Tag Archives: Romance

The Need For Weed

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The Mountain cover     Ryan Decker has a reputation for leaving a pile of dead bodies in his wake. He seems to be a magnet for bad guys. When the opportunity to leave the Los Angeles area in order to help a friend of Senator Steele’s in northern California becomes available, he hopes to get a break from that legacy. With Harlow Mackenzie and the rest of her team in tow, Ryan encounters something much more sinister than just locating a missing person.

Konkoly’s third novel in The Ryan Decker series, The Mountain is by far the best of the series. It’s highly engaging and draws the reader in so deep that is it hard to put down. The plot twists and turns as often as the roads that lead up the mountain. His world-building is vividly descriptive. The reoccurring support characters get a little more fleshed out. And, the relationship between Ryan and Harlow is integrated in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm the action.

Senator Steele is committed to righting wrongs no matter how powerful the opposition. This time though she may have wandered into a force she may not be able to reckon with. The heart-pounding ending will leave you wanting more.

5 out of 5 stars.

**This book is expected to be published July 14, 2020**

 

A Mother Scorned

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The Benders cover     Riley Meemick has managed to escape with Ethan and Clay from the Believers at The Citadel. It is now her mission to find and liberate her Auntie Bell. Fate is a cruel mistress and Riley is taken prisoner only to be sold into a gladiator-type sport. Ethan and Clay are captured by Clay’s deranged mother and are used in her twisted experiments.

French’s third novel in The Breeders series, The Benders continues to explore the romance between Riley and Clay in a dystopian world where fertile women are a prized commodity. As with the other books in this series, it is fast passed and full of tension.

There are six books in this series as this review is written. I plan to read them all. The world-building is some of the best I’ve 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

 

Friend or Foe?

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The Road To Hell cover     Sidney Bannister is still struggling to survive at a rural homestead outside of Liberal, Kansas. Her group was lucky enough to be accepted into the Carpenter fold over the winter so long as they agreed to help with spring planting. It is not time to become complacent though. Not only do they must stay vigilant to ward off the infected they now have to watch out for the Iranians who are making the local airport into their base. Who knows if they or friend or foe?

Parker’s novel is the sixth in the Five Roads to Texas series. The Road to Hell: Sidney’s Way continues Sidney’s story shortly after she gives birth to her son. To add to her street smarts Jake Murphy has been training her and the others in self-defense and the use of firearms. Her character is growing and maturing especially with the responsibility of motherhood.

The book was well edited. It is a fast read and full of action.

Even though the reason was explained I still find it hard to believe that the Army would waste the resources in an apocalyptic event such as this to track down a soldier who was AWOL.

5 out of 5 stars.

When Worlds Collide

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Islam Rising cover Grayson Dean is a hot-tempered Houston detective who loses everything and tries to rebuild his life as a prepper. Carlos Murtadha is a small-time gangbanger turned Islamic terrorist whose life goal is to destroy Dean. As the United States’ economy spirals out of control will the two archenemies continue their battle or be consumed by the impending downfall?

Jacks’ first novel in the Patriots and Infidels series, Islam Rising has two very different timelines which eventually intersect. Due to them not running simultaneously made the book quite confusing. Add to that over a dozen typos and confusing dialog and you get a story that is hard to read. Dean’s timeline is some eighteen years and drags on considerably. Murtadha’s timeline is twenty-two years and much more concise. The switching back and forth between the two could have been handled better.

I didn’t mind the shameless plugging of Jacks’ other novel about prepping mentioned several times throughout the book. It would have been nice if had referenced some others to give us a good starting point.

This book was published in December 2017 with no mention as to when book two will come out. I’ll give it a try to see if his style and editing have improved. If not, then I’m done.

3 out of 5 stars.

To Believe Is To Die

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The Believers cover

Riley Meemick has successfully rescued her mother from The Breeders. But, not before they implanted one of their experimental fetuses into her. The road is hard on Riley’s mother as the baby is growing at an accelerated rate. A group of mutants capture Riley and her group and take them to the self-proclaimed Messiah at the Citadel. Their intent is for the group to join the believers and consume the tainted holy water as a display of faith. All Riley wants to do is to escape and find her Auntie.

French’s second novel in The Breeders series, The Believers is a dystopian romance. It’s an easy read and is paced well. The editing is much better than the first book. The story is sad and at times heartbreaking.

The Breeders are relentless in the pursuit of any free female. They will not give up their search for Riley. Hopefully, with Clay’s help, she can stay hidden.

4 out of 5 stars.

Personal and Natural Disasters

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Rick and Tina Carpenter are in for another disastrous adventure. It seems no matter where they go trouble follows. With their 2-year-old son, fur babies, and friend Annette they take off to Florida for a cruise. Fate not only tests their bugout and prep skills but their will to survive.

Craven’s third novel in the One Man’s Opus series, Opus Adventure: A Survival and Preparedness Story is much different than most books in this genre. The German Shepherds have chapters where what they are thinking is played out. It is also about a local apocalyptic event that lasts mere days instead of years.

The two main characters have grown as their lives have changed and merged. They are fighting their personal demons and winning. The challenges that are thrown at them wreak havoc with their lives and threaten them with great harm and near death.

Unfortunately, the story buildup is too slow. I kept reading and reading waiting to see where it was heading. It also had too many possible mistakes. These two keep me from giving it 5 or even 4 stars.

3 out of 5 stars.

 

It’s Not Yours

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Grace Under FIre cover

Grace Hardwick has managed to travel from her college campus in Oxford, Mississippi to Arthur Bridges’ compound in the mountains of north Georgia. She fled towards home with the supplies and equipment her father had cached for her in a storage facility near the campus. After the coordinated terrorists’ attacks throughout the country, it was imperative that Grace gets home as soon as possible. Her trip has been anything easy and her survival skills have been put to the test more often than not. Along the way, she has teamed up with Tom Brady and his mother, Sonyea. Her father, Robert, has traveled to the compound and plans to help her along with Tom and Sonyea back to their homestead outside of Damascus, Virginia.

When the group decides to split up and send Grace and Tom ahead all hell breaks loose. The Hardwick farm though somewhat isolated has some unexpected unsavory guests wreak havoc on the others in Grace’s family. The Bridges’ compound comes under attack causing a delay in Robert and Sonyea leaving. Grace and Tom run into a ragtag group of stranded hikers that open fire. It seems that fate is keeping everyone apart and their lives in peril.

Horton’s second novel in The Locker Nine Series, Grace Under Fire, is a fast-paced, action-packed, post-apocalyptic dystopian. (Say that three times as fast as you can. LOL) Each of the places is described in enough detail that it is easy to picture them. There are more moving parts to this book than the first and many more characters. It almost became too many to keep up with at times. The budding romance between Grace and Tom adds a sweet relief to all the tragedy happening around them.

This book grabbed my attention right away and kept me tied to the story. I hated to put it down and it ended too soon. I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment.

4 out of 5 stars.

Situational Awareness Must Be Learned

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Opus Odyssey cover

Rick Carpenter has made the decision to marry Tina. The values instilled in him by his father demand that Rick seek approval from Tina’s father first. Deciding to make the trip to meet Tina’s parents into an adventure the couple along with the ever vigilant, Opus, head out sharing their experiences on Facebook.

Trying to anticipate every possible hazard along the way is nearly impossible. And, while Rick thought he was well-prepared life keeps throwing him new challenges. He seems to attract bad luck. The only good thing about this situation is that Tina is on board with him every step of the way.

To add to their troubles an adversary from their past is released from jail and threatening messages keep popping up. Strange stuff shows up on his computer leading Rick to believe he’s been hacked. Does he have a deranged fan stalking him? Is the former jailbird harassing him?

Craven’s second novel in the One Man’s Opus series, Opus Odyssey: A Survival and Preparedness Story, picks up a year after the first book. Rick and Tina have become serious, Opus has finally healed from his wounds, and they all three are ready to take on a new heading in their lives.

While Rick’s fans are loving the video shorts on Facebook about their trip, someone much more nefarious is using them to track Rick and Tina down. A violent confrontation sends Rick, Tina, and Opus out into the desert with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Their attacker has made it perfectly clear that he has no fear of dying. Can Rick and Tina escape his relentless pursuit and find help? And, what is his motive? Is Opus able to save his humans?

Rick wants to be a prepper, yet he has a lot to learn about situational awareness. He’s finding out that it isn’t just about what you have. Because if you don’t have it when you need it, then it isn’t doing you a bit of good.

This book isn’t quite up to the same level as the first. Prepping was mentioned but seemed to take a backseat to Rick and Tina’s romance. Most of the story is about Rick building up the courage to talk to Tina’s father.

4 out of 5 stars.

Saving Home

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Girl of Blood cover

After saving the planet Mhakerta The Four return to Aristozonex to find themselves under arrest. It seems the Syndicate Fleet Commander was killed in an ill-fated mission to Cwelt. Separated due to the nature of their ‘crimes’ they must somehow escape before execution and reunite to absolve themselves.

Trattora and Velkan are rescued by Velkan’s former owner, Sarth, with the help of Buir and Ghil. Sarth demands control of the dargonite on Cwelt she feels she is owed from their previous meeting. A run-in with body poachers who are searching for Trattora places Sarth in an unholy alliance with them to share the dargonite. The body poachers also take possession of Trattora and Velkan for safe keeping.

Ayma and Phin have friends inside the Fleet help them escape and take over the stealth fighter once again. They set off on a search to locate and liberate Trattora and Velkan. Finding them is one thing, successfully freeing them and escaping is quite another.

Meanwhile, on Cwelt, Parthelon has somehow become chieftain. He has struck a deal with the Maulers for mining rights of the dargonite. The Maulers then ambushed the Syndicate Fleet. Can The Four come together and return to Cwelt and overthrow Parthelon and the Maulers?

Hinkens’ third novel in The Expulsion Project series, Girl of Blood, is a non-stop, action-packed thrill ride. It’s a good mixture of adventure and romance in a sci-fi universe. There are plenty of twists to keep you interested all the way to the very end.

Nothing Trattora sets out to do is ever straightforward or easy. With guidance from her friends, she grows up significantly and learns to temper her impulses. She grows into the leader her father always expected her to become. Watching her mature over the course of these books has left me satisfied.

And, as Trattora has matured, so has Hinkens’ writing abilities. I applaud her work and look forward to wherever the next adventure takes her. I highly recommend this and every book Hinkens has written thus far.

5 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.