Monthly Archives: May 2016

Where does Roya belong?

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Awoken cover

Roya Stark is an unhappy sixteen-year-old. But, not for the typical reasons teenagers usually are. She feels as though her family hates her, and she’s never felt like she belonged there. Her dreams are disturbing in the fact that there are people trying to lure her away. Roya also believes she sees the future. Nothing feels real.

Noffke’s first novel in The Lucidies Series, Awoken, follows Roya’s story as she discovers not only who she is and where she came from but also where her destiny lies. This young adult, paranormal series is a bit out of my comfort zone and I will not base my review on that fact. That would be unfair to the author and you, the reader.

The story is well written and edited even though I found a couple of typos. Roya’s character is brought to life in such a way that you both love her and want to smack her upside the head at the same time. It could easily be read as a stand-alone book. There is plenty of teenaged angst, burgeoning love, action and adventure, and a fast pace.

If you like time travelers, humans with special powers, and a bad guy trying to ruin it all, then this is the series for you!

4 out of 5 stars

Chasing Boredom

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Chasing Freedom Cover

Juliette Jackson is a teenaged girl with a vision. She believes that the oppressive government should be overthrown. With the help of her friends she seeks to start a revolution. But, at what cost? How many friends and innocents will die?

Fontaine’s first novel, Chasing Freedom, covers the life of the rebellion from its earliest beginnings. The book takes place over an eighteen-year period. It is told from many points of view. There does not appear to be a clear protagonist and no real character development. The story jumps from person to person to different points in time and back.

Even though it was a relatively short book of 223 pages it felt much longer and took me a long time to finish. The novel could have been expanded and made into a series that allowed for a reader to get attached to a central character. Overall, I was not impressed.

2 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

 

You Can’t Prepare for Everything

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Home by TA cover

Marcus Battle has been living an isolated life after the Scourge took his wife and child. Over the years prior he built a homestead completely off grid. It is fully stocked with “beans, bullets, and bandaids” according to the prepper credo. Battle is totally oblivious to the what is ongoing in the world outside of his property. That is, until it drops in on him with a bang.

Abrahams first novel in The Traveler series, Home, is set in post-apocalypic Texas, in and around the Abilene area. The lawless are in power, and you either join them or die. Battle isn’t one to give up without a fight. And, the lawless in this dystopian world live to fight.

Battle’s character is well developed and we are able to understand who he is by knowing about his past. The other major characters are described in a way that you can not only picture them but feel their emotions. The plot is nicely paced, speeding up and slowing down as appropriate. The story moves along with a few twists and turns that are often dictated by Battle’s moral decisions.

It’s a good book, but not a great book. I found it believable only because of the Battle’s military background.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

4 out of 5 stars.

A Book To Die For

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The Accident Cover

Isabel Reed stays up throughout the night to finish a manuscript for a new book called The Accident by Anonymous, a tell-all biography of a power mogul in the news industry. As a literary agent she sees the risks and the rewards that could come from the publication of the information contained therein.

Pavone’s second spy thriller novel, The Accident, is every bit as gripping as his first with the exception few exceptions. Once you get past the first seven or eight chapters it is non-stop, hard-packed action. It brings back Hayden Gray, the CIA operative from Pavone’s first novel, The Expats. It is Gray’s mission to see that the manuscript is destroyed and never published. And, of course, this operation is off the books (pun intended).

The identity and relationships of the author of The Accident are teased out a little at a time throughout the entire book. The story follows him as he tries to remain anonymous as an expat in Europe. What he has written could very well cost him his life and those that come in contact with his manuscript.

Other than the slow start I sometimes found it hard to follow the story as Pavone jumps from one character to another telling the story and from the present to the past without warning. There was also an alarming number of characters that were described in great detail in addition to the main three. His descriptive sentences tend to run-on to paragraph length.

As much as I loved The Expat, I was not able to love this one the same way.

3-1/2 stars out of 5.

Trolls Are Coming Out From Under The Bridge

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Troll

They are everywhere. They use the anonymity of the internet to sometimes hide who they really are offline. Or, they boldly announce their true identities and use the seemingly untouchable world within the internet to unleash their inner monster. Trolls.

They lie in wait for someone to post an opposing viewpoint and then they pounce. They attack the other person’s morals, values, belief system, and everything else about the other person to make themselves feel like the better person. They are insecure and believe they need this type of validation since they are apparently not getting it elsewhere.

What they do not do is present a well thought out statement on their position backed up with supporting facts. It is rare that the troll can answer a direct question without attacking the other person. It is so much easier for them to attack the other person on a personal level. They do not realize that they are in reality making themselves look like trolls.

Occasionally, the troll will actually know the person they are attacking. But, most of the time it is by chance that they meet in a forum that puts them on opposite sides of an issue. Either way, it turns out ugly and any spectator can just as easily be vilified by the troll for supporting the other person.

Election season brings the trolls out by the hundreds, if not thousands. So, I have seen many of them feasting on those unfortunate enough to be caught in their sights. It scares me. The vehemence that spews forth makes me cringe. And, it comes from both sides of an issue.

I try my best to not engage a troll when they make themselves known. It is safer to walk away and leave them hanging out there all by themselves. Most public sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer the option to block the troll from seeing you or anything you post. I never hesitate to use the block, even if it was not me they were trolling.

I am a proponent of free speech, for any and everybody. That does not mean I have to stick around to listen or even agree.

 

Interview with Author Brian Parker

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May 14, 2016

CTC – Good afternoon! I’m happy to have had the chance to interview Brian Parker, author of Zombies in the Basement, the Washington Dead City series, Self-Publishing the Hard Way, the Path to Ashes series, and others.

Welcome, Brian. Let’s get started, shall we?

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

BP – I’ve always been a writer, from early childhood, but when I graduated from college, I fell into the mental trap that so many adults seem to do. I had a career and didn’t have time for frivolous pursuits–or so I thought. 

In reality, I watched a lot of TV to unwind at the end of the day, just vegging out instead of doing something productive. Then, about five years ago, I read a book by active duty Navy officer J.L. Bourne and I decided if he could find time to do it, so could I. The TV goes off when my kids go to bed and I use that time that I used to watch television for writing.

And I haven’t looked back since.

CTC – How long does it take you to write a book?

BP – That’s a difficult question. My first book GNASH took me 2.5 years to write. But I edited as I went and then would set it aside for a long time. After I finally published that one, Enduring Armageddon took about 8 months to write; now I have a process, I just go balls to the wall writing and then go in to edit once the rough draft is done. So, for the past 9 or so books. It takes about 4 months from concept to finished first draft, including my initial edits. Of course, I sprinkle in short stories and other projects during that time, so it may actually be a little faster, but I’ve always got a few irons in the fire.

CTC – What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

BP – I write at night after my kids go to bed and on the weekends before my family wakes up, so that gives me about 2 hours a night during the week and 3-4 in the morning on weekends.

CTC – What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

BP – Hmm, that I write in silence seems to be odd to a lot of folks. Most writers I talk to have music playing or the television on in the background, but I usually write in solitude since the family is asleep.

CTC – Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

BP – Remember that mental trap? I’ve got almost 20 years worth of ideas floating around my head! For the military parts of my books, I use my experiences, for everything else, there’s Google. The CIA World Factbook is also a godsend.

CTC – When did you write your first book and how old were you?

BP – I finished writing GNASH in 2013, so that made me 36.

CTC – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

BP – I’m lucky in that my job “forces” me to work out, so I get my gym and pavement time out of the way for my job, but I do love to lift weights and hike. Actually, pretty much anything that I can challenge myself physically is exciting to me. I run, go to the park, play outside with the kids. I like adventure races like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. I’ve ran 5 full marathons and want to get back to that (my last was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012).

One of my long-term life goals is to through-hike the Appalachian Trail. I think the sense of accomplishment from that would be amazing.

CTC – What does your family think of your writing?

BP – My kids think it’s cool that I’ve been on TV and have spoken at schools for my kids’ book Zombie in the Basement, but they’re still too young to appreciate how much effort it takes to write a book.

CTC – What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

BP – The cost! People, myself included before this all began, seem to think that writers are all making money hand over fist. It’s not the case for the vast majority of us. For self-published authors, there’s the cost of the editing (anywhere from a few hundred bucks to several thousand), cover art (again, a wide range of prices), formatting if you can’t do it yourself, then promoting the book once it comes out…everything costs money and you’re only earning, at most, a couple of dollars per book sold, so it takes a while to move into the black on each book.

CTC – How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

BP – As of today, I’ve written 10 novels, 1 kids’ book, 1 how-to guide for self-publishing, and two published short stories (I’m waiting on word back for a few others that have been submitted). I’m about 3/4 of the way through the rough draft of my 11th novel, a sci-fi noir detective story that will become a series.

The second part of your question is hard. All of them are my babies and all of them are different, with unique storylines an “personalities.” But, if I HAD to choose, it would be either Enduring Armageddon or REND.

CTC – What is it about your writing that sets you apart from other authors?

BP – I feel what sets me apart from a lot of other authors out there is the amount of realism that I apply to my stories. I hate when there are parts of books or movies that make me roll my eyes, so I use my real-world experiences to bring as much realism as possible into each story.

CTC – Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

BP – Ignore all the experts! Seriously. That whole “show don’t tell” mantra that all the out of work MFA degree holders try to tell you is BS. Write for you, in your style and how you feel comfortable writing; it’ll feel forced otherwise and your readers can tell. 

I’m not saying don’t try to improve your craft every day, far from it, but just don’t get wrapped around the axle of the three-part story or the idea that you have to follow established patterns. Play around with timing. One of my favorite movies of all time is Memento, a film that tells each scene from the ending to the beginning, while the scenes progress chronologically.

CTC – Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

BP – I typically hear from a core group of about 50 readers who interact with me via facebook. For the most part, everyone is positive about my work and I’ve even got a couple of champions who go out and talk me up, which is super cool (thanks guys!).

CTC – Do you like to create books for adults?

BP – All but one of my books and short stories are for adults. I like that I can let myself be who I really am in my books with language and situations. I keep my facebook page strictly PG-13 because that’s my brand. I don’t curse when I interact with folks or post, but in real life, I do curse and I think there’s an advantage to being able to express myself however I want in my books.

CTC – What do you think makes a good story?

BP – This is a cop-out, but I think it’s different for every person. To me, a good story holds my attention with peaks and valleys. It can’t be all high adventure 100% of the time, that would just be exhausting, and books that are all details with no action are boring! I like action that builds, then ebbs and builds up again, following that pattern for most of the book.

CTC – As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

BP – I wanted to be a soldier or a lawyer. I became a soldier and married a lawyer, so I guess I hit them both in some ways!

CTC – Is there anything else that you would like for the audience to know?

BP – Where to find me, of course!

I’m on facebook, that’s where I interact with readers the most. My page is http://www.facebook.com/BrianParkerAuthor

Also, the one-stop link to find my books on Amazon. Only my four books published by Permuted Press are available on Nook, Kobo or iTunes; my self-published works are Amazon-exclusive. Here’s where you can find everything: http://www.amazon.com/Brian-Parker/e/B00DFD98YI

CTC – Thank you so much, Brian, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions for my readers. And, congratulations on the new baby!

Brian Parker 2 Evil doesn’t become extinct. It evolves. Our world is a violent place. Murder, terrorism, racism and social inequality, these are some of the forces that attempt to destroy our society while the State is forced to increase its response to these actions. Brian Parker

Futuristic Weapons, Cults, & Mad Max-like Battles

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Soledad Cover

Soledad Paz is a gifted reader of people. In post-apocalyptic Texas she has been sold for her abilities to one of the despots trying to control a large portion of the former state. Someone from Soledad’s past arrives and causes her to rethink everything she thought was true about her past. And, even the truth may not be what it seems.

Young’s first novel in the Dark Republic series, Soledad, is set in a dark, devastated world. The story is told from Soledad’s point of view. Her character is young and inexperienced, but her gift gives her an edge for survival. Futuristic weapons, cults, and Mad Max-like battles are vividly described in this dystopian novel.

The language and detailed violence are intended for mature, adult audiences.

I received this book for free from the author for review consideration. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

5 out of 5 stars.