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Cover reveal – Death Before Daylight by Shannon A Thompson

DBDcover I am once again honoured to take part in the cover reveal for Shannon and her awesome Timely Death Trilogy. I could talk the hind legs off a donkey about how highly I rate Shannon as an author, but I’ll let her do the talking as she does it so much more eloquently than I, click here if you’d like to read my review of the book.

Letter from author, Shannon A. Thompson

It’s here! It’s here! The final cover of The Timely Death Trilogy has finally been released. A special thank you goes out to Clean Teen Publishing and this lovely Member of the Dark who is helping share this message today. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, re-releases on July 28 – with an all new interior and exterior – and both are beautiful. Seconds Before Sunrise follows on August 25, and Death Before Daylight (the only novel of the trilogy to never see the shelves before) is finally getting it’s day . . . hehehe . . . Well, it’s releasing September 15. Even more exciting? You can win prizes throughout all of these events and more by becoming a Member of the Dark . . . or a Member of the Light. Check out the details below! I look forward to speaking with you!

Shannon A. Thompson (a.k.a. SAT)

http://shannonathompson.com

Synopsis:

Two eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects is to finally hear the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric—and only Eric—and Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must choose who she will be—a light or a shade.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

Dark Activities:

Become a Member of the Dark (or Light) by emailing ShannonAThompson@aol.com. Your email will never be given out, and you are not required to do anything, but you will win more prizes the more you participate.

 Win a paperback of Minutes Before Sunset via Goodreads! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/131705-minutes-before-sunset

Pre-order Minutes Before Sunset: http://www.amazon.com/Minutes-Before-Sunset-Timely-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00WTRV9FC/ref=reader_auth_dp

 Stay Updated via The Timely Death Trilogy FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Timely-Death-Trilogy/227663240691565

Visit the Extras Page:

http://shannonathompson.com/novels/a-timely-death-trilogy/extras/

Pin your favorite photos from The Timely Death Trilogy Pinterest board:

https://www.pinterest.com/AuthorShannonT/the-timely-death-trilogy/

But most of all . . .

Stay Dark,

~SAT

http://shannonathompson.com

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Cover reveal – Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A Thompson

SBScoverI am delighted to be able to reveal the next cover in The Timely Death Trilogy: Seconds Before Sunrise!

Regular readers of my blog will know what a huge fan of Shannon I am and so I shall let her do the talking (my original review of the book can be found here):

Shannon A Thompson:

The Timely Death Trilogy began as one teenager’s nightmare and morphed into a real-life dream of authorship. The entire trilogy re-releases with new covers and new interiors this summer and fall by Clean Teen Publishing. I hope you’ll check out this dark vs. light trilogy (mainly because the “dark” side is the good side…maybe), and I especially hope you’ll consider becoming a Member of the Dark! Each time there is a special event, you can participate and win prizes—like spotlights on my website, books, and more. Simply email me at shannonathompson@aol.com, and I’ll send a badge over to you. We might even have coffee together.

Thank you for reading about this dark journey,

Synopsis of Seconds Before Sunrise:

Seconds Before Sunrise (book 2 of The Timely Death Trilogy)

Two nightmares. One memory.

“Chaos within destiny. It was the definition of our love.”

Eric has weeks before his final battle when he’s in an accident. Forced to face his human side, he knows he can’t survive if he fights alone. But he doesn’t want to surrender, even if he becomes the sacrifice for war.

Jessica’s memory isn’t the only thing she’s lost. Her desire to find her parents is gone and so is her confidence. But when fate leaves nightmares behind, she decides to find the boy she sees in them, even if it risks her sanity.

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Timely-Death-Trilogy/227663240691565

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18805475-seconds-before-sunrise

CURRENT GIVEAWAY: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/131705-minutes-before-sunset

YouTube Video Reveal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe9Yzw_jzHM

pic1About the author:

Shannon A. Thompson is a 23-year-old author, avid reader, and habitual chatterbox. She was merely 16 when she was first published, and a lot has happened since then. Thompson’s work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies, and her first installment of The Timely Death Trilogy became Goodreads Book of the Month. She is currently represented by Clean Teen Publishing, and Minutes Before Sunset releases on July 28, 2015.

As a novelist, poet, and blogger, Thompson spends her free time writing and sharing ideas with her black cat named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Between writing and befriending cats, she graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and she travels whenever the road calls her.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

Minutes Before Sunset

by Shannon A. Thompson

Giveaway ends June 23, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

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Minutes Before Sunset Cover Reveal – Shannon A Thompson

Cover Regular readers of my blog will be aware that Shannon A Thompson (a young author who I am a huge fan of) recently suffered the devastation of her publisher closing down, leaving her without representation.

While many folks may have given up there and then, Shannon continued on (with the support of her ever-growing fan base of readers) and has signed up with a new publisher: Clean Teen Publishing who will be re-releasing the first installment of the Timely Death Trilogy, Minutes Before Sunset on July 28th 2015.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Shannon and her work, let me say this: this young lady is a hugely talented author with a big future ahead of her. Still so young, she has achieved so much, which is even more incredible given the blows that life has dealt her along the way.

Shannon isn’t just an author, she’s a blogger who puts her heart and soul into sharing the ups and downs of being a writer and also life in general. Shannon is a warm and giving young woman who always makes the time to reach out and make contact with new bloggers and readers. Take it from this blogger, she reached out to me when I was a novice blogger and introduced me to the wonderful community of fellow writers and readers on WordPress.

I could probably wax lyrical about Shannon for hours, but I shall let her bio do the talking (it’s much more eloquent than I could ever be):

pic1Shannon A. Thompson is a 23-year-old author, avid reader, and habitual chatterbox. She was merely 16 when she was first published, and a lot has happened since then. Thompson’s work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies, and her first installment of The Timely Death Trilogy became Goodreads Book of the Month. She is currently represented by Clean Teen Publishing, and Minutes Before Sunset releases on July 28, 2015.

 

As a novelist, poet, and blogger, Thompson spends her free time writing and sharing ideas with her black cat named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Between writing and befriending cats, she graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and she travels whenever the road calls her.

And if you don’t believe what I have to say about the wonderful Miss Thompson’s writing, check out the synopsis and reviews Minutes Before Sunset has already garnered on its first release:

Two destines. One death.

“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Awarded Goodreads’ Book of the Month in July 2012

Releases July 28, 2015 – Second edition by Clean Teen Publishing, new cover and new interior!

Current Rating on Goodreads: 146 ratings, 4.3 stars

Reviews:

  • “A magical, if slightly dark, tale.” – The Reader’s Review
  • “Wonderfully unnerving.” – Coffee Shop Reader
  • “This is a story of forbidden love, hidden love, and a war of love.” – Endless Reading
  • “This book was brilliant, original and romantic. This is a timeless love story with incredible character growth, action and twists of fate.” – Note to Selph Book Reviews
  • “Miss. Thompson twisted the concept of Light and Dark, reversing the well-known roles, changing the time-old dance and making it her own. Brilliant and true, “Minutes Before Sunset” is thought-provoking, bringing real-life lessons and morals from a world of the supernatural.” – Live. Laugh. Read

I hope I have whet your appetite enough for you to check out the following links to access more information on Shannon and her books:

Goodreads

Facebook

Pinterest

Extras

Amazon


A link to my original review of Minutes Before Sunset can be found here

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Book Review – Death Before Daylight by Shannon A Thompson

Seconds Before SunriseAs a fan of Shannon’s ‘Timely Death’ trilogy, I was delighted when the author emailed me with an ARC of her new book ‘Death Before Daylight’.

Those of you who read my blog with any regularity will know that I have already read and reviewed the two previous titles in the series and loved them both. Shannon A Thompson is a talented writer with a big future, mark my words.

Death Before Daylight picks up at the aftermath of the showdown between the Light and the Dark. It had been prophesized that the battle between Shoman and Darthon would bring about the end of the war between the two fighting factions. It would be a battle that only one could survive.

Until Jessica came along.

Without giving too much away for those of you who haven’t read the first two books in the series, Jessica’s arrival in the small town of Hayworth has a devastating effect on the battle between the warring sects and a prophecy that has been set in stone for years.

Since the battle, everything has been turned on its head, leaving Jess and Eric confused and mistrustful of those closest to them. Members of both sides find their powers weakening, except for Shoman, Darthon and Jess. Since discovering that Jess holds the key to Darthon’s success or demise, the Dark have been on full alert as to the possibility of another attempt on Shoman and Jessica’s lives.

It’s not long until Darthon makes the first move, and with devastating consequences. Both Shoman and Jessica are forced to confront a reality which they would rather didn’t exist. Both discover that there is no being ‘normal’ when living life as a Shade. Life not only for Eric and Jess, but everyone in the town of Hayworth (humans included) becomes increasingly complicated and confusing.

With Eric acting erratically and Jess revealing a devastating truth, the lines between fact and fiction, truth and lie start to become blurred. Long-buried secrets as well as hidden identities are revealed as Death Before Daylight brings the Timely Death trilogy to a thrilling climax.

With Darthon confident of his position in his continuing confrontation with Shoman, the Dark seem to be a disadvantage, one which could see the Lights finally become victorious in the age old battle between the sects. Yet again, it is Jessica who holds the key as to which side will end up victorious.

Jessica finds her faith and trust tested repeatedly, leaving her confused as to which side she is truly on. With Shoman and Darthon each attempting to convince her to ally with their side, could their persistence in fact cause her to do the opposite of what they intended?

Jessica seems faced with an impossible choice – no matter which side she chooses, people will die.

From start to finish, The Timely Death trilogy has been a thrilling roller-coaster ride full of romance, suspense, mystery, intrigue and a healthy dose of teenage angst. Shannon deftly carries the story between two of the trilogy’s main characters (Eric and Jessica) and this dual point of view makes the unfolding story all the more intriguing. There’s something quite fun about having a greater knowledge of what is really happening than some of the trilogy’s characters do.

Even with the dual storytelling, Shannon manages to weave in a number of twists and turns that leave the reader guessing, right until the very end. Though the trilogy is classed as ‘Young Adult’, I would recommend this series of books to anyone who enjoys a tale woven with romance, angst and the supernatural.

Unfortunately, Shannon received some devastating news last year when her publisher went out of business. Thankfully, Shannon has now signed with a new publisher! This is fantastic news for fans of her work, Shannon’s books will be re-released by her new publisher later this year and you will be able to get your hands on the work of this up and coming writer!

Please visit Shannon’s site by clicking on the link. Shannon is offering a number of services to fellow writers and if her writing is anything to go buy, those who employ her services are likely to great value for their money. Even if you are not in need of writer services, please check out Shannon’s site and show your support for a talented young author.

Shannon A Thompson.com

 

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Book Review – The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

462532f12b4e522201eefdf07c3f2378I have to admit that I committed the cardinal sin of buying this book without really knowing what it was about. The only information that I had to go on was that this book had won the 2013 Costa Book of the Year award. I figured that, if my favourite brand of coffee shop liked the book, it was probably a fair bet that the book might actually be worth reading.

Buying a book based on your favourite brand of coffee could have proved to be a recipe for disaster, yet I am delighted to say that this is not the case. This book, from start to finish, was a delight to read.

The Shock of the Fall is a story narrated by Matt Homes, a man who we come to learn suffers from mental illness. This much is obvious in the disjointed way that Matt narrates his own story, sometimes jumping from childhood memories to the present day and back again. Rather than being jarring, this actually makes Matt’s story all the more riveting and appealing.

Because of Matt’s jumbled thought processes, we only catch snippets of information, like pieces of a puzzle that we are slowly able to put together. It’s not until the last third of the book that the reader begins to understand what happened to Matt and his family a decade ago and how much that one event has shaped everything that came after.

Matt has a mental illness, yet it is also clear to see that has inability to grieve for his brother’s tragic passing has only served to exacerbate his condition, bringing him to the point that he becomes a ward of the state for his own protection.

Although my description of this book is frustratingly vague, I am wary of not giving too much away in terms of the plot. Instead, I would encourage people to know as little as possible about what happens in order to get a unique perspective into the workings of a disturbed mind.

Matt seems to define himself by his mental illness, yet he is so much more than a diagnosed condition. This is something that the author, Nathan Filer, tackles well and does in such a way that doesn’t seem moralistic. The book raises some fascinating questions about how mental illness is perceived, not only by the person diagnosed with a condition, but also their family and society in general.

Matt’s perspective gives the reader a unique insight into social care and its many benefits, while also not sugar-coating the fact that much more could be done to make the system more user-friendly. I defy anyone not to take a look at themselves and how they view those around them with a mental health condition and question whether they underestimate the real person inside – the person behind the illness.

This is a book unlike any other that I’ve read and its unique style is something that I really enjoyed. You would expect most books to go from A to B to C etc. yet The Shock of the Fall starts at R, heads back toward D and ends up somewhere near P. Rather than making the book impossible to read, it makes the reader desperately want to know what happens next and what happened all those years ago.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes quality, well-crafted fiction. Some may find the subject matter a little disturbing or outside of their comfort zone, but I would urge anyone to at least pick this book up and give it a try. You may find The Shock of the Fall a shock to the system, but that might actually be a good thing. Challenge yourself and your perspective on mental health and you may just end up surprising yourself….

Check out Nathan’s website http://nathanfiler.co.uk/

 

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Book Review: The Devil’s Necktie by John Lansing

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As part of my affiliation with PubShelf, I have been given a free copy of The Devil’s Necktie by John Lansing to read in return for an honest and fair review.

The Devil’s Necktie is crime thriller, its central protagonist a man by the name of Jack Bertolino, a retired inspector in the NYPD. After leaving the force, Jack relocates to California in the hopes of leading a quieter, more relaxed life away from the cut-throat world of drug cartels and gangsters. Jack wants nothing more than to enjoy the California sunshine, eat steaks from his beloved barbeque grill and tend to his tomato plants.

His seemingly idyllic existence is shattered by a call from an old informant, Mia. Jack immediately responds to her cry for help and agrees to meet her, surprised to find that she’s also made her way to California. The two of them end up in a passionate embrace, allowing years of pent-up sexual tension between them to overflow as they end up in Mia’s bed.

Jack leaves Mia sleeping, with the intention of questioning her appearance in California further the next day, not realising that once he leaves Mia that his world as he knows it will come crashing down around him.

Just minutes after he leaves, Mia is violently murdered in what looks to be a gang-sanctioned ‘hit’. The manner in which Mia is killed ensures that the message is clear – that someone has messed with the wrong people.

Due to being the last person to see her alive, Jack becomes the prime suspect in the investigation of her murder and it seems that not only the police are on his tail, hunting him down. Jack finds himself being set up to take the fall for the murder, while using every resource he has at his disposal to get to the bottom of Mia’s murder and just who it is trying to make sure that he goes down for it.

As Jack digs further, he finds himself getting deeper into an investigation that has far-reaching consequences. Old enemies return to haunt Jack, placing not only himself in danger, but the people he cares about too. Soon Jack realises that motives for Mia’s murder go much further than just a local gang hit, the people behind the brutal slaying have connections all the way back to the drug cartels of both Mexico and Columbia.

Bodies begin to pile up as Jack and his connections within law enforcement and government agencies try to track down the main players within the drug scene and it is not long before Jack finds himself on the hit list of some very dangerous people. He realises that this may be one hornet’s nest that he perhaps shouldn’t have kicked, but the cop within him refuses to let Mia’s death be in vain.

It’s a case of: ‘You can take the boy out of the NYPD, but you can’t take the NYPD out of the boy.’ Jack is a cop through and through, his instincts and thirst for the job will not let him drop the case, no matter who tries to convince him otherwise. Even Jack’s own family are placed at risk, yet Jack knows he cannot stop until the people responsible are punished.

This is a book full of thrills, spills, chases, gun fights, and explosions. The action moves well throughout the whole book and keeps the story going. The lead character of Jack Bertolino is a likeable guy, although one with a rather worrying dependency on pain medication. He’s a typical hardened cop and a man who sacrificed a happy home life in pursuit of results in the job. Jack’s a good guy without wandering too far into the realms of being perfect. He has faults and he seems to acknowledge them.

The cast of supporting characters are varied and help to keep the storyline engaging for the reader. The switching of perspectives between Jack and a number of the ‘bad guys’ worked well, it lent itself to giving a well-rounded understanding of the storyline as a whole, seeing through the eyes of several different characters.

From a personal point of view – I must stress that this is my own personal opinion – I found some of the violence and sex scenes to be a little too descriptive and too graphic at times and felt that the author could still convey the same kind of intention but with much less detail than was actually provided.

Another issue that I found with this book was the author’s tendency to ‘tell’ rather than ‘show’. I felt that, in places, too much emphasis was placed on describing the scene rather than what was happening in it. There were many mentions of roads, places, colours of cars etc. that – in my opinion – could have been cut to improve the overall flow of the story. I would have preferred to have less descriptive narrative and more emphasis on the action taking place, I felt that this would have made the story a touch sharper and provide the kind of impact that the book deserves.

I must stress that these are purely my own opinions, other people may think the complete opposite and enjoy the elements that I found distracting. The story is engaging, the characters relatable, this is the kind of book that will appeal to lovers of crime fiction and thrillers with its weaving plot and cast of many characters.

If you like crime thrillers and enjoy car chases, guns, explosions and lots of action then this book may very well be the one for you.

Profile of John Lansing:

John Lansing, author of The Devil's Necktie

John Lansing, author of The Devil’s Necktie

John Lansing started his career as an actor in New York City. He spent a year at the Royale Theatre playing the lead in the Broadway production of “Grease.” He then landed a co-starring role in George Lucas’ “More American Graffiti,” and guest-starred on numerous television shows. During his fifteen-year writing career, Lansing wrote and produced “Walker Texas Ranger,” co-wrote two CBS Movies of the Week, and he also co-executive produced the ABC series “Scoundrels.” John’s first book was “Good Cop Bad Money,” a true crime tome with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. “The Devil’s Necktie” is his first novel. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles.

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Book review: Honest Sid by Ronald Probstein

Honest Sid by Ronald Probstein

Honest Sid by Ronald Probstein

As part of my ongoing affiliation with PubShelf, I have been given the title ‘Honest Sid’ by Ronald Probstein to read and review for my blog.

‘Honest Sid’ is the memoir of Sid Probstein, a happy-go-lucky chancer in Depression-era New York, told through the eyes of his son, Ronald (now a professor at MIT). The book begins with the rather humorous scene of Sid, his wife Sally, and young Ronald having to scarper from their current home through an outside fire escape after failing to pay their rent.

And herein lies the basic premise for the book as we see the type of up and down existence that Sid subjected his loving wife and son to. From the way the author writes his view of his father, it is clear to see that Sid was both a loving husband and dedicated father but that his love of chasing dreams and the ‘next big thing’ often put his family and their quality of life in jeopardy.

Sid Probstein, born November 7th 1894 and one of twelve children, was, in his younger years, a promising baseball player. Although naturally intelligent, Sid dropped out of school at the age of seventeen in order to chase his dreams of having a career in baseball. A gifted pitcher, Sid had a weakness for gambling on horse races, so much so that during his stint playing baseball for a semi-pro team in Texas he got in so deep with loan sharks that he had been forced to throw a game in order to pay off his mounting debts.

Sid was soon found out and summarily fired from the team, thus ending his baseball career before it ever really started. Yet Sid maintained a love for the game, even when he returned to New York, and soon turned his hand to scalping tickets to the big games as well as booking acts for the booming vaudeville scene on Broadway.

For a time, things seem promising for Sid Probstein, making an honest living through ‘dishonest means’, scalping tickets and generating enough profit along the way to keep his small-time operation going. In 1917 Sid enlisted for the United States Army, playing his part in the victorious Allied defence of Europe, earning a reputation for himself as a good and honest man, although rather a card shark when it came to his military buddies.

Although Sid never tells Ronald much about his time in the Army, his son gets the impression that his father saw much more than he ever let on to those around him and instead hid the horrors behind his eternally cheerful disposition. Throughout the book, even when times are at their toughest, it seems to be Sid’s optimism and ability to always look at the brighter side of life that pulls him through many of the tribulations he endured.

In 1925 Sid meets Sally, a woman who captures his heart and who he marries in 1927, with their son Ronald being born the following year. Again, things go well for Sid and his family for a time until Wall Street crashes and the Depression descends on New York, killing off many of the avenues that Sid exploited in order to generate the money needed to support his wife and child.

The main theme running through this book is Sid’s repeated attempts to make a living for himself by some less than honest means. Ronald paints a picture of his father as a man who would never be happy in a ‘9 to 5’ kind of job and that he was happiest being his own boss and master of his own destiny. Yet that kind of vocational freedom came at a cost, when things went well and profits were high Sid and his family were able to live a comfortable life, but when things went wrong it was Sid who took the hits and subsequent losses which at times had far-reaching consequences for his family.

Honest Sid is the tale of a man who seemed to know anyone who was anyone in Depression-era New York, from boxers to bettors, gangsters and loan sharks. Many people knew Sid Probstein with few ever having a bad word to say about him. Sid was the original good looking charmer who used his affability and approachability to his advantage, knowing that he could charm his way in or out of most situations, never losing his cool even when things seemed bleak or hopeless.

I read this book quickly and that is a testament to how much I enjoyed it. Ronald Probstein paints the picture of a man who he clearly holds a great deal of affection and respect for, yet the book does not spill over into sentimentality about his father’s escapades. The author shows Sid to be a good man but not one without his faults.

Sid’s lifestyle was often at odds with the kind of life his wife Sally wanted for their family, causing numerous arguments between them, many of which Ronald was subjected to. The family also had to move home dozens of times when Ronald was growing up due to his father’s fluctuating successes when it came to making his living. One gets a sense that this constant changing of scenery and bearing witness to his parent’s constant arguing affected the young boy who was stuck in the middle of it all.

I confess that I probably enjoyed this book so much because I am a sucker for anything on the subject of New York; to learn more about the Depression and Prohibition era was a chance that I could not pass up. The author excels in creating an exciting and vibrant Broadway scene while peppering the book with mentions of some of the more colourful characters of the time.

That is perhaps how I would sum up this book: full of character. The book is packed with interesting stories, anecdotes, people and places, and the author takes full advantage of each of them, helping to take the reader on an enjoyable journey back in time, ensuring that the characters of such a formative era of New York City live on forever through this charming and engaging book.

Purchase Honest Sid at Amazon

Amazon Profile of Ronald Probstein:

Ronald Probstein

Ronald Probstein

One of America’s foremost engineering scientists, Ronald Probstein is Ford Professor of Engineering, Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His undergraduate training was at New York University’s night school and his graduate work in aeronautical engineering and physics at Princeton. He has played a principal role in some of the most important scientific and technical achievements in the post World War II era, involving spacecraft and ballistic missile reentry physics, hypersonic flight theory, comet astrophysics, desalination, synthetic fuels, and the electrokinetic remediation of soil. For these achievements, he has been honored as a member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, International Academy of Astronautics, and awarded an honorary doctorate from Brown University. Author, editor, lecturer, inventor, Professor Probstein has ten critically acclaimed scientific and technical books to his credit. Born in New York City in 1928, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife, Irène. He has one son, Sidney, and three grandchildren.

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What do you do with a bad review?

bad-online-reviews

What do you do when you’re asked to read something that you really don’t like?

Reviewing books that you like is easy, but what happens when you’re tasked with reading something that just doesn’t float your boat?

Do you give up halfway through or do you keep reading until the last page?

Ok, so wading through something you don’t like is hard but even harder is the task of writing a review that doesn’t sound as if you’re ripping the whole thing to shreds. Can a reviewer honestly write an article on something they disliked without it a) being dishonest and misleading to their readers and followers, or b) being so harsh and that it stunts a writer’s book sales?

This is a quandary that I’ve found myself in recently and one that I am not sure how to get out of. I know one thing for certain: I didn’t like the book, but how I go about dealing with that is another matter entirely.

My mother always taught me that if you had nothing nice to say about someone – or something – that it was best just to say nothing at all. While this is a wise adage to live one’s life by, it doesn’t help solve my problem.

As a wanna-be-published-writer myself, I can understand how hurtful criticism of your work can be. Much like a mother carrying her child, giving birth after nine months of toil, then the subsequent rearing of said child into early adulthood, writing a novel is much the same thing. No one wants to be told that their child is ugly or useless and by that same token no writer wants to hear that their story is…..well, a bit of a dud.

But if a reviewer does not make constructive criticism of your work, what are the use of reviews at all?

A writer – much like a child – can only learn from their mistakes and if they are not aware that they are making any then we are setting them up to fail. If a writer is not aware of their shortcomings, how can they ever hope to improve?

Perhaps it is in the way that such criticisms are worded that counts. Flaming or trolling a writer is unfair and uncalled for, yet the manner in which criticisms are articulated is one that is a fine line to walk.

How much is too much?

When reviewing, I always make a point of highlighting the areas which I believe worked well and were of benefit to the overall story. I only mention criticisms when I feel that they have such an effect on the story that I simply cannot overlook them. If the negatives are relatively small then I will gloss over them and concentrate on what did work, giving a good review of the book itself while recommending it to my readers.

When the negatives are glaring I am forced to debate whether it is worth me posting a review at all. I certainly don’t want to be seen as condescending, snarky or overly critical, but my own credibility would be at risk if I were to recommend a book that I didn’t believe in.

So what do I do? Do I publish the review and risk upsetting not only another writer, but possibly a publishing company too? Do I say nothing and let the author continue to think that their book has merit when I honestly feel that it doesn’t? Do I contact the author privately and let them know my criticisms in regard to their book and pray to God that they don’t smite me for it?

I didn't like your book. Please don't stick pins in me for it!

I didn’t like your book. Please don’t stick pins in me for it!

Perhaps many of you are screaming, “Don’t read the Goddamn book then!” but to that I would answer that I am nothing if not a stubborn son of a gun and that once I start something I like to finish it. Yes, I wasted several reading hours on something I didn’t enjoy, but I learned valuable lessons in regard to the kinds of mistakes that I would like to avoid when I attempt to get my own writing published.

I was once told by a close friend that I am perhaps too kind to be an honest reviewer and I suppose to a certain extent they have a point. I disliked the book but I certainly have nothing against the writer and in fact I would feel badly if I mentioned the aspects of the story that I didn’t like. It’s not for me to trample on anyone else’s dream, but I wouldn’t be honest with myself or the author if I didn’t speak up for what I thought was right.

Speaking up and doing what is right is somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand I would maintain my integrity as a reviewer and writer, but on the other I would be concerned about coming across as too harsh or critical and somehow giving the impression that I know better or could do better than they have.

That’s not the point at all. There is enough room for each and every writer out there to have their work published and I would never want to be a part of crushing their dreams. I also believe that writers should help each other to learn and to grow and that honesty amongst peers should be valued. If I feel that another writer could learn something valuable, why would I keep it to myself?

Maybe some writers would in an effort to keep their competition at bay. I am neither competitive nor mean-spirited enough to do such a thing and would rather help a fellow writer out than pay lip service to them. No one wants to be told that you’ve found fault in their work, but maybe it’s not what you say but how you say it that counts.

I’d be interested to hear the opinions of others on this. Please feel free to leave a comment below:

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Book review: Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A Thompson

Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A Thompson

Seconds Before Sunrise by Shannon A Thompson

Firstly, I would like to thank Shannon for sending me a review copy of her second novel, ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’ to read and review before its publication date in March. I whizzed through this book much like I did its predecessor and found it very hard to put down, so gripped with the story was I.

Shannon’s second novel picks up a few months after the firstends and we once again find the story being told from the perspectives of the two main characters: Eric and Jessica. The two of them made a monumental decision in the finale of ‘Minutes Before Sunset’ and this drives the narrative of the second book in the series as the consequences of their actions begin to unfold.

At first it seems as if Jessica has gotten the better end of the deal as she finds herself unable to remember key moments of her recent past, while Eric is forced to confront the fact that he remembers everything – including the intense connection he has to Jessica. The decision they made in the previous story had been designed to protect the girl Eric loves but may end up having catastrophic consequences for both of them.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that fate will always find a way to circumvent even the most fool-proof of plans that Eric (in his Shade identity of Shoman) and his people concoct to ensure that they walk away victorious in their fated battle with Darthon.

Things begin to unravel quickly as both Eric and Jessica learn that perhaps everything is not quite as it seems. People that at first seem trustworthy suddenly begin acting strangely, while those that appeared to be against them may not all have their ultimate destruction at heart. Past, present, and future begin to collide at a frightening pace, destiny appears to be a freight train that neither of them have the ability to control.

Who can they trust; who is friend and who is foe?

As the Lights make an unexpected declaration, will Jessica and Eric be able to finally control their fate and beat destiny at its own game?

Much like the first book, I very much enjoyed the thrill ride of ‘Seconds Before Sunrise’. Having read the previous installment in the series I felt comfortable with the characters that populate this particular story universe and this allows the reader to dive straight into the action and enjoy the journey as it unfolds. More of the story is told from Jessica’s perspective this time, this works well as the focus is primarily on  her in this book (even though she may not realize it).

The action does not let up for a second, especially in the second half of the book and I like the almost frenetic way that things seem to hurtle towards the book’s conclusion. As a reader you get the feeling that things are quickly spiraling out of control and that our two main characters are fated to never outrun their destiny – whatever that may be.

The author manages to convey Jessica’s confusion and subsequent anger terrifically and does a masterful job with handling Eric’s tormented suffering of having the girl he loves so close yet so far away from him. He knows the sacrifice that Jessica made (even if she doesn’t) and struggles to be the one left to face the consequences of that choice.

The cataclysmic battle between the Shades and the Lights has unexpected consequences and is a showdown in which not everyone will survive. Who lives and who dies, and who is able to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause they believe in?

This is a book full of teenage angst, romance, and supernatural flair all rolled into one. I liked this book very much and it shows in how quickly I devoured it. This is a book for fans of young-adult fiction who like their novels mixed with a healthy dose of the paranormal. If those factors tick your boxes then I highly recommend that you get your hands on this book.

My review of Minutes Before Sunset:

Link to Minutes Before Sunset:

Link to Seconds Before Sunrise:

Link to Seconds Before Sunrise on Amazon:

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Book Review – Daughter of the Winds by Jo Bunt

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As part of my affiliation with PubShelf, I have been sent Jo Bunt’s first published novel to read and review on my blog. Daughter of the Winds is a romance novel set in Cyprus as one woman finds herself on a journey to uncover the mysteries of her past. Leni, a woman in her mid-thirties, has recently suffered two highly traumatic incidents in quick succession. Everything that Leni once knew has turned out to be nothing but a smokescreen for a truth hidden deep in the past.

Jo Bunt does an excellent job of describing the beautiful and rather exotic surroundings of Cyprus and made this currently wind-swept and storm-battered Brit long for a little winter sun in warmer climes. Another key element of this book is the amount of time given to the traditional cuisine of the island and while reading this book I felt the hankering for mezze a time or two…..

This book is not just about pleasant weather and tasty food; it also has some very real things to say about love, life and loss and how all three are intrinsically linked together. The story unfolds in two parts in which we see the present-day Leni embark on a journey of self-discovery while also uncovering the path of her ‘mother’, Prudence. Neither woman is without fault and I found this a refreshing aspect of the book. The two main characters are three-dimensional in the fact that they have personality traits that are not all that desirable. Jo Bunt enables us to look at some of the not so nice aspects of the human condition while not alienating us from the book’s main characters. For example: Leni has made it her mission to travel to Cyprus to uncover her past without giving any thought to the emotional minefield she may be wading into. Not once at the beginning of the journey does she consider anyone but herself and her own needs as she blunders from place to place asking questions that some of the island’s residents would rather leave unanswered and buried in the past.

The people of Cyprus – especially Cypriots of Greek descent suffered greatly during the ‘war’ of 1974, a bloody battle in which neither side came out of unscathed. Although times have changed, for some the wounds of the past are just as raw as they were forty years ago. Leni is single-minded in her approach to getting to a truth that she feels has been hidden from her for too long and gallivants off leaving her husband and ‘mother’ behind. Leni seems to care little for the festering sores of recent history that she blindly opens as she quests to find the answer she’s been looking for. Yet by the conclusion of the story, Leni comes to realize that sometimes not everything is about her and that she is perhaps luckier than she realizes when it comes to the love of those around her. We see Leni as being redeemed as she learns to piece together her past and integrate it into life as she knows it in the present day.

The story of Leni’s mother, Prudence, is also a tale of discovery and of finding one’s strength. When we first meet Prudence we find a heavily-pregnant woman with ideas above her station, someone who seems to think that she is better than the other Army wives around her. Prudence is rather self-involved and one feels rather sorry for her put-upon husband, Eddie, after a while, a man who can seemingly do no right in the eyes of his over-critical wife. But a catastrophic incident blows Prudence’s world apart as the war between the Turks and the Greeks is brought all too close to home. A set of tragic events soon defines her journey as not only a mother but a woman, too. From death and destruction comes a tale of strength and hope as Prudence – for once – places the good of another above herself.

This is a story of journeys; of how the love of a parent and child is not defined by blood alone. The bonds of love are not only fused by shared blood but by shared tragedy and heartache. This is a tale of ghost of the past and hopes of the future and how there is a path to redemption for all of us.

For those readers who enjoy romance mixed with beautiful surroundings and good food then I recommend this book to you. Lose yourself in the idyllic Cypriot surroundings, perhaps pour yourself a glass of Ouzo and enjoy a good read.

Jo Bunt’s book is now on offer as part of a Valentine’s Day promotion at the special price of $0.99 in the US (via Amazon.com) and £0.99 in the UK (via Amazon.co.uk). This offer ends on the 20th February so be quick if you want to steal a good read for a bargain price.

Links to Jo Bunt’s book:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Jo Bunt’s Amazon profile:

Jo Bunt. Author of Daughter of the Winds

Jo Bunt. Author of Daughter of the Winds

Jo Bunt was born in Cyprus to British parents. It made sense to her that her first novel should be based there.Following the family’s return to England Jo went to school in Nottingham, university in Hull and then worked in London as a Recruitment Consultant for PwC for many years. Following a family illness Jo moved to Derbyshire where she now lives with her husband and her twin sons. This has enabled her to focus on her two great loves in life; her family and her writing.She remembers writing her first ‘novel’ when she was seven but spent her angst-ridden teenage years writing miserable and dark poetry. She mostly writes mainstream fiction but is also working on a series of children’s adventure books, largely guided by her own children. When she is not writing or looking after the children Jo is an avid reader and self-confessed food snob. If she can combine the two she is a very happy lady indeed.

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