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Review & Giveaway: Infinity’s Gateway by James S. Parker

INFINITY’S GATEWAY
by JAMES S. PARKER
Published by: Morgan James Publishing
Series: The Infinity’s Gateway Trilogy
Pages: 361 Pages
Pub Date: January 26th, 2021
Categories: Science Fiction / Adventure / Action
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Every year, all across the planet, people simply vanish, completely disappear and are never seen again. Some areas of the world are well known for this phenomenon. Infinity’s Gateway opens with a very famous incident that took place just after the end of World War II with the United States Navy. The story then jumps to the present day with an unexplainable event that occurs off the coast of Florida, an event that cannot be ignored by the military.
The Navy ship Eclipse and its crew are sent to investigate, but after several days come up empty. Two days before returning to port, the event reoccurs, and the Eclipse is caught up in something it cannot escape. The Eclipse and its crew suddenly find themselves completely isolated, all communication lost, surrounded by a terribly hostile environment where each day is a struggle to survive. Infinity’s Gateway is an intense, action packed story of survival, self-reliance, and discovery.

PRAISE FOR INFINITY’S GATEWAY:

Infinity’s Gateway is an engaging science fiction thriller with tones of Michael Crichton Tom Clancy. To fans of the science fiction genre it will feel like an old friend with a surprising, and exciting new makeover.” —Joseph Mauceri, Executive Editor, Fearsmag.com.

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Review

Infinity’s Gateway by James S. Parker was a timely read for me since I have a Florida trip coming up and also have a Bermuda Triangle story of my own. When I was 8, I was on the maiden voyage of Carnival Cruise’s Ecstasy that sailed out to the Bahamas. When we were in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle, something shut off (the stabilizers perhaps?) and tons of people were getting seasick. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I am terrified of the Bermuda Triangle to this day because of the experience.

Parker’s characters obviously faced greater obstacles than getting seasick. I can’t imagine the terror of flying and suddenly losing all communication and instruments. I was invested from the onset with Parker’s choice to reimagine Flight 19 and the frenzied orchestration of people that were desperate to bring everyone home safely. You know that it’s not going to end well, but that doesn’t stop you from hoping that it will all work out.

When we are brought to the present, it feels like everyone is trying their best to not utter the name “Bermuda Triangle.” On one hand, I get it. These are military people who operate off of cold hard facts and not tabloids. On the other hand, Area 51… but I digress. While I felt that the scenes leading up to the actual departure of the Eclipse were a bit long, it was interesting to hear all of the different theories of what the gateway was. I won’t go into them because that kind of spoils the point of reading the book, but I liked getting a glimpse into the military mindset of things.

What really makes or breaks a story for me are the characters. I don’t have to like them necessarily, but they have to be interesting and believable. Brett Colton is compared to James Bond and I have to agree with that assessment. Colton appears to harbor very few secrets but at the same time, holds his true self very close to his vest. It’s kind of like how everybody knows what James Bond’s real name is (isn’t that a no no if you’re a secret agent?) but they don’t know what really goes on in his heart. There are other characters that are equally interesting as well that I hope get fleshed out even more in the next book.

While slow at times, I really enjoyed the series of events that occurred and could imagine them playing out on the big screen. I envision a Predator meets The X-Files type flick with a leading man that is unquestionably strong and manly with just a hint of sarcasm. Try as I might, I had trouble picturing anyone other than Michelle Rodriguez as badass Garrett. Parker doesn’t give much of a physical description for Father Ryan, but I couldn’t help but imagine a handsome, older yet physically fit priest. Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

There were so many different directions that Parker could have taken with this book and I am excited about the choices that he made. I truly look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Every now and then author James S. Parker has a vision. And, when he does, he sees people and places off in the misty distance. Sometimes these visions are futuristic and filled with danger. Most often they are mystical, with good and evil and a cast of characters who beautifully represent both.

In his high school years James experienced a spine-tingling brush with the supernatural. That single event – complete with the sound of heavy footsteps and an invisible visitor – etched forever in his mind the idea that life is much more mysterious than we oftentimes admit — that the spiritual world is all around us, and that its impact on us cannot be denied.

Though he sees through a glass darkly, he writes as though he has been granted a glimpse into the unknown, one that has informed his novels and their powerful stories of good and evil and the struggles we all face every day to assure that good wins.

Infinity’s Gateway, the first book in a fascinating sci-fi adventure trilogy, is his latest work. James lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Margaret. He is available for in-person and online book club visits.

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Promo & Giveaway: To the Republic by Bruce Clavey

TO THE REPUBLIC
The Republic Series, Book One
BY BRUCE CLAVEY
Publication Date: October 26th, 2020
Pages: 394 pages
Categories: Hispanic American Fiction / Political Fiction

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A novel for our times. A saga for the ages.


On the eve of passing landmark immigration legislation, the entire Texas Senate and its native Tejano leader, Diego Reyes, vanish suddenly from Austin. When news of the disappearance hits West Texas, cowboy Del Woodward isn’t shocked. He knows exactly where the lawmakers are, but he’s not telling. Woody’s been down on his luck, and a shady bargain he’s made puts him tight in the squeeze of Marcos Cepeda, north Mexico’s ruthless drug lord. And Cepeda’s furious with this new stall in the bill. It’s got a loophole he can exploit to add another quarter million square miles of exclusive turf to his cartel—but that territory goes back up for grabs if leader Reyes can’t pass the bill before the Senate session expires in mere days. The brutal kingpin wants what he’s bought and compels Woody to step up. How the cowboy swings the vote isn’t important to Cepeda, but this sure is: if Woody breathes so much as a word of reluctance, it’ll be his last. The prize is Texas, nothing less. It’s real, and it’s on.
The Republic Series launches from true pages of the Lone Star frontera story into a hauntingly modern arena of trade, trafficking, and tradition on the Rio Grande in To the Republic: BOOK ONE.
An Amazon #1 New Release in History of U.S. Immigration
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Bruce Clavey of Round Rock, Texas writes with a passion for exploring the Latin heritage tucked in cultural corners throughout Texas, Mexico, and Central America. In 2017, Clavey’s research into perspectives on state history led to his onsite rediscovery of the Mexico City dungeon where the colonial “Father of Texas” was imprisoned, documented in his book “The Inquisition of Stephen F. Austin.” His interest to illuminate compelling historic junctures brought the creation of several feature dramatizations for state museum in-exhibit performance. Clavey’s release of Book One of The Republic Series in 2020 begins the journey of Texas and Mexican characters who confront the pressure points at today’s vibrant river border, a land that has functioned for centuries as both international gateway and barrier.

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THREE WINNERS each receive a prize pack including: Autographed paperback copy of To the Republic; unisex tee with the “Texas Forever” design; baseball cap stitched with the “Texas Forever” design; ceramic lapel pin with the “Mano de Tejas” design; vinyl 5” decal with the “Mano deTejas” design.

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Review & Giveaway: The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon

THE MAD RAMBLINGS OF A JOKER
By Brandon Dillon
Publisher: Paper Airplane Publishing
Pub Date: January 24, 2021
Pages: 156 pages
Categories: Poetry / Psychology / PTSD / Veteran Stories

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Poet Brandon Dillon makes his debut with The Mad Ramblings of a Joker, a brutally honest collection full of metaphor and vibrant imagery. His work covers topics such as PTSD, depression, and heartbreak, and softer moments of hope and reflective peace.
His poetry is deep and unforgettable, a beacon for a dark world that needs a friend to say, “I’ve been there. I understand.”
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Review

I had a mission when I picked up The Mad Ramblings of a Joker by Brandon Dillon. I have an online friend who is suffering from PTSD, and I wanted to get more insight on what she is experiencing. I didn’t expect to relate to anything within the slim book of poetry, but so much resonated with me. And I think that anyone, man or woman, ex-military or lifelong civilian, can relate to Dillon’s inner thoughts that he so graciously shares on the page.

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has never said one thing when they meant something completely different. A person who doesn’t deliberately hide their feelings because they know that the other person couldn’t handle them, would maybe sit through them uncomfortably, but then sneak away and never return. I think we have all, at one time or another, wondered about the point of this life and wished for something better, to be a better person.

For someone who rambles, Dillon has a delightful symmetry to his writing. Many of his poems have an opening that is echoed, either exactly or slightly altered, in the last stanza. Or a short line is repeated throughout with a different response – sort of like the congregational response part of a church service (but in reverse). Sometimes the poetry is more free form – whole paragraphs of ideas that are too large to be confined by stanzas. And although he flits between time and place, there is a flow from each poem to the next. It made me wonder if Dillon curated his collection before publishing or if this was the natural order they were written in whatever notebook he might have jotted them down in.

I like how open and honest the poems are. Not a shred of pretentiousness that I often detect in collections of poetry. Like the writer remembered all the rules of poetry from school and deliberately applied them while overusing a thesaurus at the same time. Dillon does none of those things and it is a breath of fresh air.

As someone who grew up Christian but now identifies more as a spiritual person who still has questions, I very much identified with the poem “Pointless.” This line in particular hit me hard, “What if I do not want to live forever; what if I do not want to be reborn?” The other poem that I felt a particularly strong connection with was “New Year, New Me.” The message that we shouldn’t make false promises to ourselves but “Instead, look back honestly on your year and build upon the success you have had, and learn from the mistakes you have made…”

While on the topic of mistakes, there were typos in this book that I feel like could have been avoided with some editing. I acknowledge that rambling might break the conventions of punctuation, but the typos and misspellings that are scattered throughout the pages were distracting. (The publisher has a revised version in the works now.)

I don’t keep much poetry on my bookshelf, but this book will definitely have a place in my collection. I have bookmarked several poems that I plan to share with my friend and other poems that I plan to reread and meditate on later. This is the sort of book that I know I will reference later for different seasons in my life or to share with someone else.

Brandon Dillon is an award-winning poet who writes from the soul about his life as a child born into poverty, his travels around the world as a U.S. Marine, love won and love lost, and the trauma that life brings. If you ask him his biggest accomplishments thus far, he will tell you they are the laughter and tears of the audience as he reads his words on the stage for them. He is amazed when people feel his emotion and in turn show him their emotion.
He has twice performed by invitation, reading his poetry at the FASOLT Fine Arts Expo, and has participated twice in “Color: Story,” a collaboration between poets and visual artists, winning first place in 2019. When he is not working or taking care of his two sons, Brandon frequents open mic readings for poetry and all genres of writing with the group Writespace and performs at open mic and slam poetry events with the group Write About Now, at times reading something he just wrote that day.
He is never far from his notebook, fitting his writing in between shifts at work, kids and homework, and sleeping. Brandon lives in Houston, Texas.
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WINNER:
Autographed copy of The Mad Ramblings of a Joker
+ leather journal (5.7” x 8.5”)

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Review & Giveaway: A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers by Babette Fraser Hale

A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS
By Babette Fraser Hale
Pages: 216
Pub Date: March 1st, 2021
Categories: Short Stories / Literary Fiction

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Most are newcomers to the scenic, rolling countryside of central Texas whose charms they romanticize, even as the troubles they hoped to leave behind persist. Twelve stories highlight “the book’s recurring theme of desire—for freedom, for clarity, for autonomy, and for personal fulfillment…When women are alone, unencumbered and unbeholden to anyone, they engage in intense internal reflection and show reverence for nature—and during these scenes, Hale’s language is luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews). 
 
 
PRAISE FOR A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS: 
“Hale shows a great respect for her characters and for the difficulty of their deceptively ordered existence, as well as for the problems they suffer because so much cannot be spoken.” — Francine Prose, on “Silences” 
 

“A vivid set of tales about connection to other people and to the natural world…Hale’s lovely prose shows a keen eye for detail…” 

Kirkus Reviews

Purchase Links: 

Winedale PublishingBrazos Bookstore | Amazon

Review

A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers by Babette Fraser Hale is one of those books that made me take a second look at what I thought I knew and realized that while I may have had an inkling, I am definitely not an expert. Intrigued? You should be.

I have always had mixed feelings about collections of short stories. If I am feeling like a particularly lazy type of reader, I get annoyed when all of the stories don’t converge nicely into a neat little package. Other times, I revel in the author’s ability to evoke such varied and strong emotions from bits and bobs of stories that just materialized in their wonderful mind.

Because I had no clue what I was jumping into exactly, I started reading the first half of this book waiting for the connection between the stories. And once I realized that there was no connecting plot, I was able to sit back and experience the simple, yet complex, characters and be captivated by someone else’s mundane life. That might sound a little boring, but it wasn’t at all. Especially when you take into account the different time periods that Hale sweeps you away to briefly, sometimes a little too briefly. That’s always the problem with short stories, isn’t it? They very often leave you wanting more.

And just as I was accepting the idea that there was no connection between the stories, alas, I found at least one. A woman trying to appease or figure out a man (or boy) at the detriment of her own happiness. I don’t know if that was Hale’s intention, but that was my takeaway from this book. At any rate, I felt like I was reading a cautionary tale of a woman losing herself.

I recall perking up when I got to the “wall of bright dead feathers” part of the book. My brain was jumping up and down, gesticulating wildly for me to sit up and take note. I did, kind of, but I realize that the significance was lost to me until I got to the very end. I guess that taking a mental inventory of the stories when I reached the end helped me to draw my own conclusion about the meaning behind the book’s title.

So who should read this book? Definitely women. There’s a strong vibe of casting off the patriarchy mixed in with a dash of throwing caution to the wind. But I think that the stories are so deeply Texan that this book could be part of the curriculum for a southwestern literature class as well.

Babette Fraser Hale’s fiction has won the Meyerson Award from Southwest Review, a creative artist award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and been recognized among the “other distinguished stories” in Best American Short Stories, 2015. Her story “Drouth” is part of the New York Public Library’s digital collection. Her nonfiction has appeared in Texas Monthly, Houston City, and the Houston Chronicle. She writes a personal essay column for the Fayette County Record.

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Blitz & Giveaway: Aggravated by Michael Sirois

AGGRAVATED
BY MICHAEL SIROIS
 
Publisher: Truth Boots Publishing, LLC
Pages: 389 Pages
Pub Date: December 11, 2020
Categories: True Crime / Criminal Procedural Law
 
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Description: In 2006, the author’s brother, Steve Sirois, was sentenced to serve 35 years in a Texas prison for a horrendous crime, aggravated sexual assault of a child — a crime Steve swore he didn’t commit. After the conviction, Michael started helping Steve write his appeals, but what he saw in the trial transcripts made him question how a jury could have convicted his brother based on that testimony.

Steve’s accuser originally gave vague dates for the crime but soon abandoned those dates and even replaced the details of her claims with new ones. There was no forensic evidence, no DNA, no physical evidence of any kind: nothing but his accuser’s words. The author wondered if he could prove that her accusations were false. But how?

Using affidavits, court transcripts, and interviews, along with additional evidence from public information requests and other factual data, the book lays out a devastating portrait of an untruthful accuser, an overzealous prosecutor, a jury that made a deal to swap votes in order to gain a conviction, and the series of lies that led to that outcome.

Purchase: Amazon 

Michael Sirois was reading by the age of four and was writing quirky short stories by the third grade. In high school he added acting to his bag of tricks. After graduating from the University of Houston, he taught writing, drama, and technology in the middle school trenches for two decades, but continued to act and write, placing well in competitions like the Writer’s Digest Short Story contest and the HBO Project Greenlight series. His first novel, The Jagged Man, was published in 2015, and a two-book series, If a Butterfly, is slated to be published in late-Spring 2021.

After running educational outreach programs at Rice University for seven years, he retired and lives with his wife, Minay, in Spring, Texas, where he is hard at work on a thriller, The Hawthorn’s Sting, and a mystery/thriller, Murder Between Friends, hoping to have a first draft of at least one of them by late-2021. Ideas for a few more are also floating around in that scary place called his brain. Stay tuned.

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Review & Giveaway: All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 
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All the Cowboys Ain’t Goneis the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
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Review

All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson surprised me in all the best possible ways. In my typical fashion, I didn’t read the blurb or summary before diving into this beauty, so I thought I was headed for a good ol’ Western. Y’know, cowboys on a trail ride, telling stories by a campfire, and maybe a saloon fight or two. So when we’re introduced to a young Lincoln Smith who gets busted for reading a book about the French Foreign Legion, I immediately knew that I had miscalculated and was eager to read on.

Jacobson’s knack for writing very natural dialogue allows each scene to play out cinematically in my mind. From the strict but doting former schoolteacher (Lincoln’s mother), to the devious and dishonorable Humberto Hill, Jacobson paints a clear portrait of each character and really breathes life into each of them. So much so that I was completely shocked at how much happened in the first part of the book, a scant 31 pages.

While Part One truly reads like a Western, Part Two has a more modern feel as we follow Lincoln through college and his stateside adventures. After a series of mishaps, Lincoln does what many others have done in his position. He remembers the dream of his childhood and, having nothing to hold him back, turns his dream into reality. Though the people who love him try to persuade him otherwise, our young adventurer is wise enough to know that life is too short to not pursue your dreams. With each new chapter of his life unfolding, Lincoln encounters interesting characters, both good and bad, and it’s entertaining to see how he handles himself in the various scrapes he gets into.

Part Three brings about another shift in tone as we arrive in Mur, as it is at the cusp of joining the modern world. Given that Lincoln romanticizes the place for being part of the old world, it is interesting to anticipate how he will feel once he arrives. And as the author envelopes us in this new place, it is difficult, yet exciting, to imagine how Lincoln’s story will intersect with King Suleiman’s. With each reference to legends, history, and archaeology, I have to admit that my brain immediately drew parallels to Indiana Jones. But I found Lincoln to be wiser and more grounded than Doctor Jones. Also, this book has me raring to do some of my own research on the French Foreign Legion and the history of men fighting for other countries to pay for their world travels.

This book might not be a typical Western (although to be honest, there are trail rides, campfire stories, and saloon fights) but I think that it is so much more. Much like the Alexandre Dumas books that are referenced, this book has a swashbuckling hero, true blue friendships, and romantic love that defies fate. It doesn’t read like a sequel, but I would love to hear more about what happens to Lincoln next.

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

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Review & Giveaway: Scorched Earth by Kathleen McFall & Clark Hays

SCORCHED EARTH
THE HALO TRILOGY, BOOK 2
by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays
Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Pages: 318
Date of Publication: February 14th, 2021
Categories: Science Fiction / Hard Boiled Detective

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The year is 2188 and the Earth—long-ago abandoned for Mars by the plutocrats—is scorched by poverty, disease, and environmental collapse. What these wealthy elite don’t know is that on his last trip upuniverse, Detective Crucial Larsen stumbled onto a secret that could destroy them. But he doesn’t intend to use it. Fighting back against the ruling Five Families of Mars is a fool’s game destined for failure—or worse, he thinks. Plus, he never wants to set foot on that damn planet again. Then Melinda, his long-lost love and a staff scientist on Mars, begs for his help clearing her fiancée of a murder charge. Crucial jumps on the next q-rocket, hoping maybe this time he can patch things up with Mel. His investigation ultimately leads back to the radiation-blasted sunbelt, where cannibal lizard-people—a climate change mitigation genetic experiment gone terribly wrong—hold the key to a different future, if only Crucial can stay alive long enough to unlock it.

 

Praise for Scorched Earth:

“Others have attempted to blend the genres of an investigative detective piece with sci-fi, but few achieve such a seamless integration as do McFall and Hays … a compelling saga, edgy and different, thoroughly absorbing.” 

Midwest Book Review

 

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Review

Scorched Earth by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays is the fourth book I have read by this talented couple, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with their ability to build such a bleak and interesting future. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but I feel like most authors figure out their lane and stay in it. The duo’s Bonnie and Clyde series was so well written that for a second, my brain wouldn’t accept that they co-authored this amazing science fiction novel with the totally rad cover. (Can I get the cover art on a T-shirt, please?) So what is their lane? Anything action packed with brilliant characters and punchy dialogue, apparently.

So, normally I would complain about a book that didn’t do the whole exposition thing thoroughly for the previous books in the series. But I liked how this one gives you just enough information to power through and understand what is going on. And if the intention was to make the reader want to go back and read Book One, mission accomplished. Thankfully, there were only two or three instances where I was kicking myself for not reading the previous book, but they were enough for me to add Gates of Mars to my TBR list. And best believe that it will get read before Book Three comes out.

There is a delicate balance to writing good science fiction. The future has to be different enough from the present to make a plausible and realistic story, but at the same time not be completely off-the-wall to the point that the reader scoffs at the unlikelihood of any of it coming true one day. The idea that humans have migrated to Mars is not a new one – what with all of our Mars missions and other fiction works where science has finally figured out how to sustain life on the Red Planet. What I found particularly compelling in this new world is the monopoly on leading a comfortable life on Mars and the lengths that people will go to fight against or maintain that power.

And it is these people, AI included, that really make this book a fantastic read. Not only do McFall and Hays write a seamless story, a feat that many co-authors are unable to accomplish, but they create these colorful characters with wonderful voices and quirks. Even the characters that you probably won’t care much for, you kind of do, because as annoying as they are, you are now invested in what happens to them.

This is definitely a series that I hope Netflix or some other streaming service will pick up and make into a movie or TV show. Do yourself a favor; make sure you read Gates of Mars if you haven’t already. I bet that there are some truly hilarious and exciting moments in that book, as there will be in Book Three, no doubt.

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed.  Scorched Earth is their ninth co-authored book.

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Review & Giveaway: Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 2, 2021

Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 
 
Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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Baker Books (Revell) | Amazon | BN | Christianbook.com

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Blitz & Giveaway: Knock! Knock! by Douglas Thompson

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KNOCK! KNOCK!
Lessons Learned and Stories Shared 
by DOUGLAS THOMPSON
Categories: Nonfiction / Motivational Stories / Positivity / Relationship Building / Integrity / Time Management / Entrepreneurship
Publisher: Lucid House Publishing
Date of Publication: January 8, 2021
Pages: 154
 
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Knock! Knock! is a fast-paced, fun-filled journey through the author’s career in sales that not only teaches you how to be better at selling but to also have a ton of fun while you are doing it.
 
Knock! Knock! invites you to join Doug on what salespeople call “a ride along,” which is where a senior salesperson shows a newbie the ropes. This book delivers a winning sales philosophy learned through years of experience and is illustrated by real-life stories that Doug shares — along with multiple Knock-Knock Moments (or lessons and revelations learned) that have fueled his career and that he believes will help yours.
 
Every one of us is in Sales. If you deal with people, you are in sales. Knock! Knock! teaches you how to get out of your Comfort Zone to believe in yourself and to believe in the product, services, or message you are trying to sell. But it also teaches you to have a great time while you are doing it.
 
 

Purchase: Amazon | Main Street Reads

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Douglas Thompson’s passion for improving the customer’s experience as well as the sales profession continues to drive him as he comes up with new ideas to answer this question: How can we make the sales process better? Starting out as an insurance agent going down the street selling accident insurance by knocking on doors, Doug quickly moved into the management side of the life and health insurance industry, hiring and training agents to be successful doing the same. His ability to build successful sales teams caught the eye of the corporate leadership of several major companies. Doug became the vice president of sales and marketing for Conseco and was recruited to do the same for Pacificare, UnitedHealthcare, American Republic, Tranzact, and Humana.
Currently, he is the marketing director for a large national insurance wholesaler that recruits and trains insurance agents and agencies in the senior marketplace across the country, and he continues to build his own general agency, which offers life and health products to the senior population. He is known nationally for his innovations in the sales industry and frequently speaks and trains on his favorite topic of sales.
Doug and his wife Shirley own a Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas.

Follow Douglas Thompson on: Facebook | Website | Goodreads


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Review & Giveaway: Alfie Carter by BJ Mayo

BNR Alfie Carter

ALFIE CARTER
by
BJ Mayo
 
Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Pages: 288
Published: January 19th, 2021
Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
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Cover Alfie Carter med res

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Purchase: Skyhorse Publishing

Review

Alfie Carter by BJ Mayo is a book that cannot be judged by its cover. Don’t get me wrong, the cover is quite beautiful, as is the heart of the story. But that does not begin to touch the darkness contained within its pages and the resilience of the characters to overcome it. If you were to pick this book up with the intent of reading a fluffy, inspirational novel, you would be rocked to your core.

The premise of the book is very interesting and, to be completely honest, had so much going on that I felt like this story should have been broken up into two, if not three, separate books. When we begin with the stoic Jackaleena breaking down over the brutal attack on a young girl, we know that we are about to hear a horrific story. For anyone who has kept up with the news in Africa, the crimes against humanity, especially women and young girls, is not a secret. Mayo’s ability to write from the perspective of this brave young girl is believable with its seemingly contradicting qualities of awareness and innocence. His treatment of the violence is handled with honesty and as much sensitivity as an author can use to describe such evil.

When we switch gears to follow around the Alfie character, you get to understand why the book is named after him. I imagine that the people in his town, and even his own wife, sometimes think that there’s not much complication to the man. But, thankfully, we the readers are privy to his innermost thoughts and feelings. A quick glance at Mayo’s biography has me thinking that Alfie most likely was not based on himself, but his familiarity with the character has me believe that he knows someone like Alfie in real life. The character is too complex and too visceral to not be based on a real person, even just a little bit.

I think the story could have hit even harder with some good editing, both on the line edit level and the overall shaping of the novel. Certain scenes just ran too long in my opinion, and the synopsis of the book misleads you into thinking that there is more interaction between Alfie and Jackaleena than we actually get to see. To be fair, it sounds like the sequel will definitely provide more of those details, but I was setup to believe that they would be revealed in this book, not the next. Also, with the amount of God and Christianity talk, I think that this book should have been labeled as a Christian novel.

I recommend this book to people who are interested in reading about a place very different from where most of us reside, but who are not squeamish about violence. This book makes you think about the things and the people you might take for granted. I look forward to reading more about these characters. Four stars for an uplifting story of hope and making new beginnings.

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author pic Mayo

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.
Visit BJ Mayo at his website: https://bjmayo.com/

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