Book Review: High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann

High Crimes
The Georgia Davis PI Series #5
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-938733-95-6
Trade Paperback

High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann is the fifth book in her Georgia Davis private investigator series. It closely reflects the unsettled U.S. political climate of the past two years. Dena Baldwin is the leader of a resistance movement that begin after the U.S. presidential election of 2016. At the beginning of a major protest demonstration in Chicago, a sniper shoots her and several of her colleagues from a nearby hotel roof and is presumed to have killed himself with a bomb. Baldwin’s mother hires Georgia to learn more about the killer and what prompted him to kill her daughter, since the local police and the FBI have drawn a blank. Sifting through the backgrounds of more than 40,000 members of the organization to identify potentially problematic members is the only lead she has, and she enlists tech support to help her. She learns the victim’s estranged father is a political lobbyist in Washington, DC, with questionable associates, giving her another avenue for her research. And the shooter’s sister has vanished, leaving Georgia to wonder why.

In the meantime Georgia’s lover is pressing her to move in with him. Georgia is seriously considering it, as her younger sister and baby have taken over her small apartment. But when she mentions it to her sister Savannah, Savannah takes the idea as a sign of abandonment, creating family complications that Georgia is at a loss to deal with.

Georgia balances family needs against a progressively more complex investigation, creating an involved mystery with multiple threads that come together in a credible but not-too-neat conclusion. Well-written, smoothly paced. For fans of books with strong women leads, private investigator mysteries, and contemporary political thrillers.

Libby Fischer Hellmann is a versatile award-winning writer with two crime series, stand-alone thrillers, and many short stories in her bibliography.

Reviewed by Aubrey Hamilton, November 2018.

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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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Follow the tour here.

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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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Follow the tour 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
$2.99 ebook for only $2.99
ENDS NOV 30
Also avail in print

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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.

Website // Facebook // Twitter
Blog // Goodreads // Email

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Giveaway

The author is giving away to one lucky winner
one
$15 giftcard. Easy to enter. No purchase
necessary. And you can
choose between
Amazon, Kobo or Barnes & Noble giftcard.

Enter the drawing here.

Book Review: A Heritage of Death by Alexa Padgett

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Title: A Heritage of Death
Series: A Reverend Cici Gurule Mystery #2
Author: Alexa Padgett
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

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

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A Heritage of Death
A Reverend Cici Gurule Mystery #2
Alexa Padgett
Sidecar Press, October 2018
ISBN 978-1945090233
Trade Paperback

From the author—

An unconventional pastor. A brutal murder. To solve the case, one reverend will look for help from beyond the grave…

Reverend Cecelia “Cici” Gurule dreams of a bruised and bloodied woman who looks alarmingly like Cici. She’d like to pretend the dream is a nightmare and nothing more, but there are too many coincidences in her waking life to write it off. Like the baby that turns up on her porch–a baby that disappeared weeks before.

Cici and Detective Sam Chastain race to find the woman, but the killer finds her first. As the trail grows cold, Cici’s only chance to solve the mystery before she becomes the next target may be a clue left by her ghostly twin.

A Heritage of Death is the second novel in a compelling female sleuth mystery series for fans of Ruth Ware and Gilly MacMillan. If you like convention-shattering heroines, vivid Southwest settings, and a touch of the paranormal, then you’ll love Alexa Padgett’s twisty mystery.

A Heritage of Death is billed as a paranormal mystery and that element is certainly here but Cici’s dreams are not the only thing to consider. Her deceased sister was her identical twin and there’s just no doubt that the link between twins, especially identicals, is preternatural and can’t be fully understood by the rest of us. At any rate, Cici’s sister, Aci, is an integral part of the story.

Although Cici is an ordained minister, not a profession that you might expect would be involved with murderous events, but here she is with dreams of a  battered woman who looks an awful lot like herself and then a baby is abandoned on her doorstep. She’s a very likeable protagonist as is her close friend, Santa Fe police detective Sam Chastain, who appreciates and accepts the dreams and visions Cici has, making good use of them in his official investigation. Cici and Sam set out to find a missing woman and answers about the baby’s abduction but are soon drawn into a much deeper and very dangerous case involving the deaths of Native American women.

I have not read the first book in the series but never felt anything was lacking so I think potential readers can enjoy this second book even though it’s out of order. Fans of the Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne series by Julia Spencer-Fleming will be glad to find a similar pair of main characters.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.

Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.

She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.

Author links:

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Book Review: Rival by Arwen Paris

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Title: Rival
Series: Fate of the Stars #2
Author: Arwen Paris
Publication Date: November 1, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy, Young Adult

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

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Rival
Fate of the Stars #2
Arwen Paris
Legendary Prose, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-947334-04-5
Trade Paperback

From the author—

It’s a role she didn’t want…

One deadly week has passed since seventeen year old Allison Delaney realized she must save Earth from the parasitic race of Ma’tiok. But the task is even more complicated than Allison feared, and she’s being set up to fail. Blamed for a fatal blow to the Alliance fleet that killed dozens of soldiers, Allison must face judgment for their deaths. The High Priestess Kiobaan is Allison’s only hope. Kiobaan sees the warrior spirit in Allison, along with her potential both politically and physically and agrees to train her.

And a game she can’t afford to lose.

Meanwhile, though Allison is the human host of Eenoki, protector of life, she’s not yet ready to harness their combined energy. Their bond is unpredictable at best—volatile at worst. Time is running out for Eenoki and Allison to trust each other—all or nothing—or she’ll never gain the power she needs to defeat the Ma’tiok and save Earth. When Allison is marked for death by an unknown enemy, the High Priestess Kiobaan must step-up and fight. But in return Kiobaan extracts a pledge from Allison, one that will compromise her new status and make her a target.

Just one week after the alien invasions started, there’s little left of the California beach town that was Allison’s home and her life has literally changed dramatically. Now host to an alien, she communicates through thought with Eenoki and has become the link between races, potentially the only possible salvation for Earth.

In a tone that’s reminiscent of the cultural and racial divides we’re surrounded by these days, the distrust and hostility between humans and aliens is palpable, even when they share common goals. The humans need the “good” aliens if there’s to be any hope of defending Earth from the Ma’tiok but, as you might expect, these same humans are resistant to being led by any of the invaders.

Allison and, within her, Eenoki are meant to be the liaison between the races but they face a few difficulties. First, Allison is a 17-year-old and, second, she doesn’t look quite human anymore. Getting the humans and two races of alien warriors to accept that they all need to work together is a very tall order.

Once again, Ms. Paris has given us a story full of action as well as a thought-provoking look at the suspicions and resentment that can endanger a society past hope. Well done, Ms. Paris!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

Arwen Paris is the author of young adult fiction. Her debut YA Sci-fi Urban Fantasy novel FATE OF THE STARS released September 1, 2017. The actions packed pages of her novels are filled with characters that are forced to face fears they never expected. When she’s not writing, you can see posts of her (too many) vacations that keep her sane. Arwen lives in Washington, has a big crazy family & after the day job, she writes Fiction For the Fearless – #F3Fanatic

Author links:
Website // BookBub // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

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