Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Review: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black

Title: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 04/05/2011

While I wasn't as immediately drawn into Cassel's world in White Cat, I found it one that I'd be more than happy to visit again. It was Black's attention to details such as Cassel implanting amulets under his skin to avoid being worked that kept me reading. This one follows along the same lines as the previous book, being a story that was a little tedious at times but still a fun ride for the most part.

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

I'm never quite sure what to make of these stories. It's a pretty brave move to cast a boy as the main character in a genre that's predominantly oriented towards young girls & women, something that runs the risk of potentially alienating part of the demographic. This actually works here because this means that Black has more freedom to break free of other trends & habits of young adult urban fantasy. As far as this goes, the book is great. It's kind of refreshing to read about someone who isn't a young, spunky, headstrong girl fighting against the system. This is an intriguing world & for the most part Black does a decent job of exploring & explaining it.

Unfortunately there's some parts of it I just didn't get into as much as I would have wanted. The book just seemed to take a pretty long time getting to where it wanted to be & as a result one of the main themes of the book (the whodunit) fell to the back burner. This feels like it happened more as a way to shift gears for the third book in the series, but it still sort of threw me out of the story. There's a LOT going on in this second book & I have the feeling that even more will be happening in the next (& final) book, so I can't help but feel that this series would have been better served if it had an extra volume to help space things out.

Overall this was still a good read & if you liked the first one you're more than likely going to like this one as well. The only thing I'd warn people about is that unlike Black's Modern Fairy Tale series, this book is most decidedly not a standalone. If you haven't read the first book in the series you're pretty much going to be lost as far as plot goes.

Final Diagnosis: Most fans of the previous book & Black's other works will like this but others will find themselves getting a little lost in the book's pacing.


(ARC provided by Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab)

Check it Out: Jeff Thomason & Monica Leonelle

Hi everyone! This is my next to last post in this series. I'll have one more author to spotlight & then I'll announce the winner of the giveaway on Saturday!

There's no better way to describe Jeff than through his own words: (Click on the above image to visit his website!)

Jeff is the author of the Wandering Koala tales and the creator of the Cully Koala comic strip. Jeff's dream has always been to be a rock star. Unfortunately, he can't sing, he can't dance, and he doesn't look good in tight leather pants. So he decided to pursue his second dream and become a writer and artist. When he isn't working on his own creations, he also provides graphic design, web development, and illustrations for companies all over the country.

Jeff wrote this book for people of all ages, especially those who loved books along the lines of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, & Tom Swift when they were younger, yet are looking for something a little more oriented towards older readers.

He loves how many of the older books used to include illustrations & wants to bring illustrations back for the more mature reading set. After all, pictures aren't only for kids! (As a fan of light novels I can vouch that illustrations can work in a non-child oriented book.)

He’s done it! Brent Jakes has discovered the Unified Field Theory, the Holy Grail of Physics! It will provide unlimited energy, new medical breakthroughs, and other advances only dreamed of before. There’s just one on catch: it’ll cost three men their careers, and they've vowed to prevent it at all costs. Science is not immune to the corruption of greed and politics. Only the intervention of a silent wanderer can stop them.... The Scientific Method is a young adult science fiction novel with over a dozen gorgeous illustrations. It is available in paperback and all eBook formats from all popular online bookstores. (Click on the book image for a sneak peek!)

You can purchase not only this book but several of the other books written by Jeff, including a graphic novel adaptation of the series! This is available not only through amazon but also through smashwords & Jeff's own storefront!

Next up is Monica Leonelle, author of two great series: Seven Halos & Socialpunk. Like me (as well as a good deal of us) Monica was & still remains a great fan of YA! She lives in Chicago with her husband & an adorable Westie, with one of her life goals being to sell a billion books in her lifetime.

15-year old Brie van Rossum wants to know what caused her mother's death, but she's trapped in Honolulu under the watchful eye of her rock star father James, her overprotective older brother Pilot, and the relentless paparazzi who would love to capture her breaking down on film.

A clue about her mother's death finally comes in the form of four teenage girls--or at least, that's what Brie thought they were when she met them on the first day of high school. The girls are not normal teenagers, but Hallows--descendants of archangels and humans--with supernatural powers that allow them to manipulate matter and cross miles of beach in seconds. Brie learns that she is a Hallow too, just like her late mother.

But Brie's family has enemies--specifically the New Order, a group that killed most of Brie s family before the last survivors went into hiding one hundred years ago. Brie's new friends don t think the New Order killed Brie s mother, but that begs the question--who did?

Now, Brie faces a choice--she can follow the clues her mother has left behind, and risk exposing her family to a death sentence from the New Order; or she can stay in Honolulu and keep her family safe, but forsake the Hallows to the New Order's firm fist.

The Seven Halos series consists of seven books about seven humans who are descendants of archangels and archdemons. Each of them must uncover the chilling (and sometimes sinister) mysteries of their lineage in order to save two races of superbeings from an all out war that no one can win. It is a story of love, death, heartbreak, betrayal, and the one thing that matters most--allegiance.

You can find this intriguing new book on amazon (available in paperback, hardback, & kindle editions) as well as on smashwords!


Make sure to check out our contest where you can win an ebook copy of one of Jim Bernheimer's works! (Click here for details.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Check it Out: Marc Johnson & Val Gunn

Hi everyone! Today's Check it Out authors are Marc Johnson & Val Gunn. They're both writers of fantasy, so if you're a fan of the genre you'll have to check them out!

First up is Marc Johnson, author of Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire. This is the first book in an ongoing series & I have to say, I was pretty impressed when I read an excerpt of it. While I love fantasy I'm more of a fan of stuff along the lines of Kim Harrison. This is just an expertly penned novel that I'm honestly surprised hasn't been snapped up by a publisher yet. His advice for new authors is to save up for the professional editors & cover art. He admits that it's expensive, but well worth it. I have to say that his excerpts definitely back up what he says- this looks to be one fantastic book!

For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace. A young villager named Hellsfire rescues Alexandria’s princess, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.

You can find Marc's work on the kindle as well as on smashwords.

Next up is Val Gunn, author of the fantasy novel In the Shadow of Swords. It's a fantasy tale full of murder, magic, & adventure. Val is a fan of both sports as well as the written word. He's not only penned a novel but he's also had a career in football & coaching!

When the assassin Ciris Sarn, murders Hiril Altaïr, he unwittingly leaves behind the legendary Books of Promise. They come into the hands of Hiril's vengeful widow, Marin, and she becomes a target even as she hunts for her husband's murderer. Meanwhile, Fajeer Dassai, a brutal kingmaker, plots to retrieve the fabled treasure to make himself wealthy beyond imagination. His only obstacle is Pavanan Munif, a capable, but drug-addicted tracker. Soon assassins, sheikhs, spies, and viziers are all embroiled in a potentially world-shattering conspiracy racing to an inevitable showdown where violence and murder is the only path to true redemption.

Val's book is currently published via Errant Press & you can purchase a copy of this book on amazon! (Click on the book picture to be taken there.)


Don't forget to check out our ebook contest to win one of Jim Bernheimer's books! (Click here for more info.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Check it Out: Bill See & Jessica McHugh

Hi everyone! Today I have two very different but equally cool authors to tell you about!

First up is Bill See, band member of Divine Weeks & author of 33 Days, a memoir about the group's life on the road. It's got a rock angle to it but at its core it's a coming of age story that I'm sure will rock your socks off!

For 33 days in the summer of 1987, indie rock band Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline Van, sleeping on strangers' floors, never sure they'd make enough gas money to get them to the next town. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other's friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.

If you're curious, 33 Days is available for kindle as well as on smashwords. Curious to find out more about the band? Check out Bill See's facebook entry for the book which includes more about the band as well as glimpses of Bill's creative process for the book! (Click on the band pic to go there!)

Our second author to watch is Jessica McHugh!

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A prolific writer, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, novellas, and even playwriting. She has had eight books published in three years, including "Song of Eidolons", "The Sky: The World" and the first two installments in her "Tales of Dominhydor" series. (I admit, I took this from her site but hey- I couldn't have written it any better!)

One of her most recent books is Rabbits in the Garden, a tale of family secrets, false accusations, & revenge. It's available in both paperback as well as on the kindle & smashwords! (Click on her picture to go to her personal website!)

At twelve years old, Avery Norton had everything: a boyfriend who was also her best friend, the entirety of Martha's Vineyard as her playground, and her very own garden to tend.

By thirteen, it was all over.

The discovery of a secret crypt in the basement starts the Norton family down many unexpected avenues, including one that leads to Avery's arrest for murder and her subsequent imprisonment in Taunton State Lunatic Asylum.

Set in 1950s Massachusetts, Rabbits in the Garden follows Avery Norton's struggle to prove her innocence and escape Taunton with her mind intact.


As always, make sure to check out our contest this week where you could win an ebook copy of one of Jim Bernheimer's books! (Click here for info.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Case of Jacqueline Howett, AKA What Not to Do if you're an Author

If you haven't heard, we've got a new author out there who is incapable of receiving a negative review. Her name? Jacqueline Howett.

Big Al's Books and Pals did a review of her book The Greek Seaman & it wasn't that bad of a review. The reviewer found the overall concept of the book good but noted that there were just so many errors (grammatical & spelling) that you'll end up getting drawn out of the story. Overall this really wasn't that bad of a review.

Yet Howett decided that it wasn't right & took to the reviewer's boards, berating them for not downloading the updated copy. (The reviewer said they did.) Howett's responses got increasingly hostile, culminating with her simply saying "Fuck you" repeatedly to any naysayers.

Even Candace Sams, the infamous author of Electra Galaxy's Interstellar Feller never resorted to profanity. Perhaps this is due to her posting on Amazon, a site notorious for censoring words, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on this.

The thread isn't open to new posts but it's still interesting to see the posts, if only as a "what not to do" checklist. So here's the list of what not to do:

1) If you don't like the review, don't go on the blog & berate the reviewer, saying it's their fault they didn't like it because they didn't get the "right" copy.

2) Don't say that you'll only stick to the positive reviews & then post those reviews in an attempt to prove the reviewer wrong.

3) Don't repeatedly go back to post more harassing comments on the review, calling the reviewer a liar & trying to insinuate that they're a nobody & not really qualified to review your book.

4) If you're going to defend your book against grammatical & spelling errors, at least proofread your own comments.

5) Don't use profanity. Especially don't post the same profanity in response to several different people.

6) Don't insist that they remove the review because it "isn't done from the right copy", especially when the reviewer says that they did read the right copy.

7) Don't accuse the reviewer of using sockpuppets to post, especially when your comments are now being blogged, tweeted, & chatted about on the internet at large.

8) And above all else, DO NOT try to defend your behavior by saying that you see nothing wrong with it.

In the end Howett might get a temporary boost of sales from this but the infamy will last forever. Odds are that many of the new purchases will mention the reasons for buying it & that's not a good thing.

(For the original review, go here.)

Dorchester was reportedly stealing Brian Keene's ebooks (see inside for more info)

Here's something new I just found out: Dorchester Publishing does not own the digital rights to Brian Keene's books. Yet for some period of time they continued to sell those same ebooks on their site.

That's right: Dorchester Publishing was selling things they didn't own, which would be theft by many (if not all) definitions of the word.

After several fruitless attempts to get Dorchester to pay him the money he's owed, Keene asked for the following:

"I negotiated a deal with Dorchester that allowed for: 1. The immediate reversion of all of my print rights, and 2. The reversion of all of my digital rights as of 11:59pm 12/31/10."

That was in December. Dorchester was still selling Keene's books in January and according to Dear Author's article, his attempts to get that stopped ended with the company trying to pass the blame off on to other companies. As the author himself said, "The first time, I allowed that it could indeed be a mistake. Four times later? It is no longer a “mistake”. It is theft, or at the very least, staggering incompetence."

This is just inexcusable for Dorchester to make excuses & pass the buck like this. It's also inexcusable that just like before, Keene hasn't seen a dime from the ebooks that were sold during this time period.

I'm absolutely horrified at the outright gall of this company. I'm most certainly upholding my personal boycott of this site- perhaps permanently. There is no excuse for Dorchester's actions except for pure greed. Even if by some stroke of incompetence they were unable to remove these books, there's no excuse for them not to pay Keene the money that the received from these sales.

I honestly can't believe that they were unable to get these books off of the various sites, especially the kindle. If you're familiar with the whole Penguin/Amazon Kindle fiasco then you'll remember how quickly Penguin was able to yank their books from Amazon's site. If you count the amount of time they spent warning Amazon, it was a far shorter amount of time than Dorchester had, that's for certain.

So remember, boycott any & all of Dorchester's labels, which includes Leisure & Love Spell. I'd tell you to go to their facebook page or forums & protest but they've been deleting any mention of this from their pages. Get out the word any way you can. Tweet, blog, post it as a status on your personal face book pages, or post in one of the various chat rooms or forums on the net. Do whatever you can to spread the word about this & the boycott.

(All info & quotes were taken from Dear Author's article entry here, which in turn was taken from Keene's twitter & other social sites.)

Check it Out: Joel Arnold & Stavrogin!

Hi everyone! I'm back, bringing you two new authors to check out!

The first is Joel Arnold, author of several books including one of his latest, Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse. You might have seen his work in publications such as Weird Tales or on podcast sites such as, where you can download several of his short stories for free! Here's the description of Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse:

A man journeys with a pregnant stranger, while unseen aliens deal out punishment from above. A priest's skin oozes a healing elixir. A self-absorbed husband monitors the end of his existence over the internet. A teenager digs through a deep crust of waste and bone to win his freedom. These, plus 5 more stories from Joel Arnold, are your perfect companion as the earth falls apart around you.

Joel lives in Minnesota (also home to the MST3K home, for all you MSTies out there) with his wife and two kids, a dog, cat, rat, and three fish. He also makes a mean coffee cake.

You can check out Joel's book along with several of his other stories on smashwords as well as on for the kindle! (Click on the picture above for his amazon page & here for his smashwords page.)

My other author spotlight is a mysterious author known only to me as Stavrogin. Stavrogin's work Ljubljana Witch is a haunting tale of a mystery, dark arts, & zines. There's no way to describe this book any better than the publisher's page does: (click on the picture to be taken to the book's amazon page)

‘Come to Ljubljana. Stay with me forever.


Bermondsey, London: Building sites not building anything, ill-looking grass, five muggings in the same tunnel in the last month. Billy wants out. But how? All he has is a zine that no one reads, and his best friend Jay telling him the harsh reality of things.

But then…an e-mail. From Ljubljana, a place he can’t even spell. ‘Come stay with me forever,’ it tells him.

Weird, but okay, thinks Billy. Why not?

With Jay along for the ride, and others picked up along the way, Billy arrives in Ljubljana and quickly finds that things are a lot stranger than he could’ve possibly imagined. An art commune run by a man in a bear costume. A castle surrounded by continual snow, with ancient gods and 80s board games, famous writers and forbidden rooms.

And Daisy…his beautiful, unpredictable host.

Who is this woman? Why won’t she let him go outside? What’s inside the room at the top of the spiral stairs? And what happens when he can no longer write for her?


Don't forget that you still have time to enter the ebook giveaway for a chance to win a copy of one of Jim Bernheimer's books! (Click here for more info.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Dorchester/Leisure Publishing Ban

I just got told something horrible. Seriously horrible. Imagine that you just did a huge amount of work. You're tired but proud of yourself for everything you've achieved. Payday finally rolls around, but instead of finding a paycheck in your mailbox you find nothing but air. ‘It must be late- I’ll give it another day or two,’ you think. When days turn into months turn into years you start to realize… you’re not getting paid anytime soon. You turn to your fellow workers to ask if they’ve gotten anything, only to discover that they haven’t either.

And there’s a lot of you.

This is currently what’s going with Dorchester Publishing & their Leisure imprint. Over 150 people (with more reporting in each day) have either had extremely late or no payments from Dorchester. Yet the publishing company is still selling copies of their books. Now some of you might think “but what if these are authors whose books really don’t sell? Well, the guy that started getting the word out about this is none other than Brian Keene, one of the bigger names in horror. He might not be as instantly recognizable to the non-horror savvy person as Stephen King’s might be, but trust me- he’s a pretty big deal & the bookstore I work in sells quite a few of his books. There’s no way that he wouldn’t have a paycheck. So what to do about a publishing company that isn’t paying the people who are the ones putting out the product & effort that keeps them in business?


That’s right, let’s hit them where it hurts: in their wallet. Don’t buy their products. This will show them that us the public support the people they are robbing of a paycheck & that we aren’t going to support the greedy fatcats who are refusing to pay these people the money they earned. This might mean that you’ll miss out on a few books, but trust me- it’ll be for the greater good.

(Click on the picture above for the current list of people & organizations that aren't being paid by Dorchester.)

Check it Out: GENeration eXtraTERrestrial (Book spotlight)

Hi everyone! Today's spotlight is going to be for the book GENeration eXtraTERrestrial, a book that's not only about alien abductions but is also interactive!

That's right, this series isn't just about aliens & abductions. There's also a treasure hunt factor involved. There's no better way to describe it than for me to quote the author himself:

GENeration eXtraTERrestrial is a contemporary epic in ten parts. ePisode 1 is free. It contains a hyperlink that will take you to the location on the web where the link to ePisode 2 is hidden – it may be on a character’s blog, a related site… definitely somewhere surprising.

Each following ePisode contains a similar hyperlink to the next hidden download, and so on – like an internet treasure hunt. Meanwhile, you will enjoy seeing what the GENeration eXtraTERrestrial characters are up to while you search. Perhaps you will even have a chance to interact with them – you’ll never know what you’ll discover until you check it out.

You can check out the first episode on the author's site (click on the above image to go there) & start in on all the fun! I have to admit, I'm not a big reader of sci-fi anymore (got burnt out on it during my Trekkie years) but the first chapter of this is just plain fun.

Curious? Here's the book's synopsis:

An avant-garde installation artist, a rural farmer, a suburban housewife, a spinster librarian, and a diva of stage and screen: What could this diverse group possibly have in common? Each of them claims alien abduction, but that’s not all. They also insist they are carrying alien babies.

Research scientist, Dr. Grace Brown, must officially examine these “nut cookies.” Her boss has blackmailed Grace into the task, hoping to sabotage her reputation with this fool’s errand and be rid of her. He soon learns it’s not smart to tangle with a super-achiever, just as Grace learns not to assume things are always as they appear.


As always, I want to remind everyone that there's still time to enter in the ebook giveaway for one of Jim Bernheimer's books! (Click here for more info.)

Check it Out: Kathryn Meyer Griffith & Loretta Giacoletto

Hi everyone! Today I'm going to be discussing two promising authors & the various books they've written!

The first author is Loretta Giacoletto (click on her picture above for her website), author of Free Danner, a book about a young man in search of how to do the right thing as well as his father. Loretta's no newbie to the writing business, with three books under her belt that range from thriller to drama to the paranormal! Loretta claims both St. Louis & the Ozarks as her home, so let's give a shout out to her newest book, Free Danner! (Available through Smashwords,, and other e-reader distributors.)

Free Danner really is free, after spending ten years in Juvy for what the judge called an unspeakable act and Danner considered merciful. Now he’s determined to find the dad who doesn't know he exists. One thing's for sure: this is not The Maury Povitch Show; it's Danner's. And he figures everybody's out to screw him, especially the big shot who hired him as a hit-man-in-training. So what's a guy to do? The right thing, but can Danner figure out what’s right.

Free Danner is eleven when his party-girl mom sends him to live with her parents on their Southern Illinois farm. The generation gap proves harder on the rebellious city boy than his grandparents and soon results in a tragedy so horrific no one could’ve predicted it. Fast forward to Danner at twenty-two, by-passing those years he spent in the juvenile system and then some. He locates his mom Lark in St. Louis and demands she name the clueless dad. Lark’s not sure but with Danner’s not-so-gentle persuasion, she comes up with three possibilities. Danner’s search for his dad and a better life takes him on a crisscross journey to Las Vegas, Southern California, and the Florida Panhandle. Most of the off-beat characters he encounters along the way either wind up dead or wanting Danner out of their lives. But these people don’t know the real Danner or what being free means to him.

Also well worth mentioning is author Kathryn Meyer Griffith. She too has an impressive literary resume to offer, with 17 novels written as well as several short stories. Kathryn's got a wide repertoire of genres to offer, from historical romance to urban fantasy. She's also not afraid to explore every option that fiction has to offer so there's a little bit for everyone in her books!

Her earlier works from the 1980s & 1990s are getting republished by ebook publishers Damnation Books & Eternal Press, so make sure to check her out! I'm currently reading one of her books now, a Barbara Michaels-esque horror read entitled Witches, available through Damnation Books for the kindle & other ebook formats. (See the DP site here for more info.)

Amanda Givens is careful how she uses her powers. She doesn’t want the people of Canaan, Connecticut, to know they have a witch among them...even a good, white witch. For years, she’s lived quietly in a remote cabin in the woods with Amadeus, her feline familiar.

When she’s wrongly blamed for a rash of ritualistic murders committed by a satanic cult, she knows she can’t hide any longer. She’s the one the cult’s after. More than that, she’s the only one who can stop them and prove her innocence. In doing this, she’s drawn back in time by the ghost of the malevolent witch, Rachel Coxe, who was drowned for practicing black magic in the 17th century. Now, as Amanda tries to rehabilitate Rachel's reputation in an effort to save lives, as well as her own, she has to rely on a sister's love and magical knowledge, and a powerful sect of witches called the Guardians, to help her get home safely.

As always, I want to remind everyone that you still have until April 1st to enter the contest to win a copy of one of Jim Bernheimer's books! (See contest details here.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Check it Out: Matthew Frick (Author Spotlight)

Today's Check It Out also includes an author spotlight of Matthew Frick, who when he's not writing is also out helping to make the world a safer place!

In my youth, I was surrounded by books and movies (I even worked in a dollar theater for a time that showed second-run movies.), so I guess you could say that "stories" are what helped me grow up. Even when I was in college at the U.S. Naval Academy, I was a history major, primarily because the classes were like sitting through advanced story-time, at least in my opinion. I wrote the requisite papers for school, but it wasn't until my graduate work that I really caught the writing bug.

I wrote a paper on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and was encouraged by my instructors to submit it for publication. I did, and it was. Since then I have authored several published articles and conference papers about the Middle East and maritime piracy. These writings have been referenced in journals, theses, and other media in over five different countries; including India, Russia, and Iran (translated into Farsi and located on the official Majlis website).

I am an active duty Naval Officer, which has given me the opportunity to live overseas and travel extensively throughout the Middle East and Europe. It has also given me invaluable experience that translated easily into the articles and papers I talked about above. But these writing forays weren't the "stories" that I really wanted to write. I wanted to try my hand at that "first novel," having attempted several times since high school only to find myself abandoning each project after pantsing through the first ten or so pages. That opportunity came in 2009.

While working at the NATO Maritime Component Command in Naples, Italy, I was following the details of a ship that had been hijacked in the Baltic Sea. The quasi-conspiracy theories that were being floated around the European press at the time got me thinking...and researching. The idea for a story based around the hijacking and the press theories alone was not enough for me to write a compelling novel, so I thought about what I would want to read. **spark**

I love reading political and international thrillers, and watching movies of the same vein. But even most, if not all of these stories left me a little unsatisfied after turning the last page or leaving the movie theater. There was some common thread in all of them that ate at me and made me ask the question, "Why are all of the heroes ex-CIA, Secret Service, Green Beret, Navy SEAL-type guys?" What I wanted to see was a story about a normal guy like me who found himself in a similar situation as these supermen. How would HE react? **spark spark**

That was the missing piece of the hijacking story! That was how I would tell the story! But, how do I do that? Who is this regular guy going to be, and more importantly, how does he find himself in a conflict that would be easy to explain if he was in Jack Bauer's line of work? What in my past experience could translate to the life of a realistic character that people could actually relate to, while at the same time allowing me to place him in a situation that is so completely removed from his average life, and do it in a believable way that would entertain others? Now, I spent some time as a vending-route driver, and I've read plenty of blogs in my time... ***ignition***

I started writing an outline for the story that was now forming in my head, choosing to abandon the pantsing technique of my past novel-writing attempts. After about a month and a half of outlining and researching, I had an outline. I put that outline on a calendar, setting each scene down in a three- or four-word bullet on the day I needed it to happen within the story timeline, and I started writing. I did this in pencil, because invariably, things change as you begin writing and have to move things around and add or subtract scenes as needed. I even turned a bad guy into a not-so-bad guy who became an integral part of the thriller aspect of the book, where initially, he was just a minor character. It took me a solid year of working this way to finish the first draft and another few months of editing to get the book where it is today.

The experience of writing OPEN SOURCE was both daunting and extremely satisfying. I learned quite a bit about a lot of things during the continuous research that went into making the book believable and as true-to-fact as I could make it, but more importantly, I learned a lot about persistence.

If I was to give advice to someone just starting out writing, I would say, "keep at it." Writing a novel is not an easy task, but with an outline...I'm talking from start to can do it. The outline can be changed as needed, but scrapping a bullet from an outline is a lot less distressing than deleting 15 pages of manuscript (you will probably do that anyway during the editing process, but you can minimize it by using an outline). Some people don't agree with the idea, thinking that an outline stifles the creativity part of writing fiction, but I disagree. And this disagreement probably stems from my love of movies. Let me explain.

When I mapped my novel on a calendar/outline, I went through it start to finish every chance I got. Every bullet on the calendar became a scene that I enacted in my head, dialogue and all. I did this through the entire writing process. Because I had "watched" the scene countless times before, when it came time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard (I used both), I knew exactly what I was going to write.

So that's it. The bottom line is that writing a novel, and finishing it, was one of the most satisfying endeavors I have ever undertaken. I finally wrote the book I always wanted to read. And isn't that what drove me to write in the first place?

-Matt Frick
(A native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, Matthew M. Frick currently resides in San Diego, California, with his wife and two children.)


Thanks for that Matt! I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you for this look into your life & creative process as well as thank you for serving & continue to serve!

I also want to remind everyone that we're also doing a giveaway for a free ebook copy of one of Jim Bernheimer's books & you can check out the contest here.

Check it Out: Bibliotastic Books

Hi everyone! Here's today's entry in the Check it Out series!

Anyone can tell you that finding someone to help put out your books can be a difficult step. Going through the bigger publishing houses involves an agent & a lot of patience, so it's no surprise that a lot of people are going the self publishing route.

That's where companies like Bibliotastic come in. Now I know a lot of you are thinking "Gee, I can self publish in lots of different places!" & you'd be right. There are a lot of options out there. What makes Bibiotastic so special is that they don't charge a penny for you to put your ebook out through them. They pride themselves as the "YouTube for ebooks" in that they neither charge for you to publish your books through them & they don't charge for people to download them.

This could be an invaluable way for new authors to get their books read as well as for readers (and almost all of us are readers at one point in time or another) to get their daily literary fix. Not only that, but the authors keep the rights to their books & the site also offers editor reviews on a limited basis. (See the site FAQs here.)

The company has been around since November but their official launch was just this February, so this is a great chance for you to either get your book out there as well as find a few new ones as well! The site offers a plethora of download options, so no matter what ebook reader you use you're likely to find it in your preferred file options.

On a side note, I've just got to mention this hilarious contest they recently ran where the prizes were kindling & what appears to be a granny smith apple. (You can read the details here.)

I also want to remind people of the contest for one of author Jim Bernheimer's ebooks! (For contest details, go here.)

Check it Out: Jim Bernheimer (Contest Start)

Jim Bernheimer is a pretty eclectic guy as far as authors go. Not only does he write fantasy, but he also dabbles in suspense, mystery, horror, & humor. He's got a little bit of everything for all literary occasions!

Jim's a fellow Virginian, residing in
Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife Kim, and daughters Laura and Marissa. He's got a background in computers & currently works under a government contract as well as having his own business! (So if I ever mess up my computer or blog, I know who to turn to.)

Jim started putting his fiction out back in 2008, starting with the short story Reality Bites!, a story about a vampire trying to get his insurance company to pay up. (Which is available as a free podcast here. I've listened to it- it's pretty good.) Since then Jim's put out several more stories via podcasts & ebook formats.

Jim's a huge fan of sci-fi & fantasy, with several of his favorites/inspirations being Edgar Allan Poe & Tolkien. You can check out his stuff via his website (click on the book image above). If the rest of his stuff is as cool as his short stories are, you're in for a treat.

Contest Info:

Want a copy of one of his ebooks? Just post a comment below telling us who your favorite author is as well as posting an e-mail address for me to contact you so I can send you your prize! (Make sure that you post it emailaddress (at) domainname (dot) com so the spammy guys don't grab your email!)

The free book will be one of the following:

Spirals of Destiny Book One: Rider
Dead Eye: Pennies for the Ferryman
Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume I
Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume II

The contest will run until April 1st, 2011 & I'll post the winner's name on the 2nd. The winner gets their choice of the above books on either kindle, PDF format, or via smashwords!

An upcoming blog series: books to look out for!

Hi everyone!!

I've been hearing about a lot of great books lately but for one reason or another (school, not being the target audience, etc) I've not been able to really get a chance to read them. That's why I'm going to run a series of blogs showcasing indie, self-published, & new authors (and one publishing company) who deserve a little shout out!

Even better, one of the authors (Jim Bernheimer) has offered to give away an ebook copy of one of his books! I'm going to be running about a week's worth of blogs since there's a lot of good stuff to mention, so I'll start the contest at the beginning of the week, starting today.

My first post will be about Bernheimer himself & his books, so check it out!

Update on Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab

Hi everyone! Previously I'd posted about Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program & had mentioned that you couldn't choose your book.

I'm writing now to let you know that this is no longer so. The company is now putting out a newsletter type setup where you can choose your book from a list. I'm not sure if the list is targeted or not but I can definitely say that when I got mine I was pretty enthusiastic about some of the choises they gave me. (I was especially happy about Holly Black's Red Glove being on the list!)

So in any case check it out!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Book Giveaway Winners!

Hi everyone! Time to announce the winners of the book giveaway!

Winner #1: Shift (PiinkPoodle)
Winner #2: Circle of Dishonor (Bill)
Winner #3: Ebook bundle (Ricki)
Winner #4: Ebook bundle (Polly)

Congratulations to the winners as well as a HUGE thank you everyone who contributed both their books as well as entering into the contest! I'll be doing another one very soon so keep checking back here for the next contest & other stuff I post on here!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop!

Want to win some great books? Well, grab your four leaf clovers & gather together the luck of the Irish so you can win one of the great books I have up for grabs!

Giveaway #1

The first book is a really awesome self help book called Shift; 13 Exercises to Make You Who You Want to Be by Takumi Yamazaki.

It’s not that you’re lazy, and it’s not that you lack motivation. No—you have plenty of motivation, but it always seems to fade away just when you need it. The problem is not that you don’t have motivation, it’s that that motivation doesn’t stick around long enough. Shift takes knowledge and inspiration from motivation specialists and distills it into something easy to understand. Thirteen exercises and seventeen techniques illustrate points to help you take the steps to keep, bring back, or find the motivation you need to make the shift into who you want to be. A different take to your average business book, Shift is a full of amusing illustrations that bring the narrative to life and practical exercises that readers can use to grab a hold of that motivation to do what they want and become who they want to be.

Giveaway #2

The second offering is an intriguing indie read called Circle of Dishonor by Gwen Mayo.

Obsessed with finding the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret society responsible for her brother's death, former Pinkerton operative Nessa Donnelly assumed his identity and followed his killers to Lexington. The trail ended there, and fourteen years have gone by. When local prostitute Belle Brezing turns to her for help, Nessa is immersed in a murder case that threatens to expose all of her secrets. She is dealing with more than murder. The KGC is active again in Kentucky and bodies are piling up. If Nessa doesn't find the killer fast, she stands to lose everything-maybe even her life.

Book Giveaway #3 & 4

(Two winners will receive the following ebooks)

Book #4

Book number 3 is an ebook giveaway (so the lucky winner will get their book right away). It's Night & Chaos (The Deva Chronicles) by Naomi Clark! (This book will be a PDF.)

Ryan McCarthy fled Applied Paranormal Theory and Tactics, her father, and her lover six years ago, desperate to build life away from the weird science and supernatural experiments of her childhood. But everything she hoped to escape comes back with a vengeance when she’s kidnapped and tortured by a possessed APTT employee out for revenge on the man responsible for his possession: Ryan’s father.

Now, reunited with the lover she abandoned, Ryan is forced back into a world of danger and darkness she no longer understands, pursued by enemies with powers she can’t fathom. But Ryan’s not entirely powerless herself. She’ll have to use every trick she knows – as well as the mystic gift she hates – to stay ahead of those enemies. And that will be easier said than done.

Book #4

Last but not least is another ebook giveaway by author James Hutchings, who has taken the idea of Twitter to a whole new level by creating a whole book full of stories... all of which fit within 140 characters! (This book will be an epub.)

Thirty mostly humorous stories, including science fiction, fantasy, horror and romance. Each story is less than 140 characters long (the length of a Twitter tweet).

How to Enter

There are three different ways to enter.

1) Sign up via the linky list below.
2) Follow my blog
3) Make a comment below. If you post your email address, make sure to put it along the lines of emailaddress (at) domain (dot) com so nobody can skim your email off with a program or something along those lines. :)

I'll try to pick one winner from each area. The winner has four days to respond, after which I choose the next person on the list.

The books going out through the snail mail will only be going to people in Canada or the USA, but the ebooks can go to anyone in the world. (Sorry- I'm too broke to pay shipping anywhere else!)

I just want to thank the various people who helped make this giveaway so awesome! I want to thank the publishing companies One Peace Books (who has some of the nicest people I've dealt with) & Pill Hill Press (who has some of the coolest titles I've ever seen- you HAVE to join their postcard club!) for donating copies to this giveaway. I also want to thank the two authors who donated ebook copies for this as well, Naomi Clark & James Hutchings.

Enter Here!

Other participating blogs!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Help Japan by reading a book!

Hi all! If you're like me, you were undoubtedly horror struck at the earthquake/tsunami tragedy that happened recently in Japan. There's just no words to describe the amount of sorrow & tragedy that its caused.

Many relief efforts have sprung up, some from major agencies like the Red Cross (you can donate here) to individual efforts like my friend Naomi Clark.

From now until March 19th (Sunday) she's donating 100% of any revenue from the sale of her two ebooks Night and Chaos (The Deva Chronicles #1) & Ungrateful Dead (The Ethan Banning Files) to World Vision.

Unfortunately only the kindle versions are being counted in on this, but if you still want to purchase them through Lulu here are the links to Naomi's books on there. (Ungrateful Dead Night and Chaos)

Want exciting books to review? Try Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab program!

Are you hankering to read some of the best fiction out there? Love authors such as Holly Black, Becca Fitzpatrick or other great names in the business? Then you should read up on a new reviewing program run by Simon & Schuster called "Galley Grab".

It's open to anyone who is a "bookseller, librarian, teacher, journalist, blogger, producer or other publishing professional", which is a pretty open ended list. So far I've heard nothing but great things about it. If you're curious about the program here's a list of FAQ for you. You can also sign up for the service via their website at this address here.

I've received a pretty interesting title from them, Brandon Mull's latest novel A World Without Heroes. While it ended up not being my cup of tea, the writing in it is FANTASTIC & I can predict that this will easily be hitting the top ten of most young adult fiction lists.


I got emailed with an incredibly good question:

"Do you get to choose the galleys you get?"

Unfortunately the Galley Grab program doesn't allow for you to pick & choose which books you receive. A representative for the company will review your blog & whatever sources you provide (I'm guessing if you link to goodreads, they'll glance at your goodreads), then choose a book that is within the same types of genres that you read. From what I've seen of the various people who have received books, they're pretty good about choosing things similar to what you like.


The company is now putting out a newsletter type setup where you can choose your book from a list. I'm not sure if the list is targeted or not but I can definitely say that when I got mine I was pretty enthusiastic about some of the choises they gave me. (I was especially happy about Holly Black's Red Glove being on the list!)

Book Review: Demonized by Naomi Clark

Title: Demonized (An Ethan Banning story)
Author: Naomi Clark
Publisher: Damnation Books
Release Date: 03/01/2011

I have to give a brief disclaimer at the start of this review & say that while this novella can stand on its own for the most part, to fully understand everything that is going on here you'd have to have read Afterlife. That's where Banning gets his demon (singular, not plural) from & parts of the novella have him speaking to the main character of Yasmine.

PI Ethan Banning is smoking too much, sleeping too little, and hearing voices. One voice, to be exact: the voice of the demon that possessed him on his last case. A voice that urges him to hurt, rape, kill, and Ethan doesn't think he has the strength to ignore it much longer.

When his latest missing person case turns into a murder investigation, Ethan finds himself fighting not just demonic urges, but black magic, an incubus with a hidden agenda, and a client who just won't pay up. Luckily, Ethan's got a few friends on his side, like Detective Anna Radcliffe, and his trusty dog, Mutt. If Ethan can ignore the demon long enough, he might just solve this case before it kills him.

Overall this was a pretty good tale. There's a decent mystery here & Clark does a great job of making you guess as to 'whodunit' for most of the book. I also liked how we're shown Banning suffering under the weight of the demonic presence in his body. He has to literally "feed the beast" by doing some pretty awful stuff or run the risk of the demonic voice gaining more power over him. Oh, and I absolutely love some of the new characters introduced here. The priest kicks butt.

Unfortunately it took me a little while to get into the book. I did eventually get into the book & get carried away, but it just took a little longer than Clark's previous works did. I'm not sure if that's because I'm used to having female lead characters narrate in my UF books or not. It's a very different experience, having a male voice narrate rather than a female voice. In any case, I still loved the book & look forward to more Banning tales, but it was just a slow beginning for me. I have no doubt that for people used to male narrators will have no problems with the beginning, however. (I didn't realize that 99.9% of my UF was all female narratives until this review.)

Final Diagnosis: This is a fine novella & well worth reading, but to get the full story you have to have read the previous book. This may discourage new readers, but the quick pacing in later chapters will keep them wanting to read more!

(Reader copy provided by author)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Review: Made for Each Other by Paul Storrie

Book Title: Made for Each Other (My Boyfriend is a Monster #1)
Author: Paul Storrie
Illustrator: Eldon Cowgur
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Release Date: 04/28/2011
ISBN: 0761356010

I'm going to have to break my review into two parts since this is a graphic novel done by two different people. The first part will be about the illustrator's work, the second will be about the author & the actual story.

Tom Stone stepped into Seward High and into Maria McBride's life like a bolt of lightning. He's the perfect guy for Maria--nice, smart, and well-built. There's just one problem: his family. Tom's father is the town's new funeral director, and business is booming. The bodies are piling up thick and fast in Persephone Falls, Alaska, so Dr. Stone keeps Tom up late at night working in the funeral home. And it's clear that Dr. Stone and his creepy assistant, Graves, don't want Maria around. Maria knows Tom was made for her. She's determined to find out what Dr. Stone has against her. When Tom refuses to stand up to his father, Maria begins to stitch together the clues...and finds out that the Stones are into recycling in ways she never could have imagined.

First off, the artwork in this was pretty well done.
Cowgur did a decent job of catching emotions as well as making me feel as if I had been reading a pulp horror comic, which suits the story. His art really was the high point of the book.

Unfortunately where the book comes up short was in the story department. Storrie has an excellent story idea here, but I couldn't help but feel underwhelmed by the experience. We don't get any real character development until we're about 40 pages into the book & we never quite get any huge developments as far as Maria goes. I really feel like this book could have used an extra chapter or two where we get to see more character development & especially more buildup to the ending. There are a few moments to the book that really shine, but this really needed more development in order to really reach its full potential.

In the end I can't really justify the bare bones story under the "it's aimed towards a younger audience" excuse because I've read both books & graphic novels that have been aimed towards teens & younger, yet they've been more fleshed out than this was.

Final Diagnosis: This is worth a read & will undoubtedly find an audience, but I can't help but think that this is a "C" grade project from someone I feel could have given me an "A" with a little more effort.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Follow that Blog!: IrieEchoes

Hi everyone!

My blog recommendation today is for someone that I know IRL, Sade' (aka Reverberated Echoes). Her blog IrieEchoes (which you can find here) is a new one, but it's already an incredibly honest & raw look in the life of an HIV positive woman.

Now I just have to say, this girl is amazing. Not only is she super nice, but upon discovering something that would knock most of us on our feet, Sade' keeps on striding forwards & never takes no for an answer. That's pretty freaking cool, to be honest. On top of that she's trying to get a college degree so she can go out into the community & actually help people, which is also cool. Sade' wants to start a non-profit organization to help African-American girls fulfill their potentials just like she's fulfilling hers!

In any case, you guys need to check her blog out & become one of her followers!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Random Gripe: In which a fradulent eBay seller wins out of default

If there's one thing I hate, it's eBay frauds. You know which ones I mean- the ones who sell an item for $10 less than what someone else is, so you get sucked into the "OMG, this is a decent deal" zone before you realize that the seller's from an area of the world & the product is more than likely fake. (Yeah, I didn't check. In a mixture of sleeplessness & excitement over getting my nephew something nice, I forgot to verify the seller before buying.)

Well, I ended up falling for a seller that was offering a Bakugan for $10 less than what the others were selling for, then discovered that eBay discontinued the sale because the item was fake. After a long & lengthy argument with the seller via paypal, I finally got them to offer to refund the money. If the item had looked legit I probably would have kept it, but unfortunately it's a pretty obvious fake. (My 5 year old nephew could tell the difference & that's not good.)

The only problem? I had to return it to China within a week & get verification that the item was delivered. Well, I don't know if any of you guys have tried to ship something to China, but it takes far longer than a week & in order to get shipping verification I'd have to go the Priority Mail route, which means that it'd end up costing me more than the item actually cost to buy initially. (About $18 to buy, $20+ to ship back.)

So now the seller wins by default. Not really fair, but then that's my fault for not checking I suppose.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review: Isn't It Necromantic by C.I. Bond

Title: Isn't It Necromantic?
Author: C.I. Bond
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: 01/26/2011
ASIN: B004L624VW

Cassie isn't evil ... probably. She just lacks a few things: a boyfriend, a family, a soul. Convincing the "Others" she isn't evil has never met with a lot of success. It usually starts with a local coven of concerned witches (humanity's self-appointed protectors) making accusations and then there's shouting, a chase, and in one case, a stabbing which turned out badly-although, to be fair, how many stabbings turn out well? So now she keeps a low profile, tries to avoid all contact with "Others" and moves every two years. This philosophy worked well enough in her life until she got to Seattle and formed a commitment to finally settle down. Nine months into her rainy new life, things start to fall apart ...

First, something kills Harry-not that he didn't deserve it, but still, it isn't a good sign. Then Mr. Abbey, obviously
a Dark Other who has been dead for over a century, tries to hire her to find some missing property and won't take no for an answer. A dark-haired stranger with vivid green eyes, also dead, is forcing her to ask difficult questions of herself like "If he eats people but he's hot can you still date him?" Normally this is when she would cut-and-run, but the seer's warning was clear: if she leaves Seattle, she dies. Of course, there are no guarantees that this won't happen anyway....

Overall this was a decent first novel. Bond has a decent idea here & that I can't immediately guess what type of supernatural critter Cassie is supposed to be is a plus. It ruins the fun when you can immediately tell what someone is since it usually gives you a good idea of what will happen later on in the series. I have to admit that part of my desire to read the next book is because I'm pretty curious about what Cassie will end up being.

Unfortunately this tale suffers the growing pains that plague most first novels, with some unwieldy shifts between scenes (some of which left me wondering if I'd missed a few pages or paragraphs) & underdeveloped characters. I enjoyed the book but I couldn't help but wish for just a little bit more world building & character development. What made so much of this so frustrating was that so much of it could have been fixed with a sentence or paragraph here & there.

This wasn't a bad read though & I'm optimistic that as Bond gets more writing experience she'll even out her writing style & get more polished as the series progresses. This isn't a New York Times bestseller by any means, but it deserves at least one read through. I can't help but worry that with the huge amount of UF flooding the genre, the flaws in this book might cause readers to get disconnected & float over to the next new book being released.

Final Diagnosis: The book is in want of a good hard edit, but there's a lot of promise to the series.

(Reader copy provided by author)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Review: Steam Queen by Jack Hessey

Title: Steam Queen
Author: Jack Hessey
Publisher: Lazy Day Publishing
Release Date: 12/26/2010

I have to admit, I wasn't really expecting to get into this novel. Overall I do like steampunk, but I've never really sought out any books in the genre. Most of my experience has been through movies & the odd webcomic such as Girl Genius. That's why I was pretty surprised that I was so easily drawn into this book.

Europe is a dangerous, virtually lawless place. Armed bandits prowl the railway lines in their armed Steam Locomotive looking for easy marks, and heavily armed mercenary engines travel from town to town looking for work in a world where every day is a struggle for its civilians. Erica, an emotionally disturbed girl from England finds herself joining one of these mercenary teams. What follows is a trek across Europe to where two mighty cities, each representing a different way of life, stand on the verge of a war which will shape the way Europe develops. On one side are the Steam using traditionalists of St Vith, led by the charismatic and cunning General Roosje Cuvelier. On the other, stands the mighty Winterscheid Diesel Empire under the iron fist of the merciless Kaiser Sigmund Eisenburg. Two vicious armies, treachery from her own allies and the world’s deadliest super-weapon are just a few of the dangers that Erica must face in her journey.

The author takes a huge amount of risks in this book & I respect that. Not only did is the main character a complete sociopath that kills animals & maims people in retribution for real (or imagined) slights, but it's a female character that does these things & the author doesn't try to sugarcoat any of it. Erica is insane, yet there's really no big attempt to make these things seem socially acceptable or pardonable. I rather liked this story- it's a good idea & apart from my open mouthed horror at Erica's actions, I found myself fascinated by her actions. I'll be honest & say that I didn't like her character, but then the main character doesn't have to be likable or sympathetic as long as the story keeps you entertained & captivated.

My only real complaints about the book was that while the characters were pretty decently done, I didn't get a good sense of the world as a whole. I knew what the motivations of each character were, but as far as knowing what daily life was like or what the world was like, those details were at a minimum. There's enough here to fuel the plot along, but I couldn't help but feel that the story would have been greatly improved with just a little bit more world building. It just kept the book from really being as good as it could have been.

There's a sequel to this, so I really do hope that the author gives us more than just a brief glance at Erica's world as well as the events taking place in it.

Final Diagnosis: Overall this was a fun read & far better than what I'd expected, but a lack of definition in the overall world kept this steampunk tale from really soaring.

(Reader copy provided by author)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Review: R.A.C.E. by Mobashar Qureshi

Title: R.A.C.E.
Author: Mobashar Qureshi
Publisher: CreateSpace
Release Date: 01/01/2011

RACE (Radical Association of Criminal Ethnicities) is a dangerous and violent group on the verge of creating an illegal drug.

Parking Officer Jon Rupret wants desperately to move up from handing out parking tickets. An impulsive act from his past throws him into Operation Anti-RACE—a unit set up to stop RACE. He is partnered with veteran detective, Phillip Beadsworth, a mild mannered Brit who doesn't much like Rupret and knows more than he reveals.

Along the way Rupret encounters Mahmud Hanif, a qualified engineer, who drives a taxi to pay his bills; DJ Krash, the second best disc-jockey in the world; Cal Murray, the owner of the House of Jam, the hottest club in Toronto; and of course, his mother, a grade school teacher in Guelph, who thinks Rupret is a financial advisor working on Bay street.

RACE is a compelling mystery and a humorous look at Toronto through Jon Rupret’s eyes.

I had to kind of mull this book over in my mind for a while before writing this review because overall, this wasn't a bad book. It just wasn't a great one, a novel to end all novels.

The author has an easy style of writing to him that really suited Rupret's narrative. I found the main character to be a fairly easygoing person that I could connect with at the beginning. I saw him as a sort of bumbling Seth Rogen kind of character that was occasionally endearing. I have to admit, his initial antics at the beginning couldn't help but make me smile & draw me in.

Unfortunately that pace just wasn't ultimately kept up here. The general story idea is a good one & the author does his best to keep us interested, but I just felt like it took a while to get where it was trying to go. I really wish that certain things (such as details about the leader of the operation, Zee) were more spaced out in the book. I was a bit surprised about the twist at the ending, but I couldn't help but feel like it was just a teensy bit overly complicated. It came across as something that would work better if it was more spaced out or had a little more development earlier in the story.

I'm aware that this was the author's first novel & that comes through in this book, so I'm optimistic that further novels will be a little less green than this one was.

Final diagnosis: It's not a bad book but it just felt a little unfinished at times. Since it's only $2.99 on the kindle, I'd recommend it as a purchase for a breezy weekend or holiday/vacation read.

(Reader copy provided by author)