What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Thriller')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Thriller, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 124
1. Book Review -The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Title: The Killing Woods
 Author: Lucy Christopher
Series:  N/A
Published:  October 2013 by Chicken House
Length: 369 pages
Warnings:  sex, alchohol, drugs, pstd
Source: publisher
Other info: Lucy Christopher has also written Stolen.
Summary : Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.
Review: Emily’s dad walks in one night with a dying girl. He is then accused of manslaughter. She’s sure he’s innocent, but how can she prove it? To try, she enlists the help of Ashlee’s (the dead girl) boyfriend, Damon, who may know something about how Ashlee died. Together, they unravel the mystery.
 I read this because 1)I got sent it for review and 2) so many people had been talking about how good it is and I had to know how good it was for myself.
The characters, I liked them to start with, but at times they were a bit dreary. I would have liked to know Emily a bit more other than the fact that her father is accused of manslaughter. I liked Damon, even though he is a bit crazy at times. I liked Emily’s father. I really like the fact that Lucy handles PSTD, drugs, and choices in what I think is a good way.  
I loved the Game. I wanted to know what that involved, and all the little hints as to what it was built up well for the reveal.
I started to guess vague details from around two thirds of the way through. I ended up guessing the reasons for Ashlee’s death, but not who had done it.
The pacing was good. I didn’t get bored with the way that the mystery was unravelled at all- I really wanted to know what happened and I read this in one day.
I liked the writing. It moved the story on along really well and really built up the setting of Darkwood really well.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a fast mystery that kept me gripped from the start.

Links: Amazon| Goodreads

0 Comments on Book Review -The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher as of 4/6/2014 5:45:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. Gone Girl

Gone GirlI’m probably the last person in the universe to getting around to reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, so let me preface this blog with: I finally got round to reading it after (and despite) being subjected to its enormous hype.

I’m also an aspiring book writer, so commercially and critically successful books invoke in me a complicated mix of envy and awe. Suffice to say, I wasn’t an entirely objective Gone Girl readerer.

The Cliff Notes version of this blog is I will concede Flynn is eminently talented and Gone Girl is fantastically wrought. It’s definitely worth a read. But does it warrant such breathy discussion as it’s inspired? My jury’s still out.

That annoying twist that everyone eludes to before saying, ‘But I can’t say any more without spoiling it’? I spent at least half the book going: Is that the twist? Because if it is, it’s not that great. Is that the twist? Because if it is, that’s not that great either. When it came about, I have to admit I thought not about how clever it was, but: Finally. Then: It’s not that ground-breakingly spectacular.

Had I not had so much forewarning there was a GIANT TWIST coming, I might have been gushing like everyone else did. Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. I wouldn’t put this book quite in the hype-worthy, game-changing realm of something like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. But it was solid in the way that solid is a compliment.

Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood (Tony Kushner, The Illusion) is the epigraph setting the book’s theme. I rarely go back and re-read epigraphs, but Gone Girl’s was apt and striking, especially by the time I reached the book’s final page.

Flynn has an undeniably excellent way with words:

When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily. I’d know her head anywhere.

It’s an ominous opening in a book that we know involves a woman going missing and her husband, the narrator, being suspected of having something to do with that disappearance.

My eyes flipped open at exactly six a.m. This was no avian fluttering of the lashes, no gentle blink toward consciousness. The awakening was mechanical. A spooky ventriloquist-dummy click of the lids: The world is black and then, showtime!

It’s a recognisable and yet fresh way of describing a way of waking up. So is: ‘Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it.’

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you are, like me, coming late to the book, here’s what you need to know: Man (Nick) and woman (Amy) are married. They’ve relocated from New York to small-town Missouri, his childhood home, because his mother is terminally ill.

Native New Yorker Amy isn’t enjoying the move, and their relationship begins to fracture. Then she disappears the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary. All clues point to Nick as the guilty husband. Except he’s not guilty (at least, that’s what he’s telling us).

Flynn uses the old unreliable narrator technique, which is one I’ve long found a little annoying. So I’ll not deny I wasn’t entirely involved in the plot—more aware of the practices she was using to red herring us readers and keep us tenterhooked. Likewise, the Amy-as-muse-for-books and warped effect that infused her relationship with her parents seemed a little contrived.

But I sound like a positive grump. I will say Gone Girl is smart. The cover art is minimal and great. The title is memorable and intriguing. Flynn’s writing is exquisite. The kind of cut-above that makes any and every other writer feel more utterly inadequate than usual.

She uses such words as ‘uxorious’ and, not packing it in my everyday vocabulary repertoire, I had to via a dictionary remind myself it stands for having, or demonstrating, a great or excessive fondness for one’s wife. I mean, with that definition, it is the most impossibly perfect word for this book. Which is why Flynn’s book is attracting the attention it is.

The Secret HistoryGone Girl isn’t the first time Flynn’s writing has been lauded. Her first novel, Sharp Objects, won two CWA Dagger Awards and was shortlisted for both the CWA Gold Dagger Award and for an Edgar.

Her second, Dark Places, was a bestseller. So she released Gone Girl to a relatively established and rather rapturous audience. Not having read her previous two books, but basing it on the hype I’ve witnessed, I’m guessing this is her best work yet (feel free to correct me if this isn’t the case).

With passages like the below, I’m inclined to admit I’m impressed with Flynn’s writing (and impressed enough to want to check out her previous two books):

The camera crews parked themselves on my lawn most mornings. We were like rival soldiers, rooted in shooting distance for months, eyeing each other across no-man’s-land, achieving some sort of perverted fraternity. There was one guy with a voice like a cartoon strongman whom I’d become attached to, sight unseen. He was dating a girl he really, really liked. Every morning his voice boomed in through my windows as he analysed their dates; things seemed to be going very well. I wanted to hear how the story ended.

Flynn exquisitely captures the in-fighting and the gradual wearing away of each other that occurs in marriages. She blends that with the in-jokes and resentments and us-against-the-world-ness married life brings. ‘Who are you?’ the book asks. ‘What have we done to each other?’ They’re invaluable questions as the book reveals it’s possible to both know and not know the person you’re supposed to know better than anyone else.

I felt the backstory build-up to the big twist was too great, although my are-we-there-yet knowledge that the twist was coming up probably contributed to that. For others, it may have offered an enthrallingly detailed examination of a complex marriage between complex people.
Either way, Gone Girl inspires discussion beyond the page, which Flynn and her publisher oblige, offering bookclub questions at the back of the book—and solid, thought-provoking ones too. It also provides a Q&A with Flynn on her insights into the characters and tale and why she wrought them as she did.

Hindsight makes you a smart ass, but I have to say I’d probably have picked the twist even had I not been forewarned there would be one. Still, it’s not enough to temper my agreement that Flynn is a talented writer and Gone Girl—if you are, like me, in the not-yet-read-it minority—is one you should brave the hype and attempt to lower your expectations for, as you’ll likely find you really quite like it.

Add a Comment
3. 10 ways to write a page turner!

There are 10 easy ways (in my opinion) to keep up the pace (or suspense/tension) of a novel. This can be for any book to keep the reader clipping along and turning the pages.

10 steps to a page turner

1) Create short chapters - most of mine are 1500 to 2000 words. (It can't be 250 word chapters with 1000 chapters in the book. Thats' just annoying :)

2) End on the conflict, forcing the reader into the next chapter. (I call it the inverted climax curve! I'm smart huh?)

3) Keep your narrative short. At the end, go through and cut back scenes with too much setting or exposition. I say try to cut them in 1/2. (Actually, I should do this in my conversations as well. I'm sure my friends would appreciate it.)

4) Use short sentences when you want reader to feel rushed into reading. Longer sentences help to slow it down and create tension as well as a break before you ramp back up again. (I call this the roller coaster feeling. Make your reader sick :)

5) Add a ticking time bomb. This can be an actual time countdown or a lead in to knowing something is coming soon. (This even works in the ebay auctions I bid on. There's just something about a clock that creates stress.)

6) Create a strong opening line in every chapter that yanks the reader in. (I tend to spend more time on this than I do finding my dangling modifiers. I do not recommend that :)

7) Create strong closing lines that tease the reader to turn the page. (Do not let them put that book down! If you have to drag them on to the next chapter by their bookmarks)

8) Torture your MC - have her make mistake so actions get thrown back in her face. (I talk to my MC. "Oh you think that's bad, wait until I give you this!" I know I'm nutzo)

9) Raise the stakes each time it looks like resolution may be about to happen. (Give your reader the feeling of "oh thank God" and then take them to "WHAT the hell!"

10) Allow room to breathe. (You don't want them to pass out. Not good PR....But not too much room :)

Feel free to ask me questions! :)

0 Comments on 10 ways to write a page turner! as of 4/1/2014 2:09:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Finally!

Hey, I’m back. It’s only been . . . well, months.  Have been struggling with getting “Buried Alive!,” John Victor’s second adventure, edited and published. It’s available–right now!–online at Create Space’s Book Store.  Finally! But, before I get into that, there’s something exciting (at least for me and possibly for any of you who suffer with insomnia):  Over the counter medicine, prescriptions, and the usual suggestions have all failed me. But, there’s a cure that actually works for me!  Finally! My long-time friend, Erna D, told me about it on the telephone. You simply need a banana, a small saucepan and some water.  Cut both ends of the banana off. (I’m not sure why, but perhaps they’re bitter?).  Then place the banana–skin and all–into a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Let it simmer for ten minutes.  Then, use the water like tea (I add lots of cream and a little sugar).  Tastes great that way if, like me, you like a little bit of tea with your cream and sugar.  Anyway, drink your tea that tastes slightly like banana, and eat what you can of the banana–skin and all according to Erna–but with my stomach troubles I don’t bother with the skin.  I even mash the banana and add a bit to my tea. Reminds me of the consistency of extra pulp in OJ.  I end up falling asleep within half an hour, instead of struggling for two or more hours.

Getting back to “Buried Alive!,” the scene is set near Tucson, Arizona.  Our intrepid hero is literally buried alive in a crude cedar coffin somewhere beneath the Sonora Desert. And to make it interesting, his “coffin” is digitally connected to a live radio show. The radio host invites a bevy of professionals to communicate with John Victor, in an effort to pull elusive clues from his memory. Professionals like detectives, profilers, scientists, etc.  So they can find him before it’s too late.  An endangered plant is the basis for his being found. There are bits of trivia about the Tucson region, and most importantly of all, there’s information about the Bible. Between John Victor and one other character, bits of Biblical information is revealed, including info about prophesies that have actually been fulfilled–the chance for them being fulfilled is astounding–and about faith in its various forms.  Like with “The SEED,” John’s first adventure, “Buried Alive!” has intrigue, humor, a touch of romance, and faith-based information.  Speaking of “The SEED,” have I mentioned at least a hundred times that it was nominated by a professor for inclusion on Green Mountain College’s required reading list? And that it placed as a top-ten finalist in a national contest?  Well, right now, you can find “Buried Alive” by Ann Rich Duncan by Googling Create Space Book Store.  It’ll be available thru Amazon.com after April 10.  By the way, the ISBN #s are:  13:978-1496055538 and 10: 1496055535.  Here’s a pix of the cover:

BookCoverPreview


0 Comments on Finally! as of 4/1/2014 1:31:00 PM
Add a Comment
5. Why I Published 4 Novels in 6 Months

J.E. Fishman

Hi, WD community! Today we’re sharing a guest post from J.E. Fishman, a former editor and literary agent turned author. He has penned Dynamite: A Concise History of the NYPD Bomb Squad and the novels Primacy, Cadaver Blues, and The Dark Pool. His Bomb Squad NYC series of police thrillers launches this month with A Danger to Himself and Others, Death March, and The Long Black Hand. In September comes Blast from the Past. He divides his time between Chadds Ford, PA, and New York City.

Today he shares a somewhat unconventional decision to publish four—yes, four—books in less than a year. Here he is:

This is the story of how I decided to publish four novels in six months. It begins with a general principle, which is that writing in any form—and certainly storytelling—is a means of communication. I have never subscribed to the belief that writers write solely for themselves.

Even Emily Dickenson, so reclusive that she rarely left her room, sent poems off to be published (although only a dozen or so appeared in print during her lifetime). This proves to me that she must have imagined a reader out there somewhere on the other side of the window for the 1,800 unpublished poems that she also wrote. Shyness couldn’t stop her voice from crying out through the tip of her pen. She wanted to be heard.

It is the same for all who write successfully, I think. (By success, I mean creating what we set out to create, not necessarily raking in the bucks.) We deeply desire to give voice to something within us, and we want someone out there to read our stories. How do we accomplish these twin goals?

As anyone knows who’s attempted to write, while stories still reside solely in our heads, they contain a kind of perfection that we rarely manage to preserve when we attempt to express them in print. And it’s the same with our efforts to bring them out into the light of day. In the perfect world, we can write whatever we want whenever we want to write it, and readers yearn for every word we produce. In the real world, we operate with constraints and may never get discovered.

As a novelist, I think it pays to be aware of the three aspects of the storyteller’s endeavor. First, every story begins with something that interests the author. Second, if storytelling is a form of communication, we must take account of the reader. Finally, an increasingly disrupted marketplace challenges us to find our audience — or, more to the point, to induce them to find us.

 

Inspiration

Sometimes I feel as if I have a new story idea every day. These stories might float up to me unbidden while I’m driving in the car or dozing off on the couch. But most of the time something instigates them. It could be an item in the news or another work of art or an experience I had. I’ll think, “That would make a great story,” and then I’ll mull over how I might go about telling it.

And then, most of the time, I don’t write that story. I could plead limitations of time — life intervening or some other writing project currently claiming my efforts — but the real reason most of these stories don’t happen is that they’re not ripe. Their day may come, but not yet. Some story ideas marinate this way for years.

Once in a while, however, a story idea comes along that I personally find so compelling I can’t get it out of my head. So it was with my new series, Bomb Squad NYC

.

Five years ago, my wife, my daughter and I left the New York area for the Brandywine Valley outside Wilmington, Delaware, not far from Philadelphia. We left, but we didn’t leave with both feet, as we decided to buy a smaller house and throw in for an apartment in Manhattan’s West Village, which we visit with some regularity.ADangerToHimselfAndOthers-3dLeft-Trimmed

We love going to the theater in New York, seeing independent films, window shopping, and the whole foodie scene. Admittedly, we’re pretty spoiled, although the apartment is a petite one-bedroom, and when we’re all in town my daughter sleeps on a pull-out couch.

To the occasional visitor, New York must appear to be an overwhelming agglomeration, but it’s really a collection of distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality and its quirks. The West Village has become known for its restaurants and access to the Hudson River park, but one of its less remarked-upon features resides in a pair of nondescript garages at the rear of the local police precinct.

When we walked past those closed garage doors we noticed painted shields upon them indicating the headquarters of the NYPD Bomb Squad. One summer evening, as we returned from dinner, we found the doors open wide with a number of cops (all detectives, I’ve since learned) hanging out with a dog in front of the response trucks. We had a nice chat, and they showed us the robots they use. I learned that this wasn’t any old bomb squad, it was the Bomb Squad — the one that strives to keep all of the city safe from explosive devices.

As we walked away from the garage that night, heading for our apartment, it hit me: These guys deserve their own series. Not, I hasten to add, because they’re heroes — although they are. But because, from my perspective as a novelist, their existence carries with it a motherlode of storytelling material that has largely remained untapped.

Lots of bombs go off in thrillers and other novels, of course, but the bomb guys typically get only subplots, if any acknowledgment at all. Few novelists have attempted to crawl inside their heads. I wanted to explore not only what these guys do—which can be highly technical—but how they think, the challenges they face, how they experience life.

For many months I couldn’t get the NYPD Bomb Squad out of my head (news flash: I still can’t!), and the more I thought about it, the more compelling the material looked to me. I decided to pursue the subject with all the vigor I could bring to it.

 

Creation

I began this series the only way a writer can ever begin anything: with an interest in the subject matter. But then, if writing is primarily a means of communication, how would I connect to the reader? It soon occurred to me that these novels should take the form of thrillers.

The ticking time bomb is the essence of suspense. (Remember Alfred Hitchcock’s explanation: “Four people are sitting around a table talking about baseball or whatever you like. Five minutes of it. Very dull. Suddenly, a bomb goes off. Blows the people to smithereens. What does the audience have? Ten seconds of shock. Now take the same scene and tell the audience there is a bomb under that table and it will go off in five minutes. The whole emotion of the audience is totally different … Now the conversation about baseball becomes very vital. Because they’re saying to you, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. Stop talking about baseball. There’s a bomb under there.’”) But it needn’t be an actual time bomb. In some sense any bomb that has not yet detonated is a time bomb. As Hitchcock suggested, the fact that a bomb might soon go off at any moment engages the audience’s attention. Therefore, I concluded, these books called for the thriller genre.

DeathMarch-3dLeft

I also concluded pretty quickly that the novels should have a “police procedural” element to them, which is to say that they should give readers a level of technical detail about police work that goes beyond what they’d get from less immersive sources. But here I faced a daunting challenge. I didn’t know any cops, let alone bomb technicians, and I could hardly spend my research time standing on the street and waiting for those garage doors to open again.

Fortunately, by pursuing the proverbial six degrees of separation (the details are a story for another day—but it only required three degrees, to be honest), I eventually hooked up with the commander of the very squad I wanted to write about, Lieutenant Mark Torre. Mark already had some experience providing feedback to novelists, among them Patricia Cornwell. We met and hit it off, and he agreed to act as my technical consultant for the entire series, giving me insights and a degree of accuracy that I was unlikely to achieve any other way.

With my novels roughly using the storytelling conventions of thrillers, and with Mark looking over my shoulder, I set about plotting and writing the first book, A Danger to Himself and Others

.

The more I learned about the real world and about my characters, the more ideas I had for other stories and plot points. Using an ensemble cast, I could see a whole series stretching before me. I’d write two more, however, before rushing into print, because a final consideration remained: How best to bring this series to the public.

 

Publishing

We all know that book publishing faces forces of massive disruption. Online sales … ebooks … the power of Amazon … publishers consolidating … bookstores closing … the rise of indie publishing … All of these factors can be summed up thusly: It’s easier to get your work out there than ever before, but harder than ever before for a given work to get noticed.

Depending upon personality, one might take the changing landscape as an exciting challenge or a soul-crushing obstacle. I look at it this way: A writer’s gotta write and—eventually—a writer’s gotta publish. It’s just what we do.

In that context, it’s worth noting that we’ve sort of been here before. Mark Twain is reputed to have said (he probably didn’t really say it, but never mind), “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.” When it comes to publishing, ebooks are relatively new, but disruptive technology isn’t.

Perhaps one can hark back to what the monks thought of Gutenberg’s printing press, but I have something much more contemporary in mind. The publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin, among others, has observed

that there are many parallels between the introduction of mass market paperbacks and ebooks.

Without rehashing the entire history of mass market paperback publishing, let’s acknowledge three important elements that impacted the market then and are doing so again: (1) new means of distribution; (2) discount pricing; and (3) binge consumption.

First, neither the distributors of mass market paperbacks nor those of ebooks were content to distribute through old channels. In both instances they realized that new customers could be found for books outside the bookstore. In the case of mass market, that meant newsstands, drugstores, and grocery stores. In the case of ebooks, it meant cyberspace.

Second, technological advances allowed both of these media to set price points well below the price of a hardcover. In fact, the sweet spots of original mass market and current ebook pricing share a ratio. They both correlate closely to approximately 10 or 15 percent of the price of a hardcover book.

Third, as prices drop and novels become more accessible, the average reader can consume with more intensity.

It’s interesting to see all of the press lately about “binge” watching of television series, because binge consumption of genre fiction has been around since the advent of so-called dime novels and continued through the introduction of mass market paperbacks. I distinctly recall my wife discovering mystery writer John D. MacDonald in the ’80s and almost immediately purchasing every Travis McGee mass market paperback she could find. (In those days she had to comb multiple bookstores.) She wouldn’t have behaved the same way for books priced ten times higher.

But many authors who made a name for themselves via mass market publishing encouraged binge reading from the early days. Consider that MacDonald published four Travis McGee novels in 1964 alone. Ed McBain, whose 87th Precinct series is something of a model for my own, published 54 of those books in 50 years, but 13 in the first five.

Yet by the standards of a few other novelists, those guys were slackers. Louis L’Amour, the legendary writer of westerns, published 100 novels in 37 years. The great science fiction novelist Isaac Asimov published 506 books in 32 years. When I was at Doubleday, just managing Isaac was nearly a full-time job for one of my colleagues.

To take another example, romance author Nora Roberts has published more than 200 books in 31 years and is still going strong. The British mystery author John Creasey, writing under several different pseudonyms, published 600 novels in 41 years.primacy-book-feature

And in a career spanning 75 years, Barbara Cartland, the mother of all romance writers, published 722 novels. Think of it. That’s almost ten novels a year. In 1983 she published 23 novels!

Does that sound like madness? In a sense, of course it is. But my subject today isn’t what kind of mind it requires to be so so! so!! prolific. It is simply to say that this stream of material made great business sense in the mass-market-paperback age, and it makes great business sense at the dawn of the ebook age.

All of the authors mentioned above wrote genre fiction, and all of them wrote at least a few series. That’s not a coincidence.

Reading novels is an investment not so much of money but of time. Through their buying habits genre readers have told us that they’re more inclined to purchase the books in a series that’s well established. (If the series is working, sales build over time.) But these days, when so many things compete for an audience’s attention, how many opportunities does an author get to establish that series? The answer is: not many.

The triumph of mass market houses in the last century, combined with the rise of mall bookstores and superstore chains, led to the mass marketization of hardcover fiction, whereby authors like Sue Grafton, Lee Child, and John Grisham—to name but a few—could make their names with a single book and subsequently release one title a year to great fanfare.

But if ebooks are the new mass market paperbacks—and I think they are—we’re in a time when newer writers will have to resurrect the old mass market approach to establishing their brand. It isn’t easy, and I won’t be catching up to John Creasey anytime soon. But four books in six months makes a start.

 

 

 

 

Add a Comment
6. Chasing Prophecy by James Moser with Giveaway

Title: Chasing Prophecy

Author: James Moser

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Thriller

Ebook available at: Kindle | Smashwords  




Book Description:

Mo is a shy teen who is just trying to survive high school. He has secretly fallen in love with a girl named Prophecy who lives with a group that some call a commune and others call a cult. When she disappears, Mo must find the courage to face the monster that her family has become. Chasing Prophecy is a contemporary coming of age story that is heartwarming, suspenseful, and beautifully written. This book chronicles the adolescence of one boy who must transform himself to save the girl of his dreams.

Kirkus Reviews:

“A stellar read for teens and adults, full of hilarious growing pains, tenderness and a few surprises. Moser’s debut is an unflinching young-adult novel that sees a group of friends tested by bigotry and the illegal machinations of a religious cult. The author serves up an irresistibly wisecracking narrator in Mo Kirkland. Every page ripples with a controlled cleverness. There’s also a rawness to this tale similar to that which many teens face in the real world. Moser can wax rhapsodic about young love, but he shows that he knows how to raise the tension in the second half of the novel.”


Excerpt:

Max leaned over and whispered, “They don’t have any gear.”I looked at their packs. He was right. No rolled-up tents, sleeping bags or cookware dangled from any of the straps or hooks. Just bulging backpacks. Their empty sports-drink bottles were the only clue that they’d known they were about to hike straight up a mountain.

I remember thinking how weird it was that they carried so much weight uphill and none of that weight was soap, clean clothes, or sleeping bags.

Max peeked inside one of their packs. He undid the top pull-cord and pulled out a giant freezer-bag of red crystals. I undid the top drawstring of one of the other backpacks. More bags of the same stuff. I held one up. A bright flash startled us, made us step back. After blinking away the spots, I saw Clean with one arm extended, centering us in another picture he was taking on his phone.

“What’s this?” I asked, holding up a bag of what looked like raspberry Sno-Kone.

“Drugs,” Max said softly.

“It is not ‘drugs,’” said Clean. “It is the salvation of our family. It is the sword we will use to fight off Big Brother, to beat him back from our land, to cut off his hand as it reaches for what is ours. Now put those bags of salvation back, please. I’m sending word of our salvation to my father.” He held the Blackberry closer to his face and I knew he was forwarding the picture to Able back at the ranch.

Big buckets of reality crashed down on me head. Huge bags of drugs brought in from Canada. Hiked over the border in the dense woodsy areas where the Mount Baker National Forest drops to the Canadian Border.

These guys are criminals, I thought.

Clean waved at our tents, sleeping bags, and the rest of the food. He said, “You guys should just chill for a day, catch your breath, eat, drink, and sleep. No fires. We’re way off the trail and we’re nowhere near the spot where people hang-glide, base-jump or wall-climb. I put all the dehydrated food pouches in the blue backpack—soups and chili and fruit. A whole bottle of water purifying tablets. It’s not tons but it’ll keep you fueled til you’re back home. Thanks to you, the hard work is done.”

“Thanks, bruh,” said the leader of the other team. The three of them were leaning into the rock and leaning into each other. They must have done that on the way up, at night, to stay warm.

Clean motioned us to the other end of the rock. He said, “We leave in half an hour. Drink all the water you can, then fill up one small water bottle each. Remember to add an iodine tablet. No one can get sick on the way down. And,” he said, pausing to reach into his pack. “We wear these on the way down.” He pulled out green and tan camouflage floppy hats and t-shirts that matched the backpacks our visitors had carried.

“What about . . .” I started to say.

Max took a deep breath, dropped his chin and stared at the ground. He understood before I did that the Vision-Quest was over. We’d come to exactly this spot because this was the mission Able and Clean had planned for us all along.

Clean said, “We’re carrying it back down to the trailhead. We’re taking no food. We ate less than 24 hours ago and will be able to eat again before we go to sleep, after we get home. We have water. It’s downhill for us so we should make the car before dark. I have a small thing of sunscreen. Other than that, all we need is some guts.”

Max’s face was angry. I was just plain numb. There was nothing else to say.

Half an hour later, Clean hugged his three companions goodbye. We stayed on the southern end of the ledge, teetering under the heavy packs, just nodding politely to the other crew. We started down and did not talk. The backpacks carried the same weight but since I’m smaller than Clean and Max, I struggled more. I panted and stumbled a few times. We reached the tree-line in a couple hours.

Max and I kept trading WTF looks.

I thought, What is Kazzy doing right now? Does she have backpack of drugs, too? Did she know about this? Of course she didn’t know. The day before she looked so lost and confused. As lost and confused as anyone in the dining hall. If she had drugs on her back, she was as surprised as we were.

God, I wanted to hold her and I wanted her to hold me back. I’ve never wanted to hold someone so much. I thought of the squeeze she’d given me as she left the school bus.

The school bus. Right. They’d chosen a special ed. school bus to bring us in and out because it would hide in plain sight. No cop would pull us over for a small reason.

Max suddenly said, “Shit.” He kicked a tree, nearly fell from being off-balance under the heavy pack, steadied himself, unstrapped, and dropped his pack on the ground. He looked at me, then at Clean. “This is illegal. It’s not what you said we’d be doing.”

Clean moved quickly toward Max. I dropped my pack to the ground and took a long step toward them–to break up the fight before it got started. Clean’s eyes darted to mine. He put his finger to his lips.

Max put up his fists but Clean was already past him.

Clean took two long steps down the path, to the bend in the next switchback. He looked back at us—eyes on fire. He pointed sharply at us and then up into the woods.

We pulled on our packs and labored up the rocky hillside, grabbing at pine trees and brush. Glancing to our right, I saw Clean doing the same. We reached a spot thirty feet off the trail, level and dense with ferns. From the trail we heard a rustling and the unmistakable clip-clopping of horseshoes. We dropped down in the ferns, shimmied out of our backpacks and kneeled down in the dense mossy soil.

A forest ranger on horseback came into view. As he brought the horse to a stop, it sniffed at the air, looked our way and froze. I knew it had smelled us. We turned to Clean. He put one finger to his lips and stared daggers at us.

The ranger wore an olive green, short-sleeved shirt and cargo shorts. He had a walkie talkie clipped to his belt and a satellite phone in his hand. The saddle held a canteen, knapsack, and a long leather sleeve with a shotgun handle sticking out. As he turned around, I saw a handgun holstered at his side. The guy looked straight ahead, spoke into his satellite phone, dismounted, whispered softly to the horse, and stroked its mane.

I looked back at Clean and what I saw told me that the Bethlehem family had changed forever. The fingers of one hand were spread toward us, commanding we remain still and silent. His other hand held a gun. The lines on his face were calm. He was not afraid.

The ranger turned his back to us, lowered his hands, undid his belt buckle, moved his legs apart, looked to the sky, began to whistle. Clean gently clicked off the safety. The horse heard it, darting its eyes in our direction, snuffled, pawed at the ground restlessly. The man turned back to the horse, whispered, went back to whistling.

After the ranger and horse were safely out of earshot, we stepped over to Clean.

Max said, “What are you doing with a GUN???”

I added, “Yeah, and what were you gonna do if he saw us?”

Clean looked calmly at me, snapped the safety back on, and returned the gun to the waist-band against his lower back. He clicked on his walkie talkie, adjusted the volume and channel, and said, “Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Redemption Team One to Redemption Team Two. Anyone out there chillin’? Over.”

A long pause, and then the crackling response, “Chillin’ like Bob Dylan. Thought you guys were gone. Over.”

Clean said, “We just ran into Steve’s Big Brother. You remember Rick, right? Over.”

A longer, crackling pause.

“Copy that. Long time since we’ve seen Rick. He by himself? Over”

“Affirmative. Over.”

And the longest, crackling pause yet.

“How long til Rick arrives for dinner? Over.”

“He’s probably not coming to your house, but if he does go that way, it’ll be at least an hour. No more than two. Over.”

“Copy that. If you seen him again, tell him sorry we missed him and we’ll catch him next time. We’re running late and we’ll be gone in ten minutes. Over.”

“Sounds like a plan. Sorry about the fast turnaround. I know you guys are tired from the trip. From the long drive all the way from California, I mean. Over.”

“Copy that. Catch you guys next time. Over and out.”

“Copy that. Over and out.”

Clean switched off his walkie talkie and clipped it onto his belt.

“Look at me,” he said. “Everyone take a drink of water and pee if you have to. We are not stopping for a few hours, until we get to the parking lot. I will walk on point. That means I’ll be by myself about fifty feet ahead. There will be NO talking, so I can hear what’s ahead. You watch where you’re walking and you watch me. I put my hand up, that means stop. I point, and that means you have five seconds to go wherever I’m pointing.

“We run into someone and can’t hide in time, you just do exactly what I do. We’ll say hello all friendly-like, but you keep your heads down and you do not slow down no matter what. I will go first. I’ll pause, I’ll make some small talk for ten seconds while you pass me, and then I’ll bring up the rear after the two of you are down the trail a bit. I will catch up on my own so don’t look back. We don’t look back and we don’t stop no matter what.”

We nodded.

“Say it so I know you understand,” he said.

“Don’t look back,” Max said.

“Don’t stop, no matter what,” I said.

About the Author:
James Moser has always loved stories in all forms. He is in his fourteenth year of working with high school students. The author’s goal was to write a book that would inspire even his most reluctant readers. Young adults have always inspired him. As such, he wanted to show teenagers transforming themselves to overcome obstacles, which is what he watches them do, every day.

Moser has a B.A. in English and a Master’s degree in Secondary English Education. He lives in Seattle with his beautiful wife and eight year old son. When he’s not reading and writing, or thinking about reading and writing, he’s watching way too much television while snacking on frozen treats from Trader Joe’s. Man, those things are good.

Where to find James Moser:


Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash.


4 Comments on Chasing Prophecy by James Moser with Giveaway, last added: 3/6/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. The Living: Matt De La Peña

Book: The Living
Author: Matt De La Peña
Pages: 320
Age Range: 12 and up

The Living by Matt De La Peña has it all. It's a high stakes survival drama, with a mysterious conspiracy, containing the seeds of a possible apocalypse. There are also teen interactions that include racial and socioeconomic conflicts. I read The Living in less than a day, simply unable to stop, regardless of what was going on around me. And as soon as I closed the book I said to my husband "You have GOT to read this" (something I reserve for only a select few titles each year). 

The Living is told from the limited third person perspective of Shy, a half Mexican teen from a small California town near the border of Mexico. Shy is spending the summer before his senior year working on a luxury cruise ship (setting out deck chairs, handing out towels, etc.). Shy is in mourning for his Grandma, who died recently and suddenly from an illness called Romero's Disease. He is also reeling from his unsuccessful attempt to stop a passenger from committing suicide, an incident related in the prologue.

As his next 8-day voyage begins, Shy learns that a mysterious man in a black suit is asking questions about him. He also gets worrying news from his family at home. And he's confused by his interactions with beautiful and slightly older fellow staff member Carmen, who has a finace. All of these concerns fade into the background, however, in the face of a natural disaster that leaves Shy fighting for his life. 

Shy is a solid character. He lives with his mother, older sister, and nephew (Grandma lived with them, too). The family members are close, but struggle financially. Shy is good-looking and plays for his high school basketball team, and he's not inexperienced with girls, but Carmen knocks him off balance. On the cruise ship he encounters racism and rudeness from the wealthy passengers, and starts to develop an understanding of the socioeconomic chasm in front of him. But this is all reasonably understated - he's also a teen boy who likes girls, worries about his family, and tries to do the right thing. 

There is some kissing/making out in The Living, though no on-screen sex. There is also quite a lot of death, and some gore. But no more so than in many apocalyptic type novels (and less gore than some). I wouldn't hesitate to give this to anyone who was able to handle The Hunger Games series.  

De La Peña's plotting is tight and fast-paced. Short chapters help keep readers turning the pages, and make The Living a good choice for reluctant readers. The action really flows starting mid-way through the book, and then rarely lets up. The Living is not a book to start when you only have a few minutes to read. This is a book to save for when you have a free afternoon, and can devour the whole thing. 

Here's a snippet to give you a feel for De La Peña's writing:

"In the morning the sea had been perfectly calm and beautiful, like a postcard. Now it was a thousand hostile waves crested in white foam and crashing into one another. The massive ship moaned as it pitched and surged under Shy's shell tops--the bow bucking slowly into the air and then falling, bucking and then falling. Thick black clouds hung so low in the sky it felt like the ship was traveling through a rain tunnel." (Page 88)

There is definitely a cinematic flavor to The Living, helped out by the deluxe cruise ship setting, and the acknowledged fact that the young crew members are chosen for their good looks (this point felt a bit overdone for me, but it is true to the survival story genre). The Living would make a great movie, though I think it would be expensive to film due to required special effects. It ends with many threads left dangling, and I am eager for the next book, The Hunted, due out in fall of 2014. Highly recommended for teens and adults. 

Publisher: Delacorte Press (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
8. The Great Impersonation

I haven’t read all that many E. Phillips Oppenheim books, but I’ve read The Great Impersonation three times. I worry that no other Oppenheim book will measure up to it, but if none does, that’s okay. I enjoy rereading it even though I know exactly what happens.

Two men meet in German East Africa in, oh, 1912, maybe? One is Sir Everard Dominey, self-exiled from England and steadily drinking himself to death during and in between a succession of hunting expeditions. Then there’s Leopold von Ragastein, exiled to Africa by the Kaiser after killing his lover’s husband, but doing his best to make himself useful to his country while he’s there. And he knows another assignment is coming to him soon. Dominey and von Ragastein are lookalikes, which offers von Ragastein the perfect opportunity to establish himself in England, as he’s been instructed to do.

The Sir Everard Dominey who arrives in London some months later has no real trouble establishing himself and claiming his property — even his meetings with his half-insane wife go more smoothly than anticipated. But there are also questions, and it’s interesting to watch him deal with people having a hard time recognizing him, or commenting on how much he’s changed. And then he’s got his instructions from his German handler, and the Hungarian princess who insists on recognizing him as von Ragastein.

The spy plot is given approximately the same amount of weight as the romance plot, which revolves around Dominey’s wife and the guy Dominey may or may not have killed before he left for Africa. There’s a sort of Mrs. Danvers-ish character, and Lady Dominey herself is delightful, although the number of times she was described as childlike made me a little uncomfortable.

So, you know. There’s a lot going on. And pretty much all of it is great. Also, I can’t think of any plot threads that are left hanging. I just really, really like this book, for whatever reason. I don’t even care that Oppenheim doesn’t have a sense of humor.


Tagged: 1920s, ephillipsoppenheim, thriller, wwI

6 Comments on The Great Impersonation, last added: 1/7/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. Erased (Altered): Jennifer Rush

Book: Erased (Altered #2)
Author: Jennifer Rush (@Jenn_Rush)
Pages: 288
Age Range: 12 and up

Erased is the sequel to Altered (reviewed here) by Jennifer Rush. Altered introduces Anna, who lives above a secret lab holding four genetically altered boys. A shadowy organization called the Branch has enhanced the boys' capabilities, wiped their memories, and used them as weapons / assassins. In the first book, Anna learns that she has been part of the experiment all along, too. 

Erased finds Anna in hiding from the Branch, with Sam, Nick, and Cas. Although their lives are perilous, there's a certain stability to the surrogate family that Anna and "the boys" form, and to Anna's relationship with Sam. This stability is threatened when it appears that Anna's sister, Dani, whom they all thought was dead, may be looking for them. Various dangers, flashbacks, and investigations into all of their pasts, follow.  

Erased is that rare sequel that, I think, is better than the first book. There's more action, and less figuring out of what's going on along the way. There's still suspense, but as a reader, you have a better idea of what's going on from the start. Rush also does a nice job of recapping the situation from the first book, without going into excessive detail. Also, and this was important for me, Anna is a much stronger character in the second book, not putting herself down so much for not being as physically capable as the boys. She's learned self-defense, and pushed her (not artificially strengthened) body to improve her stamina. 

There is still a little of the "oh, they're so much better than me". Like this:

"Like all the boys, Nick, even at his worst, was gorgeous. It drove me crazy. I didn't consider myself unattractive, but next to them, I was painfully average. They didn't know the meaning of a bad hair day." (Chapter 1)

But this doesn't stop her from being mainly secure in her place with them. 

I did like this:

"In the months since Sam, Nick, and Cas had escaped the Branch's lab, and I'd gone with them, I'd learned that nothing was permanent, not even my memories. Now I took every opportunity to savor what I had, just in case. (Chapter 1)

There are some useful practical tips for anyone on the run from a powerful organization, like the fact that you should use your money to buy weapons, because weapons are a lot harder to steal than food. And how to tell if a house is probably a vacation home, and thus safe to break into to squat for a little while in mid-winter. Fun stuff for thriller fans. 

In terms of content advisory, I do think that this is more a high school book than a middle school book. The language is fine, and there's no overt sex. But Anna is clearly sharing a bedroom with Sam, and there are descriptions of their closeness ("It was like my nerve endings weren't truly functioning unless they were beneath Sam's fingers.") More significant, to me, is the fact that the teens, including Anna, kill quite a number of people. Enemies who are out to get them, mainly, but some adult gatekeepers may find that this aspect of the books makes it less desirable for middle schoolers.

Personally, though, I found Erased to be fast-paced and interesting, with enough clues revealed along the way to make me feel smart as I figured out what was going on. Teens looking for thrillers with a bit of science fiction (brain wipes, genetic modification), and plenty of chases and shootouts, will want to give this series a look. Erased (due out in early January) seems to wrap up the series, but there is a short story prequel being released this week. 

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@LBKids) 
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Add a Comment
10. Book Spotlight: Dead Dreams by Emma Right

emma cover

 

Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams–of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.

Book Title: Dead Dreams, Book 1, a young adult contemporary psychological thriller and mystery

Print Length: 170 pages

Publisher: Right House Books; 2013 First edition

(August 26, 2013)

Format: Kindle

ASIN: B00ESVEVBQ

Purchase at Amazon!

Music video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM7MI_3vqyo

emma

Emma Right is a happy wife and Christian homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, a bunny and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Social Links:

Email Address: emmarightmarketing@gmail.com

Website: http://www.emmaright.com

Twitter link @emmbeliever

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/DeadDreamsEmmaRight

Goodreads User:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18396455-dead-dreams

https://plus.google.com/u/0/111644513292318573575/posts

http://pinterest.com/emmaright/

https://twitter.com/emmbeliever

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7036571.Emma_Right

http://www.librarything.com/profile/emma.right.author

http://www.shelfari.com/emmaright

http://www.freado.com/users/35467/emma-right

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Emma-Right/e/B00BD7C4A8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

emma banner


1 Comments on Book Spotlight: Dead Dreams by Emma Right, last added: 11/9/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me, by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman isn't exactly a newbie in the realm of children's literature.  As Canadian kids, we all read This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall and as a librarian I know that he's been publishing solidly all along.  But here comes my confession...I hadn't read his books for a long, long time.  I am very happy that I picked up the first book in The Hypnotists series.  Not only is this book a page turner, but it has humor, big ideas and suspense all rolled into a great story.

Jackson (Jax) Opus is a seemingly regular NYC kid.  He's just trying to get to basketball with his best friend Tommy Cicerelli, but the bus just passes them by.  In a fit of desperation, Jax jumps out into the bus lane in front of the next uptown bus and stares the driver down until he stops.  Jax apologizes upon boarding the bus and implores the driver to get them to 96th Street as soon as possible.  The bus takes off and is soon speeding through red lights, passing stops, and terrifying everyone.  Once at 96th Street, the driver stops, lets the boys off, and resumes his regular route.

Weird.

Then comes the basketball game.  Jax is not evenly matched against Rodney, but somehow he is managing to hold him off.  And when Jax wants him to miss, he does.

What is going on?

After a series of seemingly unrelated events, Jax ends up being recruited Dr. Elias Mako, founder and director of The Sentia Institute as a part of their New Horizons program.  Dr. Mako seems to come with his own tagline - "Dr. Elias Mako has devoted his life to New York City education and is an inspiration to every single one of us."  Anyone who comes into contact with Sentia seems to repeat these same words.

Odd.

But Jax's parents are all for it.  Jax learns that he comes from some very powerful bloodlines.  Both of his parents families had the gift of hypnotism, and Jax seems to have inherited a rare command of his gift.  After spending every extra hour at Sentia, Jax is getting uneasy with the whole thing.  He has questions and nobody seems to want to answer them.  Being able to hypnotize people seemed like no big deal when it involved extra gravy and hopping up and down, but add some political intrigue and scandal and throw in computers and blackmail, and Jax's abilities could take a very different and dangerous turn.

Korman has written a thriller that will get kids thinking big.  How are our opinions formed?  How are we influenced?  Where would you draw the line when it comes to sticking by your values?   The relationship between Jax and Tommy is perfect and laugh out loud funny.  Their dialogue is authentic and readers will definitely want more from these two!

1 Comments on The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me, by Gordon Korman, last added: 8/23/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. Godsent

Godsent
Author: Richard Burton
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Genre: Thriller
ISBN: 978-1-61145-706-3
Pages: 464
Price; $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

When Kate finds herself pregnant, her immediate thought is, “How can that be? I’ve had no relations with a man.” Confirmation from the angel, Gabriel, lets her know she’s carrying God’s son – the second son. Based on Mark 8:38, which states that the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels, this is interpreted to mean that her son, Ethan, is the second son of God.

It’s a lot harder to announce yourself as the son of God in today’s technologically advanced society, especially when there are those who would like to see you perish quickly. Caught in the crossfire between the Congregation – a modern version of the Inquisition by the Catholic Church, and Conversatio – a group eagerly awaiting the second son, Ethan is forced to rely on his great-grandfather, Papa Jim, for protection. But Papa Jim is not the man he pretends to be, and he is more concerned about himself than Ethan. Using a whirlwind tour around the country and podcasts from his website, Ethan proclaims his message to the world. But what really is his message? Filled with compassion for the hurting people he encounters, he struggles with his desire to help, while also allowing them free will.

As a devout Catholic, I was really disappointed with this book. First, I don’t interpret this Bible verse in the way the author did. But more importantly, I felt that there was a wonderful opportunity to reinforce and uphold traditional Christian values through Ethan, but instead he chose to lean toward a much more liberal interpretation of morality. Ethan actually has the audacity to say that God was wrong, and that he had made mistakes! And he rejected, for all of humanity, the ultimate gift Jesus gave us, in offering Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


0 Comments on Godsent as of 6/24/2013 7:15:00 PM
Add a Comment
13. What Dan Brown Does Right

“Ha!” you say. “Dan Brown is a hack. He doesn’t deserve his millions of followers.

He head hops, shows instead of tells, dumps info, layers the adverbs, and has clunky descriptions.”

All of that may be true, but he does several things that you should emulate to make your thriller thrilling.


1. Use the treasure hunt or bread crumb mystery skeleton.

2. Employ the chase.

3. Place your protagonist in danger.

3. Start the timer.

4. Include obscure historical facts and theories that intrigue your readers enough to want to know more about them.

5. Raise controversy. Nothing spawns sales like someone asking for your head.

6. Add a love interest.

7. Introduce an unusual protagonist.

I read Brown’s earlier books, Digital Fortress and Deception Point, before I read The Da Vinci Code.  Both were solid suspense thrillers and I hope they make them into movies. As much as I love Langdon, the follow-up books have gotten progressively weaker. I keep reading them in the hopes of regaining that original thrill.

It was the controversy of The Da Vinci Code that made Brown headline news. However, controversy comes with risks. Be sure you can withstand the heat of the fires they set to roast you.

And, if you aren't willing to raise your level of craft, be prepared to be picked apart. Darling Dan is thumbing his nose all the way to the bank, but it wouldn't kill the guy to perfect his prose. Please, for the love of Fibonacci.

0 Comments on What Dan Brown Does Right as of 6/21/2013 9:39:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. 2012 04 12 Antihero as Protagonist

Today's post features a guest appearance by Luke Murphy, author of Dead Man's Hand. He explains how to make an antihero your protagonist by providing him with solid motivation. Luke Murphy describes his protagonist, Calvin Watters:



The four most common character conflicts in stories are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. society, and man vs. himself. 

The single most common character conflict in suspense/mystery novels is man vs. man. This is usually seen through serial killers, murder investigations, assassination plots, etc. One character is battling against another character in the story. 

There's plenty of this in DEAD MAN`S HAND, but I also wanted to add another element to entertain readers. 

The central theme of DMH is the plot built around framing Calvin Watters for murder. Calvin spends the story evading the cops, as well as a hitman, while trying to solve the crime and prove his innocence. (Man vs. Man, right?) 

But I truly believe that the major character conflict in my story is Calvin vs. himself. 

Calvin Watters was on his way to NFL stardom when a sudden, selfish decision destroyed any dream he ever had. He remembered when the rich had welcomed him into their group as a promising, clean-cut athlete bound for glory. Now he was just an outsider looking in. Just another thug. 

Pain bolted through his right knee, but the emotional pain from a shattered ego hurt even worse. He was the only one to blame for USC's humiliating loss and his own humiliating personal downfall. 

The press, always ready to tear down a hero, had shown no restraint in attacking him for his egotistic, selfish decision and obvious desire to break his own school record. One minute he was touted as the next Walter Payton, the next he was a door mat for local media. 

Looking at him now, no one would believe that back then he was a thousand-yard rusher in the NCAA and welcomed with open arms in every established club in Southern California. Hell, he had been bigger than the mayor. 

That the resulting injury had ended his college football career and most importantly, any chances of a pro career didn’t matter to anyone. By making the wrong, selfish, prideful decision, he’d made himself a target for the press and all USC fans. 

The devastating, career-ending knee injury wasn't the quarterback's fault for missing the audible, or the fullback's fault for missing the key block. It was his and it had taken him some time to understand and accept responsibility for it. 

After he spent three years building a reputation as the toughest collector in Vegas, no one even knew he'd been one of the greatest college running backs ever. To them, he was just “The Collector.” 

Now Calvin has to rebuild his life and his future, eliminating the thoughts of his downfall, picking himself up, dusting off, and trying to live a respectable life he can be proud of. 

But has his time as a leg-breaker made him corrupt beyond redemption?

________________________________________________________________
Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two daughters and pug. He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude). Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

DEAD MAN'S HAND "A fast, gritty ride." www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Hand-ebook/dp/B009OUT2ME

For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com






0 Comments on 2012 04 12 Antihero as Protagonist as of 4/12/2013 8:50:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Free Again - Friday, Saturday and Sunday!



If you aren't on Facebook and following my page, you may not know this -

Freebie coming up this Friday, Saturday and Sunday - April 5, 6 and 7

That's right - Forever Young: Blessing or Curse for Kindle/or PC will be free on those days. If you don't have a copy, be sure to click and get one before it goes back to its usual $2.99 price.

Here's the link: http://amzn.com/B006MO28CQ







I'm over halfway through the edits for Blessing or Curse, the companion sequel to Forever Young: Blessing or Curse .

Blessing or Curse contains 5 different stories about 5 very different people taking the Forever Young pill. Each story has some sort of romance, but is much more than a typical romance.

You'll see when I start sharing excerpts.

Morgan Mandel
http://www.morganmandel.com


1 Comments on Free Again - Friday, Saturday and Sunday!, last added: 4/4/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
16. AND NOW, A WORD FROM FROM CHRIS CRUTCHER!

We love listening to Chris Crutcher. He always has the most interesting things to say. Luckily his new novel, PERIOD 8, is full of things to talk about!

Watch Chris Crutcher discuss the truth and when to tell it, what it means to live a good life, and PERIOD 8. Make sure you stick around until the end for a special message to teachers and librarians!

Download the PERIOD 8 discussion guide and get talking . . .

Period 8

Add a Comment
17. Press Release: Bend Me, Shape Me

New Libri Press announces publication of the second Street Stories suspense novel, Bend Me, Shape Me, by author Debra R. Borys, available in ebook with trade paperback to follow. Contact Stasa Fritz (above) with review or interview requests.

www.BendMeShapeMe.net

Painted BlackBend Me, Shape Me is the second novel in the Street Stories suspense series and tells the story of Snow Ramirez, a bi-polar street kid about to turn 18. She’s convinced that psychiatrist Mordechai Levinson is responsible for one kid’s suicide, and may be targeting her brother Alley as his next victim. Once again, reporter Jo Sullivan finds herself the only person willing to listen to one of Chicago’s throwaway youth.

Snow Ramirez hasn’t trusted anyone in a very long time, not even herself. Memories of her childhood on Washington’s Yakama Reservation haunt her even on the streets of Chicago.

When her squat mate Blitz slits his own throat in front of her, she knows it’s time to convince someone to trust her instincts. Blitz may have been diagnosed bi-polar, like Snow herself, but no way would he have offed himself like that if the shrink he’d been seeing hadn’t bent his mind completely out of shape.

Normally she wouldn’t care. Who wasn’t crazy in one way or another in this messed up world? After all, she’d gotten out from under the doctor’s thumb weeks ago and it was too late for Blitz now, wasn’t it? Snow’s little brother Alley, though, there might still be time to save him. If only she can get reporter Jo Sullivan to believe her story before Snow loses her own mind.

EXCERPT:

Squatting with her arms tight around her legs and forehead pressed to her knees, Snow rocked on the balls of her feet. To the south, the hum of traffic along the Eisenhower Expressway. Nearer, beneath the dumpster, the scurry of rats looking for supper. That feeling in her center, the one she couldn’t describe except to say when she was a kid she thought it meant she was going to die, tightened her chest, filled her mouth, made it hard to breathe. “You must learn to trust,” the shrink had told her. “You must learn who to trust. Your brother is learning that, even if you can’t.”

AUTHOR BIO

Debra BorysDebra R. Borys is the author of the STREET STORIES suspense novels.The first book in the series, Painted Black, was published by New Libri Press in 2012. A freelance writer and editor, she spent four years volunteering with Emmaus Ministries and the Night Ministry in Chicago, and eight years doing similar work at Teen Feed, New Horizons and Street Links in Seattle. The STREET STORIES series reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive. Her publication credits include short fiction in Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Downstate Story and City Slab.

deb@debra-r-borys.com
www.debra-r-borys.com/

Praise for PAINTED BLACK

“Painted Black is about the young faces we see on the streets, covered in dirt, wearing worn out clothes, shrouded in looks of hate, pride, and fear…. There isn’t a part of this book you don’t feel, it reaches into your core…. There are many enjoyable books out there, but there aren’t many that make you feel, make you think, make you sit back and contemplate the uglier side of life we try so hard to ignore its existence. This was a very well written book on all accounts.”
—Darian Wilk, author of Love Unfinished and Reinventing Claire

“Painted Black has a Silence of the Lamb’s feeling about it…..there’s something dark and ominous going on here.…. Fiction can be a great vehicle for exposing the darker side of the human experience in ways that are both important and meaningful and I think that Painted Black fits into this category.”
—Quinn Barrett, Wise Bear Books All Things Digital Media interviewer

“Borys gives us a glimpse into the vagaries of street life for teens without wallowing in sentimentality or false compassion. The mystery here is not who did it, but how finding the truth will change the life of a street kid we’ve come to care about.”
—Latham Shinder, author of The Graffiti Sculptor and professional memoir ghostwriter

New Libri Press | http://www.NewLibri.com

Bookmark and           Share


1 Comments on Press Release: Bend Me, Shape Me, last added: 3/2/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
18. Notes from Ghost Town - Review and Giveaway (US/Can, ends 3/6)


Publication date: 12 Feb 2013 by Egmont USA
ISBN 10/13: 1606842641 | 9781606842645


Category: Young adult mystery/suspense
Keywords: Murder, schizophrenia, color-blindness, family
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Source: ARC for review



Synopsis:

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. 

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

Review:

Kate Ellison lets spots of color and light shine through Notes from Ghost Town's bleak and dreary premise. The main story revolves around the murder of Olivia's best friend, whom her unstable mother admits to killing. Ellison touches on all the nuances of love: kindness, friendship, family, first love, and even love turned to hate, to make this a moody and tender read. The settings sometimes seem contrived, missing flavor and making Miami seem like just any other locality, but enough of the characters and their occasionally surprising interactions are relatable enough to keep you reading.

Some readers might find Olivia's brattiness intolerable, but I felt invested enough in her heartbreak to want to know what really happened to Stern. I liked how she interacts with her soon-to-be step-sister, despite really hating the fact that her dad is remarrying so soon after divorcing her mother. I was hugely annoyed whenever she took unnecessary risks or behaved like a spoiled child, but I think it was mostly because I was starting to like her and wanted her to succeed, to heal, and to change for the better.

It's hard to articulate what I felt about this book. It's not so much that I enjoyed reading it as that I wanted everything to turn out ok, and so I kept turning pages. Fans of fast-paced mysteries should go look for another book: this one is slow, misty, and contemplative. I think this would make a great mostly-black-and-white movie.

If you like this book, you will probably also like:






*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


Visit www.kateellison.com and follow the author on Facebook.



You can enter to win both Notes from Ghost Town and The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below. US/Canada only; I will randomly choose a winner after March 6. Thanks so much to Egmont for sponsoring the giveaway.

Giveaway Rules:
  1. Open to US & Canada only.
  2. We are not responsible for items lost in the mail.
  3. One set of entries per household, please.
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. 
Good luck!

0 Comments on Notes from Ghost Town - Review and Giveaway (US/Can, ends 3/6) as of 2/27/2013 5:29:00 AM
Add a Comment
19. Stories That Read YOU Archives...

________________
Get your Copy at Amazon Right NOW!!!!

In September, 2008, The Fed and the Treasury came to President George W. Bush and issued him an economic suicide threat. Secretary Henry Paulson walked into the Oval Office and put a financial gun to his own head and said, give us $800 Billion dollars or in 24 hours the American economy will die and 5 trillion dollars would disappear with the entire world economy. President Bush said yes. What if he had said NO? -

The Consortium by Steven Clark Bradley
________________
Feature Post


A Bird's-Eye View Of the People's Republic of China

(Click On the links below To Watch Each Video)

Halfway Across the Bridge To Hell -
At the Broken Bridge Between Dandong, China & North Korea

The People's Republic of China - Perhaps As You never imagined

A Monument to Tyranny

Where The Emperor Sleeps

Is Chinese-Style Healthcare Coming to America?

A Visit To The Emperor's Palace...

China Closeup - Education in the poorer areas of China
by Author Steven Clark Bradley

Inside The classroom At The Shenyang Institute of Engineering
with Author Steven Clark Bradley

Scenes of life and Culture in Shenyang, China

The Keys to Unlocking the Door to the World
- Speaking at Liaoning University in Shenyang, China

____________________________________


Re-Constitution - Dark Justice in The Cave of treasures
by Steven Clark Bradley

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Re-Constitution - Defining Moments by Steven Clark Bradley

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

Halfway Across the Bridge To Hell
At the Broken Bridge Between
Dandong China & North Korea

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

The Far East Traveler Journal - Part One
(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Author Steven Clark Bradley -
China, The North to South Speaking Tour
(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)
____________________________________


Could I ask you to follow my blog?

I would love to have YOU as a follower!

Visit my online Book Store? Go To:

Click Here to Go to
Author Steven Clark Bradley's Book Store

http://www.authorstevenclarkbradley.info/

______________________________________

911 From Those Who Lived Through it...


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

_______________________________________

Four New Trailers from
The Most Intelligent of Idiots Trailer
The Memoirs of Author Steven Clark Bradley


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


The Passing of a Giant - The Most Intelligent of idiots -
The Memoirs of Author Steven Clark Bradley
(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

________________________________

Don't you want to read books
that
speak to the world we live in

and
the one that's coming?
Patriot Acts - Border Insecurity

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

_____________________

Executive Order - Patriot Acts Part III
No One Is Immune!


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Available Now!!! Available Now!!! Available Now!!!
The Second Republic: E-Book version
Get it at: http://www.writewordsinc.com/serepaacvo2...

What would America do if we were faced with a horrendous terrorist attack that no amount of security could stop?

In “The Second Republic – Patriot Acts Part II,” the President of the United States is confronted with a radical underground secret cabal that has targeted America with a domestic bio-terror attack that dwarfs the assault unleashed on September 11, 2001.

This second book in the Patriot Acts trilogy takes the reader inside the White House where treachery and terrorism boils below its underbelly. While trying to avoid invoking emergency powers that could destroy American constitutional freedoms, a former Special Ops officer, now the President of the United States, races to stop a deadly virus, which has killed thousands of innocent Americans.

This Fisher Harrison saga, The Second Republic, is an action thriller that could appear on any of today’s headlines, on any given day with a plausible scenario for the death of humankind that is too frighteningly conceivable for comfort.

When Too Much Security Can Kill You!
Steven Clark Bradley

Click Here To Read An Excerpt From
The Second Republic

______________________

Author Susan Whitfield Interviews with
Author Steven Clark Bradley

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

On President's Day, What Do We Celebrate?

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

My Definition of the the modern
American Presidency
"An office sought and achieved by a candidate according to the rules set out in the US Constitution who, once elevated to high office, proceeds to ignore, disavow, repudiate, deviate from and misappropriate the powers and limitations prescribed, declared and demanded therein."
-Steven Clark Bradley



Four lessons For Willow Morgan
- Kassadia's Triumph

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

The Hidden World Only
Few Have Touched

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


by Donald James Parker

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


The Temples of Light
by Danielle Rama Hoffman

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Four Lessons For Willow Morgan Part Two
The Preservation Of The Neph

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

Four Lessons For Willow Morgan
by Steven Clark Bradley & Selin Alicia Bradley

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

A Story That Might make
You Reflect On Your Life

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Healthcare That Will Make You Sick
Key Facts About Obama's Sick Health Reform

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



Obama's White House is Falling Down

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

Is Barack Obama Just Another Jimmy Carter?

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)

America's Condemner in Chief...

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Book Promo 201 Is A Writer's Required Reading


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Take A Look At The Dancing Valkyrie by Peter Kline

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



'More Deaths Than One' can Only Adequately Be Described As Superb


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Dan Fogelberg - A Retrospective Interview

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Interview with Donna Sundblad Author of
Beyond the Fifth Gate

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Introducing - Retribution by M. Flagg

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



ISBN-10: 1594316937 ~~~ ISBN-13: 978-1594316937





Here's A New Book To Check Out
Ni'il - The Awakening

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



So, How Do You Feel, Just Now?


(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)




So, How Will You Feel Tomorrow?

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)





(Click On Image To Enlarge)

Get Your Copy Today At:

Patriot Acts At Mobipocket.com


Introducing Patriot Acts by Steven Clark Bradley

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)


Revolutions Of Freedom & Terror

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



Probable Cause - Tools Of The Trade

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)




Quality Of Life - Supreme Judgment Part One

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)





(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)



America - A Tapestry Of Loose Ends

(Click On Title Above Picture To Read Post)




Add a Comment
20. The Line Up and Sneak Peak at Blessing or Curse by Morgan Mandel

Blessing or Curse
by Morgan Mandel

Since I'm in the last legs of finishing up Blessing or Curse before sending it off to my editor, Helen Ginger, I thought I'd share something about it, and a small excerpt, which may change in the editing process, maybe not.

What Blessing or Curse is:

Blessing or Curse is the sequel to the science fiction thriller,  Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. This book can be read as a standalone or part of the projected three-book series.

In the first book, the emphasis is on a 55-year old widow, who takes the young pill turning her back to 24. All should have been wonderful, but then she makes a discovery which has her fleeing both from the villains and the law.

Blessing or Curse, the new book, is chiefly a romance, with a smattering of science fiction, since no one yet has invented a Forever Young pill. It's broken into five separate stories depicting how the pill impacts the lives of five test market subjects, and whether or not their choice was the right one. These participants come from differing ethnicities, ages and classes, yet all have a reason to be young. The loved ones of these characters are also at some point in the stories impacted by the test subject's age reversion.

Here's the lineup of stories:


Desperation forces Consuela to order the Forever Young pill to cure her husband, Diego, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease; but will the cure become a curse?

Ezekiel, an African-American male with  E.D. difficulties, sends in for the young pill to prevent his lady love, Luana, from discovering he can’t get it up. Will the pill draw her closer or drive her away?

Strawberry blonde model, Sherri’s popularity is fading with her looks. The pill can bring her fame and fortune, but what about love?

Overweight Chicago Police Officer Walinski must pass a new physical or lose his job, along with his canine partner. Will the young pill provide security, when danger lurks in the line of duty? 

Downtrodden going-on-sixty housewife, Dee Dee Marshall, suspects her husband of infidelity, and will do anything to keep him, even take an experimental pill. What she really needs is self-confidence.

A Sneak Peak at the Consuela and Diego's Story: 

First Trial Run -  Albuquerque, New Mexico

Consuela & Diego Morales

Ah, the wonderful love they’d shared. Why must it end this way?
“Diego, eat,” Consuela Morales said, holding out a spoonful of puree to her shrunken, wheelchair-bound husband. His dry parched lips remained obstinately shut, his gray eyebrows furrowed. He wanted to die and she didn’t blame him. God help her, sometimes she wanted him dead too. Till death do us part seemed a long time to live with half a man.
Placing the spoon into the jar with a klunk, Consuela gazed morosely at her husband. Mamacita, God rest her soul, had warned her not to marry a man twenty years older, but the ripe, chestnut-haired Consuela had paid no heed, choosing passion over common sense. Diego of the raised eyebrows, straight black hair and cocky mannerisms had fevered her blood, making her come alive as no other man could.
She remembered the exact moment he’d strode into the basement of her friend, Isabella’s brownstone. As their eyes met, her heart raced beneath the confines of her ample breasts, almost drowning out the background sounds of New Year’s Eve TV reveling.
Quickly averting her eyes, she whispered to her friend, Isabel, “Who is that studly guy?”
Isabel glanced at the new addition and frowned in concentration. “Oh, that must Diego, Alessandro’s cousin. He broke up with his girl and asked if he could come with tonight. He’s hot, if you go for father figures.”
 “My father never looked that good his entire life. That man steams. I need to cool off some.” 

Hope you enjoyed the Sneak Peak. If all goes well, this book will be available on Kindle in December, fingers crossed!

Morgan Mandel
The thriller, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, the first in the trilogy, is available at Amazon at http://amzn.com/B006MO28CQ. 

If you prefer humorous romance, check out Her Handyman at

Morgan's Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/morganmandel 

Excerpts, Buy Links, All Venues of Morgan's Books:


3 Comments on The Line Up and Sneak Peak at Blessing or Curse by Morgan Mandel, last added: 11/15/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. A Little At a Time

I'm getting things done a little at a time. Lots of year end/beginning stuff to sort out. I usually throw my bills into a folder each month. At the end of the year, then I figure out which ones I really need to keep. Most get shredded or thrown away. I could do this chore more often, such as every month when a new bill arrives, but what fun is that? Or, I could go paperless, but for some odd reason I like to see the bills right in front of me, though I pay them online. I guess I'm still half in and half out of the old and new ways of doing things.

I'm employing the same approach to my editing of Blessing or Curse, the sequel to Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. After a while, my brain freezes from too much thinking, and I have to stop and go to Facebook, or some other place to thaw it out.

Still, I'm getting there. Blessing or Curse has 5 stories in all, and I'm halfway through editing the third one. Hopefully, I can finish it today, then only 2 to go.

I'd hoped to have this book finished sooner, such as in December, but I underestimated the Christmas busy-ness. Lots of fun and un-fun stuff kept getting in the way. My target now is February publication.

Everyone will know if I make my goal, because I will spread the word far and wide!

A peek at what Blessing or Curse is about:
  • Consuela's husband has Parkinson's. Will the young pill help him?
  • Ezekial suffers from E.D. Will the pill cure his curse?
  • Police officer, Mike, has let himself go. His physical is coming up. Maybe the pill will help.
  • Dee Dee wonders if her husband is cheating. Will the pill make her more attractive? 
  • Sherri's washed out as a model. Can the pill re-ignite her career?
Stay tuned for the answers!

Morgan Mandel

Check out all of Morgan Mandel's
books at http://www.morganmandel.com
or her Amazon Author Page at
http://amazon.com/author/morganmandel

Connect on Twitter at
@MorganMandel





2 Comments on A Little At a Time, last added: 1/30/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
22. Room 13

I am all set to go on an Edgar Wallace kick. It will actually be a delayed-onset Edgar Wallace kick. Thursday last week I was hunting around for something to read and found myself wishing I owned more Edgar Wallace. I eventually settled for one of Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise books — and then three more — but the yen for Edgar Wallace was still there and last night I went over to Project Gutenberg Australia (is it illegal for me to download post-1923 books from there? I don’t think I want to know) and read Room 13, featuring Wallace’s series detective J.G. Reeder.

So, here’s the thing about Edgar Wallace — I’ve talked about it before — every time I try to write about one of his books in particular I end up taking about his books in general. It’s like most authors’ books are individual objects, which can be discussed and compared, but Edgar Wallace’s fiction is a fairly homogenous substance to be measured out in page-lengths. I’m going to pretend for a moment that it’s not, though, and that Room 13 stands alone and has nothing to do with any other book. And when I am done, I will have described a pretty typical Edgar Wallace thriller.

Room 13 opens in Dartmoor Prison, where Johnny Gray is serving out a sentence of a couple of years for something to do with horse racing. There’s lots of fairly self-consciously used thieves’ cant — a “screw” is a warder, forged banknotes are “slush” — and a clear picture of what the world of professional criminals in England looks like (I mean, what it looks like in this book. The connection to reality is probably pretty tenuous). There’s a sense that everyone who lives by breaking the law is acquainted with all the others, if only by reputation, and that a stretch in jail is an accepted part of their way of life. [redacted for rambling about Edgar Wallace].

There’s also a fair amount of gossip, which introduces us to old lag Emanuel Legge, who was in Dartmoor when Johnny’s sentence began, and to his son, Jeff, who is responsible for Johnny’s imprisonment. Jeff has never been in jail, and has rarely been seen, but he’s known by some to be the Big Printer, whose counterfeit notes are so good that even the police can’t tell them from the real thing.

We also hear about Peter Kane, another criminal — or former criminal — who is a friend of Johnny’s. He has a daughter, Marney, who Johnny’s in love with, but Peter would prefer that she marry someone respectable. The night before he’s released from prison, Johnny receives a letter from Peter, letting him know that Marney is engaged to be married to a Canadian, Major Floyd.

Johnny’s independently wealthy, so when he’s released from prison, his luxurious apartment and valet are waiting for him. Marney, on the other hand, isn’t — although he heads straight to the Kanes’ home the day after his release, she’s already married to Major Floyd. And Major Floyd, when Johnny comes face to face with him, is none other than Jeff Legge, impersonating a respectable Canadian in order to help his father get revenge on Peter Kane.

That sets most of the plot threads in motion. There’s the question of Jeff and Marney’s marriage — is it bigamous? — the mystery of the Big Printer — can anyone actually get proof that it’s Jeff? and where are the notes printed? — the bad blood between Peter Kane and Emanuel Legge, and the question of why a wealthy, well-educated young man like Johnny would get involved in crime anyway. Not to mention all the smaller questions that come up (who shot Jeff Legge?). [redacted for rambling about Edgar Wallace]. Having all of these different things going on at once means there’s no slow, investigative section of the book. Aside from the occasional appearance of the unassuming, middle-aged J.G. Reeder, knowing much more than anyone thinks he ought and making the most delightful insinuations, the pace is pretty breathless. Something is always happening, and it usually involves guns. [redacted for rambling about Edgar Wallace].

“Action-packed” isn’t always a recommendation, especially if you’ve passed your fourteenth birthday, and it’s not enough to make a book enjoyable all by itself. Humor is. Engaging characters are. Twists that you don’t see coming right alongside ones that you do probably aren’t, but they are pretty fun. And Room 13 has all of the above. We’re exclusively concerned with archetypes, obviously, but they’re archetypes with charm, or a sinister fascination, or an innate trustworthiness. You can see the strings above the puppets, but that doesn’t stop you from liking the characters you’re meant to like and hating the characters you’re meant to hate. And puppets are all that’s called for, really.

Room 13 doesn’t particularly want to do anything but entertain, and it does that very well. And it does it without being a half-coherent mess, which by all rights it should be. [redacted for rambling about Edgar Wallace]. Instead, every time the plot does something twisty, you can pinpoint the clues that led up to it. It’s great.

So, yeah. That’s what Edgar Wallace is like. As a writer, anyway. As a person he seems to have been pretty unpleasant. But he’s been dead a long time, so you can read his books with a clear conscience.


Tagged: 1920s, adventure, books, edgarwallace, mystery, thriller

2 Comments on Room 13, last added: 2/6/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
23. Larry Constantine

Larry Constantine is  a professional member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the author of a number of science fiction short stories. He writes thrillers under the pen name, Lior Samson.

Please tell everyone a bit about yourself.

Larry ConstantineThe older you get, the harder it is to be brief, to condense the lifetime journey into a paragraph or two in a biographical sketch. In your twenties, you pad the resume; by your forties, the thing stands on its own; by the time you are looking back at your sixties, radical compression and redaction are in order. What’s important, what irrelevant? What’s of interest? What is a boring distraction? I tell my students at the university where I teach that I am not a real professor but that I am a real industrial designer. Both parts are true — in part. What they reveal is a complexity hidden behind brevity. I have been a pioneer in software engineering, in family therapy, and in interaction design. I divide my time between Europe and the US. I am deeply entrenched in academia and in industry and fully belong in neither. I am a novelist. I write under a pen name, but my official identity is no secret. I do most of my writing evenings and weekends in my apartment near the University of Madeira. My loving wife and kids put up with my long absences. I love to cook. I am a composer and would write more music if I were not so busy writing novels.

When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

I have been writing professionally all my adult life, but nearly all of that was technical non-fiction. I was good at it — even won awards — but I can’t say I enjoyed it all that much. I really started writing with passion and pleasure when I began work on my first novel, Bashert. I have never been one to color within the lines, so, although my novels are nominally in the thriller genre, they frequently break out of the boundaries of genre conventions. My forays into fiction actually began decades earlier with science fiction short stories and a couple of novellas. Those earlier works have been republished in Requisite Variety, which takes its title from my last published SF short. My recent novel, The Rosen Singularity, might nominally be called near-future science fiction, but it violates the terms of engagement that SF readers expect and is probably more literary thriller than SF.

Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

If I had wanted to be a preacher or rabbi, a long-form journalist or a self-help guru with a message, I would have taken a different path. So, no, I don’t have a message for readers. But I do have a mission. I want to challenge my readers, to get them thinking, to leave behind semantic seeds that grow into fresh inspiration and insight. Thoughtful thrillers, provocative page-turners, intelligent intrigue—these are among the phrases that have been used to describe my novels. I want to raise questions more than offer answers. What is the nature of extremism and its connection with terrorism? Who are the good guys and who the bad in a world of shadow and deception? What are the unintended consequences of medical advances? And I want readers to have a great time and a grand ride on the road to the last page.

Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

ChipsetMy most recent novel is Chipset, which is both part of The Homeland Connection series and can be read on its own. Readers who missed the first three novels — Bashert, The Dome, and Web Game — will not be lost, but those who go back and catch up will be doubly rewarded.

Like its predecessors, the story turns on a real threat, in this case malicious computer code actually embedded in the very hardware on which the entire world now depends. Like the other novels, it centers on ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, not superheroes or larger-than-life figures, but people you could know dealing with outsized challenges. Let’s just say that Karl Lustig, an American technology journalist, and his British-Israeli wife, Shira Markham, a jewelry designer and all around smart lady, are in for an adventurous holiday when Karl uncovers a secret within the computer chipsets he is delivering to colleagues at the University of Madeira.

Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

I really like all my characters, even the bad guys and walk-on players are lovingly crafted. In Chipset, I have to admit to having developed a special affection for Karl’s mother, whose story-within-a-story in a packet of letters takes Karl back to World War II Poland, Germany, Portugal, and England. She was an amazingly resourceful lady, as Karl finds out.

Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Perhaps it is the influence of my career as a designer, but I write much as a portrait artist paints, moving from one place in the canvas to another, filling in details here, sketching broadly there, painting over something that doesn’t look right one place, adding an element for balance someplace else. I make lots of notes but do not work from a strict outline. Instead, just as the painter steps back from the canvas, I keep going back and approaching the work as a whole, as a reader, taking on the perspective of the reader’s experience. Does it hang together? Is the pace and rhythm satisfying and engaging? Are there holes or is too much given away or at the wrong time? Then I go back and rewrite. And revise. And rewrite.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Every writer, even those who mimic others, has a writing style. In my case, I confess to writing in a fashion that echoes not some particular writer or writers but broadly fits the sort of writing I like to read. I enjoy reading rich description, insightful exposition, and colorful, clever narrative. I like hearing the voice of the writer as well as of the characters. I enjoy the poetry of language, the music of well-crafted sentences, and the rhythm of flowing paragraphs. These are the things I aspire to. Others will judge how well I reach those aspirations. In any case, I strive for something more classical than contemporary, despite the thematic currency of my thrillers.

And while we are on the subject of style, if I read one more self-appointed expert blogger cajoling modern writers to “show not tell,” I am likely to reach violently through the screen with malicious intent. It’s called storytelling for a reason. The language has adjectives and adverbs for good reason. The passive voice is useful. I see it as the writer’s job to master and use it all.

I have always favored third-person POV because of its flexibility, but I have no religious orthodoxy about acceptable incursions into the inner thoughts of characters. I am more interested in spinning a good story than purity of viewpoint. I try not to throw readers for a loop as I take them around curves and through twists, but I am not writing to please some professor of creative writing. I am telling stories.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

My environment and upbringing are as different as land and sea, but I suppose both have colored my writing. From my growing up, I would have to credit my mother, a newspaper columnist and editor, for instilling in me a love of words and a healthy respect for the craft of writing, in which it has taken me a lifetime to develop some craftsmanship. But my environment, which spans the globe and washes me with life’s complexities, is far the more direct influence. I often use familiar places to anchor my fiction. The Rosen Singularity is centered in the North Shore communities of Massachusetts near my home, but also in London and outside Moscow, where I have worked and visited numerous times. Chipset is largely set in Madeira, my second home. But I also go far afield, as far as the wholly invented African country of Busanyu, where the long lived dictator Edgar Jabari Mbutsu rules with brutal efficiency and plays a pivotal role in The Rosen Singularity.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

“Few thriller writers can match Samson’s ability to deliver a gripping story. In previous reviews, I have compared him to John le Carré and Tom Clancy. As an Indie writer, he probably doesn’t have the same name recognition or sales, but he is equal to or better than both those authors. His work deserves to be on the New York Times Seller list.” That from mystery writer James A. Anderson.  More than I deserve, I am sure, but to soar in such celebrated company, even for a paragraph, is delicious.

What are your current projects?

I like that you end this question with a plural, because I have two novels in progress. I imagine that writers are not supposed to do that, but there it is, the confessed truth. I am just not ready to commit fully to one or the other. Both are quite daring, in a sense, and each represents an entirely new literary direction for me. The one that has the tightest grip on me at the moment is my first murder mystery, although, as with my other works, it jumps the genre gaps and might be thought of as a love story except … Well, it’s still in progress, so exactly what it is remains an open question. Literary fiction? The other novel, which is also well under way but temporarily simmering on a back burner, is a work of quiet terror. So maybe it’s horror, except… These novels are quite experimental, stories that defy expectations and take the reader in new directions. I am excited. And scared.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My author page at Amazon.com/Amazon.co.uk is the best jumping off point. And it makes it easy to purchase the books with One-Click!


0 Comments on Larry Constantine as of 1/31/2013 6:20:00 PM
Add a Comment
24. DNF: What We Saw At Night, by Jacquelyn Mitchard


Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Soho Teen
Source: NetGalley
Overall: Did Not Finish
Categories: Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense
Read in February 2013

Summary:
Allie Kim suffers from Xeroderma Pigmentosum: a fatal allergy to sunlight that confines her and her two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to the night. When freewheeling Juliet takes up Parkour—the stunt-sport of scaling and leaping off tall buildings—Allie and Rob have no choice but to join her, if only to protect her. Though potentially deadly, Parkour after dark makes Allie feel truly alive, and for the first time equal to the “daytimers.” On a random summer night, the trio catches a glimpse of what appears to be murder. Allie alone takes it upon herself to investigate, and the truth comes at an unthinkable price. Navigating the shadowy world of specialized XP care, extreme sports, and forbidden love, Allie ultimately uncovers a secret that upends everything she believes about the people she trusts the most.

My Opinion:


I've been dancing on this book for way too long, and have finally decided to put it to rest. 

After reading the blurb and one very promising review, I requested it from NG, but sadly, I found out that this book isn't right up my alley. 

The pacing was way too slow for my taste, I didn't get emotionally attached to any of its characters, and I felt like Jacquelyn took too much time setting the suspense in the story. Half way into it is not the right moment to start introducing the wow-ing factors. 

The romance fell flat to me too, I didn't feel that "Oh, they want to be together, awww" sense I like to get when I read romances. Juliet was annoying, and I didn't like that Allie didn't do anything to change that. I mean, here's a girl you call your best friend, acting like an idiot to you... I might not be as forgiving Allie was. 

The bad man, Blondie, appeared a couple of times in the first half of the book, and I was not even spooked by him.

All I got from this book is a little bit more knowledge about the illness XP, the allergy to the sun. 

It's too bad too, because the premise sounded so appealling, but the writing didn't do it for me. But hey, it might do it for you. Read some more reviews first. 

Add a Comment
25. Terror Keep

Terror Keep might be my favorite of Edgar Wallace’s books featuring J.G. Reeder, but I can’t help feeling that it’s all wrong.

J.G. Reeder is the kind of character one doesn’t associate with thrillers. He’s thin, shabby and middle-aged, with side-whiskers and a diffident manner. He also sort of knows everything, and claims his high success rate in tracking down crooks — mostly bank robbers and forgers — is due to his “criminal mind,” which sees evil motives in everything. He provides everything one should really require in a hero: moral rectitude and endless competence. But he’s not a romantic hero, and he’s not an action hero. At least, not at the beginning of Terror Keep.

Some of the earlier Reeder stories — the ones in The Mind of Mr. J.G. Reeder, I think — feature Miss Margaret Belman, a young woman who lives on the same street as Reeder, and, after they become friends, is often a target for those who want revenge on Reeder (about half of all J.G. Reeder stories revolve around people he’s put in prison wanting to get back at him).

In the earlier stories featuring Margaret Belman, Wallace skirts the issue of whether Reeder’s interest in her is romantic, and vice versa, but right at the beginning of Terror Keep she’s upset with him because he’s not more upset at the idea of her moving out of town, and later she picks a fight with him after he refuses to shave off his side-whiskers. It’s sort of cute, on one hand, but on the other it’s just undignified. But hey, that’s only the beginning of J.G. Reeder’s transformation into a vaguely appropriate object for Margaret’s affections.

Margaret is leaving town to take a job as secretary at a fancy country estate/boarding house called Larmes Keep. The proprietor, Mr. Davers, is funny looking and mysterious, and the three boarders are just mysterious. Meanwhile, an insane elderly crook named John Flack has just escaped from Broadmoor and is — surprise! — looking to get revenge on J.G. Reeder. This being an Edgar Wallace book, these two plot-lines are connected. And, this being a book where J.G. Reeder has to step up his game in order to be worthy of the girl, he gets increasingly action-y in response to the various attempts on his life.

Also there are caves and tunnels. Lots of caves and tunnels. Edgar Wallace understands the appeal of these things, so you’re never going to get just one cave, conveniently placed for smugglers. It’s always going to be a vast network of caves, with multiple entrances and stairs and ladders and furnished apartments. Oh, and it could collapse at any time.

I like Terror Keep so much, mostly for the same reasons I like Edgar Wallace’s books in general: It’s exciting, there’s just enough mystery to leaven the action, the characters are incredibly appealing without any apparent cause, and you never lose sight of Wallace’s sense of humor. And because I enjoy the book so much, it’s hard to complain about it, but there’s something that’s not right here. The great thing about J.G. Reeder as a character is that he’s not action-y or romantic. He just…knows everything. Or almost everything. What he doesn’t know he can figure out with the assistance of his criminal mind. I still like J.G. Reeder in Terror Keep, and I enjoy it when he fights off criminals and shaves off his side-whiskers, but I also have a nagging feeling that he shouldn’t have to do any of these things.

Actually, I’m reminded of how I felt after seeing Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie: I thought the things they chose to do were executed well, but I kind of wish they’d chosen to do other things instead.


Tagged: 1920s, edgarwallace, mystery, thriller

4 Comments on Terror Keep, last added: 2/6/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts