Monthly Archives: April 2020

Die to Fight Another Day

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Bar at the end of the world cover     Ezekiel (Zeke) Watson left his girlfriend behind as he escaped certain death from his employers, the Tic a black-market cartel. The Tic battles the Overseers, some call them the government, for control of water. Nearly dead from being chased, Zeke stumbles on the property of a bar. But, it’s not any bar; it’s the bar at the end of the world.

Abrahams first novel in The Watchers series, The Bar at the End of the World is an odd mix of post-apocalyptic, dystopian, and paranormal. He does an excellent job of blending the genres to create a fascinating tale of redemption. I’ve never read anything like it, nor have I seen any other books of a similar nature.

Zeke’s character was well developed and while not the nicest person on the planet, he was relatable. The storyline is full of surprises and takes you through a maze. There is even one big ‘gotcha’ twist that makes you want to start all over from the beginning to see if you can pick up on the clues.

5 out of 5 stars.

Fast Learner

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The Young Detective cover     Mark Josephson is the youngest person to ever make Detective on the Capital City Police Force. But, then again, he had the best mentor, Inspector Thomas Sullivan. What makes him tick? What is his story? Is he as hardnosed as Sully?

Sivils’ third novella in The Capital City Characters series, The Young Detective gives us insight into who Josephson really is. As much as he tries to emulate Sully, he still has a lot to learn. When Sully is off-world Josephson must put his skills to the test.

Another engaging, fast read from the Inspector Thomas Sullivan series spinoff.

5 out of 5 stars.

And Then There Were Three

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The Girl Who Wasn't There Cover     Sarah dreams of nothing but freedom from the lab in which she and her two identical sisters were created. They are clones, and therefore, illegal in their existence. Each of the sisters is gifted with special abilities unique only to themselves. Once they realize that Maria is scheduled for organ harvesting Elle and Sarah hatch a plan to escape.

Sivils’ fourth novella in The Capital City Characters series, The Girl Who Wasn’t There is a gritty look at the underworld of cloning. Set far into the future it is an in-depth look at Sarah, Inspector Thomas Sullivan’s partner, and her origins.

What sets this story apart from the others is the illustrations throughout. It wouldn’t take much to turn this into a graphic novel. It’s a fast read and well written.

5 out of 5 stars.

The Greatest Sin Of All

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FFA 6 cover     Reaper, aka Nelson Jackson, continues his quest with the Sin Eaters to avenge as many wrongs as possible caused by the Federal States and its supporters. The Sin Eaters have spies on both sides otherwise known as angels. President Fern is aware of this and does his best to keep the Republic within the binds of the Constitution. On the other hand, President Gifford has Colonel Marshall actively pursuing Sin Eaters and their angels.

Watson’s sixth book in the Forgotten, Forbidden America series, Sinners is full of emotional turmoil. There were times that I cried; others that made me mad. And, those that had me cheering. At this point in the series, I can hear the characters in my head when they are speaking or thinking.

The end of the war is so simple. Yet, the Feds continue the fight. It appears the tide is turning in favor of the Republic. But, is it sustainable? What horrors do the Federal States have yet to unleash?

5 out of 5 stars.

A Shift In Power

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Blood Bought Cover     Robert Hardwick is finally on his way home. Once there his family will finally be all together again. In this new post-apocalyptic world, they must work harder than ever to stay together and to stay alive. Some would do anything to take away everything.

Horton’s fourth book in The Locker Nine series, Blood Bought is a contrast in emotions. There is the joy Robert and his family experience once they are reunited. Then there is the grim reality of the outside threats they continue to face. They can never let their guard down as if things were back to normal.

Congressman Honaker failed in his attempt to overtake the compound he had scoped out for years in northern Georgia. He believes that since Robert is friends with the owner and writes post-apocalyptic novels for a living, that Robert must have a similar compound in Virginia. Never one to be denied, the congressman sets his caravan off to confront the Hardwicks.

Reminiscent of the David and Goliath story, Honaker is confident that he has the numbers on his side. Robert and his family know they will be overwhelmed if they don’t place some outlying deterrents in hopes of buying them time and element of surprise.

I read this book in one sitting on a Friday afternoon/early evening. It’s a fast read, enjoyable read.

5 out of 5 stars.

Interview With Author Jackie Ross Flaum

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The Yellow Fever Revenge coverLow Down Dirty Vote Volume 2 cover                Mayhem in Mephis cover                                                                                 

CTC:     Good afternoon everyone. Please join me in welcoming acclaimed author Jackie Ross Flaum to my blog. She has most recently written the novella story The Yellow Fever Revenge. You can find my review here: 

https://chessythecat.wordpress.com/2020/04/07/love-will-prevail/

Let’s get started.

CTC:     When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When did you write your first book and how old were you? 

JRF:     Writing came naturally to me all my life. Escaping into my own world and telling myself a story was always part of me—I can’t remember when it wasn’t! I wrote my first novel, Ricky and the Midnight Colt, when I was in the sixth grade. My mother, bless her, typed all 100 pages of it. I ran across a few pages when we cleaned out the attic!

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

JRF:     I am slow, slow, slow. I write historical romantic suspense with Southern heroes and heroines. They require lots of research, many hours in libraries, on the phone talking to people, Internet searches. When you read The Yellow Fever Revenge I want you to feel like you are in Memphis during the epidemic. I can’t do that without lots of research.  And, I confess, I agonize over every word. I have a novel coming out soon, Justice Tomorrow, set in a 1960s Georgia town. It’s taken me two years to crank it out. I check and recheck everything.

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

JRF:    I usually buckle down after lunch. Then my husband has to remind me it’s getting close to dinner or I’d write up into the night. He makes sure I keep a regular life.

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

JRF:     Hmm, maybe a better question is what quirk do I aspire to have? I would love to be like Joseph Heller in Catch-22. He often starts a sentence, and it is going the way you expect it, then suddenly he twists it and you go, “oh” or laugh. For example, this is a classic sentence from the book: “His mother was a Daughter of the American Revolution and his father was a son of a bitch.”

CTC:     LOL

JRF:     When I’m actually writing on the computer, I have to have water and eye drops close by. I sometimes forget to blink! Plus, I’m always thirsty.

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

JRF:     Ideas come from news stories, family stories, people I’ve met who are so interesting. I have a short story that will appear in the July 4 crime writer’s anthology Low Down Dirty Vote V.II that came from my family history. I had heard the story in pieces from my grandmother, then read a newspaper or magazine account of it. I changed my grandmother’s tale around a little, but I hope you enjoy Two Dead, Two Wounded.

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

JRF:     Swimming, playing bridge with friends, reading, arguing politics with my husband—those are some of my favorite things to do. But I devote a lot of time to a program I helped create called Team Read. It links trained volunteers with second graders who need help learning to read. It’s been very successful and spread from one school to 63 in just a few years. We have 1,400 volunteers in my county alone! It is a great free program that has measurable success. I discuss it on my website www.jrflaum.com.

CTC:     What does your family think of your writing?

JRF:     Oh, they are very supportive. My husband is a retired business writer and edits my work. But he won’t read anything without a murder on the front page. He’s a picky reader. My teenage grandson even read The Yellow Fever Revenge and declared it more interesting than his history book’s description of the epidemic and its impact on Memphis.

CTC:     Why on earth would you release a book about an epidemic during a pandemic?

JRF:     Good question. I was conflicted. On one hand, it is a timely story about a woman in Memphis facing challenges posed by the epidemic and the arrival of her rapist in town. Much of what Elizabeth McAlister sees and endures is part of our time, readers can immediately relate. On the other hand, as one of my author friends said, people may not want to read about something historical that bears so much similarity to their current experiences. The pandemic is traumatizing for many.

Elizabeth McAlister pushed me to tell her story, to expand on what I’d explained before about her desire to protect her son and her new love, a policeman, from knowing about her past. The arrival of her rapist Barkley Mills and his family changes everything for Elizabeth. She decides she must kill him or he will come upon her someday and recognize himself in their son’s face. Barkley is a horrible man—personally, I couldn’t stand him.

In the end, Elizabeth is swept up into caring for the thousands who are sickened. She must decide if she can take a life when so many are struggling to keep theirs.

CTC:     Personally, I loved it.

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

JRF:     As a reporter for The Hartford Courant I learned early on that what I thought I wrote was not what people read. I had to be really careful as a journalist to convey the correct meaning with my words. I thought it would be different in fiction. Surprise! It’s even more important!

CTC:     That has to be really hard. I see that every day on social media. Folks tend to read more into my posts than I meant.

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

JRF:     I have written four books, all in the Sterling and Gray “Sterling Brothers Ltd” series. Sterling Brothers is a company of investigators who worked in the civil rights movement. The first will be published in summer Justice Tomorrow. It introduces Madeline Sterling, a daughter of a Harvard University professor and his Mississippi-bred wife, and her partner Socrates Gray, son of two well-educated black school teachers in the rural South. The story opens in 1965. Sterling and Gray head a team of college students who work in part of the civil rights movement and they arrive in a small Georgia to investigate the lynching of a teenager. The second book Price of a Future follows Sterling and Gray from the chaos which follows Justice Tomorrow. My favorite, however, is the last—a book I wrote first! It finishes the Sterling/Gray story arc and, I hope, leads to their agency having many mysteries to solve.

CTC:     What lead you to write?

And, well, it was first reading all the time. I was the kid who read the geography book the first week of school and hid another book inside it during geography class. Well, I couldn’t use the math book, it was too small.

I love all the J.D. Robb books, all the American political intrigue books like “Advise and Consent” and “Night of the Generals.”

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

JRF:     Every writer has a unique voice and tells a story in a way no one else can. For proof, look at the number of people who have written books on the same subject. How many novels of kidnapping and murder have you read? I am a Baby Boomer, Southerner tempered by years in the North, and a woman—nobody has seen or experienced life as I have and my vision of the world is unique. That is true of every person. And those things that make me unique are reflected in my writing.

I had a creative writing teacher tell me this story and he claimed it was true: a professor walked into his writing class and offered an A to the student who could successfully intertwine the most thrilling elements of literature—deity, royalty, sex, mystery—in one story.

The winning student wrote: “My God,” cried the queen, “pregnant again. I wonder who {whose?} it could be?”

CTC:     What do you think makes a good story?

JRF:     A sympathetic heroine or hero and a sense of increasing danger or doom for him or her.

In my novella, Elizabeth McAlister has already sacrificed and struggled to make a decent life for her child, a boy born from rape.

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

JRF:     I wanted to be a jockey. I was short enough but too fat.

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

JRF:     Writing is hard work. Harder than you can imagine. The actual writing part is easy, fun, exciting. The research part is too. Even the editing is fun. And that’s because I can get lost in the story, it lives in me all the time in my head and heart. Once I send it off, fearfully and sometimes tearfully, it leaves me. I took both my daughters to college and as I drove away I had this same gut-wrenching, heart-twisting feeling: will my loved ones be ok? Did I teach them all the things they will need to be successful? Did I give them all the strength they’ll need to endure whatever happens? Will they remember how much I love them and let it comfort them in times of distress?   Of course, you can’t take that analogy too far, but there is a lot of fear in publishing what you write!

CTC:     Thank you so much, Jackie, for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview for my readers.

You can follow Jackie Ross Flaum at any of the following:

Email: jrflaum@gmail.com

Website: www.jrflaum.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Writer-Jackie-Ross-Flaum-1653778164835646/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrflaum

jackie2_orig                                        Justice Tomorrw cover

 

Love Will Prevail

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The Yellow Fever Revenge cover     Elizabeth McAlister harbors secrets from her past. A yellow fever pandemic threatens to take away everything from her. But what scares her more is the arrival of Barkley Mills, her rapist and the father of her son.

Flaum’s novella, The Yellow Fever Revenge is an intriguing tale of love, hate, and death. She is a master storyteller. The world she has created is rich with history. The characters are well developed and believable.

Follow Elizabeth as she navigates Memphis while the yellow fever is ravaging its residents. A strong protagonist who will do whatever is necessary to protect her son.

5 out of 5 stars.

Trouble Comes In Threes

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Dolls Dames and Danger

Inspector Thomas Sullivan has few folks that he calls friends and even fewer that he holds dear. So, when bounty hunters threaten the two ladies that he treasures more than life itself, things get messy.  There’s the law, and then there’s justice. And, the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Sivils’ second novella in the Capital City Characters series, Dolls, Dames, and Danger highlights the female support characters. It also shows us Sully’s softer side and his total lack of understanding of the female psyche.

This book has everything you’ve come to expect from an Inspector Thomas Sullivan story. Sivils delivers once again. And, kudos to his cover designer.

5 out of 5 stars.