Review: Higher Ground (Earthquake #1) by TA Webb

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Higher Ground coverCharlie Turner was just 19 when his father died, leaving a hole in the Turner family that was impossible to fill.  Yet Charlie tried, walking away from college, his boyfriend, and his dreams, everything that mattered to him in order to live at home and take care of his younger brother and mom. Now in his 30’s and with Turner & Sons Construction a success, Charlie has little else in his life beyond family and work, something his friends and mother are concerned about.

When his friend and co worker, Siggy, gets pulled away to work at Mountain Shadows, Charlie is left to meet with their newest client, an art gallery owner who wants to expand his space to include more art works.  The owner of the gallery, Amos Greene, is arrogant, cold, and somewhat smug, especially in his initial dealings with Charlie.  His treatment of Charlie borders on demeaning and rude but Charlie demands respect and professionalism  and gets it.  A standoff made tense by the fact that both men are attracted to each other.

But Charlie has more on his mind than a stuffy art gallery owner,  his younger brother is getting into trouble and his mom wants Charlie to reclaim his personal life by moving out into a house of his own at Shadow Mountain.  Getting a life is easier than it sounds and a demanding new client is the least of Charlie’s problems or so he thinks…..

Higher Ground, the first in TA Webb’s Earthquake (PF2014) series, is a wonder of a story.  Webb’s main character, Charlie Turner, has been through the emotional wringer, and the stress and responsibility he shouldered when his father died has not abated. Forced by circumstances to  be “the man of the family”, Charlie forfeited his teenage years and personal life to make sure his mother and younger brother were taken care of.  Managing his own personal pain, Charlie’s focus was on his mother and brother.  And while his mother has recovered, younger brother, Damon,  is swinging deeper out of control.  Only Charlie seems to be able to reach him.

I think one of the  finest aspects of this story is the brotherly dynamics playing out between Charlie and Damon.  The death of their father forced Charlie into his father’s role when his mother was emotionally and physically unable to parent him and Damon.  But now she has recovered enough to realize what that has done to her older son and is trying to make amends. Their mother wants to reclaim her role as parent/authority figure to Damon, and having Charlie leave the house will let her do that and give Charlie the independence he deserves.  But it may be too late for that and Webb makes us see just how fragile the bonds are between Charlie, his mother, and Damon.

And clearly, Webb understands the combustive nature of teenagers too.  It’s hard enough to be a teenager with hormones playing havoc with you at that age. But then to have that young boy deal with the loss of a beloved father in a car accident, the temporary loss of the support from his mother dealing with her own issues? Devastating especially as it comes with a change in his relationship with his older brother  which goes from adored sibling to someone now in an authority position. All this sends him reeling towards poor decisions and emotional turmoil that just gets worse with each new well meaning intervention.

All the characters, all their actions comes across as authentic and painfully realistic.  You will hurt for Damon as much as you do for Charlie.  This is a tough time for both of them and Damon isn’t, not unexpectedly, handling Charlie’s move well.  So many changes to the fundamental foundation of the Turner family, and the author makes us quake in anxiety and anticipation for the next event to impact them and the damage it will cause.

And on top of all this is a mixed up attraction between Charlie and Amos.  The author’s terrific character development of both men let the reader into the roller coaster of emotions their meeting/working relationship has generated.  Charlie, open and friendly, easy in his sexuality.  Amos, cold, calculating and rushing to judgement, all prickly and cultured.  Their clash instigates some white hot sex driven passion which is just as quickly dashed. Webb leads us through all the assumptions each man has made about each other and then onto the path of adjustments they start to make.  There is so much room for growth here, not only in their burgeoning relationship with each other but also with those other characters that surround them, including Amos’ relationship with Damon.

I have to keep double checking to see that this story is only 45 pages in length. It has the feel of a much longer, deeper story.  Webb gives us textured, real characters and a multi-layered plot that pulls us in and keeps us involved from start to finish. There are some deeply wounding events that occur here that ring with all the emotional truth and pain that close siblings can inflict on each other.   It leaves Charlie and the reader hurting and worried about what comes next.  I can’t wait for the next story in the series, Moving Earth (Earthquake #2).  TA Webb made me care about these people.  Now I need to know what happens next.  So will you.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  Great covers for all the series and books,including Higher Ground.

Book Details:

ebook, 45 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by A Bear on Books

One of the Pulp Friction 2014 Series

 From the Pulp Friction Group: The Pulp Friction 2014 Collection. Four authors. Four Series. Twenty books. One fiery finale. Spend a year with an eclectic group of strangers brought together through circumstances, as they are tested by life, and emerge as more than friends. The strongest bonds are forged by fire, cooled in air, smoothed by water, grounded in earth. Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.

Round One:
Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1) by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Where the Wind Blows: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

The Contest and Blog Tour For Shira Anthony’s Encore Release Continues!

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Encore’s release will be followed on Christmas Day by the release of a Blue Notes holiday novella, Symphony in Blue. Symphony will be my 10th Dreamspinner Press release, so I’m celebrating the release of both of these books with a blog tour contest ending on New Year’s Eve at midnight! Grand prize is a Kindle loaded with many of my Dreamspinner Press titles. You can get more entries by commenting on blog tour posts, tweeting, and buying the books. Here’s the link to the giveaway:Symphony in Blue-build (1)

Contest Details for Blue Notes Series Holiday 2013 Giveaway:

Begins on release day for “Encore,” November 11, 2013
Ends on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, at midnight
Drawings are open to both U.S. readers and international readers, but physical prizes (Kindle, necklace, book, and t-shirt) are for U.S. readers only. I will award a virtual set of the first 4 Blue Notes Series books to one winner from outside the U.S.
Prizes (U.S. Only):

Prizes (U.S. Only):

  • Grand Prize: A Kindle loaded with the first 4 Blue Notes Series books and some of my other back titles
  • 1st Place: A sterling silver music themed necklace
  • 2nd Place: Winner’s choice of one of my back titles in paperback (i.e., not including the 2 new releases)
  • 3rd Place: Blue Notes t-shirt, cover of the winner’s choiceEncore-Build

Blog Stops Currently Scheduled :
November 11th (release day – Encore): Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (Melanie Marshall)
November 12th:   Live Your Life, Buy the Book
November 14th:   Michael Rupured’s Blog

Visit each stop on the tour for more of Shira Anthony and this incredible series.

Here is the link for ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords review of Encore.

Winners of the Pulp Friction Books Contest

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Meet us back here in December for the final Pulp Friction guest post of 2013 and the final Pulp Friction review. There will be another giveway or two. You never know. My thanks again to all these remarkable people, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Laura Harner and of course, Tom Webb for stopping by this week and giving us insight into their characters, their series and of course, Pulp Friction.

Now here are the Winners of the books by day and author:

Monday, Havan Fellows, Wicked’s Way: The winner is penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, Lee Brazil, Chances Are: The winner is Leni (ldinnell@gmail.com)

Wed., Laura Harner, Triple Threat: The winner of Laura’s book is Ashley E (ashley.vanburen@gmail.com)

and drumroll please….

Thur., Tom Webb, City Knight: The winner of Tom’s book is bluesmokey (richards851@sbcglobal.net)

The authors will be contacting their individual winners about the books they have won.  Thanks not only to Laura, Tom, Havan, and Lee but to all the great readers that visited and stopped by to comment.

Coming soon the debut of the next Blue Notes novel, Encore, by Shira Anthony on November 11. Stay turned all month for exciting guests blogs, book contests, and book releases!

Book Contest and Guest Post by Laura Harner, Pulp Friction Author of Triple Threat series

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is so happy to have Laura Harner stopping by for a chat about the Pulp Friction series and how it alDuplicity coverl came about.  Remember, lovely readers, all you need to do to be entered into the contest, is leave a comment at the end of a author post or at the end of one of the Pulp Friction reviews.  Its that simple.  Now back to our guest this morning.

ST: Good morning, Laura, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.  Now, tell me how it all got started.

LH: Thank you Melanie!

It’s so wonderful that we are doing this blog in October, because it was a year ago this month that I took a nostalgic trip through an old Raymond Chandler book and decided I wanted to know more about the origins of pulp fiction. After a very little research, I knew I had to write short stories using the pulp fiction formula, with the hard-boiled attitudes and a down and dirty mystery. One of the key elements of pulp fiction was the “To be continued” nature of many of the stories, along with the rapid releases, so readers weren’t left hanging too long. Other PF books resolved the crime in every story, but gave the reader a relationship with the protagonist, revealing a little more with each subsequent installment. I loved the whole idea, but…

I realized there was no way I could manage serial fiction on my own…so I spent a long time thinking about who I might sucker into this crazy scheme.

0.237 seconds later, I had my answer. Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Tom Webb and I already had a permanent chat window open in Facebook anyway, and I couldn’t imagine better writing partners.

I gave them a very brief outline of what I was thinking, and for the next twenty minutes, I didn’t say a word as they took off and ran with the idea and made a vision we could all embrace. Four separate series, a new release every two weeks, and there would be crossovers between the series.

For those unfamiliar with the history of pulp fiction, the popularity of the genre ran from 1896 to approximately 1955, and you can read a history of pulp magazines here at the Pulp Magazines Project:

Excerpt: Originally, a pulp magazine was one that was printed on paper made directly from wood-pulp which rapidly yellows and becomes very brittle leaving a shower of confetti on the reader. …

…Another factor that distinguishes the pulps from other magazines was the lack of any bulk advertising. The pulps were produced cheaply and sold cheaply (initially 10 cents, occasionally only five cents, and seldom more than 25 cents, even in the later years) and relied wholly on revenue from sales. Another distinguishing feature is that the pulps ran almost entirely fiction.pulp_20

So Why Pulp Friction?

Why Pulp Friction? Why MM (or MMM-since I’m greedy)?

We wanted to pay homage to the golden days of story telling, when talk was cheap and so were the women…. Okay, not exactly, but close. We all loved the idea of telling a great story for a fair price. We also know that readers love a well-developed character, and when that character steps out of his own book and into another—double bonus.

The characters we created have taken over our stories, become good friends—no more than that—they’re family. With that comes the ability to love and to hurt each other in the way only family can. Havan, Lee, Tom and I have grown into that type of family, as well.
The one thing the characters know above all else, family keeps coming back. So while going into this last book, it may appear that certain relationships are broken, we all know—there are just some bonds that can’t be broken.

ST: What a great way to end this morning.  Thanks, Laura.  I can’t wait to find out what happens next with Pulp Friction.  I have grown to love all the characters and each series.  It’s lovely to see that the closely bonded group of characters is mirrored by their authors.

Thanks for stopping by today and I can’t wait for the final group post on Friday.

Laura Harner’s Triple Threat series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2)
Defiance (Triple Threat, #3)
Crucify (Triple Threat, #4)
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5)