Book Review: Murder in Keswick by William Todd

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Author: William Todd

Narrator: Ben Werling

Length: 2 hours 38 muntes

Publisher: William Todd

Released: Oct. 16, 2018

Genre: Mystery

While on a well-deserved holiday in the Lake District to get away from the toils and troubles of London, Holmes and Watson find no respite. As soon as they exit the train, they hear news of a grisly murder making its way around the murmuring commuters. A local aristocrat, Mr. Darcy, has been found missing his head!

And that very night, the wealthy widow finds a stranger in her home who, upon seeing her, abandons his plans and quickly leaves. She believes the intruder to be the murderer of her husband who is now after a large sum of cash she keeps in the house safe.

Unsure if the would-be thief is the murderer or an opportunistic burglar, Holmes devises a plan to catch the burglar, all the while investigating the murder of Mr. Darcy. Follow Holmes, Watson, and the local constable Mr. Wickham as they untangle the mystery surrounding a Murder in Keswick.

I have been writing online since the early 2000’s, primarily writing horror stories in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. I was the 2nd most popular author on the website storiesbyemail.com for two years before moving on. I had my first book, a Victorian era horror compilation called Bumps in the Night, published by Mystic Moon Press just a week before they closed their website and never saw my hard work pay off. Afterwards I took publishing into my own hands, became an Indie author and haven’t looked back. My first self-published book was Dead of Night, another compilation of Victorian horror stories, published September 2016 by Createspace and on Kindle by KDP. After its publication I left my comfort zone for mystery and wrote a short story about Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle style. I loved it so much I then did a longer story A Reflection of Evil, both published in 2017 through Createspace and KDP. I have just release Beyond the Gossamer Veil, another compilation of both Victorian and modern supernatural/horror stories and am in the beginning stages of my third Sherlock Holmes installment.

Goodreads

Narrator Bio

Ben is an award winning actor and voice over professional, who has performed all across the United States. From Shakespeare to Neil Simon, he has displayed a versatility and diversity in the characters and dialects he has portrayed. Ben received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Leading Actor as abusive talk show host Barry Champlain in Eric Bogosian’s TALK RADIO, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Prosecutor Villeforte in Alexander Dumas’ THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, also in Chicago. He has worked with an extensive list of theaters in Chicago over the last three decades: Steppenwolf, Bailiwick, Famous Door, Next, A Red Orchid, Raven Theater, First Folio, Writer’s Theater, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, as well as Utah Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Madison Repertory, and Allenberry Playhouse in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. He is an Ensemble member of Shattered Globe Theater in Chicago. For almost a decade he was the voice of the Adler Planetarium, hosting live shows and pointing out the stars, planets and constellations on the big dome. Ben has an eponymous weekly vlog on YouTube, that he films, produces, edits and narrates. He lives in Chicago with his wife Amy, two dogs and three cats.

Not everyone who wishes to add to the the Sherlock Homes pastiche can do so all that well but Mr. Todd pretty much nails it with Murder in Keswick. In fact, I think it might, in time, earn a place in the extracanonical body of work. Rather than the adventures of descendants of Holmes and Watson which have become so popular—and of which I’m very fond—this takes us back to the great detective himself and his companion.

The pair have set off for a vacation in the Lake District and Holmes is already bored without a worthy puzzle to solve so, when they step off the train in Keswick to hear talk about a headless body that’s been found, he can’t be happier. Who IS happier is the local constable, Mr. Wickham, who can’t believe he’ll be able to work with the famous detective.

Mr. Darcy, the victim, is naturally not happy without his head and the trio are soon hot on the trail of clues which, of course, only Holmes takes in but there are two women at the heart of the case, both very strongwilled and appealing. Could one of them be the killer? With a nifty twist near the end, all comes together…after Holmes shares his perspective, of course.

Ben Werling is a credible narrator who took me back to oldstyle Sherlock Holmes narrators, the best kind. He doesn’t differentiate voices all that well, especially females, but I actually don’t mind that. When I listen to a Sherlock Holmes story, I always hear Dr. Watson’s voice telling the story and I expect to hear him, not other characters. The only thing I didn’t care for in the production is the various background noises meant to enhance the settings; my hearing isn’t the greatest and I was distracted trying to figure out what I was hearing. I wouldn’t want them to be louder, just not there at all.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2018.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by William Todd. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Q&A with Author William Todd
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I never used to even think about how a book would sound as an audiobook…until I finally had one done. Now, I do. The story is most important, whether read or heard. I a bad story is a bad story. But I am more cognizant now when I write with how a phrase might sound read aloud. I think my audiobooks now are much easier on the ear then my first ones because of that. And my narrator, Ben Werling, I’ve used on every story. He’s great and has a wide vocal range. He makes turning a book into audio so much easier on me. I think we’re a good team. I basically give him my manuscript with some simple directions as to accents, maybe weird words that might pop up, since I write typically late Victorian era material, and he does the rest. He does a chapter at a time and sends them to me to okay. We rarely have to redo anything. I am truly lucky because the process, at least for me, is very simple with Ben at the helm.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • Because audiobooks are so prevalent and getting more and more popular by the day, I think you have to be conscious of it becoming an audiobook while writing, especially if you plan on using that format. And I think an author is selling himself short if he doesn’t at least consider putting his creations on audiobook. It is another channel to garner readers and followers…and revenue.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I put up three pages of my book for narrators to “audition”. I listen to each audition and pick the best one. But because Ben and I have such a good working relationship, ultimately, he gets my jobs. It is not only because he is such a good narrator. I write Sherlock Holmes and gothic horror. At least for the Holmes stories, I prefer having the same Holmes and Watson in each of my stories. Ben has been hands down the best Holmes and Watson I have found so why would I switch? I don’t think my readers would like that, and I know they would hear the difference.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I am. Until I land on the best-sellers list or get a movie deal, I have a job to pay bills and raise my family. I drive 45 minutes one way. Sometimes, that hour and a half is the only time I have to myself, and the perfect way to spend that time is listening to audiobooks. There are just times in this hustle and bustle life where cracking open a paperback is not possible. But your ears are always available to listen.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I might have to say all of it, but there’s a reason. Well, okay I’ll narrow it down to the final scenes of the book during a storm. But the reason I say all of it is because Ben employs subtle sound effects in the background much like the old radio stories. There is one part of the story where there is a storm, and the thunder and lightning in the background of the narrations lends itself perfectly to the feel of the scene.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • Oh absolutely. I would love to go back to say anytime between 1880 – 1915. The late Victorian era/ Gilded Age fascinates me. It was a time of extreme change, and those changes caused fear. I play off those fears in my horror stories, and Sherlock Holmes was the penultimate player in those times.
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • For both it is the same–just do it. It is very easy for life to get in the way of writing. And it’s also very easy to fall out of the habit of writing. Mowing, cleaning, doing things with family, work, prepare for holidays, just plain being lazy (guilty as charged), etc. You have to make the time. This just happened to me where I wrote nothing for over two weeks, and I have deadline to have a Holmes story written by the end of the year for a publication next year. I had been under the weather and busy with life on top of that. There were times where I could have written but didn’t. The good habit of writing almost daily had been broken. But for me, all it took was forcing myself to sit at the lap top and writing a few sentences. Those few sentences ended at ten pages. Same with reading. Even if you have to force yourself, do it. If you love to read and love to write, just the mere act will set you right again. At least it does for me.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • That is where I usually get impetus for my stories, so yeah. Many characters I’ve come up with have appeared in my dreams. The trick is finding the story in which they will appear, especially when I might be working on more than one story at a time.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Be picky in who you choose. The narrator is 50 percent of the audiobook, the other 50 percent being the story itself. I have heard many good stories butchered by bad narration.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I was approached by the editor of the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes stories and asked if I would contribute a story to Volume XIII due out next summer, so I am honored to be one of the authors selected to add to that volume. It will be the first time that I am published with a traditional publisher but hopefully not my last.
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Dream Cast

Author William Todd’s Picks For Murder in Keswick
  • Holmes: Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Watson: Martin Freeman
  • Constable Wickham: Rupert Grint (AKA Ron Weasley of Harry Potter)
  • Mrs. Darcy: Catherine Bell (Hallmark’s The Good Witch)
  • Morwenna McGlinn: Emilia Clark (GOT)
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Giveaway

Prize: $20 PayPal Cash

Murder in Keswick Giveaway: $20 PayPal Cash

Dec. 4th:

Dab of Darkness Book Reviews

Dec. 5th:

Jorie Loves A Story

Dec. 6th:

Bound 4 Escape

T’s Stuff

Dec. 7th:

Lynn’s Romance Enthusiasm

What Is That Book About

Dec. 8th:

Lilly’s Book World

Dec. 9th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Book Addict

Dec. 10th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Buried Under Books

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Book Review: Waypoint by Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins

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Title: Waypoint
Series: Waypoint, Book One
Authors: Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Publisher: Rocket City Publishing
Publication Date: December 1, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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Waypoint
Waypoint, Book One
Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Rocket City Publishing, December 2018
ISBN 978-1-7325071-0-4
Hardcover

From the publisher—

How far will they go to restore the power?

It’s been lights-out for three months and society is already falling into chaos.

Teenage tech-genius Simon Harper and his team of fellow gamers have been searching for the cause of the outage since it went down. Simon and his twin brother West are often at odds, but when the key to restoring power drops into their hands, they’ll risk everything and join forces to bring it back.

Mysterious deaths and disappearances are piling up, and unknown enemies are everywhere. As the brothers make their 500-mile journey to Waypoint they’ll have to decide who they can trust, and which secrets can be told.

At some time in the not too distant future, the powers that be decided that having one power grid would be a good idea. You know, consolidation of resources, leaner staffing needs, etc., and all that works just fine until the inevitable happens and the thing stops working. Oops, no Plan B.

Simon and West are twins by birth but that’s about the only thing they have in common. One is a hunky athletic type adored by all including himself while the other is your run of the mill gaming genius with no social skills and, somehow, they find themselves on a perhaps-hopeless quest to turn the power back on before humanity completely loses its you-know-what. Along the way, a couple of girls, Riya and Alex, join the boys and bring their own strong personalities to the splintered team.

A little romance, a lot of suspense and adventure to the max make Waypoint a fun read and it becomes especially page-turning when West and Simon get separated. I really enjoyed this and will wait with as much patience as possible for the next episode.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2018.

About the Authors

DEBORAH ADAMS and KIMBERLEY PERKINS are friends and coworkers. They share a love of coffee, literature, and teenagers saving the world. By day, they work for a defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama as the HR Director and an Excel-wielding Analyst, respectively. By night, they build worlds with words and devour stories. For more information about Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins and their foray into writing, check them out on social media.

Website

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Spotlight on Barking Up the Wrong Bakery by Stella St. Claire

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Title: Barking Up the Wrong Bakery
Author: Stella St. Claire
Narrator: Machelle Williams
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Publication Date: January 4, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Cozy

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Synopsis

Some people would kill for coffee….

Olivia Rickard would kill to keep everything just the way it is. She’s got a gorgeous boyfriend who loves her, a supportive sister to lean on, and a dog walking business that’s briskly barking away. But just as she’s getting comfortable, her sister suddenly wants to buy an entire brownstone with her, and her boyfriend looks like he’s going to pop the question at every opportunity. Changing the status quo has always been disastrous for Olivia, and now everything is changing at once….

What Olivia needs is a distraction, and she’s found one in stumbling upon Yvette Dunn dead in her coffee food truck – drowned in a vat of fresh coffee. Olivia starts out as an unlucky bystander to the crime, but she’s forced to dig in deeper when it looks like her sister could be involved in Yvette’s death.

Olivia is running out of time in regards to the mystery, the mortgage, and the marriage. She’s going to have to solve all three problems – and quick – or face a future most foul.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Stella St. Claire
Stella lives and breathes cozy mysteries! With her head always buried inside these books, it’s no wonder that she would put pen to paper to bring her own cozy mysteries to life. The words flew onto the page, and she’s already teeming with ideas for the next cozy mystery series.

With her trusted canine by her side, it seemed only natural to be inspired by her beautiful beagle Doogle and the many hours they spent walking through scenic New England villages. When Stella’s not reading books, she’s off on road trips, exploring every nook and cranny in neighboring towns, seeking inspiration for her next book.

She’s keen to see what her fellow cozy critics think of her new cozy mystery so please leave a review and share your thoughts with Stella.

Website // Facebook // Goodreads

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About the Narrator

Machelle Williams
As an audiobook narrator with 23 years of experience moving audiences with her voice through corporate facilitation and public speaking, Machelle knows how to connect with the intent of the author to bring their vision to life. Her compelling yet casual voice draws the listener close, transporting them deep into the story and keeping them hanging on every word with full attention and anticipation.

Machelle’s voice is nuanced and delivers reads that range from soft and soothing to dramatic and smoky. She specializes in Mysteries & Thrillers, but her Bespoke repertoire also includes Non-Fiction, Religious, Urban and Noire.

Machelle is based in Northern Virginia with her two Boston Terriers, Daphne and Lilah, and her fully equipped studio from which she provides quick turn-around of professional quality recordings.

When you need a narrator to take your listener to the edge of their seat and their breath away – trust the telling to Machelle.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Book Review: Scythe by Christina Bauer

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Title: Scythe
Series: Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Author: Christina Bauer
Publication Dates: April 24, 2018 and November 27, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
Indiebound // Amazon

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Scythe
Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Christina Bauer
Monster House Books
ISBN 978-1945723049
Ebook April 2018
ISBN 978-1945723582
Trade Paperback November 2018

From the publisher—

Truth time. I go to a Learning Squirrel High School. Don’t judge.

On second thought, judge away. Learning Squirrel is one step above attending class in a junkyard. But what do you expect? Everything’s made out of garbage these days. At least, I have my freelance work to keep Mom and me housed, clothed, and fed. How? I’m your regular high school science geek for hire, except my work manipulates space-time. The good news is that these gigs pay really well; the bad news is that the government likes to kill people like me. Whatever. I’m not worried; hiding from their detection systems is easy for me.

Then I screw up one of my illegal projects. Badly.

In fact, things go so sideways that my house slips into two-dimensional space-time. The shift only lasts for a few seconds, but that’s long enough to set off a dozen government alarms. If those goons track me down, Mom and I are as good as dead. Long story short, I need to pay someone off, hide the evidence, and keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that means asking the Scythe for help. He runs the local underground crime scene and has absolutely no conscience…Or at least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. It’s hard to think straight when a guy’s that hot in an ‘evil Mafioso kingpin’ kind of way. Most importantly, the Scythe is a crime lord who can conceal my slip-up with a few clicks on his minion’s computer keyboards. But the man has his price. In this case, the Scythe wants me to finish a certain dimensional prototype for him in twenty-four hours. I can do it, but it might mean Learning Squirrel High gets blown up in the process. Oh yes, and there’s also my new hot classmate who may or may not be an alien…and he says he’ll do anything to help me.

This job won’t be easy, but I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes. Maybe.

Wow. Just wow. If Scythe is any indication, the Dimension Drift series is going to be a corker, hands down.

Meimi is only 16 years old but she’s much older than the usual teenager, having lost her father and sister, acting as caretaker for her emotionally and mentally fragile mother and living in a world where monstrous beasts are created to “dispose” of undesirables as defined by the Authority. Meimi supports herself and her mother by doing freelance scientific work for the local crime lord, Scythe, and becoming beholden to him for their very survival is not a choice she would have willingly made, had she actually had a choice.

From the first few words, I was completely hooked on this story and its characters. The plot is full of nonstop action and tension while the characters, Meimi as well as others, are vividly drawn, even the exceedingly dangerous Lacerator, the newest of those killer monsters. Beyond all that, though, Ms. Bauer is a master craftsman of worldbuilding and that alone would have kept me fascinated.

There is only one thing wrong with Scythe—it’s a prequel and by the very nature of the beast (so to speak) that means the story ends way too quickly and leaves you hanging, swinging in the breeze. I really hope the next prequel, Umbra, will be out soon, followed by the first full-length novel, Alien Minds 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina On Social Media – She Loves It!
Blog: http://monsterhousebooks.com/blog/category/christina
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorBauer/
Twitter: @CB_Bauer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christina_cb_bauer/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-bauer-481b12139/
Web site: http://monsterhousebooks.com/authors/cbauer

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Spotlight on The Meaning of Blood by Chuck Caruso

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Title: The Meaning of Blood
and Other Tales of Perversity
Author: Chuck Caruso
Publisher: Cloud Lodge Books
Publication Date: November 21, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Horror, Black Humor, Short Stories

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Indiebound // Amazon // Amazon UK

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Synopsis

Sixteen tales of dark, transgressive fiction for fans of
Chuck Palahniuk, Elmore Leonard, and Edgar Allan Poe

In a near-future Pacific Northwest, a made-to-order sex robot
tests a married couple’s concept of fidelity; in the Tennessee
hills of 19th-century America, an itinerant preacher forces others
to prove their devotion to God — at gunpoint; and in a settlement
town of the Old West, a former outlaw seeking to rescue his
deceased brother’s family from a life of poverty discovers
to his horror the true meaning of blood.

In The Meaning of Blood and Other Tales of Pervesity, Edgar Allan Poe
scholar Chuck Caruso combines his deep roots in the American Gothic
with his own contemporary sense of macabre humor. These sixteen
stories of dark fiction range from crime thrillers to western noir to
grotesque horror. Each twisted tale displays Caruso’s unique blend of wry
prose, feverish storytelling, and tragically-flawed characters discovering
that even the most innocent encounter can lead to death. Or sex. Or both.

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“A lethal cocktail of harboiled noir, gothic horror and more.”
—Paul D. Brazill, author of Last Year’s Man and A Case of Noir

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About the Author

Chuck Caruso is a 19th-century Americanist and Edgar Allan Poe scholar. His crime and horror writing has been published in Cemetery Dance, Shroud, and Dark Discoveries. His first novel, The Lawn Job, won the Independent Publisher Award for Best Regional Fiction. Caruso lives in Seattle, Washington.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

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“The Meaning of Blood screams (and I mean screams!) Edgar Allan Poe.
Caruso is more than a Poe expert. He’s practically Poe reincarnated,
channeling the master’s dark spirit to create stories that feel both
ominously gothic and totally fresh.” ―Steve Hockensmith, author of
the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

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Book Review: Watcher by AJ Eversley

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Title: Watcher
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 1
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: October 6, 2018

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Watcher
The Watcher Series, Book 1
AJ Eversley
Narrated by Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
AJ Eversley, October 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

“First came the Bots. They were meant to serve us, but they turned and thousands died. Then the Carbons arrived and we were left with only a few hundred humans. After ten years of war, I’m one of the few survivors. I’m a Watcher, and I won’t give up the fight.”

As a Watcher, Sawyer Russo has sworn to protect her fellow humans. But the Bots and Carbons that overran her city are evolving, and are picking off her comrades one by one.

Embarking on a desperate mission to save humanity from extinction, Sawyer discovers that the line between friend and foe is no longer easily drawn when one of her own betrays them. Faced with a choice between fulfilling her vow and avenging those who have fallen, she must ultimately decide who can be saved…and who can’t.

There’s a kind of density to this story that makes it slow-going at first. Very little is given to the reader in terms of background early on so there’s much we don’t understand about Sawyer’s world and even less about Kenzie.  Sawyer herself stands out in a crowd but largely because she’s pretty much the only female and I found that to be at least somewhat unbelievable.

Sawyer lost her parents at the age of eight and managed to stay alive on her own for the next two years, finally joining up with this band of resisters. Perhaps it’s her early years that make her so reckless and defiant but that certainly makes her a more vibrant character, if not especially likeable. Following World War III, a nuclear holocaust, there are only pockets of humans left trying to survive against the Bots and Carbons, the latter sort of cloned copies of humans, and Sawyer is one of those survivors, along with her team. At heart, this is a story of trust and betrayal and the continuing fight against the machines that are evolving. The setting, on the other hand, is somewhat lacking in that we don’t really know where the two surviving cities are or how they came to be the only remaining cities.

Having two narrators, one for Sawyer and one for Kenzie, works well. Kenzie, in fact, is a bit of an unknown for quite a while and that certainly added to the sense of not fully understanding this world but it didn’t take me long to start liking him and I had a lot of sympathy for his own sense of isolation. Chelsea Stephens does a nice job of conveying Sawyer’s story as well as the other members of her team while Steve Campbell portrays Kenzie quite well. He’s not as vibrant as Ms. Stephens but that’s mostly because Sawyer’s part of the story is so much bigger.

All in all, this is a nicely crafted story of a dystopian world in our very near future and I’m eager to read more.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

*One and the same as Avery Reid.

Website // Twitter

Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Book Review: Earth Quarantined by D. L. Richardson

Earth Quarantined
Earth Quarantined, Book 1
D. L. Richardson
D L Richardson, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-64467-535-9
Trade Paperback

From the author—

World peace came with rules. We’ve just broken them.

In the year 2055, millions of humans were wiped out by a deadly virus known as EMB-II, a bioweapon strain of Ebola that could not be stopped. The need to get off the planet and into space was never stronger. Before the ships could be launched, First Contact was made. A dozen spaceships arrived, carrying twelve Criterion Advocates – peacekeepers of the universe – and thousands of Criterion soldiers, aides, workers, and engineers. To stop the virus getting into space, Earth was placed under quarantine and work begun to save the planet and humanity. Through tough control measures, world peace was achieved.

The year is now 2355. The virus is gone. Humanity is eager to get into space. Yet the Earth is still under quarantine. The Criterion are lying to us. What they don’t know is that we’re lying to them.

Kethryn Miller is an award-winning actress, but nothing will prepare her for the role she’ll take on when a strange woman who shouldn’t be alive turns up in the city, threatening to expose the lies that have kept peace on Earth for 200 years.

With shades of The Hunger Games—individual states, controlled by a central power—Ms. Richardson has come up with a nifty idea. Aliens saved what was left of humanity after a worldwide virus wiped out most of us and we accepted their help, having very little choice at that time. For 300 years since, humans have been living in quarantined colonies of a sort and have become accustomed to the twice-a-day reconnaisance by patrol ships that are manned by humans who work for the aliens. There are 100 states, each comprised of several cities, and people long ago became used to the aliens’ oversight, even population and resource control that are supposedly at the direction of mankind.

Now, though, some are beginning to question the status quo, especially since the Criterion have withheld the long-promised technology for space travel and their control of all aspects of human existence is wearing thin. At the same time, a woman destined to become president of her state has just learned something that could turn her entire life on its ear and alter the course of her state’s reality.

Told from several points of view, humans and aliens, the story moves along quickly as tension builds, leading to an unknown future, different from anything humans have experienced since the arrival of the Criterion. Short chapters keep the pace lively and I found myself reading faster and faster, eager to find out what would happen next. Now, I’m eagerly anticipating Book 2, Earth Arrested.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks // Smashwords
Amazon US // Amazon UK // Amazon AU // Amazon CA

SPECIAL LAUNCH PRICE
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ENDS NOV 30
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An Excerpt from Earth Quarantined

Derek followed Aries out onto the balcony, biting down on the pain that raced up his leg from his ankle. Long periods of sitting aggravated his ailment, and today’s meeting had been long.

“I suspect I know what message your minister received,” said Aries. “I also suspect I know what you will ask, but the decision is out of my control. These are the laws that mankind created.”

Aries was always to the point, a trait Derek liked about her. It saved a lot of time, but it also reminded him that she wasn’t human. Some called the Criterion emotionless. Not true, he thought. They’d just had millennia to contain their emotions.

“You denied Justine’s application to have a child,” said Derek. “For the third time.”

“If she possesses an impure gene, she cannot have a child. That is the law.”

“She’s getting treatment for her condition. A treatment you recommended.”

Aries sighed. “These are human laws we uphold, not ours. Must I remind you that all the leaders sat around a table and decided which of their policies would save the human race. We are not the leaders of your world.”

“Some days I’m not so sure.”

She turned to face him. Her liquid eyes hardened as if they’d iced over. The tendrils on the back of her head lifted, which happened whenever she got angry. In twelve years, he’d gotten to know her well.

“When we arrived,” said Aries, in a self-righteous tone, “your species was dying, your planet destroyed, and while I place no faith in hope as a cure, is it not fair to say you had lost all hope?”

She gazed at him, seeking an answer, and as he stared into her face, he realized that she suddenly appeared old. And this realization made him feel old. They were both being replaced. Neither was ready for it. Both had work to finish. And nobody cared.

Derek sighed. “I don’t want to argue with you, but can’t you make an exception just this once? Show compassion. The ministers are your direct link to the citizens and they’d have a better time believing the Criterion are a compassionate race if you showed it. At least once in a century. If not for Justine, then do it for me. Think of it as my last request in my official capacity as President.”

Aries tilted her head. “Would you ask me to sit idly by while you returned your world to its ruined state? All it takes is one diseased gene and the chain is broken.”

“It’s just one act of kindness.”

Aries sighed. “I couldn’t unlock the fertility inhibitor chip even if I wanted to. It’s interfaced with the host’s body and designed not to activate in the presence of unhealthy genes. The Order Of Harmony hold the overriding codes, not me.”

“You’re the Order Of Harmony.”

“I am one member of a much larger organization.”

Derek paused. He’d always considered the residing advocates had the ability to unlock the fertility chips. If not, then who did?

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About the Author

D L Richardson writes speculative fiction, which encompasses science fiction, light horror, supernatural fiction, and fantasy. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering in her yard waging war on weeds, watching back-to-back episodes on Netflix, playing her piano or guitar, curled up on the couch reading a book, or walking the dog.

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