Independent book review: Smoke Road



Scorch Series Romance Thriller Book 3

By Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman

Luca Luciano is a jerk.

The books of the Scorch Road series are gripping, fast-paced page turners that will thrill, scare, arouse and thoroughly entertain you.

Smoke Road is the third volume in the new Scorch Road, six-book series being launched at a rate of a book a month by co-authors Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman. Both best-selling authors in their own right, teamed to write a six-volume series, releasing them at about three-week intervals.

The books I have read so far in the series follow a pattern. Each one has two main characters: one of the six Luciano brothers from South Philly, and a strong woman he meets. Together, they have to fight their way through the chaos unleashed by the Scorch Flu, a pandemic that kills 90 percent of those infected. Along the way, they gather clues about the source of the virus and a deep conspiracy that caused it.

Smoke Road’s male protagonist is Luca, the eldest Luciano brother. He’s the “alpha male,” a former Special Forces member built like a superhero.
The female lead is Dr. Haunani Kegawa, a medical researcher and advisor to the U.S. national security establishment who has found intelligence about the source of the Scorch Flu: a neo-Nazi skinhead group in Texas who has stolen a virus developed by the government and dispersed it across the country.

The plot of the whole series follows the well-established apocalypse scenario. As most of the country falls sick and dies, society and government fall apart. Gangs loot towns. Communities are reduced to scavengers, pirates, raiders or slaves. Think The Walking Dead, without zombies.

Dr. Kagawa is charged with finding the skinhead neo-Nazis responsible for the calamity, and given a unit of National Guardsmen to help her—the only military force close to the enemy that has not succumbed to the flu—which includes Luca Luciano.

As soon as he meets Dr. Kagawa, they’re irresistibly attracted to each other. This is where Luca becomes a jerk

Luca has deep-seated issues. He doesn’t trust any women. He uses them for his own pleasure—and to be fair, many use him for theirs. He’s a hunk’s hunk. But he believes all women are devious.

Dr. Kagawa is anything but. She’s clearly drawn on Toby Neal’s main character, Lei Texeira: she’s part Hawaiian, part Japanese; she has baggage stemming from a bad, nearly abusive past relationship; and she carries a piece of beach glass in her pocket at all times, which she holds and rubs to allay anxiety. This is a direct carry-over from Lei Texeira.

The story is basically a love story, with the pandemic apocalypse a setting. Luca and Nani are drawn together by circumstance and biology, and their personalities are just similar enough that they clash repeatedly. They drive each other crazy in many ways.

Like reality, it’s the man who’s wrong.

Toby Neal

Toby Neal

Emily-author-photo

Emily Kimelman

It’s frightening to me just how well women can read men’s minds.

This book is compelling and exciting, full of action, suspense and hot sex scenes. It’s a true mark of a writer’s skill to be able to write hot sex scenes without coming off as either pornographic or silly.

Well done, Toby and Emily. You’ve done what every writer strives to do: make a nightmare fantasy completely believable.

5*

A look back at a tough year



To many, 2016 has been a horrible year. The war in Syria, the loss of refugees from that conflict and others, the record number of celebrity passings, record homicide numbers in my home town, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency … I won’t go on. It’s too painful.

For me, it’s been a turbulent year, too. I broke my knee in May and went through months of intensive physiotherapy and exercise to get back the range of motion and strength I needed for my two-week whitewater canoeing trip. My son had appendicitis, my other son had some issues with school and work.

In the fall, I came down with a wicked case of pinkeye. There were more problems in this single year than in many that I can recall.

On the other hand, there were some “ups,” as well.

  • I published three books this year:
    • IMG_0020.jpgUnder the Nazi Heel, Book 2 in my Walking Out of War trilogy based on the World War 2 experiences of my father-in-law, Maurice Bury.
      It won Second Prize in the East Texas Writers Guild 2016 Awards for nonfiction/memoir.
    • The Wife Line, a Sydney Rye Kindle World book that features my spy-thriller characters, Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun.
    • Dead Man Lying, my third Lei Crime Kindle World title, featuring my FBI Special Agent character, Vanessa Storm. It won First Place in the 2016 East Texas Writers Guild Mystery Awards.WifeLine-final-small
  • I edited three very strong books by independent authors:
  • I participated in some group publishing efforts along with other members of BestSelling Reads, an authors’ group that cross-promotes members.
  • New members joined Independent Authors International, a collaborative publishing venture where members share skills to provide all the functions of a full, commercial publishing company.
  • PaddlersI canoed 325 kilometres down the Missinaibi and Moose Rivers in northern Ontario to Moose Factory on James Bay, and capsized only once.
  • I visited the Finger Lakes in New York, and met some very nice, interesting people and drank some excellent wine.
  • I crafted an outline for The Triumph of the Sky, the follow-up to my first full-length novel, The Bones of the Earth.
  • I outlined a new Lei Crime novel featuring Special Agent Vanessa Storm: Echo of a Crime, and have so far written about half of it.
  • And I came up with a concept for a new Sydney Rye Kindle World novel which will feature Van and LeBrun.

So 2016 has been a year with ups and downs, and now that I look at it, for me at least, there were more good points than bad. And for the family, too.

But for the world, it’s been a tough year. For Aleppo and the rest of Syria, for Iraq, for France, Belgium and the U.K., for Japan, Italy and Fort McMurray. For the U.S., 2017 is going to be … interesting politically.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, loving, peaceful and plentiful 2017.

Come to a party with me



November 21 at 7:00 p.m.
Chat with authors — get free books — win Amazon gift cards

SRKWbadge3On Monday, November 21, I’ll be joining six other authors in the Walking the Giant Dog Facebook party, and I want you to come with me.

All the authors who have published books in the Sydney Rye Kindle World will join Facebook to share our experiences in writing these books, and to answer readers’ questions.

Have you ever wondered

  • Why we wrote Kindle World novellas?
  • Where did Van Freeman come from, anyway?
  • Why is the dog so big?
  • What is a “wife line”?
  • Why does Sydney have a gun?

We’ll all be here:

Emily-author-photo

Emily Kimelman, author of the Sydney Rye series

Pawlish

Renée Pawlish, author of Walk Softly, Danger

jennharlow

Jennifer Harlow, author of Nemesis

Julie Gilbert 2013 (5 of 25)

Julie Gilbert, author of Fatal Interest

DelSheree Gladden

DelSheree Gladden, author of The Catalyst

UseThishires

And me, author of The Wife Line

 

 

bookrhythmAnd it’s all organized by Book Rhythm.

 

We’ll be asking you questions, too, like

  • Who is your favourite character in the Sydney Rye world, other than Sydney herself?
  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

All for more chances to win prizes.

Save the date — November 21, 2016 at 7 pm. Eastern Time.

SRKWlaunchimage

Get ready: read the books

The Catalyst, by DelSheree Gladden

Fatal Interest, by Julie Gilbert

Nemesis, by Jennifer Harlow

Strange Behavior, by Bev Pettersen

Walk Softly, Danger, by Renée Pawlish

The Wife Line, by Scott Bury

Rough Road, by Toby Neal

Have you read all the Sydney Rye novels yet? Here’s your chance to get the first volume, Unleashed, for free.sr_unleashed

 

 

 

What do commercial publishers really want from new writers? Not what they tell us



Photo by Wonderlane on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Surfing social media a few weeks ago, I came across a reference to an article from Penguin Random House, one of the Big 5 worldwide publishers called “What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page.”

It was advice for writers who wanted to have their manuscripts published by a big commercial publisher like one of Penguin Random House’s imprints. But rather than advice, it’s really just reinforcing the narrative that the big publishing houses put out good books — when the truth is that they don’t take chances on good books from new authors. As proof, let’s look at the opening pages of the latest releases from Penguin.

Let’s look at what they say they look for in a manuscript from a new writer

1.      “A powerful opener”

is the most important thing, because it’s the first thing that editors see. If the opening doesn’t grab them, they’ll move onto the next submission in the slush pile.

For example, consider Robert B. Parker’s The Devil Wins. It was published last year by G.P Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of the Penguin Group, which is a subsidiary of Penguin Random House:

Jesse Stone no longer felt adrift. No longer a man caught between two coasts, he had finally left his days as an L.A. homicide detective behind him. If not his private shame at how his life had gone to hell. He was chief of police in Paradise, Mass. This was his town now. Yet there were still some things about the East Coast and the Atlantic he had never gotten used to and wasn’t sure he ever would. Nor’easters, for one. He found the brooding, slate-gray clouds and rolling tides a little unnerving. These late-fall or winter storms seemed to blow up out of spite, raking across whole swaths of New England or the Mid-Atlantic, leaving nothing but pain their wake.

As was his habit, he drove through the darkened streets of Paradise in his old Ford Explorer before heading home. He wanted to get a few hours’ sleep before going back to work. Maybe a drink, too. The storm wasn’t supposed to make landfall until about midnight, but the winds were bending trees back against their will, sleet already pelting his windshield. Jesse shook his head thinking about that. About how storms in the east warned you they were coming. About how they told you when they were coming and then kicked your ass.

Sorry, this doesn’t count as powerful. It’s an info dump, paragraphs of back story — exactly the kind of opening all the advice blogs and creative writing courses tell you not to write. Get to the story.

For all you writers out there, this opening breaks one of Elmore Leonard’s famous 10 Rules: “Never start with the weather.”

Of course, The Devil Wins was not written by Robert Parker, who died in 2010. Reed Farrel Coleman, a successful mystery novelist in his own right, won the contract to continue the Jesse Stone series.

Homecoming

Speaking of information dumps, consider the opening of the newest volume in the Boys of Fall teen romance series by Shannon Stacey, published by Jove, another Penguin imprint.

Sitting in a hospital waiting room with a pack of scared and sweaty teenage boys while wearing a little black dress and high heels wasn’t Jen’s idea of a fun Friday night.

Nothing could have dragged her out of there, though. Not even the promise of flip-flops and her favorite yoga pants. The police officer leaning against the wall and staring at the ceiling was Kelly McDonnell, one of her best friends. Kelly had been the first to arrive when the 911 call came in from football practice. Kelly’s dad—Coach McDonnell—had collapsed on the high school’s field and they were afraid he was having a heart attack.

When Kelly called her from the emergency room, Jen had been in her car on her way to a second date with the first guy in a long time who actually had potential to make her forget the man she spent too much time thinking about, but she hadn’t even hesitated before cancelling. Kelly needed her.

That’s a lot of data crammed into three paragraphs, and there’s been no action, yet. Just a girl in a party dress, sitting in a hospital waiting room.

2.      Unique perspective – ““What is one thing this book does better than any other book?”

Consider The Madmen of Benghazi, by Gérard de Villiers.

Ibrahim al-Senussi was stark naked when he stepped out of the shower, and he stopped dead at his bedroom door. Cynthia was sitting on the edge of the big bed, making a call on her cell phone. That wasn’t sexy in itself, but between the lapels of the young woman’s Chanel suit—his birthday present to her—he could see her nipples straining against the raw-silk blouse.

Cynthia’s shapely legs were bare from her upper thigh to her tawny, very high-heeled boots. The length of her skirt had once been quite proper—until she had the hem raised.

Al-Senussi felt the blood rushing to his crotch.

This does not do anything better than thousands of other books out there. In fact, it’s just plain bad writing. Who isn’t stark naked when they step out of the shower, other than drunks?

3.      Attention-Grabbing Characters

Consider the opening of Danielle Steel’s Rushing Waters, published August 30, 2016:

Ellen Wharton was pensive as she studied the clothes she had hung on a rolling rack, and the folded items she had laid out on the bed for her trip to New York. Organized, impeccable, meticulous, she was a woman who planned everything and left nothing to chance—her business, her menus, her wardrobe, her social life. She was consummately careful and precise about everything she did. It made for a smooth, order life, with few surprises, but also very little opportunity for things to go awry. She had been planning this trip to New York since June, as she did every year, to see her mother. She also went on Thanksgiving every other year, and she usually went once in spring. She intended to do some shopping for two of her clients, and she had an additional purpose to her trip this time.

Ellen ran a successful interior design business, with three assistants, a color specialist, and clients in several cities in Europe who loved her work. She created beautiful environments for them …

For decades, Danielle Steele has been on bestseller lists with title after title. She’s popular. But that opening does not portray an attention-grabbing character. She strikes me like any number of uptight business people who think they can control the universe.

This opening also breaks a rule from all the creative writing classes: “Show me, don’t tell me.” If I submitted this to an editor, I’d be told to describe how she carefully folded every item of clothing, how she entered appointments into her daytimer, how she checked her airline tickets for Thanksgiving. But Danielle Steele has enough bestsellers behind her, and enough of a fan base to write whatever she damn well wants.

But they sell

Yes, they do. The success of these books supports arguments I have been making for years:

  • The accepted tropes of creative writing classes do not translate into sales. Readers don’t care about Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing. Only writers and editors do.
  • Commercial publishers do not necessarily publish quality fiction.

“But you can’t blame a commercial business for making money.”

I don’t. What I blame the commercial publishing industry for is their snobbish pretense that only they can produce quality prose. And for not pushing for better, fresher, more innovative fiction and non-fiction. And for contracting a writer to continue a dead writer’s series, instead of publishing that living writer’s original work.

Some of the Big 5’s titles are examples of great writing. The Girl on the Train is a timely example. But some of the most innovative and gripping work is published by individual, independent, self-publishing authors.

What I want you to do

Don’t settle for commercial quality. If you like good books, look down the lists for independent authors. And if you want to find some of the best, check out these two independent authors’ groups:

And tell me what you think of the books on those sites.

 

Stories from the War: Friends of my Enemy, Book 1



StoriesFromWarBy Autumn Birt

An independent book review

I was a little nervous as I read the first chapter in Stories from the War. I like Autumn Birt’s writing and I enjoyed her fantasy series, Rise of the Fifth Order. So I was intrigued by her shift from epic fantasy to dystopian military thriller with Friends of My Enemy.

Hopes high, I was a little put off by the opening of the first Story from the War, First Meeting. It’s a lunch meeting between two main characters: Arinna Prescott, a military attaché from the USA and an EU diplomat who happens to be a baron. I thought, “Oh, no. She’s trying to evoke some kind of Regency romance here, but set it in the future.”

I was also a little afraid that Stories from the War would follow the worn path of the military dystopian future, where an ex-soldier’s military training and discipline is the only thing that ensures the survival of a small group while civilization deteriorates into rival warlord territories.

But while this book starts with the U.S. under military law and Europe renews aristocratic ranks and privileges. As I read on, I felt myself drawn deeper and deeper into Autumn Birt’s universe. I really could not put it down.

Stories from the War is not a novel.

It’s a set of 11 stories about a small group of realistic characters. First are Lieutenant Arinna Prescot, who meets a diplomat, Baron Bryan Vasquez, in Spain. Their conversation, which opens the story, skillfully sets the stage of the whole series. We learn that by 2055, the United States is under military law, beset by famine and riots. Climate change has brought storms that even the Americans could not recover from. Arinna’s and her husband, Air Force Captain Michael Prescott, have been sent to Europe in order to help rebuild the diplomatic relationship between the “New States” and the united Europe.

The characters are the best element of this very strong book. Sure, some of them are pretentious blowhards, some are conceited jerks, and some are hopeless romantics. But we all know some people like that. I don’t like all the characters, but I believe in all of them.

The stories are episodes in the lives of these characters, and each episode develops their relationships. These relationships drive the plot, or rather, its exposition. We see this new war that develops and how it affects each individual.

One of the few weakness is that the “enemy” is never clearly identified.

The U.S. was destroyed by repeated storms and famine, but soon after the Prescots’ arrival in Europe, a mysterious organization called the Freedom Liberation Front strikes the U.S. and completes its destruction. The Prescots calculate their chances and join the EU, rising in NATO’s military as the FLF turns on Europe.

Throughout the book, the FLF remains distant and shadowy. It’s not until probably four-fifths of the way through the book that the POV characters come face-to-face with the enemy, and even then they’re not that close. It helps to make the enemy that much more sinister, but it is frustrating not to know what they really want.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

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Author Autumn Birt

The characters, particularly Arinna, who becomes known as “The Lady Grey” are strong and very well drawn. The reader sees through their eyes, feels what they feel. The descriptions are so vivid I can practically smell the smoke and feel the heft of weapons in my hands.

Congratulations to Autumn Birt on creating another vivid fictional world to explore.

4*

Get Stories from the War on

Find out more about the author

And follow her on Twitter @weifarer.

 

Independent book review: One Upon a [Stolen] Time



OnceUponAStolenTimeThe perfect haunted castle story
By Samreen Ahsan

The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true” is the starting point for this story. Myra Farrow is a romantic young woman from London, UK, who is obsessed with stories about medieval knights and princes. She wants to be part of history, and wishes she were a real medieval princess. Frustrated with the impossibility of that, she reads medieval English history, literature and poetry, even making it the subject of her university degree.

Her parents have indulged her to the point of visiting every old castle and manor in the UK, except for one that’s abandoned and closed: the totally fictitious Hue Castle.

Myra’s parents, who run a successful business in London, are concerned that their daughter lives more in the past than the here-and-now, so they arrange a marriage for her to Steve Bernard, scion of one of the UK’s wealthiest and most powerful families.

But Steve isn’t just the inheritor of wealth. He’s actually a successful video game entrepreneur, and while he isn’t interest in Myra romantically, he does want her to be a model for shooting scenes for his new medieval-themed video game. And as coincidence will have it, Steve has chosen the abandoned, yet lifeless Hue Castle for his setting.

Hue Castle has all the necessary elements for a very spooky setting, like prison towers, dungeons and instruments of torture. But the most dangerous thing is a shrouded mirror. When Myra looks into it, she sees scenes from six hundred years ago, the vicious cruelty that brought down a curse so extreme that nothing grows at Hue Castle — no plants, not even rats live there.

As Myra returns to look into the mirror, she’s increasingly drawn into the lives of those dead for six centuries, and gradually, she begins to hear them and finally contacts Edward, the crown prince of England in 1415. Myra wonders whether she can even enter that time, and if she does, whether she would be able to return.

Characters

Ahsan’s strength is creating believable, familiar characters, and Myra is another example. She’s a romantic, obsessed with her fantasies of kings and princes and knights, but she is far from one-sided. She dreams about being rescued by a handsome knight, but she’s not weak. She’s a complex, modern woman who likes her cell phones and clothes, and her freedom and independence.

Steve is a complex man, too, who undergoes a transformation through the book and comes to love Myra for who she is. This sets up a love triangle and another level of conflict in Myra, who is already trying to choose between the past and the present.

Perhaps the most complex, appealing character is the tortured Edward Hue, the prince and son of the cruel (fictitious) King Stefan. You really feel for this character, and I was surprised by how fully Ahsan has realized this character.

Drawbacks

The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the framing device, the overly complex way she has set up the story, with Myra being set up by her parents with Steven, who is not interested in her at first. I understand why Ahsan chose the billionaire genius guy and the smart, regular girl structure for her previous two-volume Prayer series (A Silent Prayer and A Prayer Heeded). She was showing what a love story like 50 Shades could be if handled by a writer with skill and talent. But there is no need for that here. Neither is there a need for the marriage to be arranged. Steve could have just hired Myra to be his model, and gradually fallen in love with her. It would have made the story simpler and allowed the author to get to the action quicker.

But that’s a minor point. This is a mesmerizing story that keeps you swiping your e-reader to get to the next page. It’s well worth a read.

Get it on Amazon.

Written Words interview the reviewers: Sue Devers and Amina Giraldez



CatReadingThis week, Written Words turns the tables on book reviewers by asking them few questions about what they’re looking for in the books they review.

Today, we have two avid readers whose have carved out a broad platform on Amazon and Goodreads: Sue Alexander Devers and Anima Giraldez.

What genres do you review?

Sue Devers: Almost anything that isn’t Romance, Western, or Zombie.

Anima Giraldez: Anything and everything.  I prefer a suspenseful mystery or crime novel with a hint of romance.

Why do you prefer those genres?

Sue Devers: They are exciting and they are good at helping me escape my boring everyday life.

Anima Giraldez: The idea of trying to solve the mystery or figure out the plot is the most intriguing.  As a stay-at-home mom with a LEO for a husband I just don’t have that much excitement in my world.  I get to visualize a beautiful country I’ll never visit, learn something new or experience danger I would never get to otherwise.

What do you get out of them?

Sue Devers: I get to visit different places–real or not–some of which I would love to go to myself!!!  LOL  Also meeting new friends and enemies.

Anima Giraldez: The idea of trying to solve the mystery or figure out the plot is the most intriguing.  As a stay at home mom with a LEO for a husband I just don’t have that much excitement in my world.  I get to visualize a beautiful country I’ll never visit, learn something new or experience danger I would never get to otherwise.

What do you look for in a book that you review?

Sue Devers: Continuity, a good story and well-rounded characters.

Anima Giraldez: I look for that thrill that keeps me reading past bedtime, while my kids are playing so I can ignore them or keep me on the elliptical longer while I forget I’m exercising.  I look for a book that can put some zing between the sheets without making it raunchy or too frequent that I lose interest.  I also need to have at least two weeks to adjust for others on my calendar or having to read others in a series first.

What is the worst mistake that an author can make in a book?

Sue Devers: Something that pulls me from the story, sends me back to the “real” world.

Anima Giraldez: Timelines are tricky.  When dates are splashing about and ages are mentioned I have a nasty habit of trying to make it sure lines up right, when it doesn’t I’m the first to call it out.  Guess that’s my OCD coming out.

What is the worst mistake in your opinion that an author can make when trying to promote a book?

Sue Devers: Not describing the book accurately in the blurb.  I hate picking up books thinking they are one style and they are something totally different.

Anima Giraldez: Sending a book out to reviewers far too early, which can get forgotten. Sending it out not early enough, which means a speed read or it’s not read in time for release. Promoting is tricky enough but I would think a few solid reviews could really help a release.

Which is more important to you: the plot/story, characters, or the writer’s style? 

Sue Devers: The plot/story—unless it is labeled fantasy, then make it at least mostly believable.

Anima Giraldez: Man, that’s tough. Characters that are memorable in some way is important to me.  The banter they flirt or tease with will either have me laughing in stitches or cringing with distaste. Chemistry is important in romance or murder mystery, in the normal world we have to get along and normal feel good vibes are important.  I feel like the plot could be anything as long as the characters are people I could hang with and actually have some intelligence.

Name a classic book in the genre you favour most that you think today’s writers should aspire to equal. 

Sue Devers: Well, Lord of the Rings by Tolkien; The Godfather by Puzo; Laurell K Hamilton for vampires, shifters, zombies, and such.

Anima Giraldez: I can’t say that I’ve read a classic book in ages, probably since my AP English classes 20 years ago and they weren’t in my fave genre.

Desert island question: name three record albums you would take with you if you were stranded on the island from Lost (where they had vinyl records and diamond-stylus record players). 

Sue Devers: The Eagles—best of 75 thru 79; any of the a cappella group Home Free’s albums; and I don’t know for a third—maybe Enya.

Anima Giraldez: Anything by Dean Martin, Van Halen (if a record was available) and Billy Joel. 

Thank you, book reviewers!

meSue Alexander Devers has lived in St. Joseph, MO most of her life. She’s been an avid reader since a very young age, and drove a school bus for 10 years, then a semi for about a year. She’s also been a truck driver, then dispatcher and supervisor until she became disabled. Now, reading and reviewing books take up much of her time.

 

 

10151396874681448Amina Giraldez lives in Salinas, CA about 15 minutes from Monterey and beautiful Carmel with her husband, a 20-year law-enforcement officer, and two young children. Her full name, Anima-Christi, is a Catholic prayer that means “spirit of Christ.”

“My parents felt the creative bug, I guess,” she says.  

“I became an avid reader after reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and followed it up with the 50 Shades series, then I grabbed whatever I could.  When my husband works the midnight shift, I have plenty of quite time in the evenings to devour books.  After making some contacts with favorite authors on Facebook I began getting early releases for free and realized how important reviews are to the author.  I pride myself on getting reviews posted on release day and supporting the author through my ratings.”  

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7011603-anima.

 

 

 

 

For your summer reading pleasure: 15 new #LeiCrimeKW novellas



It’s official: Summer has started

with 15 new books from the Lei Crime Kindle World gang — 15 top, bestselling authors with 15 new mystery, romance and suspense all playing prominent roles. For your summer reading pleasure, here are your new titles, courtesy of Toby Neal, the creator of Lei Texeira and her Hawaiian universeToby-thoughtful1

NewBeginnings 800x544New Beginnings (The Girl and The Fireman Book 1)
By Amy Allen

 

Life goes on without love … or does it?

 

StealingHonoluluStealing Honolulu (a hawai’i parkour adventure Book 2)
By Terry Ambrose

 

When the goal is to steal millions, all obstacles must be removed. 

 

Charade at SeaCharade at Sea
By Eden Baylee

 

A luxury cruise is ideal for a budding romance … or is it?

 

Dead Man Lying - 529x800Dead Man Lying
By Scott Bury

 

She knows when you’re lying …FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm is back on Maui to catch a killer.

 

ROAD SANPACHO1The Road to San Pancho
By Lynda Filler

In this fast-paced suspense novella Peace, suffering the heartache of the recent passing of her mother, goes on a journey down ominous highways to San Pancho Mexico in search of a father she never knew.

 

SC 4 TMITTreachery Makes it Tense (Shadow Council Book 4)
By Julie Gilbert

 

When a vanquished foe resurfaces with vengeance on his mind …

 

Hula Pie and Coconut Bras KindleHula Pie and Coconut Bras (Coming Soon!)
By AJ Llewellyn

 

 

 

Darker Dawn 2Darker Dawn (Coming Soon!)
By Fiona Manning

 

Can Tiare Kaihale save Lei from a crazed killer?

 

OutOfLeague_CVROut of Her League (Gemi Kittredge Book 2)
By Shawn McGuire

 

Paradise has a dark side, and Gemi has seen it.

 

ParadiseDownParadise Down
By Donna B. McNicol

 

Aloha Nicholás! But will this be a hello or a goodbye?

 

Spark my Desire 800x544Spark My Desire
By Noelle Pierce

 

One pageant queen, one sexy firefighter, one week in L.A.

 

SogawBadgeSoga’s Second Chance
By Patricia Sands

 

Some escapes lead full circle.

 

KAPU-FINALKAPU
By David Schoonover

Kapu means forbidden. Desecration means death. This ancient Hawaiian legal system collapsed in the early 19th century—or did it?

 

DragonTouched-Shenold copy (1)Dragon Touched (Kat’s Dragon Book 1)
By Carol Shenold

The fate of the world rests with unlikely heroes. 
Power comes with a terrible price … 

 

BornToLove-KWBorn To Love (Keiki & Lia Thriller Book 1)
By Amy Shojai

 

Can the past unlock the future and love preserve a life?

A new #LeiCrimeKW cover reveal: Dead Man Lying



Dead Man Lying - 529x800

This is it! The latest Vanessa Storm mystery, part of the whole #LeiCrimeKW Kindle World, will be on the Amazon e-shelves by June 27.

The cover is another masterpiece by David C. Cassidy, my favourite book cover designer. Check out his website, DavidCCassidy.com.

About Dead Man Lying

Vanessa Storm is back — the FBI agent who always knows when you’re lying.

Maui is rain forest, black sand beaches and a laid-back lifestyle. The perfect retirement location for a folk singer.

But when that folk singer ends up dead, it’s up to Maui Detective Lei Texeira and FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm to untangle the web of lies woven by the dead man’s family and friends before the body count escalates any higher.

Get it on Amazon starting June 27.

And check out the other Lei Crime Kindle World titles:

warrior dog cover

Warrior Dog by Emily Kimelman

A Snake in Paradise by Eden Baylee

A Snake in Paradise by Eden Baylee

Paradise Down by D.B. NcNicol

Paradise Down by D.B. NcNicol

Money Makes It Deadlier by Julie C. Gilbert

Money Makes It Deadlier by Julie C. Gilbert

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Palm Trees & Snowflakes by Scott Bury

Torn Roots by Scott Bury

Torn Roots by Scott Bury

Undrastormur: An independent book review



The best children’s books are those that also appeal to adults, and they do that by presenting characters with elements that readers of all ages can recognize in themselves.

Undrastormur: A Viking Tale of Troublesome Trolls by Roger Eschbacher is one of those books. It continues the author’s oeuvre of middle-grade books based on ancient northern European mythology, started in Dragonfriend and Giant Killer.

The story

Undrastormur is the Storm of Wonder, unleashed by a special spell to the thunder god, Thor. The story begins when young Eirik wakes up before dawn one morning, feeling extra hungry, so he goes out into the forest to find mushrooms. Because he’s away from his Norse village, he avoids an attack by giant, horrible trolls who mysteriously are not deterred by sunlight. Terrified, he hides in a cave too small for trolls to get into. There, he finds part of his grandfather’s staff, a weapon that when whole can call down the Undrastormur, the storm that will destroy the trolls and save the village.

But there’s a problem, explained by the guardian spirit, Bruun: the staff is broken and will not work until its two halves are joined together again, and the other half is in Nilfheim, the Norse underworld, a cold, dark land of despair beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree.

Bruun explains that Eirik has inherited his grandfather’s magical properties, which is why he can communicate with a guardian spirit and survive the trip to Nilfheim. Taking his grandfather’s talisman so that he can return to his own world—after surviving an encounter with the trolls and escaping—Eirik goes to Nilfheim, where he meets a girl. It turns out that Astrid had also been sent to find Eirik’s grandfather’s staff, but had been stymied when the staff had been taken by a monster of Niflheim.

And here is the challenge: Eirik must learn to trust Astrid and work with her to defeat the monster, return to Earth, and then use the restored full staff to defeat the trolls.

Sure, it’s based on that trope of a young man, or teenager who inherits special properties that make him the only hope of his people—but hey, this is a fantasy, based on ancient mythology. It works.

Characters

One of Eschbacher’s main strengths as an author is his ability to show us interesting and believable characters. We can recognize in them people that we all know. Old Aesa, a tough old lady of the village, is my favourite. She reminds me of some of my relatives in her no-nonsense talking manner and her delight in shocking young people.

Eirik and Astrid are believable young people. Eirik is often terrified, but knowing that he’s the only hope for the village, embarks on his adventure anyway. Astrid is a strong, smart and able young woman who has learned how to survive. Even Bruun, the household spirit, is funny and interesting.

And the trolls are great: huge, ugly, disgusting, dim-witted and very funny.

Wonderful for adults & kids

Undrastormur is a lot of fun for the middle grade set: humour, grisly, messy deaths at the hands of hideous and amusingly stupid trolls, magic and resourceful young people finding the solution to problems that freeze grown-up hearts.

140d6-roger-portrait-small_dsc00275editAs an author, Eshcbacher, is a true professional. He’s written a number of children’s books and works in Hollywood as a writer for children’s programs. So of course, Undrastormur has obviously been professionally edited and produced, and has a professionally designed cover.

It’s a book that’s aimed at children, but with a solid story, fully developed characters, lots of humour and a surprising twist at the end, like the best of all art for children, it’s a book that adults can enjoy, too. I just wish it had been longer.

You can get it on Amazon.

5*