Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Tap Rack Bang by Robert Blake Whitehill and Giveaway

Former Navy SEAL Ben Blackshaw lurks in solitude aboard the shoaled wreck of the American Mariner in the Chesapeake Bay. He is awakened one stormy spring night when a drifting dinghy slams into the old ship’s hull. Blackshaw investigates, and discovers there is only one occupant in the sinking boat, a naked young woman lying unconscious in the bilge.

Against his better judgment, and risking his own undercover operation, Blackshaw gives shelter to Tally, the terrified refugee. He soon learns Tally has escaped a calculating crew of sociopaths who are about to launch an internet site called L’Abattoir, on which hostages will be tortured, and then executed. Tally was able to free herself, but she now she must return to the dreaded dungeon with help to rescue her little sister, and to free twenty other victims-in-waiting.

Blackshaw’s wife, LuAnna, arrives at the old ship on a resupply mission, and upon hearing Tally’s story, encourages Blackshaw to return home to Smith Island, and enlist his friend Knocker Ellis to help. Ellis suggests inviting other Smith Islander’s to join the mission. Blackshaw and Ellis are both shocked that their friends and neighbors will not lend a hand. The two men return to the American Mariner to find that LuAnna’s crab skiff has been sunk and that LuAnna and Tally have both disappeared.

With help from weather-wizard Michael Craig, Blackshaw back-tracks the most likely meandering course that Tally’s boat drifted the night before. But when Blackshaw and Ellis arrive at the dinghy’s starting place at the pier of a waterfront home on the Chesapeake, they find two FBI agents already investigating the double-homicide of an elderly couple, and the kidnapping of the couple’s grandchildren; five-year-old twins. To Blackshaw and Ellis, this mayhem bears the bloody signature of Maynard Chalk, their old nemesis.

Blackshaw races the FBI to discover the lair where the ghoulish L’Abattoir is to take place; he is terrified that LuAnna herself has been dragged there for slaughter. What he learns about the depths of human depravity shatters not only his faith, but the foundations of his sanity.

My Thoughts:
Whitehill does it again with non-stop action, nail-biting suspense, nightmare-inducing villains, and high-caliber weapons. Ben Blackshaw is still in hiding when he stumbles into a human trafficking ring, which he addresses for his own reasons and with his own brand of justice. Blackshaw is the kind of hero who has morals, but is willing to do whatever it takes for those he cares about, and who earns the respect and trust of his friends. Unfortunately there is a high body count on this mission, and not all of the good guys make it through. A gripping read that I couldn't put down. The best Blackshaw book to date. 

My Rating: *****
Steam Factor: !
Pretty intense, some graphic parts, language.

My Source: author

Where to get it:

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

Ben Blackshaw Series books 1 and 2:

"This book grabbed me from the opening line. It intrigued me and made me want to read more. The characters, even the bad guys, were interesting. Lots of twists and surprises in the plot made this a difficult book to put down." -WiLoveBooks

Nitro Express
"Nitro Express is an exciting, fast-paced thrill-ride even better than the first. I couldn’t read fast enough, and was racing through the pages to reach the conclusion, which blew me away. Fans of action, suspense, speed, and big guns will not want to miss this." -WiLoveBooks

Where to find the author:


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Exigency by Michael Siemsen - Release Day Blitz and Interview

~ Synopsis ~

From Michael Siemsen, creator of the #1 Sci-Fi Bestseller, The Dig, and the award winning (a demon's story) series, EXIGENCY transports the author's singular, visionary approach to world-building to its next pivotal juncture.

Nine brilliant scientists travel light years on a one-way trip to an Earth-like planet. Their mission is to study from orbit the two species of intelligent lifeforms on the surface. The first: an isolated people embarking on civilization and building their world's first city. The second: a brutal race of massive predators, spread thick and still growing across the dominant landmass - destined to breed and eat their way to extinction within a few centuries.

After eight years of observation, disaster strikes the orbiting station and only two crewmembers eject successfully. Drifting down through a dark alien sky, the pair realizes their escape pod launched not toward the safety of the city, but to the other side of the planet, touching down deep within a land no human could possibly survive.

~ Get the Book ~


~ Interview ~

(From and used with permission.)

Welcome Michael Siemsen! Thank you for taking the time to humor me and answer some of my questions. After reading your latest book, Exigency, I have some questions that I would love answered! Let’s get started.
Thank you for having me. I love what you’ve done with the place.

1 – I know how you came up with the idea for your Matthew Turner books, but I’d like to know about your ideas for this science fiction book and where they came from. 
I actually wrote about this recently, so sorry if any of it ends up duplicated… The first traces of Exigency came to me a couple years ago, though it wasn't so much the premise of a story as it was a feeling – the emotions one might experience in a particular situation. People can feel alone, desolate, and/or invisible, even while in their own home surrounded by family. I tried to imagine being truly alone - say, lost in Antarctica. But even there, one might hold out hope for a rescue party. It had to be further, more alone, more desolate. How about another planet, light years from another human being? That’s pretty alone.

I didn’t start writing anything at that point, as there was nothing to write, but the idea would come back to me now and then, and one day I was thinking (unrelated to the first idea) about context. Context is everything, right? 

Example: On your screen you see a video of a coyote limping along, injured. Maybe you feel sad for it. But the view then shifts to a woman running off with her crying baby, and she’s yelling for help. She just stopped a coyote from dragging her baby away. Our outlooks and judgments are based upon what little we see and/or hear. 

Somehow, this line of thought progressed to a group of scientists on a space station, orbiting an Earth-like planet teeming with intelligent life. The researchers’ technology is remarkably advanced, but how much can they truly know of this planet and its people from such a distant, disconnected perspective? And would they be conscious of their limitations, or assume that they see all? And what happens when this accrued knowledge is suddenly put to the test, first-hand?

2 - The aliens in this book are very unique and so is the planet. How did you come up with the intricacies of their personalities and their world? 
The planet’s intelligent races took a very long time to develop, and the vast majority of their respective evolution, histories, and spirituality are never mentioned in the book. It’s exhausting even thinking about it, actually, and would probably be less-than-thrilling information to digest. But I’ll tell you this much: I began with a lifeless planet and a primordial soup in which the successful base ingredients of life differed from earth (arsenic won out over phosphorus), and I went on from there for billions of years (though not in real time).
As for personalities and culture, I modeled the Threck on Early Romans, stripping away and replacing elements based upon environment, anatomy, the advancement pace of Threck civilization, and the core brain physiology of Threck after they’ve officially matured. Riveting stuff, right? 

3 – Generally, you research the place you are going to write about in your books by going there. Unless you know someone that works for Space X, how did you research for this book? 
Yeah, sadly I couldn’t find a cost-effective way to do a research trip on this one. In terms of time investment, this book was 9 parts research, 1 part writing. If I’m going to be making up technology and biology, they both need to be plausible and impervious to scrutiny from actual experts. After The Dig, I was particularly gratified to receive messages from archaeologists and paleos with only positive remarks.
For Exigency, I read countless books, listened to many podcasts, and spoke with some experts who were highly generous with their time. I discovered in my early outlines a number of mistakes I’d made based upon assumptions, and had to adjust parts of the greater story around this information. For instance, to send a team of nine people to orbit another planet for the rest of their lives—light years away—it would cost upwards of $30 Trillion per year to deliver a constant supply at the dollar’s (and food’s) current value. And that’s only the beginning of the expenses. And so I studied what would be required for a person to stop eating solid food, receiving their nutrients through supplements in the drinking water (which, btw, must be siphoned from the planet’s atmosphere), and all the front-, back-, and side-effects of such a change.
And there are little tidbits of real funfacts/science sprinkled throughout the finished book that readers may appreciate. For instance, if you don’t consume solid food for an extended period, your taste buds sort of disappear, making your tongue smooth and slimy.

4 – My husband loves Dale Brown and his books. One of the things that he said about his stuff is that he has been pretty good at predicting the military weaponry/strategy, etc over the years. Do you think any of your scientific & space related technologies will come about? What technology would you like to see? 
Absolutely. Ionic propulsion, interstellar travel, medicine, and in particular, the fone. The robot’s perspective view you see in movies like the terminator is the next logical leap from iPhones and Google Glass. It will begin with the early adopters receiving implants, and then will rapidly spread. Everything you can do on a smartphone will be possible through this implant (be it an actual prosthetic eye as in Exigency, or an unseen implant). 
Imagine the ability to snap photos with a thought, or to have captured some huge event like an always-on dashcam/DVR that keeps the last 5-10 minutes of your vision buffering. Rewind and save as needed. Play games during boring work meetings without anyone knowing (or caring, because they’re doing the same thing). We’re talking about a know-it-all’s fantasy world here. Someone says, “Oh yeah, did you know dogs are colorblind?” and know-it-all instantly pulls up Wikipedia, replying “Actually…” and spouts off a bunch of stuff verbatim as if it’s off the top of their head.
Or consider the usefulness of true night vision, thermal imaging, mag, etc. Predictable privacy/big brother concerns aside, this is where we’re heading. Just a few weeks ago, I grinned as a headline appeared on my screen: Researchers Invent Interface to the Optic Nerve.

5 – Where does the inspiration for your characters come from? Are they based on anyone you know? ;)
Sometimes they’re based on people I know, or combinations of multiple people. Often, they’re as fictional as the world they live in, though psychologists might refute such a claim, suggesting that, like in a dream, every character I create is some piece of myself. I’ll just be sure to keep said psychologist away from Frederick of A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon’s story).

6 – Are there any plans to write any more about this world and these aliens? A spin-off perhaps? A prequel maybe?
 I wrote it as a stand-alone, and still see it that way. If a really compelling story occurs to me in the future, I’m not opposed to returning to it. You never know…

7 – This is technically your first science fiction story. What made you decide to try this genre? Did you enjoy writing it more, less, or about the same as your other books? 
I feel like I’ve always been a Sci-Fi writer, and if you didn’t know any better, and saw my ever-growing idea and work-in-progress list, you’d probably be surprised to discover how much of what I’ve put out has not been straight Sci-Fi. The Dig is pretty Sci-Fi-ey (if I may), if you look at it as the story of a non-human civilization. Exigency is definitely my first “hard” Sci-Fi, and it’s uber-satisfying when you finish writing a beast like this. It may be just because it’s the newest, but I think it’s tied with A Warm Place to Call Home for the most enjoyable to write award. Though I’m aware that that’s a very hindsight perspective of Exigency. Frederick definitely wins out in terms of ease and fun, beginning to end.

-Now some general questions about you-
That’s not a question.

8 – There are a lot of distractions around, especially with social media and this new-fangled site called Reddit. How do you block it all out and write?
I’m sure I could find on Reddit a hilarious and apropos gif that perfectly expresses “a day in my life”, but instead I’ll simply say: Distractions are the devil. Espresso is my friend. Oh, and here’s a gif I found on Reddit that perfectly expresses “a day in my life.”

9 - What do you enjoy doing outside of writing? 
I’m into camping, lakes, hiking, travel, and when I’m around the house, unable to focus on writing, I usually end up fixing stuff or making something out of something and hanging it on our walls. I like to make stuff out of stuff. Because making stuff out of no stuff is beyond my power.

10 - What's something about you that most people don't know? 
That I write books. Ha! Zing! … against myself. 

As for those few random souls scattered across our great planet (I sold a couple books in Brazil last month. Go figure.), I don’t know how many are aware that I’m a do-it-yourselfer from beginning to (almost) end. Besides my virtuoso editor (shout out to the fastidious Kristina Circelli of Red Road Editing, my go-to since Samuel Beauchamp), I do everything from cover design and web coding to physical book layout and marketing materials. As much as a traditional publishing deal would relieve me of operational tasks, I say nay. A) I saw the samples of horses**t covers they wanted to slap on The Dig, and B) How lazy would I have to be to justify giving up lifetime rights to my books, a 90% pay cut, and losing all say into how my books are packaged, just to avoid a couple weeks extra work on each book. Seems kind of like paying a live-in chef to select and make all of my food for me, and then he eats most of it before serving it.

Not to say I’ll never again consider a traditional publishing deal, but I’ve yet to see a compelling case for it (that there’s the caveat for when I announce a couple years from now that I went with NY on some new book, so no one can throw it back in my face “Nnehnh! You said never!”).
11 - Who is your favorite character that you've written? I’m a little partial to Angela in Exigency. She’s a pretty cool chick and a total smart ass. 
She’s pretty awesome, but I’ve sort of already called out Frederick, soooooo…

12 – Have there been any scenes in your books that were difficult for you to write? 
Difficult as in writerly struggles? Countless scenes. 
Difficult as in emotionally? The Many Lives of Samuel Beauchamp (a demon’s story) has some pretty rough subject matter. The Opal, as well, contains a fair bit of personal parallels. And then, of course, those scenes in A Warm Place to Call Home were probably as awkward to write as they were for some to read.  

13 – In all of your spare time, what are you currently reading? 
This isn’t usually the case, but right now I’m in the middle of way too many books. Generally I’d have a single fiction book I’m reading for pleasure, and often bounce back and forth with non-fiction, sometimes overlapping. At present … [sigh] … here’s the mess I’ve created in my head:
The Bone Clocks  -  David Mitchell
What We See When We Read  -  Peter Mendelsund
Extreme Medicine  -  Kevin Fong, M.D.
Empress Zenobia  -  Pat Southern
Joyland  -  Stephen King

14 - What is are your favorite books?  
As a voracious reader, I’m sure you, too, would be hard pressed to identify a single, above-all-others book. So I have secretly and deftly transmogrified your question into one that suits me.
Most recent notables:
Sand by Hugh Howey – (this book is how it’s done)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – (the most fun I’ve had reading a book since … since … I guess just the most fun)

Less recent favorites:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (I think this is her best book, even though Gone Girl made her famous)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (greatest writer of this generation IMHO)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (also the greatest writer of this generation, if I’m allowed to do that)
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (another single greatest writer of this generation)
Redshirts by John Scalzi (hilarious, clever, must-read material for Star Trek fans)
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (like David Mitchell, Ishiguro elevates the entire Sci-Fi genre)

If I were to go back any further, we’d be here into next week.

15 - Who is your favorite author?  
David Mitchell

16 – If you could collaborate with an author and write a book with them, who would it be, what genre would it be, and why? 
At first thought, a bunch of names pop into my head, but then I think about this prospect realistically and cower beneath my desk for fear of being found out by a “real” writer.

~ About the Author ~

michael Michael Siemsen grew up in Venice, California, the second son of a Vietnam veteran turned policeman. Initially focusing on performing arts, Michael attended the prestigious Alexander Hamilton Academy in Los Angeles. After serving in the U.S. Army as a tracked vehicle operator, he returned to civilian life and began writing short stories and screenplays, and directing short films and music videos. Moving to Northern California in the late '90's, Michael met his future wife, Ana. The two now live near the San Joaquin River Delta, with their three equally-adventurous children and Brody, the ever-gaping Lab. Michael's 4th novel, EXIGENCY, will be released September 16, 2014, and he is currently at work wrapping up the third book in the Matt Turner series, RETURN. It should be released in late 2014, depending upon Brody's seemingly endless need to urinate or engage in exercise.

~ Author Links ~

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

Teaser Tuesday - Bride Undone by Kate Deveaux

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday Sept 16 Bride Undone

Title: Bride Undone 
Author: Kate Deveaux 
Genre: Erotic Romance 
Release Date: May 2013


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: The Songbird's Seduction by Connie Brockway


Effervescent bon vivant Lucy Eastlake is a young operetta singer whose star is on the rise in Edwardian London. Though struggling to maintain her beloved great-aunts’ household, she holds fast to the belief that “things will work out.” Now, with the fiftieth anniversary of a siege her great-aunt Lavinia lived through approaching, it looks like Lucy is right, because a fortune is due to be divided among the survivors. All Lucy and her great-aunts have to do is travel to a small Pyrenees town to claim Lavinia’s share of a fabulous treasure in rubies. What could be more simple?
Professor Ptolemy Archibald Grant is the brilliant, straitlaced grandson of a British lord who also withstood the siege. When his grandfather asks him as a matter of honor to escort his old love on the journey, the about-to-be married professor agrees, not expecting Lucy to be part of the bargain. Losing the great-aunts en route, the handsome, buttoned-down professor finds himself caught up in Lucy’s quirky, bewildering, and probably illegal efforts to reunite with them, as he is drawn further and further into an inexplicable infatuation with the free-spirited singer. What could be more complicated?
But when unwilling attraction gives way to sizzling passion, both will be forced to confront the ages-old question of whether love trumps honor…or the other way around.

My Thoughts:
As I started reading this, I instantly fell in love with the witty humor. I also loved the characters. Lucy and Ptolemy seem to be opposites at first, but as they spend time together it soon becomes apparent just how similar they really are. A smart, fun read, I found myself smiling through most of this book. It's one of those books that you wish were longer because you just don't want to leave it. I highly recommend this one.

My Rating: *****
Steam Factor: !!

My Source:

Where to get it:

Amazon | B&N

Where to find the author:

Website | Twitter | Facebook || Goodreads

It Takes a Spy... by Sheridan Jeane - Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal Banner It Takes a Spy by Sheridan Jeane

  It Takes a Spy by Sheridan Jeane Secrets and Seduction 
Publication Date: 'November 1, 2014 
Genres: Historical, Romance

Cover It Takes a Spy by Sheridan Jeane
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In 1851, Cecilia Paring has serious reservations about marrying her fiancé, Devin Montlake. Gone is the boy who could capture her heart with a word or a glance and in his place is a man who has made it clear that to be a proper barrister's wife, the exciting and impulsive Cecilia must change as well. Although Devin Montlake loves his orderly life as a barrister, he's determined to follow his roadmap to achieve his goal of becoming a judge. His biggest obstacle seems to be convincing his headstrong fiancée to fulfill her social obligations with a modicum of propriety. But when the jewelry collection belonging to Cecilia's family is stolen the night before it is to be auctioned off and Devin is framed for the crime, he discovers that following his much-loved rules won't solve this particular problem. He'll need the inventiveness of his irrepressible fiancée to catch the thief.

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About Sheridan Jeane

Sheridan Jeane writes exciting and emotion-packed historical romances set in the Victorian Era that confront issues of trust and conformity. With the advent of the industrial age, life was changing. Many people tried to hold on to the old ways of life while others embraced the new opportunities open to them. Join Sheridan as she explores the clash between the old and the new. Sheridan has always loved books, history, and stories about amazing people who blaze new trails. Despite naming their daughter Sheridan because they thought it might someday look great on the cover of a book, Sheridan's parents urged her in a more practical direction for college. Sheridan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in English.

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