Book Review: Icehaven/Sum of All Tears by Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester

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Title: Icehaven
Series: Sum of All Tears #1
Authors: Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic Dystopian, Paranormal

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Icehaven
Sum of All Tears #1
Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
KC Publishing, April 2019
ISBN 978-1999558819
Trade Paperback

From the authors—

They said it wouldn’t happen.

Everything would be better.

They were wrong.

After a climate change experiment goes terribly wrong, August Madison finds herself resurrected in a frozen wasteland.

With most of the world’s population and food sources annihilated, depraved nomadic gangs patrol the lawless landscape as outlasters claw for survival.

Amid the chaos, Graysen Marx, iron-fisted leader of the domed settlement Liberty, emerges from the catastrophic event with his own agenda.

When August crosses his path, he sees an opportunity he must exploit.

She sees an evil she must destroy.

Isn’t it wonderful when you come across that book that is SO good that you’re kind of stunned by it? Icehaven is the one for me for a lot of reasons starting with being thrown into the midst of disaster right away, literally on page 2. No lollygagging here, no building up to the horrible event you know is coming. Then the questions begin, the obvious ones such as how the few people left will survive, but also the ones that are so unexpected, particularly regarding why and how some survivors have developed special abilities.

Our protagonist, August, is a miracle herself, having apparently died and then come back to life but, at first, she  remembers very little about what happened other than she does know that she’s the daughter of the man who set off this devastating experiment. Besides taking on her duties among the group that found her, August also feels a strong need to figure out what went wrong; meanwhile, an old friend, Brandon, is miles away and wonders if August is still alive. Then there is Graysen Marx, the man behind Liberty, a biodome facility that seems to be the only hope for longtime survival but is he the honorable man he seems to be or is he ruthlessly intent on his own agenda?

The action in Icehaven is nearly nonstop with something new and alarming happening constantly and the plot is full of suspense, so much so that mystery readers will be as enthralled as post-apocalyptic fans but plot does not overshadow character development. The players, primary and secondary, are vividly drawn and they all come alive on the page while the authors’ worldbuilding is remarkable, making me feel the intense cold and hunger and the emotional havoc wrought by the attempt to control climate change.

I could say much more but it would be hard to avoid spoilers so let me just say Icehaven is going on my list of best books read in 2019 and I heartily encourage one and all to jump right on this one 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

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About the Authors

Kim Cresswell resides in Ontario, Canada and is the bestselling and award-winning author of the action-packed WHITNEY STEEL series.

Her romantic thriller, Reflection (A Whitney Steel Novel – Book One), has won numerous awards including RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown Finalist (Romantic Suspense), InD’tale Magazine 2014 Rone Award Finalist (Suspense/Thriller), UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner, Silicon Valley’s Romance Writers of America (RWA) “Gotcha” contest. Kim also signed a 3-book German translation deal with LUZIFER Verlag for the first three books in the series: Reflection, Retribution and ResurrectLethal Journey won RomCon®’s 2014 Readers’ Crown (Thriller).

The Assassin Chronicles TV series was in development with Council Tree Productions. The TV series is based on Kim’s upcoming 4-book paranormal/supernatural thriller series: Deadly Shadow, Invisible TruthAssassin’s Prophecy, and Vision of Fire.

Website // Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter
Goodreads // Instagram // Bookbub // Amazon 

M.K. Chester is an RWA award-winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Her first novel, Surrender to the Roman, is currently published with Carina Press. Her three-book historical series, Bryeton Books, focuses on love, loss and redemption in small town America at the turn of the 20th century, while her latest release, Crashed, is the first book in the contemporary New South Series.

M.K. is a native Buckeye who lives in Tennessee. She’s married to a veteran, recently became a MoM (Mother of Marine), and will soon become a grandmother. She adores her Scottish Terriers and is fighting MS.

Newsletter // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

Series Instagram // Bookbub // Amazon // Goodreads

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Coming in March 2020

Liberty
Sum of All Tears #2
Kim Cresswell and M.K. Chester
KC Publishing, March 2020
ISBN 978-1999558819
Trade Paperback

From the authors—

A new enemy rises.

Surviving the cold is only the beginning.

In the second installment of the exciting Sum of all Tears series, a core group of survivors from Liberty travel to Boston, endangering themselves and those they left behind in a winner-takes-all showdown that will leave readers breathless.

Pre-order Links:
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Book Review: The Storm Over Paris by William Ian Grubman

The Storm Over Paris
William Ian Grubman
Dupapier Press, September 2018
ISBN 978-1-732-61000-2
Trade paperback

A prologue and an epilogue that take place in 2000 in New York City bookends what is an exciting addition to the literature of the Holocaust. The rest of the story is set in Paris, beginning in April of 1942 where the Rothstein family has run a prestigious art gallery for several generations. They’ve handled the Rembrandts, the DaVincis, the Caravaggios. The very best of which the invading Nazis are looting for their own.

Mori Rothstein’s life, and that of his family are in jeopardy because they are Jewish. The only thing saving them, for a while at least, is because Hermann Goering is collecting (stealing) the most precious paintings for Hitler’s art museum and he needs Mori’s expertise. For a time, Mori’s connections and knowledge will keep him and his family alive, but time is running out. He and his sons must be not only brave, but clever if they are to save any of the paintings as well as their lives.

The writing is excellent, the setting of 1942 Paris well depicted, and as the pacing picks up to an exciting conclusion, the tension swells exponentially. The characters are well-fleshed out, including those you are sure to hate. A fascinating read for those who like historical adventure set in that time and under those circumstances.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, February 2019.
https://carolcriggercom.sitelio.me/
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: The Wedding Crasher by Nikki Stern

The Wedding Crasher
A Sam Tate Mystery
Nikki Stern
Ruthenia Press, May 2019
ISBN 978-0-9995487-3-8
Trade Paperback

From the author—

A brunette in a bridal gown turns up in Pickett County, Tennessee, throat slit and ring finger missing. She’s the latest victim of the Wedding Crasher, a serial killer who murders women just weeks before their weddings.

Samantha Tate is Picket County’s yoga-loving, poker-playing new sheriff, a former Nashville homicide detective who struggles with her inner demons. To catch the meticulous murderer, Sam will have to follow her instincts and ignore her worst impulses. Can she stop the Wedding Crasher before another bride-to-be dies?

Nikki Stern ticks a lot of my boxes in The Wedding Crasher with a female lead who is in law enforcement, a non-urban police procedural, a Southern setting. Small wonder, then, that I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Speaking of the beginning, this one is in your face as we meet Sam Tate at a gruesome crime scene, no footdragging leading up to it, and that’s another one of my boxes.

Sam has her own issues from the past but she focuses on this string of brutal crimes with the help of Abdi Issen, her lead detective, and FBI agent Terry Sloan who’s been working these cases for several years. The first four murders happened once a year in the spring but then the killer skipped a year. Why? Is there a connection with a trauma from Sam’s past?

That trauma comes out in dribs and drabs but it helps us see how Sam’s core has grown and changed over the years, making her who she is today. This sort of thing can dampen my enthusiasm for a character because it’s often overdone but Ms. Stern handles this part of the story with finesse.

All in all, this is an intriguing look at a serial killer investigation with a lot of twists and turns, always a plus in crime fiction, and I’m looking forward to Sam’s next story.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2019.

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

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An Excerpt from The Wedding Crasher

The dead woman lay in the clearing like a macabre version of Sleeping Beauty. She was dressed in a long-sleeved, high-necked ivory gown, set off by luminescent pearl drop earrings and a matching necklace that almost hid the dried blood around her throat. Her head rested on a satin pillow, her silky walnut hair spread behind her like a fan. The right hand held a bouquet of wilted flowers and rested on her chest underneath the left, absent the fourth finger. The ring finger.

Sheriff Sam Tate stood to one side of the grim tableau, arms folded, and took it all in: the victim; the tall white-haired man who knelt by the body; the deputy who walked the scene in throwaway boots, snapping pictures; the pale young man in running gear sitting on a rock, head almost to his knees; the uniformed officer who squatted beside him.

Sam had dressed in her standard uniform of pressed black slacks and a spotless white shirt. A shaft of early-morning sun bounced off the polished badge at her left breast pocket. On her right wrist, she wore a utilitarian watch. Three small studs twinkled along one earlobe, her single visible concession to a rebellious streak. She’d pulled her unruly dark locks into a tight braid. Ray-Bans shielded her green eyes, though not the line that formed between her brows.

One of the victim’s low-heeled white pumps had dropped off to reveal a slim ankle in hosiery. Stockings, not pantyhose, held up by an old-fashioned garter. Sam didn’t need to look.

He’s back, she thought, adding a curse for good measure.

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About the Author

Nikki Stern is the author of the inspirational HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist, and the thriller THE FORMER ASSASSIN, a 2018 Kindle Book Review category finalist. Her essays are included in three anthologies and she co-authored the interactive Café Noir murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Eight of her short stories have been published in various online journals and she was a Mark Twain Royal Nonesuch finalist for her short story “Long Away and Far Ago.” Nikki is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On:
nikkistern.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

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Book Review: The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin

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Title: The Walker on the Cape
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: March 18, 2019

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The Walker on the Cape
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, March 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

A man’s body is found on the Cape in a small fishing community on the East Coast. At first, everyone thinks it’s a heart attack or stroke. But then it is discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why?

Finding that out falls to Sergeant Winston Windflower of the RCMP along with his trusted sidekick, Eddie Tizzard. Along the way, they discover that there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.

Windflower also discovers two more things: a love of living in a small community that is completely different from his upbringing in a remote Indian reserve and maybe the love of his life. He gets a taste of East Coast food and hospitality as well as a sense of how crime and corruption can linger beneath the surface or hide in the thick blanket of fog that sometimes creeps in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

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A full-blooded Cree, Winston Windflower is not your everyday Mountie and he’s been posted in a small fishing village, Grand Bank, on the coast of Newfoundland, far from his reservation home in Northern Alberta. The fog and the unique personalities of the people here take some getting used to but Winston has begun to fit in quite nicely and has made some good friends including his sidekick, Constable Eddie Tizzard. Windflower believes Tizzard has earned a promotion to corporal and intends to recommend him to the higher echelons but, first, the duo has to cope with the suspicious death of Elias Martin, a man who was not well-liked.

The sergeant’s supervising inspector doesn’t believe this is anything but a natural death but Winston and Eddie think otherwise so Winston makes a few endruns around his boss, with Tizzard watching out for him, to get to the truth. They do, in fact, find clues to follow in town and elsewhere and a plethora of suspects along with hints of corruption. Sgt. Windflower soon shows why certain higher-ups hold him in high regard as he doggedly works toward a resolution.

Along the way, Windflower and a local lady, Sheila, are stepping out and enjoying the early joys of a relationship. We also are treated to some of his cultural background with customs he’s brought with him, such as smudging, and I hope to see more about that in the following books.

I mentioned in my review of the seventh book — https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/a-trio-of-teeny-reviews-2/ — that this series has a sort of feel-good vibe to it, a wholesomeness that makes everything about it very likeable, from the setting to the characters to the actual mystery and I still feel that way. Adding to the pleasure is Mr. Kearney’s narration with his authentic-seeming (to me, at least) Canadian intonations enhanced by the local fishing village accents although he didn’t really have a wide variety of voices, especially for women. I do hope Mr. Martin will continue—quickly!—to produce audio versions of the succeeding books; I’ll be standing in line for them 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

Following college and many years as a local entertainer and actor I eventually entered the business world and a career of building and selling multiple successful enterprises.

In 1985 I purchased an aviation business and while building a very successful business also earned multiple movie credits as a helicopter camera ship pilot – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443932/?ref_=nv_sr_1 – among other services, and flew the camera helicopter for London Weekend Television’s mini series “Piece of Cake” in 1988. I have an extensive aviation background from helicopters through turboprop and jet aircraft, and a deep knowledge of all things aviation.

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies. My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived, and is reflected in a voice of experience.

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Book Review: Spirit Wind by Marilyn Meredith

Spirit Wind
Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series #18
Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn Meredith, March 2019
ISBN 978-1092112086
Trade Paperback

Tempe Crabtree’s eighteenth adventure is a winner. She’s back, in all her righteous stubbornness, determined, as always, to not only solve the crime in front of her, but to protect the innocent as well. This time she’s forced to also deal with the persistent resistance of her husband, Pastor Harry Hutchinson, who expected the pair would spend a couple of weeks relaxing at a coastal resort. But he also is experienced dealing with his wife’s often abrupt changes of direction.

Tempe, a deputy sheriff in Bear Creek, California, a small Sierra Mountain community, is enticed to visit Tehachapi and stay at the Stallion Springs resort. An acquaintance, one Lorna Collins, a ghost hunter, whom Hutch was less than enthusiastic to hear of again, was searching for the ghost of a lost female prison inmate.

Tempe, not unfamiliar with the spirit world, due in part to her Native American heritage, sympathized with the aims of her friend, not for a moment suspecting there were unholy forces abroad in Tehachapi. Almost from the moment they arrive the couple is embraced by a local detective. the ghost hunter and a strange spirit manifestation.

The story moves along apace, evokes the physical area and several intriguing and disparate characters. As usual, Tempe efficiently and realistically blends her well-developed policing skills with the sensitivity of her awareness of unseen forces around us.

This is a fine, highly satisfactory and enjoyable novel of murder, manipulation, the history of the area and it blends the known and the unknown with judicious balance and at a good pace until the final explosive resolution.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Deadly Aim by Paty Jager

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Title: Deadly Aim
Series: Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 3
Author: Paty Jager
Narrator: Ann M. Thompson
Publication Date: July 21, 2017

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Deadly Aim
Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 3
Paty Jager
Narrated by Ann M. Thompson
Patricia Jager, July 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace send potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer. Visions from her dead grandmother reveal Shandra is on the right path, but the woods are full of obstacles; deadly ones.

Detective Ryan Greer believes Shandra’s dreams will help solve the mystery, but he also knows the curious potter could get herself killed. He’s determined not to let that happen.

Until he’s blind-sided. Are Shandra’s powers strong enough to save them both, or will the murderer strike again?

Big game hunters are not the most popular figures in the real world or in fiction so it isn’t easy to have much sympathy when Shandra finds J.W. Randal’s animal-ravaged body on her property. Perhaps it would be better to say my sympathy was with Shandra, first for finding another body on her Huckleberry Mountain and second for her finding out she had such a reprehensible neighbor. I guess this just goes to show that large properties can make it hard to know your neighbors. At any rate, finding a body on her own land at least provides some justification for Shandra sticking her nose in where it doesn’t really belong.

It’s fortunate for Shandra that the deputy sheriff, Ryan, is not averse to her sleuthing and, in fact, he respects her spiritual connection to her Nez Perce ancestry and the dreams that seem to lead them to important hints. What occasionally gets in the way is the growing romance between the two and their “mating dance”, if you will. I appreciate the way Ms. Jager is allowing a natural growth of their mutual attraction rather than the instalove we see too often. I was happy to learn that they still haven’t told each other their deepest secrets but that seems to be coming soon.

Meanwhile, back to the investigation…clues begin to mount that point in different directions including potential bad blood in the game hunting business and a possible illicit liaison. Most intriguing is a particular necklace whose provenance is difficult to track down .and this part of the hunt brings Shandra’s particular creative expertise to the forefront. When things come to a head, though, there’s more than one surprise

In this entry, a bit more editing could have been useful as occasional flaws are more obvious than in previous books in grammar and word choices as well as in shifting points of view. Also, while Ann M. Thompson is a better than average narrator, she did pull me out of the story every now and then with mispronunciations and odd pacing. Still, an interesting mystery and Ms. Thompson’s reading made this an appealing tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Pinterest

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About the Narrator

Audiobook narrator and voice over artist Ann Thompson continues to work in radio and TV news broadcasting as she has done for the past 25 years. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. A-P has named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology. Once she even rode the “Vomit Comet” to simulate zero gravity in a KC-135. Thompson has reported from India, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Belgium as part of fellowships from the East-West Center and RIAS. She values author partnerships like the one with Paty Jager for the Shandra Higheagle series.

Website

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Book Review: Tarnished Remains by Paty Jager

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Title: Tarnished Remains
Series: Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 2
Author: Paty Jager
Narrator: Ann M. Thompson
Publication Date: April 14, 2017

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Tarnished Remains
Shandra Higheagle Mysteries, Book 2
Paty Jager
Narrated by Ann M. Thompson
Patricia Jager, April 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Murder…deceit…greed….

Shandra Higheagle is digging up clay for her renowned pottery when she scoops up a boot attached to a skeleton. She calls in Weippe County detective Ryan Greer. The body is decades old and discovered to be Shandra’s employee’s old flame.

Ryan immediately pegs Shandra’s employee for the murderer, but Shandra knows in her heart that the woman everyone calls Crazy Lil couldn’t have killed anyone, let alone a man she loved.

Digging up the woman’s past takes them down a road of greed, miscommunication, and deceit. Will they be able to prove Crazy Lil innocent before the true murderer strikes again?

When Shandra digs up the boot with a bone in it, the discovery naturally leads to an entire body and its identity doesn’t take too long. What’s surprising is Lil’s response to the news and her attitude is what leads the county’s detective, Ryan, to suspect that she may have killed the man for very personal and emotional reasons. That’s when Shandra feels the need to step in because she just doesn’t believe that her ranch hand is either guilty or crazy.

Fortunately for all three, Ryan doesn’t mind—although he has a few qualms—Shandra inserting herself into the investigation. He knows from a previous experience that Shandra is unusually intuitive and thoughtful and, in fact, he respects the dreams she receives through her deceased Nez Perce grandmother. It also doesn’t hurt that Ryan and Shandra are engaging in a bit of a romantic connection.

As pieces of the truth behind the cowboy’s death come to light, the attention points in an entirely different direction that has a lot to do with very dysfunctional family issues as well as Lil’s love for the late lamented Johnny. Along the way, light is shed on the reasons behind Lil being called “Crazy Lil”.

Ann M. Thompson does a fine job with the narration, using distinctive voices for various characters, and her tone is appropriately nuanced to emphasize stress and emotion. Occasionally, I heard a little hiccup, for lack of a better word, in the narration but certainly not enough to bother me much.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Pinterest

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About the Narrator

Audiobook narrator and voice over artist Ann Thompson continues to work in radio and TV news broadcasting as she has done for the past 25 years. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. A-P has named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology. Once she even rode the “Vomit Comet” to simulate zero gravity in a KC-135. Thompson has reported from India, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Belgium as part of fellowships from the East-West Center and RIAS. She values author partnerships like the one with Paty Jager for the Shandra Higheagle series.

Website

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Play an excerpt here.

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Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card

Enter here.

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