Tag Archive | Thriller

Interview with Michelle Peach

Michelle Peach

Last week it was the book, Gazelle in the Shadows, that was in the spotlight. This week I turn the spotlight towards the author, Michelle Peach.

 
Hi Michelle, and welcome to Rainne’s Ramblings. No rambling from me this morning, so if you’d like to start by telling my readers and I a little about yourself and your background, that would be lovely.

Michelle Peach - Author HeadshotI’m a stay-at-home mom, married with three children and love volunteering for school activities and animal rescue. In between time, I love to write. I am a graduate of Durham University with a degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies. I worked for many years overseas in the British Foreign Office and as an executive PA for a Dubai company. I met my future husband while working in Dubai and soon after moved to America. That was twenty years ago! How time flies!

 
When and why did you decide to become a writer?

I had procrastinated about writing the book for many years but the catalyst came when my children started to ask me what I had done before marrying their father and I felt a need to tell my story for them in addition to the urging of many friends.

 
What gets your creative juices flowing?

There’s not any one thing I can pinpoint as my creativity can be sparked by listening to the radio, reading a book, taking a long walk or even in the moments before sleep.

 
What is your top writing tip?

As a visual thinker, what helped me tremendously was a story planner. I created my arc on a cork-board with index cards pinned in sequence. It was easy to switch things around and play with the chapters until I was happy to begin the writing process.

 
What are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?

Hands down, the hardest part has been the marketing after my book was published. I’m not much of a salesperson so it has been a steep learning curve to push my book forward.

The easiest part was receiving my first printed paperback. Holding it in my hands, feeling the weight and texture of the pages gave me immense pride and fufilment.

 
Tell us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?

I don’t have a typical day. Some days I might write but as a general rule, I enjoy writing at night when the house is quiet.

 
Gazelle in the ShadowsHow did you come up with the title?

I searched for a title that would point to the Arabian setting of the story and remembered that the gazelle has been used to symbolize femininity and love in Arabic literature and music since pre-Islamic times. I also liked it because the gazelle, much like the protagonist, Elizabeth, is preyed upon by many predators. The second part of the title “in the shadows” depicts how Elizabeth faces the unknown where her predators operate in the clandestine world of betrayal and espionage.

 
You say the book is ‘largely based on your life’, how much is fact and how much is from your imagination?

If I were to quantify it, I would say that two thirds of it is true and the rest fictionalised.

 
What is your favourite scene that you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?

I enjoyed writing about the hammam which I visited in Damascus. It brought back many memories.

      We entered the reception area through a heavy, dark curtain used for privacy from passersby in the street. The room opened out unexpectedly into a cavernous space. There were seats along the walls furnished with rich, although threadbare, oriental carpets. In the centre, directly under the dome, there was an octagon fountain inlaid with blue, mosaic tiles. From the inside, the dome was transformed into a light show. Cracks within the bricks allowed shafts of sunlight to shine through. The illumination made me feel relaxed. Unfortunately, it didn’t smell as relaxing, as the vapoury air invaded my nostrils with tobacco and must from wet carpets.
      There were two women who were assisting us in the lobby area. One of them, a plump, short woman, was dressed in a long, black robe and colourful
hijab. She handed out some minshafa, thin towels. The other, a tall, slim woman, handed us glasses of rose water.
      “Get undressed,” Fatima told me. “And wrap this around you.”
      I timidly undressed feeling embarrassed by my body. I wished I had packed my swimsuit now. I clung onto the towel as I awkwardly struggled to pull my clothes off and then wrapped it tightly around me. I was relieved that it was large enough to cover me from my breasts to my knees. Na’imah and Suheera disrobed, unabashed by their nakedness and tied the towels around their waists.
      I was freezing as I stood almost naked in the lobby area. Fatima saw my chattering teeth.
      “This is the
barrani chamber, the coolest room. Let’s go into the next one which is warmer.”
      I happily followed her into the next, warmer chamber. Suheera and Na’iamah stayed in the
barrani chamber. I sat on the wet, stone floor next to Fatima and felt the sweat run from every pore in my body. Fatima took out some soap and face cloths, which she had brought, and began to wash herself. I began to scrub myself as well.
      In the steamy mist, I saw other women in the room. Many small groups were chatting and socializing while washing their hair and bodies. They walked around without towels. I was shocked at how open they were with each other. I couldn’t help but reflect on the two extremes of womenfolk: being concealed in the homes and covered in black when out in the street compared to the freedom and nudity in the
hammam. I could understand how they must cherish the time they spent together and the community it helped them create.
      I was eager to chat about Hama with Fatima and hear about her and Naguib. I hadn’t had a chance to catch up with her. I hoped she had changed her mind about Hussein. After all, she seemed to have enjoyed her time with Naguib.
      “The trip to Hama was great,” I said. “I hope we can go on another with Naguib and Hussein.”
      “I had a good time, but I don’t think I’ll have time to go again.”
      “Is that because Naguib and you have to work?”
      Fatima paused and looked thoughtfully at me.
      “Yes.”
      “I’m so glad that Hussein can spend so much time with me.” I suddenly realised how insensitive that sounded and corrected myself. “I mean, I’m not glad that his father died, but I’m glad he is not working right now.”
      “What do you mean?” she asked.
      “Isn’t he still in mourning?” I wasn’t entirely sure how long he would be in mourning, and I had supposed he still was.
      “I don’t know,” she said, but her tone was abrupt. It was strange that she didn’t know about Hussein’s father and I sensed she didn’t really care to talk about Hussein.
      I bit my lip, frustrated. Fatima got up and gathered her things.
      “Let’s move onto the
jouwani, the hottest chamber.”
      I had thought we were already in the hottest one, but I was extremely mistaken. The third room was like a kiln. The furnace was situated in this room. Heat and smoke passed in pipes under the floor from there into the other middle room. I realised I had not drunk enough, as I felt very thirsty and had probably lost a pint of sweat already.
      Fatima was listening in on some women talking. She was bemused by their conversation. The women were cackling loudly at each other. There were four of them, all middle-aged, round and fat. They sat in a huddle, washing each other with a clay substance. I had noticed that they occasionally looked at me and cackled more.
      “What are they talking about?” I asked, thinking they had made a joke about me, and hoped Fatima had heard them.
      “Those women are gossiping about a girl that the mother is arranging for her son to marry.”
      “What’s so funny?” I asked.
      “She brought her here.”
      “Why?”
      “Mothers-in-law always like to check out the bride-to-be. She wants to make sure she’s not got any serious, physical faults,” she explained. “One of her friends thinks the girl is too ugly for her son.”
      “That’s awful,” I said, but I laughed anyway.
      “Then the mother asked if they noticed anything about the body of the bride-to-be being ugly, and one of them said she thought she saw she had three nipples.”
      “No,” I splurted. “That’s so funny.”
      “I don’t think it’s true, but they love spreading rumours.” Fatima was laughing hard.
      After that room, Fatima took me into a cold one, which I disliked very much. It was meant to cool you down, but I found it too chilly. The stone was slippery. We returned to the middle chamber to find Suheera and Na’imah. The second lady from the reception was sitting with them, still dressed in her black robe. She was scrubbing Suheera down with a black scrubbing cloth made of goat’s hair.
      “Elizabeth, you need to be scrubbed by the
muqashshara,” Fatima said, indicating the woman with the cloth.
      The darkly clothed exfoliator beckoned me over. Her pruned and puckered hands were covered in henna designs and her nails were orange. It seemed ominous, as I lay, almost naked, in her shadow, on a rubber mat. I thought I had washed myself and scrubbed my skin, but she scrubbed harder, so hard that I could feel my skin sting.
      
“Baqraa qadhra. Ya shamootah. Ajnabia qabiha.”
      Dirty cow, I translated. Prostitute. Ugly foreigner.
      She doused me in hot water and lathered my skin with soap. Then she pummelled my skin, squeezed my muscles and pinched my flesh. I felt like a rag doll in the hands of a mischievous toddler.
      I wanted to respond to her insults, but honestly, I didn’t have the energy, or feel in a position to defend myself with barely any clothes on. When she had finished with one side of my body, she slapped me on the arm and indicated to turn over.
      The women around us clucked like hens, as they watched me squirm and gasp while I was vigorously scoured like a burnt frying pan. Strings of black dirt accumulated on my stomach, arms and legs. Obviously, I hadn’t washed myself as efficiently as I had thought. I was embarrassed, but not surprised by all the grime as I hadn’t had a decent shower since I arrived. When the woman had finished inflicting pain, both verbally and physically, I felt like a freed convict and rushed to the cold chamber to rinse off.
      “She was so rude to me,” I commented to Fatima, as I rinsed.
      “I am sorry for what she said. She is not used to seeing foreigners in this
hammam.”
      My spirit was somewhat bruised, but I stroked my fresh and clean skin while getting dressed. Within a few minutes of waiting, Hussein arrived to pick us up and deliver us back to the house.

 

For those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?

The reader will enjoy a fast-paced story with romance, friendships and betrayals weaved around an increasingly dangerous and threatening story which culminates in an unforeseeable ending.

 
When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?

I look forward to continuing to be as content as I am now.

 snowman
What is your earliest memory?

One of my earliest memories is from when I was a toddler. After a night of heavy snowfall, my brothers and I woke to a garden transformed into a winter wonderland. We bundled up in scarves, coats and gloves to play in it and I built my first snowman with them; carrots, currants, twigs’n’all.

 
How do you spend your free time?

I enjoy family time. We enjoy vacations, walking, especially with our three dogs and sometimes even our cat follows us, boating on Lake Allatoona, camping and gardening.

 
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.

I enjoy reading although I don’t get the chance to read novels as much as I would like. I spend a lot of time reading articles, blogs and news in general on the internet. Amongst my favorite authors are Philippa Gregory, Amy Tan, and Stieg Larsson.

 
Your book is being made into a movie, which star would you cast as Elizabeth?

That’s a great question as it’s my dream that the book be made into a movie. I’m not very au fait with current young actresses but I imagine a young Meg Ryan would make a great Elizabeth.

 
If you could travel to any place and time in history, where and when would you visit?

crowdLike many British subjects, I love the Royal family. I was especially fascinated by Princess Diana, who was only 5 years older than me. If I could travel back in time, I would travel to 29th July 1981, to witness the Royal Wedding celebrations along with the multitudes of enthusiastic well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace in London. As a young teenager, her fairytale wedding was one of my happiest historical memories. Sadly, as we all know, her story is tragic. I was working in Dubai the day I heard about her tragic death and visited the British Embassy to place flowers outside. Her legacy lives on in her children and I miss her humanity and grace.

 
 

Quick fire round:

Favourite Season?

Spring

 
Dream vacation?

Maldives

 
Favourite quote?

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

 
Something unique about you?

I traveled around the world alone when I was 23 years old.

 
Favourite song?

Storms in Africa Parts 1 & 2 by Enya

 
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I hope the reader will enjoy learning about some of the culture, history and beauty of Syria in my story which, in many ways, has irrevocably changed due to the ongoing war. I find myself often thinking about the places I visited, saddened by the fact that much has been destroyed and about the kind people I met and whether they and their families are still alive. My deepest wish is that somehow Syria will one day miraculously return to be a country travelers can visit and be enthralled by the centuries of history and ancient cultures within its boundaries.

 
Thank you ever so much for spending this time with us, Michelle. Best wishes for any and all future projects.

Find out more about Michelle and Gazelle in the Shadows on:

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Gazelle in the Shadows by Michelle Peach

Gazelle in the Shadows

Gazelle in the Shadows is a new political thriller by Michelle Peach. The novel takes place in Syria and is largely based on the authors real life experiences.

“For many years, I have wanted to write this book. The story is largely based on my life,” says Michelle Peach, author of Gazelle in the Shadows. “Although a majority of the novel is entirely true, there are parts that are fictionalized.”

 

Gazelle in the ShadowsIn the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth, a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University, travels to Damascus to immerse herself in the Syrian language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always as they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and a murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.

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Excerpt:

From the Prologue –

When I traveled to Syria as a Durham student in 1992, I knew very little about the country. From the onset, I was overwhelmed by their welcome. But the longer I stayed in Damascus and especially when I started working for Dr. Andrew Rathmell, as his Arabic translator and assistant researcher, the more I understood of Syria’s tumultuous and violent history. At the time, Hafez al-Assad, the President of Syria since 1971, was at the height of his autocratic power and the country was in a state of relative calm since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. His vast security apparatus was evident on every street corner whether army, police or civilian informants. My travel guide dedicated an entire page to the various types of mukhabarat, secret police, present in the country but also reassuringly wrote that Syria was a “safe” country for travelers. Not so obvious was the fear, paranoia and suppression which his people lived under…

 

Praise for Michelle Peach’s Gazelle in the Shadows:

“Compellingly realistic and packed with both psychological and physical action, Gazelle in the Shadows adds an extra layer of cultural understanding to its espionage thriller theme.”

-D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

“Peach integrates myriad plot developments into her exciting and ambitious work … The central conceit is both original and compelling.”

-BookLife Prize

 

“Michelle Peach brings Syrian culture and cityscapes to life with her descriptions and characters… the author is able to accurately capture a specific moment in Middle Eastern history that still has ramifications on modern-day Syrians. For those looking for a glimpse into new cultures with a taste of a spy thriller, Gazelle in the Shadows will both warm your heart and send shivers down your spine.”

-Red City Review

 

“Gazelle in the Shadows is both a coming of age story and a reflection of life in the looking glass world of Hafez al-Asad’s Syria. While told through an intensely personal lens, Michelle’s story provides a sideways look at a Syria that is now gone but also hints at some of the underlying factors that contributed to the country’s ongoing agonies. The book is an unusual combination of bittersweet student memories, geopolitical machinations, and “factionalised” adventures; well worth a read.”

–Dr Andrew Rathmell, Author of Secret War in the Middle East: The Covert Struggle For Syria 1949 -1961

 
 

About the Author:

Michelle Peach - Author HeadshotMichelle Peach graduated from Durham University in 1995 with a B.A. in Arabic with Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. During 1992, she spent her second year of college studying abroad at the Arabic Teaching Institute for Foreigners in Damascus. Since then, Michelle’s love for Syria has never been far from her thoughts. When the unrest began in 2011, her determination to start writing Gazelle in the Shadows intensified. “I was distraught and appalled by the suffering of the people and by the destruction of its historical sites in Aleppo, Palmyra, Bosra, Homs, Damascus and elsewhere. I know that many will not have the opportunity to see the sights of Syria due to the ongoing conflict, but I hope that through my story readers can enjoy the cities, landscapes and culture of Syria.” Gazelle in the Shadows is set to be released in September 2018, published by IngramSpark.

Michelle lives in Atlanta, GA. She is a stay-at-home mom, married with three children.

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The Day of the Accident by Nuala Ellwood

the day of the accident

 

They say you killed…

BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE WRONG?

 
cover134840-mediumSixty seconds after she wakes from a coma, Maggie’s world is torn apart.

The police tell her that her daughter Elspeth is dead. That she drowned when the car Maggie had been driving plunged into the river. Maggie remembers nothing.

When Maggie begs to see her husband Sean, the police tell her that he has disappeared. He was last seen on the day of her daughter’s funeral.

What really happened that day at the river?

Where is Maggie’s husband?

And why can’t she shake the suspicion that somewhere, somehow, her daughter is still alive?

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My Review:

A gripping psychological thriller that kept me turning the pages.

After waking from a coma, Maggie learns that her daughter drowned in the accident that put her in the coma and her husband has disappeared. With no memory of what happened, Maggie tries to piece together the events leading up to the accident.

The book goes from the present to the past and is interspersed with letters from a child, the tone of which changes as time in the child’s life moves on.

Plenty of twists and turns keep you guessing – wrongly – right to the end!

~With thanks to NetGalley.

 
Author Bio:

41c0izePgjL._UX250_Nuala Ellwood – Queen Of The Heart-pounding Psychological Thriller.

Nuala Ellwood is the daughter of an award-winning journalist. She was inspired by his experiences and those of foreign correspondents such as Marie Colvin and Martha Gellhorn to secure Arts Council funding for her research into PTSD for her debut psychological thriller, My Sister’s Bones.

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Great Summer Reads 2018 Countdown Blitz: Day 4

GSRCB 2018 Banner part 1

 

Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

 

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 If they fail…
She could die over 3300 years from home!

Tackle the elements & evil of Ancient Egypt…
A history-changing battle & Time Travel Thriller…

Sons Cover

Fifteen-year-old Rosa doesn’t see dead people…
She hears them & talks to them.

When she agrees to help King Tut’s ghost find his lost queen & clear his family’s name, she doesn’t count on falling for him.

She & Tut must also outwit an evil pharaoh determined to stop them…
Even if it means one of them must die.

Get it today and see who triumphs.

2015 IAN Book of the Year Finalist YA
2015 CAL Book Award Finalist YA Fiction
2014 Literary Classics Seal of Approval
2015 Readers’ Favorite Finalist YA
2014 Literary Classics Silver Medal for PreTeen/Tween

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Picture1
Author Picture 300dpi copyI’m a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past.

Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds.

Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales and Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds.

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Top Ten List:

  1. Things I like to do when not writing:

    I enjoy traveling—I will travel anywhere, any time; reading; spending time with my family; and working in the yard. I’m definitely not a housekeeper.

  2. How I relax:

    Sitting on the beach in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico!

  3. My favorite color:

    Blue’s always been my favorite color. It’s the color of my eyes, of the sky, and of the ocean.

  4. My favorite drink:

    Just can’t pass up a good margarita!

  5. My favorite snack:

    I devour nachos and Auntie Anne’s pretzels!

  6. My favorite movies:

    Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and The Mummy. I’ve watched each of these so many times that I’ve lost track, and my husband shakes his head when he sees one on and says, “Really?” I just smile.

  7. I am a night owl:

    I don’t usually go to sleep until midnight, and now that I’m retired, I’m comfortable not seeing the sun come up in the morning:)

  8. My favorite food:

    That would be a smothered shredded beef burrito followed by coconut ice cream.

  9. My favorite concerts:

    Elton John, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Mumford & Sons.

  10. If I could live anyway, it would be in Colorado.

    We have the best weather—All four seasons. I live next to the foothills, and a drive up in the Rockies is a cure for any ailment. I can see the world famous Red Rock Amphitheater from my couch, and if the wind is just right, we can hear the concerts. My immediate family is all here, except for one sister who lives in Texas, poor soul. In addition to being a retired teacher, I’m also a retired airline employee. So, when I need a change, it’s so easy just to hop a plane and go to the beach.

 

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Saturday Spotlight

 

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Late Bite: Vampire On Trial

by John Matsui

 

Late Bite

Dragul Mangorian is the Vampire for the 21st Century. He’s smart; he’s charming; he’s terrifying. The sole survivor of a race of Vampires, he doesn’t hide in a dark coffin. He has millions of social media followers around the world and is the top-rated host of the hit late night talk show, LATE BITE.

People are dying to be his guests on screen. Off screen, people are just dying.

Lawyer Al Hamblyn spends his time keeping his blood-sucking BFF out of the clutches of the law each time another victim goes down from blood loss.

Millions cheer on the ‘ultimate bad boy’ who many say does great things for humanity. Religious zealots aren’t so sure and want him decapitated.

Villain or hero? Late Bite will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing until the final page.

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My Review:

An enjoyable, well written and unusual book.

Part courtroom drama, part action story, all vampire novel.

With plenty of bite (pun intended) and enough twists to keep you reading.

I’m looking forward to the follow-up books

 

The Author:

John Matsui AuthorJohn Matsui was an award-winning journalist and an innovative public relations consultant. Now he’s focused his inventiveness to create tension and action filled thrillers.

John’s novels – Late Bite, Lycanthrope Rising and Gravity Games are available on Amazon.com and most mainstream international sites.

John and his wife Judy live in Wortley Village, a quaint neighbourhood in London, Ontario — far from vampires, superheroes, and Toronto’s high housing prices.

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Five on Friday

5onFriday

Five Books – Five Authors – Lots of Laughs

 

Looking for a new and humorous book to read this weekend? Try one of these…

 

Cigerets, Guns & BeerTitle: Cigerets, Guns & Beer
Author: Phillip T. Stephens

Murder, sex, buried bank loot and legends of UFOs Dodd breaks up a convenience store robbery when his car breaks down in Sweet Water Falls, Texas. What’s the thanks he gets? The sheriff won’t let him leave, the car lot can’t find the parts and everybody wants him for something-sales pitch, church membership, and even stud pony. But most of all, it seems a family named Dodd were shot down robbing the bank in 1949 and the half million they stole remains missing. Everyone thinks Dodd returned to dig up the loot and no one intends to let him leave until he finds it-along with (or so the legends go) a long lost flying saucer

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My review:

With plenty of dry humour from the beginning, this is an enjoyable book to read.

The characters are well-developed, from the likeable and calm ‘hero’ to the lowbrow backwater villains.

It’s a fast-paced story that has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. Just as you think you know where the story is going it veers off in a different direction.

Due to some descriptive, (though not pornographic,) sex scenes this book is not suitable for young readers.

All in all, I would say that this is a ‘ripping good yarn’.

 

The Jigsaw and the Fan.jpgTitle: The Jigsaw and the Fan
Author: Stewart Bint

How much trouble can one disgruntled ghost really make?

Albert Carter has died, and finds himself in the spirit world to get sorted out at St. Christopher’s gates. Having been a successful shop steward picketing the management of Jebson’s Glue Factory on behalf of his colleagues, he feels confident his final destination is Heaven, with the rest of the decent, honest working class.

However, upon his arrival to St. Christopher’s Doomsday Ministry, an inspectors’ strike causes all spirits in transit to be temporarily relegated to Earth as ghosts until negotiations can be met.

Albert’s ghostly assignment is his worst nightmare: a wealthy lord’s manor which operates on the hard-earned wages of his own class.

Immediately upon arrival he decides to ruin the capitalist family and begins his unlawful haunting as the Ghost of Marlston Manor. Watching him from the heavens is a host of guardian angels, elders, overlords, and scribes—all scrambling to undo the havoc that Albert is blunderingly creating in his short stint as a ghost.

The final straw comes as Albert riles up a “fright” of ghosts to collude and protest their sentences on Earth—and Albert finally faces St. Christopher.

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My review:

Trade unionist, Albert, is dead but his journey to heaven or hell is disrupted by a strike.
Sent to a grand house to wait out the strike, Albert causes trouble for the Lord of the Manor.

A witty and satirical read with a disruptive ghost, quarrelling angels and mysterious beings pulling the strings.

The characters are fully developed and brought to life (…well, death) by Stewart’s pen.

It’s a well-written, humorous book that’s a delight to read.

 

Roads & CircusesTitle: Roads & Circuses
Series: West Dublin Series: Book 1
Author: Tom Mazzone

Some Civil Servants are not so civil.

Marcus O’Malley is the brown-nosing suck-up everyone despised in school. He also happens to be Ireland’s best known barrister who truly has it all: a beautiful runway-model wife, two perfect children, prestige, power and wealth. When he refuses a dangerous villain’s request to defend him of heinous crimes, Marcus is rightly intimidated. A seemingly random opportunity to run for political office pops up and only as means to save him from the threats does he decide to dive in.

With his reputation as a do-gooder, Marcus takes like a duck to water to the local scene and his meteoric rise through the party’s rank begins. But as he sets his sights on becoming Prime Minister, he must cooperate with unsavory colleagues, bide time and determine what’s best for him versus what’s best for the party. Could outside forces bring him down, ruin his career and potentially send him to jail? Can he play the game in the shark-infested waters of Irish politics? Does he want power just for the sake of having power? Is he able to see that the chaos and the mayhem in his life are self-created? Can he continue to fool all of the people all of the time? Including himself?

Roads & Circuses is a thrilling satirical look at the world of politics and the duplicitous mind of a politician. It’s not so much what a politician says or does that should worry you, it’s what they actually THINK! And although set in Ireland, Marcus O’Malley could exist in any country or political party in the world.

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My review:

Satire, wit and laugh out loud moments.

Follow the rise and inevitable fall of manipulative Irish politician, Marcus O’Malley.

The political intrigue, laughable situations and humorous thoughts are well-written.

The characters are memorable though none of them are likeable or have any redeeming qualities.

Even if, like me, you’re not into politics, it is good for laughs.

  

How I Magically Messed Up My LifeTitle: How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days
Series: The Tale of Bryant Adams #1
Author: Megan O’Russell

Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in central park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don’t worry. I never wanted to either. But if you’re ever being chased by ladies made of mist and you have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you’ve never had the guts to say actual words to, there’s an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I’m stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It’ll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

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My review:

An entertaining, action-packed and humorous read!

The book is written from Bryant’s point of view. Bryant is the accidental hero of the book and is a well-drawn character… likeable, socially awkward and ‘madly in love’ with Elizabeth.

When Bryant and his best friend, Devon, find a magical cell phone in a cab their lives and the lives of those around them change dramatically. Eric wants the phone back and is willing to do anything to get it.

Caught between the ‘light and dark’ the four protagonists, with help from some wildly wonderful characters, fight to protect each other and stay alive.

The main characters, as well as some of the supporting cast, in this quick and easy read all have their own personalities, weaknesses and strengths.

The story is imaginative, fast-paced, well-written, and fun to read.

 

Who Killed Randy RatphinkTitle: Who Killed Randy Ratphink?: The Postmortem Adventures of a Fried-Brain Hippie!
Author: Jerry Flu

A paranormal cozy mystery. Randy Ratphink, baby boomer cum geezer boomer, flower-power fossil, way-past-never-trust-anyone-over-thirty sexagenarian suddenly finds himself dead—murdered—and his spirit won’t rest until he discovers whodunit!

From his postmortem perch in the astral plain Randy’s life flashes before him like a Piggly Wiggly surveillance video. Determined to seek out his killer and avenge his murder before he moves into the shining white light, Randy Googles his memories for clues and suspects from his hippie days in the Haight to his present predicament.

But it’s only when he discovers that the identity of his murderer is none other than … well it wouldn’t be much of a mystery if you found out whodunit just yet, would it? So why not begin reading now, and find out for yourself Who Killed Randy Ratphink?

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My review:

Written in the first person, by the late Randy Ratphink, this book takes a light-hearted look back through his life, as well as his time in the after-life.

The book was well-written, detailed and descriptive, and we meet a variety of weird and unpredictable characters as Randy tries to discover his murderer.

Although it was an interesting and, at times, humorous read, I found it to be more of a fictional autobiography than a murder mystery..

 

If you do pick up one of these books and read it, please leave a review.
It doesn’t have to be long and detailed, a few words will do 🙂

Five on Friday

5onFriday

 

Five Books – Five Authors – Five Genres

Looking for a new book to read this weekend? Try one of these 5 reads!

 

View From the Sixth FloorTitle: View From the Sixth Floor
Author: Elizabeth Horton-Newton
Genre:Romantic Thriller

This romantic thriller takes a fictional “what if” look at the JFK assassination.

Suppose accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had lived to defend himself. Imagine if 50 years after the assassination someone stepped forward to reveal the truth of what happened that day. What if the assassination was a conspiracy and the impact of those revelations reached into the 21st century?

This is the story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. You’ll never look at your neighbors the same way.

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My review:

A fascinating and unique take on an unforgettable event in American history.

The book is as much a romance as it is a thriller. It’s well-written and the story ticks along at a steady pace.

The main characters of the story, Olivia and Bill, are believable and make a great couple. It was refreshing to read a book in which the protagonists were older than I am!

The book is written in the first person and after a page or two, I felt like Olivia was telling her story to me personally and from that moment on I was hooked on this interesting and enjoyable read!

 

Storm PortalTitle: Storm Portal
Series: Quantum Touch #1
Author: Michael R. Stern
Genre: Time-travel

Time travel is real, of that, Fritz was certain. He’d just done it. Meeting Robert E. Lee was fascinating, especially the way he got along with the kids. But witnessing the Triangle Fire with his class was scary. As a history teacher, his job was to teach, not participate, in events long past. And what if they hadn’t been able to get home?

Fritz Russell, an experienced and well-liked teacher at Riverboro High School, has found a portal to the past, his classroom door. But his trips didn’t happen every time. To make matters worse, he and his principal, George McAllister, walked in on the President of the United States. The portal was also a tunnel in the present. And he had no idea how it happened, how to control it, or what damage he was causing, in the future.

With his wife, Linda, and his friends, Fritz investigates the mysteries of time travel, of the portal itself, while the nation’s security apparatus gears up. Can the President help them?

Can they find the answers in time?

Amazon

My review:

Michael R. Stern brings a new twist to the concept of time travel in this fun, fast-paced and inventive read.

The quality of his writing makes it easy and exciting to read. It’s a real page-turner, with a new surprise or twist with each turn of the page.

The captivating plot isn’t overloaded with science, but takes you on a wild ride into the past and back to the present day, bringing history to life on the way.

All the characters, past and present, are fleshed out and have their own personalities. Fritz is a down to earth, nice guy who cares for his wife and his friends, is committed to his students, and struggling to understand the circumstances he has found himself in. The President is tactful and poised and responds with confidence to the unique situation, as befitting his position. Ash is intriguing, and I think there may be more to him than meets the eye.

Storm Portal is a wonderful start to the series and I am eager to read book 2, Sand Storm

 

Raising HellTitle: Raising Hell
Author: Phillip T. Stephens
Genre: Humour

A clueless optimist ruins a perfectly good hell.

Pity poor Lucifer. He rules hell with a vice grip. Demons and damned scatter at the sound of his foot steps. The Supreme Butt In hasn’t pestered him in eons. Lucifer’s future looks perfect, pitch black, until an administrative error sticks him with an innocent soul—an overweight optimist who calls himself Pilgrim and who believes he must be in hell to do good.

Lucifer never considers sending him back. He orders his subordinates to torture, degrade and humiliate Pilgrim until he promises to become evil if only it will ease the pain. Unfortunately, Pilgrim makes the best of the worst possible experiences. Always polite and well-mannered, he makes Pollyanna seem like a prophet of doom. Even worse, the damned start catching on, and set about making hell into the most enjoyable place of everlasting torment they can.

Lucifer can’t let Pilgrim continue to wreak happiness, but he can’t send him back untainted, either. When God arrives with a deadline for Pilgrim’s return, he enlists fellow fallen angels Screwtape, Azazel and the gender morphing Mephistopheles in a plot to corrupt Pilgrim’s soul before the deadline expires.

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My review:

An unusual, one-of-a-kind, laugh-out-loud road trip through Hell.

This book is unique it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.
Phillip T. Stephens is a master of one-liners with a brilliant, albeit dark and mature, sense of humour.

It’s a descriptive, brimming with details, that make you feel as though you’re there, however, this doesn’t prevent the story from moving along at a good pace.
The characters are well-written and likeable and had me alternating between rooting for Pilgrim and feeling sorry for His Satanic Majesty Lucifer, Sovereign Lord of Hell.

I loved the names for all the different parts of hell.

 

GravitasTitle: Gravitas: Valkyrie in the Forbidden Zone
Series: The Gravitas Series – Sybil of Valkyrie Book 1
Author: Lynne Murray
Genre: Sci-Fi

Trapped in the Forbidden Zone with no way out.

A predatory warrior is on Sybil’s trail, the one man she could never forget stands beside her and a dangerous payload of Gravitas, a powerful aphrodisiac, has been implanted in her body. Rescue is impossible, all portals are sealed. Can she protect herself, shield her hazardous cargo and find a way home before the Gravitas destroys her?

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My review:

A well-written and fast-paced adventure. I liked the plot and the humour of this easy to read book.

I enjoyed the author’s ideas on how people from other worlds and cultures may see us, and the attention to detail and witty dialogue.

The author’s take on the origin of religions on earth is unique and amusing.

The characters are interesting and memorable, and I loved that the heroine, Sybil, is a ‘well-built’ woman instead of the size zero that seems to be the norm in a lot of books as well as in society itself.

 

FreshmenTitle: Freshmen
Series: The Felix Chronicles #1
Author: R.T. Lowe
Genre: Fantasy

Reeling from a terrible accident that claimed the lives of his parents, Felix arrives at Portland College hoping only to survive the experience. In time, however, with the help of his reality star roommate, and Allison, his friend from home, he immerses himself in the distractions of college life and gradually dares to believe he can put his past behind him.

But a fateful storm looms on the horizon: In the nearby woods, two hikers become the latest victims in a series of gruesome murders; a disfigured giant embarks on a vicious cross-country rampage, killing teenagers who fail his ‘test’; an ancient society of assassins tasked with eradicating the wielders of a mysterious source of power awakens after a long silence; and a grassroots movement emerges from the shadows to capture the public’s imagination, its hidden agenda as revolutionary and terrifying as the man who created it. Only one man—the school’s groundskeeper—knows that the seemingly unrelated events are connected, and that an eighteen-year-old boy stands in the center of the storm.

Amazon

My review:

I really enjoyed reading this book. If you like your books short and sweet, this isn’t the book for you!
I have no problems reading a good long book as it gives me something to sink my teeth into.

The Prologue is long and at first I was unable to see the connection to the story, but it all made sense as events happen and the various plot lines meet along the way.

Q. What do you get if you mix monsters attacking and eating people in a forest, a serial killer who kills teenagers, a stalker, a band of assassins and a group of college kids?
A. A damn good story!!

The book is well-paced, with vivid descriptions, and plenty of suspense and action. There are violent scenes, some of which are quite graphic. However, there is also normal college life and moments of humour.

Felix and his friends are all realistically portrayed and wonderfully fleshed out. As are The Faceman and other villains of the piece.

I was surprised and slightly disappointed to find the end of the book wasn’t the end of this complex story and I am eager to find out what the author has planned next, for Felix and his friends.

 

If you do pick up one of these books and read it, please leave a review.
It doesn’t have to be long and detailed, a few words will do 🙂

 

Books I Read In January 2016
Books I read in November 2015
Books I Read in September 2015