Required Reading

Life is complicated enough without getting into hotwater with federal agencies so: TAKE NOTE Many things I review I got at no charge in exchange for an honest review. Consider this as informing you that ALL things I review may have been gotten at no charge. Realistically about 60% but in order to keep things above board just assume that I got the stuff free. I do not collect information on my readers. If cookies or other tracking stuff is used on my blogs it is due to BLOGGER not ME. Apparently the European Union's new rules state I need to inform you if cookies are being use. If they are it isn't byu me, consider yourself INFORMED.
Words like, “sponsored,” “promotion,” “paid ad” or even just “ad” are clear ways to disclose that you’re being paid to share information and links so BE AWARE that some of what I write can be described as an AD by the government. BTW I will NEVER say a product is great, super or even acceptable if it isn't, whether I got it free or NOT!

Books I have authored.

Many times I receive books for FREE to give them an honest review. I do not get paid to give a good or bad review. Spotlights are promotional and should be regarded as advertising for the book spotlighted. Regardless of where or how I got a book, my review will be as honest as I can make it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rogue Betrayer by John R. Monteith

 When I first read Rogue Crusader and then Rogue Avenger I stated that I wondered if the Navy was offering creative writing to it's officers. I am almost sure of it now. This novel is the second in an alphabetically titled series of naval action thrillers. Mirroring current events you have the Chinese the Taiwanese, Pakistanis and the United States leavened with a large dose of Islamic terrorism.
Jake Slate and Pierre Renard are back with a vengeance after Rogue Avenger. Renard has a child and is happily married. Jake has a love interest in a CIA agent. You would think with that description it would be peaceful and relaxing, you would be wrong.
Once again, Monteith delivers a slam dunk of nail biting action and intrigue. Submarine battles, political subterfuge and strange bedfellows along with noble, self sacrifice characterize this book.
John has been successful in bringing a plot, characters and action together into a highly exciting read.
I highly recommend this work and the rest of the series.

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> John R. Monteith </a>

Web Site:

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Sauvignon Secret by Ellen Crosby

This is a romance mystery set in wine country.   A vineyard owner finds herself involved in a decades old mystery with contemporary dangers while she tries to sort out her love life.

Lucie is headstrong and abrupt in her role as the catalyst in a romantic mystery.  Quinn is her apparently unrequited love and their relationship or lack there of fuels a lot of the tension in the book.   I like the relationships Lucie has with her brother, niece, cousin and grandfather.   I guess if you removed the family members you would have to write a different book.

The decades old mystery and the mysterious Mandrake Society provides a bit of tension as the mystery morphs into modern times.

I recommend the book.

Body of work of <a type="amzn"> Ellen Crosby </a>

Web site

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winner of A.J. Scudiere’s Phoenix

Jason Mondy’s world is unraveling.

His seemingly secure job as a fire fighter is suddenly thrown into chaos.
The bright spot in his week is that he rescued two children from a house fire,
but he returns home that night to find all his furniture is missing.
His girlfriend has left him without warning and his nightmares keep him from sleeping.
Even just a simple trip home to find some rest leads his adoptive mother to sit him down
and tell him that maybe his troubles aren’t quite as innocuous as they seem.
Then she divulges a secret she’s kept for over twenty-six years . . .
Jason has a brother he doesn’t remember existed.
He doesn’t remember his life before he was adopted at age seven.
He only knows that he was rescued from the fire that took his birth mother’s life.
But the story is deeper than that, and the foundation on which he built his world is now cracking.
The brother he doesn’t remember it out there somewhere, left behind.
Armed with only this stunning new piece of information,
Jason embarks on a quest to find the truths buried deep in his past.
As he searches, one by one the pieces of his life fall like dominoes.
And the more he uncovers, the more everything he thought he knew
about himself and his past
begins to turn to ash.
His truth isn’t true at all . . .

 The lucky winner of the hard copy of Phoenix is C. E. from Georgia

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Guest Post by A.J. Scudiere Author of Phoenix

Winner of the Free Copy Announced Tomorrow! 

Writing a Richly Textured Main Character for PHOENIX

I have always written under the general assumption that ‘It wouldn’t happen . . . but it could.’ All of my stories have that element to them. The apocalypse in RESONANCE is entirely plausible scientifically. Even my ‘Grudge Ninja’ in VENGEANCE uses only moves that I have seen done, or ones that martial artists and thieves can pull off. She’s not superhuman.

So when it came time to sit down and write my most grounded-in-reality story yet, I wanted a protagonist who was ‘real.’ I needed Jason to have the right kind of texture to his life. Personally, I’m not good at everything I do, and I’ve never met anyone who is. We all have talents, we have skills we work at, things we value, and things we don’t. There are things we don’t understand. (I love organic chemistry, but I once watched a seamstress make a slipcover for my couch and it boggled my mind. She thought she had no special skill, but I would argue that.) I think we are all this way and I wanted my characters to have that same feel to them. I wanted readers to believe Jason could really be out there, fighting fires for the Southfield Fire Department.

So I started with a main character who was really ‘human.’ Jason is a hero to the boys he pulls from a burning house. He’s clueless to what his girlfriend needs or wants from him. And he’s a pain in the butt to the man who is trying to cover an old crime that Jason keeps digging up.

Jason is also a man with friends. He doesn’t have the skills to find the brother he lost in his own childhood fire . . . a brother he doesn’t even remember. So Jason turns to his friends for help. He does what all of us do, he makes a deal. And like it does for many of us, this one turns around and bites him.

As a writer, I have to know my characters well before I start to put them into print. I know what foods Jason likes and dislikes. I know what he reads and what he watches on TV (or what he doesn’t, because his girlfriend took all his furniture, including his TV, when she left him!) I had to know what kind of person he was before I started writing. So Jason is good at taking action, and not so good at speaking. He’s asked to give interviews about the boys he saved from the fire and he’s very uncomfortable talking to reporters and so he’s pretty bad at it.

Jason isn’t MacGuyver, with a wad of gum and soldering iron in his pocket. He isn’t Batman, with a gadget for every sticky situation. He’s a guy with a brother who isn’t dead after all. He’s an adult with a fire in his past that’s looking more and more suspicious . . . and how he reacts, what he does, will determine his fate. 

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

An Interview with A.J. Scudiere Author of Phoenix


First I would like to post a brief bio of author A.J. Scudiere

It’s A.J.’s world.  A strange place where patterns jump out and catch the eye, little is missed, and most of it can be recalled with a deep breath; it’s different from the world the rest of us inhabit.  But the rest of us can experience it—when we read.  In this world, the smell of Florida takes three weeks to fully leave the senses and the air in Dallas is so thick that the planes “sink” to the runways rather than actually landing.
            For A.J., texture reigns supreme.  Whether it’s air or blood or virus, it can be felt and smelled.  Reality is always a little bit off from the norm and something usually lurks right under the surface. As a storyteller, A.J. loves irony, the unexpected, and a puzzle where all the pieces fit and make sense. Originally a scientist and a teacher, the writer says research is always a key player in the stories. AJ’s motto is “It could happen. It wouldn’t. But it could.”
            A.J. has lived in Florida and Los Angeles among a handful of other places.  Recent whims have brought the dark writer to Tennessee, where home is a deceptively normal-looking neighborhood just outside Nashville. 

 Now on to the interview, thank you so much for your willingness to take the time to do this interview. 

Author Interview Questions

I’ve read Resonance, God’s Eye and Vengeance and they were all different than this book.   This book resonates with the increased awareness of firefighters since 9/11.  

1.) How does this book differ from Resonance, God’s Eye and Vengeance?
This book is—of the four I’ve written—the most grounded in reality. If any of them were true stories, this would be it.
I also used a classic tale as the basis for PHOENIX: Jason and the Argonauts. Readers who are familiar with that story will see the parallels, but I made sure to write it so you wouldn’t be missing anything if you didn’t know that story.

2.) How do you develop your plots? (organically or is it a gestalt before you begin or?)
I always have about ten stories in my head, any of which is fleshed out enough to be the next one written. Once I have the ending generally decided, I start writing. I’m a writer who starts with the words ‘chapter one’ and I write everything in order. Things definitely change organically as I go. I learn more about the characters as they are put into more situations, and more plot points arise as I get close enough to see them.
So there’s definitely an element of both. I always have the gestalt, the framework, in place before I start, but the details happen as I write.

3.) Does the success of your previous books make it harder or easier to write a new one?
I actually find each next book easier to sit down and write. Knowing that the critics and the readers like what I’ve been doing keeps me from questioning my voice and my choices while I’m actually writing the first draft.
But it’s now much harder to keep my nerves down when the books release. I get really worried, ‘What if this one isn’t better than the last one?’ ‘What if my most rabid fans hate this one?’

4.) Do you have a favorite character in the book and if so why?
I love Jason. Jason is clueless to some of the world around him—women in particular. He doesn’t understand how to connect to his girlfriends or why they keep leaving him. But he’s very good at his job; he puts all his effort into being the best and doing his best there. When he makes a mistake, he feels it deeply.
I didn’t want him to be this demigod—a firefighter who rescues children and puppies, treats his girlfriend like a goddess and writes poetry in his spare time. That’s for a romance novel. Jason is ‘real’ and like real people (even your friends) he’ll make some decisions you don’t understand or agree with. But he’s a good guy trying to make sense of the mess around him. 

5.) What do you like the most about writing?
I like so many parts of it. I love sitting at my desk and thinking “oh, yeah, that’s a twist they didn’t see coming!” I love realizing some random piece of texture that I added earlier—something that just made the writing better at the time—will wind up playing an important role in the plot later. And I love doing the research.
I had no real interest in firefighters or firefighting before working on this book. (I watched “Rescue Me” but I knew it wasn’t all that realistic!) When I started talking to real firefighters, I became engrossed in it. The fact is that many people have fascinating lives, and firefighters are this wonderful, crazy, unique breed of people.
I just started writing my fifth book, INERTIA (a sci-fi meets ‘The Firm’ sort of story) and I had to research plantation restoration. Previously, I hated history classes and couldn’t care less. But suddenly I’m knee-deep in what turns out to be a rich topic!

6.)  Where do your new story ideas come from? 
They come from so many varied places for me. One is from a detailed dream I had in the tenth grade. I still remember it so clearly. On another entirely different track, fans are always asking for a sequel. I’ve never written one before because I didn’t feel there was another story there that was as good as the first. (RESONANCE has an apocalypse in it and I’m just not sure what the sequel to the apocalypse could even be!) But lately I stumbled across a great idea that will become the sequel to my second book VENGEANCE. Hopefully RETRIBUTION will be out sometime late next year!

7.) What advice has helped the most in your writing?
When I was in college, my humanities professor gave a short writing assignment one day. After that, he pulled me aside and told me I was a writer and basically forced me to take his prose poetry class. I always wanted to write novels, so I wasn’t interested in a poetry class at all. He said, take it anyway.
It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing. I now recommend that other aspiring writers take writing classes in a genre they have no interest in writing. It has so many benefits.
It’s easier to take and USE criticism that isn’t about something near and dear to your heart (which your preferred writing genre will be!) It will make your writing more unique if you aren’t trained the same way every other writer in your genre is. And any improvement in writing is an improvement.

8.) Who is your favorite author and why?
I have three that I list:
Nabokov – for Lolita. He made an unlikeable man into a protagonist, and he showed that things aren’t what you think they are. Even the mundane.
Orson Scott Card – for Enchantment. He wove so many story lines together, incorporating legends and fairy tales in a way that made them all surprisingly complex and made every plot point valid and logical.
Tim O’Brien – for The Things They Carried. He wrote about how telling the truth is different than telling the true facts.

9.) What advice would you give for the want to be writer?
I think there are two very overlooked aspects to writing.
1-practice. I don’t know why people think they can write the Great American Novel the first time they sit down. Yes, writing is a talent, but it’s also a skill. I wrote two novels just for practice before I even sent Resonance to agents. Remember, anything you put out there will bear your name. You want to be GOOD before you start posting things.
2-persistence. Almost every writer I know has a stack of reject letters. The publishing industry is about finding an agent who loves your work. Not likes, LOVES. And that agent has to find a publisher who feels the same. Publishing is NOT the end game, there are a thousand more steps to success after that. So stay the course. Keep querying agents. Keep writing!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A.J. Scudiere’s Phoenix Review & GiveAway

 REVIEW & GiveAway

Phoenix by  A.J. Scudiere

Jason Mondy is a firefighter with a troubled past.   Current events conspire to complicate his personal and work life.   This is a good mystery and a great description of the life of a firefighter.

Jason is a man of few words, deep thoughts and many personal regrets.   His inability to express his feelings leads to a less than satisfactory personal life.   As a firefighter, Jason’s life seems to be on an even keel until his personal past intrudes into his professional life.  

Jason’s heroic actions bring him to the attention of a local reporter, Clark Jerigan, whose tenacious reporting complicates both his own life and Jason’s life, far beyond what either ever expected.  

This is a murder mystery, a fireman’s tale and a tale of family and acceptance wrapped in the costume of a thriller.   This is the fourth Scudiere book I have reviewed and may be the one I liked best.

Body of  work of <a type="amzn" > A.J. Scudiere </a>

Web Site:

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hardy Belch & The Bully

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

William Bentrim Featured on Story Plant Blog

Check it out! I’m featured on Story Plant blog today.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Treat--No Trick Free eBook Sands of the Solar Empire by Ren Garcia

Sands of the Solar Empire - New from author, Ren Garcia, the creator of the League of Elder Universe

FREE 10/1/12 & 10/2/12


Sands of the Solar Empire, the first book in The Belmont Saga, begins a new adventure in the universe of the League of Elder. Can a masked Paymaster, a thief, a coward and a once great warbird face the unknown gulf of the Sands of the Solar Empire?

Title: Sands of the Solar Empire
Author: Ren Garcia
ISBN#: 978-0-9850817-6-8
Retail Price: $14.95 Paperback, 300 pages
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Publishing Date: August 2012
Publisher: Loconeal Publishing, Amherst, OH
Contact:  James O. Barnes, (216)772-8380
About the book:
Sands of the Solar Empire, the first book in The Belmont Saga, begins a new adventure in the universe of the League of Elder.
That’s all Paymaster Stenstrom, the Lord of Belmont-South Tyrol, has to do and the old warbird Seeker is his. He has dreamed of captaining a Fleet ship his entire life.
Little does Paymaster Stenstrom realize that he is in the grip of an old Vendetta and the short trip to Bazz might very well be his last.
Faced with a dead ship and a lost crew, Paymaster Stenstrom finds help in the strangest places: the thief Marine and the milquetoast young man from the Admiral’s office, and, though he just became acquainted with these two strangers, he discovers they have been influencing each other’s lives for a very long time.
Something sinister hovers over Paymaster Stenstrom and his two new friends, something they are only now becoming aware of. The SANDS OF THE SOLAR EMPIRE stretch out before them in an endless gulf brimming with the unknown. Can a masked Paymaster, a thief, a coward and a once great warbird face what awaits them?
About the author:
Ren Garcia is a Science Fiction/Fantasy author and Texas native who grew up in western Ohio. He has been writing since before he could write, often scribbling alien lingo on any available wall or floor with assorted crayons. He attended The Ohio State University and majored in English Literature. Ren has been an avid lover of anything surreal since childhood, he also has a passion for caving, urban archaeology and architecture. He currently lives in Columbus, Ohio with his wife, and their four dogs.

This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.