Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why I read paperbacks instead of using my kindle last week

I was reading about a possible Amazon move toward book memberships, with rentals of ebooks offered for a fixed monthly charge. Of course, some ebooks would cost extra, just like some movies do. I'm guessing some websites would offer one publisher free while another would charge, and a serious reader might end up having to subscribe to several different sites, just as the serious TV and movie-watcher must.

Or they could just buy books.

This week I traveled cross-country to help my son move into his new home. With all those flights, you'd think I'd just have packed a kindle full of things to read. But I wasn't sure how easily I'd find a place to charge it in an apartment full of boxes. I wasn't sure how many spare sockets he'd have in his home full of electronics. And I wasn't sure how easily I'd find my own electronic device left lying around among his. So I read those paperback things called books, and I had a great time. I also built several chests of drawers, bedside tables, display cabinets, chairs, TV stands and more, and ate some wonderful food in the local restaurants. And I found a place to plug in my son's coffee maker!

And I wrote book reviews. So here is my fine paperback collection, with coffee ratings to match.

It seems appropriate to list Gotta Find A Home, by Dennis Cardiff, first. After all, my son is thankfully not homeless, but there were many street people on the sidewalks, and this book, like a diary of not walking by, brings their lives to vivid life. Enjoy this well-balanced, friendly, non-judgmental book with a smooth well-balanced 3-star coffee.

Ride Away Home,  by William Wells, tell the fictional story of a man whose home relationships are falling apart. A missing daughter, wife in hospital, and a failing economy, provoke a mid-life crisis, leading to a wonderful road-trip from the midWest to the Florida Keys. Bikers, road warriors, and the kindness of strangers remind him of what truly matters as the drifter finds his way home. A great road-trip story, where the road winds through character as well as place, this is one to enjoy with a richly elegant 4-star coffee.

Next is a book of essays about growing up in a Catholic home. Growing up Catholic, by by Mary Jane Frances Cavolina, Jeffrey Allen Joseph Stone, Maureen Anne Teresa Kelly and Richard Glen Michael Davis. Since I grew up Catholic in England, not America, it was interesting to see the cultural differences. The book is fun, though it's already somewhat out of date; and it's definitely an interesting read, to enjoy with a lively, easy-drinking 2-star coffee.

Man's Best Hero, by Ace Collins, reads like a magazine filled with essays on American dogs, ranging from WWI to 911, whose lives and heroic actions amply illustrate the virtues we mere humans might want to emulate. Enjoy with another lively easy-drinking 2-star coffee, and keep the tissues handy.

Next is a novel for children. I read the first of John Stephen's Books of Beginnings series on a plane a little while ago and couldn't resist picking up the second for my next flight. Readers could start with The Fire Chronicle, but should probably read The Emerald Atlas first. Now Kate has her atlas, and her skills, it's Michael's turn to grow up. But Kate vanishes, proving she's less skillful than everyone thought, and Michael has much to learn in a world of dragons where nothing and no one is ever quite what they seem. Enjoy this intriguing novel with a rich, elegant and complex 4-star coffee.

And for slightly older kids, the Delphi Trilogy offers another strangely different world, with hints of history and mythology, blended with science, and told in the convincing voice of a seventeen-year-old orphan, determined to learn the secrets of his past. I've just finished reading books 1 and 2, The League of Delphi and The Delphi Deception. Now I can hardly wait to enjoy book three. Meanwhile, drink some bold, dark intense 5-star coffee while enjoying the read.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Falling dreams and harbours

Today I planned to welcome author S. R. Grey with her latest romantic suspense novel, Harbour Falls. (Yes! She spells Harbour the English way!) But I'm not sure if it's S. R. Grey who's here, or Maddy Fitch instead... See what you think...

The Harbour Falls Mystery was the real reason I was here. I had every intention of basing my next novel on the facts of the case. I was tired of fiction; I wanted to write a true crime novel. Plus there was a little part of me—the detective that lurks in all of us—that dreamed of solving this case.
But nobody knew that this case held more than a professional interest for me. Not because the main locale was Harbour Falls, and not because the mystery involved the disappearance of a local I’d once known. And, truth be told, had once envied. Nor was it the fact that this local, Chelsea Hannigan, had gone missing the night before her wedding.
Scandalous, though it was.
What piqued my curiosity was the man Chelsea had been on the verge of marrying—Adam Ward. He was the man at the center of the mystery. He was the man whose life had been altered when Chelsea disappeared, after he was named as the number one suspect.
What role, if any, had he played in her disappearance? Though never formally charged, many believed he was far from innocent.
Well I was here to uncover the truth. There was just one small problem.
Contrary to what I’d told Ami, I was interested in Adam Ward. Still. Despite how ridiculous I knew it was, I couldn’t wait to run into Adam. Would he even remember me?
Maybe not. But I wasn’t the shy girl I’d been back then.
Of course I was playing with fire. If he ever suspected I was investigating him in order to research my new novel, he’d hardly be pleased. I might even see firsthand just how supposedly dangerous he could be.
At the thought, a little shudder ran through me. Whether it was due to fear, excitement, or both, I wasn’t sure. I knew I should analyze it and get my head straight before I ended up in trouble.
But I’d run out of time. Because the fog began to lift, and in the distance, Fade Island came into view.

Best-selling author Maddy Fitch, while researching material for a new novel, returns to her hometown of Harbour Falls to investigate an unsolved disappearance that has haunted the tiny Maine coastal town for the past four years. Although the case has gone cold, Maddy soon discovers that the prime suspect, Adam Ward, is hotter than ever.
The sexy, secretive Mr. Ward now makes his home on an isolated island near the coast, so Maddy takes up residence nearby to find out why this enigmatic man lives in such a secluded place. Is it because the missing person at the heart of the case, a young woman, was engaged to Adam at the time of her disappearance? Did the prime suspect perhaps move to escape the town's scrutiny, or is he hiding something much more sinister?
As Maddy plunges into the case, she and Adam are drawn together. Should she fight her growing attraction to a possibly dangerous man? The mystery deepens, and the list of suspects, people who all had reasons for wanting to see the missing young woman gone, grows. Maddy hopes that by solving the mystery Adam will be proven innocent of any involvement, and they can then move forward with their relationship.
But as she uncovers clues that begin to lead suspicion away from Adam, new secrets emerge that leave her questioning everything. Maddy continues to close in on the truth, threatening to blow the lid off the whole mystery. But what she doesn't realize is that she's actually caught up in someone's very dangerous game.
Lies, secrets, deceptions. In Harbour Falls, nothing is ever what it seems. This steamy novel immerses the reader in an intricate storyline that will keep them glued till the very last page.
S.R. Grey is an Amazon and Barnes & Noble Top 100 bestselling author. Harbour Falls, Willow Point, and Wickingham Way are novels in her completed Harbour Falls Mystery trilogy. She is also the author of New Adult novels I Stand Before You (Judge Me Not #1) and Never Doubt Me (Judge Me Not #2). Ms. Grey's novels have appeared on Amazon and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists in multiple categories.
New novels slated for publication in 2014 are Inevitable Detour, a New Adult novel with a Romantic Suspense edge, as well as Just Let Me Love You (Judge Me Not #3). Ms. Grey resides in western Pennsylvania. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, as well as an MBA. Her background may be in business, but her true passion lies in writing. When not writing, Ms. Grey can be found reading, traveling, running, or cheering for her hometown sports teams.



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Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Fractured Legacy, and the Party of His Life

A while ago I read and reviewed Dire Salvation by Charles Neff. It was a fascinating book, set in the Pacific Northwest, centering around drugs and Indian tribes and more.

When I learned that Charles Neff's recent book, Fractured Legacy, was also set in the Cascades, I began to wonder if the stories were connected. They are, but it turns out those connections run both deeper and wider than I'd imagined. So now I'll have too look out for the whole series... except it's not a series... and the author's enjoying the Party of His Life.

So party on!

Welcome to my blog, Charles, and thank you for letting me learn so much more about you and your  books.

                              Writing: The Party of My Life
By Charles B. Neff

During my working days, I read for relaxation, favoring spy thrillers and detective fiction. Retired, and with some time to spare, I thought back over the authors who had made an impression on me. Some of my favorites (Deighton, Le Carre, McCarry, Innes, Burke, Connolly, Lehane) really could write compelling prose. But others…? Maybe I could do at least that well – maybe better. At work I had written countless reports, analytic pieces, proposals. Why not fiction? Why not me? Around my 70th birthday, I gave it a try.
At one point late in in my career, I had met a former ambassador. As we grew friendly, he told me about a secret meeting that had occurred before the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal broke. What, I thought, if someone had taken notes in that meeting and they surfaced later? With just that notion, I started Hidden Impact (2004), set in Nicaragua where the notebook of an old secret meeting about Iran-Contra surfaces. Lots of bad people try to get their hands on that notebook.

One of the characters in Hidden Impact was a successful businessman and former Peace Corps volunteer. He, now Governor of Wisconsin, gets a leading role in my second book, Patriot Schemes (2006) That story takes place on the East Coast and in Wisconsin, and reveals how a small group of very rich men try to gain control of major parts of the US government.
By that time, I had dreamed up my third book, Peace Corpse (2008). In that story someone tries to bring a violent end to an international youth conclave addressing conflict in the Middle East. The action takes place in Stockholm, where we meet Magnus Torval, a Swedish detective and internationally-known power lifter. He, in turn, meets Mariela Fuentes, who expands the small role she was given in Hidden Impact into a much bigger one.
Magnus and Mariela are such an appealing couple that we meet them again at a family reunion in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. They become central characters in Hard Cache (2010), joined on center stage by newly-arrived Ukrainian Pentecostals who are shadowed by their old ties to Russia and unable to escape the interest of the new Russian mafia.
The central Cascades have been hard for me to forget. They have a rich history of mining and railroads, which has not been explored much in fiction. Could that setting be a gold mine for me? So I stayed there, along with some of the Ukrainians, for Dire Salvation (2012) and its tale of what happens when the history of Native Americans meets the scourge of new drugs.
Fractured Legacy (2014), my sixth and newest book, stays mainly in the Cascades, but also flows westward over the pass into Olympia and Seattle. The role of Native Americans increases in scope and, as in each of the previous books, new characters push front and center. In this case, the new arrivals are a part-Native American policeman, a reclusive director of the local historical society, and a couple reappearing all the way from Patriot Schemes, novel number two.
Now I can see what I have done (but never planned). No sequels, but instead the chance for a few characters to provide loose connections to previous stories. In all my books, you may also notice my life-long interest in cross-cultural issues and how they shape the plots.
I’m already plotting the next book. Party on!

-Charles B. Neff

Are you as hooked as I am now? There's something seriously enticing about seeing those characters reappear in world-spanning plots.

Here's where to find the author:

and here's where to find his books on Amazon: