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Review: THE AMSTERDAM DECEPTION by Tony Ollivier

Description:
A NIGHT ON THE TOWN IN AMSTERDAM TURNS INTO A DEADLY GAME OF DECEPTION

To find the missing device, Reynolds forces David to undergo a procedure to “host” the last thirty seconds of the spy’s memories. The procedure goes awry, however, and the spy’s memories, skills, and abilities download into David and break him free from Reynolds’ clinic. Dazed and disoriented, David stumbles out into the Amsterdam night and into a world he has only ever encountered in spy novels.

On his first international tour with the National Ballet of Canada, dancer David Knight is abducted from Amsterdam’s Red Light district and dragged to a clinic owned by Richard Reynolds, a billionaire with a serious problem. A prototype for a device that could save Reynolds’ company has gone missing and the only one who knew its whereabouts, a Cold War spy, is dead.

As the hunt begins, Reynolds needs David alive, but a rich televangelist wants him dead. Another man’s memories become David’s only protection in a battle between religious greed and corporate profits.


My Take:
This one has a little bit of everything going on. A young ballet dancer is out for a night of exploration with his friend who wanted to go to the red-light district of Amsterdam. And, you guessed it, he and his friend are in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are kidnapped which results in our main characters being dragged into a complicated, international mess involving a corrupt evangelical church and a Silicon Valley billionaire with lots of aging, leftover spies from The Cold War.

There are some features paying homage to the usual spy thriller themes, as you would expect. But there are some innovations, which at times, brings this one a bit closer to something out of a James Bond novel. For example: cutting-edge, sy-fy high-tech for implanting the memories from a dead man into another person and a VR video game on steroids that everyone seems to be after getting their hands on for one or another reasons. The result is exciting, page-turning reading from start to finish with several surprises along the way, just to keep you on your toes.

I’m ecstatic that this is the beginning of a series. The main character has a fascinating life, though he believed his life was rather mundane before the experiences in this story. This is a must-read for spy-thriller and mystery fans, but even if you don’t follow the genre there is plenty of action to hold your attention.

Tony Ollivier

Author’s Bio:

Tony Ollivier has stacked hay bails, picked tobacco, pinstriped cars and bartended his way through Canada before settling in Vancouver. Moving into technology early on, he’s worked for Apple, IBM and Microsoft. He now writes thriller novels while doing most of the cooking for his full-time family. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife, son and daughter. Visit his website, publisher’s website, and Amazon for more.



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Review for SINAI UNHINGED by Joanna Evans

Sinai Unhinged Front Cover

From the Book Description:
Lethal mistakes during a secret experiment drive scientists insane and plunge their therapist into a frightening search for the truth—and a dangerous fight for her life.

As the cries of a volatile patient in the psychiatric ward of Sinai General haunt therapist Alexandra Kraig, she realizes something terrifying has happened at the Complex. Mistakes have occurred there, mistakes that have changed him.

When Alex’s closest friend, also a scientist at the Complex, develops deeply disturbing behavior, she becomes determined to uncover the truth about the particle physics experiment hidden deep within the Complex walls, a project her missing father warned against many years before.

With her friend on the brink of madness, Alex resurrects her father’s research, infiltrates the Complex and races to halt the experiment’s destructive force. A dark element has another plan, hijacking the system, intensifying an already looming catastrophe, and propelling the Complex toward implosion. With time running out, Alex joins forces with the very scientists that created this monstrous experiment. Battling the enemy and the machine, Alex faces a ticking clock as she struggles to find the answer buried somewhere in her father’s secrets; an answer she desperately needs if she is to save her own life, and the lives of thousands more.

My take:
As I read this intriguing story, I never knew what to expect next. On the face of it, the foundation seems absurd, but that is the real strength of the author’s genius. As the story grows, expanding to reveal a cast with diverse backgrounds and interests, the premise of interconnection that underlies the universe becomes all the more plausible.

Researchers blinded by their ambitions to unlock the mysteries of the universe begin to unlock a secret dating back to the first moments of creation exposing themselves to unknown dangers. The author does a fantastic job tying the characters, their friendships and their occupations to the major conflict while exposing the elements of good and evil within their natures as well as their internal battles to maintain balance and protect what each holds dear. The result is an intense drama that evolves from page to page leaving the reader in doubt to the outcome.

I found the ending surprising but also satisfying. Also, there is enough room for a sequel, which I would certainly read. I look forward to more captivating stories from this debut author.

About the Author:
Growing up in Michigan, Joanna was an avid reader at a young age. Her wild imagination led her sixth grade teacher to encourage her to become a writer. Instead, she aspired to be like Dr. Joyce Brothers. Upon completing her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan, she moved to North Carolina and led a successful career as a psychotherapist for adults and children, with specific expertise in trauma treatment. But, her love for books and writing never left her.

Joanna Evans

Inspired by Stephen Hawking’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, Gary Zukav’s THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS, and any ancient spiritual or religious text she could find, she became fascinated with particle physics, the purpose of life and the need for a story that illustrated how intertwined we all really are. Eventually, her craving for an action-adventure set inside a place like CERN led to the creation of Sinai Unhinged.

Additionally, because where there is darkness, there must also be light, her romantic holiday screenplay, A CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS, has been optioned by Citizen Skull Productions.

In her spare time, she and her husband can be found traveling up and down the southeast coast in any season, even the hot and steamy summer. More information can be found at her website.

Book Links: AmazonPandamoon Publishing

Books, funny, humor, New Releases, novel, Publishing

Review of Matt Coleman’s A ROCKY DIVORCE

Simply brilliant and seriously funny!

Matt Coleman’s Raquel “Rocky” Champagnolle is a magnificent creation – not only a protagonist but also a highly effective anti-heroine with a sharp tongue and a rare gift of being able to judge people (fairly accurately) at first glance. Often she is surprised when she first hears someone’s name, but that does not deter her from calling them by the name she prefers, the name their parents probably should have given them. The thing with names, though, is something Coleman uses with great effect throughout the story. It offsets Rocky’s otherwise uncanny perception. She is a natural problem solver, a born detective even if she is somewhat reluctant to take on the complicated mystery underlying this story. In fact, the only reason she dives into the convoluted mess is that the town’s richest old lady calls her fat.

Rocky is a likable friend, the sort you love hanging out with even if you now you’ll probably regret some, if not a lot, of what she eggs you on to do. At one point, Coleman discusses the gravity some people have, drawing other people so close that they have no other option but to settle into orbit. Rocky is just such a star. Following her as she meanders through this absurd corner of a farcical universe is an adventure that will compel you to turn the page expectantly, wondering what snark will next erupt.

Having just finished Matt Coleman’s latest novel and regretting that there isn’t another chapter left to read, I’m glad there will be more Rocky stories forthcoming. And who knows? Maybe at some point, she might team up with Ellis or The Drew from Juggling Kittens. I mean – they do live in the same general area.

I am grateful for the privilege of receiving an advance copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest appraisal. I have to tell you, each one of Coleman’s now three novels is strikingly different. And yet, they bear similarities beyond sharing an author. Each rests comfortably within the Grit Lit subgenre of mysteries. Each hosts a cast of memorable, quirky but relatable characters whose lives manage to spiral around at the fringes of sanity, skirting legality at times, while they try really hard to do what they feel is necessary whether anyone else feels it’s right or not. Reading one of Coleman’s books is an event I look forward to because of his amazing sense of irony and unwavering wit. I guarantee you’ll love this book every time you read it.

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#BookReview: The Shape of the Atmosphere by Jessica Dainty

The Write Review

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Reviewer: Annie Horsky McDonnell

Date of Release: November 2016

Summary:

Gertie MacLarsen believes she was given ugliness at birth. Growing up in an estranged home, the only times she feels beautiful are the nights her father comes in to show her the stars. The day of her 16th birthday, the same day that Sputnik traverses the sky, Gertie’s life is irrevocably changed. After a family

tragedy, her elusive and alcoholic mother sends her to Willow Estate, a private mental institution, where she is thrown into a world of harsh therapies, dangerous hospital politics, and, surprisingly, a sense of family.

Within the walls of Willow Estate Sanatorium, Gertie finds awfulness and grace, terror and family. From hydro and shock therapy, to first love, to rape and suicide, the only thing Gertie is sure of from day to day is that growing up is not a choice and that forgiveness and acceptance are…

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Review: Nola Nash’s Debut – Crescent City Moon

Crescent City Moon by debut novelist Nola Nash has a creepy vibe throughout that establishes it as a great Halloween read…or a perfect book for anyone who loves supernatural mystery, suspense, thrillers. It is set in 1820’s New Orleans and captures the essence of the French Quarter, tapping into what residents know is the special nature of their beloved city – that things happening there are taken in stride that might not be accepted anywhere else.

Like many young people in the city, Zoelie Cheval has a curiosity about the occult. She plays with Tarot cards, dabbling in fortune-telling without completely understanding all the implications, or knowing the extent and peculiar nuances of her gifts. On her 21st birthday, when her father mysteriously dies her world is shattered. Then, while the police are investigating with officers everywhere throughout her house, a priest who was called upon to give last rights is also killed, and the stage is set for the kind of mystery you know is going to hold your attention for as long as it takes to reach the conclusion.

Nash seasons her realistic dialogue with well-placed French expressions and colorful descriptions of the settings. Always there is ample attention given to the arcane aspects of the plot, which straddle a line between real and surreal. Magic, though doubted at first, becomes increasingly real, and its limitations play a part in the resolution of the story, as well as its underpinnings in the balance of natural forces.

There is also a compelling love story developing in the background as Zoelie is attracted to the handsome and gallant Louis who labors to resolve the growing series of murders while protecting the young lady who is constantly in peril. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and look forward to the next in the series.

Amazon, Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel

Quick Review of The Lost War: Eidyn Book One by Justin Lee Anderson

The Lost War is well-written and engaging with solid, interesting, well-developed characters. Even the lesser characters feel real for their moments in the spotlight. For those of us who have experienced Carpet Diem, this one is different but in a good way. This is an epic fantasy brushed onto a much larger canvas, a world where magic isn’t exactly accepted but whenever it shows up it isn’t a surprise. Where Carpet Diem was an urban fantasy told with a sense of irony and wit, Lost War is an evolution in Anderson’s storytelling with great attention to detail that allows the reader to become completely immersed and escape our own weird, warped world for several hours.

Recommended for lovers of Epic Fantasy teen and above

Rating – Five Stars

Print Length: 572 pages

Publisher: King Lot Publishing

Publication Date: August 30, 2019

Available in US on Amazon and in UK on Amazon

Authors Life, Publishing, Writing

Holding onto a Dream

I suppose waxing philosophical is natural when a milestone is reached, but I tend to be a quiet observer. If you’re expecting a boisterous blowhard pontificating pompous bombast or boring people with flowery fluff, that’s not me. I write a bit, though. Fortunately, I have editors to ground me and help make sense of my ramblings that eventually make it onto a printed page.

There is nothing else like this feeling.

My love of writing compels me in a way that no previous endeavor in life ever has. The physical execution of the process consumes a portion of each day, but truth be known, I am writing all the time, even when I rest, and always when I dream. In fact, a writer is never not writing. Even while suffering from writer’s block, a writer is still engaged in the creative process, whether it is realized or not.

Yesterday, I received a physical copy of the third book I’ve published since signing with Pandamoon Publishing. I published a few others before becoming a Panda, a couple of self-published things, and a pair of works released through another, now defunct, small publisher. Personally, I don’t consider those in my totals anymore. There will come a time when I revisit them as newly minted manuscripts, heavily revised and reborn, because the stories within are important and tie into the overall creative universe that has spawned Fried Windows and The Thuperman Trilogy. But I never recommend them, despite that there are copies of them floating around. You see, publishing is a thing that cannot be undone, especially once an ISBN number is assigned. But One Over X served a developmental purpose for me as an author. It granted me insight into the publishing business and book marketing. And it established a foundation that produced an ambitious project that occupied my time for better than seven years. That series has yet to be published, but I learned many necessary lessons from creating The Wolfcat Chronicles.

I was a different kind of writer twenty years ago when I was working on my first manuscript. My processes and the quality of what I produce has changed, for the better, I think. My stories ramble less. They have coherent structure. The dialog is more realistic, which is always a challenge when you write fantasy. The characters have lives to which readers can relate. All of that was acquired through the processes of learning to write, something that one must teach to self.

A friend and fellow author told me that anyone can dream only to have it evaporate into the mist of morning wakefulness, but an author can capture a dream and give it physical substance. There is a lot of truth in that. And I’m reminded of it each time I hold one of my books. It takes weeks, months and sometimes years to compose a manuscript. It takes courage to send it in raw form to beta readers to test the viability of its story. More months pass in revisions based on feedback received and then several more months pass while the manuscript is edited. Dressing it up into a pretty cover and testing the nearly finished version of the story with advance readers who will hopefully offer some reviews is the next step in the publishing process. And then the book arrives, launched upon a largely unsuspecting world that, for the most part, does not read books anymore.

On the surface, writing professionally does not make sense. For nearly all of us who do it, it will never pay the bills. But there is satisfaction at the conclusion of each journey when you hold one of your dreams in your hands.         

Amazon, Books, Fantasy, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Two Weeks from Today

The launch of Homer Underby, Book 2 of The Thuperman Trilogy, is set for August 14. It continues the story of Will and Sandra, two precocious 8-year-old kids with active imaginations and budding superpowers. The story picks up where Becoming Thuperman, Book 1 of the series, left off. Sandra is grounded. Although Will is not, having his best friend unavailable is like being grounded. All they can do is wait until Saturday. If they win the first Little League game of the season Sandra’s grounding is over. But a new adventure is just beginning as the kids learn about a 20-year-old unsolved mystery involving the deserted old house down the street from where they live.

Homer Underby is a Pandamoon Publishing release available for pre-order at Amazon.

4th of July, Authors Life, Blog, Books, moving, novel, Publishing

Countdown: Six-and-a-Half Weeks to Launch

Front Cover of HOMER UNDERBY

Six months ago, when it was a definite maybe that HOMER UNDERBY would launch sometime this summer, I thought about visiting the Midwest again, maybe even going to Normal, IL, where The Thuperman Trilogy is set. Usually, when I travel in the Heartland, I fly to Cleveland and connect with my best friend and publicist, Christine Gabriel. For the past few years, every we’ve gotten together to do something to promote our books. Last August we toured some schools, libraries and bookstores in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. But this year, life has gotten in the way.

Last winter I relocated to the West Coast to spend time with my newborn grandson, Jackson. And a couple of months ago I helped my son and daughter-in-law move to Las Vegas. Currently, I live about three miles from their place. I like it here. The people are friendly. The city, despite its size and how much it is growing, still retains a small-town vibe – as long as you are away from The Strip.

Mountains!

Anyway, because of the expenses of moving and all that, I had to forego any plans of flying to the Midwest this year. Perhaps next summer, when THUPERMAN AND CASSANDRA, Book 3 of The Thuperman Trilogy, is released. We’ll see. A lot depends on how well books sell. And somewhere between Books 2 and 3, there will likely be the launch of the first book of The Wolfcat Chronicles. Busy times ahead, especially the next six weeks or so. HOMER UNDERBY launches on August 14.
  
Last Thursday, I spent the evening with my Rob, Laia, and Jackson at Knickerbocker Park in the Providence suburb of northwest Vegas, within walking distance of their house. Each year they have a 4th of July celebration there, with live music, food vendors and such in the park that rest on a ridge that overlooks the valley, and the city – a great vantage for all the fireworks displays both public and private. It was a little hot, but there was a breeze, and because the humidity is low here in the desert, once we found a shade where we could spread out a blanket and sit on the grass, it was comfortable. Note, grass is a rare thing here, sort of reserved for parks and golf courses. Beyond The Strip (which has a curious vibe all its own) Vegas has the feel of a small town. The community is diverse, not really by anyone’s design but the fact that it has grown in a period defined by a different set of circumstances. There are parts of the city that people consider less safe (usually closer to The Strip or the older, east side of town) but where most of the expansion west and northwest of town has come without any other qualification except being able to afford the mortgage payments. Also, I’ve discovered there are people here from all over, but mainly the Western states, especially California. Lots of younger professionals who have less of a stake in the Golden State come here to escape the high taxes and cost of living on the coast.

Jackson, Laia, and Rob


I had fun at the celebration. It’s always great spending time with Jackson. Every time I see him, he’s grown a lot. It had only been a couple of weeks since the Father’s Day outing when I last spent an afternoon with him and his parents. In that time, he has started sitting up by himself and playing and continued developing a personality. Jackson was unfazed by the exploding fireworks but mesmerized by the shower of colors. The Homeowners Association where my son and daughter-in-law live put on a 15- minute display that was up close and personal -launched from one of the increasingly rare vacant fields next to the park.

The other thing that happened on Thursday was the quake across the state line in the Mojave Desert. We felt it in Vegas, though it was a slight thing. We are about 150 miles away from the epicenter. I noticed it. Mainly I wondered why my window blinds were rattling. Since that there have been several other tremors and aftershocks, one larger than the original, but here I haven’t felt any of those. My thoughts are with the friends I left behind in So Cal, though.

Also, in the past month or so, I’ve started a Street Team in support of The Thuperman Trilogy. If you want to join the fun and receive notice of anything new going on with my books, Pandamoon Publishing, and my fellow authors, all you have to do is go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/390025901609170/

Authors Life, Books, Fantasy, Future, New Releases, novel, Publishing, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Writing

What’s this…Another Update?

Cover for HOMER UNDERBY

This past weekend marked another milestone. HOMER UNDERBY is now on pre-sale for Kindle with a launch date of August 14th. That also means the ARCs are available and being distributed for pre-launch reviews. I’m proud of this book, not that I haven’t been proud of my others. But this one is a little different because of the collaborative effort that went into its conceptualization.

If you’ve been following my blogs, I mentioned that the first draft of BECOMING THUPERMAN was written in the summer of 2013, while FRIED WINDOWS was in editing. I polished up the draft a bit and submitted it to my publisher who eventually put the book under contract a few months later. From the outset I intended the book to be a one of kind thing as an author. It is a story about kids, after all, and although my books have been kid-friendly for the most part, they have been intended to be YA or older. Despite the ages of the two main characters, BECOMING THUPERMAN is not a children’s book, per se.

During the editing process for BT, about a month before it was released, Jessica Reino, the substantive editor, suggested that a couple of story lines might be easily extended if I feathered in some foreshadowing earlier on in the story. And after an hour or so discussing the possibilities, I had two more books plotted out in a rough outline. I know that’s the way some writers work, but it was unusual for me. My first drafts tend to be free form. I create an outline after the fact to organize the resulting chaos. So, you see, HOMER UNDERBY is the first book I have ever composed according to an outline. The third book in the series, titled THUPERMAN AND CASSANDRA, will be the second book produced that way.

What about all my other manuscripts? They were created the old way. However, I am revising all my Wolfcat books and have begun imposing an outline structure for the sections that require some rewriting. And for those who are interested in following their favorite characters in other series, Brent from Fried Windows is in HOMER UNDERBY and THUPERMAN AND CASSANDRA as well as THE WOLFCAT CHRONICLES. Will and Sandra from the Thuperman Series are also in the sequel to FRIED WINDOWS, titled CASTLES OF NINJA BREAD. Ela’na from THE WOLFCAT CHRONICLES appears in other manuscripts the titles for which have not been determined. In some of those stories Brent, Will and Sandra are also included.