Part murder mystery, part personal journey, ‘Lonely Hearts Complex’ is an interesting and authentic read that immerses the reader in the lives of the Ruth, Riley and Marshall, residents of Tombora Springs.
The characters are diverse, likeable and engaging. Their personal stories keep the reader intrigued and maintain a good level of excitement and suspense as the narrative continues.
This book is comfortably read in a couple of hours and delivers a most enjoyable contemporary light mystery read.
The third book following ‘Webley and the World Machine’ and ‘Kip and the Grinders’ in Zachary Chopchinski’s Hall of Doors Steampunk adventure series is another action-packed, highly entertaining adventure story that features Adal, Arija and their friends Kip and Ypsilon as they negotiate a most challenging world full of dark creatures and even darker intentions.
Chopchinski yet again demonstrates his creativity and humour in his edgy writing, sassy dialogue, and the complexity of the settings and the creatures who inhabit them. This novel, while still full of adrenaline and suspense, also explores some of the characters’ personal issues and motivations, developing more maturity and thoughtfulness amongst the familiar snark and showmanship.
One distinct contrast to the first two books in the series is that there is some sexual content in this book that makes it less suitable for younger readers, and really making it an NA rather than YA novel.
A blend of steampunk and paranormal fantasy, ‘Kip and the Grinders’ is an original and suspenseful story that will keep readers intrigued and entertained.
When an amateur theatre company reunite for their 20th annual performance of Shakespeare’s’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, one might expect they’d have their act together.
‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ immerses the reader in the lives of the actors, but also in the lives of the fey characters who are weary of seeing themselves represented in the troupe’s performances.
Like the play being performed, the story is an enjoyable romp through a glade in a forest, complicated by love, jealousy, and fey interference in the lives of humans.
This book is well-written and quite entertaining. The characters are varied and interesting, made complex by their desires and motivations, and intricately connected to both the play and one another’s lives.
Just how the plot will resolve keeps the reader guessing right to the end.
This book is recommended for readers aged 18 and over, as ‘Midsummer’s Bottom’ does contain some adult content, although not graphic or gratuitous.
‘The Final Act of Mercy Dove’ is a new release Victorian Gothic Horror novella.
This is the story of Mercy Dove.
This is a story of secrets.They hide in the wainscoting where the paint flakes, they slip behind the silk wallpaper. They whisper to the Mistress under cover of nightfall. She knows little else; they are her comfort and her curse.
This is a story of corruption. Of the mind, and the flesh. It sits thick in the air, gathering in corners, loitering at keyholes. Adhering to all who visit, it leaves with them, trailing from their coattails.
This is a story of scandal. Infamy, seduction, and lust. It hovers like a murder of crows, circling the grounds waiting for the invited; the unwitting.
Take a seat; the curtain is about to rise…Let us begin at the end.
Readers should note that there is mature content in this book, so it is recommended for adult audiences only.
‘Regency Love’ is a delightful journey through Regency England, a period familiar to readers of Jane Austen. This is a most original and entertaining work, carefully researched and attentive to detail, and still absolutely captivating in its delivery of the story of Anne Frithringham.
The characters are vivid and animated, drawing the reader into their world and playing their roles to perfection. The author has created original personalities consistent with the world and era in which they live, and who are concerned with the things that ladies and gentlemen of the time would definitely have had to deal with. Their interactions and dialogue are witty and engaging, keeping the reader deeply involved with their experiences and welfare.
The plot is carefully structured and well developed, so that the narrative flows naturally. The end result is a book that is very hard to put down once started, and which leaves the reader completely satisfied at the end.
Written for a considerably less conservative audience, this story deals with subjects that Austen could only ever hint at, yet it does so with language and style that remains tastefully consistent with Austen’s world.
‘Regency Love’ is deliberately not Austen, but it does feel like Austen. This reader is confident that, had they met, Anne Frithingham and Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet would have got along famously.
That a second and third book have been written to follow and further develop Fanny’s story will delight all who have read the first instalment in the series.
This is a series that even devoted fans of Jane Austen will enjoy for its consistency with the language and style of Austen, even though the story does divert from that of Mansfield Park and follow its own original path.
What other reviewers have said about ‘A Contrary Wind’:
“…Excellent.. it’s a novel which certainly deserves a place on the bookshelves of a Jane Austen fan.” — Jane Austen Centre, Bath
“Manning …. emulates Austen’s writing style so well that she often seamlessly incorporates exact passages from the original into her narrative…. Many try to emulate Austen; not all succeed. Here, Manning triumphs.” —BlueInk Review Starred Review
“Highly recommend it. Extremely well written, extremely clever, the way she incorporated details from the original Mansfield Park.” — First Impressions podcast
“Brava to Lona Manning for her thoughtful twists and skillful execution in this variation. This story was in no way predictable and it kept me guessing almost until the end!…. – Meredith Esparza, Austenesque Reviews
“A Contrary Wind is well-written, keeping close to the style of Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I never lost interest and enjoyed the occasional comic relief.” — Historical Novel Society
‘Capturing Joy’ is a suspenseful zombie apocalypse romance with plenty of action and danger to keep the storyline going, and some lovely macabre scenes and imagery to balance the romance.
The characters are interesting and varied, and the author does a good job of keeping the reader guessing about who really can be trusted right up to the end of the book. This, and the fact that very few of the characters are completely likeable, makes the story mysterious and engaging as the reader tries to distinguish truth from deception as the story twists and turns.
While the central conflicts are resolved by the end of the book, there is still some intrigue remaining, serving to tantalise readers with the hope of another book to follow.
This is an enjoyable read that will appeal to readers of mystery and action novels as well as contemporary romance readers.
Ted Halstead is the author of The Russian Agents thriller series. His latest release is the third book in the series, titled The End of America’s War in Afghanistan.
He served twenty-five years in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, most of it overseas, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service after his second tour at US Embassy Riyadh. His tours included four years at US Embassy Seoul, and two years at the East Asia Pacific Bureau in DC. He is a National War College graduate, and served for three years at a regional US military headquarters.
While there is continuity of some characters through the series, each of the books is a standalone novel. it is not necessary to read any one book before reading the others. The books are all set in different countries at different times, and each book’s story ends with a satisfying resolution.
What inspired you to write?
Throughout my career in the US Foreign Service, I had experiences that I shared with my fellow officers. From my very first tour, I was told I should write a book about them. Security classification and privacy concerns have made writing a nonfiction account impossible. However, I have worked many of those experiences into my novels.
What’s your favourite thing that you have written?
That’s a very hard question. I will always have a special place in my heart for my first book, which took me almost seven years to write. I poured a lot of myself into The Second Korean War, drawing on the four years I served at the US Embassy in Seoul. That was also true for my second book, The Saudi-Iranian War. I drew on two tours at US Embassy Riyadh for that book, spaced twenty years apart. My third book, The End of America’s War in Afghanistan, has some of my favorite supporting characters. Sadly, many don’t survive. If I must choose one, I have to say The Second Korean War.
What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?
Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell. I read it when I was starting high school, and it made a great impression on me. Published in 1957, it was incredibly far ahead of its time. I genuinely envy anyone who hasn’t read it yet!What are you working on writing now? The End of Russia’s War in Ukraine. Check out my blog, accessible through my Amazon Author Page, for the first couple of pages.
Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?
Coffee, of course!
Who designs your book covers?
Ivan Zanchetta, for all three of my books. Just Google his name to find his site. Highly recommended!
What’s your favourite kind of music?
At the moment, 1970s R&B. Check out the soundtrack for the movie Shaft and see if you agree with me that Isaac Hayes really did deserve his Grammy. Especially for the block of songs following Cafe Regio’s. Or try the song Natural Man by Lou Rawls, and see if you’re as amazed as I am that it came out in 1971.
What’s the best vacation you’ve had?
Hawaii, during my tour in Seoul. After the pollution of early 1990s Seoul, it was such a pleasure to breathe clean air!
What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?
Bureaucracy. I hated it all 25 years I was part of one of the largest on Earth, and did my best to make it bearable for every member of the public we served. You will see this in all my books in many ways.
What movie can you watch over and over again?
The Incredibles. First, it’s one of those rare movies I can safely enjoy watching with my granddaughter. Plus, there are so many sly references to old Bond and superhero movies it takes repeated viewings to find them all!
What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
I started self-publishing on many sites, including Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Google Books, Apple etc. But I ended up dropping the others because I decided to try making my first book available through Kindle Unlimited, which required me to do Amazon only. I was honestly shocked by how many people read both that book and the others since through KU – literally millions of pages! That actually means more to me than book sales. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s bought a book and either never read it, or just read a few pages before losing interest. As someone who puts a lot of himself into his books, it’s very gratifying to see that people are really reading them!
Thanks for being here and sharing with us today, Tom!
This collection of intriguing and mysterious Steampunk-style speculative short stories offers a good variety of settings and situations in which the reader is immersed as the tales develop.
The writing is evocative and richly textured. Some of these stories are full of brooding darkness and macabre imagery, creating a powerful contrast with the ironic humour and hopeful adventure that pervades the final story.
These stories are just the right size to enjoy one at a time during breaks in a busy day, and varied enough to maintain the reader’s interest when read in one sitting.
There is some adult content, so this is not a suitable book for younger readers, but it is a most enjoyable and diverting read for grownups.