Tag Archives: First Novel

A Review of Prime Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time: A Charlotte McNally Novel

by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Prime Time is the first book in the Charlotte McNally series. It was originally published in 2007, and won the Agatha Award for best first novel of 2007. The whole series is being reissued this year.

Charlotte McNally is an investigative reporter with a Boston TV station, as is the author, Hank Phillippi Ryan. Since Ms. Ryan knows the business, everything about Prime Time smacks of reality. A lot of authors follow that old adage, “Write what you know.” That usually works. Most of the time the author is able to tell a story that could really happen, but that doesn’t mean that they can write a story that is worth reading. Ms. Ryan is that exceptional writer that can grab the reader with engaging, realistic characters, and an exciting, authentic plot filled with unexpected twists.

You really believe in Charlie. She is a TV reporter trying to get that next big story that will guarantee that she has a job for another few months. You want her to figure out what is going on, and expose the powerbrokers before they can eliminate her.

I give Prime Time 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! I recommend it to anyone who likes their Mysteries blended together with a touch of romance and humor along with a heavy dose of reality.

I received a copy of this book from the author.

Book Description

Prime TimeSeasoned investigative reporter Charlotte McNally knows that in the cutthroat world of television journalism, every story could be your last. There’s always someone younger and prettier to take your place, always a story more sensational to drive ratings through the roof.

When Brad Foreman’s widow demands to know why Charlie never answered his email, Charlie is confused. She never received his message. What did Brad, an accountant at a pharmaceutical company, want to tell her? As she searches through her computer, she finds an innocent-looking email in her junk mail folder that may turn out to be the biggest story of her career.

Is the encoded email–and the ones that follow–linked to Brad’s “accidental” death? Charlie’s investigation leads her to Brad’s friend, professor Josh Gelston, who is charming and exceedingly helpful–perhaps suspiciously so.

Charlie must decide if she can trust Josh…before a multimillion-dollar fraud ring with murder in its arsenal makes her the next lead story.

Book Details

Series: Charlotte McNally (Book 1)
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Forge Books (February 9, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765384752
ISBN-13: 978-0765384751
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces

About the Author

hank-ryan-crop-pressHank Phillippi Ryan is the bestselling author of eight award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Her newest book, WHAT YOU SEE, is a Library Journal BEST of 2015, an ANTHONY and AGATHA Award nominee, and a Top Pick!, dubbed “exceptional suspense.” It received a starred review from Library Journal which says: “Readers will find themselves racing to the finish!”

Her 2014 book, TRUTH BE TOLD, won the AGATHA Award for best mystery, and is a Library Journal Best of 2014. It received starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, which says, “Drop everything and binge read!”

THE WRONG GIRL has the extraordinary honor of winning the Agatha Award and the Daphne Award, and is a seven-week Boston Globe bestseller and Anthony Award nominee.

THE OTHER WOMAN won the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was listed as a Best Book of 2012 by the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee, Suspense Magazine, and The Boston Globe, won the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark Award, and was the only novel nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, Shamus and Daphne awards for Best Novel of 2012.

Her first four mysteries, beginning with the Agatha Award-winning PRIME TIME, feature Charlotte McNally, a Boston television reporter. FACE TIME was a BookSense Notable Book, and AIR TIME and DRIVE TIME were both Anthony and Agatha Award nominees for best novel of 2009 and 2010. They are now available in all new editions.

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. In addition to 33 EMMYs and 13 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime.

Learn more about Hank at http://www.HankPhillippiRyan.com.

A Review of Former.ly by Dane Cobain

Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network

by Dane Cobain

Former.ly is a book about what happens behind the scenes at a new web startup. It is told in first person, from the point of view of Dan, who is hired as a developer at Former.ly. We see everything though his eyes. If he doesn’t see it, we don’t know about it until Dan hears about it.

It can be difficult to tell a story in first person, but Dane Cobain does a pretty good job of it. He lets us become immersed in the activities at Former.ly. But sometimes the action suffers, since we only see what Dan sees. Dan isn’t an action hero, he is a coder, but he is suspicious, and tries to find out what is really going on around him. He starts to wonder why people are starting to die around him, so he tries to find out, and that’s where the problems begin.

I enjoyed Former.ly. I think that Mr. Cobain has a big upside. He is an interesting guy. You should check out his website. http://danecobin.com. He writes stories, poetry, and music in addition to his longer works.

I give Former.ly 4 Stars out of 5, and a Thumbs Up! If you want to give a young British writer a leg up, you should give Former.ly a shot.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

DC_formerly05-1024x757When Dan Roberts starts his new job at Former.ly, he has no idea what he’s getting into. The site deals in death – its users share their innermost thoughts, which are stored privately until they die. Then, their posts are shared with the world, often with unexpected consequences.

But something strange is going on, and the site’s two erratic founders share a dark secret. A secret that people are willing to kill for.

Book Details

Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1533051593
ISBN-13: 978-1533051592
Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces

About the Author

dane_cobainDane Cobain (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK) is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, http://www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, will be released by Booktrope in the Summer of 2015.

A Review of Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe

by Holly Seddon

Try Not to Breathe is written with multiple Points of View. Each chapter starts with a name and a date. The chapter is from that person’s Point of View. The time jumps around for some of the characters, so you really do have to pay attention. I often gloss over those chapter headings, but quickly found out that I couldn’t with this book. This complex threaded type of story can be difficult, but Ms. Seddon handled it very well. Everything twists and turns around, but you can follow it. You get hints and start to have ideas. It all comes together at the end.

Since you are inside the head of all the people in this book, you get to know them pretty well. Everyone seems quite believable. Alex Dale wallows in alcohol. If she doesn’t stop drinking it will kill her. Amy Stevenson was attacked and nearly killed fifteen years ago. She has been in a persistent vegetative state since the attack. She has thoughts but can’t interact with the outside world. Her high school boyfriend, Jake Arlington, comes and sits with her often, and has for most of these fifteen years. But he is married, his wife is pregnant, and Amy is becoming a problem because her never told his wife, Fiona, about Amy. She thinks that he is having an affair and that he is hiding things from her.

Once Alex and Amy come together, Alex knows that Amy can be her way out. Alex is a journalist, and so she thinks that Amy’s story could help her climb out of the bottle. The police never found Amy’s attacker, but Alex knows that if she can find him, she will be able to write an important article. But to do this, she needs to control her drinking.

I liked the multi-layered way this story unfolded. Ms. Seddon must have had quite a complex outline for this book. She had to tell you enough in each chapter to keep the story moving forward, but also be careful of what was said, so that you never found out too much. You may have an idea of the attacker’s identity, but you aren’t really sure until the end. Quite well done.

I give Try Not to Breathe 4 1/2 Stars and a Big Thumbs Up. It kept me engaged and interested the whole way. I recommend this debut novel to anyone who likes a character driven mystery thriller, without blood and gore, but with plenty of suspense and tension.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

Try Not to BreatheFor fans of Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, and Paula Hawkins comes Holly Seddon’s arresting fiction debut—an engrossing thriller full of page-turning twists and turns, richly imagined characters, and gripping psychological suspense. 

Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex’s routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter’s story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from her attempt to uncover the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she’s not just chasing a story—she’s seeking salvation.

Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.

Book Details

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 23, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1101885866
ISBN-13: 978-1101885864
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

About the Author

Holly SeddonHolly Seddon was born and raised in the sleepy south-west of England and now lives slap bang in the centre of Amsterdam with her husband and four children. Throughout her 15-year career, Holly has been privileged to work in some of the UK’s most exciting newsrooms.

TRY NOT TO BREATHE is her first novel, published in the UK (Corvus/Atlantic), Australia and New Zealand (Allen & Unwin) and The Netherlands (Ambo Anthos) in January 2016. Soon after, it will be available in the US (Ballantine/Penguin Random House), Germany (Heyne), Russia (Sindbad), Swiat Ksiazk (Poland and, Crown (Taiwan) .

Holly is currently writing her next novel.

A Review of Ochoco Reach by Jim Stewart

Ochoco Reach

by Jim Stewart

4,0

Ochoco Reach isn’t an easy book to classify. There are some of the elements of a typical adventure thriller. The main characters are always in danger and the cast of villains is fairly typical. There are drug cartel bosses and their soldiers who want them captured or dead, crooked law enforcement officers who want to put them in jail or kill them, along with the other assorted bad guys that you run into in a story set near the US/Mexican boarder. But there is something else going on here. This book isn’t just a fast-paced action story, it has elements to slow it down. Sometimes it nearly feels like a slow-paced “American Indian becomes one with the land story” blended with a fairy tale and a story of true love. But the danger is always there. You can’t forget that.

This story wouldn’t work if you didn’t really like the four main characters, Willimina Hayes (Willy), freelance investigator Mike Ironwood, his special ops brother Daniel, and Bucket, a Catahoula leopard dog. Mr. Stewart makes these characters feel real. They aren’t like anyone you know, but you like them right away. You believe them. You care about them. You want the best for them.

I enjoyed the varied pace of this book. Sometimes it felt nearly too slow, but that was OK. It just let you relax for a few pages. There was plenty of action. The blood and guts were kept to a minimum. There were moments of contemplation and thoughts of what is most important in life; truly connecting with people, the land around you and the animals that live there. Overall a very different book, but well worth reading.

I give Ochoco Reach 4 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! I hope that this is the first book in a long-running series, because I want to read more about these wonderful characters and their lands.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

9780990859338-Perfect (revision test).inddMike’s usual strategy was to gently stir the pot and wait for patterns to emerge, but this case was boiling over from the day Willimina showed up at his office…

Freelance investigator Mike Ironwood doesn’t hesitate for a moment when a lovely stranger asks him to help her get to the bottom of suspicious happenings on her family’s cattle ranch.  The case is intriguing, and Willimina even more so.

Six days in, the case has turned up two dead bodies, an alphabet soup of secretive federal investigators, and a client who just might be The One. That’s when things get complicated.

When a greedy DEA agent and his complicated and deadly trigger man kidnap Willy, Mike enlists help from his brother and sets out to rescue her from the conflicted jefe of a major drug cartel.  The trail takes them on a surreal tour that extends deep into Mexico, but they come home with dangerous unfinished business.

Ochoco Reach introduces Mike Ironwood, his special ops brother Daniel, and Bucket, a Catahoula leopard dog who is equally at home herding cattle and pinning bad guys to the floor. They have each others’ backs, and they have unexpected allies in the natural world, who appear in surprising ways. But they also attract trouble at every turn.

Book Details

Release: January 4, 2015
Publisher: Word Hermit Press
ISBN: 978-0-9908593-3-8
Price: $16.99 (library discount available)
Kindle Price: $2.99
Pages: 289
Distribution: Ingram, B & T
eBook Distribution: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords
Publicity Contact: MindBuck Media

About the Author

Jim Stewart HDJim was born in Chicago and has memories of living in Buffalo, New York, New England, and southern California. finally, he grew up in Oregon where he has lived and worked for the last four decades. his working life has been eclectic, with time spent as a musician, truck driver, laborer, mechanic (of both vehicles and musical instruments), house painter, business owner, salesman, and, through it all, a writer and poet. as a songwriter and performer, Jim has been featured in the films “Dancing on the Edge” and “Pacific Vibrations.” with his longtime musical partner Craig Abrahamson, he formed Bivalve, a lively collaboration that has produced two CDs: “Unhinged” and “Middle Ground.” With bassist Jamie Keller, the group has morphed into a band called tuna reuben and can be heard sporadically around Portland and Oregon’s north coast.

As J.R. Stewart, Jim has published poetry and/or short fiction in the following journals: The Alembic, The Licking River Review, Mostly Maine, Orange Willow Review, Orion Magazine, Progenitor, Rattapallax, The Blue Hour, and Tulane Review. He’s also published short pieces in the North-Coast Times-Eagle and the Portland Guitar Society Quarterly. Jim’s short story “White Ravens” was a finalist in a Glimmer Train open fiction contest.

Jim is hard at work writing the sequel, “Dead Me.” there are more novels and a poetry collection in the queue awaiting their turn to shine.

An Interview with Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline

Collette Yvonne, the author of The Perils of Pauline, was kind enough to agree to an interview. I’m glad that I was able to get to know her a little better. I hope that you enjoy it too. Don’t forget to go to the bottom of the post. There is an excerpt from her book. This will allow you to get a feel for her writing. Thanks again, Collette.

Author Interview

What is your typical writing day like?

Usually I try to carve out a full day for writing. If I have something pressing to do—work, a kid’s dentist appointment, a weedy garden, a sick friend who needs soup— I find it tough to concentrate knowing I will have to break my focus too soon. I find it painful, disorienting and tiring to transition in and out of my creative flow, so I am reluctant to work for short spurts of time. I try to clear my schedule first.

On a writing day, the coffee is poured first thing. Since I tend to be easily distracted I prefer to have the house all to myself. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated writing space of my own so that is where I go to write: in front of my desktop, steaming coffee mug at my elbow. I usually begin with answering email to focus my brain a little before I open my work in progress in Scrivener.

When I’m on a roll, I will work for hours without a break. At some point my dog usually demands a walk. Sometimes I stop to do some yoga stretches or grab a quick bite. I quit for the day when my family rolls in from school and work. My process is unremarkable: no charming boulevard cafés for me. Just butt in chair. All day.

Authors project parts of themselves into their main characters. Does your heroine have any of your qualities?

Yes and no. I always tell my friends and family not to think of The Perils of Pauline as an autobiography but usually people confess that they see me as the main character when they read the book. This is actually a little horrifying as Pauline is a bit wild and out of control. She is impulsive and bold and fearless, which can be a good thing unless you tend to act first and think later, which is what my character tends to do. As the author, I can safely explore impulsive choices and bad behavior when I write Pauline’s story. I can let her take all the risks and face the consequences while I remain safe in my writing chair, laughing at her—or crying with her—when everything falls to pieces and begins to circle the drain.

If you had three words to describe your main character, what would they be?

Impulsive. Irrepressible. Bravehearted.

Would you call your protagonist a truth-seeker or a thrill-seeker?

Contrary to popular impressions, Pauline is a truth-seeker. She is trying to figure things out. She likes a thrill as well as the next girl, but she is in it to win answers.

What themes did you visit in your book?

Relationships. Parenting. Family. Marriage. Adultery. Adult ADHD. Conflict. Love and romance. Separation. Career. Civilian life after active service. Single parenting. Post traumatic stress disorder. Forgiveness. Humor.

How do you find/make time to write?

I have to be disciplined about it. Since I work part time as a yoga instructor and have many outside interests such as volunteering, gardening, photography, reading, visual arts, and gadding about, I need to find ways to keep writing squarely on the agenda. Membership in a writing group helps as the members will chew me up and spit me out if I don’t produce new writing regularly.

How did you come up with the title?

The original The Perils of Pauline was a 1914 American melodrama film serial. The main character, Pauline, is the original damsel in distress who often finds herself hanging from a cliff or tied to a set of train tracks. The 1914 Pauline was smart and resourceful, rather than helpless and needing to be rescued by a man (but there’s a dashing lover on scene willing to lend a hand). I loved the idea of recreating the plucky Pauline and placing her in a modern context. Like many woman today, who find themselves juggling work, marriage and children, the modern Pauline still feels as if she’s hanging by a thread. She faces her challenges with intelligence, courage and sheer force of will plus a large dash of eccentricity. She has to figure out how to save herself. She needs to be smart and fearless. And then of course there’s a dashing lover.

What’s the hardest part about writing? The easiest?

The hardest part is to ignore that mean little voice that says, “You have nothing to offer. You suck.” The easiest part is the comfy chair.

How do you keep your written world from encroaching on your life?

Why would I want to do that?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I hope that readers will pick up on the theme of forgiveness. In this age of high divorce rates, it is considered to be normal and acceptable to cut loose from a marriage when everything goes off the rails. Of course, in some cases, filing for a divorce is absolutely necessary but, in other cases, a marriage may be saved with hard work and a very large reset button. Very few novels explore the situation of a couple who make huge mistakes and manage to patch things up, although in real life this happens, probably more often than we realize, given how tough staying in a relationship can be.

Book Description

The Perils of Pauline For ex-army vet Pauline Parril, life marches along in an orderly formation now that she is happily married, raising three kids, and ascending a promising career ladder. But the handles of her safe and comfortable world soon turn upside-down when a termination letter lands on her lap and her husband, it turns out, isn’t the person she thought she knew. Things get even more complicated when Pauline returns to school and meets Michael Fortune—a handsome and exciting poetry professor who threatens to get out of hand. Pauline once endured a long deployment to a war-torn country, but can she survive the front lines of her fraying household?

Purchase Links

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About the Author

Collette YvonneCollette Yvonne was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada where her father served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She has many fond memories of growing up as a military brat. Now married with three children, she lives in Ontario where she is a part-time yoga instructor, as well as writing. She also enjoys volunteering in the community. She graduated from Toronto’s York University, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in the Humanities. In her first year, she toyed with the idea of becoming an anthropologist and also considered being a computer scientist! However, following the opportunity to study under well-known Canadian authors such as Don Coles, Susan Swan, Elisabeth Harvor and Bruce Powe, she decided to stick with writing. Collette’s first novel, ‘The Queen of Cups’, was published in August 2006 and was a finalist within its genre in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Other publication credits include many articles, stories, reviews and interviews in various Ontario local newspapers, and national Canadian publications including ‘The Toronto Star’, ‘The National Post’, ‘The Globe and Mail’ and ‘Canadian Woman Studies’. Her subjects tend to be personal journalism with pieces on a wide range of topics and she also likes to write in her blog, along with writing guest posts for other bloggers. She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and has developed skills as a photographer, speaker, website designer, editor, and writing workshop facilitator. Editorial contributions have been made to several published works, along with short non-fiction pieces. Indeed, she is equally at home writing both fiction and non-fiction. One of her short stories was made into a short film ‘Snapshots for Henry’, which was screened in numerous film festivals around the world. The film received a nomination for a Genie Award in 2007.

Here is an excerpt from The Perils of Pauline

I step out my front door to find my next-door neighbor standing at the edge of his lawn, staring across at our yard, his lips compressed into a frown.

“Is everything okay, Lewis?”

“Your water sprinkler is too close to my property line.”

“How so? It’s on my lawn.”

“When you water your lawn, my driveway is getting sprinkled.”

I know better than to argue with Lewis. “Okay, no problem, I’ll position the sprinkler further away.”

I better not mention the sprinkler issue to Donald or he might freak out. Over the years, Lewis has complained about the height of our grass (too long), the color of our grass (yellow) and the condition of our grass (weedy). He also demands that we cut down our shady maple and repaint our porch.

The mature maples lining our street are the best feature of this old sprawling suburb with big front porches and quiet cul-de-sacs. Lewis chopped down all his trees last year, citing the aggravation of leaves choking his gutters.

Our grass is admittedly scruffy but that’s because last month Donald spot-sprayed it with a home-brew of salt and vinegar to kill the crabgrass and clover, and ended up pickling the grass instead. He dug out the worst scorched areas and laid pieces of new sod, so now the lawn has bright green patches interspersed with the weedy yellow parts and the dead brown bits. Now all the neighborhood kids like to come over to play The Floor is Lava on our front lawn. The green bits are safe. Step outside them, you die.

I hurry down the sidewalk to Bibienne’s where boring lawns go to die and reincarnate as boisterous perennial gardens full of day lilies, climbing honeysuckle and chrysanthemums. Hummingbirds chase butterflies through pink and purple peonies as I go around the side to her garden doors only to find an abandoned wheelbarrow. Odd. Usually Bibienne is outside pruning her roses on a day like this.

One of the doors is ajar so I rap on the frame and step inside. I love Bibienne’s roomy kitchen: an inspired mix of antique cabinets fitted with granite countertops. A cook’s dream but nothing’s cooking here. Beyond the kitchen, in the family room, I spy Bibienne reclined on the couch watching TV, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles on the oversized ottoman in front of her. Without taking her eyes from the screen, she frowns at me while laying her palm on top of her head, as if to hold down her thick auburn hair, which is gathered away from her face in a hasty French twist. She raises a warning finger to her lips. Camilo Villegas and Adam Scott are playing so I know enough to remain silent until the next commercial break, when she turns her cool green eyes on me. I’ve interrupted men’s tennis so this better be good.

“I’ve been fired. My assistant, Daria, stole my job.”

“Oh. Okay.” She gets up from the couch and pats my shoulder. “I’ll make you a drink.”

I nod and follow her to the kitchen. I’m safe. I can stick around and watch tennis with her as long as I don’t make too much noise.

“I have ChocoLee chocolates too.” She drops ice cubes into tall glasses and fills them with red wine and lime soda. What luck. Bibienne always drinks Spanish wine cocktails and breaks out the chocolate when Villegas is winning.

Bibienne watches the end of the match with her lips parted and her hand across her heart. After the final point, she turns off the TV, fans her cheeks and sighs. “Él está bueno. Oh well, come see my new laptop. You can try it out while I top us off.”

The connection is lightning fast. I wish I had ripped-speed access to the Internet. Bibienne sets my glass at my elbow and peers over my shoulder. “Career Search Australia?”

“Yeah. Look. They need a snake wrangler in Canberra. Wait a minute, there’s an opening at the Bikini Car Wash.”

I click around. There are a zillion postings for jobs all around the world, from San Francisco to Shanghai. Even Kalamazoo has a raft of listings. Here, in the greater suburbs of the Boston Commonwealth, not so much. Unless I want to commute all the way into the city, like Donald does when he isn’t at the branch office here in town. Since Doubles got so busy, he has to go into the city more often than not these days.

Forget job searching for now. Bibi has a collection of fun apps on her desktop. I click on a Tarot icon. “Is this site any good?”

“Yes, it’s one of the best,” she says. “If you want a quick reading, try the Celtic Cross spread.”

Bibienne knows a lot about tarot. She’s so sharp and perceptive, her massage therapy clients are always asking her to read their cards for them.

I type in my question: What does the future hold for me?

The results show the Queen of Cups, seated in the auspicious Position One, which represents the “Questioner in Her Present Situation.”

“The Queen of Cups is the good woman card,” says Bibienne. “She’s loving and kind. A bit of a dreamer, distracted. But see? She sits on a throne, which means she wields power and makes the rules. The suit of cups represents emotions. Overflowing emotions, hidden emotions, secrets maybe. Who knows what’s in her cup?”

“Bra cups, cups of laundry detergent, cups of wine.”

Bibienne points to my glass. “Your cup of wine is empty.”

Position Two shows the Three of Swords: a lowly card suggestive of trickery and betrayal. “That would be Daria and WiFi-Robes,” I say as Bibienne refills my glass and sits beside me.

“Could be.” She examines the spread. “The Three of Swords usually represents sudden heartbreak or betrayal. But look over here. Your Three is countered by the Two of Swords, which is about the difficulty of making decisions. That’s a double whammy. See the blindfold on the woman in the picture? She can’t see her way. She may not want to see, in fact, she may be in denial.”

It all makes sense. I’ve been betrayed, lost my job, and now I have to make choices about what to do next, right? More curious though is the appearance of the powerful and authoritative Emperor standing in opposition to my Queen. Donald perhaps? But, if the Emperor is my husband, who is the Knight of Cups occupying the near future position? The Knight of Cups is a man of high romance, poetry and passion. Here, Donald doesn’t spring to mind. How intriguing: the card drawn for the position representing Final Outcomes turns out to be The Lovers. As I wander back home I can’t help but note that two cups makes a couple.

© Copyright 2015 Astor+Blue Editions

A Review of A Fistful of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith

A Fistful of Clones

by Seaton Kay-Smith

4,0

When I read a book, I go out of my way not to have any preconceived notions about the story. Sure I will read the book’s description when it is first offered. How else would I know if I might possibly like to read it, but then I put the title in my calendar, and don’t read anything else about it until the date that I need to read it.

When I first started reading A Fistful of Clones, I didn’t really get it. Then it grew on me. I finally came to the conclusion that it felt like a movie. Kind of like one of the Coen Brothers films, think Fargo. The characters were all just a little off. Nothing was quite normal, but then once I got used to them, I started to see the humor in nearly everything that was happening. It was just absurd, but in a good way. I’m putting A Fistful of Clones back on my TBR list, maybe next May, because I want to read it again, but I don’t want to have it fresh in my mind. I think that it will even be better next time.

Now that I have read A Fistful of Clones, and I am preparing to review it, I discover that it started out as a screenplay. I can imagine that it would make a great film, if it was done right. It could be a real dog or a cult classic. The director would have to walk a fine line. He would have to keep his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, and allow the quirkiness of the characters to come out. It can’t be played straight. It really is a comedy, not a Sci-Fi flick about clones.

I give A Fistful of Clones 4 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready for a subtly funny book, filled with odd characters, in odder situations, written by a new Australian author, then A Fistful of Clones is the book for you.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

A Fistful of Clones“If anyone else were to kill them it would be murder, for Henry, it would be suicide.”

Henry Madison is an apathetic young man with little to no ambition. When he loses his job and his girlfriend in one day, he is destitute and signs up for paid medical testing. the doctor creates clones of Henry and when these clones escape and start causing havoc in Henry’s life, he is hired in secret by the strange doctor and trained to hunt the clones down one by one and kill them. Henry soon finds out, however, that personality isn’t genetic but made of the experiences you have, and as time progresses, his clones become less carbon copied than he was lead to believe, growing their own identities and challenging Henry’s perception of what it means to be Henry Madison and of what it is right and what is wrong.

Seaton explains the genesis of his novel: “I first wrote ‘A Fistful of Clones’ as a screenplay between 2010 and 2011 and received an honourable mention for it in the 2011 Sundance: Table Read My Screenplay Competition. Then, not knowing how to get the screenplay made into a film, I decided in the summer of 2013/2014 to turn it into a book. So while it only took a few months to write the actual novel, I actually did the ground work and worked out the plot and the characters over a much longer time period.”

Book Details

File Size: 727 KB
Print Length: 192 pages
Publisher: AUS Impulse (March 1, 2015)
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Language: English
ASIN: B00S47T19C

About the Author

Seaton Kay-SmithPreviously a writer and performer on Australia’s ABC2’s The Roast,  29-year-old Seaton Kay-Smith has also written for Dan Ilic’s A Rational Fear and performed stand-up comedy one-man shows at Sydney Fringe (2012-2014), Adelaide Fringe (2013) and Sydney International Comedy Festival (2013-2015).

Seaton is currently head writer at Sydney film and design collective, Paper Moose, where he has written several award-winning short films and an online sketch comedy series called Nick and Seaton (https://www.youtube.com/user/Palaceof…).

Seaton’s one-act play Arctic Fevers was selected and performed as part of Theatre 451’s 2014 season in Melbourne. In 2014, he wrote, produced and performed in Lost Pilots, a comedy radio series on FBi Radio, Sydney (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/l… ).

In 2015 Seaton released his debut novel A Fistful of Clones*, an e-book through Harper Collins’ Impulse Imprint. Seaton now has a feature film in development with Beyond Productions. He still performs stand-up comedy mainly in Sydney but also in other cities.

* Seaton was a finalist for a feature film screenplay, also entitled “A Fistful of Clones”, for Sundance: Table Read My Screenplay in 2011 and this screenplay was the starting point for his novel.

A Review of The Eaton by John K. Addis

The Eaton

by John K. Addis

Mr. Addis has gotten it right. He shows what self-publishing can be. He has written an exciting first novel, edited it well, designed the cover and done the leg-work to get it published. It is available for purchase now.

The Eaton is the best kind of horror. Chapter One starts off feeling like a normal, contemporary novel. Sam and Sarah and a few friends are getting together to see Sam’s new purchase. He bought an old train depot in Eaton Rapids and plans on turning it into a new hot spot. They discover a trap door, and decide to explore. They find an underground hotel that nobody had ever heard about.

From this point on, Mr. Addis weaves the threads of the present with the past. He changes the point of view to the weekend of the top-secret, preview, opening of The Eaton, the fancy hotel built under the train depot in the early 1900s. The past and present twist together as Sam, Sarah and the rest of their crew discover what has been hidden underground, as well as what they have hidden inside of their own minds. The secrets that they have buried deep, that they never want to have to face, become real, and they have to deal with them, or die.

Some of the images from their pasts are so vivid that I had to put The Eaton down for a few minutes, and let myself relax, take a few breaths, and then I could continue. This book is so well plotted, and the characters feel so real, that you will be as terrorized as they are. You will have to keep reading to see what happens next, even if you are afraid to find out.

I Give The Eaton 5 Stars out of 5, and Two Big Thumbs Up! If you like to read Scott Sigler, early Stephen King, or Peter Clines, then this will be perfect.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the author.

Book Description

EatonCover-520The Eaton is the debut novel of John K. Addis. Spanning more than 100 years of mid-Michigan history, but told in the gruesome style of ‘80s horror classics, The Eaton tells the story of Sam Spicer, who purchases the dilapidated Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Eaton Rapids with the dream of opening a hot new martini bar. But when he and his friends discover an abandoned underground hotel directly beneath the property, they must discover what happened to the original guests—before their own time runs out.

Book Details

Paperback: 420 pages
Publisher: AE Press; 1st edition (September 25, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692272739
ISBN-13: 978-0692272732
Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds

About the Author

John K. AddisJohn K. Addis is an award-winning designer and marketing professional in Lansing, Michigan. When not advertising the products and causes of his clients, Addis enjoys expressing himself creatively in as many ways as possible. In the past two decades, Addis has composed a variety of works for small music ensembles, drawn a daily comic strip for The State News (Studentangle), written & directed a microbudget feature-length film (The Bells of Beaumont Tower), and has seen his photography displayed at local galleries. He is presently the CEO & Creative Director of AE: Adventures in New Media, continues to perform keys and vocals in a Williamston-based cover band (The Black Barn Band) and has recently started writing his second novel, The Paper. Addis lives in Lansing’s historic Westside Neighborhood with his brilliant wife Leah, creative daughter Sophia, and adorable toddler Julian.

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