All posts by Rolland Kling

Morgan C. Talbot “Smugglers & Scones”

Smugglers and Scones cover revealAuthor Morgan C. Talbot offers up a smart, smirky cozy mystery in Smugglers & Scones. As mysteries go, I tend more towards hard-boiled fare, but sometimes change is good. In this case, the change was very good! I honestly didn’t want to put my Kindle Fire down.

This is a first-person affair with Oregon Coast bed-and-breakfast queen Pippa Winterbourne running the show in Moorehaven. Well, at least when Rex and Svetlana, her feline fans, aren’t in charge.

I’ve spent time in Oregon, and my visits were always blanketed with fog and buffeted with cold. Probably nothing has changed, by in Scones, Pippa’s business is the former home of a world-famous mystery writer, and her guests arrive daily to wallow in writers’ block or finish their little darlings and get the pages off to their publishers. That sounds fine for me. Might as well be inside writing if the weather’s a bit blocky outside.

Of course I wouldn’t have kept reading without that tricky murder and the clues leading a call-back to Prohibition days. Yeah, there’s plenty here to keep you reading, enjoying, and pondering what’s up next as you reach the end of each chapter. Really an enjoyable read.

Michael Bernhart “How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive”

HHow Speleology - book coverIf the title of Michael Bernhart’s latest book is confusing, don’t feel bad. Speleology is the study of caves and cave systems, and you already know about sex drives, but the snake? Well, I think Bernhart is selling himself short here because this is the third book in a four book series and it reads well, but the titles aren’t helping to get readers. That’s unfortunate, and while he almost lost me because of the cover, I did start reading the story, and it was interesting.

The truth is that How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive is a good clean (mostly) read about a family that travels to Georgia to hunt lost treasure left during the Civil War. It draws on a possibly true legend of lost gold and presents some characters with colorful back stories of their own.

Bernhart writes in first-person and the main character, Max, tells us about his wife Sally and their two twins, who somehow manage to convince their parents to go on the treasure hunt in the first place. Much of the story is tongue-in-cheek, although there are some serious issues involved when the foursome is forced to interact with the Ku Klux Klan, who is also searching for the same treasure. Needless to say, struggles ensue.

This is a 265-page, easy-reading book set in 1993. It’s available on Kindle for $2.99, and you are likely to enjoy the read.

 

Sorting Through the Reviews to Come

Thanks so much for the many review requests. I’m almost up to February 1, so progress is being made. There were 268 emails regarding reviews last week. The list has been narrowed. If I didn’t pick your book, take heart, sometimes your story just isn’t in my wheelhouse for the week. I’m selective, moody, prone to snap judgments, and I make mistakes, lots of them, but know that I read everything, so the better your cover, title, blurb, and the start of your book, the better chance you have of a review.

And, I don’t reply to emails unless I choose a book, and I only choose books that are pitched by the actual author. Those of you who send out daily “here is a great book we represent,” forget it.

Beyond that, I read and review what gets my interest quickly. Remember, you have less than 30-seconds with the average book buyer. I’ll give you about two minutes, but if you don’t hook me, I swim away.

I read the first few paragraphs of a book today and the author wrote (paraphrasing to protect the innocent) that the main character could feel his attacker’s hot breath on his neck as he was being choked, and then started the next paragraph by saying that the main character sensed the approach of attacker number three. What?

Where was attacker number two? You wrote it was an attacker, not attackers. I’m sorry, but it’s the first page and you already lost me. This is inexcusable. If this is what you send me, sorry, no review. Better luck elsewhere and please consider letting someone else read your work before you upload it to Kindle. Obviously, the problem with a mistake like this is that the story might have been great, but I’ll never know!

Please keep in mind that I only review books that are available on Kindle right now. No prerelease or ARC’s. Alright, I’m bored with my rant and there is no excuse for not getting more reviews done, so a new book story will be out soon. Take care, and good reading.

 

Tess Thompson – Author Interview

Tess_photo

Being an author isn’t the easiest job in the world, but when you approach it with grace and determination, good things are likely to happen. Our interview with Tess Thompson.

Why do you love to write?

I love to write stories about redemption and second chances, particularly as they relate to finding love again. I’m always drawn to stories that are hopeful in nature, based on human decency and feature characters who are honorable and brave.

Where do your ideas come from?

I’m inspired by the stories of real people in my own life and those I hear about on the news. I’m amazed by what people can endure and still get up every morning to fight another day. The cruelty of some baffles me, particularly in the electronic age where we can hide behind computers and spread hate. But as disheartening as that is, all around us are people doing the opposite. Spreading love, giving of themselves with no expectation of anything in return, laying down their lives so that others might live, sacrificing of themselves for the good of others, loving despite incredible loss and pain. Ordinary heroes are all around us if you look close enough. They inspire me.

What is your background?

I grew up in a small town in Oregon surrounded in the love of my family and our community. After graduation from high school, I earned a degree in Drama at USC. With my degree in hand, I moved back to the Pacific Northwest and became a receptionist, which led into a fifteen-year career in business. During that time, I worked in small theaters in Seattle as an actor and director. My yearning to write, however, was always a primary goal. Once I figured out I was a novelist and not a playwright, everything fell into place.

Who is your favorite author or favorite book?

There are too many authors to name, but my first love will always be To Kill a Mockingbird.

What do you want say in your current book Riversnow

Riversnow is about courage. A particular kind of bravery displayed by women who must go on after suffering through sexual assault. I wrote it for all the friends I’ve known over the years who suffered through such experiences, often at the hands of men in their inner circle – men they should have been able to trust. It saddens me to think how many. However, like my character, Gennie, they fought hard to regain their lives after the violence, taking down the inner and outer demons who wanted to destroy them. These women are the embodiment of courage.

Author Tess Thompson is obviously unafraid of tackling serious subjects in her novels, but she surrounds her protagonist with real people, characters that have depth and lives of their own. They aren’t just background scene painting so the topic at hand isn’t the only reason keeping readers turning the pages.

Riversnow is coming soon, May 2, 2017 to be exact, and fourth in the very successful River Valley Series. The first novel in this series, Riversong, has more than 600, 4 and 5 Star Reviews at Amazon, so this latest book is much anticipated. It is priced at $3.99, but it’s free for those with Kindle Unlimited.

Riversnow_tease

 

 

 

Jon Grimcrafter – Author Interview

Mysteries of the MacabreIn the world of Horror short stories, Stephen King rules all. His Kindle books dominate the top twenty list with six entries and 14 of his books are found in the top 40. What’s a new author to do? Dream on?

Well, there’s really nothing that can be done except offer up to the gods and the masses an exceptional collection of horror stories that capture a reader’s imagination right from the first words spilled across the pages like blood. And, it seems Jon Grimcrafter has done just that.

His book, Mysteries of the Macabre, is now available on Kindle with176 pages of frightfully strange and eerie stories. Nine of them. Each better than the last. The book is part of Kindle Unlimited, so it’s free for those in KU, $1.99 for everyone else.

As for the author, the name is excellent. Really. Grimcrafter. So cool. As for the book, the stories remind me of Stephen King, maybe Clive Barker. Perhaps even Edgar Allan Poe, since the book starts with a poem.

Q: So, Jon, why do you write, and what do you want to say in this book of short stories?

A: Writing for me is cathartic: a method to transform my internal demons into dark plots and nightmarish characters.

Q: That sounds scary all by itself. Where did your idea’s for the stories in this book come from?

A: It is a mystery where my ideas come from for not even I can trace their origins. Perhaps they come from everything I’ve seen, heard and done all permuted and disfigured into one blob of horror, fantasy, and magic.

 

Q: I liked what you said about nightmares, that they can be beautiful if a master engineers them correctly. Want to give a lead-in to a couple of your book’s stories?

A: How about “Serial killer Jack has a severed human head in the freezer. That head will come back to haunt him,” and “Zendra’s own parents give her up to be sacrificed in a satanic ritual. She manages to escape, but why does everyone she sleeps with die within the hour?”

Thanks, Jon, those definitely fit the Horror genre.

You want a good scary book to read? Be careful what you wish for!

Kindle Storyteller Contest

If you haven’t heard about the Kindle Storyteller Contest, you’ve missed a big promo with lots of opportunities. The simple rules are entering is open to new English Language books in all genres. The work must be unpublished, at least 5,000 words and available as an ebook and in print. Alright, that’s not quite all.

You must submit using Kindle Direct publishing and to enter the contest, authors include the exact phrase “StorytellerUK2017” in the keywords metadata field and enroll their book in KDP Select. And, it’s open until 19 May 2017.

Yeah, the UK part is a bit of a tell. You see this is also called the Storyteller UK. You must be at least 18 years old and publish your book through KDP on Amazon.co.uk. But, it’s not just restricted to UK residents. The only restrictions are to national or legal permanent resident of any of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria or Region of Crimea.

First prize is:

£20,000

Want more info? Check it out at Amazon.

 

 

Shawn Hartje “Pipeliner”

Pipeliner Book CoverThink of your days in high school and tell me you don’t wonder what would have happened if things had gone just a little differently; a different best friend, a better second date, or more success with the popular kids, sports, or other entertaiment. Get the picture? That’s what Shawn Hartje shoots for in Pipeliner, a coming of age story about a kid growing up in Idaho (you da pimp) but “bound for glory in Portland and Seattle, exotic places where he planned to become a famous rock guitarist—once he escaped from Helen Springs, population 58,000 and hub town of southern Idaho.”

When you are 17, everything is possible, and everything you want is out of reach, even in  Jason Krabb’s world of the 1990’s, a punk/grunge guitarist wannabe trying to make it with a new crew in town, girls and guys, bringing gas lines through the land. Pipeliners.

Hartje has direction in his writing, a plan to bring some wit and sense to everyone’s younger days. The writing is descriptive, if slightly direct-narrative, the plot moderate and filled with the sex-topics of high schoolers and after-high schoolers in a “what did you do on your summer vacation,” saga. Nostalgic for yesteryear? Then this story is tuned to the right station for you.

Pipeliner runs 248 pages, published by Helen Springs Press in late November, 2016. Kindle edition is $3.99.

 

 

 

Wayne Kerr “Ric-a-dam-doo”

ric-a-dam-doo-book-coverWayne Kerr’s novel, Ric-A-Dam-Doo: The Snow Devils Kindle Edition opens with a five-man crew of soldiers arriving in a foreign port. They are from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s 2nd Battalion arriving for a covert operation. They are met with skepticism and derision by an officer expecting Navy Seals. She doesn’t know about the soldiers from the Great White North.

The title of this book may also be met with confusion. If you don’t know (I certainly didn’t), Ric-a-dam-doo is the nickname for the original camp flag of the PPCLI – a phonetic bastardization of the Gaelic saying: cloth of thy mother. The soldiers of the PPCLI would rather lose an arm than see their battalion badge (sewn to their uniform) damaged. A hearty bunch no doubt.

Kerr’s writing is very strong, his story-telling skills fine. He draws the reader quickly into battle, filling the pages with secret operations and then leads the main characters to a heart breaking incident years later.

This isn’t a war novel in the classic sense, it’s a crime thriller in which a retired PPCLI soldier and his retired Interpol agent wife are swept into fighting a Mexican gang of slave traders. Characters have weight, operations make sense, and the whole story is scary, thrilling and plausible.

 

At 290 pages, you can easily get lost in this novel, published in April of 2016 by Canusa. Right now it’s $2.99 on Kindle or free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

 

 

Kelly Stock “The Soul Guide”

soul-guide-book-coverFor those of you with a bent for paranormal dark fantasy, Kelly Stock’s The Soul Guide may be just what you are looking for. Set in Clayhill Manor and the dark recesses it offers, Bertram the Caretaker holds the keys to every door, even the one that leads to a land of memories and dreams found beyond a waterfall. Still, Bertram is heartbroken. He has lost his mate, Melissa, the Soul Guide.

The cast includes a newly chosen Soul Guide, Sybil, and her friend Alex, ready to learn the secrets and fend off the Master and the Mephisto, who have been biding their time, waiting for a show of weakness to exploit and extinguish the light.

This story moves at a leisurely pace, great for a lunchtime read or the time before bed when you unwind and then wind up with a good book. Just published on the 18th of February, you can get a copy now for 99-cents or free if you have Kindle Unlimited. The book runs 247 pages or about 5400 units on my Kindle Fire.

Michael P. Whateley “Operation Desert Swarm”

operation-desert-swarm-book-coverAuthor Michael P. Whateley presents a tense, taut, military saga in Operation Desert Swarm. The novel starts with Chris Murphy dominating the action, but there are several characters in this story. Eventually, the strong survive, and Steven Blackwood takes his place.

Blackwood (referred to as Steve, Steven, and Stephen) is a charter boat captain thrown into the mix by the crash of a plane near his boat, The Vagabond. It’s a jarring event, but it gives him a chance to connect again with the one who got away, the perfect catch, Dayna Rose.

You’ll need your thinking cap for this novel. Chapters start with new characters, new action and a mix of military and non-military personnel working together. The action and pacing are steady and include things that threw me, like the introduction of an NBC suit, which in the US is a guy that represents NBC TV, a worthless fellow in a tailored suit. Here in Operation Desert Swarm, an NBC is a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical protection suit. Cool. Read on, you’ll learn more.

Whateley’s characters are many, most with at least a little background. As the author says, Steve’s strong,  but is he strong enough to defeat the greatest enemy he’s ever yet had to face and reveal the truth hidden in the murky depths? You can find out.

This book is 241 pages, just released on Kindle. It is currently $4.36 and it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.