Friday, June 28, 2019

June's Book Reviews

For your possible reading pleasure:

  • A thriller based primarily on emotional drama (I’ll Never Tell);
  • A blend of mystery/sci-fi/pulp noir (Man on the Stair); and
  • An action-packed thriller (The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke).

Hope you find something for your library,

I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

Emotional Drama Built on Exposing a Web of Lies and Misperceptions

I’ll Never Tell finds the five MacAllister siblings (Margaux, Ryan, Mary, Kate, and Liddie) and a groundskeeper (Sean Booth) trying to solve a 20-year-old, cold case – the bludgeoning of Amanda Holmes on the grounds of the family’s camp, Camp Macaw.  Why?  Because their father’s will stipulated that until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t settle the estate.  That sentence alone should tell you one of the concerns I have about this book – the plot is contrived.  What kind of man would saddle his five children with solving a case that the police couldn’t?  What kind of man would task his children with something he never did when he was alive?  Of course, every author gets one gimme and this could be it, except the pattern repeats quite often.  For example, in a backstory, Ryan takes the blame for “killing” a young woman when, in fact, it was an accident.  There is no blame to be taken, no one to protect in an accident, and so, the whole scene ends up feeling convenient – a way for the author to increase drama and little more.  For the complete review, see this link to Amazon: 

Man on the Stair by Stacy Bender

Quirky Supporting Characters in an Entertaining Mystery/Sci-Fi/Pulp Noir Blend

Man on the Stair is part mystery and part sci-fi.  What first appears a simple traffic accident turns out to be part of a murder spree by a serial killer, producing the mystery element of the story.  Who is he/she?  It is not, however, a whodunit with multiple, possible suspects or several red herrings.  Rather, it is more of a slow reveal through the investigative efforts of our main characters – Adam, ex-police officer and now, ghost to the digital world; Lila, a driven and highly capable police detective; and Michal, a high schooler with considerable computer skills.  The sci-fi element comes in through the near-future setting.  Self-driving cars have been perfected and some jobs have been automated with holographic figures, for example.  And apparently, automation is highly interconnected, as something like facial recognition identifies Adam on a phone camera and erases him even before the video can be replayed.  That’s a lot more interconnected than your phone ‘talking’ to your thermostat.For the complete review, see this link to Amazon:

The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke by John A. Autero

An Action-Heavy Techno-Thriller from the World of Government Coverups

When a sadistic government agent from a top-secret group within the National Security Agency gets to define who’s a threat to the nation and who’s not, you have to expect a fair amount of bloodshed.  And that’s what you get with The Scorpion: Metamorphosis of Smoke.  Stephen Harris, Senior Director of the NSA is our villain, a man who never found a problem he couldn’t fix with some combination of torture and assassination.  Opposing him are two characters from the first book in the series:  Jack Arthur, retired NSA operative, and Bruce Herdino, his successor in exposing government coverups.  Joining those two is a new character, Agent Monica Deverow.  As you’ll find, she can take care of herself … and then some.  For the complete review, see this link to Amazon:

Monday, June 10, 2019

Four Headlines from the Second Quarter of 2019

1.  You Know What They Say about 'Assume'

Well, I did.  I assumed AXP would let everyone know the winners of their giveaway.  So, it came as a shock when a reader emailed me to ask if she had won.  Ouch!

To correct that situation, here are the winners of my book from the AXP Kindle Unlimited Giveaway back in May.  The grand prize winners who received all 35-40 eBooks in the KU program were Konnie K. and Hannah T.  And the winner of my book, Of Half a Mind, was Frank M.  Congrats if you won.  If not, stay tuned; there will be other opportunities.

2.  Some Awards Programs Are More Dramatic than Others

And the Eric Hoffer Book Awards has taken drama to a whole new level.  

First, they had the finalists.  And then, the "short list".  And finally, the winners.  But I'm not complaining because Killer in the Retroscape ( made it all the way, taking third place in the eBook - Fiction category.  

And if you want to check out the two books that beat me:
The Seven Gifts by The Sailor:
Sins of the Fathers by Joseph Badal:

I have to admit that the second one fascinated me enough to buy it, so watch for my review when it comes up in my TBR list.

3.  Mind in Chains Is Coming Along

The third book in the Mind Sleuth series is a medical thriller, Mind in Chains.  Currently, a complete draft is with my editor and my cover artist is hard at work (notice how well I delegate!).  I've add a tab for the book on the home page of the blog that includes a countdown timer and the synopsis.

Watch for requests for potential reviewers for the free Advance Reader Copy (ARC) around October 1 and the book release around November 1.  And if you want a sample now, the tab also includes the draft of the first four chapters.  Comments are always appreciated!

4.  What A Spring It's Been in the Midwest

While it's not writing news, it's certainly been in the news - flooding on the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.  And since biking is my second favorite pastime, I've taken note.

Here's a shot from the Katy Trail, a 237-mile (386 km) converted, railroad trail that starts near St. Louis and runs across most of the state.  Maybe by July I'll be out on it again.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June's Limited-Time Kindle Deals

Joke of the Month:  The June Wedding

George was ecstatic, having found Diane, the girl of his dreams.  He’d asked, she’d said yes, and now they were planning a June wedding.  But when George told his parents, his father pulled him aside.  “George, I don’t know how to say this, but your mother was never … well, that much in bed.  I strayed and unfortunately, you can’t marry Diane.  She’s your half-sister.”

George, of course, was angry and heart-broken, but life went on.  And sure enough, a year later, he’d found Linda and they'd set a June wedding date.  But when George told his parents, his dad called him aside again.  “I can’t believe how bad your luck is.  Linda’s also your half-sister.”

This time, George couldn’t take it.  He went to his mom and explained the situation.  She just shrugged and said, “Eh, don't worry about it.  He’s not your father.”

Now, to the serious stuff - the deals!


(Please verify all prices before purchase.)

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/10
Of Half a Mind
By Bruce M. Perrin
Usual Price: $2.99  Sale: $0.99

When you talk to yourself, there’s only one voice.  When you look at something in your mind’s eye, there’s but one image.

Psychologist Sam “Doc” Price and his colleagues had always held that principle to be true … at least under normal circumstances.  But as they studied the work of a brilliant but troubled neuroscientist, they discovered a device that created a reality that was anything but normal.  And when they had unraveled its mysteries, the only question that remained was, could they survive the brutal truth?
99p in the UK:

It's worth the wait - Start Date: June 8
Whiskey Kills (A Top Shelf Mystery)
By Lolli Powell
Cozy Mystery
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

When bar owner, Ricki Fontaine’s friend, Ruby Fogarty, is charged with murdering her boyfriend by clubbing him to death with a bottle of whiskey, the police consider the case closed. But Ricki is convinced Ruby is innocent and sets out to find the real murderer. Although Waterton police detective Gabriel Russell is crazy about Ricki, he isn’t too crazy about her trying to do his job.

The killer’s not too happy about it either.

A 2017 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Bronze winner!!!

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/9
Lost Valley (Extinction Survival Book 1)
By Walt Browning
Usual Price: 2.99  Sale: 0.99

War has a way of following some people... 

John Eric Carver and Shrek are a retired Navy SEAL war dog team, now living in the mountains outside of San Diego. Both man and dog thought their life was now settled, finding peace on the forty acre ranch they had moved to. But life, and a mutated virus, changed all that.

Now, they have to survive a worldwide pandemic. Taking refuge in a nearby Boy Scout camp, he leads a group of teens and their parents as they are forced to deal with infected creatures that are rapidly consuming the world. Will John and Shrek survive another war, or will this be the end of the line for the Seal team?

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/9
A Relic to Die For (Books to Die For Book 5)
By Richard Houston
Cozy Animal Mystery
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

This reviewer says it best:

As in Houston's previous books, this yarn has all of the elements, a murder mystery, a bit of romance, and my favorite, the wonderful interactions Jake has with his animals, Fred, his golden retriever, and a new found kitten who tries to steal the show. Houston is able to tell his story without gratuitous violence or sex. 

Richard Houston is a two-time USA Today Best selling author whose amateur sleuth solves murder mysteries in Colorado and the Missouri Ozarks with his Golden Retriever and widowed, sixty-nine year old neighbor.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/9
Freaky Days (A Mystic Caravan Mystery Book 1)
By Amanda M. Lee
Ghost Mystery
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

Poet Parker is Romani by birth and a fortune teller by choice. As a member of Mystic Caravan Circus, she’s spent the past ten years using her psychic talents to tell people what their future holds by day and hunting paranormal monsters by night. You see, Mystic Caravan is more than just a circus – it’s also a force of good in a world that needs help fighting evil.

Poet is set in her ways – and happy with her life – until Kade Denton shows up and upends the entire operation. He’s loud and proud – and Poet doesn’t like anyone telling her what to do. As the new head of security, Kade thinks his only job is going to be tackling drunken revelers when they get out of hand. He’s in for a rude – and bloody – awakening.

When monsters strike and the truth comes out, Kade finds he has to learn on the job with Poet as his somewhat reluctant instructor.  Sparks are flying – both real and figurative – and when a truly terrible beast targets the circus for extermination it’s all magical hands on deck for the final showdown.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/9
The Sign of The Blood
By Laurence O'Bryan
Historical Mystery
Usual Price: 4.99  Sale: 0.99

It is 306A.D., long before Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and became the first Christian emperor.

To ensure he survives, he must eliminate his enemies. But who must die first? The priestess, Sybellina, who joined them in Rome and practices dark and seductive magic? Or the brutal legion commanders who surround his father? Or, as Juliana suspects, are those who want him dead even closer?

A gripping historical novel about Constantine’s bloody rise to power, the woman who helped him, and the real reason he supported a persecuted Christian minority, a decision which changed the world into the one we know.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/8
The Dragoneer: Book 1: The Bonding
By Vickie and Danny Knestaut
Fantasy (Sword and Sorcery)
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

What would you risk to achieve your dreams?

All her life, Trysten has wished to follow in her father's footsteps and lead the dragons of Aerona into battle. The title of Dragoneer, however, has always gone to a male heir since the dawn of the kingdom. When her father is crippled, and his dragon mortally wounded ahead of the fighting season, Trysten must test traditions and norms to save her village. With her special bond to the dragons of Aerona, Trysten must prove to her father, the villagers, and the other dragon riders that she is an able leader and a fierce warrior of legendary capabilities.

Start Date: NOW  End Date: 6/8
Small Town Murder: Midwest Cozy Mystery Series
By Dianne Harman
Cozy Mystery
Usual Price: 3.99  Sale: 0.99

Kat only wanted to be part of the convention on how to write successful books, not solve a murder that took place there – the murder of a beloved “tell-all” author. Was that the motive?

Greed, revenge, and hatred are also reasons to murder, at least to people who live on the slippery edge of sanity. Parsons who gamble, women who blackmail, and a number of people with outsized egos make for most interesting characters.

And yet, even with the worst of human nature, miracles can happen.

If you like to feel good at the end of a book, with maybe a tear or two and a smile, don’t miss this inspirational story with plenty of dogs, food, and recipes.

(Please verify all prices before purchase.)