Monday, 26 October 2015

Book review: The Yesterday Tree by Kenneth Joel Teicher

The Yesterday Tree

The Yesterday Tree is a unique story about a group of humans 500 years in the future who are sent back to our time in order to find a cure for a genetic disease threatening to decimate their population.

It really is a unique concept, and I love the fact that it deals with creating family trees. I'm a huge genealogy nut, so this really spoke to me. Unfortunately, there's so much unused potential with this novel.

The biggest issue I had with the book was that it read very much like an unedited draft. I don't comment on something like this unless it takes away from my reading experience and, unfortunately, it did.

Not only were there numerous mistakes, the characters were, on the whole, unbelievable and inconsistent. Most kept flipping back and forth, being paranoid one minute and totally accepting the next. Even Warren was terrible. I don't think I've ever met a military man like him before.

Going back to the unused potential, Joan and Mike were characters who didn't really seem to be needed. If they had been taken out, the book wouldn't have changed at all for me. Joan was only used within the last 20 or so pages. It makes sense to have a linguist on the team, but they could have used her far before then.

Overall, the book is unique enough that I can say I've never read something like it. Not really. I've read about time travelling but to incorporate it with genetic history was interesting. With another very thorough edit I think this book would be very close to amazing.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Author Interview - Andrew Joyce

Author’s Name: Andrew Joyce

Bio: Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, and a collection of one hundred and forty short stories that is comprised of his hitching adventures, written as veiled non-fiction called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS. His novel, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, has hit #1 on Amazon in two categories twice in the last year. He has just published his latest novel, MOLLY LEE. He now lives on a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog, Danny.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Action

Barnes and Noble ...  
Smashwords ... 
Andrew's Web Site ...


1) What inspired you to start writing?
One morning I went crazy. I got out of bed, went downstairs, and threw my TV out the window. Then I sat down at the computer and wrote my first short story. It was soon published in a print magazine (remember them?). I’ve been writing ever since.

2) What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
Read . . . read, and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on!

3) Who is your favorite author and why?
John Steinbeck and this is why:
"The afternoon came down as imperceptibly as age comes to a happy man. A little gold entered into the sunlight. The bay became bluer and dimpled with shore-wind ripples. Those lonely fishermen who believe that the fish bite at high tide left their rocks and their places were taken by others, who were convinced that the fish bite at low tide."— John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
Have ever read anything as beautiful? Well, I have and it was all stuff Steinbeck had written.

4) What comes first, the plot or characters?
When I start a book I have only the first sentence and the last paragraph in my head. Then all I have to do is come up with 100,000 words to fill in the blank space between.

5) Tell us something about your newest release.
Molly Lee is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.
It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.
Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.
We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

6) What is the hardest part about writing for you?
Marketing! The prevailing wisdom is that you have to be on Twitter, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram to name just a few.
If I’m posting on all those sites, then I’m not writing. How many times can I tweet that I’m a genius and that you should buy my books? And what else is there to tweet? Who cares what I had for breakfast. And I really don’t care what is “trending” and couldn’t care less about commenting on it. The same goes for the rest of those social media sites.
I’ve given up on trying to sell books on social media. Instead, what I do is beg book bloggers for reviews. And believe me, it ain’t easy. For my last book, REDEMPTION: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, I had to go through a list of 3,500 bloggers. After visiting each blog individually (3,500!!!) to read their review policies, I found 300 that would maybe give me a review. Thirty responded. It only took two months of eight to ten-hour days, but it worked! Sales were good because of the exposure I received from those initial reviews, and the book—two years later—is averaging 4.5 stars from 300 reviews (132 on Amazon).
I can’t wait to stop marketing Molly and sit down at the computer and bang out my next book. I already have half of it written in my head.

7) What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I like to write in the early morning hours when things are quiet. I usually get up around 2:00 a.m. and go to work. The commute is not long . . . only a few steps to my computer.

8) What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never wanted to grow up, and I believe I have succeeded.

9) How do you do research for your books?
This is my favorite question. I research my butt off. I write (for the most part) historical novels. I must know about the era; the nomenclature . . . everything. I’m presently researching women’s undergarments of the 1890s. If there is anything you need to know about pantalettes, just ask me. As to the how . . . I must admit that I’ve gotten lazy. I used to go to the library; now it’s all on line. Google Scholar rocks!

10 What group did you hang out with in high school?I had no friends in high school. Sill don’t . . . come to think of it.

11) What would we find under your bed?
The monster that lives there.

12) What is something that you absolutely can't live without?
Oxygen . . . vodka is a close second.

13) If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I’d love to spend some time with Jesus. I’d take Him sailing (I live on a sailboat) and ask Him so many questions, He’d probably get out and walk home.
14) Do you write in multiple genres or just one?I have 142 short stories that cover everything from the detective genre to science fiction and everything in between.

15) Is there a writer you idolize? If so who?
John Steinbeck.

16) What are your favorite TV shows?
I do not own a TV.

Do you have any other books on the horizon?
Yes I do, but right now my attention is riveted on a big, tall, frosty glass of vodka and cranberry juice (with extra lime). So I’ll have to go now. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Spotlight Tour: Into the Sunlits by K. Caffee

Spotlight Tour

Into the Sunlits

Nameless has lost nearly everything when the Web Mother rewarded his work, and now must rebuild from the ashes of his victory. With only his trainer, he journeys to another realm in search for new potential Silks to honor the oaths he gave to Her.

Developing a stable of potential fighters around an unusual group of captives teaches Nameless some of who and what he is beyond his class rank of “Runner” and his identity of being his dark goddess’ living avatar. His single-minded, self-imposed quest leads him into trouble that pulls him away from his new captives, leaving their care in the unstable hands of his trainer. When the group is reunited, the resentment expressed by one of the new captives drives him to the edge of sanity. There he is tempered and forged into a new force. But is he a force of balance, or a force of chaos?

About the author

K. Caffee is a full time graduate student who has bowed to the pressures of her muse to get the stories she likes to tell out into the big world. She has always enjoyed entertaining others with her flights of fancy, and now invites you to come along for the ride. When she is not writing, or studying, she is a willing servant to her two cats who sometimes provide inspiration for her stranger characters.

Visit the author's Facebook, and Blog.

Click here to go to the book tour's home post

Monday, 19 October 2015

Review for "A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists" by Tony A. Grayson

A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists

A Voice from New Creek Mill: The Methodists is the first of a series from author Tony A. Grayson and is part historical and part fiction. It tells of the early days and spread of The Method; a form of Anglicanism first envisioned by John Wesley and George Whitefield and its initial spread from England to the young colony of Virginia. The reader gets to witness the journey of The Methods’ leaders, the political and social obstacles surrounding its growth and sees its manifestation on the ground in the form of its young supporters; Willis Wilkins and Sharon-Ann Haynes. The struggles of young love and duty to faith are brought into real focus in this story but are certainly not the only tales we hear about. Clashes with mysterious Aboriginals and political intrigue between pirate captains round out the first of four planned books in this series.

When reading the introduction to Graysons book, it seems as if he has done a wealth of research about the area and the people involved in Methodism however Grayson stresses that this book is still a work of fiction. Regardless of how you classify the book, it is an interesting read. The book starts with what we could classify as one of the “Main” characters but very quickly shifts to a history lesson on John Wesleys’ beginnings in dissention to some key Anglican ideas. The chapters loosely try to stick to a subject, like the story of Sharon-Ann following her family from England to Virginia to help establish The Method or the saga of Augustus Snuke navigating the pirate world of his cousins’ domain. Occasionally history lessons tended to spring up within these chapters, and often the transition was not a seamless one. The descriptions of the political and religious climate Methodism was born into was valuable to understand the story, but I found that it dramatically cut up the rest of the book and felt awkward.

Another slightly problematic issue that popped up was the character of Elise LaBash, a young woman vying for the attentions of a male suitor. Grayson created this character to be very real; A beautiful girl who struggles with what is expected of her and what she wants to do, however Grayson also seems to paint her and her mother as somewhat of a charicature, indicated that Elise’ beauty is a powerful tool to get what she wants out of men. While I can understand this troupe being used, in this case Grayson takes it further and alludes to Elise almost having supernatural sway over men, and I do not think it is too much to suggest Grayson considers beauty to be a super power. The feminist in me had some revulsion at this, not only that this implies a young man will lose control when confronted by a pretty girl but also that pretty girls are only concerned with using their beauty to get what they want. After finishing the book however I feel that this was not Grayson’s intent, but that he merely wanted to demonstrate the very real issues of youth.

The main characters all have their problems; they would not be interesting if they didn’t, but what I love is that Grayson has really bridged the gap between the modern world and the world of the 18th century. Even though 300 years separates us, the problems these characters faced as still ones we grapple with today. Questions of love versus lust, our true purpose and whether or not we are fulfilling it, the transition from child to adult are all things we still struggle with and it is very refreshing to see a novel set in a historical period remind us that these are human problems and they are not new to us.

This book ends with some happy stories, some sad ones and more importantly with tantalizing hints at what is to come with the next book, and even better still for those of us with a curious nature Grayson has also added a bibliography at the end where those interested in the non-fiction part of his work can go to follow in his research.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Book review: Apology Accepted by Jayne Michaels

Apology Accepted

For nearly the first half of the novel, the only character I liked was Hannah. It wasn't until almost the end that I actually ended up liking the main character, Jamie. That's not to say the book or writing wasn't good. Not all main characters need to be likeable, but it's preferred especially when there's no other true main character.

The whole concept of the novel could have been better, but it wasn't bad. It was a nice easy read, and the parts that kept me up at night reading were the interactions between Jamie and Paul. It was really the only thing going for me. Although it was an easy read, there were times I found the writing awkward and clumsy, especially action scenes such as the accident near the end of the book. There was little tension, no heart racing. It was a bit too methodical and detailed for it to be intense. And it was the lack of details that made the kiss between characters flat. It was apparently amazing but I didn't see it, at all.

What I really liked about this novel was the theme of forgiveness, pain, and moving on. Jamie is so angry and hurt with her uncle that she wants nothing to do with him or his inheritance, and understandably so. But by going through with her own plan with the inheritance she finds it to be therapeutic and eventually finds the strength to forgive. I would have liked to have seen a bit more from Paul's perspective, about his process of forgiveness, but the end makes it pretty clear what his end result is.

Overall, while this review doesn't seem to be positive, Apology Accepted is an entertaining novel. I enjoyed reading about Jamie picking out a "gift" for her old neighbour, and her memories with the cats, and those little moments in which she seemed like a real person. People who want a quick read and enjoy a chick-lit will enjoy this novel.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Book review: My Brother's Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

My Brother's Crown (Cousins of the Dove #1)

Split between 17th century France and modern day Virginia, My Brother's Crown tells the story of two women who must rely on faith to get them through. Catherine, a protestant in Catholic France, must find a way to trust her brother who only seems to have secrets. And Renée, a Virginian scientist who has recently become inspired by her ancestor Catherine, discovers her inner strength to face a dark and sinister past.

I'm usually quite particular about historical fiction, and rightly so. I want to know that the author(s) have done their work so that I don't have to question their writing. Everything written within this novel was beautiful, and compelling. But then it got to some French words and phrases, and for some reason I kept wondering if this was 17th century French. Being Canadian, I have an understanding of French, and I wasn't expecting to understand it, but I did. I know around this time is when modern French began to be developed, but it's still pretty close to Middle French so I just had to wonder. It was this wondering that sometimes pulled me out of the novel. This has nothing to do with the writing, but with me. I wish I had been able to trust the authors and their research with the language. I'm glad the language was included, as it helped to create the French setting in my mind. I just couldn't get out of my own head.

While the Persecution Pamphlet was fake, I absolutely loved the world in which it was created. Based on a true persecution of protestants, this novel shows just how dire times were. To be honest, it resonates with me even in today's world. Catherine's fear for her life, her brother's, trying to save her cousin yet refusing to convert was so moving and challenging. We all want to believe we have the faith to say no in the face of our enemy, but we won't know until that moment. I knew little of what was happening in France during this time period, so I'm grateful to have learned something.

Renée's portion of the novel was moving. While I felt the romance was rushed a bit, I loved her passion for her work and for her family's history. I'm a huge genealogy nut, tracing my own ancestor's back to the 16th century, and I connected to this part of her life. Feeling a connection with a long-gone ancestor is pretty touching. I'm looking forward to what I hope will be more novels to read more about Renée's mystery, but I'm glad at least the first portion was closed and dealt with.

I very highly recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in French history, their own faith, God's provision, and how the past is ultimately connected with our present and future. This is a novel to follow, and re-read.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.