Welcome to the world of the sabre-toothed cat…
Imagine recreating the saber-toothed cat for fun? The possibility sounds exciting, but the reality could be nightmarish. Within these pages you are drawn into in a world where man becomes the hunted. It is fast-paced fiction where cats change the rules and people run for their lives. “Tigers in the Wild” and a lucrative fee lure freelance writer, Zechariah Price, into the frozen mountains of Montana. The assignment drops him into a world of Bengal tigers, illegal aliens, prehistoric sabre-toothed cats, psychic premonitions and babies. As death by man and animal surrounds him, he quickly learns that he, too, is destined to become food for the cats. Trapped between man and beast, his assignment turns into that of survival. Welcome to a world where cats call the shots.
Who are they, these Indie Authors of the world; specifically, who are they who write fiction… the story tellers? With simple words on paper they manage to create entirely new worlds into which readers can escape to discover great friends, unbeatable heroes and fantastic lovers, where another entire parallel universe comes alive. What is it that keeps them going, these writers? As one who fits the description, I can attest that it sure isn’t the big sales or the dream of hitting the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. It is the recognition from readers that keeps us returning to our reams of paper or our computer screens, me and all my Indie Friends. One day I got to thinking about those Indie Authors and wondered what I could do to increase our visibility… so began FRIENDS WITH BOOKS on DesertBookshelf.com.
FRIENDS WITH BOOKS was launched on September 4th of this year. It has since turned into a daily ritual of scouring Twitter and Facebook looking for Indi Authors with interesting stories. One such gem of a writer was Maureen Turner of Gloucestershire, England, a stone’s throw across the big pond from here in Florida, USA. She appeared to be a perfect fit as a featured author with her books of fantasy romance and fantasy/sci-fi romance. After taking a peek at her photo and reading through her bio I came away with a picture of the lovely Maureen–a Jack Russell rescue dog, Woody, by her side–whipping up out-of-this-world stories with some rather bizarre plots. The question I have to ask is, does Woody contribute or just give moral support? I envision her writing sessions going something like this:
Maureen: “What do you think, Woody? The Warrior Angel… How about I describe him as a tanned golden haired surfer by the name of Malchediel?”
Woody: Tilts his head and then sighs and drops his chin to his paws.
Maureen: “Really? I’m glad you agree. His job will be to protect Amy, a Nephilim girl on Earth. Next question… Wings or no wings?
Woody: Lifts his eyebrows and rolls his eyes until they almost disappear.
Maureen: Laughs… “You’re such a clown.”
I completely understand Woody. My cat, Squirrel, is the same way. We all need our muse.
So I started perusing through Maureen Turner’s titles…
There was a Fantasy/Sci fi Romance called Do Androids Dream? The title alone was enough to get me reading further about Sarah and an android named, Nick. At first reluctantly, Sarah takes on the challenge of re-defining the speech of the prototype of a new range of Androids only to wonder later if she could be falling in love with one of them, Nick, or is it the other way around? In manufacturing, Nick was contaminated with human DNA. Would there be no end to her husband’s fury?
Maureen also has a Wings Unfurled Series where Malchediel (Malchediel Warrior Angel – Wings Unfurled Book 1) is tasked to protect Amy, a Nephilim girl on Earth. Does he forget that angels are not allowed to fall in love with Mortals? In Wings Unfurled Book 2, Amy, Nephilim Freedom Fighter, will Amy ever forget Malchediel? Are they destined to find each other?
And of course, no writer is complete without a series of short stories to wet the literary appetite. In Maureen’s case the book of short stories is entitled, Purgatory. It is a wonderfully diverse collection of a dozen shorts, some from a perspective that you would never imagine (Corona) some thought provoking (Purgatory) some very moving (Halloween); all captivating.
And then I found First Breath, Maureen Turner’s story that garnered most of my attention and urged me to click the buy button. With so many books already on my reading list, I, sadly, can’t purchase them all. For some reason, however, First Breath found its way to the top.
And so, here is my take on First Breath by Maureen Turner…
Jo, a young woman barely beyond a girl, following a night of depression, awakens to discover the pencil drawing of a handsome man she’d created as a teenager, gone, leaving behind a blank sheet of paper still attached to her bathroom door, the image itself having morphed into a three-dimensional pile on the floor of her bedroom. The man, no longer a drawing, was very much alive, trying to pick himself up off the floor, confused and disoriented and, like she, panic-stricken.
After getting beyond the terrifying discovery of this man in her bedroom, Jo begins to realize he is everything she ever imagined: her creation; a real-life figment of her dreams. And because she’d created him, all his history, his memories that is, are her memories. He could recall things about her childhood that she had long forgotten.
Could she have really wished this hunk into existence?
Head librarian at the local library in the town of Marlham, England, Jo finds it a challenge to explain this handsome man’s sudden appearance in her life, but between the two of them they concoct a name, James Smith, and an amnesia story that gradually becomes accepted among her friends and colleagues, and eventually, the community, even to the point of securing a driver’s license and passport.
And of course, he becomes her lover and all is well and beautiful in Jo’s life… until…
Jo has come to believe that James entered her life as a result of her unhappiness which gradually faded away until all that was left was total and unmitigated bliss. Then one day she notices the drawing paper from which James took his first breath, until then completely blank, still attached to the back of her bedroom door. The image is returning, starting with the feet, and she becomes convinced that because she is happy it’ll continue to return until one day the real life James will cease to exist, that he came into her life only long enough to pull her from her depressed state. She is so certain of this that she convinces him to move away, to London, to continue on with his life, his education and career, without her, to break all contact with her. It’ll devastate her but he will be alive, a sacrifice she has no choice but to make.
And that is where First Breath really finds ground and where I kept wanting to pick it up to find out what was going to happen next. Were they ever going to get back together, would he ever find out that when he left her behind she was with child, that he was to become a father, this figment of Jo’s wish for the perfect man? Months go by and then years and I hold my breath from chapter to chapter.
Could this ever have a happy ending? I dare not reveal anymore.
I wonder if Maureen knows how close to her own life, the lives of fiction writers, she has come in the creation of James? Novelists create characters out of pen and paper (digitally in recent time) and before they know it, the characters become very real. The authors live with them, eat with them, sleep with them until one day it comes time to release them into the world so that they may truly live. James’ appearance from Jo’s drawing is, really, not too much unlike a full-fledged novel coming to being from the imagination of a writer. Maureen Turner created Jo and James and then a bizarre story around them. She made it all believable and then she released it to the world.
Maureen Turner lives in Gloucestershire, England with her husband and her Jack Russell rescue dog and is a member of the Dean Writers Circle. She writes fantasy romance and fantasy/sci-fi romance.
Alan Black – author, writer and publisher
Alan Black is a #1 bestselling author on Amazon and Kindle for Metal Boxes, a young adult, science fiction, military, action adventure. But don’t pigeon-hole him based on that. In his words, “My writing tastes are as eclectic as my reading preferences.”
I first ran on to Alan on Facebook with titles like “Granite Heart”, “Friendship Stone” and “Heaviest Rock.” There seemed to be a theme and they looked interesting, taking place in the 1920 Ozark Mountains with a wonderful sounding character, LillieBeth Hazkit. Then there was “Chewing Rocks”, “Metal Boxes” and “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops.” Other than the titles— rocks, steel, stone, granite, dirt—they were as different as night and day. I first tried “Chewing Rocks” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out my blog about that here… Chewing Rocks! What a Great Title. It was in this fun read that Alan Black introduced me to Chastity Snowden Whyte, captain and sole occupant of the asteroid mining ship, Sedona, and I was hooked.
So who is Alan Black? Like many of us in our later years, we claim more than one location. His is Kansas, Missouri and now, Arizona. Having recently moved from Arizona myself, I’m a bit disappointed at not getting the opportunity to meet Alan in person while I lived there. Black is a self-published multi-genre writer of eight novels. One of his writer friends called him ‘timeless’ because he wrote historical books, novels based in the present and tales of the future. His main goal is to write story driven novels with scifi elements that are more character and action driven than focused on science, story driven historicals that are not history lessons and entertainment based literary fiction.
Alan Black’s vision statement is, “I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read.”
He has certainly written stories that I want to read.
Here is my take on “Steel Walls and Dirt Drops”
Third Level Commander Hamisha (Misha) Ann McPherson, a larger-than-life woman both physically and professionally, combat veteran and war hero to the nth degree, decorated to the highest level, is dropped onto Heaven’s Gate Space Station, AMSF Kiirkegaard, to take charge of an armored infantry fighting force, the 1392nd Allied Protective Expeditionary Services or better know as the APES. How hard can this be, she thinks, going from being one of many ground-pounders to leading a bunch of ground-pounders? Ground-pounders might not even be the right words for them. It’s more like planet-pounders or planetoid-pounders. In the world of APES they were called Dirt Droppers, because what they did was leave the safe confines of the space station’s steel walls and dirt drop onto planets and planetoids to battle the hated and dreaded non-human Binders. I could only envision each of the APE members strapped into a machine, a powerhouse of arsenal elements that could take down a Sherman Tank without batting an eyelash. Oh yes, and there are plenty of pretty eyelashes to go around. There is equal opportunity in the APES, packed with ass-kicking men and women, all of whom play as hard as they fight.
When Misha arrives on the scene, however, she finds instead of a well-oiled fighting machine, a bunch of slackers, petty criminals and losers, whose previous commander had mentally retired long before he actually left his command. She also finds that Lieutenant Colonel William Park Britaine, Commander of AMSF Kiirkegaard, wants her head; for what reason she has no idea. She could not imagine how she was going to make this armored infantry fighting force ready to go to battle against the Binders, and she hasn’t much time before they are to be deployed. Under Colonel Britaine, the sooner she could get her teams off the Kiirkegaard, the better. So she digs in and pulls all her second level commanders together to begin the process of whipping all eleven squads into battle-ready shape.
And that, she does, but not everything in life or in military goes as planned. The battle-ready APES do in fact go to battle, but with whom?
“Steel Walls and Dirt Drops” was truly a fun read. I look forward to wading into more of Alan Black’s stories.
I first ran on to Alan Black on Facebook with titles like “Granite Heart”, “Friendship Stone” and “Heaviest Rock.” There seemed to be a theme and they looked interesting, taking place in the 1920 Ozark Mountains with a wonderful sounding character, LillieBeth Hazkit; still, I wasn’t compelled to give them a try.
Then I spotted “Chewing Rocks“…
…a story that although related in title, was totally out of this world in difference. I mean that literally… way out of this world. Alan Black introduced me to Chastity Snowden Whyte, captain and sole occupant of the asteroid mining ship, Sedona, and I was hooked.
A strong female character you can’t help but love
In her younger years Chastity Snowden Whyte had gotten into too much trouble trying to defend her name and so started going by Sno; not Chasitity; not Whyte. What a great… interesting… odd name… Sno! “Isn’t that a weather condition?” people would often ask when first introduced to her, many of whom had never seen snow, having been born somewhere off planet, planet Earth, that is. Having found her origins on a planetoid somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, even Sno had only heard stories of snow.
In the opening chapter, Alan Black paints an out-of-this-world picture of Sno, busy outside the Sedona in her EVA suit, by herself, mining asteroids for rock (Chewing Rocks) and hopefully, a rare metal or two. When she returns to her home base in Arizona City on a small planetoid called, Ceres, she gets in a barroom scrap with 4 fellow miners from a competing operation. Men being men and expecting this pretty young woman to be easy pickings, find themselves up against a force that they can’t handle. Without harming so much as a fingernail, she puts them in their place and then shortly after, to avoid possible repercussions with authorities, blasts off into the asteroid belt. There are claims to be worked, asteroids to explored, rocks to be chewed. It’s what happens when the three men chase after her, retribution on their minds, that makes Chewing Rocks so much fun to read. Great action, wonderful word visuals of the planetoid city, the spaceships and the mining operations along with a multitude of colorful characters made Chewing Rocks hard to walk away from. When I got to the arbitration scenes with Therese Cleasemount, I just simply couldn’t put my iPad down; actually found myself chuckling now and then. I think maybe our justice system could learn a little bit from Miss Cleasemount.
Chewing Rocks was simply a joy to read. I look forward to reading more by the “Paperback Writer” Alan Black.
I have to say that Gary Henson tells one hell of a story. On the surface ‘”Genome” was a plain and simple fun read with plenty of ghost action thrown in. I suspected early on who the killer was, however, I changed my mind several times as the plot progressed. Gary just kept me guessing, which is the way I like it. Deep down, however, ran the thread through which all of us, at some time in our lives no matter what our beliefs or lack thereof, stop to ponder. Sometimes it awakens us in the middle of the night or simply skims by during a related scene in a book or movie. Is there an afterlife, and if so, how does it work? Where do our souls go? Do souls, or are they really ghosts, linger for a time, finishing up business before moving on, setting wrongs to right, or passing on a final message or two?
A unique premise in Genome, no doubt about it
Gary’s premise in “Genome” that those who can communicate with the spirits are blessed with a special structure to their DNA, was unique, and then to suggest that a non-psychic individual’s DNA could be altered to give them the power, really enriched the plot. Thanks, Gary, for bringing “Genome” to us. I very much enjoyed it.
I have to say after encountering Potocki’s scene with the shrunken head I had the need to run to the refrigerator to find something to kill the taste in my mouth. Wow! The Man with the Blue Hat was a full, wrap around sensory overload; taste, smell, feel, the whole gambit. She had a way to weave into my head a very ugly, nasty character, bringing back memories of early Stephen King and Dean Koontz. And then, throughout the entire story, from one horrific scene to another, I was never able to put a finger on who the bad or good guys were, and even now after putting the book down following the closing paragraph, I’m still not entirely sure. However, there was no doubt for whom I was cheering. Good or bad, I know who had to come out on top. Thanks, Wendy Potocki, for The Man with the Blue Hat, a great read.
Penny Childs’ novel Say You’ll Haunt Me opens with a bone chilling, death defying rescue by vacationing FBI agent Jason Mackenzie in an icy Michigan river. Samantha O’Connell was assumed to be committing suicide, but a gut feeling, or was it a voice in Jason’s head, tells him that the assumptions may not be true, that there is a whole lot more waiting to be discovered just below the surface. Ms Childs had me from the first paragraph when Samantha awoke perched in bare feet on the icy bridge railing. As she plunged into the water I plunged into the story, anxious to find out what was really happening in the woman’s mind, in her life, and what part Jason was going to play as he and the local sheriff try to peel away the layers of secrecy guarding the O’Connell family. Is everyone a little bit crazy or just flat out insane?
Say You’ll Haunt Me gripped me from beginning to end; a fine job for this new indie author.
The Last Dance is a love story of a lifetime that will leave readers analyzing their own relationships, wondering if they have or will ever have what James and Alejandra found in a chance meet in a quiet little diner. From the days before the attack on Pearl Harbor when they first fall in love, to after the war’s end exactly four years later and on until nearly the next decade, we wonder how they will ever find each other again, and what will happen when they do. Page after page Wyatt McIntyre draws us in, teasing us with little, romantic tidbits.
….”I’ve spent my entire life moving in a slow waltz with you, Alejandra…”
….If this was their last moment together he wanted to spend it holding her in his arms.
….Alejandra quivered at his touch. Is this how it feels when dreams come true?
McIntyre knows how to tell a love story.
Although we know from the beginning that it will all turn out, McIntyre hooked me because I had to know how James and Alejandra met, and what it was that drove them away from each other and then what it took to bring them back together.
I very much enjoyed The Last Dance and look forward to seeing more from this new author.
Gillie Bowen, born in Nakuru in Kenya and now living in Loire Valley, France, traveled the world extensively as a child. She is a retired British journalist and the best-selling author of amuse-bouche (rough translation… taste tantalizer), a collection of French recipes and photographs adapted for British and American markets. Amuse-bouche is available on Amazon.
What I am writing about today, though, is not French “taste tantalizers.” It is about Gillie’s second book, the story of George and Molly Hudson, brother and sister. As young children they witness the horror of a tribal castration in an African jungle. They lose their home and their family in a devastating fire. They suffer the anguish and heartbreak of their father’s betrayal. With nothing left of their childhood, they board a ship to start a new life in another country, where lion, hippo, rhino and leopard rule. At the age of just ten and eleven, they are alone, but they have each other Beneath African Skies. The author’s recounting is based on the true story as told to her by the two siblings. It is a story that takes place in 20th century Africa: hyena, crocodile and cobra attacks, gold rush mania, crater plunges, near-fatal accidents, typhoid fever and murder are just some of the ordeals they must face. It is the story of coping with death and the horrors of the Second World War: George as an RAF fighter pilot, Molly as a pregnant and lonely bride in war-torn Britain. Above all, it is the story of their survival and their love for each other.
Though the story is about George and Molly, it begins many years before, around the time of their Great-Great grandparents wedding. It begins with John Hougham Hudson and Elizabeth Ann Walker of Broadstairs in England, who, while still in the bliss of their wedding nuptials, join a band of brave young people who would become the sixty-seven men and women known as the 1820 White Settlers. They leave their Kentish home in England on a small four-vessel fleet departing from Deptford in London. It is the 12th of February, 1820; their destination, Simonstown in South Africa. Quickly we move forward to 1918 when George Hudson is born in Benoni, near Johannesburg. His sister, Molly, joins him fifteen months later. Before they die, both at age 91, they help Molly’s daughter, Gillie, piece together the story of the family.
And so, this is Gillie Bowen’s story.
Here is my take on Beneath African Skies by Gillie Bowen.
Beneath African Skies reads like fiction but all the time I knew it was a true story that started with John and Elizabeth Hudson in 1820, a young English couple who upon their marriage announced that they were going to make their new home in British Colonial South Africa as part of a British “scheme” to populate the Zuurfeld. The “scheme” was to form a barrier between the warring Zulu tribe and the people to the south. I sailed with them aboard the Zoroaster on their arduous journey full of stormy seas, seasickness and dysentery until they were dropped off in Simon Town, South Africa where they settled in huts in a country so different from the one in which they were born and raised. I then quickly moved through four generations until the births of George and Molly Hudson some 100 years later. And that is where this story truly began and the author, Gillie Bowen, started pulling me in.
It seemed strange to know that Gillie was writing about her mother’s life over 80 years ago, from birth through childhood, into adulthood and motherhood and all the amazing challenges she and her brother, George, faced along the way in South Africa. I learned of places of which I’d never heard like, Kisumu, Zesfontein, Benoni, Eldoret and Kijabel, and go to others such as the Great Rift Valley, Lake Elementaita, Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha. Then I went to war and found myself holding my breath, wondering if George, or Molly’s husband, Boris, would come back alive. This was real life and sometimes real life can be unfair.
Thank you Gillie Bowen, for this wonderful journey Beneath African Skies. It was simply… AMAZING!
The following is a synopsis of James Paddock’s new mystery, Deserving of Death
“It was the best of days; it was the worst of nights.”
Deserving of Death opens with this somewhat familiar, or maybe not, line that keeps running through CJ Washburn’s head. He has worked himself into a frenzy because his girlfriend has gone missing, or so he thinks.
One might say that CJ Washburn is obsessed with Stella Summers.
“But at this particular time, this particular night, things weren’t so great.”
How could he not think to check his email or voice mail or not find the note she had left in his apartment? He runs to the scene of a body dump in fear that it is her, possibly the third victim in what appears to be turning into a serial killing rampage.
“Was she dead like the other victims, stuffed in a dumpster as though nothing more than last week’s hot chili tacos?”
“And this guy calls himself a private investigator?” you might be thinking. A private investigator he is, and a good one at that. However, things certainly get worse before they get better. Women’s bodies keep turning up. He finds, or should I say, nearly passes out on top of the third victim, who turns the case into a Tucson, Arizona serial killing spree. By the fourth victim he becomes a person of interest; by the fifth, the prime suspect and the subject of a manhunt from the Idaho panhandle to Southern Arizona. Bodies continue to drop around him until his deepest fear is pushed upon him and his investigative skills are challenged at the highest level. In a message from the killer he learns that the next victim may be one of the women in his life. In the middle of the night CJ is visited in his “guarded” hospital room:
“Who are you?” CJ demanded of his midnight visitor.
“If you were Batman, I’d be The Joker.”
“Your sweetheart is with your daughter. Your guard, well, she’s getting what her father deserved. For right now the rest of your ladies are accounted for, except your ex, of course, but then she isn’t your lady anymore, is she? But what about that fine looking attorney. Is she one of your ladies, too?”
“Why are you doing this? What did I do to you?”
“Nothing… to me.” He looked out into the hall then turned back to CJ. “When you stopped being a cop, you should have stopped meddling in cop business.”
CJ’s daughter, his girlfriend, his attorney or his ex-wife. Who is the next target of this deranged killer?
So… who is this Clinton Joshua Washburn, private investigator? Because of the razing he got when Bill Clinton was president, he resorted to simply CJ. Only Stella is allowed to call him anything else and even she knows Clinton is out of bounds. She calls him Clint. CJ Washburn is an ex-Tucson police officer who left the force to save his marriage, hanging his PI shingle. The marriage dissolved anyway, but the PI business still struggles along, surviving on serving subpoenas for Pima County and the City of Tucson, proving or disproving the faithfulness of spouses, and tracking down deadbeat dads.
As with most divorces, there are kids and sometimes the kids aren’t very happy about the turn of events. CJ’s son, Josh is just such a kid and at 19, one year after CJ and Pat split up, he walks away from them, not to be heard from for six years. And then he finds out that his daughter, Trish, has always known where Josh was. He has to ask:
“Is he still angry?” CJ asked his daughter.
“Of course he’s still angry, Dad.” She let loose of his hand and her voice went up an octave. “Hell, I’m still angry. You and Mom getting divorced wasn’t part of the big plan. We were a happy family and then we weren’t. It was like you guys flipped a switch without consulting us first. It came completely out of the blue. Sure, Mom was a bit weird but as long as she was our mom that was okay. Now she’s not only more weird, or weirder, if that’s a word, but she’s also someone else’s mom, and we have step-siblings who demand her immediate attention more than we ever did. And you started becoming weird, too, with quitting the police force and trying to start your own private eye business. You got obsessed with that and then the divorce happened and your children fell by the wayside. I sort of adapted, but Josh did not. That’s why he took off. He couldn’t deal with it anymore.”
When Josh does return, CJ is the prime suspect in the serial killings, not the best time, you would think, to try and patch over old wounds. Isn’t it odd how life can throw us surprises now and then?
Does it have a happy ending? you might wonder. Well, that sort of depends on one’s point of view now, doesn’t it? Happiness or lack thereof is subjective and relative.
Quotes about Deserving of Death from reviewers:
Alliji “God’s girl” – “This book is multi-layered, smoothly written and tucked into the heart of the action is a great love story.”
REgina – “Deserving of Death is a wild ride of suspense and heart pounding action.”
Vonda Norwood – “This author has an easy style of writing and tells one heck of a GREAT mystery!!!”
Where can Deserving of Death be found?
From Desert Bookshelf you can go to your favorite eBook or paperback retailer or… directly to to download to your Kindle or Kindle app.