The Matching Journey of the Hero & Author

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Thank you to Ionia for letting me announce that the first book of my fantasy series, Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero, will be marked down to free.  It’s been a long ride with this volume since I first published it in early 2013.  Prior to that, I started working on it in late 1998 and now I just feel old.  So, what do I want to talk about here?

Looking back, I can see how Luke Callindor and I have changed.  Neither of us had much of an idea of what we were doing.  He stumbled into the path of a demonic assassin and the Lich while I tripped into the world of self-publishing.  Our flaws were certainly different with him being the more confident of the two and me being a lot more cautious.  Odd how Luke and I don’t really know how we made it this far into our linear adventures.  The answers are in our heads, but neither of us can put a clear finger on the details.

Funny thing is how we also met fellow champions/authors who are working toward the same goal.  Not to mention a few villains and frustrating obstacles.  All of this makes me realize how an adventure isn’t always swords, spells, and satisfying action.  I needed another ‘S’ word and I say that works.  The point is that I’ve been noticing that my path as an author is mimicking Luke’s as a hero.  Unsure if his story is being influenced by me or the other way since the series was planned out a while ago.

The idea of an author and his main character sharing an adventure in some fashion isn’t entirely unique.  Many have stated that their heroes are based on parts of their personality or ideals that they want to be.  One of the more difficult aspects of this tactic is to put flaws into the characters because it involves a little self-reflection.  With Luke, I see my impatience and frustration, which I hope is countered by a sense of determination that I try to share.  To be fair, this tends to fail both of us at times of extreme stress.  Guess it does show that Luke and I have a bit too much in common.

So enough about me.  Have any other authors shared the adventures of their heroes?  What about readers seeing themselves in a protagonist?  Just how much of us goes into the books that we connect to since it requires us to imagine the worlds within the pages.

                Links

Legends of Windemere
Twitter
Facebook

Grab Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero for Free!

Also, Crossing Bedlam is celebrating a new cover by dropping to 99 cents!

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

Cover Art by Jon Hunsinger

Noah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Noah's WifeNoah’s Wife by Lindsay Starck

Mary McGarry Morris says it best: “Noah’s Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller…her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing.” Noah’s Wife is a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective fable-like novel.

Noah’s Wife is a story of a community battered by a relentless downpour from the heavens, a gray and wet little town teeming with eccentric characters who have learned to endure the extraordinary circumstances of the rain with astonishing human fortitude and willfulness.

When Noah’s wife arrives with her minister husband to this small coastal town, she is driven by her desire to help revive the congregation. However, she is thwarted by the resistance of her eccentric new neighbors and her failure to realize that her husband is battling his own internal crisis.

As Noah and his wife strive to bring the townspeople to the church—and keep the strains on their marriage at bay—the rain intensifies, impeding their efforts. Soon the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. And so, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront the savage forces of nature and attempt to reinforce the fragile ties that bind them to each other before their world is washed away.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t decide what to make of this book until I was nearly finished with it. It wasn’t overly religious as I had feared because of the title, so that was good as I have never really warmed to those books. I loved the concept this book worked with–a town where it never stopped raining.

I liked the small town atmosphere and the way the author allowed us a bird’s eye view of the people in the town. We got to know them as individuals and it allowed the reader to see the dynamic and unlikely connections between them.

This book has a lot of quirky characters, deals with a lot of different issues and retains the dismal atmosphere until nearly the end. I have to say, that for an author with the last name of Starck, this book was pretty stark for much of the reading.

The writing is excellent here, but I’m still not a hundred percent convinced I love this book. If I had to categorise it, I would say that this should be filed under “thought provoking.” The way the author used themes from the bible without trying to force a religious ideal on the reader was interesting. I liked the townspeople, but the use of Noah’s wife as a name for the character rather than giving her a name (on purpose) made me feel more distant from the main character than I was expecting.

Overall, this was an interesting book with a lot to offer the reader, but I can’t pick a specific group I would recommend it to. It is worth a read, most definitely–if you enjoy books that live outside the standard genre fiction groups.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

Sanctuary BaySanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For me, the redeeming factor in this book was how close I felt–pretty much immediately, to Sarah, the main character. Perhaps because she is different than the other students at the academy and her thoughts seem somehow more natural and realistic, or maybe just because she is one of those easy to love characters. Either way, I wanted to know more about her and it kept me chugging through this story.

As far as set-up goes, this book does a lot of that, building a foundation for the future of the series. The school is very interesting. I liked the concept of a school that keeps track of its students at all times. The characters were each unique and added a lot of support for the main character, but I do think that mostly what keeps you reading in this book is the constant twists.

I felt like I was following a trail that often led one direction and then suddenly switched and went somewhere else. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, which felt a little anticlimactic after chasing my tail for so long during the rest of the book. I am curious to see where the author is going to go with this.

If you enjoy books that are full of suspense–this one will thrill you.

I’m intrigued. I demand answers!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

The Things We KeepThe Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one another resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is by far one of the best books that I have read this year. It is compelling, very emotional and although at times can make you sad–also has the kind of realistic redemption at the end that makes you believe in the power of love and perseverance.

If you have a family member or friend who has gone through dementia, or is currently suffering from it, then this will be a book that not only will you feel close to, but will be one that you find it difficult to part with when the story is done. Even if you don’t, this is a great book that has wonderful characters that will stay with you long after reading.

I loved the way the stories of the characters revolved in this. It was always clear who was telling their side of the tale and at what point and never got confusing. The multiple things going on in the book all meld together at the end perfectly, leaving no loose ends to be dealt with.

This is an author that I am very excited about and can’t wait to share with everyone I know. Sally Hepworth is brilliant at her craft and I encourage you to read her work.

This review is based on a complimentary copy, provided through Netgalley.

View all my reviews

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln by Stephen Harrigan

A Friend of Mr. Lincoln: A novelA Friend of Mr. Lincoln: A novel by Stephen Harrigan

The author of the best-selling The Gates of the Alamo now gives us a galvanizing portrait of Abraham Lincoln during a crucially revealing period of his life, the early Springfield years, when he risked both his sanity and his ethical bearings as he searched for the great destiny he believed to be his.

It is Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s. Abraham Lincoln is a circuit-riding lawyer, a member of the state legislature, a man of almost ungovernable ambition. To his friends he is also a beloved figure, by turns charmingly awkward and mesmerizingly self-possessed—a man of whom they, too, expect big things. Among his friends and political colleagues are Joshua Speed, William Herndon, Stephen Douglas, and many others who have come to the exploding frontier town of Springfield to find their futures.

It is through another friend, a fictional poet, Cage Weatherby, that we will come to know Lincoln in his twenties and thirties, as a series of formative, surprising incidents unfolds—his service in the Black Hawk War, his participation in a poetry-writing society, a challenge to a duel that begins as a farce but quickly rises to lethal potential . . . Cage both admires and clashes with Lincoln, sometimes questioning his legal ethics and his cautious stance on slavery. But he is by Lincoln’s side as Lincoln slips back and forth between high spirits and soul-hollowing sadness and depression, and as he recovers from a disastrous courtship of one woman to marry the beautiful, capricious, politically savvy Mary Todd. It is Mary who will bring stability to Lincoln’s life, but who will also trigger a conflict that sends the two men on very different paths into the future.

Historically accurate, rich in character, filled with the juice and dreams and raw ambitions of Americans on the make in an early frontier city, A Friend of Mr. Lincoln is a revelatory and moving portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in his young manhood. It is a close-up, involving experience, the sort of vibrant glimpse beneath the veneer of history that only the very best fiction can provide.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book–and that was really surprising, considering how much I tend to hate fictitious Lincoln books. I would go so far as to say that this is the first one I have thoroughly enjoyed.

Told mostly around the life of the fictional character Cage Weatherby, this book explores Lincoln’s life before presidency in such a way that it was not only believable, but compelling and addictive. When I wasn’t holding this book and actively reading it, I was thinking about it.

I have huge respect for the author’s ability to incorporate so many different real facets of Lincoln’s life into his fictional account. The stories he had Lincoln tell in this book, the conversations he had with others and the descriptions of the former president’s well documented periods of melancholy were all spot on.

One of the things that made me enjoy this book so much, was that it wasn’t just another account of the death of Lincoln. Booth gets no page time here and I felt the author did his best, and succeeded at writing something original. It isn’t just another attempt at repeating history in a fictional manner. A+.

If you are a fan of Lincoln or simply want a good historical book to read, this will be one you don’t want to miss. Highly recommended.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Beast of Barcroft

The Beast of BarcroftThe Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .

Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.

First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.

Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first, I figured this would be another silly horror book with very little plot, but only a few pages in, I discovered that wasn’t true. I liked the main character right away, and that led me to being interested in the rest of the story.

What I enjoyed about this book the most, was the mystery surrounding what the creature actually was. Things would lead one way for a while and then something would change and it would appear to be something else. There was a good mystery about this story and it kept it intriguing until the very end.

I also liked the varied cast of characters and the descriptions of their situations. The characters each had strong, individual personality traits that set them apart from one another, so they were easy to keep track of.

If you enjoy books where the terror builds as the story moves along, this would be a great book for you to choose. Perfect for a spooky Halloween night or an any time fright.

I liked it. Thumbs up.

Hoping for a sequel.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, which was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Derek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek Takes ActionDerek Takes Action by Mac Black

Derek has a cause but, being Derek, he also has a host of misunderstandings to sort out, mistakes to rectify and a wife to mollify. As a natural leader, he knows that beating the Railway Developers is down to him. As a natural disaster area, we know it is unlikely to go quite to plan. In Mac Black’s fifth and final Derek book the plot is stirred as poor gullible Derek tries his best and makes us laugh all the way to the end!
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve grown rather fond of poor, bumbling Derek over the years, and it saddens me a bit to see him go in this final sendoff, but what a sendoff it was.

Once more, he finds himself in the worst sort of trouble from the very beginning of this book, but manages to save face in time for the ending, becoming the local hero that all his readers knew he could be–albeit, with a bit of drama along the way. I still feel for Sally.

This book had Mac Black’s unique humour spread evenly through it, and is full of moments that make you glad you are not the main character in one of his novels. Derek is as witty and enjoyable as ever in this story, and after finishing it, I think it is a tie for me over which is my favourite–this one or the first.

I liked the new characters in this book and felt like this story did a good job of tying everything before it together.

If you haven’t read this series yet and you enjoy humour and unlikely heroes, you should pick up a copy of the first book and get started. I’ll miss Derek, but I understand that everyone has limits, and he has already used more than his share of 9 lives.

Read it, have a giggle.

This review is based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

A new book I am VERY excited about!

Lots of authors lately have made the jump to self publishing, and I have found some really great books thanks to these decisions. Here’s one that I am particularly excited about. If you haven’t met this author yet, please take a moment to stop by his blog and say hello. He’s a hard working writer–and just a great person in general, with a personality that won’t quit.

Visit him at: Fiction Favorites

Announcing His Revenge by John W. Howell is now available in paper and ebook on Amazon.

His Revenge front final

The sequel to My GRL titled His Revenge is available and a new story continues where My GRL left off.

His Revenge is available in the US in Paper and Kindle editions

In Canada in Paper and Kindle editions

In the UK in Paper and Kindle editions

Here is the blurb:

America loves John Cannon, its newest hero, and the President wants to present him with the highest civilian medal for bravery for saving the Annapolis midshipman from a terrorist plot to destroy them. While in Washington for the award ceremony, John unwillingly becomes an accomplice in another plan by the same group to attack the credibility of the US President and the stability of the worldwide oil market. There is no way out as John either becomes a traitor to America or causes thousands of innocent people to die if he refuses.

The second John J Cannon Thriller moves from a barrier Island off the coast of Texas to Washington DC, then to Northern California, and finally to Ecuador. John is on the receiving end of an offer he cannot, refuse. His avowed enemy Matt Jacobs now wants John to help him shake the reputation of the US in the world political arena and disrupt confidence in the government at home. If John refuses, Matt plans to murder innocent Americans including John’s latest relationship. John’s only way out is to pretend to go along with the plan and hope for a miracle.

Excerpt from Chapter one

The water rushes over my head. I’m sinking and don’t know why. With my breath held, I have trouble stopping the air from escaping since the pressure drives the air up and out. I try to keep my mouth closed, but the water pressure pushes the air out more and more. Will I pass out? In the distance, the light is dim. To rise to the surface in time might not be possible─I need to breathe right now. Toward ending the pain in my chest, my rambling mind rationalizes taking a deep breath—even knowing it will end my life. In conflict with the irrational thought of ending it, my body won’t let me suck in the water, as it fights to retain the little bit of oxygen left to fuel my brain.

The despair is nearly overwhelming, and my mind considers other ways to battle the feeling. What more could I have done with my life? The pressure becomes more intense, and I’m about to lose it all, and I decide I’ve lived the way I wanted and have no regrets. I close my eyes and hear only the roar of the sea. I’m so tired. Exhausted. Sleep will fix everything, and I want to give in.

Photo by Tim Burdick

About the Author

John’s main interests are reading and writing. He turned to writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive career in business. John writes fictional short stories and novels as well as a blog at http://www.johnwhowell.com. John lives on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife and spoiled rescue pets. He can be reached at his e-mail johnhowell.wave@gmail.com, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241or Twitter at @HowellWave

My GRL_johnwhowell

His first novel, My GRL is available on Amazon and wherever e-books are sold

Until We Meet Again

Until We Meet AgainUntil We Meet Again by Renee Collins

They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**This author owes me a full box of Kleenex.**

At least.

This book is crazy, delightful, impossible, improbable, joyful, hopeful, terrifying, sweet, charming and bittersweet all at the same time. Truly–You would have to read it to understand the wide range of emotions it will cause in you as a reader.

This is the kind of love story that you want to root for, but are afraid to, for fear of what may happen to the characters that you have quickly grown to love.

I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and thought the author did a good job of fulfilling the promises the description made. The characters were likable right away, and the promise of something happening between them was there early on, keeping me intrigued.

The end of this book made me bawl like a baby, which, doesn’t happen often for this reader. I found the dialogue to be really well written, especially in the ending scenes and loved the way the author chose to go when wrapping up the book–even though it HUUUUURRRRRT.

You’ve been warned. This book is addictive.

Get it.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided by Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Countdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Countdown to DeathCountdown to Death by Iain McChesney

Ten strangers are lured to a remote Scottish island at the invitation of a reclusive industrialist.

Stranded on Lord Black’s wondrous estate, the disparate guests have more in common than they first realize.

Accused in a mysterious letter of having committed crimes in their past, one by one they are hunted down. But who is the killer? Will any of them live to find out?

***A modern retelling of the Agatha Christie classic–with a surprising twist.***
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And then there were none…kind of. I really liked this book. I became hooked on this author’s writing with his first novel, so I was definitely curious to see what he would do next. I’m excited to say that he surprised me in a pleasant way.

This book is a modern retelling of a classic work, and although they are different enough that they can’t be directly compared–I have to say, that for once, I liked this story better than the original.

One of my favourite things about McChesney’s writing, is the way he blends dark humour into an ordinary scene, making it fun. I like the ironic things that happen to his characters and the way he gets an already quick plot moving even faster with unexpected events.

I couldn’t figure this one out until the very end, and I laughed when I realised that the clues were there all along–but I was so involved with the writing and the characters that I didn’t see what was right in front of me.

I truly like this author, and recommend his work to anyone looking for a great read.

So much fun!

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and was provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

View all my reviews