A MelanieM Review:The Deafening Silence (The Yakuza Path #4) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

An unproven alliance. A broken promise. A mafia boss must shed blood to secure peace…

Nao Murata is on the verge of brokering peace between his syndicate and the rival Mafufgumi mob. To seal the deal, he’ll need to pick up Russian prostitutes to appease his newest ally. When the exchange goes sour, both sides draw blades and Nao has no choice but to care for a blood-soaked enemy. If the man doesn’t make it through the night, Nao and his crew will pay with their lives.

Outnumbered and stranded in enemy territory, Nao is forced to fight his way out before the Mafufgumi Godfather takes the deal off the table. As his wounded enemy’s heartbeat slows, Nao must act fast or condemn his syndicate to a brutal war.

The Yakuza Path: The Deafening Silence is the third book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like twisty action, authentic settings, and a touch of gay romance, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s pulse-pounding series.

Since my first introduction to Nao Murata in the bloody and absolutely brilliant first story in this series, Blood Stained Tea, I’m almost confounded by my deep emotional involvement in the welfare of someone who is admittedly a murderous psychopath, one who’s barely contained rages have seen him want to spill the blood of dozens, often by his bare hands or any implement nearby.

But this is Japan, centuries old with ancient traditions and a culture to match. All built with such subtle nuances and  layers that can shield or hide behind.  Just as its many characters  demonstrate with their personalities.  Tasukada clearly loves and understands Japan in all it’s natural and historic beauty to the gritty darkness of the Yakuza underworld.  It has all  figured in greatly in this series as both the foundation, setting, and emotional framework for it’s characters.  Kyoto, Nao’s personal passion can stand in as another character all its own.

All those layers are built into the labyrinth personality of Nao as well.  Part of the reason for his murderous rages and psychotic breaks?  That can be found in the horrendous death of his first lover, perhaps his only love, at the hands of a rival gang boss.  It broke him, and whatever way he mended was not rational.  Of course, it doesn’t help that he was the son of the rival Yakuza gang and was already familiar with a brutal way of life.  But the dichotomy here is that the author shows us repeatedly another man.  One who loves his cat, and his tea, and who once wanted only to flee with his lover….

That is the one still seen occasionally, one the reader is still privy to his thoughts, when the rages are quiet.  Nao is a narrative tour de force.  Scary, memorable, everchanging, especially since he become the head of the family.  He needs to navigate the Korean crime families constant infiltration of Kyoto, manage his Yakuza’s many businesses and shaky alliances, all while reporting to the very top of the Yakuza boss who doesn’t trust him.  All while his mind seethes and surges like a red tide within him calling him to kill.

And at his side is another character who has shown incredible growth over the series,Aki Hisona, Nao’s personal secretary.  Aki loves Nao, a terrible fate as everyone who has cared for Nao has died, horribly. The reverse has also held true.  Everyone Nao has loved has died as well.  Nao has become convinced that the city of Kyoto has killed them.  A jealous mistress indeed.

This is not a romance.  Don’t even begin to look for one.  This is a brutal, bloody, gritty tale of crime, murder, culture, and a Yakuza crime family you can’t turn away from, starting at the top.

Amy Tasukada writes so beautifully, so skillfully here that just a twitch, a slip in a conversation sets off an avalanche of foreboding.  Everyone here is playing a game, some are merely good at it, some are masters, you have to read the story to find out who is playing the long game.  There is betrayal, untold amounts of bloodshed, and complexities beyond belief.  I expect nothing less from Nao and his gang and from this author.

I was astonished at Aki.

The author informs us at the end it will be a while until the next release as she wishes to “get it right”.  She has never, ever, gotten it wrong yet.  I would wait years for the next in this series if I had to.  It’s troubling, brilliant, and there’s no way I can predict the path going forward.  For any of them.  So yes, I’m obsessed.  So hopefully it won’t be terribly long for the next installment, maybe end of next year.

I absolutely recommend this   story and all the others in the series but they must be read in the order they were written.  Line them up like the narrative finds they are, and then devour them.  Just don’t expect any romance, unless it’s Nao’s love for Kyoto and even that comes with it’s own layer of pain and angst.

Cover art by Natasha Snow.  I’m in love with these covers.  Simple, bloody, perfection.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Buy Link


The Yakuza Path Series


Book #1 – Blood Stained Tea – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Better Than Suicide – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – One Thousand Cranes – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ASIN B07KKFK1XB
Series The Yakuza Path #4 setting Hokkaido, 2015 (Japan

Blood Stained Tea

Better Than Suicide

One Thousand Cranes

The Deafening Silence

An Ashlez Review: Murderous Twins by Edward Kendrick

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Rating – 4.5 out of 5

Blaine Ayers and Lloyd Thomas are identical twins — separated at birth, reunited by accident, and serial killers by choice. Two men, posing as one.

Steve Cooke is a private investigator married to Gary Drake-Cooke, an interior decorator.

The four men’s paths cross when Blaine and Lloyd move into a house across the street from Steve and Gary. What happens next has the potential to change their lives forever — for better or for worse.

Warning: This story contains scenes of graphic violence.

 
You know,  what, as short as this book is I think it was great – I think it had more potential if it were a bit longer and more in depth on the past of each of Blaine and Lloyd, I would have liked to see a bit more in that aspect.
 
It’s typical reasons serial killers exist – anyone who has seen criminal minds will understand.  I liked the neighbor detective and his want to find out what’s going on – I enjoyed reading about his husband.
 
If you want a hot and heavy romance this is definitely not the book for you – there’s none of that in this book and honestly I was OK with that – it fits more with the story than if it had a steamy romance.
 
Once you get to about halfway things really start to get interesting, and I really couldn’t put it down.  Not going to go into much detail due to the nature of the book – hello thriller – but I enjoyed it immensely it was exciting and kept me engaged.  I do think it reads like an episode of criminal minds which, of course, who would hate.Nature vs Nurture.
 
Cover Art:  Other than the cover being twins it really doesn’t lead to the story – not mad at it though, perhaps a bloody item would make it more dynamic!

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  | Amazon

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 112 pages
Published August 11th 2018 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07FP6G9DV
Edition Language English

A Lila Review: Object of Desire by Dal Maclean

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Disclaimer: If promiscuity, open relationships, or perceived cheating are deal breakers for you, this isn’t your book. 

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tom Gray is one of the world’s top models–an effortless object of desire.

Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he’s accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms.

But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone’s framing him. Someone’s stalking him.

And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.

Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price.

If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.

Object of Desire should not be confused with a romance novel. It is a well-written mix of police procedural and a thriller with romantic undertones. I used the same disclaimer than above when reviewing Bitter Legacy and it applies here quite well. By the way, I didn’t make the connection between the two books until I was done reading. And to be clear, there’s no need to read them one after the other. They just complemented each other.

In this story, we don’t get to see Will and Tom falling in love and having a fairytale HEA. We get to accompany them in their search to uncover the reasons behind the collapse of Tom’s life and are witnesses to all the machinations and actions that resulted in a new path to their worlds. There’s a lot of exposure at the beginning of the story and it doesn’t stop until the end. I would have been happy with a bittersweet ending too.

Dal Maclean knitted a wonderful set of characters with deep backgrounds and interrelations. We are given enough information to make our own conclusions and to switch those conclusions with every new piece of information presented. There’s not one single suspect or lead to followed. It is a complex web of possibilities that keeps the reader guessing until the last minute. Only to have them question if they arrived at the right conclusion.

The plot leads change often enough to make the story engaging. The reader is always trying to figure out if they have the right players and set of events right, or if they have been misled. Trying to figure out the end gets harder with each page, and there’s no way to know until the last part of the story. Anything before that would be wrong, and even then, it’s hard to know if you are correct.

All the descriptions, from clothing, decorations, smells, locations, food, etc. added to the flavor of the story. Cars, traffic, day & time, weather, and many other items make Object of Desire more than a tale and more of an experience. I’m glad to see the author didn’t Americanize this book either. There’s no need to provided comparisons about the two country systems or explain terms or phrases. It makes the whole package credible and authentic. I would love to hear the audiobook to be further submerged in this world.

The characters were marvelous, sophisticated, and intricate.  I do have a sweet spot for Nick and I need to accept is due to the great work the author did to bring him to life. He’s definitely my favorite. At the same time, it was hard for me to warm up to Tom. Which is also due to a great characterization by the author. Unfortunately, it’s the reason why this is not a perfect five stars’ book for me; even if the overall book is stellar. Every other character in between has a purpose, a story, and is more than a generic name on a page. I’m still impartial about Will.

If you are not used to complex books with intense psychological turns, this book can be overwhelming. But, at the same time, it’s rewarding to get to the end to understand how everything comes together. It would definitely make a great TV movie or show. It has the potential to be more than a once read.

The cover by KaNaXa matches the previous book by this author and it has the same issue. At first glance, it’s hard to understand the content of the cover. Especially if looking at a thumbprint. When taking the time, all the elements are present in the story.

Sale Links: Blind Eye | Amazon | Nook 

ebook, 396 pages
Published: May 22, 2018, by Blind Eye Books
ISBN: 1935560549 (ISBN13: 9781935560548)
Edition Language: English

Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break By Nancy Stewart (author of Beulah Land) (guest post and excerpt)

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Beulah Land by Nancy Stewart

Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press
Release Date: November 16, 2017

Cover Artist: CB Messer

Purchase Links:  Duet | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Nancy Steward on her Beulah Land tour. Welcome, Nancy!

✒︎

 

Come on, Muse! Give Me a Break 

By Nancy Stewart, author of Beulah Land

What is it about muses? I know they take their work seriously, and yet conjuring up mine can be quite a chore at times.

I almost always search for her at the computer. She’s usually there, but not today. Sometimes she hides in my Favorites List. But not today. How about the Homepage? Nope. One more try my lists of guest posts. Occasionally, she will transform herself into a bright new post from an old one. Today, no such luck.

Not one to give up, I go to the gym. Strangely enough, she hangs out there quite a bit. And usually her gym ideas are good ones, full of life and vigor. She particularly likes the elliptical.  Actually, so do I. But after 25 minutes of trying to coax her to visit, I give up and move to other machines where I’ve never seen her ply her magic. One lives in hope.

On the way home, I stop by the bookstore and congratulate myself on a stroke of genius. She can’t not be there. It’s a muse kind of place, after all. She’s not there. Not even in the Young Adult books section. She’s always in the Young Adult books section. “Getting great ideas,” I usually tell her, but she sometimes rejects that notion.

Ah, well. I give up. I’ve learned there’s no future in sleuthing after a muse that does not want to be detected. So, home I go.

I consider the computer a lost cause, so I opt for a glass of iced tea and a comfy chair. And then, like a tiny bee buzzing in my brain, my muse appears. She speaks of Violette Sinclair, the brave and determined, and single-minded heroine of my new Young Adult novel, Beulah Land. She worries over Junior McKenna, Vi’s best friend, who puts himself in harm’s way to keep her alive in her own home town. My muse whispers the book’s ending to me, then smiles and says she loves it.

My muse is such a tease. But when she gets down to business, there’s no stopping her! Today, I’m only happy she visited, threw out a couple of notions then left me to ruminate. 

What is it about muses? I still haven’t figured out that answer. But though they are fey and capricious creatures, this author is grateful to have one.

If you haven’t met yours, don’t worry!  Give her the time and opportunity to make an appearance. Carry that little notebook. You know. The one that everyone says to take with you?  It’s crucial for dealing for a mischievous muse emergence. Read lots of books, particularly the genre you’re most interested in writing. It’s amazing how she can virtually pop off the page to infuse you with a brilliant idea.

Above all, while you wait for her, keep writing. I’ve found that most muses appear when one writes and writes and doesn’t give up. Taskmasters they may be, these little creatures know their stuff. You’ll be delighted when yours finds you.

Beulah Land Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes ful lled.

With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in con ict with a vicious tormentor, a dog ght syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.

Excerpt

“I don’t buy it,” my sister says, after not interrupting for a change. “There’s no way some random guy would be after us. I mean, for what reason? I don’t even know this Dale whatever his name is. You sure, Violette?”

“After listening to his rant? Yes, and that means you gotta be extra careful. I don’t want to scare you crazy. Don’t go places alone. You hear?”

Her gaze shifts away from my eyes, and she gives a tiny nod, but I’m not convinced she believes me or I believe her. “I have a suspicion there are secrets, Jessie, dark ones. And you and me? We’re being dragged in because of Mama.”

She picks up a plastic cat that Seth won for her at the county fair, examines it like it’s a priceless treasure and gently sets it back on the table. “So what can we do?”

“First, we gotta work out the real reason Dale’s after us.”

Jessie puts a smirky smile on me. “He’s after you because you’re not like us. Lots of folks around here’s downright vicious about it.”

I’m gonna ignore her nasty attitude. “Don’t think it’s that simple anymore, Jess. I got a pretty big notion what’s going on circles right back to Mama.”

My sister sighs, gathers her hair in a hunk, and moves it to her other shoulder. “If what you’re saying is true, Vi, we gotta go to the police.”

“Won’t do any good. I hear Sheriff Fletcher’s real close to the Woodbines. Best friends and all. If that’s true, nothing’s going to touch Dale.”

“Then we need to talk to Uncle Gray. With him being the clan head of us Sinclairs, it’s his sworn duty to protect us.”

“Not Uncle Gray. No. Not yet.” “Vi—”

“NO! I can take care of this on my own.”
“Why are you so stubborn if we’re in this much danger, Violette? People in these parts get

dead for a whole lot less than being gay. But since you are and everybody knows it, you got a real head start. You want that?”

“No, I don’t. But Uncle Gray, he’s got no respect or liking for me. Don’t you understand that, Jessie?”

“Yeah, and dead’s dead a long time. And you’re saying my life’s in danger now, so that’s something you should understand.” She flounces her hair back on both shoulders; a punctuation mark for being through with this conversation.

“I’m going out to get some air, Jess.”
She doesn’t answer, even when I slam the front porch door.
A lightning bolt zigzags between Bald Knob and Scoggins Ridge, as I settle on the top porch

step. Thunder growls like those Greek gods we studied battling over some old-timey feud, and a few fat raindrops splat on my head, chilling the tops of my legs.

Jess and Junior are pretty much right about me taking too many risks. I almost wish for once Mama would caution me on that. I long hard for her to love me for who I am. Mama, she always lays heavy on my heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A professor of education specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Nancy Stewart is also the award-winning author of several bestselling books for young readers. The original manuscript for Beulah Land received the 2015 State of Florida Rising Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and an adopted Bichon/Shih Tzu pup, Louie, in Tampa, Florida.

Beulah Land will be published by Duet Books on November 16, 2017. Connect with author Nancy Stewart at nancystewartbooks.com and on Twitter at @stewartnancy.

A MelanieM Review: Calloway by Thad J.

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Welcome to the Township of Calloway! Home of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company, a staple for the local community.

No one knows this better than James (Jimmy) Cain, heir to the family business, and his father’s pride and joy. With his limitless resources and a family that is always there for him, his life could not be more perfect. But that changes when he meets Benjamin Rei.

A determined and intelligent man, Benjamin is a junior acquisitions officers eager to close his first major purchase. His company has set Daddy Cains’ between its crosshairs and will stop at nothing to get it. Although Benjamin has a simple enough task, people and forces outside of his control will test the limits of just how far he is willing to go to make it to the top.

First of all, I’m well-versed in Southern small town living, having parents who both grew up in small southern towns and scads of relatives (whole States worth) who never left and send invitations to family reunions regularly. So I always look forward to books that have that theme or location going for them.  Calloway certainly seems to fit the bill.

However, don’t go looking for this to be a romance, as it’s not really.  More like a family drama, southern style.  In Calloway, author Thad J. lays down his foundation of town history, complicated intertwined relationships going back decades (or further), current explosive family dynamics, and the power struggle going on for control of the world-famous Daddy Cains’ Foods Company.  If that sounds like a lot of exposition, it is.   Calloway is crammed full, so much at times you might just need a notepad to keep all the players straight.

It helps that the dialog is lively, the characters interesting… like James (Jimmy) Cain who is both constant sexdog and crafty businessman, ditto his father.  However, I found Benjamin less than charming.  I suspect I’m supposed to like him and connect more with him as an outsider, however, given my background, I saw him more as an interloper and his acts self serving or worse.  No matter where I was in the story, my vision of Ben never really changed, that includes the ending.

There are many twists and turns here, some really neat ones, some you see coming.  And the end is, depending upon how you look at it either a nonexistent or a total cliffhanger, which is my way of saying you have no idea of how it ends.  Not my favorite here or elsewhere and it brought the rating down.

If you’re a fan of southern literature, snappy dialog and surprise twists, Calloway might be the book for you.  Just  don’t way I didn’t warn you about the ending.

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover.  BBQ contests and pop.  Very appealing.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 271 pages
Published July 10th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN13 9781947139404
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

blood-stained-tea-by-amy-tasukadaA bloody past haunts him. A devastating present calls him back…

Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.

Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.

As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family..

The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Tea is the first book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like complex characters, blood-soaked violence, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gritty crime masterpiece.

 

This was undoubtedly one of the hardest reviews I’ve had to write in the past year, most of it is totally my fault.  I approached this story full of false assumptions. I skimmed over the blurb and immediately assumed that it was a murder/mystery romance with a Yakusa foundation along the lines of some of my favorite romances and I could not have been more wrong.  Those false expectations colored my viewpoint for two thirds of this story.  Luckily, the plot, the characters and the superb writing kept taking my assumptions and drowning them in the river in Kyoto, along with many, many bodies.

Make no mistake.  This is a brutal story.  These characters are not some criminals with heinous crimes that occur off the page.  There is torture, extreme violence that happens at once.  They are in many respects, psychopaths (especially one). Tasukada does not look away from how they got to this point in their lives, the reality of both the Korean mafia and the Yakuza in Japan.  Not for the soldiers at the basest level living in the worst possible conditions, gun fodder in the many battles or the people in the neighborhoods who become expendable in the gang fight for territory.

I know, some of you might be wondering. Why read this?  Because its engrossing, compelling.  I couldn’t put it down.  Its human drama on both an intimate and huge scale.  The author brings in both the ancient City of Kyoto and its past, the tea culture of Japan and so much more effortlessly folded into not only a psychological drama  but a gritty crime masterpiece as it says above.  Yes it deserves that in every sense that The Godfather deserves it as well.  And this is merely the first story, the first step forward.  What a gut cruncher, a heartbreaker and mindtwister Blood Stained Tea turns out to be.  Shocking really.

And it all starts with confused Nao, hiding in his Tea shop, looking for the perfect oolong tea and never finding it.

This story is still haunting me.   And yes, I need that second story.  I need to read it even as I’m cringing in expectation over what I will find there. Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada will top my list of Best Books of 2017.  It may be the top book of 2017.  Its that good.  Don’t go looking for love and romance.  It won’t be found in the blood stained tea. What you will find is a complex, human drama that will surprise you at every turn, make you run through the range of our emotions and emerge still hopelessly connected to this world and characters. Yes I think masterpiece is the word that belongs here.

The cover is perfect as it highlights an important element in the story.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 319 pages
Published November 28th 2016 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
ISBN139780997865318
Edition LanguageEnglish

Love a Terrific Crime Novel? Check out Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path #1) by Amy Tasukada (giveaway)

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Blood Stained Tea – Amy Tasukada

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Length: 85,000 words

Blurb

Nao hides from his violent past in the Japanese mob by opening a teahouse in Japan’s cultural center, Kyoto. His past comes flooding back when he discovers a gravely injured man with a tattooed chest, a bloody knife, and a Korean business card.

Saehyun would’ve died if not for Nao’s help. He knows nothing of his savior’s connection with the local mafia, but Saehyun has his own secrets. He commands the Korean mafia, the mortal enemy of Nao’s former syndicate.

As Nao and Saehyun grow closer, so does the strength of the Korean mob. A shocking murder pulls Nao back into a past he’d all but abandoned. War is looming, and Nao must choose between protecting Saehyun or avenging the honor of his old mafia family..

The Yakuza Path: Blood Stained Teais the first book in a series of Japanese mafia thrillers. If you like complex characters, blood-soaked violence, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gritty crime masterpiece.

Author Bio

Amy Tasukada lives in a catless home in North Texas. (She enjoys cats but can’t quite make that kind of commitment yet.) As an only child her day dreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper. Since then her love of writing hasn’t cease. When she’s not chasing after stray cats, she can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.

 

https://www.amytasukada.com/

 Giveaway

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A BJ Review: Withered + Sere (Immemorial Year #1) by T.J. Klune

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Rating:   3 stars out of 5

Withered+Sere3Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died. This is the story of its remains.

Like some DSP stories, this is not actually a romance and there is also no sex. It’s very dark, I knew that going in, violence, death and cannibalism in a barren, brutal wasteland with no laws. But none of those things bothered me in the least. Yet this story was hard for me in some ways, so should say those bits up front.

The beginning didn’t draw me in immediately. If I hadn’t been reading it for review, I’m not sure if I would have continued on because I was just really confused by it. The POV starts out omniscient but moves to being from Cavalo’s third person POV that starts out feeling distant (calling him the man and seeming outside of him) before slipping in closer and more into his head. There are still times later in the book when it almost seemed to slip back towards omniscient. I was actually about 20% in before I started feeling involved with the story.

Another thing that was hard for me is that there are quite a large number of scenes that are sort of dream or flashback or hallucination sequences that move around in time and place. In addition to bringing in backstory, these work to show how messed up the MC’s mind is—an insanity of a sort like when so much has happened that one cannot hold onto their mind. But there were quite a lot of them, some lengthy and involved, and it tended to pull me from the story.

For me, this book read like a nightmare… one where dark, scary, awful things happen but they just don’t fully make sense and then I wake up and still can’t put it all together and am left unsettled, confused, and shaking my head. That was how I felt at the end of this story. Perhaps some small part of this has to do with the cliffhanger ending but also to be perfectly honest, must admit that sometimes I felt lost.

Those things being said, this book has some fascinating post-apocalyptic world-building going on! While I didn’t feel a strong connection with the main characters, I did find both Bad Dog and the robot SIRS interesting and compelling. In fact, I think my favorite chapter of the book was “the ballad of bad dog.” When I read that title, I was so hesitant to read on as I know ballads are often tragic. But it actually not only tells the story of how Bad Dog came to Cavelo, but contains the most tender scene of the whole story.

It was my first read from this author, so I had no idea what to expect and tend to think after having read some blurbs and reviews from other stories, that it’s not representative of his work in general but rather a branching out into new areas.

The cover by Paul Richmond just absolutely creeps me out (and not in a good way)… luckily I had not seen it prior to requesting the story or might have had second thoughts. I’m not sure how exactly it relates to the story other than giving an impression of its awful, bleak world.

Overall, cover and story alike leave me with the feeling like awaking from a disjointed and unsettling nightmare. A nightmare that I will be compelled to revisit when book two comes out.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon


Book Details:  

ebook, 280 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by DSP Publications
Original TitleWithered + Sere
ISBN 1634765575 (ISBN13: 9781634765572)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A VVivacious Review: Mute Witness by Rick R. Reed

Standard
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
Mute Witness 2Book Synopsis: When a little boy ends up missing, his parents’ lives are turned upside down and inside out. But the relief that comes when the boy is found is marred by the appalling truth that comes to light.
 
As Shelley tries to be strong for her son while holding herself together, things spin out of control. While Sean’s worry of how his homosexuality might be used as a weapon to keep him away from his only child in light of the abuse he has suffered, is realised. And will Jason speak up against his abuser or has this one event struck him mute forever.
 
 The blurb of this book is very misleading. While I enjoyed the book so I didn’t really mind the misleading blurb but this book is actually about a child who is sexually abused and how this impacts his life and the lives of those around him. Sean being gay though deliberate on the part of the author is just another nuance to the story because this book is not about Sean being gay it is about Sean, a father whose son has been very brutally abused.
 
Now where this blurb is misleading is in the fact that I thought the events in this book would be narrated as per Sean or Austin’s POV or from their perspective. But this book has multiple POVs including those of Shelley (Jason’s mother), Paul (Shelley’s husband), Estelle (Shelley’s mother) along with Sean, Austin and Jason and all of them are equally important characters, if not more. Especially Shelley we spend quite a lot of time in her head.
 
This is also not a romance story and doesn’t focus on relationships outside of how this adverse event puts a strain on them. This story is about one horrifying precipitating event that leads to a chain of reactions that propels the characters in this story.
 
My one problem with the plot was the multiple POVs because as it so happens in multiple POVs the moment the narrative of a particular character becomes interesting we flip to another character who can’t add anything to the interesting titbit we just learned.
 
This book is a story of people under insurmountable anguish who must learn to live their lives all over again and how our actions at the time of adversity can have irreversible consequences. The characters in this book have a really gritty feel, like the reality of their situations makes itself known on the surface itself. As such the book focuses on a lot of people other than aforementioned six and we get to see their perceptions and motivations as well.
 
As such I see why multiple POVs work for this story as it helps to increase the scope of the story as well as to realistically portray the extent of damage one wrong thing can produce. Also I loved how we got two perceptions of people one of how they perceive themselves and one of how they were perceived by people who knew them and in some cases an additional third of how a casual bystander perceives them.
 
This story is riveting, once you start the book it is hard to stop in between as the story twists and turns with subtlety through the wide landscape of havoc that descends on the lives of two parents who love their son immensely.
 
A word of caution while reading this book is that you will need to keep an open mind and also the fact remains that this book is most definitely not a romance; it is more of a thriller with slight bits of mystery and suspense.
 
Cover Art by Aaron Anderson. I liked the cover a lot it aptly portrays the dumb horror of what the story holds in store for you.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 290 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by DSP Publications (first published 2009)
Original TitleMute Witness
ISBN139781634763455
Edition LanguageEnglish

Review: The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

The Night VisitorKevin fled his old life in St. Louis for a new startup in Memphis.  New job, new place but that was about all.  Then the dreams started, dreams that felt so real that Kevin wasn’t sure when he was awake and when he was asleep. Every night the same tattooed man gave him the most erotic, sexual experiences of his life.  Then the dream starts reoccurring, in greater detail and with more vivid feelings then Kevin has ever experienced, until it starts to overwhelm Kevin’s new life.   Then Kevin’s starts to wonder….is his night visitor real or imagined?

The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed left me with mixed emotions.  An erotic short story, it starts out accomplishing its goal. Creed gives us a vivd sexual dream, Kevin’s erotic dream to be specific.  It involves a rough looking tatted up man who Kevin pays to have sex with. It’s hot, the descriptions are sexy, and it works because the rough language goes along with the  scene unfolding on the pages.  Then the author reaches for more, more in plot, more in descriptive language, and it sort of falls to pieces.

This is our first sighting of “Vic”, the man of Kevin’s dreams:

Another man walked down the sidewalk towards him. He was tall and shirtless and moved with a swaggering confidence that came from knowing himself and knowing these streets. A dirty white wife beater was tucked into the waist of his low slung and tattered jeans. A large serpent tattoo wrapped around one shoulder, curling down his lean torso and disappearing below the elastic band of his underwear. The man looked side to side as he approached. Then he looked straight ahead. He caught Kevin’s eye and sneered.

His hair was buzzed beneath his side-angled ballcap. He looked to be a bad boy, a tasty piece of very rough trade. That was just the way Kevin liked them.

And the initial dream sequences work, the language and vocabulary is coarse, the sex dirty and hot.  It’s all pretty erotic.  But Creed has a larger agenda here, a larger plot than just the erotic dreams of a man in a new setting.  And soon the narrative is muddied with dream within dream sequences that serve to confuse rather than elucidate and the descriptive terms turn from white hot and sexy to unintentionally humorous.

Vocabulary choices such as man meat, piss slit, fire hose, man meat, and  (beautiful, glistening) tool just serve to tumble the narrative from the provocative into a giggling disbelief, never a goal for an author writing erotica.  Authors have to be careful when choosing words to represent the human sexual anatomy because it can so often turn hilarious just when it needs to be smoking hot.*

While beautiful rod is no “purple pickle of passion” some of the other vocabulary choices come close.  Plus we have pecker,prick, cock, tool, and man meat all used  within a couple of sentences of each other (sometimes within the same sentence).  It’s excessive,  too many terms kill the erotic tones of the sex scene being described instead of heighten it.

Getting past the vocabulary, then my final issues are with the plot.  I like what Ewan Creed was trying to achieve but I just don’t feel that it worked here.  The Night Visitor needs either more volume, more pages to bring off the full plot the author has planned or it needed to be cropped down further to just a short erotic story.  But by trying to pull off both elements in 52 pages, Creed ended up with a story that felt like an awkward combination of outright erotica and paranormal short story, seemly scattered and somewhat confusing.

I gave The Night Visitor a 3 star rating because there are good elements here as well as a promising plot.  And while some of the vocabulary made me giggle it didn’t have me wanting to put the book down either.  So you make up your own mind.  I kind of enjoyed this one and you might feel the same.  Consider this conditionally recommended.

Here is an example of what made me giggle: “The night visitor was a real fire hose.” “big juicy slab of meat”.

Book Details:

ebook, 13,000 words, 52 pages
Published September 25th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031539
url  Wilde City Press
*Vocabulary Gone Bad