Bookish Giveaway & Review: Deceptive Cadence by Kathryn Guare

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Narrator: Wayne Farrell

Publisher: Kathryn Guare (2016)

Length: 11 hours 519 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Virtuosic Spy

Author’s Page

Set in 2003-2004, Conor McBride is willing to go to great lengths for his family. He was a concert violinist when he found out just how badly his older brother Thomas screwed him over. He’s since fled the country, leaving Conor to pay the government back the large debt. He also moved back to the family farm in Ireland to help his ailing mom (Brigid McBride) out. Then a mysterious man shows up offering him knowledge of where his brother is in exchange for service. Pretty soon, Conor is wrapped up in a world of deceit, drugs, corruption, and guns. And magnificent Indian food.

This was a gripping novel! Conor and his brother Thomas have some serious history between them. Conor feels that his life was ruined when he was saddled with his brother’s enormous debt, having to return from London to the family farm on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland that he never had any interest in. Years have passed and Conor grows comfortable on the farm, even though it’s a far cry from his concert violinist life. Then Frank Murdoch from MI6 shows up offering information on the whereabouts of Thomas but it’s not free. The British Intelligence Service wants something from Conor and that involves 10 hard weeks of spy camp and several long months working in some of the roughest parts of India. I was surprised when Brigid sends Conor off with her blessing, saying that Thomas needs him.

There’s very little about the spy camp. Our hero goes from fiddling cow milker to trained deadly spy in several paragraphs, tho there are a few references to his time there later in the story. Conor brought some of his own skills to table from the beginning, like his intelligence, linguistic skills, and athletic build. With that, he surpassed his instructor’s expectations. Yet he isn’t ready for everything he comes across in the field. There are some tough scenes for this fledgling spy and despite the dirty business he’s in, he never loses his humanity. He’s this wonderful mix of competence, steel nerves, and soft heart.

Most of the book takes place in India, in and around Mumbai. I definitely felt that the author had done her research. She brought the beauty and the grunge. It was a very believable setting complete with child slavery, tasty food, generous hospitality, illegal arms sales, gentle religious rites, and drug use.

There’s several female characters in this spy novel which isn’t the usual for this genre. So that was a breath of fresh air. Yet the ladies were pretty much there to comfort the men. They each have some personality and some role in the story that is more than window dressing and yet none of them ever really touch the central plot. Conor’s world of spies is a man’s world. I would have liked a bit more from the ladies. However, this little weakness of the story didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. Kavita was the most prominent lady in that she provided medical care and comfort of a motherly sort to Conor when he really needed it. I really liked her calm and patience and yet she could also be insistent when needed. Radha is a 13 year old heroin addict and dancer at a pleasure house. Conor’s undercover persona brings him to this seedy side of town where he meets Radha and he wishes he could do something to permanently help her situation. They’re relationship, as fleeting as it is, pulled the emotions out of me.

Let’s chat about Sedgewick, who like Murdoch, presents a well-honed edge to the world at large. Conor in his endearing way manages to catch both men in unguarded moments, revealing something deeper. Sedgewick had a lot more page time and he’s definitely a complicated character. He’s wrestled with his demons but they left scars and he’s just a touch paranoid that those around him don’t trust him…. but he’s in the spy business. I loved this polarity about him. He works in a field that calls for deception yet craves solid relationships. I hope we get to see him again.

The McBrides have a sixth sense of a sort. It’s left pretty nebulous, something that can be chocked up to chance or a mystical element depending on how the reader wants to interpret such things. For me, I could leave it or take it. This element of the story didn’t do much for me other than keeping Brigid engaged in the storyline even when she wasn’t on the page.

The action scenes were great. There was plenty of tension throughout the tale as Conor does his best to navigate this deadly web. With each layer of lies he peeled back, I became a little more paranoid about who he could trust. Eventually, we learn about the main bad guy that everyone wants, Vasily Dragonov. Things don’t go as planned and I felt deeply for Conor by the end of the story. What an emotional ringer the guy has been through! I was engaged throughout the entire tale. Conor McBride is my new favorite spy!

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

The Narration: Wayne Farrell nailed this performance. Gallic, English, Hindi, and Russian accents pepper this story and Wayne did a great job with all of them. There’s some Hindi and Gallic prayers and swearing as well which he did with gusto. His female voices were all believable and each character was distinct. He was able to portray the variety of emotions of Conor McBride and the other main characters with moving accuracy.

What I Liked: Gallic and Hindi, Ireland and India – all in the same book; the spy life takes something out of a person; Conor McBride is a good mix of thoughtfulness and unhesitating response; Sedgewick with his prickly vulnerability; Murdoch with his carefully crafted gentleman persona; Kavita’s caring hands; Radha’s great need; those final scenes on the road from the ski slope; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would have liked a little more from the ladies.

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Kathryn Guare:

Kathryn Guare lives in the Vermont town where she grew up, part of the third generation of her family to call the tiny capital city of Montpelier home. She spent ten years as an executive with a global health membership and advocacy organization, worked as a tour coordinator in a travel agency, and has traveled extensively in Europe and India. She has a passion for Classical music, all things Celtic, and loves exploring ethnic foods and diverse cultures. Her first novel, Deceptive Cadence was awarded the Audiobook Gold Medal in the Readers Favorite Awards.

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~Instagram ~ Pinterest

Synopsis of Deceptive Cadence:

Meet Conor McBride. He’s even more interesting than the trouble he gets into.

A talented Irish musician reluctantly reinvents himself, disappearing into an undercover identity to search for the man who ruined his career: his own brother. On a journey from the west of Ireland to the tumultuous city of Mumbai, Conor McBride’s only goal is to redeem the brother who betrayed him. But he’s becoming a virtuoso of a different kind in a dangerous game where the rules keep changing – and where the allies he trusted to help him may be the people he should fear the most.

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator Wayne Farrell:

Internationally acclaimed voice actor Wayne Farrell began his professional career at The National Theatre of Ireland, where he met the legendary Irish seanachai Eamon Kelly and became fascinated with the art of storytelling. Using skills learned during this time, Farrell has worked extensively in both documentary and audiobook narration and is widely admired for the rich clarity and versatility of his voice. His credits include award-winning authors such as Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart won The Guardian’s First Book Award as well as Irish Book of the Year; and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers such as Morgan Rice, author of the fantasy epic The Sorcerer’s Ring.

Website ~ Soundcloud

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 1 year Audiofile Magazine Subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 19th, 2017.

Deceptive Cadence Audio Tour Giveaway

Bookish Giveaway & Review: Twelve to Murder by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: James C. Lewis

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 6 hours 39 minutes

Series: Book 7 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 7 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

With the gruesome murder of the Stillmans, the police of Spencer, Maryland are out in force. Unfortunately, they fail to corral Derrick Stillman before he talks to the press, throwing blame for the murders on former child movie star Lenny Frost. From there, we end up with a group of drunk baseball enthusiasts held hostage while Mac Faraday and his half-brother police chief David O’Callaghan dig into the sordid pasts of all these people, the victims and suspects alike.

This was a delicious murder mystery that brings together failed movie careers, hostage situations, double and triple crossing, and guilt trips. Also, we delve into Mac’s love life a bit as his girlfriend Archie pushes to know why he doesn’t want to take the next step. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog is having girlfriend trouble of his own as he was pimped out, only to return to his regular girlfriend, Molly dog.

My favorite scenes were the old timers at the bar who are nearly oblivious to being held hostage (if only everyone would quiet down so they could enjoy the ball game!) and then when David takes on the female stunt woman Sela Wallace and walks away with some injuries. I also liked the jokes at Gnarly’s expense (lovingly doled out). He did over eat a bit, and it was weird bar food, so of course he would have digestive issues later on.

As a minor quibble, Wanda at the police station is described the exact same way in each book. I think I only noticed this because I have been listening to these books back to back. The sentences are the same, explaining that she’s almost always at the office because her grown kids and their offspring moved back home and she’s avoiding that chaos. With that said, we actually get to know more about her in this book as she has several lines while folks gather at the police station to figure out this tangled mystery.

I liked how we had two alcoholics/addicts in this tale. One has obviously worked hard to clean up his act while the other only enjoys the drama of the cycle (treatment, recovery, falling off the wagon, binges, treatment, etc.). It pulled at the heart strings a bit to see how one was trusted over the other with the resultant consequences.

Over all, it was a good solid mystery with plenty of moving parts and more than one guilty person with more than one motive. I love the way Mac puts challenges in front of his hotel manager, a really good guy who takes his job seriously.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: James C. Lewis was OK with this book. His female voices were good but his range wasn’t that big. Often, I had to listen closely to keep track of who was talking unless it was a character with a distinct accent. The narrators keep changing for this series and I think that’s part of it. I had gotten used to Mike Algers and previously Dan Lawson did an incredible job on one of the books. Book 1 was narrated by a woman, Janean Jorgenson. As a stand alone, I would say this is a decent narration.

What I Liked: A layered mystery; former child stars; an alcoholic who is succeeding with his recovery versus one who doesn’t take recovery seriously; the drunk baseball enthusiasts at the bar; Gnarly’s woman troubles; Sela the stunt woman; multiple guilty parties.

What I Disliked: There’s a minor character, Wanda, who gets the same descriptive paragraph for the last 3 books. This is a minor criticism and didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. 

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 21st, 2017.

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Bookish Giveaway & Review: The Lady Who Cried Murder by Lauren Carr

Scroll to the bottom for the GIVEAWAY!

Narrator: Mike Alger

Publisher: Acorn Book Services (2017)

Length: 7 hours 24 minutes

Series: Book 6 Mac Faraday

Author’s Page

Note: Even though this is Book 6 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

Three years ago in Spencer, Maryland, young Khloe Everest was reported missing by her mom after she received a disturbing phone call. However, it turned out to be a publicity stunt and all of the the Spencer police felt a fool when Khloe strolled up during a press conference on the ongoing search for the young lady. Now, she’s planning another publicity stunt in order to relaunch her grab for fame and fortune. This time, things don’t go as she likes and she ends up dead. So many suspects, so little time.

David O’Callaghan, the Spencer Police Chief, isn’t too excited to be called in to check out Khloe’s current residence. The wannabe diva’s social media went dark 3 days ago but David still remembers the sting of her first publicity stunt. Grudgingly, he offers to check it out provided all cameras stay outside. What he finds is quite grisly and the murder investigation is launched.

This book was pretty good though not my favorite in the series. The investigation into Khloe’s murder along with David’s courtship of an old flame, Chelsea, are the two things that stood out to me. There’s also a politician (along with his son) that has some old beef with Mac Faraday (retired DC police detective). That mostly faded into the background for me.

Here is my one criticism for this book. There are some characters that are gay or cross dress and all the characters who do so are on the bad guy list. I can’t tell if the main characters believe that homosexuality or cross dressing are signs of deeper problems and nefarious behavior or not. I’m on the fence on this because I haven’t come across other gay characters before in this series (to my memory). At any rate, I would have preferred that the characters make it clear that there are bad guys that just happen to be gay and not that homosexuality is a trait of questionable behavior.

Back to Khloe. She did have a big bombshell of a secret that she was teasing her followers with, promising to announce it to the world on a specific date. Initially, David isn’t too sure she had any real secret but he has to investigate nonetheless. It was a big secret indeed! I was surprised by this twist and it added a note of seriousness to story. Someone is a real jerk and needs to be taken down!

Then there’s Chelsea. She’s got epilepsy so she has a service dog, Molly, who can sense her episodes coming on and warn her early. Chelsea and David had a relationship in high school and David messed up big time. Back then, he cheated on her and he has regretted that ever since. Now he has a second shot with her and he’s doing his best to prove his sincerity. However, Chelsea is afraid of putting her heart out there again and being hurt. It’s a touch/don’t touch relationship between the two throughout the book. For me, it didn’t have nearly as much appeal as Randi from Book 4. Poor David, I’m not sure he will ever meet the right woman.

Anyway, David and Mac pull strings and dig in the past, calling in Cameron (who we know from the Lovers in Crime series) with her case files that relate to this one. She brought her cat Irving who is a big coon cat that resembles a skunk in coloring. Irving makes me laugh. No one likes being screamed at all the time. Meanwhile, Gnarly dog and Molly make a very cute couple.

All told, it was good. I enjoyed the central mystery around Khloe the most. It was good to have the pets around for comedic relief.

I received a free copy of this book via iRead Book Tours.

The Narration: Mike Algers did a very good job with this book. His female voices were believable and his characters were all distinct. He was great at sounding like a real jerk when giving voice to the foul-mouthed bad guys.

What I Liked: Khloe burned bridges with her first publicity stunt; a grisly murder kicks off the investigation; big secrets indeed!; Gnarly and Molly; Irving the skunk cat; Cameron getting called in to help out.

What I Disliked: All the gay or cross dressing folks are on the bad guy list.

Check out the TOUR PAGE for more reviews and stuff.

GIVEAWAY!!!

One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card (Open internationally). Ends July 9th, 2017.

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Audible Giveaway & Review: The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Karen Krause

Publisher: Listen2aBook.com (2017)

Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

Series: Books 1-8 The Book of Dragons

Author’s Page

This charming collection of children’s tales all center around dragons of one ilk or another. Each story can be read as a stand alone. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and reviewing two of these stories previously and when I saw that he narrator had 8 stories in one collection, I couldn’t resist. I know it would be good stuff and I wasn’t disappointed. These stories are great for kids and fun for adults too.

The Book of Beasts – This is one of the stories I have previously listened to and reviewed. It was just as good the second time around. The child king Lionel finds a book once owned by one of his distant grandsires. Like all good kids, he plays with it and sets a giant butterfly free. He’s warned not to do so again, but he releases yet another fantastical critter (a bird of paradise), and then another (the dragon!), which threatens his kingdom and he must make it right again. A hippogriff and manticore come into play too! 5/5

Uncle James – This story was so cute and it was mostly because there are cute little dog-sized elephants! Who doesn’t want a pet elephant that can snuggle on your lap and eat popcorn while you watch Flight of the Dragons? This tale takes place in Rotundia where all the sizes are backwards and a dragon has shown up that wants a princess as a present. Now this isn’t your typical ‘save the princess from the dragon’ story, as young Tom found out. By the way, keep your eye on Uncle James. He may not be trustworthy! 5/5

The Deliverers of Their Country – This was my favorite out of all the stories. It starts with young Effie getting something in her eye and that something is a teensy tiny dragon! Go ahead, squeal in love and excitement. I know I did. Who doesn’t want to adopt such a little dragon? However, these small dragons keep popping up throughout the land and they are starting to wreak havoc. Now Effie and her friend Harry have to find a way to reduce the number of dragons. It’s a clever solution to an over-population problem. 6/5

The Ice Dragon – Imagine North Pole dwarves dressed in seal skin. Now toss in an ice dragon. Lastly, make room for two adventurous kids, George and Jane, who just wanted to see the Northern Lights. things go ever so wrong. This story was actually a little gruesome because it has a bit of a body count. It’s not gory but I was a little surprised at little bit of darkness that crept into this story. Still, it was clever and the kids survive, so all’s well. 5/5

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – This was an interesting one. A childless Queen goes to an old witch begging for a child and the witch takes her jewels and uses them to whip up a baby girl. The Queen is totally satisfied but the King wanted a boy. So obviously, that makes a wedge between the couple. When the daughter reaches a certain age, he banishes her to an island that is protected by big beasties, like a dragon. Her mother, the Queen, and the witch both make sacrifices to make it possible for her to one day be rescued. I liked that the story hinged upon the love for an old crone. However, the princess to be rescued seemed rather daft to me, which I didn’t really care for. 4/5

The Fiery Dragon – This is the second story in this collection that gives a nod to St. George, a famous dragon slayer. Granddaughter Sabrinetta has got some skills on her which is a good thing because her unscrupulous cousin, Prince Tiresome, tosses her out of the dragon-proof tower to deal with the fiery dragon. Luckily she has a great friend, Elfin the pigkeeper, who can help her. That’s another thing I really like about these stories – so often there’s a ‘commoner’ that is essential to solving whatever dragon issue there is. 5/5

The Dragon Tamers – This had a little steampunky feel to it. John is a blacksmith and he and his wife have a new baby that cries often and loudly. Yet even with that intermittent noise, John has noticed an odd sound coming from the basement. He finally has to go down there for coal and he meets this dragon that needs rivets to repair his wing. The dragon isn’t shy about telling John what he plans to do once his wing is repaired: eat all the people including John and his family. Now John has to outsmart this dragon and that loud baby gets to play a key role in the subterfuge. It was clever and fun. 5/5

Kind Little Edmond – This is the second story I had the privilege to enjoy previously. This is the tale of young Edmond, who was filled to the brim with curiosity, so much so that he often irritated his elders. But not his loving and doting grandmother. Edmond decides to explore the nearby mountains and hears some very odd sounds. He meets and helps a mythical beast, a manticore, who rewards him by telling him magnificent tales. This was a great little tale and I really enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed this one as the tale has this underlying current about the value of learning things for oneself. 5/5

The Last of the Dragons – This great little story turns the typical princess + dragon + prince story on it’s head. Tradition requires the princess to be rescued from the dragon by a prince. However, this princess would much rather rely on her own fencing skills. The dragon isn’t too thrilled about the idea of coming out, threatening a nice young lady, and then being slain for the sake of tradition. This prince is up for doing something different. Why should he have to do all the hard work? It’s a great story to finish out the book. 5/5

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

The Narration: Karen Krause does such a lovely job with this classic. Her little kid voices are so believable yet she is also great at doing grumpy elderly characters as well. Her voices for the various beasts are also fun. You can tell that she enjoyed narrating these tales as much as I enjoyed listening to them. Great performance all around!

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; it’s great to see these classics come to audiobook; a charming collection of dragon tales; the author is great at switching things up; kids and adults, boys and girls, rich and poor, clever and kind – just a great representation with these characters; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – such a great little book. 

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author E. Nesbit:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness.

In “A Woman of Passion: The Life of E. Nesbit, 1858-1924”, Julia Briggs labeled Edith Nesbit Bland as the “first modern writer for children” and credits Nesbit with having invented the children’s adventure story.  Some of her best known stories are The Railway Children, Five Children and It and her Bastable family stories, The Story of the Treasure Seekers and The Wouldbegoods.  Her stories combined realistic children in real-world settings with magical objects and adventure, including travel to fantastical lands.  She has influenced such writers as P.L. Travers (Mary Poppins), Edward Eager (Tales of Magic) and J.K. Rowling and several of her stories have been adapted for film and television.  

Nesbit was a free thinker, a political activist, and co-founder of the Fabian Society.  A young Noel Coward, who was a great admirer of hers, once said she was “the most genuine Bohemian I had ever seen”.

Wikipedia

Synopsis of The Book of Dragons 1-8:

Edith (E.) Nesbit was a master at weaving imagination and real life into timeless fairy tales, with fantastic mythical creatures, princes and princesses, magic, and just the right touch of silliness. This is a collection of nine of her fairy tales with a common theme – Dragons! For children from five to 95, these stories are not to be taken seriously. Let your imagination run wild!

The Book of Beasts – A young king finds a magical book once owned by his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather and unwittingly sets a wicked beast loose in his kingdom. Now he must find a way to best the beast and win back the love of his subjects.

Uncle James – The island kingdom of Rotundia is normal in every way but one – all the animals are the wrong sizes. And when a purple dragon finds its way to the island and desires the princess as a birthday present, young Tom the garderner’s son, along with his lap dog sized elephant Fido, must find a way to save her.

The Deliverers of Their Country – “It all started when Effie got something in her eye…” and before the week was out, the country was overrun with dragons of all sizes. Effie and Harry decide something must be done, so they set out to wake St. George.

The Ice Dragon – Have you ever wanted to travel to the North Pole? See the Aurora Borealis up close and personal? Well, make sure you catch up to George and Jane, two disobedient children, who on December 11th, set out to do just that, finding adventure and a dragon on the way.

The Island of the Nine Whirlpools – When the King and Queen were ready to have a child, the Queen did what all good queens do; she visited the local witch. But she forgot to specify the King wanted a boy child.

The Fiery Dragon – Poor Sabrinetta, granddaughter to brave St. George the dragonslayer, has been banished to her dragon-proof tower while her evil cousin rules her kingdom. But when the dragon wakes, Prince Tiresome runs to the safety of her tower, throwing her out to fend off the dragon by herself. Can she and Elfin the pigkeeper save her people before the dragon has his way with them?

The Dragon Tamers – John the Blacksmith doesn’t know what is at the bottom of the stairs leading down from the dungeon. With any luck, he’ll never find out. But one day when he goes into the dungeon to fetch more coal, he comes face to face with the dragon that has risen from the depths. It looks like today John’s luck may have run out. Or is it just beginning?

Kind Little Edmond – Edmund is not fond of learning but he loves to find out. One day he finds out about the creatures living in the mountain near his village and thinks maybe he doesn’t like finding out about things so much after all. But once the creatures have been found, there is nothing to do but find a way to save the village before it’s too late.

The Last of the Dragons – As tradition holds, on her 16th birthday, the Princess must be tied to a post and left for the dragon. Of course, the Prince has always slain the dragon and saved the Princess. But this Princess is none too confident in the Prince’s ability to save her. She’s much better at her fencing lessons than he. So why can’t the Prince be tied up and saved by the Princess? And, why must the last dragon in England be slain at all?

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Karen Krause:

Karen grew up in a musical family and started singing with her daddy’s band when she was knee-high to a grasshopper, as they say in her native Ozark Mountains.  She’s been performing ever since, playing to anyone who would sit still long enough. When she wasn’t demanding to be the center of attention, she was high in her backyard tree reading just about anything she could get her hands on.  Her love of theatre and the stage grew from school plays and backyard shows to a college degree and regional theatre.  And her love of literature grew as well.  She discovered the world of audiobooks when they really were books on tape and has been an avid fan ever since.  About five years ago, she had an epiphany (why it took her so long is a mystery).  She could combine her love of performing with her love of the spoken word.  She recorded her first audiobook in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.  She just finished her 39th book and it will be released on Audible in June.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a 3-month Audible subscription. Open internationally! Ends July 8th, 2017.
The Book of Dragons Giveaway

Bookish Giveaway & Interview: Dean M. Cole, Author of Solitude

Folks, please give a warm welcome to science fiction author Dean M. Cole! We chat about Star Wars, world travel, and how cool a game based on Ready Player One would be. Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

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

I’d be a red shirt on an episode of Star Trek, and of course, I would only have one, monosyllabic name … I think Dean would work. I’m sure I would die a very gruesome, horrible death as I was eaten by a blue, velvet-clad monster.

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

Star Wars, of course. However, I imagine you get that one all the time so let’s go with Madea’s Big Happy Family … or not. Seriously, though, I would love to recapture the awe and magic of my first viewing of the original Star Wars.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

That’s easy: Ready Player One! I am a huge fan. I’d want to play the main character, Wade Watts. This proposed game would need virtual reality goggles and haptic gloves and suits. Hell, bring on the OASIS already.

As a commercial pilot, you travel quite a bit. Where do you consider home? What’s the furthest you have traveled from home (in distance or culture or socioeconomics)? Would you like to live there?

My wife and I live in Seabrook, Texas, a coastal community between Houston and Galveston. Work travels have taken me as far as Equatorial Guinea in Africa and parts of Asia. At one point, I traveled to Thailand by way of Moscow and Singapore, a trip that took me past the North Pole and across the entire Eurasian continent (that was a very long day). Donna can retire from her job next year, and we plan to begin traveling full-time. So we hope to sell our house and live everywhere—within reason. Our ultimate plan changes from week to week. Our current idea is to airBnB it across the world, but the next time you chat with us, we may be leaning toward using a Class A motorhome to travel across the US and Canada. At other times, we’re leaning toward buying a liveaboard sailboat and hanging out in the Caribbean, although for that last option, I’ll need to sell more books.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building your science fiction stories?

I love reading articles about cutting edge ideas in physics and science. Almost all of the technologies that I employ in my stories are based on technologies and theories that I’ve read about online.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

That would be Stu and Fran, two of my favorite characters from Stephen King’s The Stand. Reading that book as a teenager sparked my love for apocalyptic tales.

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

As a young Army attack helicopter pilot, I had an opportunity to work on the set of a movie filmed at Fort Hood, Texas. It was called Firebirds and starred Nicholas Cage, Sean Young, and Tommy Lee Jones. (If you don’t remember that one, don’t worry you didn’t miss much.) One evening, after the shoot, I attempted to teach Sean Young how to country dance. I think about 20 seconds into the lesson, I inadvertently guided her right into a railing … Fail!

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

Dick and Jane, guess I’m dating myself with that one.

Check out more interviews, guest posts, and reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Dean M. Cole:

Author, world traveler, and combat pilot turned commercial helicopter pilot Dean M. Cole writes from locales as remote as Equatorial Guinea and as romantic as Paris’s Champs-Elysées with his trusty sidekick and beautiful wife, Donna. A combat veteran, he flew Apache Attack Helicopters in the US Army’s First Cavalry Division.

License to kill revoked by the government, he traded in his attack helicopter for one of the transport ilk. When not weaving tales of alien apocalypse and redemption, he spends his days flying terrestrial aliens in IFOs (Identified Flying Objects) known as helicopters. No longer authorized to dispatch aliens he settles for dropping them off at oil rigs around the globe.

On the six months of time off his paying job affords, author, biker, and fellow Sci-Fi geek Dean M. Cole travels with his wife, builds airplanes and custom choppers, and writes his next tale of the apocalypse.

Website ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Synopsis of Solitude:

Earth’s last man discovers that the last woman is stranded alone aboard the International Space Station. If you like action-packed novels, you’ll love the electrifying action in this apocalyptic thriller.
Can humanity’s last two unite?

Separated by the gulf of space, the last man and woman of the human race struggle against astronomical odds to survive and unite.

Army Aviator Vaughn Singleton is a highly intelligent, lazy man. After a last-ditch effort to reignite his failing military career ends horribly, Vaughn becomes the only human left on Earth.

Stranded alone on the International Space Station, Commander Angela Brown watches an odd wave of light sweep across the planet. Over the next weeks and then months, Angela struggles to contact someone on the surface, but as she fights to survive aboard a deteriorating space station, the commander glimpses the dark underpinnings of humanity’s demise.
After months alone, Vaughn discovers there is another. Racing against time, he must cross a land ravaged by the consequences of humankind’s sudden departure.

Can Vaughn find a path to space and back? Can Angela – the only person with clues to the mystery behind humanity’s disappearance – survive until he does?

Audible ~ Amazon ~ Audio Excerpt

About Narrator R. C. Bray:

From an early age Audie, Earphones, and SOVAS Voice Arts Award-winning audiobook narrator R.C. Bray despised reading. Truly hated it with a passion.

And audiobooks? Even worse. Those were for people too lazy to read (not to be confused with those like himself who didn’t want to read to begin with).

R.C. eventually got older and wiser (he was always good-looking) and eschewing his capricious convictions fell head-over-heels with reading. Not just to learn words like “eschew” and “capricious” so he could use them in a bio line, but because someone was actually going to give him money to do it.

Note: R.C.’s gorgeous wife and three beautiful children begged him not to make this his official bio. Clearly he misunderstood

Facebook ~ Twitter

About Narrator Julia Whelan:

Julia Whelan is an actor, writer, and audiobook narrator. She is perhaps most well known for her acting work on ABC’s Once and Again and her award-winning narration of over 200 audiobooks (including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl). Her debut novel is forthcoming.

After a healthy career as a child actor, Whelan attended Middlebury College and Oxford University, graduating with a degree in English and Creative Writing.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

GIVEAWAY!!!

The giveaway is for a $20 Amazon gift card. Open internationally! Ends July 5th, 2017.
Solitude Giveaway

Solitude by Dean M. Cole

Narrators: RC Bray, Julia Whelan

Publisher: CANDTOR Press (2017)

Length: 8 hours 50 minutes

Series: Book 1 Dimension Space

Author’s Page 

Commander Angela Brown has become stranded in space on the International Space Station (ISS) even as a strange light wave races across the Earth, cutting communications with the ISS. Meanwhile Army Aviator Vaughn Singleton and his astronaut friend Mark are test flying a new, cutting edge vehicle that can potentially lift itself up into orbit. When this phenomena hits their area, they are disconnected from the Earth in this vehicle. You can imagine their horror when they land and find no human or animal life anywhere!

This was a thoroughly engaging story. I was caught up in Angela’s tale right away. She’s the Commander by chance on the ISS when this event hits Earth and it’s simply bad luck that she was unable to get to the escape module in time, leaving her stranded in space. She gets a few more snippets from her contacts on Earth about the approaching wave of light before all goes dark. However, she’s not one to sulk. So she sets an emergency recording to play continually and monitors the frequency twice a day in case someone from Earth tries to contact her. As time goes on, she tightens her belt and tightens up the ISS, shutting down areas and experiments in order to conserve energy, food, and warmth. At first, I thought it was a bit reckless to get attached to the mice. However, they were the only living things she had for all that time in space. Her perseverance eventually pays off. I liked that she kept herself busy with observations about the Earth as she continued to orbit it, leading her to believe that CERN and the Hadron Collider in Switzerland is worth a visit.

Then there’s Vaughn. It took me longer to get attached this this character but I did and cheered him on and agonized with him throughout the story. He’s one of those lucky humans that was born with both physical abilities and brains; however, he’s a bit lazy and never pushes himself for something more. His natural abilities have made life easy for him. His best friend Mark points this out to him even as they are prepping this cool cutting edge vehicle that may change how humans get to and from space. So the big event happens and Mark and Vaughn are traumatized to find that all humans are gone; there are no bodies, no ash. Same for animal life though plant life seems unaffected. At first, they can’t believe this and they venture out looking for answers. Unfortunately, Vaughn ends up alone and he’s miserable. He does have a little pity party. Honestly, I wasn’t sure Vaughn would make it through this event. But he rallies and starts by working on himself first, exercising and making sure he has food and shelter. Then he starts trying to figure out how any other humans might have made it through this. Luck puts him in contact with Angela and this gives Vaughn a solid purpose. He needs to rescue her from the ISS as her food and water supplies are all but gone. This is where I really got attached to Vaughn, wanting him to succeed.

As an aside, Vaughn grabs his family jewels many times in an attempt to protect them from possible radiation exposure. Now, he’s an Army aviator that test flies cutting edge vehicles. He knows that cupping his huevos isn’t going to protect them. However, I think it was instinct. After the second time, I couldn’t help but giggle each time he did it. Also, I think the author must have consulted a thesaurus, using a different term for testicles each time.

I liked all the cool tech in this book. There’s some hypothetical stuff that has probably been tossed out by the scientific community but it makes for exciting reading. The massive light wave that eventually circumnavigates the world is left mostly a mystery, though Angela has a starting point to unravel that in the next book. The specialized vehicle Vaughn gets to fly was pretty darn cool! Then there’s the ISS which is always of interest to me.

All told, it was an exciting and interesting tale. Since the cast is small, I could really explore the two main characters, sympathizing with them, worrying with them, and celebrating in their triumphs. The story ends on a win even as it leaves the larger mystery (what happened to all the people and animals) open for the next book.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: RC Bray and Julia Whelan are two of my favorite narrators so it was great to hear them both in this book. Bray did a great job with Vaughn, sounding like a gifted, but lazy, man. His performance when Vaughn was at his lowest was really good, capturing those emotions well. Whelan was excellent as Angela, who has doubts about her ability to command at the beginning at the story but blossoms into a confident woman as she rallies to do what she can about this event. Those scenes with Angela and mice were poignant and Whelan was great with Angela’s emotions.

What I Liked: Great cover art; the big event that changes Earth; Angela stuck on the ISS by accident; Marc & Vaughn survive by chance; both main characters go through tough physical and emotional moments; both main character grow from this experience; the possible connection with the Hardon Collider; great narration.

What I Disliked: Nothing – it was a very fun read.

What Others Think: 

The Audiobook Reviewer

Jim’s Sci-fi Blog

Brian’s Book Blog

Dusty Sharp

Naamah’s Curse Part V

The read along continues with Naamah’s Curse, Book 2 of Moirin’s trilogy! Everyone is welcome to join in. Here is the SCHEDULE for the read along.

This week, Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog is our host. We’re covering Chapters 65-END, so be prepared for spoilers below!

What did you make of the mission to retrieve the black diamond and what do you actually make of the black diamond and whether it could be used for good?

It was great to see Amrita draw the line in the sand and say ‘This is enough!’ Of course, she had Bao who had the key to the labyrinthine way into the mountain keep. She also had Moirin to assist in taking out scouts and twilighting the power of the diamond. I think if any one of them hadn’t been available for this quest, it would have failed.

I was surprised how little the Falcon lord got to play in this. We learned very little about him and he died in the fighting. Seems he really doesn’t like pregnant women nor vagina that has seen a baby pass through it.

Much like the Lost Book of Raziel that Phedre ended up with or the knowledge of how to make a trapped demon that Imriel had, somethings are too powerful to use often or at all. I think this is one of those things.

The Spider Queen and Amrita – what were your final thoughts on both of them – did you have sympathy for Jagrati? Do you think Amrita can affect change in the caste system?

I think Jagrati needed sympathy many years ago, but no, I didn’t have sympathy for her now. She’s right in that the caste system is corrupt and often used as an excuse to treat other humans like garbage or slaves. However, instead of using her anger to better people, she used it to enslave others and enrich only herself.

I hope Amrita can make a lasting change. She is using small steps (she hasn’t abolished the caste system, merely given some basic rights to the lowest caste) and she’s getting plenty of resistance. However, she’s also leading by example like when she visits the slums and touches members of the ‘Untouchable’ caste. I hope these experiences bolster her new found beliefs and perhaps even show her further that poverty in and of itself doesn’t mean you’re paying for some past life’s sins.

Moirin and Bao – they’ve made peace with each other. Did you finally forgive Bao? Do you think they’ve reached an understanding that will work for them?

Yes, I think this will be a lasting bond. Moirin has been honest with herself and then with Bao, even if she was only fooling around in a dream with the dead Jehane.

Bao has done much to show that he truly cares for Moirin and I think seeing the caste system may have dampened his own need to ‘make a name’ for himself. He is worthy of Moirin and she of him. Royal titles aren’t needed to prove that.

Finally – any predictions for where the journey will take us next? Can you see a purpose in Moirin’s diadh-anam??

I haven’t read the third book as I have been saving it for something special, like this read along. I’m guessing we might make it over to the Americas with the third book. In the Terre D’Ange Cycle, the characters have taken us nearly everywhere in the world now, so we have the Americas, the Poles, and some islands (like Australia and such) left. Plus I’m guessing Moirin will have to make it back to Terre D’Ange to deal with some issue there and then finally home to see her mom.

 

Other Tidbits:

 

I’m glad to see the harem rescued and everyone who was it in found a home with Amrita and her people. I was a little sad that so many of them can’t return to their families because they are considered sullied.

It was interesting to see how shy Amrita’s people were about huddling in that horrible cold for warmth.

And here is the current list of participators:
Allie at Tethyan Books
Lynn at Lynn’s Book Blog
Grace at Books Without Any Pictures
Susan (me) at Dab of Darkness

We also have a Goodreads Group started for SF/F Read Alongs in general, and there is a specific folder for this read along. You are welcome to follow the fun there as well. If you want to be on the weekly email, just leave me a comment or shoot me an email with NAAMAH’S CURSE in the subject (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Fade Rippers by Kenny Soward

Narrator: Scott Aiello

Publisher: Broken Dog Press (2017)

Length: 4 hours 7 minutes

Series: Book 1 Galefire

Author’s Page 

Lonnie is a gofer to a low-level Cincinnati gang, the 8th Street Gang. He’s been working for them for years and his memories, both long-term and day-to-day, are fuzzy. He has vague memories of a wife and 7 year old daughter but he also has memories of riding a dragon once upon a time. Obviously, he chocks that up to all the drug use, at least until a drawn out gun fight reveals to him that his boss, Selix, has some supernatural powers.

This is both a gritty and drug-hazy urban fantasy. Lonnie and his gang live in this grungy, questionable place and spend quite a bit of time watching bad TV, doing a variety of drugs, and screwing around. That’s when they aren’t involved in illegal activities like gun fights and selling drugs. Lonnie himself is in a perpetual drug haze for most of the book and as he starts to break through that haze, more and more memories come to the forefront, causing him to question what’s real and what’s not.

I really enjoyed this story because it wasn’t the typical mystery + magic urban fantasy and Lonnie wasn’t your typical hero. He’s mopping up blood while listening to the news, letting his mind wander. He does whatever he’s told to do because he’s the lowest man in the gang though he often doesn’t like it. In fact, we learn that early on when he decides not to take a call from the Brit, who is second in command of the little gang. I had fun with this character because he can be so proper and deadly at the same time.

Then the shooting starts. There’s this great fight scene that is probably one of the longest in fantasy literature. This prolonged fight acts like a trigger for the real Lonnie that’s buried under years of drug use and mind manipulation. It turns out Selix, leader of the gang, has some supernatural powers that include memory manipulation. As with all the members of the gang, the right combination of drugs can bolster their supernatural powers or keep them suppressed. I was a little concerned that this would be used as an excuse to do as they please, and there is a bit of that with some of the characters (such as with the raven-haired goth twins Ingrid and Elsa). After all, they do live in pretty dismal conditions. Crash (who has a Jamaican accent), one of the biggest guys Lonnie has ever seen, acts as muscle for the gang. Then we learn there’s a bigger secret they are trying to keep hidden and that one centers around Lonnie.

Now let’s talk a little bit about the Fade. That’s where Selix and the rest draw their power from. For Selix, dancing and the right drugs can help her pull on that power. However, there’s more going on there as well. There’s a revenge story in the middle of all this and Lonnie has his part to play. This tale was never boring! With that said, I would have liked a bit more explanation on the Fade and how is works with this gang.

I liked that the author included specific weapons. For instance, Lonnie uses a Springfield XDS instead of the author just saying Lonnie had a handgun.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Scott Aiello was a great pick for this book. His narration was a great performance. He was perfect for Lonnie as he goes through all the changes he does in this book. His female voices were believable and he kept all the characters distinct. He even threw in some well done accents, like British and Jamaican.

What I Liked: Lovely cover art; not your typical urban fantasy; drug use; dancing; the Fade; the various supernatural powers; Lonnie’s journey in this book; great narration.

What I Disliked: I would liked to have seen more time on how the Fade is used by the gang. 

What Others Think: 

Rob J. Hayes

The Audiobook Reviewer

The Bookwyrm Speaks

Brian’s Book Blog

The Devil’s Due by CM Raymond & LE Barbant

Narrator: Ben Smith

Publisher: Smoke & Steel Press (2017)

Length: 2 hours 53 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Jack Carson Story

Raymond’s Page ~ Barbant’s Page

Set in a small town in Iowa, the story opens with the mysterious Jack Carson, who goes by Jack York. He’s obviously on the run from something and the local bartender, Maizey, is the first to call him on it. There’s something very odd about Jack. The Feds are very interested in finding him, believing he has the answers concerning an exploded building. Jack is also searching for something, a girl in a photo he carries with him. However, his quest is waylaid as he becomes entangled in the local illegal going-ons.

This was a fun story that reminded me of The Jack Reacher series but it has a touch of the fantastical since our Jack has some special, otherworldly abilities. The opening of the story requires some focus since the authors drop us directly into the middle of Jack’s life. We have to figure out that he’s on the run, what he’s on the run from, and what abilities he’s hiding. I was intrigued from the start and the tale held my attention all the way through.

Jack’s got quite a bit on his plate already, but he entangles himself with the local small town criminals when he defends the bartender Maizey in a little bar brawl. While this is a little cliched, it’s a useful plot device to suck our beleaguered hero into the local bad guy antics.

Mr. Hill runs most, if not all, of the town’s illegal activities and his two main henchmen take a decided interest in Jack. When they turn up rather injured, Mr. Hill makes it clear that Jack can either work for him or Mr. Hill will turn him into the Feds. So our Jack is hired on as muscle for Hill’s crew. That doesn’t go as expected, as you might imagine and Jack finds himself in an even tighter position. Now he has to decide whether to stand with the town against Mr. Hill and his crew, or flee from Iowa continuing to hide from the Feds.

There’s really only 3 female characters in this tale. There’s Maizey, who has a little mystery to her and is an interesting character. Then there’s a female Federal Agent hunting Jack who is continuously underestimated by her coworkers. She has potential but has very little time in this story. Then there’s the girl in the picture. She’s basically a place holder now. We don’t know if she’s a grown woman or an actual girl, we don’t have her name, and we don’t really know why Jack is searching for her (though I have this impression he wants to protect her). So I would have liked a better gender balance with the characters since there are plenty of male characters in this story.

The action and the twists and turns of the story were well done. They are well interspersed among quieter moments in Jack’s life, many of which were his various chats with Maizey. By the end, some things are resolved but other things are left hanging. It’s not until near the end that we learn it was a science lab that was destroyed but since that’s in the book’s description, I don’t mind mentioning it in this review. This mysterious girl in the photo is still a big question mark. The source of Jack’s special abilities and his limitations are also big question marks. While there’s plenty to build upon here in future books, I would have liked a bit more info on Jack’s personal quest to find this mystery girl.

All in all, it’s an entertaining listen and a solid start to a new action-packed series. I really like this little twist of Jack’s special powers. I look forward to learning more about his past.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: Ben Smith was pretty good for this book. He had distinct voices for all the characters and his female voices were believable. He did speak a bit fast but with the Audible app, I could slow it down and it sounded normal. Occasionally, there were a few mouth noises and at least once, he repeated a short sentence. He did a really good job with the various emotions the characters had.

What I Liked: The lovely cover art; Jack’s troubles – all of them piling on him; Maizey isn’t your typical bar tender; Mr. Hill makes a great villain to hate on; the various mysteries surrounding Jack; the Feds hunting Jack; how Jack leaves the town.

What I Disliked: Could have used more female characters; could have used a few more loose ends tied up.

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Ray Saunders, Author Of Winds West

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Ray Saunders. He’s here to share not only his novel, Winds West, but also a mostly non-fiction account of frontier life in Colorado (Gunnison Country) written by his mother, Betty Wallace. Don’t forget to check out the ebook giveaway at the end of the post!

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

No real mystery in my past, but Alternate History would be me having decided to be a poet instead of a computer maven. It would be a very convoluted plot, involving Greenwich Village, off-grid living in the Rockies and becoming God.

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

The lost contents of the Library of Alexandria and every poet since 500BC.

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

I would prefer to forget my teen years, but if I had to pick it would probably be the 1920s for the radical politics.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Liza from Winds West would get along well with Sayward Luckett from Conrad Richter’s The Awakening Land trilogy. Both were strong women who knew what they wanted and had the courage to go after it.

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

The movies Amalie or Casablanca. And any of Maurice Walsh’s writingThe Quiet Man, The Small Dark Man, Trouble in the Glen, etc. (I love the way the Irish use the English language, both in prose and poetry. The Scots, on the other hand, use English like they still hold a grudge over Culloden).

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

The Americas before European contact.
Central Asia before Islam.
Celtic Europe before Caesar.

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?

Picasso’s Guernica – displayed as publicly as possible.

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

John Masters, Maurice Walsh, Stephen Vincent Benet, Charles Bowden and A.A.Milne.

We’d all eat pizza. And drink lots of wine.

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

I always gush over my favorite writers at every opportunity, to the point of irritating those who’ve heard me for the umpteenth time. (I think it’s more awkward for them than for me). Don’t know if this counts, but a young lady wrote a glowing review of Winds West, albeit expressing surprise at my “uncanny insight into the female psyche”. LOL

Places to Find Ray Saunders

Website

Steele Park Press Facebook

Ray’s Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

About the Author:

I grew up in a small western town, steeped in both pioneer culture and writing, my mother being a reporter, editor, English teacher and local historian. By the time I finished high school I was well versed in poetry and the Beat Generation, properly prepared to appreciate the ‘60s in Greenwich Village, which added folk music to the mix. To pay the bills, I spent 50 years doing cutting-edge computer work, then retired and now I’m back to writing poetry and songs and the occasional novel.

Book Blurb for Winds West

Home maker at 10, grown at 15 – what future awaits Liza as she head West? Young woman goes West on a voyage of self-discovery. “Winds West is a thoughtful account of Liza Woods, a young woman’s coming of age story set in early 20th century Ohio. At 13, Liza takes a job as a governess/housekeeper, but has a wisdom beyond her years. She yearns for the freedom generally afforded only to men, however, and what follows is her subsequent journey to Colorado, where she settles down, making a life for herself on the frontier.” – Granny’s Pantry review.

Book Blurb for Gunnison Country:

History of Gunnison Colorado and surrounding areas. Betty Wallace was born near Lake City, CO, in 1913. She spent her youth among the ranchers and miners who settled the Gunnison Country. Herself a child of pioneers, she understood the world they faced and how they coped. As a reporter and editor she worked to preserve the stories of those early days, from the displacement of the Native American by gold-seekers to the uranium prospectors of the 1950s. She researched the old newspapers and interviewed many Old Timers in a tireless effort to make sure their stories were preserved for future generations.

GIVEAWAY!

Ray is offering up one ebook copy of Winds West and one ebook copy of Gunnison Country. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments to be entered into the giveaway. 1) What special collections would the library of your dreams hold? 2) Which book would you prefer to win (Winds West or Gunnison Country)? This giveaway is open world wide and ends August 1, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway