Book Review: Vigilante Girl By Phillipa Braham

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

16-year-old Cathy Hunter wants revenge.

It is 2024, when criminal trials take place on television, with the verdict decided by public vote. Under this populist system, Cathy’s uncle Bobby Jensen was found guilty of raping and murdering his 13-year-old daughter Judith, in the face of overwhelming DNA evidence, despite an alibi. And now he is dead–the victim of an unsuccessful escape attempt planned by his niece.

It was Cathy herself who gave him an alibi at his trial. But the public didn’t believe her and she was vilified as a sick perjurer. Now she wants revenge on all the people responsible for uncle Bobby’s death…the DNA “expert”…the cop who interrogated Bobby…the DA…and TV personality “Judge Jenny” who is more into stripping than law.

Cathy Hunter is…the Vigilante Girl…

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I loved this 13 chapter book. It was raw and edgy filled with suspense. The author had an awesome talent with dialogue. The conversations were intriguing and pretty realistic. I liked the set-up of Cathy’s first person point-of-view with other characters’ accounts who was involved in the tragedy.

Her uncle Bobby taught Cathy hacking skills. He was accused of being a pedophile, of raping and murdering his own daughter Judy. His trial was featured on the internet show Jenny’s Justice were he was found guilty. Cathy had believed her uncle was innocent, so she planned on killing everyone directly involved in her uncle’s case. She believed they deserved punishment.

My favorite lines: 1) But it’s hard to hate a phantom, hard to get angry with an invisible enemy. How can you hate some one when you can’t put a name or a face to them? 2) What I’m doing now isn’t about playing the system. And it sure as hell isn’t about respecting the system. It’s about beating the system.

I liked that the narration used “you” a lot, so it felt like Cathy was talking directly to me. Made everything more personal as a reader. The flashbacks, especially of Judy being chased in her home right before her brutal attack, were eerie. I cringed during that moment because the author brought the scene to life with her descriptions and images. Maybe I’ve seen too many Law and Order: SVU episodes, but I believe Uncle Bobby when he claimed his innocence. I expect a twist of who the real pedophile is. I have a suspect in mind. Since the story ended with a cliffhanger, I plan to read the next book to see if I’m right.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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Book Review: Chief Inspector Jewel Friedman By Jan Jacob Mekes

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Meet Detective…uh…Chief Inspector Jewel Friedman, a brilliant, quirky young woman who is one of the most talented detectives of Scotland Yard. Follow in her footsteps as she solves five bizarre murder cases.

In “The Magic Bullet,” Jewel solves a locked-room murder mystery. In another story, she finds that even on a holiday in Hawaii, she can’t get away from work, and in “Skewered at the Shard,” Jewel is confronted with a burglary gone horribly wrong.

SONY DSCI enjoyed this book that contained 5 short stories. The mystery element reminded me of the boardgame “Clue.” The author was great with dialogue. It was pretty fun the way Jewel figured out the culprits.

Jewel Friedman and the Magic Bullet–Sir William Ryebread was shot in the back; he died at his apartment. I liked how the killer was catty towards Jewel, calling her a nerd and eternal virgin LOL. My favorite lines: 1) Fifteen minutes later, five police officers  were searching every nook and cranny of the house for weapons. It did not take them long, because there weren’t all that many nooks or crannies. 2) “Here we go,” said Thomas. “When you say it’s only a small thing, you’re actually asking me to move a mountain or turn lead into gold.”

Jewel Friedman and the Mail Order Murder–Joseph Steinhauer was stabbed in the back. Jewel had been bored because she was solving cases within 24 hours; she was excited that she finally got an interesting murder case. I liked how Matt (her coworker) flirted with her, but she wasn’t having any of that. Their dynamic was cute. Her back and forth with her boss was cool too. The witness was weird, in a funny way. I enjoyed the twist at the end, but it definitely ended in a cliffhanger. My favorite line: Cute, Jewel thought as he drove off. Too bad he’s a monumental idiot.

Jewel Friedman and The Tropical Surprise–This was one of my favorites. Jewel was on vacation at Honolulu visiting her old classmate Mike, who opened up an exotic restaurant called ckrazy ckitchen. When she met the little girl at the beach, it was pretty funny. A murder happened downtown, so her boss called, asking her to solve the case. Hideyoshi Watanabe had his hands cut off and his head bashed in. I loved the twist at the end, and the suspense was pretty intense.

Skewered at the Shard–James McLeary had a hole cut in his body, so he could fit on the beam on a bridge. Talk about torture. It was cool that Jewel received a car as a gift for solving her 50th case. My favorite line: A pause. “Chief Inspector, may I remind you that this is not a pleasure trip? Of course I’m decent! What did you expect, that I was changing into my swimming trunks for a relaxing dip in the pool later on?” As a cliffhanger, the culprit threatened her; it made me worry about her safety.

Sockpuppetry–This was another one of my favorites. Uncle Wellington, who was a famous puppeteer, was found murdered in Hyde Park; his face was bashed in. This was the first case that the boss had to go on Crimewatch to ask for witnesses to come forward. In a twist, the killer called Jewel’s number to confess! It was cruel the way the killers ruined the puppeteer’s reputation by lying that he was a child molester. I’m happy that Jewel figured out they were lying.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

An Interview With J. Cafesin, Author Of Reverb

Yawatta would like to welcome her special guest J. Cafesin, the author of Reverb. Please enjoy the insightful interview.

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1.  Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?

Good luck!! There are now so many options to getting published, including self-publishing without cost to the author (except in writing time, as always). Many famous self-published authors, before and after Amazon:

  • Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • John Grisham, A Time to Kill
  • Irma Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
  • Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
  • Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen, Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
  • Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit Classic Series
  • RL Mathewson, Playing for Keeps
  • Lyla Sinclair, Training Tessa
  • EL James, Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy

2.  Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Wow. Done like, five interviews and no one has asked me this. Hmmm, to readers…Hi…Wow. This is hard. Well, as a reader, I’ve never really considered the writer, unless I don’t like the writing. If the story sweeps me up and carries me through the work, fiction or non, I don’t think about who wrote it. The author, well, doesn’t exist, isn’t any part of any scene, or the read, to me. And I hope when people read Reverb, I too, am non-existent to them.

3.  What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?

Not quite sure what trade, or professional/traditional publishers have to offer new authors at this point. They do have a broader reach with $$ for marketing, if you’re one of the lucky few they put money behind for launch and PR. And you can get a review in NY Times and other large papers, which you can’t self-published. However, the Times and others are beginning to review self-pub ebooks now, for their Bestsellers Ebook list. Many publishers are waiting until the author has shown they can achieve bestselling sales, then pick them up, for a guaranteed win, so to speak. I realize authors are going for the extended reach, but geez, they worked their ass off to get the social network ball bouncing and then hand it to a publisher. Makes me sad when authors take this route, still willing to hand-feed publishers bon-bons.

4.  What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?

Reverb is literary fiction, but no one likes that brand because it associates with bleary, lengthy prose. It’s true, Crime and Punishment is literary fiction, and old, but it’s one of the most captivating, modern, clean reads ever written. I also love to write fantasy/scifi. Have a series, Fractured Fairytales of the Twilight Zone–YA/adult stories of the bizarre, filled with genies, aliens, sometimes just twisted human nature, always with a sharp, clear point that lingers.

Favorite aspect: the writing process–putting words on screen, reading it back and being swept up into the world I’m creating.

Least favorite: Marketing!!! Love folks to buy Reverb because it’s a good read, then share it with their friends, and their friends…I don’t want to have to sell them.

5.  What are your current/next projects?

Two things, in fiction anyway:

  • A Possible Future: scifi novel, from a screenplay I developed for Lucas Films back in the early ’90s.
  • More short stories for Fractured Fairytales of the Twilight Zone. Have one in editing, A Bird’s Eye View, just like a Fractured Fairytale from Bullwinkle, with a little Rod Serling thrown in.

6.  Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?

Always get my work critiqued by beta-readers, reading group folks, anonymous on Craiglist, Zoetrope, Urbis. Really important to find out if what I’m trying to create is in fact happening on the page. Only an outside reader, who isn’t your mother or related in some way, can give you, ostensibly, unbiased feedback.

7.  How do you find time to write?

You mean along with my ‘real’ job (since I’m still waiting, hoping, to make enough with fiction to pay the bills)? I’ve been a freelance CD/AD for 20+ yrs which has allowed me time to write between gigs, or in conjunction with them. Don’t watch tv ever, don’t go to films or clubs or socialize virtually ever. I write fiction when I can, whenever I can. When I can’t physically write, like when I’m being a mom, or the family cook/cleaner/chauffeur, I’m often developing story in my head.

8.  Did you always want to become an author?

Yes.

9.  Is there any writing ritual you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?

Nope, other than creating characters and story in my head first. Takes me a long time to come to the beginning/end of a tale. Usually an scenario pops in my head, sparked by something I’ve seen or something someone’s said. Then, when I’m on my run or doing the dishes, the characters take form and then direct the scenes, way before the cursor types a word on the screen.

10.  Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you most)?

See #9.

11.  Have you ever hated something you wrote?

You bet. Writing is in the editing, a la every writer I’ve ever met.

12.  Which is the easiest for you–novel, novella, or short story? Why?

Writing fiction isn’t easy for me. It’s intoxicating, visceral, emotional, totally absorbing, but always a bitch getting the words to read like the streaming HD images in my head. Short story or novel seems equally labor intensive. I guess, novels take more of me, listening to many characters, understanding each of them as individuals, finding myself so absorbed in the fictional person I take on their persona and carry it into the real world while writing the novel. Get’s a little weird, being mom, and wife, and marketing consultant as this other person. Hmmm, I’m not crazy. Really, I’m just a writer…

13.  While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of your characters?

See #12.

14.  How did you come up with the title?

Reverb is an electronically produced echo effect in music, according to Merriam-Webster.com. And Echo, as we all know, is sound you create that comes back at you. James Whren, the protagonist, is a master musician. In fact, he’s so absorbed with his muse, he’s neglected most people in his life. Like an echo, we often get what we give, as James does, when his father shatters his life and sends him to hell, where James is left abandoned, with no one real to save him.

15.  What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?

Short story, for FFTW, Bird’s Eye View, in keeping with Fractured Fairytales, is a simple reminder of the obvious–that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

16.  Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?

Sure! I’m on FB, and Twitter, and most of the other popular SN sites. Happy to connect. Sign up for my blog and get clear, poignant, researched articles and essays. I blog on parenting, politics, education, technology, silicon valley, religion, adventures in writing, and more.

J. Cafesin, thanks again for being a guest blogger!!!

Pushing the publish button

Yawatta would like to welcome her special guest Danielle Uidam…

I just did it. I pushed the button. My book, The Malthus Conspiracy, is now being sold online through Amazon  http://amzn.com/B00B3SV3RWBook Cover7

After numerous edits, rewrites and what if’s I took the leap, I am now a published author!!! Yay!!! 120,000 words, a book cover, and the formatting. Done!  I allow myself a day or two of pride, before realising, that pushing that button was only the beginning.

Now new nerves are creeping in. Will my book sell? Will anyone like it? Review it? Recommend it? The questions have started as well… how do I market my book? Do I pay to enter competitions? Do I buy ads? How does this all work?

I hit the kindle community, they are a wealth of information, I can’t believe how helpful and kind their responses are. My head starts to grasp the enormity of the task ahead for an unknown author.

The Marketing starts.

I update my status on facebook, maybe some friends will buy a copy?

I set up a Facebook page for people to like, (facebook.com/themalthusconspiracy)

I start a blog (http://duidam.wordpress.com)

I set up a twitter account (@duidam)

I seek out reviews

What’s next on this thrilling self-publishing journey remains unseen – fingers crossed some books start to sell, and I start to climb the Amazon rankings. All you authors out there with suggestions, tips and feedback for new authors please leave some comments!

Now for some info on my book:

In 1798 Economist Reverend Thomas Malthus thought not. His work ‘An Essay on the Principal of Population’ predicted that population growth would outpace our ability to obtain resources, resulting in a global epidemic of famine that would destroy society unless curbed.

Fast forward to 2012. College students Dean Adams and his best friend Felix Pye, unwittingly stumble across the greatest conspiracy in history, and by doing so sign a death warrant. They are forced to run as powerful, high society members of a 200 year old secret Malthusian League attempt to silence them.

The league will stop at nothing to continue its Malthusian cause. Their purpose? To curb population growth and ensure Malthus’ predictions for economic ruin do not come true.

With the aide of detective Isabella Mercena, Dean and Felix go head to head against the evil forces as they attempt to expose the league’s sinister plans to control population. Will they survive to tell the tale and tell it before the next wave of disaster is unleashed on mankind?

The Malthus Conspiracy although a novel, is meant to result in reflection and discussion amongst readers. Is our population growth sustainable? Should population control be implemented? What are the issues highlighted by our large population?

At the back of the book is some factual essays, graphs, pictures and references to start readers on a questioning process.

I hope you all enjoy.

Danielle Uidam

The Malthus Conspiracy

http://amzn.com/B00B3SV3RW

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Book Review: The Accordion By Don March

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

Late 1800’s, a handsome cavalry officer falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a traveling musical instrument merchant. The young officer and the beautiful young girl find a deep romantic bond and also a connection to an accordion, but war separates the couple. With the help of their connection to the accordion, he goes on a frantic search to find his lost love.

83770f1e79497748a07bca70d42376fc72f2bbb4-thumbThis 20 chapter book was confusing and very hard to read because it felt like a first draft. From the first to very last page was nothing but run on sentences (comma after comma after comma instead of periods), no question marks or semi-colons when needed. The dialogue didn’t run smoothly because after every single quote, it narrated “he said” or “she said.”

  • There was NO editing at all. Even famous celebrities were spelled wrong. Its Katy Perry (not Katie Perry), Britney Spears (not Brittany Spears), Matt Damon (not Matt Damien), and its the Red Sox (not RED SOCKS)!!! I would have stopped after Chapter 3 because it was a headache trying to figure out what was going on. I finished because I promised a book review, so felt obligated.
  • Some examples of awkward phrases you’d have to shift through if you bought the book: 1) “Mr. Strazinski, this is my room and some of these ruffians are my crew, and again who are you,” Mr. Strazinski answered and then demanded. 2) He nodded to her a long nod and look, nodded to Papa and then he and his men and Stephan walked off, Stephan turned his to catch Camilla’s eyes, their eyes met for one last look. 3) “I would never betray my cousin and such a beautiful lady. I hope you take care of him in your new life,” Stephan said, he and Marie nodded, Marie, head down scurried off. 4) “So where are to, we are walking there,” Matt asked…

Besides all these glaring problems, there was a story in there. Stephan met Camilla in Chapter 5 (the first 4 chapters involved Stephan at war, alongside his cousin and friend). He got injured, so Camilla and her dad nursed him back to health. They fell in love (but it was more like telling rather than showing). They separated once he returned back to his duties. These two were spent on the longest–I enjoyed their Soprani accordion lessons. Plus, I liked the scene where Stephan bonded with his little nephew Basil. Basil needed to decide if he wanted to be in the army as a Lancer or if he wanted to be a priest.

  • The story then continued with Basil and his wife; they moved to America. Then Tommy tried to convince a girl he met at his concert to be his true love. There wasn’t really a transition to these new characters, so I didn’t get a chance to care for them. They were just there. These sections seemed very rushed compared to Stephan and Camilla’s journey of finding love.

If The Accordion was listed on Amazon or Goodreads, I would give it a 1 star.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the book or author:

  • Email– dmarchbooks(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The View From A Rusty Train Car By DeeJay Arens

***I received a free copy in exchange for a book review***

“No one talks about what happens when you fall in love with the boy next door–not when you’re the boy living beside the boy next door.”

Jared didn’t want to do it, but it had to be done. Someone had to sit before the government hearing to explain why a gay man was nothing to be vilified, nothing to be hated or feared…that he was just a man. That is what Jared Montgomery is determined to do. He does so by sharing his story–his and Luke’s story–in the hopes that perhaps even just one more person could understand.

Luke and Jared were battling the odds from the beginning. Growing up beside each other, being best friends, they soon learned that if they wanted to share each others company, it had to be done in secret, in the confines of the old train car behind the junkyard. There they were free of the taunts and jibes the ridicule and hatred…or were they?

Unable to embrace who he is, unable to deal with the tactics used by his family to ‘cure’ him, Luke forces himself into a traditional marriage that is doomed from the start. His true, self-denied love for Jared, and the hatred surrounding it, is killing him. The question is, can Jared get to him before it is too late?

15839110I loved this 59 chapter book. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster with the ups and downs, highs and lows, heartache, devotion, and secrets that happened during Jared and Luke’s relationship. It was sweet how the story started off with them as kids; Jared’s family had just moved to the neighborhood. By the way Luke was very protective of him, I could sense that he liked Jared in a romantic sense, even though they called themselves “best friends.” The setting was through the 1990’s.

My favorite lines: 1) “One would think I’d be used to it, but it was disconcerting not knowing who was a friend or foe.” 2) “He’s not a husband. He’s a roommate.” 3) “Loving him wasn’t difficult. It was trying to create a life together that proved complicated.”

It broke my heart that their parents didn’t approve. As teenagers, they tried to hide their romance. Out of depression and trying to fit in with the norm, they avoided each other for a while. Luke even decided to date girls from their school, crushing Jared even more. I was disgusted with their parents’ behavior, with how they attempted to change their sons.

  • You can’t help who you love. I don’t understand why some people think being gay is wrong or shameful. Love isn’t wrong. Who cares if  it’s between two men, two women instead of a man and a woman. They aren’t hurting anyone. They just want to live their lives in peace and have a choice to marry, like straight couples. It boggles my mind that some people are so against it. I hate the way minorities are mistreated in this world…maybe that’s why I sympathized so much with this book.

The entire time I read, I thought of Jared as Carrie and Luke as Mr. Big. No matter how many times Luke broke his heart due to his confusion and self-denial, Jared would come back for more once Luke brought on the charm. It was sad when Luke’s mom sent him to one of those camps that deprogram gay males. No wonder Luke had issues-he was away for a year, never even got a chance to say goodbye.

I shed a tear of joy when Jared went to college in Seattle where he found Derek with the help of his friends. Finally, he was accepted and treated with respect.

  • I don’t know, I guess this section of the book touched me because I thought of all those bullied kids/teens. Since they have no one to turn to, they commit suicide. I wish they could hold on a little longer because things eventually get better. And this scene was proof of that.

It threw me for a loop who Luke ended up marrying. I thought it was very disrespectful to Jared and his family. I understood how that was the last straw for Jared. I liked that their classmate Phillip was the one who figured out their secret in high school ( he was another gay teen who hid in the closet because of fear). He had talked to Luke, convincing him to spend prom night with Jared. Then Phillip saw Jared on college campus, convincing him to talk to Luke again.

The author had an amazing talent with dialogue. The conversations intertwined with body language helped make all the scenes stand out. I loved all the arguments, self-discoveries, heart to heart talks; the dialogue was very realistic.

My favorite scenes: 1) prom night 2) when Jared tried to stop the wedding 3) the first time Luke gave Jared the nickname “Jed” 4) when Luke bought the train car for the memories 5) when everything came to light between Jared and his sister 6) the ending (I cried during this part; it was very touching).

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

8 Things I Learned From Stephen King’s “On Writing”

1.  Don’t make a conscious effort to improve your vocabulary. One of the worst things you can do is dress up your words because you think you should use longer ones, shameful of your shorter words. Usually the first thing that pops up in your head is right.

2.  Elements of Style is a very useful book. Avoid the passive tense. With action verbs, the subject of the sentence is doing something. With the passive verb, something is being done to the subject of the sentence.

  • For example, passive tense:  The tree was chopped down by the ax.
  • Action tense:  The ax chopped down the tree.

3.  Adverbs are not your friends. Always include ‘s even if the last letter of a word is s. Easy books contain lots of short paragraphs including dialogue paragraphs and a lot of white space.

4.  In fiction, the paragraph is less structured; it’s the beat instead of the actual melody. Fragments can streamline narration, create clear images, create tension, and vary prose. The key is not to worry about grammatical correctness but to make the reader get lost in your story, to make them experience what your characters are doing/feeling.

5.  If you want to be a writer, read and write a lot. Every book has a lesson. The good ones teach you writing style, good narration, plot development, etc. The bad ones teach you what not to do.

6.  Stories consist of narration (moves fiction from point A to Z), description (creates a sensory reality for readers), and dialogue (brings characters to life with conversations). Where is plot? Nowhere. Stories pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them place to grow and transcribe them. Lean heavily on intuition.

7.  In fiction, a situation comes first. Then characters. Your job is to narrate it. Good description is a learned skill–hence why you should read and write a lot. You learn only by doing. Thin description leaves the reader feeling nearsighted. Overdescription buries readers in details. The trick is to find a happy medium.

8.  Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the readers.

For anyone who’s read Stephen King’s On Writing, what lessons did you learn?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby