Jacqui Murray: Laws Of Nature

Although Jacqui Murray’s Laws of Nature (Book 2 of The Dawn of Humanity Trilogy) is a work of fiction it is based on intense research on pre-historic times. In her non-fiction introduction Jacqui Murray sites how scientists decoded the clues which were “encased in the rocks, soil, and the few surviving artifacts of her kind.”

Relying on multidisciplined scientists: paleobotanists studied plant seed, paleoanthropologists examined the condition of teeth and calcification of skeletons, Paleontologists examined the tools created during that period 2 million years ago and other paleo scientists studied the rocks, soil, the climate. All offering to Jacqui Murray a foundation for her fiction.

Of the many different scientists Jacqui Murray mentions two: Dr. Lev Vygotsky whose research was based on the means of communication – body language, hand gestures, facial expressions. Dr. Levi Leonard and Conant’s research based on the concept of counting.

In this book of the trilogy, we again meet Lucy – her call name which came to her in a dream. Dreams occur more than once in the book which made me wonder about the evolution of dreams and whether our dreams today are not much different than those of Lucy’s in that they are themselves clues.

I know that I would not have survived in Lucy’s environment where she and her tribe constantly searched for a home base, never really resting because of predators. Added to that are the frigid weather conditions.

Lucy has an acute sense of observation like a detective of our day might have observing footprints. “She stepped into the print. Her toes fell short of the top and the spread of her foot overlapped the sides.” And, “…she spent as much time as she could watching hunters, memorizing how they held the stick, the way they raised it over their shoulders, flung it with one foot and one arm forward.”

Then there is Lucy the healer searching for herbs to cure and heal wounds.

I, for one, have much to be grateful for Lucy and her tribe’s courage and persistence to survive. Had it not been for her and her tribe our current race would likely not be here today.

Praise for Jacqui Murray’s book which teaches us to honor our ancestors and their fights to survive as she does so through a captivating story.

Jill Weatherholt: A Dream of Family

Are you looking to spend some time with some really nice people? People who have values and can touch your heart? An uplifting and inspiring novel?

Then pick up A Dream of Family and hang out with the characters in Jill Weatherholt’s latest novel.

There’s Molly who’s bookstore dream is in danger of being taken over by a big box bookstore. Not only does her dream of adopting Grace – whose foster care abuse is heartbreaking and erringly similar to Molly’s – depend on her financial success with her bookstore, but she also hopes to have enough success so that she could spend time writing her short stories and novel.

There’s Derek who’s still hurting from his father’s secret and must learn forgiveness in order to be able to trust in love and family once again.

Then there’s adorable six-year-old Grace who wishes for a forever family. Derek’s dog Duke, wins over little Grace’s heart offering the reader some precious scenes that are bound to melt your own heart.

I loved the mixture of business, writing and romance. Besides being a sweet story, the novel also offers some practical and realistic advice on how to run a successful business from branding to making use of technology. Derek’s optimism running his coffee shops spills over in his personality filled with infectious enthusiasm.

There are many tender moments in Jill Weatherholts’ signature feel good novel. One of my favorites was this one:

“I get tired of moving. I want my own room with bookshelves filled with books and a dog like Duke.”

“I want it for you too, sweetie.” She (Molly) took in a deep breath. “I’d like to give you all of that and more, Grace.”

I loved every page in this book from Molly’s rocky start to a very satisfying surprise ending.  

Pamela S. Wight: Flashes of Life

Flashes of Life is Pamela S. Wight’s love story to her family: her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her son-in law. It is a treasure for her family to behold. What a wonderful gift!

Having said this, it also goes beyond the personal and into our collective consciousness. Her flash fiction stories are relatable in their universal truths about “extraordinary ordinary” life situations. Think of a middle-aged woman dancing in front of a mirror on a Wednesday afternoon. Or, Remember those first days of school, when the teacher asked you to write about your summer vacation? What did you focus on? How about Watching the sleep of babies in so total, full abandon? And an old favorite, Life is short, give up what is unnecessary.

Pamela S. Wight (don’t ask what the S stands for…she herself doesn’t know) bears her soul abundant with consideration, kind-heartedness and benevolence. This is most evident in her flash fiction about the shrimp meal which her son in law made. You have to love her!

We toasted to each other, to shrimp, and to ordinary family get-togethers that are extraordinary in their ability to make us happy.

As someone who writes crime fiction and reads a lot of crime fiction this was such a welcome contrast of pure love and the reassurance that life can and is beautiful.

Flashes of Life is entertaining, sharp and always very perceptive. In short, it is a treat. Much like ice-cream on a hot summer afternoon.

In the end, All you need is love.

J.E. Spina: In A Second

In A Second has many layers. First there is the abusive husband and cruel father whom Spina takes to its ultimate limits.

Then there is the relationship between the three generations of women: mother (Carla), grandmother (Grace) and daughter (Athena) who, for those of you old enough to remember, brought to my mind The Golden Girls. Along with these three wonderful characters is their abilities to see into the future and erase memories.

Third, there is romance. Lots of heartwarming romance but not until there has been heartbreak, danger and surprises.

 Mix all of these levels and what you get is a suspenseful novel full of twists, intrigues, sitting on the edge of your seat and reading far into the night.

A month after being in a coma due to an accident, Athena finds her memory distorted and is obsessed with a man she believed she was to marry and whom she also believes was in the car with her at the time of the accident. Nobody in her family has ever heard of him. Is she living a memory or seeing into the future?

Add to this J.E. Spina’s reasons as to why Carla remains with an abusive husband and Athena’s telepathic connection with her grandmother Grace.

There’s lots to digest in this novel where clairvoyance plays a strong role.

This is the second novel I read by J.E. Spina. The first was Hunting Mariah, a fast-paced thriller.

She has also written a new book, Lubelia Alycea – a historical romance.

Darlene Foster: Amanda in Arabia

I have been following Darlene Foster’s blog for sometime now and had often told myself that I would want to read one of her books.

Lately, I’d been emersed in a lot of adult literary fiction and so this past weekend, I was looking for something to read which wouldn’t be too demanding on my exhausted brain cells. A book that a middle school child could handle.

So far, Darlene has eight Amanda adventure books, each one set in different countries: Spain, Holland, England, Arabia and Malta or in different states or provinces: Alberta, New Mexico or The Danube.

I had debated whether I wanted to read one of the adventures set in a place I had already visited but finally settled on the exotic, the foreign, somewhere I will likely never visit: The United Arab Emirates or as the locals refer to it as either the UAE or simply the Emirates.

Amanda, a twelve-year-old girl from Alberta, Canada, is visiting her aunt and uncle in the Emirates where she befriends an English girl living in the same apartment building. The two girls explore powder-soft white sandy beaches – spotless with its clear blue water, a deserted Bedouin village, impressive and dangerous desert dunes and sandstorms.

Then, there is the magical “Lawrence of Arabia” fairy-tale (After all there is a perfume flask which reminded me of Aladdin’s lamp, reference to flying carpets and a princess who needs saving). There is also the chaos of camel races and a kidnapping.

My favorite part was Amanda riding a camel in the desert – I never thought I’d be so interested in camels before reading this book.

There is also a scene where a boy is sand boarding in the desert dunes which brought back tender memories of my visit to Mui Ne Sand Dunes near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where, there too, boys sand boarded.

Reading Amanda in Arabia was like taking a mini vacation to a colorful and fascinating country learning a bit about their culture. It was encouraging how Amanda found everything about her visit amazing, whether it was the women covering their faces, the soothing sounding call to prayer five times a day, the friendliness of the people and the little goats climbing trees.

When I was ten or so I would order a bunch of Scholastic novels for my summer reading and would be so excited when they arrived. It is easy for me to imagine that I would have been just as excited to have received Darlene Foster’s Amanda series had they existed then.

Jennifer Kelland Perry: Calmer Secrets

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The Cross family (Darlene, Samantha, Veronica, baby Henry and Cash, Darlene’s boyfriend) are a normal family with its own problems ranging from sibling conflict over a boy, a mother’s drinking problem and abuse.

Calmer Secrets is a novel about good people making bad choices. It is a book about an affectionate family sticking together through thick and thin.

But it is also about romantic relationships. There’s Darlene with Cash, her live-in boyfriend who get along splendidly. Then Veronica’s dating “like you’re going through a box of Kleenex,” Samantha tells her and finally there’s Samantha’s conflict between two guys.

For anyone who has gone through dating in their early twenties, you will recognize the angst, vulnerability and fragility of that period of beginning to date.

Although Calmer Secrets is classed as a Young Adult book there isn’t an age to stop enjoying a book genre. I’ve always loved YA books, often taking me back to my own young adulthood and providing me with a few new vocabulary words:

Girl, you are bangin, says one of Samantha’s boyfriend’s when he sees her appear. To which she answers You’re pretty dope yourself. By the context I took these words to mean cool.

Calmer Secrets takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. It was a pleasure reading about the vibrant painted row-houses, the pubs and the mall and a major blizzard which the author cleverly uses to advance her plot.

It’s a heartwarming book. Filled with love and tenderness and suspense.

D. Wallace Peach: Liars and Thieves

My first thoughts in reading D. Wallace Peach’s novel Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil: Book One) was how fluent the author is with the English language. I was grateful to be reading it on my Kindle if only for its instant dictionary as I searched for the meanings of Middle English Words.

After my initial struggle with the language, I found myself immersed in the story and invested in the characters:

Alue — an elf soldier,

Talin –a changeling

 Naj’ar — half-elf, half-goblin.

Together they try to keep peace but are confronted with the Force of Chaos.

For photos and detailed descriptions of these three main characters click on their names above. I only came across these descriptions (given by the author) of her characters after I had read the book. I was pleasantly surprised. They were not at all how I had envisioned elves, goblins and changelings!

Liars and Thieves is a character driven novel in which the setting also plays an important role. In Part One of this three-part series D. Wallace Peach creates a world where goblins inhabit the mountains, the elves the river plains, and the changelings the jungle. As I continued into the author’s world of transitional powers, racial conflicts, clans and crystals, I was transported into the political world of a legal thriller, its pace picking up as the novel progressed into a court case.

The story is narrated in third person from different perspectives but mostly from that of the three main characters. At times, the writing style reads like stage directions for a screenplay, and other times her descriptions are so deep and visual that you are magically transposed into her world of fantasy.

D. Wallace Peach possesses the gift of imagination and the talent to express it.

Writing Under A Pen Name

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of having an impromptu interview with Carrie Rubin about her usage of a pen name for her cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter.

Carrie isn’t alone in using a pen name. In fact, she is in good company. Can you identify the well-known writers who wrote under these pen names? (answers are at the end of the post – no cheating!).

Robert Galbraith

Richard Bachman

Dan Kavanagh

Benjamin Black

Mary Westmacott

Claire Morgan

Back to Carrie and her pen name. Here are some questions which Carrie so graciously accepted to answer.

What made you write this book under another name?   

I decided to use a pen name for the cozy mystery because it’s a different genre than what I normally write. Readers develop expectations from a writer in terms of style and plot elements, and using different names for different genres can be helpful to avoid steering a reader down the wrong path. For example, while someone might enjoy the light and clean style of my cozy mystery, they might be put off by one of my thrillers, which tend to be dark and sometimes contain violence and profanity. So, I thought it made sense to differentiate the two genres by using different names.

Has this led to any confusion or marketing difficulties? 

Marketing is always difficult and definitely not my strong suit, but I think it’s actually made it easier in the sense that my website still presents me as a writer of genre-bending medical thrillers. If I add a humorous cozy mystery to my banner of books, it might be an odd contrast. That being said, my various profiles across the internet (e.g., on Amazon, on Goodreads, on my website) mention that I also have a cozy mystery written under a pen name, and Morgan Mayer’s profile mentions she also writes thrillers under my name, so hopefully any interested readers will find their way from one author name to the other.

Are you planning to write other books under Morgan Mayer? 

I’d love to, but I’m not sure how soon because it’ll depend on what happens on the traditional publishing front. Although my agent was wonderfully accommodating and accepted my desire to go indie with The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter (much quicker path to publication than the traditional route), she currently has one of my unpublished manuscripts on submission and she’ll put another one on submission soon, so if they get deals, I’ll be busy with that for a while. Plus, I’m currently working on the third book in my Benjamin Oris thriller series. But if I get some downtime in between, it would be a lot of fun to write another cozy mystery!

What are advantages to writing under two names?

Aside from what I mentioned above, writing under different names gives an author a chance to experiment a bit. Allows them to write something they haven’t before without clouding the image of their usual line of work.

Here’s what to do if you’re thinking of using a pen name?

Here are the answers to the famous authors pen names.

JK Rowling – Robert Galbraith

Stephen King – Richard Bachman

Julian Barnes – Dan Kavanagh

Agatha Christie – Mary Westmacott

Patricia Highsmith – Claire Morgan

Toni Pike: Desolation Bluff

I recently came across a post on Derek Murphy’s website titled Best Self-Publishing Companies for Indie Authors (that aren’t scams).

You can go to his website to read the entire post (which I found interesting and informative). Since this is a post about Toni Pike’s novel Desolation Bluff I want to draw your attention to a section of Derek Murphy’s post that I find fits perfectly with Toni Pike’s novel.

When you put your book cover, your hook, tagline or teaser in front of the right readership, they understand it’s the kind of book they enjoy reading. The benefits are obvious. They click on the cover and read the blurb. Sounds good. They check out the reviews. If they trust the positive ones, they’ll consider buying it and check the price.

Cover

 Blurb

Reviews

 Price

COVER AND BLURB

Blind romance author Oliver Cameron uses the pen name of Fidel Amore and thinks he has the perfect life at his country estate near Desolation Bluff. After a honeymoon in Paris, his wife Vanessa continues her work as his assistant. His friend Ray is the business manager who lives in the gatehouse and also acts as the public face of Fidel Amore, doing all those book-signing trips that Oliver never wanted to attend. Helen Dunkley is the housekeeper devoted to him since childhood – but she detests the two newcomers.

Complications set in when Ray, working on his old car, accidentally backs into Oliver. His injuries appear minor but the next day he suddenly regains his sight. Oliver wants Ray and Vanessa to be the first to hear his good news, but when he finds them he uncovers a shocking betrayal.
A game of cat and mouse begins – and with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, it turns deadly.

A short suspense novel that will keep you guessing right to the very end.

REVIEWS

More than 30 reviews on Goodreads . Most of them 5 Stars. Here are some of them:

Fast moving and suspenseful from start to finish (Peter Springer)

Packed with Suspense and Action (Sally Cramer)

Quickly engaging and a page flipper (Terri Schrandt)

From the first paragraph, I could sense something ominous in the atmosphere, which stayed all through the background (Sherry H.)

This book was a thoroughly enjoyable read with interesting characters and great plot twist to keep me hooked all the way through to a most satisfying ending!  (D.G. Kaye)

PRICE

$2.99 Canadian which is pretty inexpensive for three and a half hours of enjoyable entertainment.

As for the content, I was not disappointed. The cover, blurb and reviews delivered. It was a fun ride where justice is rendered by a shrewd blind man who accidently regains his sight and discovers that his wife is engaged in a love affair with his assistant. A story of betrayal between good and bad. Definitely a page turner.

Noir Fiction’s “little black dress”.

Carrie Rubin: The Bone Hunger

I received a copy of The Bone Hunger as part of Carrie Rubin’s recent give-away. Thank you, Carrie.

Imagine going for a walk in the park with your young son, his mother and a yellow lab and you come upon a leg. Not just any leg but a chewed-up leg that you recognize as one you helped place an orthopedic implant into.  

Such is how The Bone Hunger begins and once again, Benjamin Oris is the protagonist of Carrie Rubin’s second medical mystery thriller. Oris first appeared in The Bone Curse.

Rubin, herself a physician who has turned novelist, brings credibility to the detailed medical aspects of the novel from the tense, focused staff during surgery; the oversized egos of power hungry surgeons; the conflict for recognition; the pressures that lead to drug addiction and a front seat view of orthopedic surgery.

Benjamin Oris is a second-year resident orthopedics surgeon filled with career ambitions but this finding of one of his patient’s legs places a hamper on his drive to win the Conley Research Grant.  When another severed leg is found in another park and then another, it is obvious to the orthopedic team that they are looking at a serial killer. Could this killer be one of their own? There are many suspects in this terrifying whodunit novel, each with credible motives.

Besides the medical viewpoints of the novel there is also a personal and dramatic side to Dr. Oris. Oris is a likeable character with integrity and modesty. Here we see the tenderness and concern that Oris has for his son but also for his mother who is in a coma, his father who has recently lost his partner and his relationship with his companion Laurette, a public health student from Haiti who adds a touch of paranormal to the novel.  

Carrie Rubin seamlessly juggles many characters in this novel (from the hospital staff, to Oris’ personal relationships and family). The unique plot is both action oriented and character driven. The conflict is high in tension while the writing style is fast paced.

The story is mainly told in the third person but Rubin uses the first person as she lets us get into the head of the killer and his eerie obsession for flesh and blood.  

An interesting read about orthopedic surgery but also a compelling thriller.

Carrie Rubin is also the author of an entertaining cozy mystery The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter under the name Morgan Mayer. You can read my Amazon review here.