Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Track 9 by Sue Rovens

Track 9

Track 9
By Sue Rovens

$1.99 eBook
$12.00 Print

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes and Noble

About the Book
After a catastrophic railway accident leaves a trail of carnage and devastation in its wake, the small train station in Rain, Germany is shuttered. Six months later, Gary and Grace Wolf, returning home after their belated honeymoon, find themselves trapped inside the now defunct terminal. What they discover within its walls leads them to make harrowing decisions. What they learn about each other pushes them to the brink of disaster. Back in Bloomington, Illinois, their best friends, Mike and Sarah Waverly, await their return. A few hours before the plane is scheduled to land, Mike becomes tormented by troubling premonitions concerning Gary and Grace. Driven to find out the truth, Mike finds himself battling mysterious and inexplicable obstacles that plunge him into his own personal hell. Everyone's fate hangs in a precarious balance as the clock runs out.

My Review
Tying inexplicable zombie terror, bad donuts, wholly unlikeable clueless tourists and even worse friends, an obnoxious prescient child, a train that is and isn’t there, and tying it between small town Illinois and very small town Germany, is no mean feat.
Readers of horror will be intrigued by Rovens’s story of a very, very bad train wreck and the aftermath of ghoulish behavior by the survivors…and the non-survivors. Meanwhile, devious and dull, faithless and obsessive business partners and friends air their grievances as their fates play out both in Illinois and Germany. Mike can’t seem to realize he lives in nasty Gary’s pocket, even when Mike’s wife points it out and he agrees. Grace can’t seem to find a personality until it’s too late, and her husband, Gary…well, let’s just say everyone gets what he or she deserves in this adventure of a honeymoon gone horribly wrong.
Told in migrating viewpoints, the reader is treated to a devolution of humanity as fears are aired and hung out to wave in the gory breeze. Lots of body parts, phantom invasions, premonitions, and bumps on the head, let alone in the night. A nice big bang finishes the job. I did have to put it down and finish it in the morning…

About the Author
Sue Rovens is a suspense/psychological-horror indie author who is an active member of the Chicago Writers Association. Her two novels, Badfish and Track 9, are available in both paperback and Kindle formats. She also has two short story collections, In a Corner, Darkly: Volumes 1 and 2 - think Twilight Zone kicked up a notch.
Sue also runs a blog, suerovens.com, part of which features interviews with authors from a number of different genres. It's a very active blog with content being added a number of times per week.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Historical detective mystery from Sabrina Flynn


From the Ashes
Sabrina Flynn
c. 2014
A Ravenwood Mystery, book 1 of a 3-book series
Historical detective, California history, 1900

$4.99 eBook
$15.00 Print

Buy on Amazon 

About the Book:
Atticus Riot took a bullet to his head the day his partner was killed. Three years later, Riot returns to San Francisco to put his ghosts to rest, but the abduction of an heiress snags his attention. Two ransom demands are delivered, and the husband of the abducted Isobel Kingston is hiding the truth. 

The clock is ticking. Can Riot find Mrs Kingston in time, or will she become one more regret among many? 

My Review:
I have to admit I always pick up review requests for self-published books with a jaundiced eye but I was more than pleasantly surprised by Flynn’s book. I was enthralled and wanted to immediately purchase the next two in the Ravenwood Mystery series posthaste, no matter how large my review pile. And that’s saying a lot for me.

Of course it helps that I love the era and genre, historical detective novels. Atticus Riot is a wonderfully developed character. We’ve obviously come in the rebirth end of things, for Atticus as well as the newest adventure he steps into. Thus, the title, well-fitting for this first book in a series. Riot returns to San Francisco from a sojourn in Europe to put an end to the former business he and his dead partner ran, the Ravenwood Detective Agency, conveniently located just up the block from Pinkerton’s. However, his manager, Tim, talks him into just one more case before he officially retires. An heiress has been kidnapped.

Throughout the case Riot is visited with the ghostly advice of his late partner, for whose death he cannot forgive himself. He’s haunted by past cases where he hasn’t been quick enough to prevent death and makes it a goal to see it doesn’t happen this time. As the body count rises, however, Riot’s last case may become a lost cause.

There is so much rich history in the era and area that Flynn could have easily lost us in detail. She does introduce a quirky cast of characters who have taken over the Ravenwood mansion and then drops them, but I hope we’ll see more of them in the future. The pacing is perfect, and the twist is that the reader is treated to events of the crime in a back-and-forth catch-up chase until one day time equals out.

Surprises, not exactly cheat-the-reader moments but very subtle hints and clues will keep readers who adore this type of fiction on their toes. Told in multiple viewpoints from Riot and the victim’s points of views, well-researched. Near flawless writing shows the care the author took with her book.
A review copy was provided through VoraciousReadersOnly.com

About the Author:
Sabrina lives in perpetual fog and sunshine with a rock troll and two crazy imps. She spent her youth trailing after insanity, jumping off bridges, climbing towers, and riding down waterfalls in barrels. After spending fifteen years wrestling giant hounds and battling pint-sized tigers, she now travels everywhere via watery portals leading to anywhere.

Friday, January 19, 2018

New Fiction from Tam May The Order of Actaeon

The Order of Actaeon: Waxwood Series: Book 1 by [May, Tam]

The Order of Actaeon, Waxwood Series, book 1
Tam May

c. Janurary 2018
Dreambook Press

Print ISBN 978-0998197920
Print $10.95
Ebook $2.99
Buy on Amazon

About the Book
Sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted.
Jake is heir to the fortune and name of the prominent San Francisco Alderdice family. Although dearly loved by his sister Vivian, his passion for art and his contemplative temperament make him a pariah in the eyes of his bitter, tyrannical mother Larissa.
Eight months after his grandfather dies, Larissa announces the family is going to Waxwood, an exclusive resort town in Northern California, for the summer. At first, Jake’s life seems as aimless in Waxwood as it was in the city. Then Jake meets Stevens. With paternal authority and an obsession for power and leadership, Stevens is the epitome of Larissa’s idea of a family patriarch. Jake develops a hero worship for Stevens who in turn is intrigued by Jake’s artistic talent and philosophical nature. Stevens introduces him to the Order Of Actaeon, a group of misanthropes who reject commercial and conventional luxuries for a “pure” life in the wild.
But behind the potent charms of his new friend and seductive simplicity of the Actaeon lifestyle lies something more brutal and sinister than Jake could have anticipated.

My review
Literary, and in this case, psychological fiction, is often hard to classify. It’s meant to be thought-provoking, and May’s full-length fiction certainly does that. I admit not having a base from which to understand the Alderdice family and others like them who can simply afford to move to a resort for several months, where the bulk of this story takes place. I’m also from a hunting family, so I also can’t personally understand the depth of horror others feel about killing for food. Maybe for perverse sport or torture, yes, but not as a necessity for gathering food.

That said, I also recommend readers understand the background of the very basic Greek myth of the hunter, Actaeon, before or during reading this novel. May does share the story in different ways through the book, but having a base knowledge first helps.

The Order of Actaeon is an oddly coming-of-age story about adult children who have never grown up in a family seemingly in isolation in many ways. The story begins in contemporary times in San Francisco and begins on a left foot in the purview of the family matriarch saying farewell to her dying father. Her view of her adult children seemingly sets one tone for the book that ends with the Introduction and Larissa’s voice. Jake takes up the storyline in chapter one. Jake will probably never step into the family patriarchal role of leader and business mogul. He has an artist’s soul, if not encouragement or self-acceptance. A character is introduced who has the power to send the family on a summer break, and then shoved off-stage. While on this summer break, another powerful man, Harding Stevens, steps into the gap and changes the course of their lives.

Another important aspect to appreciate this novel is to step into Jake’s shoes as he slowly reveals the depravation of his psyche and the desperation to fill it with love and admiration, no matter the source. May’s lyricism in describing the comparison Larissa makes between Jake and his father, no longer in the picture, show this beautifully when Jake broods that his mother has “kept photographs never taken and never thrown away” of his father. The love of his sister will never be enough. Jake’s need to garner the admiration of Stevens starts on the highest of proverbial pedestals, and you know what they say about the length of the fall. While he charms Larissa and repels Vivian who also has a strange attraction to him, Jake comes the closest to leaving his self-imposed funk.

The reader is led on an emotional awakening with Jake and Stevens. Toward the climax of the story, Stevens asks, “No one is going to alienate you anymore, isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?”

I’m not really sure how to describe what seems to be merely a prop, the Order of Actaeon as a group of men Stevens seemed to have stumbled upon. When I try to recall exactly the role of the group, I wonder if the story wouldn’t be just as good without them. But this is just the first book in a series, and I’m sure there are plenty more twists to come.

About the Author:
Tam May was born in Israel but grew up in the United States. She earned her B.A. and M.A in English and worked as an English college instructor and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher before she became a full-time writer. She started writing when she was 14 and writing became her voice. She writes psychological fiction, exploring characters’ emotional realities informed by past experiences, dreams, feelings, fantasies, nightmares, imagination, and self-reflection.

Her first book, a short story collection titled Gnarled Bones And Other Stories, was nominated for a 2017 Summer Indie Book Award. The first book of her family drama series, The Waxwood Series, is out now in paperback. She is currently working on the second book of the series and a work of psychological women’s fiction titled House of Masks.

She lives in Texas but calls San Francisco and the Bay Area home. When she’s not writing, she’s reading classic literature and watching classic films.

For more information on Tam May and her work, feel free to check out her website at www.tammayauthor.com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Leslie Hachtel Historical Time Travel with a twist

A Dance in Time: Book Four of the Dance Series

Released November 2017
EBook .99
Print $8.99
Historical romance
Historical time travel
Book 4 in a series, stand alone
Buy the book on Amazon

About the Book:
Lady Grace imagines escaping her cruel husband and miserable life. A portal into the past offers her so much more than she bargained for. Including meeting the man of her dreams whose life is at risk. Can she save him? Can he rescue her?

My Review:
Although I was asked to review this book, I was intrigued by the story and might have picked it up on my own. It is the fourth book in a series, but the first Leslie Hachtel book I've read. I like time travel stories, and the unique idea of traveling back in time from a time already long past was intriguing. The story was nicely done, full of romantic notions, pirates, lovely and spunky heroines with a punch, and juicy hints at romantic interludes. Although the author made appropriate nudges about the first three stories in this series, I never felt as though I was missing something, and am enticed to check out the other books as well as more of the author's work.

This is historical fiction from the early seventeenth century Britain, back in time to a moment of King Henry Viii. I changed my mind a couple of times about the identity of the smuggler ring, so that was a sweet success of a mystery to me. Nicely done, told in alternate viewpoints between the two main characters. Good research without getting boggy in detail. For those who like historical romances. Clean, with a lot of innuendo.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Song of the Shepherd Woman review

Song of the Shepherd Woman

Song of the Shepherd Woman 

Carlene Havel
Sharon Faucheux
Biblical fiction
ISBN 978-1979693301
256 pp
9.99 paperback
.99 ebook

released November 2017

About the book:
In the first century, Channa’s stepfather gives her to her maternal great-uncle Avram to raise. Avram is known to be a peculiar, perhaps dangerous, man. His wife Yael cannot speak. Nevertheless, they are kind to Channah and teach her how to care for sheep. When her stepfather unexpectedly announces her betrothal to a Jerusalem tanner, the girl is forced to leave the only home she knows. 
Channah looks forward to a loving husband, but soon learns she is to be Enos the tanner’s second wife. The beautiful first wife is barren, and she resents her youthful rival. Channa struggles to adjust to marriage and city life, cherishing the hope of someday having her own child to love.

My review:
Song of the Shepherd Woman is a loving and faithful look at life in first century Biblical times. Havel and Faucheux have teamed up on several novels about biblical characters. All have been diligently researched and are thoughtful recreations of the period and possible events. The other characters have been well-known: Rahab, and Michal. The shepherd woman, however, is a typical country woman affected by profound events. Her uncle, generation earlier, was witness to an astonishing sight, but subsequently lost his faith.

Excellent writing aside, the mindful story made me think deeply about events surrounding the birth, life, and death of Christ, and how everyday people might have heard and reacted to his ministry. Channa lived only two miles from Jerusalem, yet, as a young woman fleeing from a disastrous trouble, had no idea exactly where home was. I found this poignant and very truthful. Often what we are seeking is within reach, and we are unaware. Avram lost his faith for a simple reason—he knew all the boy babies had been killed and assumed the savior was among them. Also very believable.

This story is painfully realistic on many levels. Don’t get too entrenched with anyone, just love the moments. Told from Channa’s viewpoint, this beautifully, haunting story is sure to help you dig deeper into your beliefs and appreciate the ordinary lives in the first century.

About the Author:
Carlene HavelCarlene Havel writes Christian-themed romances and historical novels set in Biblical times. She’s lived in Turkey, Republic of the Philippines, and all over the United States. Carlene worked for a banana importer, a software development company, and everything in between. She attended several colleges and universities, including one that—surprisingly—granted her a diploma.