book #2 “Ahoy, Out There!” with Book #3, “Ahoy, Mummy Mia!” In these slightly cracked stories, readers are introduced to a cast of intriguing, extraordinary and downright bizarre characters, accompanied by the one and only I.B. Nosey, the ‘official unofficial’ reporter. To learn more about the ‘Mischaps’ and cyberspace’s only Pukelitzer Award winning interviewer, visit ‘Feeling Nosey?’

The Head by Brian Barr

Narrator: Rick Gregory

Publisher: Brian Barr (2017)

Length: 48 minutes

Author’s Page

What would you do if you found a lone human head in the yard? You’d probably do something practical, like dial 911 or bury it. What if that head started talking to you and begged not to be left alone? Yep. That’s the situation our heroine Elizabeth finds herself in.

This tale is equal parts horror, suspension, love story, and humor. First, it’s a decapitated head named Bill complaining about a headache. Ha! Poor Bill doesn’t have many memories but he does enjoy Elizabeth’s company. As time goes by, Elizabeth comes to care for Bill as well despite Bill’s off-putting odor.

Things move along as Bill insists they go in search of his body. More memories come back and Elizabeth is drawn into a twisted paranormal situation. Let’s just say that Bill comes from a messed up family.

It was fun and I wasn’t expecting so much humor nor the love story. Also, on a personal note, my husband’s name is Bill and I couldn’t help but picture his head as The Head in this tale. That just added to the enjoyment of this story, not that I want to decapitate the man. Just if he ever ends up in that situation, I’d like to think I would love him all the same. For such a short story, it was full of entertaining surprises.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Rick Gregory did a great job as Bill the detached head. He fluctuated between serious and caring, pleading and decisive, with ease. His character voices were distinct though I felt that Elizabeth could sound a bit more feminine without sounding slightly cartoony.

What I Liked: Surprising twists!; Ha! A love story!; bits of horror but not gratuitously so; humor mixed in as well.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was an unexpectedly funny love story.

What Others Think:

Lomeraniel

Confessions of a Reviewer

Robin Lee’s Darkside