Book Review – Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd

unnamed

Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd is an intense, psychological thriller. Smitherd introduces us to Chris, a 20-something black man who lives with his parents, has a dead-end job in a call center and friends he doesn’t have anything in common with. On one fateful early morning, Chris, home alone as his parents are away, is awakened by a knock at the door. Upon answering it, his life changes forever. The Man in White and Klaus enter his home, tell him a fantastical tale and then gives him a choice – kill someone or some sisters, who’ve been kidnapped, will die slow, torturous deaths. This Process, as the Man in White calls it, appears to be some sick, twisted game thought up by some wealthy man for mere amusement. Many have already participated in it and many more will after Chris. Chris has a decision to make – play the game and save those girls or walk away and do nothing, resulting in their deaths.

Smitherd’s tale takes you on a wild ride, keeps your heart pumping, your breathing rapid as you go through the pain and torture that Chris must endure to save those girls. The story is told as a journal that Chris writes after the events have ended. As such, there is a lot of backstory told mixed with present moments.

These characters – Chris, the Man in White and Klaus – are well-detailed, full and rich. You cheer for Chris’ success, learn to cringingly admire Klaus, and desperately hate all that the Man in White stands for. Smitherd also has an excellent grasp of setting, creating detailed locations to work his plot around. And that plot, from beginning to end, has twists that will frustrate and empower you as a reader. It is the final twist at the end of the book though that will leave unanswerable questions in your mind – If this had been you, given the choices that Chris had been given, what would you have done? What would you do next? How do you want your story to end?

As with all of Smitherd’s books, you are always left curious. His work is edgy, outside the box and definitely worth reading. I highly recommend Kill Someone for thrill-seekers who like that psychological edge.

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Psychological Thriller

To Purchase: Amazon

 

Book Review – Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland

22873121.jpg

Social Engineer by Ian Sutherland is a novella and an introduction to the white hat hacking world of Brody Taylor. Taylor is a social engineer who hacks into companies’ systems in order to find flaws that can be manipulated by black hat hackers. He then teaches these companies how to plug up the holes in their security systems. This is how Taylor normally operates; however, he meets Mel via an internet dating site and his focus changes. Mel is an animal rights activist and the next company that Taylor will hack uses animals in their testings. What is Taylor’s true motivation and how does it affect his job and the relationship with Mel?

Sutherland has created a unique story here which is told in a disjointed timeline from the recent past to the present, switching back and forth. Along the way, the reader learns how Taylor hacks HTL, a pharmaceutical company, his relationship with Mel and her friends, and his motivations. Although this is an introduction novella, Sutherland creates believable, well-crafted characters, a plot that keeps you guessing until the last sentence, and an interesting concept that makes you want to read more about this character, Brody Taylor.

I’ve read some critics who’ve said that the back and forth timeline of this story confused them. I didn’t have the same difficulty. I actually enjoyed this aspect of the novella as it gave me a chance to really get to know Brody Taylor more. There was also criticism that the ending was unsatisfactory, but that didn’t bother me either, especially since I know there are other books in this series. I found this an enjoyable, thrilling read and highly recommend it for anyone interested in thrillers and hacking.

Note: I was given a free copy of this novella by the author for an honest and fair review.

Rating: 5 Star

Genre(s): Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Technothriller

To Purchase: Amazon 

Book Review – Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

31077370.jpg

Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn is a contemporary romance novel set in the coastal town of Miramar Bay in California. Bunn introduces us to Connor Larkin, a character actor who runs away to Miramar Bay to get away from a life he no longer wants – the fast lifestyle of Hollywood and a fiancee he doesn’t wish to marry. Once he gets to Miramar Bay, Connor hides his true identity and takes a waiter’s job at a local restaurant called Castaway’s owned by Sylvia Cassick, who also came to Miramar Bay years earlier with her father and decided to stay and make a life for herself there. Miramar Bay is a place of second chances and throughout this novel, Bunn reveals a cast of characters who’ve all been given second chances there – Rick, Marcela, and Estelle, Sylvia’s long estranged mother. From their first meeting, Connor and Sylvia embark on a relationship that blossoms, wilts and blossoms anew. Sylvia learns of Connor’s deception and then is accused of funneling drugs through her restaurant. And as Sylvia’s life begins to spiral out of control, Connor’s comes into focus. Can he, Estelle and the other people in Sylvia’s life save Sylvia and redeem themselves in Sylvia’s eyes in the process?

I don’t normally read romances, but there were two things about this book that peaked my interest – one, the title, Miramar Bay. Many years ago, I read a book titled Beachcombing at Miramar by Richard Bode and I have been fascinated by this place ever since. I don’t even know if Bode’s Miramar is the same as Bunn’s Miramar, but it didn’t matter. It was the Miramar of my dreams. Second, one of the critics had likened Bunn’s work to that of Nicholas Sparks and I am a fan of his work. I figured if Bunn’s book was half as good as a Sparks’ books, then I would definitely enjoy it. I have not been disappointed at all. I don’t like overly mushy romance stories and thankfully, this one is not that kind of romance at all. It is a whispering of romance, a remembrance of how beautiful falling in love can be, a craving for another’s soul, the tragedy of broken hearts and the joy of renewed love.

Bunn’s writing is casual, sensual, and effortless as he weaves a powerful story of loss, regret, friendships and love. The characters are rich, inviting and so well-developed. You cannot help but fall in love with them. The settings are beautifully written. You can place yourself there, sitting and watching the sunrises or strolling about the lovely town of Miramar Bay and eating at Castaway’s. The plot is well thought out. From the moment you begin reading this novel, you know something spectacular will happen. Second chances, renewed interests in old dreams, and community support are all highlighted in this gorgeous story. For anyone, like me, who enjoys romantic stories without all of the mush and sex, then this novel is definitely for you.

Note: I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book on Goodreads Giveaways for an honest review. 

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Genre Fiction

To Purchase: Amazon (pre-order, release date March 28, 2017 – Kindle and Hardcover)

 

Health Update – Flu Edition #3

Hello dear friends and readers. Just an update on my health. It has now been over two weeks since I caught that nasty flu bug. I am mostly better, but still not 100%. The cough has lingered and so has the fatigue. As some of you know, I have a suppressed immune system from taking chemo several years back, so any time I get sick, it takes me far longer than normal to get well again. But, not only have I been trying to take care of me, I have also been taking care of my dad. We are both on the road to recovery.

Some things I have been doing to help take care of myself:

  • lots of rest
  • using cayenne pepper and garlic in all of my soups and broths (still the only things I’ve been able to keep down)
  • taking high dosages of Vitamin C (2000 mgs twice a day)
  • drinking ginger and tulsi (holy basil) teas – (thank you to tigre23 for suggesting the ginger tea!)
  • dry brushing and hot showers

Although I’ve had the severe cough, I didn’t get the gunk in my chest like my dad did. I attribute this to the cayenne pepper, garlic and ginger. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my dad to use these remedies. His went into pneumonia, while mine has just been irritating. My brother took my advice about cayenne pepper and hot sauce, so his never got more severe than an annoying cough too. We all plan on kicking my sister squarely in the arse on her next visit for giving us this nasty flu *laughs*

I have the desire to jump back into all of my writing projects, but since I am still so fatigued, I am going to hold off until the end of the month. Hopefully within the next 6 days, the sluggishness will have vanquished and I will be able to do more than just sleep all day. I miss all of you and look forward to engaging with you all again soon. Much love and blessings to you all!

Writing Contests, Publishers, & Lit Journals

Hello dear friends and readers. Just an update for my fellow writers. There is a little bit of everything here for writers of all genres and poets.  Here are some links to upcoming writing contests, manuscript publishers and some Lit Journals:

Writing Contests, Grants & Awards

62 Poetry Manuscript Publishers Who Do Not Charge Reading Fees

16 Publishers with Excellent Distribution That Accept Unsolicited Submissions

25 Literary Journals That Publish Genre Writing

I hope you find these helpful/useful. Much love!

Health Update – Flu Edition #2

Hello, dear friends and readers. Just an update on this nasty flu that caught up with me. I am still sick. It’s the upper respiratory thing with fever that is keeping me down. It has been nearly two weeks now and since I am following the path a few days behind my dad and brother, it is safe to say that it will probably be another week before I feel well enough to begin writing again. The worst part is the constant coughing. I’ve been to the doc and there is no pneumonia, which is a good thing. My dad wasn’t so lucky. He is worse off than I am with this upper respiratory issue.

This is what really bothers me with the mandatory flu vaccine for nurses. The nurse gets the vaccine and becomes a carrier of the flu. Even if the nurse doesn’t get sick, anyone she/he comes into contact with can get the flu, especially if that person didn’t get the vaccine. This is the case with my sister who is a nurse. She did get sick and brought that here to us. We don’t take the flu vaccine in this house. My parents never believed in taking any unnecessary vaccines, and it’s been proven year after year that the flu vaccine doesn’t immune against all strands of the flu. Anyway, enough of my soap box.

Suffice to say, I don’t know when I will be well again. I spend most of my time in bed – sleeping, watching Netflix or reading. I just don’t have the energy for anything else. All writing projects are on hold until I am well. Thank you all for your kind words and I will see you all again soon, I hope.

 

Short Story Review – A Cerberus Jaw by Lee A. Jackson

686f98a501e1b33f99ae82901beb3587b54123d2.jpg

A Cerberus Jaw by Lee A. Jackson is a 13-page (7,460 words) Fantasy short story. Jackson introduces the reader to Clay, a man who lives his life via order and routine. He must walk the same path each day to meet Elsa (his wife) at Mrs. Quinn’s Tea Room and perform a shaving ritual each day. Along that path, he encounters a dog that he has named Cerberus who quickly becomes Clay’s nemesis. A fear of this beast grows, but because of his need for order and routine, Clay forces himself to pass the corner house where this dog is fenced in instead of crossing the street to avoid it. Everything changes after the Coffee Bang. Instead of order, Clay’s grief causes his life to spiral into chaos. During his shaving ritual one morning after the Coffee Bang, Clay discovers a black strip along his jaw – a black, sucking hole that confuses, fascinates and consumes him.

Jackson tells this story in the present with flashbacks to the moment of the Coffee Bang. This weaving of the past and the present allows the reader to witness the breakdown of reality in Clay’s life. It also creates suspense. Just what is this Coffee Bang and what does it have to do with the black hole in Clay’s jaw?

Jackson is a clever storyteller, one who slowly builds upon the story by dropping small hints along the way that entices and encourages the reader to keep reading to the very end. His characters are well-developed, the settings are masterfully descriptive, and the scenes of the Coffee Bang are rich in details. What I enjoy most about this story is the way Jackson uses Cerberus as a metaphor for fear, loss and grief throughout the entire story.

Rating: 5 Stars

Genre: Fantasy

To Purchase: Smashwords

Lee A. Jackson’s Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook

 

Health Update – Flu Edition

Hello dear friends and readers. Just wanted to take a moment to let you know why I’ve been absent. Story time….

Around the 28th or so of December (I can’t even remember the exact day now), my sister came to visit after Christmas. She is a nurse and works in a hospital and as such, she was required to take the flu shot. She came down with a horrible case of the flu. She hadn’t fully recovered when she came to visit. My dad and brother caught it first from her. She has a habit of kissing people on the mouth, but I don’t like that from her (feels phony and well.. I have issues with her so-called sisterly love) and I usually turn my head, but dad and brother didn’t.

Anyway, so they got sick and for about four days, I was okay. But now I too am sick and have been for several days as well. It is a horrible case of flu – the cough and congestion, the stomach issues and of course the overall body aches and continual fevers. This is far worse than what I had in November and I thought that was pretty bad. Anyway, I was a bit prepared this time (since I saw what dad and brother were going through) and have taken better care of myself during the whole ordeal – drinking lots of fluids, sipping broths and taking meds – but I am still sick and quite weak and just don’t have the energy to do anything but sleep.

I had hoped to be better by tomorrow and begin my round of writings again, but it just isn’t going to happen and for once, I am not going to push myself.

I hope all of you are well and if any of you are sick, you have my sympathies. This is a horrible flu that is going around. Please take care of yourselves. I’ll be seeing you all, when I recover fully. Much love and blessings.