Author Interview: Benjamin Dancer

In the spotlight today is educator Benjamin Dancer. For the month of April, proceeds from his book will go to a local program, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, that brings local writers into the classrooms.

Thank you for your interview. Can you tell readers a little about yourself?

I’m an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School where I’ve made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. I’ve been writing my whole adult life, and I am am the author of the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. I have have three kids, and in addition to the fiction, I also write about parenting and education.

April is a month-long fundraiser for a local writing program, the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, that brings authors into the classroom. What do folks have to do to contribute to this great cause?

To contribute you can purchase PATRIARCH RUN in print or ebook on Amazon or in ebook on Smashwords. Word of mouth is very effective. So you could let other people know about the book, too. The best way to help connect PATRIARCH RUN to its audience would be to write an honest review on Amazon. All April proceeds go to the fundraiser!

 What does a typical day for you look like?

I get up around 4am to write every morning. These days, it’s to market the novel. I take my kids to school with me where I teach. And at about 5pm, we all get home. There’s dinner. Correspondence to catch up on. And by then I’m pretty spent. I tuck in the kids and hit the pillow myself.

Where do you like to write?

I write about fathers. Identity. Those are the themes that interest me.

What inspired you to write Patriarch Run?

I wanted to address themes mentioned above in a format men and boys would read. So I chose the thriller genres to carry the meaning I had hoped to convey.

How did you come to choose the title?

The story is about fathers. PATRIARCH. It’s a thriller, in which the rule is that the protagonist is always under threat, always moving. RUN.

How did you come up with and develop the idea behind Patriarch Run?

More than I am a teacher, I mentor young people as they come of age. I took the universal themes I witness in the lives of my students. Themes about the longing for a father. Themes about identity. And I made them literally happen in the story. Billy is on a quest to find his dad. Rachel, his mother, literally has to save herself. No one is going to save us in life. My students, you and I, we have to save ourselves. Learn to love ourselves. Be gentle with ourselves. This is Rachel’s quest.

Do you have any books in the works?

Once PATRIARCH RUN find its audience, I’ll bring out IN SIGHT OF THE SUN, a story about a White Mountain Apache boy going on his first raid into Mexico with his grandfather. Then FIDELITY, a story about a father who lost his son and became obsessed with his own grief. Followed by the sequel to PATRIARCH RUN.

What are your future goals as a writer?

I’d like to start by connecting with an audience. Then I’d like to contribute something meaningful to the lives of my readers.

What do you want readers to take away from Patriarch Run?

My hope is that you will be entertained. That you will carry the characters and themes. That they might provoke you. Maybe even help you.

Title: Patriarch Run                                                                                   Displaying paper front4.png
Author: Benjamin Dancer
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 312 pages
Series?: The Father Trilogy
Genre: Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon 

Benjamin DancerAbout the Author

Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novelsPATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Guest Post by Benjamin Dancer

In the spotlight today is educator Benjamin Dancer’s recent novel, Patriarch Run. For the month of April, proceeds from his book will go to a local program, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, that brings local writers into the classrooms.

Bringing Authors into the Classroom

I teach writing to high school students. But I don’t see myself as a high school teacher. My job, as I see it, is to mentor young people as they come of age.

I’m an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood, Colorado. I’m the English teacher. But the kids in my classroom are looking for more than English. They’re looking for meaning. They’re looking for something real.

Right now I’m teaching The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I use the text to teach the kids to read. I use the ideas in the book to teach them to think. And the story Pollan tells about food…I use that as a guide for our own educational adventures in the food chain. Like Pollan does in the book, we visit farms. Food markets. I bought the kids McDonalds then drove them to a feedlot with a 100,000 head of cattle that filled our nostrils with the stench of feces and urine. The poop was piled twenty feet high by tractors. The cows were covered in it up to their spines. Our lungs were singed from the ammonia.

I had the kids eat the burgers and take it all in.

Later in the semester I had the students interview their oldest living relatives. Out of that interview, the students brought traditional recipes to class, and we prepared meals together.

This week we’re discussing the ethics of eating. I have them justify it: their choice to eat, which is to say their choice to kill. I do this because I want them to be on solid moral ground. I do this because I want their bodies to be well.

Why? Because I’m their English teacher. It’s my job.

I also facilitate a writers’ group. Because I believe kids need mentors (more than just me), I partner with Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a Denver based community, to bring local authors into my classroom.

We meet at lunch every Wednesday, the writers’ group. This is a very committed group of writers (some students have graduated and still participate in the group via email from college). They take their writing seriously and provide one another with thoughtful, constructive feedback.

Once a month, we have a guest author. The guest author actually reads the week’s submission and critiques it, along with the rest of us. Imagine being seventeen years old and having your story critiqued by a published author.

After the critique session, we invite any interested student in the school to a craft talk with the author. After which, the kids get an opportunity to interact more openly. They get to ask questions about the writing process. About inspiration. About how to get published.

What’s really happening is that relationships are being developed. This is the secret to education. They can pass any law they want at the state or at the federal level. They can mandate testing. Or they can sell our schools to corporate enterprises. None of that will fix the problem we have with education in America.

Because the answer is this: teaching is about relationships. Kids need mentors. It’s that simple. They learn from the people they trust.

What happens in this guest author program is magical. Kids begin to see themselves as writers. They develop authentic relationships with authors in the community. They have consultants.

At my school, every student completes a Career Exploration Passage. It’s one of six rites of passages each student undertakes to graduate from high school. In the Career Exploration Passage, as the title indicates, students explore a career. The project involves an internship, research, consultants, a series of interviews, a resume. And eventually the student maps out a path to his or her chosen field.

The beauty of the curriculum at the Open School is that the students I work with get to consult with actual professionals. They get to interview our guest authors and develop relationships that will last long after high school is over.

To make all this work I went to our school’s Parent Teacher Student Organization(PTSO) and asked for $50 a month to bring local authors into the classroom. The parents on PTSO generously supported the program, and they also asked me to consider ways to raise money to pay for it.

It was a reasonable request on their part, responsible even, but I had to think about it. What could I do to help support my own program?

Meanwhile, I went to Lighthouse Writers Workshop and told them what our PTSO was willing to do. Lighthouse generously matched my school’s contribution.

So we had $100 a month to bring local authors into the school. Not much. But money communicates value. By paying authors what we can, we let them know that we value their profession. Their work. Moreover, writers are hungry, and, so far, the guest authors have been grateful for the gig.

This week we’re hosting Caleb Seeling, the publisher at Conundrum Press. Caleb also writes graphic novels.

Then it finally came to me a few weeks ago: how to raise money for the program. I had a book release pending for my literary thriller Patriarch Run. It occurred to me that I could donate the April proceeds to PTSO and, in that way, raise money to support the guest author program at the Open School.

Which is what we’re doing. It’s a good book. It’s a good cause. And we’d welcome your support.

If you’d like to know more about our amazing school (there have been many books written about it), let me know. And if you’d like to learn more about me or my stories, you could drop me a line about that, too.

Displaying paper front4.pngThank you for finding me,

Benjamin Dancer

Title: Patriarch Run
Author: Benjamin Dancer
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 312 pages
Series?: The Father Trilogy
Genre: Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon 

Benjamin DancerAbout the Author

Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novelsPATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Spotlight & Excerpt ~ Patriarch Run

In the spotlight today is educator Benjamin Dancer’s recent novel, Patriarch Run. For the month of April, proceeds from his book will go to a local program, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, that brings local writers into the classrooms.

Displaying paper front4.pngTitle: Patriarch Run
Author: Benjamin Dancer
Release Date: April 2014
Length: 312 pages
Series?: The Father Trilogy
Genre: Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon 

Synopsis

Billy discovers that his father might be a traitor, that he was deployed to safeguard the United States from a cyberattack on its military networks. After that mission, his father disappeared along with the Chinese technology he was ordered to steal–a weapon powerful enough to sabotage the digital infrastructure of the modern age and force the human population into collapse. 

Against a backdrop of suspense, the story explores the archetypal themes of fatherhood, coming of age and self-acceptance through a set of characters that will leave you changed.

Excerpt

Rachel never rode over the summit of the mountain because of the treacherous nature of that trail. It was against all rational judgement that she found herself on it now. At tree line the horse climbed over the ridge, stepped out of the spruce forest and onto the packed scree that made up the trail from there to the tundra. The mountainside below them gave way completely to granite cliffs.
The trail snaked along the top.
At the highest point among the cliffs, with nearly a thousand feet of empty space beneath the hooves of Old Sam, Rachel spotted two figures several hundred yards in the distance. She talked to the horse. Said she couldn’t be sure, but it looked to be a man and a bristlecone pine.
The horse walked on.
“Watch your step, Old Sam.”
As they closed the distance, Rachel recognized him and saw that he was untying a rope from the gnarled tree.
“You couldn’t have picked a better view.”
Regan had looked at her once when he first heard the hooves on the scree, then he went back to his rope. Now he looked up at her face. Looked the horse over. Then he studied her eyes. She had divined his purpose.
He looked away. “Yeah, it’ll do.”
The two knew each other, but had rarely had cause to speak.
“I don’t mean to meddle, but it seems to me that the rope is ill conceived.”
Regan finished retying the rope to the tree, tested the knot and asked, “How so?”
“Too much length, and the wind, along with your own momentum, will lacerate your flesh against the rock.”
He looked over the edge. “That occurred to me as you were coming up. I shortened the rope.”
“Not enough length, and it’ll be slow and painful.”
He studied the coil of parachute cord on the ground and said with very little inflection. “It looks about right to me.” Then he walked over to a granite boulder.
“Seems you’ve thought it through.”
He sat down and pulled off his right boot. “We’ll see.”
Rachel reached behind her and took out a water bottle. Drank. She offered the bottle to Regan with a gesture.
He put out his lower lip and shook his head almost imperceptibly.
She capped it and put it back.
“Mind if I ask you a question?”
“Go ahead.” He pulled off the other boot.
“Why the rope and the cliff?”
“Coyotes.”
“I don’t follow.”
“When I was a kid, coyotes killed my dog. I heard the fight, but by the time I found her in the dark, they were already feeding on her guts.” He took off both socks and stood up. “They pulled her insides out through her anus.” He stepped over to the precipice and surveyed the valley.
“How old were you?”
“Six.”
Rachel nodded her head, which he didn’t see.
“With only the rope or only the cliff, I’d be left for the coyotes.”
“But this way it’s only insects and birds.”
He spun to face her, his widened eyes betraying surprise–or maybe alarm.
“Birds always eat the eyeballs first,” she continued. “Must be a delicacy to them. The insects just want a womb for their maggots. A nutrient-rich source to give their young a good start.”
Regan fidgeted with the socks in his hands.
“You could’ve picked a high branch.”
He looked distracted, as if he was still digesting the other image. “I thought of that.” He walked over to his boots, unbuttoning his silk shirt.
“Yeah.”
“A bear could cut the rope.”
“It seems you’ve thought it through.”
He took off his shirt, folded it and set it on a rock. “We’ll see.”
Rachel looked back over the trail. “Well, I best be goin’.”
“OK.”
She turned the horse, “Those are some fancy clothes.”
“Yeah.” He took off his belt. “The boots alone cost me eleven hundred dollars, and that was before tax.”
“I suppose it’s fitting.”
“It seemed that way to me, too, down at the house. But after being up here, I don’t think so.”
“How so?”
He wasn’t looking at her anymore. “I think I’ll be more comfortable without them.”
“What are you going to do with those eleven hundred dollar boots?”
He carried the clothes over to the bristlecone tree, put the boots on top of the folded shirt, the socks inside the boots and the belt around the boots. “Come back and get ’em if you like.”
“Well, I best be gettin’ along.”
“Ok.”
“You know my place?”
“I know it.”
“We’ll be sittin’ down for supper around six. Sirloin and potatoes. If you have a mind to, you’re welcome to stop by.”
He picked up the loose end of the parachute cord and started tying a hangman’s noose. “I appreciate that.”

Benjamin DancerAbout the Author

Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. He wrote the novelsPATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. 

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: The Flirting Field Guide

Title: The Flirting Field Guide
Author: Myrna Kirk
Publisher: Dating Books
Release Date: April 2013
Length: 50 pages
Series?: Across the Universe #3
Genre: self-help, dating
Format: e-book
Source: agent

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis

How To Flirt and Get Any Woman

I Believe Any Man Can Get The Woman of His Dreams With These Proven Principles

You could be just a one flirty conversation away from meeting the woman of your dreams! In this book you will learn:

How To Overcome Anxiety, Fear and Low Self Esteem

In this life-changing book by Myrna Kirk, you will learn the keys to overcoming anxiety, fear, low self esteem. Did you know that low self-confidence in men is one of the biggest turnoffs for women – especially gorgeous, attractive women who are approached regularly by other guys.

Using some simple, proven strategies, you can conquer fear and anxiety and learn to be self-confident when you’re talking to and flirting with women.

How To Build Attraction and Make Her Beg To See You Again

One of the biggest mistakes men make when flirting is coming on too strong or too directly. Women love mystery and intrigue, and nothing will turn her off faster than saying “I want you!” or anything that directly states your interest in her. Instead, you must learn to indirectly communicate your interest in her and give her mixed signals through teasing and playfulness that make her wonder, “Is this guy really interested in me or not?” Unless she’s wondering, you have no hope!

Review

This is my second self-help book to read this month. I received this book quite a while back, and squeezed it in my reading schedule. I am very proud of myself for reading it, as I have been putting it off since it’s not my typical cup of tea.

First, please note the page length. I read this in 45 minutes. I would not consider this a guide chock full of resources.

While reading Kirk’s instructions to men, I couldn’t help but scoff at some of the things she said about women. At various points, all I could think was, “If some guy did that to me, it’d be adios asshat! Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

However, she did put a lot of emphasis on the fact that for women, it’s about the journey (not the destination) that is important, while for men it’s the exact opposite. Men want to see results (the destination)…and in most cases, don’t give two flips about the journey, but that men need to develop that mystery and romanticism to help the journey. I very much agree.

If nothing else, this is an interesting read on someone’s perspective of what is needed to date women.

About the Author

Myrna Kirk has worked in the area of personal empowerment and individual development for the past 12 years. She designs and facilitates workshops and seminars that assist participants to discover their greatest potential as individuals and find ways to better connect with others in their lives. She has a Master’s Degree in counseling psychology and is currently working on a series of books that specifically deals with the challenges people face developing and sustaining personal and romantic relationships. She lives with her partner in the picturesque town of Parys, South Africa.

Book Review: In Time

 

Title: In Time
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: December 2012
Length: 161 pages
Series?: The Legacy #2
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

16282463

Synopsis

“Remember only this: magic must be used. Magic grows over time, and its time must not be wasted. Never forget that.” So warns Anna, the last witch of the Mallace family line.

Carin inherits Mallace Mansion only to learn her life there will not be what she expected. Magic grows, time slips, and Carin meets an enemy she never knew she had.

Carin’s isolation grows as Griffin pulls away and darkness draws near. Then, Carin learns a secret Anne Mallace never had time to tell her.

At Mallace Mansion, ghosts may haunt young Carin, but she’s learned to deal with them. To survive the Legacy, Carin finds she must make peace with her past. Trouble is, she’s not sure she can do it.

Review

This is the second installment of the Legacy Series. My review of the first book, Open Door, is available here.

I said the first book strung readers along and left us hanging. Well, Locke has done it again! Except this time, I had absolutely no idea where this mysterious  train of a book was headed.

Carin is now fully recognized as the heir to Mallace Mansion, and sees to its every need. Anne’s ghost is no longer the old, guiding light she was for Carin in the first book. Now she has reverted to a much younger image of herself, and is not quite the same as readers saw her in the first book.

This book largely follow’s Carin’s depression and reliving of her attack during the summer, which took place in the first book (Open Door). It was really hard for me to get through reading the first 30% or so of the book because it was all about Carin fearing her attack, having nightmares, thinking about her attack, being scared and sad, and using her anchor to Mallace Mansion as a crutch not to leave (even to go into town for needed items) even more.

I don’t know how I didn’t catch this in the first book, given how sinister it turned out to be with the unknowns of the Legacy and crazy Aunt Helen, but Mallace Mansion….Mallace…bad…evil…harm…Hmmmmm. Just a thought to keep in mind.

Carin’s mother Amanda has officially moved to town, taken up residence and is using her true name and identity: Amanda Mallace. She has bought a quaint little home and is no longer on the run from the Legacy.

Carin has her Protector, Griffin, as part of the fulfillment of the Legacy…until he tells her he is going to be away for a while, with little explanation or information.

Meanwhile, Carin has tutors come to the mansion to continue her education, and she finds two very unexpected house guests at Mallace Mansion. Anne recommends a certain journal to Carin to retrieve. Carin ignores Anne’s suggestion, and takes the journal of a notoriously infamous Legacy holder who was quite pessimistic and in my opinion just a downright prissy, dramatic brat. Reading Leticia’s journal starts to have funny effects on Carin’s thoughts about her relationships – and actually has a negative impact on her actions towards Griffin.

Carin’s first house guest is another Legacy holder – sent from another time, another country. This visitor has learned that Carin has fought the darkness – an evil thing that can take any form that has haunted Legacies – trying to control and destroy and create chaos. Carin has a few run-ins with the darkness. She has to find a way to save Mallace Mansion and its power from the darkness. She uses Anne and her new visitor as resources…as well as her second visitor, who has actually been a resident of Mallace Mansion since its inception. This resident, though, is not what she seems to be. Her motives are not pure, and she has a very ugly side that Carin soon sees.

I don’t feel that Carin had as much character growth in this installment as she did in the first, but readers do see more aspects of her life: her relationship with Griffin, her relationships with her mother, and new relationships with her new guests.

I enjoyed learning about the history of the Legacy in the first book, and more history was revealed in this book, but I will say that this book was a little harder to follow. I felt there was a jump somewhere in the storyline that was not a smooth transition. I felt like I was missing a chapter out of the book. 

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Open Door

15743009Title: Open Door
Author: Christine Locke
Release Date: June 2012
Length: 147 pages
Series?: The Legacy #1
Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Even the most eerie haunting is just a secret, living in a darkened room with open doors, more shunned than unknown. All around it know it well yet wish to live as if they did not. Children whisper, adults hush, and legends grow. Everyone grows up acquainted, everyone learns to hide, and nothing blasts through the hypocrisy like the entrance of an outsider—unless it is the arrival of two of them. 

Carin White, 16 and in need of a summer job, agrees to help Aunt Helen move into her inherited property, Mallace Estate. In the mansion’s sprawling attic, Carin finds a large scrapbook with a familiar photograph. The first step on a perilous journey through dark secrets, meandering passageways, hidden chambers and murderous intentions, Carin’s discovery unveils her personal destiny and its required sacrifices. Mid-way through the story, a terrifying event compels Carin to make choices about who she is and how she will allow her world to see her. 

This novel does not involve vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels; it is a story about magic. An ancient but contained force enlivens Mallace Mansion, so the gothic house is a character in the story. The mansion’s life requires food, so it does occasionally consume a visitor. But such activity is kept to a minimum when a powerful woman controls the Legacy. Is Carin strong enough? Read The Legacy Series and find out.

Review

I have never quite encountered a book like this. Locke leaves much to the imagination, and let’s face it: she strings along her readers! I had no idea where Carin was headed, or what lay ahead for her. Her book is as much a mystery as Carin’s life has been up to this point.

I couldn’t ever quite figure out how old Carin was from reading the novel, but I learned quickly that even though she was shipped off to work for her “aunt” for the summer at her aunt’s newly-inherited mansion and grounds, she strictly followed her mothers rules. Indeed, she shares a moment in her past as a young child when she was hungry and ate a candy bar in the hotel room she shared with her mom, for which she earned a stringent lashing and had to purchase the candy bar out of her pitiful piggy bank.

I immensely enjoyed Anne Mallace when she showed up, and things started falling into place. More of the picture was revealed, but Locke still kept  me on the hook. In the end, Carin is faced with a surprising foe. I was shocked; I never saw it coming.

I enjoyed reading about the history of the legacy, and all of the intricacies of it and Mallace Mansion. I also grew fond of Carin as the book progressed. She is a sweet, kind soul, but quickly shows she’s smart as a whip and doesn’t let others cow her or two-time her. She grew into a nice little character, in my opinion.

This is a rather quick read, and I recommend giving this mysterious Legacy a chance.

About the Author

7da9d3fa0efb0ad8956ee0.L._V396534113_SY470_Christine Locke was born in California and grew up in various locations around the United States as a Navy brat. She was the oldest of six children and today is mother and step-mother to seven. She attended Texas A&M University, receiving her Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature in 1995.

Christine has worked as a writing instructor, a salesperson, and an award-winning retail manager and management trainer, among other things. Today, she co-ordinates makeovers for a local magazine. She and her husband, Mike, live with their children, two dogs, and two cats in Arkansas.

For years, Christine has been writing novels around her work and family life. Open Door is her first published novel.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Valley of Vice

Title: Valley of Vice
Author: Steve Garcia
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: August 2013
Length: 287 pages (paperback)
Series?: no?
Genre: Crime
Format: e-book
Source: agent

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

18815232

Synopsis

In Hollywood, it’s not just dreams that are easily snuffed out.

When a burned body is found on a studio lot, Detective Salvador Reyes and his partner Detective Philippa Wallace are on the scene. The mystery deepens when they identify the body as a felon named Bartholomew Pearl who should have been in jail for shooting a fellow detective. Then a city official, Theodor Simons, is found dead of an apparent suicide. 

Convinced the deaths are connected, and not everything is what it appears, Reyes and Wallace investigate. Their inquiries take a dangerous turn, pointing to someone in the police department itself. Soon it’s hard to know who is an enemy, and who is a friend.

Review

WOW. I don’t know if I can write a review that does this book justice. Steve Garcia has written an amazing novel that will keep you on your toes. True, there’s not much in terms of character development because it is a crime novel, but the unraveling of the cases that Wallace and Reyes (and the rest of their comrades in blue) will leave you turning page after page after page to discover who is behind all of the murders.

Wallace’s husband works for the FID, and he has become extremely stressed from his work. Finally, one night he tells his wife that they are working on an investigation in two specific PD’s where they think there is a dirty cop. Wallace keeps this thought close, but as things start unraveling it becomes harder and harder to recognize who is truly the good guy, and who is out for himself. I thought several times I knew who the dirty cop was, but I was proven wrong. Very wrong. And this dirty cop? He’s also a raging psycho, but somehow keeps it under wraps while on duty.

Wallace and Reyes are thorough in their investigations into several murders. In fact, they are the first to determine that the first murder and suicide are linked – and that they were both indeed homicide cases. Since FID has stepped in and taken over, there’s little for Wallace and Reyes to actually investigate without overstepping their bounds, so they find ways around it…and as the murders start piling up, it complicates the investigations and adds more and more questions to the mix. All they need is to find a man named Duke, who’s name was left in the councilman’s schedule book. Looking for Duke seems to be a wild goose chase with no leads.

Meanwhile, another pair of partners are sent to work with vice on a male prostitution sting. It’s not the best of assignments, but it’s their job. While working and monitoring the streets, another murder happens just down the street at an infamous hotel known to benefit from the local prostitution.

The officer who went undercover as a male prostitute is the cop who actually ends up identifying the psycho, dirty cop after the FID has essentially given up their investigation and turned over their findings to Wallace and Reyes…but they may just be too late to stop the final hit on his list.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a cop, or work in that environment, but I do believe that Gracia has strongly captured this in his novel. The relationships between partners, and others in their workforce, seems to be spot-on and adds to each character and gives authenticity to the novel as a whole.

I would definitely recommend this read! It is a very well-spun and slightly chilling read. I will admit: I read the entire novel in two settings, it was that good.

Book Review: Public Affairs

Title: Public Affairs
Author: Cassandra Carr
Publisher: C-Squared Publishing
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 166 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Romance/Erotica
Format: e-book
Source: Reading Group at Back Cover Promotions

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Synopsis

Nate O’Halloran is a PR superstar, an expert in crisis management for his image-conscious celebrity clients. When his college roommate, now a hospital director in Buffalo, calls to beg for his help– a cancer researcher on staff has disappeared with millions of dollars’ worth of government research funds– Nate agrees to help right away, though this situation is pretty small potatoes for him.

Val Chase, the hospital’s PR director, is none too thrilled when Nate shows up; does it mean her boss doesn’t trust her to handle this mess herself? Against her better judgment, Val decides she and Nate have to work together to save the hospital’s reputation, though the explosive attraction they feel is making any actual “work” difficult…

Review

I loved the story line of this book. It was great, although I was disappointed with the CCC hospital board’s decision toward the end of the book. It was unfair, but as was pointed out, they needed a scapegoat.

Now, despite the story line, I felt there was too much of a push for the romance/erotica of the relationship between Val and Nate. Like, way too much. Too overdone, to over the top, given that there was little character development of either of them in this novel. Carr has used the story line as a smokescreen for the blatant erotica she dumped in this book. I was caught very off guard by the amount. Yes, the first few episodes were perfectly placed, but then it seemed as if that’s all the book was about, with Val trying to push Nate away with her own issues with casual sex. Every time I flipped a page, Val was throwing up an excuse as to why she and Nate could not be together…and then she’d end up in a steamy session with him right after the words left her lips! I can relate, I understand the battle between morals and desire, but this lady is the epitome of a hypocrite in this sense.

I understood Nate’s character – I know plenty of guys like him – but he came to a realization and went after what he wanted, even with his change of heart…but Val…I just couldn’t buy her character. It was too much, too hard to believe in her. Not authentic.

The other negative I saw with this book was the ending. The story line was long and drug out, given the circumstances, but then all of a sudden it was like BOOM – THE END! The story line just stopped, and then it was the wrap up about Val and Nate.

With a little tweaking here and there, and toning down the overt and out-of-place erotica in this novel, I feel that I would have loved it and raved about it…but I can’t. It did not feel like an authentic read. I would still stay give it a shot for the story line, and I would be interested in other’s opinions.

4475585About the Author

Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning erotic romance writer with Ellora’s Cave, Sybarite Seductions/Twenty or Less Press, Decadent Publishing, Siren Publishing, and Loose Id. She lives in Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning romance writer. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out online. Cassandra’s books have won numerous “Best Book Of” awards and her novella Unexpected Top was nominated in the E-book Erotic Romance category of RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

She thinks the best part of being a writer is how she writes about love and sex while most others struggle with daily commutes, micro-managing bosses and cranky co-workers. Her inspiration comes from everywhere, but she’d particularly like to thank the Buffalo Sabres, the hockey team near and dear to her heart.

Find the author: Website |Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Through the Portal

Title: Through the Portal
Author: Justin Dennis
Release Date: August 2011
Length: 252 pages
Series?: Through the Portal #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Fantasy
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Synopsis

When Jem and Oliver accidentally fall through a portal to another world just before their first year of high school, they quickly discover that all is not well here. The first person they meet, a creepy old man named Atychis, almost gets them killed by a ferocious, fire-breathing dragon. They’re only narrowly saved when Sierra, a shy farm girl from a nearby town, uses illegal magic to help them escape. Allowed to stay with her family while they try to figure out a way back home, Jem and Oliver begin to learn of magic and the Regime that is oppressing it.

It isn’t until the Regime kills a woman that the three kids realize they have to do something to stop the Regime from taking over completely. After being framed for a crime they didn’t commit and banished from the town, Jem, Oliver, and Sierra take off on an adventure across this strange world in an attempt to defeat the Regime. New creatures and new kinds of magic are around every corner, but so are dangers that could have them wishing they were back safe at home. 

Through the Portal is the first book in a planned trilogy.

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. What do I mean by that?

This was a difficult book for me to get through. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a wonderful and great story. This book was a very stick-it-to-the-man, defy-the-system type, which little ol’ scrappy me likes, but it was just too slow at the beginning, and about mid-way through it started slacking off again, and then again toward the end. I would fall asleep many nights with my Kindle in my hands, trying to get through a few more pages. The chapters were extraordinarily long for a piece of fiction. Perhaps that contributed to this feeling of “I’m never going to finish this book!”

Now, with that said: this is a book that could be made into the next big blockbuster. I would actually look forward to seeing this story play out on the big screen.

Oliver is a youth from a world of privilege. His parents have money enough, he has a younger sibling that adores him. His family has got it going on. Oliver is strong-willed and outspoken. Bold.

Jem is a troubled boy from the other side of the tracks. His parents died in a skydiving incident when he was a babe, and he has been raised by his ailing and blind grandmother ever since. He is very poor and knows that it wouldn’t matter if he disappeared: his grandmother wouldn’t even notice. 😦  Jem is that cowering kid in the corner, the exact opposite of Oliver.

Growing up, kids weeded out and picked on Jem because of his background. Oliver stood up for him, and they became fast friends. Oliver’s family would take Jem with them on trips, and he became an extension of their family.

This fact, the two main characters being foils of one another, immediately made me imagine all kinds of conflict to play out in this book. Fortunately, nothing compared with what I imagined, and their friendship remained intact.

I don’t know what type of time frame this book covers – it’s not very specific – and that’s something I was interested to know. Oliver and Jem fall through a portal at the bottom of Lake Sammamich (near Seattle) and wash ashore in a new world: Callisto. They are found by Atychis, a former Elder of the Argo region. Atychis is certifiable, and readers truly find out just how much so at the end of the book. They also have a run-in with the Red Dragon.

Jem and Oliver also meet Sierra and her older sister Rimaya, who’s dad is a stringent Regime follower. The Regime, under the power of Veroci, has little by little taken over almost all of Callisto and outlawed magic. And that’s where Jem, Oliver, Sierra, and Rimaya get into trouble.

The Terello family has graciously offered their home to Jem and Oliver, who help out on the farm. The boys are trying to come to grips with this new world, and what exactly is going on. They go to the local cafe to have some fizzies, and BAM! They are on “trial” for a major crime they didn’t commit. They see just how far the Regime will go to maintain control, and they flee.

Growing up in Argo, Sierra has been told all her life of legends: the legend of the Red Dragon, the Phoenix, the world of Kelados, the legend of 1000 Curses. The Regime has structured the world so that citizens remain in the region they were born into. There is no crossing the borders, for they have magnificently implemented the Legend of 1000 Curses: you cross the regional border into another region, you are cursed with 1000 curses, one of which is to grow a third leg. Obviously, Oliver and Jem see right through this ploy.

The three continue on throughout the world of Callisto, which is divided into six regions, pursued by Regime guards, all while trying to develop their magical skills. They come upon a scene that is very familiar to Oliver and Jem: a kid, Farouche, getting picked on by a gang of kids. Farouche turns out to be quiet a little inventor, and follows them in secret. The entire journey, people are constantly making unremarkable comments about Jem’s eyes being blue. It was starting to drive me crazy, because readers don’t find out why until the last quarter of the book.

Along the way, they have to make some serious choices about where they belong. They come face-to-face with Veroci himself after being betrayed by a second Elder, and end up in a land uninhabited by Regime outposts. They come to live a comfortable and safe life in the region of Luria, with an Elder who is honest, and hell-bent on defeating the Regime, but secretive. But the Red Dragon also lurks in the skies of Luria.

Jem and Sierra are a unique pair; she will stick by his side no matter what, even through her fears. Through an unfortunate set of events, Jem becomes convinced that Veroci is hoarding an army of Regime guards in the North Island, a place that is almost inhospitable, even though everyone else remains unconvinced.

The two also learn of a portal that goes to Kelados, and of course go looking for it, and are attacked by the Red Dragon…but Jem notices that the dragon has a rider. They are rescued and nursed back to health, but discover that Jem has a very unique quality about him. Scientists and doctors try again and again unsuccessfully to get him to exhibit the talents of his new quality. The determine he cannot bring these talents to fruitation, but Sierra knows they will. She jumps off the roof to test her theory, which proves correct. After this discovery, they set off for North Island…and encounter the Red Dragon and its rider.

I wish I could talk about the ending, but I can’t. My blabbermouth would give it away, but I will say that it is a fantastic ending! I will say this: Jem shares with Sierra that his parents’ bodies were never found, and I have a feeling they will show up in one of the sequential books.

I was impressed with the transformation of Jem, in particular, in this book. He starts off as only what I can imagine as the Coward of the County, and grows and develops beyond his previous limits. He sheds this outer skin, because before it seemed as if he was riding on Oliver’s coat tails. It would have been an interesting story if Oliver had stayed in Callisto, to see how things would have turned out.

2About the Author

Justin Dennis is from the rainy state of Washington but is going to college in sunny California. Soccer, which he used to play in high school, is his favorite sport, and he has in interest in creative writing, anthropology, and physics. He is a huge tech nerd who is obsessed with the newest and shiniest phones, tablets, and computers.

Writing occupies almost all of his time. The Through the Portal trilogy is his effort to inspire good morals in an entertaining and exciting way. Through fantasy, he believes that important real world lessons can be conveyed effectively.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Who You Callin’ Silly? How a Silly Woman Becomes Virtuous

Title: Who You Callin’ Silly? How a Silly Woman Becomes Virtuous
Author: Kimberly R. Lock
Publisher: TriMark Press
Release Date: June 2012
Length: 148 pages
Series?: no
Genre: self-help
Format: e-book
Source: Smith Publicity

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

First time author Kimberly Lock challenges women to look into the spiritual mirror. A Christian book unlike any other, Lock has written an engaging and thought-provoking bible study about the nature of unconditional love, forgiveness, feminine strength, and power.

As Kimberly Lock states, “There’s no need to be ashamed of past mistakes…The beauty of it all is that Christ accepts us as we are and forgives us. The key is YOU have to be willing to forgive yourself.” By using her personal life and experiences as a prime example, Kimberly Lock encourages women to harness their feminine strength and have power over past silly experiences.

Kimberly Lock guides other women to the path of virtuousness through the three sections of her book titled: All my Single Ladies, “I’s Married Na!”, and Every Woman. Not only does Lock provide an in-depth and thoughtful analysis that can lead any silly woman back on the path to virtuousness, but also she provides interactive and introspective “Virtuous Assessments” for her readers to complete.

Review

I could not get through more than the second chapter of this book, and here’s why: this book is marketed for women of faith – women who shouldn’t necessarily need to read this self-help book. It’s divided into three parts: a section for single ladies, a section for married ladies, and a section for every woman. The book is accompanied with a forward by Eldress Rhonda Cotton.

I invite you to take this self-examination journey with me and experience a narrative so powerful through the Spirit of God that you will forever change the way you view yourself as a woman.

I gave up churches long ago. I do not believe in organized religion in any form any more, and I’ve been to many churches of various denominations. I am, however, spiritual. I do not call myself a Christian, because Christianity is a trumped up word that folks like to use as it pleases them. I have some relatives who claim to be Christians, but their actions are anything but Christ-like. I talk with my 6th graders all the time about what type of people they want to be associated with, and frankly, I do not want to be associated with Christians. I do not have to attend church to worship the Lord. I do not have to attend church to read the Bible. My mother taught me how to do both, and as long as I’ve been alive, she has never but once attended an actual class at the church I grew up in (and only as a last-ditch effort to get me to go back). I can live my life by example without the duality of Christians.

Jesus made me credible, so there you have it!

Now, with that said, Kim Lock’s book dripped religion. Yes, she has a strong base in religion, being a pastor’s wife and filling in as the church’s technical person (Unity Gospel House of Prayer, Milwaukee Wisconsin). She left her job of Project Manager/Systems Analyst for National Life Insurance Company to raise her children, which, given all the things happening in the world, I would do so as well. But this book seriously pushes the religious envelope. If you are like me, and you do not like having religion or politics pushed on you, this book is not for you.

When I TOTALLY submitted my life to the Lord, HE changed me. 

LockAfter contemplating some things, I went out to Goodreads and Amazon to see what others were saying. I was dumbfounded to find that Lock had submitted a “review” to Goodreads in which she gave her book five stars, and was pushing more book-related material. The Publicist, which I reviewed recently, touched on this very item of authors faking reviews for better looks and sales. It is a BAD thing in the publishing world, like a huge black mark against a writer…and here’s Lock, submitting her own review. This severely annoyed me.

I was also quite annoyed with what I had read, but after thinking about what I’d read, I realized this book isn’t for me. I’m not a woman who needs this book – I’m already there. I know my self worth and don’t need validation. Ever get annoyed with someone trying to tell you how to do something, and you already know? After brooding on this a while, I realized that’s kind of where I was at with what I had read.

Perhaps at a later date I will give this book a second shot at reading. Maybe I’m just not at the age where what Lock is speaking about can “sink in.”

About the Author

Kim-1Kimberly Rochelle Lock was born August 23, 1975, in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Being the only child of her mother and dad, she was preserved. She was so fascinated with learning, that at the age of 5 during a blizzard she walked to school only to find it closed. It was not uncommon for her to participate in State wide spelling Bee contests. Since she was so advanced academically for her age, she began taking pre-college courses at the University of Wisconsin at the age of 11. In her spare time she cheered, played basketball and musical instruments, such as the flute, baritone, harp, clarinet, and her favorite, the cello.

After graduating from Pulaski High School at the age of 16, the University of Wisconsin welcomed Kim as a student to pursue a Bachelors Degree in Management Information Systems. After taking a year off, she completed her Master’s Degree in Telecommunications at Keller Graduate School of Management.

In 2002, she married the love of her life Pastor Marlon Lock. They have four beautiful daughters and a baby boy. Kim has built a spiritual atmosphere in her home, where she balances the delicate tasks of nurturing and guiding her children. This dedicated mother resigned her position as Project Manager/Systems Analyst for National Life Insurance Company to raise her children.

Kim Lock assists her husband in the business aspects of their church, Unity Gospel House of Prayer, Milwaukee Wisconsin. She also manages and implements many of the technical designs within the church including the website, Facebook and Twitter. Many women are drawn and assigned to her for spiritual guidance as she sends out daily devotions to encourage many.

Her character is calm and meek. Her style is simply “classy.” She is a woman of very few and selected words with a smile that brightens the room. Clearly, Kim Lock has an unquestionable commitment to developing women spiritually.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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