“Naveed – Through My Eyes” John Heffernan

The explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

From the winter of war comes the spring of hope.

Naveed Cover

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     I found this book while browsing the kids chapter books at my local library. It was one of those books the librarians shelve cover out so it caught my eye rather quickly. I picked it up and after reading the summary decided it sounded like a book I should read and maybe later add to my kids homeschool reading list when they are the appropriate age. I often grab a chapter book along with the younger kids books and if they sound like something that would interest my four year old now, I read them to him. My four year old is much too young for this book but it’s absolutely a book I’ve added to our reading list for later years. 

“Naveed” offers two unique perspectives that, as an American, I don’t often get to see. An Australian solider and a young Afghan boy. Naveed may be a child but his struggles are anything but small. Naveed’s mother relies on him to provide for the family and Naveed works hard to do so. He also provides for his younger sister who, due to a bomb, has lost her legs. Naveed carries a heavy load of responsibilities but it’s clear that he carries them with love. Naveed’s love for his family is beautiful. He has known nothing but war and it’s touched every single piece of his young life.  

After a bomb took away his father and severely injured his sister, Naveed’s family lives in a hovel and their situation is precarious. The land lord is a bad man who has even worse friends and cares for no one but himself. He sets his eyes on Naveed’s mother and I held my breath with worry about Naveed’s family and how or if they would find a way out of that nasty man’s reach.

Naveed is adopted by Nasera (the dog) and his life takes on a whirlwind of change. By chance he meets Jake and opportunities open that he never thought possible. Naveed’s world is almost broken by a relative (whose really broken himself) and for a time, everything is thrown into chaos once again.

I want to talk about that chaos for just a minute. In the west, we are so quick to see a terrorist and dehumanize them. We don’t think of all the things that built up and turned this otherwise unassuming person into an extremist. Heffernan brings humanity back in this tale and gives us a look into what goes into the makings of a terrorist. It’s not harped upon but Heffernan gives us a window into a world I don’t think we discuss or even acknowledge nearly enough.

Kudo’s to John Heffernan for doing his part to put a very human face on a very ugly war. May his stories enrich our lives and encourage us to find peace with one another.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Naveed | Series: Through My Eyes |  Author(s): John Heffernan  |Publisher: Allen & Unwin / Publication Date: 9-1-2015 |Pages: 216 (Print) | ISBN: B00YVBQO8Q |Genre(s): Middle East / War / Historical Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 8-05-2017 |Source: Copy from library.

 

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“Double Dealing In Dubuque” Dean Klinkenberg

     Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour, though, when his scheming rival Helen shows up–is she trying to steal another story from him? When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out, two people die and Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident.
 
Dodge’s search for the truth will take him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois, through the neighborhoods of Dubuque, Iowa, and to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley.
 
Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? And how far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other? Double-Dealing in Dubuque is a compelling novel that delves into what can go wrong when feuds get out of hand.

Double Dealing in Dubuque Cover

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There is so much that I loved about this book! It was so good! Frank Dodge is witty and very clever. He may stick out like a sore thumb at times with his fancy hats but as different as he is….he’s also right at home along the river. His love and acceptance of others cultures was moving. He has a depth and realness to him that really made this book. He also has a way with people that I would think comes in handy in his profession. He has this down-home quality that inspires people to trust him….. which leads to confessions. Oh…the confessions!

 Klinkenberg has real talent with crafting characters. Each new person introduced as I read added another layer to this story. From a bartender to a backwoods bear of man, every single person adds authenticity to the river culture. The river is really it’s own character. Everyone’s lives revolve around it in some way and there’s no doubt it’s got a bit of a siren song. It calls to many and doesn’t let go of some. The Midwest really does have it’s own magic and allure that is too often overlooked. Thankfully, books like Klinkenberg’s come along and fix that. If after reading “Double Dealing In Dubuque” you don’t feel the call of the river……I don’t know if anything will call you….ever.

Want diversity in your reading? Well this book delivers in the best way. Not only is Frank a gay man but it’s not a defining part of his character! Do you get that? It’s as mundane as his hair color! Why? Because who Frank loves isn’t who he is, it’s a part of him…not one label but one of many. I loved how Klinkenberg handled Frank’s “relationships”. Our partner preference isn’t the whole of our identity and thanks a million to Klinkenberg for pioneering that logic into his writing! I don’t want to drop any spoilers but…..the end….I’ll admit it…I cried. It was beautiful and tragic and sad. Really, really sad.

By the way, don’t read this book on an empty stomach. Actually, wait…maybe you should. “Double Dealing In Dubuque” inspired me to try all kinds of new restaurants. The food in this story will inspire you to find a few pounds you weren’t previously sporting though but, you know what, YOLO. Ha ha, but really. Try the foods. Klinkenberg knows what he’s talking about. 

I loved everything about this story. It moves fast but not too fast and the story keeps you engaged with plenty of twists to make you wonder just “who dun it”. I enjoyed the story and I know you will to.

5 stars.

5 stars

The Technical Data:

Title: Double Dealing In Dubuque | Series: Frank Dodge Mysteries |  Author(s): Dean Klinkenberg  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 7-7-2017 |Pages: 298 (Print) | ISBN: B072TM35FR |Genre(s): Mystery |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

 

 

Books That Matter

As a parent, one of my main goals is to raise my kids to care. Not just care, but care deeply. I want my kids to see other’s suffering and genuinely want to change it. I am doing my best to contribute to a generation that has the skills (emotional, educational & physical) to face the trails headed their way. Trials like deep inequality, rampant homelessness, lack of adequate food, clothing, health care and sadly the repercussions of perpetual war. I want my kids to feel empowered to make changes. A good way to do that is to give them a deep understanding of each issue. Books are a great tool to achieve this.

Malala Yousafzai Quote

    When I was growing up war was just the way things were. No one took the time to explain to me that there were other ways to handle attacks from other countries. I remember sitting in my classroom in middle school as the Twin Towers were hit by those planes. We watched the people jumping from the buildings on our tiny bulbous screen hung in the top corner of our classroom. About the time my teacher realized that people were jumping to their death in front of a class of children she turned the TV off. 

Another teacher came into my class and the two of them angrily discussed blowing those terrorists to smithereens. My classmates heatedly discussed how America would kill them all. In middle school…the KIDS went straight to death. There was no talk of any other way to handle the attack. I remember sitting and looking at all that anger and hate and all I could feel was devastation at the choice those people jumping had been forced to make. My mind reeled with the horror I knew was coming to the country responsible. I knew in a round about kind of way what happens in wars. I knew because every chance I had I was reading story after story about anything and everything. I cared because from a very young age my brain was used to thinking from anothers perspective.

I want my kids to think diplomatically and find solutions other than to kill everyone. I want my kids to understand that a handful of people from a country do not represent an entire populace. I want my kids to find solutions to complicated issues.

Einstein Quote about peace

  One way to do that is to read them or have them read stories that illustrate the consequences of war and poverty. I recently stumbled upon the “Through My Eyes” series while browsing books in my local library. At 20 months and 4 years my kids are still too young to read these but you can bet I will introduce them later. I suggest you read through them and introduce them to your kids when appropriate. 

Naveed CoverThe explosion jolts him awake. He sits up, gasping for air, heart thumping.

Was the blast real? Perhaps it had only happened in his head, a bad dream. Demons of the dark, his father had called them. ‘Push them away. They’ll only poison your thoughts. Seek the light and they can’t hurt you.’

Naveed is sick of war – of the foreign powers and the Taliban, the warlords and the drug barons that together have torn Afghanistan apart. He’s had to grow up quickly to take care of his widowed mother and little sister, making what little money he can doing odd jobs and selling at the markets. When he adopts Nasera, a street dog with extraordinary abilities, he has a chance to help rebuild his country. But will a new friend’s betrayal crush his dreams of peace forever?

Amina CoverAmina lives on the edges of Mogadishu. Her family’s house has been damaged in Somalia’s long civil war, but they continue to live there, reluctant to leave their home. Amina’s world is shattered when government forces come to arrest her father because his art has been officially censored, deemed too political. Then rebel forces kidnap Amina’s brother, forcing him to become a soldier in Somalia’s brutal ongoing war.

Although her mother and grandmother are still with her, Amina feels vulnerable and abandoned. Secretly, she begins to create her own artwork in the streets and the derelict buildings to give herself a sense of hope and to let out the burden of her heart. Her artwork explodes into Mogadishu’s underground world, providing a voice for people all over the city who hope for a better, more secure future.

 

Shahana Cover‘Open your eyes. We will not hurt you.’
The boy quietens; his eyes open.
‘Where are you from?’
The boy stares at them both; then says, ‘Who will you tell?’

Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he’ll be imprisoned – or worse?

An unforgettable novel about one young girl in war-torn Kashmir.

Emilio CoverFor high-school student Emilio Garcia Lopez, it’s an ordinary school day. But that evening the knock on the door announcing the arrival of his police officer cousin Juanita, flanked by a tall man in the uniform of the Federal Police, will turn his ordinary day into the beginning of a long nightmare. Emilio’s mother has been kidnapped in broad daylight from a hotel car park by unidentified criminals, who appear to know a great deal about her business and who have mistaken her for a wealthy businesswoman. An action-packed story set in a contemporary conflict zone.

 

 

Malini CoverMalini lives with her parents and young sister, Banni, in northern Sri Lanka. As the civil war heads towards its catastrophic end, Malini and her family are herded by Tamil Tiger troops towards the coast where they and thousands of other Tamil civilians will act as human shields. When Malini’s father pushes a phone into her hands and tells her to run off into the forest with Banni, Malini does as she is told. But then the shelling begins, and Malini has no way of finding her mother and father. With the role of parent thrust upon her, Malini has no choice but to travel to her grandfather’s village a long way inland. She and Banni will need to keep off the highways and stay alert for soldiers. But where will the next meal come from? Who can they trust? Where will they shelter? And will they ever be reunited with their parents again?

Zafir CoverZafir has a comfortable life in Homs, Syria, until his father, a doctor, is arrested for helping a protester who was campaigning for revolution. While his mother heads to Damascus to try to find out where his father is being held, Zafir stays with his grandmother – until her house is bombed. With his father in prison, his mother absent, his grandmother ill and not a friend left in the city, Zafir must stay with his Uncle Ghazi. But that too becomes dangerous as the city becomes more and more besieged. Will Zafir survive long enough to be reunited with his parents?

“That Book I Wrote About Me” by Sarah Buchanan

After three ex-husbands, two successful novels, and one disastrous book she’d rather forget ever having written, Fiona Fields has hit a wall. Days once filled with critics gushing over her latest masterpiece have given way to endless hours spent lying on her living room floor in Lakeview Valley, the tiny North Carolina mountain town of her youth, and staring at her ceiling. 

But after Fiona’s agent calls with an opportunity intended to drag her back into the land of the living, Fiona finds herself inspired by her ex-step-daughter, Karen, and she’s soon off and running with a brand new idea for a book and a brand new lease on life (sort of).

What Fiona doesn’t anticipate is long-buried family secrets revealing themselves and threatening to upend her newfound momentum. As she struggles to make sense of revelations about the life she thought she knew, Fiona will find that the past often shows up in the present in very unexpected ways, and that, try as she might, she’s not exempt from the 215-year-old Lakeview tradition of long-forgotten secrets coming to light in spectacular fashion.

that book i wrote about me Cover

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Sarah Buchanan’s debut novel “That Book I Wrote About Me” is bursting at the seams with classic small time charm, beautifully flawed characters and a story that will make you wish Fiona were your best friend.

Fiona has been through a lot but she always rises above. It may not be without some pushing and shoving but nothing keeps Fiona down long. She’s strong, but not so much in your face about it. She makes mistakes. Drunken, hilariously awkward mistakes…..but her oopsies make her all the more lovable since she really means no harm in her blunders. She’s real and honest and raw. Unlike her mother and the stereotypical small town woman, Fiona lets the world see who she really is. She doesn’t hide the proverbial crazy.

My favorite thing about Fiona is her golden heart. Those she loves, she loves hard. Ex-husbands, ex-step daughters….everyone. She genuinely gives a crap about their lives. Even when, by all rights she could walk away completely. She’s that ex that becomes the friend that made you fall in love with her to begin with.

There is a part of the book where Fiona tapes up a picture of her first ex that sticks in my mind. First loves are a whirlwind of emotion that lingers no matter how things end. Probably more so when there’s no real closure. Watching Fiona comb through her past and work through old hurts really resonated with me. We’ve all thought “What if”. We’ve all sifted through our past with plenty of cringes and a boat load of sighs. Experiencing those alongside Fiona was therapeutic in a way books like this usually aren’t. I think it was the authenticity of Fiona’s character. It was the authenticity of her resentment and bitterness. It was the healing and forgiving of everyone…..especially herself. It takes a lot of bravery to analyze yourself and admit that you messed up. Especially when your mistakes cause other people more pain than you initially thought it would and you find yourself face to face with the consequences others are facing from your blunder. Fiona faces this with as much grace as a hang over will allow but she means what she says and that right there is enough to make you love her. Apologies are just words unless you can really see that the person who messed up is filled with regret and remorse.

To see such strong work from a new author is exciting to say the least. What’s more exciting is “That Book I Wrote About Me” is the first novel in the “Lakeview Valley” series. Buchanan hooked me with this book and I am staying on the line to find out what’s next for our bumbling Fiona as well as the whole of Lakeview. I strongly recommend you hop on the hook and join me.

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: That Book I Wrote About Me | Series: Lakeview Valley |  Author(s): Sarah Buchanan  |Publisher: Amazon Digital Services / Publication Date: 6-9-2017 |Pages: 234 (Print) | ISBN:  B071PBSMNP |Genre(s): Contemporary / Women’s Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 7-14-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

that book i wrote about me Cover

 

 

“The Breeders” Katie French

When you’re an endangered species, it’s either LIVE or LOVE. 

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches-moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything and they’re hunting Riley. 

 
When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family, Riley and her brother Ethan are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom? The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico. When Riley is forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother-a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

Over 75,000 downloads so far. More than 400 four and five star reviews. Top Ten in Free Kindle Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian Romance. Winner of Kindle Book Awards 2014 Semifinalist. 

The Breeders Cover

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“The Breeders” is a perfect example of post-apocalyptic fiction. French’s creation of this post-apocalyptic world is impeccable and I was hard pressed to put it down. Riley is a complex character who will draw you deep into this world and never let go. Her gumption and her wit make her a character that equals that of Katniss or Tris. Add her to the list of great heroines.

French’s world is the run away train of sexism. Where women are so undervalued and poorly treated until they become rare and needed. You would think that would make the treatment of them improve. Not a chance. Instead women are a commodity. A means to an end. Their worth measured by their ability to reproduce. Sounds a lot like another book I know. 

I think this theme is so popular in our society because for hundreds of years that’s the meat of how women are seen. Take a long look at some of the fundamentalist cults America houses. Women are tightly controlled. Their lives rigidly regulated. Sex is merely pleasure for a man and something to endure for women. In this world, the breeders are there for just that. To breed women. Think puppy mill….only with humans and the cages are a bit fancier…..until they aren’t.

World’s like French’s are important to note and learn from. This is what could happen. Fiction in all it’s forms is a learning tool. It’s a way to see where those extremist groups and views can lead. Let us take note of it’s horror and learn.

This book has a few inconsistencies that could use to be addressed with another good edit but other than that it’s a solid book that I enjoyed reading.

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Breeders | Series: Breeders Series |  Author(s): Katie French  |Publisher: Katie French Books / Publication Date: 2-18-2014 |Pages: 256 (Print) | ISBN: B008RH5MFQ  |Genre(s): Dystopian / Science Fiction |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 5-27-2017 |Source: Copy from Kindle Unlimited.

 

Book Review “The Last Orphans” N. W. Harris

One horrifying day will change the life of sixteen-year-old Shane Tucker and every other kid in the world. 

In a span of mere hours, the entire adult population is decimated, leaving their children behind to fend for themselves and deal with the horrific aftermath of the freak occurrence. As one of the newly made elders in his small town, Shane finds himself taking on the role of caretaker for a large group of juvenile survivors. One who just happens to be Kelly Douglas–an out-of-his-league classmate–who, on any other day, would have never given Shane a second glance.

Together, they begin their quest to find out why all of the adults were slaughtered. What they find is even more horrifying than anything they could have expected–the annihilation of the adults was only the beginning. Shane and his friends are not the unlucky survivors left to inherit this new, messed-up planet. No, they are its next victims. There is an unknown power out there, and it won’t stop until every person in the world is dead.

The Last Orphans Cover

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Prepare yourselves, this book moves fast. It’s non-stop action the entire read. There is never a good stopping point and every single time you have to close the book it will cause you literal pain!

Shane is a kid whose entire life goes to hell in a hand-basket far quicker than it has any right to. This book is a great insight into how quickly things really can fall the heck apart. The death scenes are brutal and horrific but I do have to give Harris kudos for his imagination. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a single bug again without thinking of this book.

Some of the realities of this story and the choices that the characters have to make was heart wrenching. No one thinks about tiny babies in these scenarios. Once that was brought up it stuck in my mind and still sneaks into my mind when I really REALLY don’t want it to. Because really, I would like to think that I would go house to house rounding up babies to take care of but……with the ever growing chaos and the continuing decline of older kids and safe places….it’s something to think about for sure.

Harris has created a world that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. I’m looking forward to continuing the series and getting more answers to exactly what is really going on. 

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Last Orphans | Series: The Last Orphans |  Author(s): N. W. Harris  |Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing / Publication Date: 10-9-2014 |Pages: 277 (Print) | ISBN: B00NJCL302 |Genre(s): Teen / Young Adult  |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 4-25-2017 |Source: Copy from personal collection.

Book Spotlight “Heirs Of Eternity” Franc Ingram

In a world of sword fights and supercomputers only the cunning survive.

The Twelve, a collective of A.I.s protecting the last of humanity on Euphoria, created hybrids to rule. The first generation proved tyrannical and divided the world into five fighting realms, so The Twelve created the Heirs of Eternity.

Oleana is a computer-human hybrid, created to locate and train the other three Heirs of Eternity, and unite humanity. She struggles to balance her violent past, addiction to alcohol, and history of failure, with the task of being a good mother and leader. She, and the other Heirs face an old enemy in the first-generation hybrid, Cornelius, who wants the world for himself, and new foes in a band of greedy warlords who thrive on the chaos.

With her world on the brink of collapse, and her son in danger, she can’t afford another failure. Oleana must let go of the burden of her past, keep her son safe, and complete the task she was designed to do, save the world.

Heirs Of Eternity Cover

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Franc Ingram Author Pic

Franc Ingram is a Sci-Fi writer who loves to write about damaged heroines/heroes and extraordinary technology. Personally, Franc is an animal lover, having a lab mix named Mya. Franc loves planes, green tech, a fine white wine, good food and books of all genres. She lives and works in northeast Ohio. 

 “Heirs Of Eternity” is the first book in the “Euphoria Duology” series. The second book is set to come out December of this year! 

Book Review “The Lord of Salamander” T. H. Alexander

Dare to enter a new world of wonder and fear, good and evil, magic and mystery! 

In this first novel in what is to become the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Elijah Pendleton discovers he is the last and only hope of restoring a fabled magical land back to its original order and begins an amazing quest into the heart of the unknown that will include crossing dangerous lands, encountering ferocious beasts, and entangling himself in mythical hazards along the way. Throughout this extraordinary journey, Elijah will accumulate allies, hone his newly discovered powers, and race against time to end the land’s decade-long reign of darkness and fulfill a long-awaited prophecy: to take his place as the strongest who ever lived and become the succeeding ruler of the land called Salamander–the Lord of Salamander.

The Lord of Salamander Cover

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I want to first brag on how creative this story was. The hero’s journey is nothing new but the way Alexander framed this story was special. Alexander loves his characters. His love for Elijah and this world he has created shines brightly from beginning to end. Alexander’s love for his story brought me to love it as well.

It’s not been an easy life for Elijah and that thread follows him. It’s an uphill battle but a battle worth fighting for. I quickly liked Elijah and my fondness for him grew and grew. He has his flaws like anyone else and has definitely seen his fair share of bumps in the road. I love his tenacity though. 

Alexander’s writing is grabby in all the right places and my attention was caught and held for most of the book. I did feel that a few descriptions were a bit wordy but that can be worked out with a bit more “showing” from Alexander than “telling”. This is a hard concept to really pin down but for the most part Alexander is doing well with it.

There’s not much I feel I can share without spoiling the book. It’s carefully put together and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more from Alexander in the future!

4 stars!

4 star

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The Technical Data:

Title: The Lord of Salamander | Series: The Epic Salamander Trilogy |  Author(s): T. H. Alexander  |Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing / Publication Date: 2-14-2017 |Pages: 304 (Print) | ISBN:  978-1543125832 |Genre(s): Fantasy |Language: English |Rating: 4 out of 5 |  Date Read: 3-20-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

T H Alexander author pic

For as long as he can remember, T.H. Alexander has been enthralled with the idea of storytelling through writing. Throughout his rough adolescence, he discovered the power of books and reading through such works as Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and James and the Giant Peach and used these fantastical tales as an escape from his own harsh reality.

But simply reading these stories wasn’t enough.

He carried with him into his teenage years the desire to go further and write a story of his own. After numerous failed attempts, when he was just fourteen, the right story would finally break through with the Lord of Salamander. Starting what eventually became the first draft of the novel when he was just a freshman in high school, T.H. would spend the next four years occasionally adding more and more to the story until the draft was finally completed in the summer of 2007. Since then, T.H. has edited, revised and rewritten the novel several times, the most recent taking place in 2016. He has also stepped into the Young Adult Horror genre with his gritty follow-up, Till Dawn, and has written numerous screenplays for movies and television.

He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas where he works on the next installment of the Epic Salamander Trilogy, Return to Salamander, which he hopes to have released by the spring of 2019.

Review “Matt Jackson, Catcher” Jean Joachim

Matt Jackson, clutch hitter, fielder extraordinaire, and team captain, is dynamite on the baseball field, but a loser with women. Or is he? He makes a show of coming on to chicks in bars, but always strikes out. Convinced being dateless is safer, Matt keeps his distance from women. Is he simply an insensitive chauvinist, or a crafty man hiding a secret?
Everything he believes in is challenged the day he walks in on a beautiful woman in the locker room. Dusty, the sharp-tongued spitfire, cuts the all-star pro down to size. Unwilling to accept second-class status, she challenges everything he knows about women.
Does a solo life make living with emotional pain easier? Drawn to the stunning, talented woman, Matt has a long way to go to win her trust. Getting close to Dusty is dangerous. Can he risk his well-protected heart? Matt faces a difficult choice — will he make the right decision?

Matt Jackson Catcher Cover

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“Matt Jackson, Catcher” is the second in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series. I recently reviewed “Dan Alexander, Pitcher” and was elated to continue the series. I actually included the first book in my list of favorite romances so I guess you could say I went into reading this one with some pretty high expectations. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. If anything, I was blown off my feet.

This book delves deeper into who the characters are than I felt the first book in the series did. The romance, while present, is more a component of the story than the whole story. Matt Jackson is a man whose life has been fraught with disaster and heartache. He’s well guarded and for good reason. I found myself increasingly intrigued the more I read. The mystery of Matt Jackson is it’s own seduction. He’s so real in my mind I have to continually remind myself he’s just a character from a really good book.

Normally, as a reader I have a bit of a disconnect from the story. With Matt, cracking open each new layer of his life broke that disconnect further and further until emotionally, I was fully vested in this story. 

While Dusty is an interesting character, it’s Matt who really steals the show. The summary leads one to think the story is more about Dusty than I felt it really was. After reading, I don’t feel like I know her as well as I should. I feel like this story is more a focus on Matt than her and would like to see her character fleshed out a bit more. I also felt like their relationship could use to be fleshed out a bit more too. I love that she was there for him but there were a few moments that I felt should of been more emotionally charged and didn’t come across that way. If there is anywhere in this story I would advise needs work, that would be it. I felt it for Matt but not so much for Dusty. It left a bad taste in my mouth for her.

I loved seeing this side of Joachim’s writing. I truly feel like Matt’s character is one I will not soon forget. There is a scene in the book where his worst fear is almost completely realized. I was there with him as the rain pelted his skin and the lights from the emergency vehicles painted his skin with red and blue. I felt his fear. I felt his dread.  I could feel the fear ball up in my chest as each word flew past my eyes and painted pictures in my mind. My heart raced with anticipation of what he would find. It was captivating. 

This is really two love stories in one. It’s Matt and Dusty, but it’s also Matt’s story of redemption and forgiveness. I would love to see more of Matt and Dusty. This series has caught me in it’s web and I will definitely be continuing with the next book!

What a ride!

5 stars!

5 stars

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The Technical Data:

Title: Matt Jackson, Catcher | Series: Bottom of the Ninth  |  Author(s): Jean C. Joachim  |Publisher: Moonlight Books  / Publication Date: 12-22-2016 |Pages: 232 (Print) | ISBN:  B01NBL34Q5 |Genre(s): Romance / Sports |Language: English |Rating: 5 out of 5 |  Date Read: 2-28-2017 |Source: Copy from author.

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Indie Author Spotlight- Jean C. Joachim

Do you love hot romance stories that keep you on your toes? Jean C. Joachim is a prolific author whose characters you would be hard pressed not to fall in love with! Want to know more about her books? Check out our review of “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”! We’re set to review the next book in the “Bottom of the Ninth” series, “Matt Jackson, Catcher” in the next week so keep an eye out!

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Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense.
Dangerous Love Lost & Found, First Place winner in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America, International Digital Award contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.
Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.
Jean has 30+ books, novellas and short stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for her newsletter, on her website, and be eligible for her private paperback sales.

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WARNING! This interview has what could be interpreted as spoilers!

Q: What gave you the idea to begin writing “Dan Alexander, Pitcher”?

I’ve loved baseball since I was sixteen. After writing my football series, “First & Ten”, baseball seemed the next best place to go. And who wouldn’t want to start with the pitcher. I wondered what would happen if the pitcher saw a pretty girl in the stands. Then the girl became a hot dog vendor, then she couldn’t be just any vendor. And thus Holly’s story was born.

As I wrote Dan’s story, he struck me as a nice guy from a small town, unpretentious, and unchanged by his new found wealth. In some ways, he and Holly were opposite, which is, perhaps, what attracted Dan to Holly.

Q: Dan Alexander strikes me as a small town guy-next-door type. However, he’s also no stranger to the finer things in life and expects his mate to be classy and sophisticated. Was it difficult to find that balance for his character?

Not at all. I think he was completely taken with Holly’s sophistication. She was an unusual mix of a woman who could take care of herself, knew what to order in a French restaurant, but also needed protection and understanding. That unusual mix of qualities is what attracted Dan.

He’d never met a girl like her, who wasn’t falling all over herself or him for attention. And a girl who wasn’t impressed by a lot of money, but who was easy with living well relieved his mind about her ever being a gold-digger. She tumbled into his life and opened his eyes to the fact that a girl from a rich family might actually be deprived in some ways – for example, never going to an amusement park. She made him feel like a big man, her protector and yet she had things she could teach him, too. It was a perfect match.

Q: The man on the cover is exactly as I felt you described Dan. Did you see the model first and base Dan’s description on him or was it a happy surprise?

I had Dan pictured in my mind. I looked at models with a photographer until I happened on Chandler. The moment I saw him, I knew he was the perfect Dan Alexander. And, besides, he was hotter than hot. He’s exactly what I wanted for the cover. I’m glad he fits the description.

I designed the jersey he’s wearing. If you’ll notice it says “Nighthawks” on it. The cover shots have all been taken with photographers. None are stock photos and no fancy graphics were used. Those are real uniforms.

Allie- I LOVE that these are real uniforms! You should sign these and sell them! I’d buy one!

Q: In the book, we learn that Holly is paying for her wild streak and bad decisions. I felt there was an emphasis on her predicament being her fault, but with the distance from her parents growing up….isn’t it a bit their fault too?

Absolutely! I totally agree. I had to show how they treated her so the reader would understand why Holly made the mistakes she did. No, it was not totally her fault. Her parents needed to take some of the blame. Perhaps the humiliation they suffered was their pay-back for the cold way they treated her growing up.

Even though she had neglectful parents, the world is not a forgiving place. If you make a mistake, you pay for it.  That was made clear in the story. No matter how her parents treated her, Holly had to make good choices in her life and take responsibility for them. She learned that lesson the hard way. But in the end, I think she grew stronger from the ordeal. And the love of Dan was her reward for facing her predicament squarely and being honest.

Dan was very healing for Holly. Her time with him let her know that she was worthy of love and that there was someone who would protect her and care for her, even though she’d made some mistakes. His loyalty went straight to my heart – and her’s, too.

Q: When you write, is the story already present in your mind or does it slowly materialize as your writing progresses?

When I start to write, the story and the characters are  in my mind, but not fully formed. I know how it’s going to end, but often it takes a different twist and turn along the way. I love when that happens. I have thrown out scenes and even changed plots after beginning a novel. The story takes me where it needs to go. Sometimes I have to be patient, but it always appears and makes the story better.

Q: In the story, Holly’s identity was initially discovered and caused her to “disappear” on her own. Later in the story, she makes the decision to trust in the system again and everything seems to work out. The story doesn’t explain how she was initially found out. Could you elaborate on this?

Someone leaked Holly’s whereabouts for money. I didn’t want to pursue that because I felt it would sidetrack the plot, hijacking the story from Holly and Dan and injecting Flash Kincade into it with a bigger role.

Yes, he paid someone to give him the information. It took him a while to find the right person and persuade them, but that was it. I did wonder if that would leave some readers hanging. I guess it did! I will clear that up with a sentence or two in a later book. Thanks for this question.

Q: Do you have any writing quirks?

I’m sure I must, but I don’t think so. Every writer thinks they are normal, but “normal” people would probably think we’re nuts. Maybe my biggest quirk is that I talk to my pug, Homer, about my stories when we’re out walking. I ask him questions and work out plot points. That seems perfectly normal to me, but the people of NYC probably think I’m crazy.

Allie – I’ve never been to NYC but I’m sure a nice looking lady with an adorable pug is the least of their worries. I mean…have you seen that documentary about the rat problem in NYC? Everyone is probably too busy dodging rats! J/K (ish)

Q: What kind of music do you listen to when looking for inspiration?

Sometimes I listen to music to inspire me. When I wrote Love Lost & Found that takes place partly in St. Thomas, I played the song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys over and over again. Most of the time I prefer to write in quiet. When I do put on music, it’s classical. Mozart, Bach, Beethoven are all soothing and allow me to focus on my inner thoughts.

Q: Other than writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy crocheting, taking long walks, and going to the movies. Photography is my most consuming hobby. I love to take pictures of nature and interesting things around me.

Just For Fun Questions

Q: If you could time travel, where would you go and what would you do?

I’d go back to the time when Louisa May Alcott was writing or Jane Austen. Regency England, with it’s elegance and intrigue, would be fascinating.

I’d be a fly on the wall in drawing rooms of wealthy, titled people watching and listening to them live their intriguing lives.  I’d love it. Yes, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan.

The Roaring ‘20’’s in the U.S.A. interest me, too. Life was fast, every changing and the clothing styles were awesome! I’d be a speakeasy singer by night and a demure secretary by day.

Allie- I’m also a huge fan of Jane Austen. 

Q: Imagine you are stranded on an island. What three things would you most want with you? (other than people, food, shelter and necessities for life)

Music! Art materials. I love to design and do occasionally design a cover and I do all my own marketing designing, including creating my logo. A camera. Chocolate and books! Of course, books.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?

I’d love to be able to fly. I adore birds and envy their ability to pick up and soar. To see the world from different vantage points and to be able to sit, high up, in a tree and contemplate life would be heaven.

Q: If you could live in any world in any book or movie, what movie/book would you pick?

I’d jump right into the pages of “Pride and Prejudice”, or any other Jane Austen book. I think being around during the tumultuous times in “Gone With the Wind” would be fascinating!

I recently watched the movie, “The Big Chill” again. Being back in those times with those folks would also be fun.

 

JCJ- Thank you for inviting me to this interview, Allie. It’s been a lot of fun answering your questions.

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Fed up with cheating women, Dan Alexander, star pitcher for the New York Nighthawks, grew restless. Searching for something more than a bar babe, he zeroed in on a girl in the stands. He never expected to see a beautiful chick pushing frankfurters. But the hot dog girl looked as smokin’ as the food she was selling.
Holly Merrill found a place to hide in plain sight, as a vendor at Nighthawks’ stadium. Keeping her secret safe and simply happy to stay alive, she never considered finding love an option. After all, a bad girl doesn’t deserve a decent guy, does she?
Coming off his best season ever, Dan went into the playoffs, hell bent on winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. But could he maintain his focus on the field, where everything was going right, when off the field everything was falling apart?