Friday, March 31, 2017

"Tales of Yosemite" by Jonathan Williams

Tales of Yosemite
by Jonathan Williams

Tales of Yosemite by Jonathan Williams is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A land of vast beauty and constant change, Yosemite National Park never ceases to amaze and inspire its visitors. And fiction writer Jonathan Williams, an avid camper and fan, is no exception. In four charming short stories, he captures the Park’s diverse landscape and unique wilderness, using it as backdrop in all its glory to tell his tales.
"The Condor Suit" tells the story of Tim whose life-long dreams of flying prompts him to move to a small town in the foothills of the Sierra to pursue his quest: building a bird suit and flying into the Park. In "Dog Lake", a young boy on a Yosemite camping trip falls into the lake and disappears, only to discover another world lurking beneath its surface, and the lake magically comes to life. "The Rescue" tells the story of a hiker, and the unusual relationship he forms with a bear and her cub in the park. And with "The Old Man in the Sierra", visitors in Yosemite National Park encounter a strange man leaving them wondering if he is the Park’s notorious mystery man? Does he exist, or is he the stuff of everyone’s imagination, and simply part legend, part ghost?

"Condor Suit"
Tim was about twenty four miles into the flight and passing the main Park entrance when he noticed something strange. His vision became clearer, and things became brighter.
"Dog Lake"
Nathan found himself in a large empty room surrounded by water. He carefully touched one of the glass walls, and his fingerprints smeared.
"The Rescue"
Instinctively, I made as much noise as possible, and blew my whistle but the mountain lion continued toward me.
"The Old Man and the Sierra"
The Old Man stood drenched, his outback hat offering little protection. His eyes closed, he faced the gales, the rain striking his weathered face, and he opened his mouth to the downpour.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
This is a collection of four stories that celebrate man's relationship with nature and the wild animals that inhabit it.
In "Condor Suit", a man constructs a bird-like contraption to fly him to the summit in Yosemite National Park. The experience transforms him in more ways than one. This story gives us some interesting information about the California Condor.
In "Dog Lake", a group of boys and their fathers hike to Dog Lake in Yosemite Valley. One boy has more of an adventure than the others. This story provides us with some interesting historical information about the lakes in Yosemite National Park.
In "Rescue", a man rescues a bear cub in Yosemite National Park. What happens next will astound you.
In "The Old Man and the Sierra", an old man spends his life wandering through Yosemite National Park. Who is he?
While the stories are all interesting and informative, the book could do with a good edit. There are numerous editing errors including poorly constructed sentences, incorrect word usage, and incorrect punctuation.
A quick, easy read for nature and animal lovers.

About the Author
Jonathan Williams has worked in Information Technology for over twenty years. He has spent most of his career working in the Financial and Pharmaceutical/Biotech sectors. He specializes in Database Management Systems.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

"Never Go Alone" by Denison Hatch

Never Go Alone
(Jake Rivett Book 2)
by Denison Hatch

Never Go Alone is the second book in the Jake Rivett thriller series by Denison Hatch. Also available: Flash Crash (read my blog post).

Never Go Alone is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The first rule is: Never Go Alone.
A rash of elaborate cat burglaries of luxury buildings in Manhattan has the city panicked.
When a group of social media obsessed millennials - a loosely organized crew that call themselves "urban explorers" - are suspected in the heists, undercover NYPD detective Jake Rivett is assigned the case.
Rivett dives deep into the urban exploration scene in pursuit of the truth. But what, and who, he finds - deep in the sewers, up in the cranes above under-construction skyscrapers, and everywhere else in New York - will change not only Jake, but the city itself.
The second novel in the critically acclaimed Jake Rivett series, Never Go Alone is a heist mystery and urban exploration thriller on the razor's edge of modern culture. 

The explorer gazed down the gleaming city from the Upper West Side, all the way through Midtown and into Chelsea. It was more than a place now, more than a landscape. By this point at its evolution, Manhattan represented a geospatial-and-social coordinate on the razor’s edge of modernity. It was no longer what the future could be. It was the future itself, right now, happening in front of one’s eyes and reaching the stage of infinite singularity. As the years had gone on, the surfaces of the metropolis had become smooth, the lights perfect, the fa├žades utterly complete. It no longer beckoned for the masses humbly - it repelled them. The construction site the explorer had ascended from would soon consist of glass, marble, and sex. That was all, and that was everything, and if one was rich enough, one could buy it. The new culture didn’t care for culture itself. It did not bow to subtlety of argument or freedom of soul. It only knew money - astronomical levels of money. The only people who could afford to live here would be the progeny of sovereign wealth fund managers, tech moonshot winners, and industrial titans. Nothing was free, for anyone - not even the views.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Never Go Alone is an explosive return for both Denison Hatch and his hero." ~
"Denison Hatch has done it again. The second in the Jake Rivett series is as riveting as the first. As breathtaking, as heart-hammering and as page-turning." ~ Book Postmortem
"Exhilarating action." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"An intoxicating thrill!" ~ A-Thrill-A-Week
"Written in a particularly visceral fashion, readers get to experience firsthand the pure adrenaline rush of this new breed of urban explorer and location hacker." ~ Kirkus Reviews

About the Author
Denison Hatch is a screenwriter and novelist. He has a number of feature and television projects in development, including his original screenplay, Vanish Man, which is set up at Lionsgate. A graduate of Cornell University, he lives with his wife and a big dog in a little house in Hollywood. He is presently working on the third Jake Rivett thriller.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Flash Crash and Never Go Alone by Denison Hatch (US only).


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

"Regeneration" by Stacey Berg

(Echo Hunter 367 Book 2)
by Stacey Berg

Regeneration is the second book in the Echo Hunter 367 series by Stacey Berg. Also available: Dissension.

Regeneration is currently on tour with Providence Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The world is ready to be reborn…
Protected by the Church for four hundred years, the people of the City are the last of humanity - or so they thought. Echo Hunter 367, made to be faithful to the Church and its Saint at all costs, embarks on what she’s sure is a suicide mission into the harsh desert beyond the City. Then, at the end of all hope, she stumbles on a miracle: another enclave of survivors, a lush, peaceful sanctuary completely opposite of anything Echo has ever known.
But the Preserve has dark secrets of its own, and uncovering them may cost Echo more than just her life. She fears her discoveries will trigger a final, disastrous war. But if Echo can stop the Church and Preservers from destroying each other, she might have a chance to achieve her most impossible dream - saving the woman she loves.

Echo Hunter 367 studied the dying woman in the desert with grudging admiration. The woman had walked long past what might reasonably be expected, if that lurching stagger could be called a walk. When she couldn’t walk any more she had crawled, and after that she had dragged herself along, fingers clawing through sand until they clutched some purchase, body scraping over rocks and debris, heedless of the damage. Now and then she made a noise, a purely animal grunt of effort or pain, but she forced herself onward, all the way until the end.
I smell the water.
Desperate as the woman was, she had still been cautious. Though an incalculable distance from any familiar place, she still recognized danger: the wind-borne sand that scoured exposed skin clean to the bone, the predators that stalked patiently in the shadows for prey too weak to flee. The cliff edge that a careless girl could slip over, body suspended in space for the briefest moment before her hands tore through the thornbush, then the long hard fall.
Echo jerked back from that imagined edge. It was her last purposeful movement.  From some great height, she watched herself collapse in the sand. One grasping hand, nails torn, knuckles bloody, landed only a few meters from the spring’s cool water, but she never knew it. For a little while her body twitched in irregular spasms, then those too stilled. Only her lips moved, cracking into a bloody smile. “Lia,” she whispered. “Lia.” Then she fell into the dark.
For a long time there was no sound except water trickling in a death rattle over stones.
Then the high whine of engines scattered the circling predators. Pain returned first, of course. Every inch of skin burned, blistered by sun or rubbed raw by the sand that had worked its way inside the desert-proof clothing. Her muscles ached from too long an effort with no fuel and insufficient water, and her head pounded without mercy. Even the movement of air in and out of her lungs hurt, as if she had inhaled fire. But that pain meant she was breathing, and if she was breathing she still had to fight. With enormous effort she dragged open her eyes, only to meet a blinding brightness. She made a sound, and tasted hot salt as her lips cracked open again. “Shhh,” a soft voice said. “Shhh.” Something cool, smelling of resin and water, settled over her eyes, shielding them from the glare. A cloth dabbed at her mouth, then a finger smoothed ointment over her lips, softening them so they wouldn’t split further when she was finally able to speak. Lia, she thought, letting herself rest in that gentle strength until the pain subsided into manageable inputs. Then she began to take stock.
She lay on something soft, not the rock that had made her bed for so many weeks, although her abused flesh still ached at every pressure point. The air felt cool but still, unlike the probing desert wind, and it carried, beyond the herbal tang, a scent rich and round, unlike the silica sharpness of sand she’d grown so accustomed to. Filtered through the cloth over her eyes, the light seemed diffuse, too dim for the sun. Indoors, then, and not a temporary shelter, but a place with thick walls, and a bed, and someone with sufficient resources to retrieve a dying woman from the desert, and a reason to do so. But what that reason might be eluded her. The Church would never rescue a failure.
Unless the Saint commanded it.
She mustered all her strength and dragged the cloth from her eyes. She blinked away grit until the blurred oval hovering above her took on distinct features, the soft line of the cheek, the gently curving lips. Lia, she thought again, and in her weakness tears washed the vision away. She wiped her eyes with a trembling hand.
And stared into the face of an utter stranger.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"Echo Hunter 367 may be a clone and callous killer, but she’s one with true heart and soul. Regeneration is a thrilling conclusion to Berg’s dystopia duology." ~ Beth Cato, author of The Clockwork Dagger series
"Regeneration by Stacey Berg is a paean to resistance, hope, and love, a Canticle for Leibowitz that passes the Bechdel Test and then some. This post-apocalyptic clash of values and technology demonstrates beautifully that physical bravery can only take you so far; real change only happens when we have the courage to listen." ~ Nicola Griffith, author of Hild
"This book is packed with action from start to finish." ~ Ginger Miller
"This is the second in a series and I would highly recommend reading the first book, Dissension. [...] I do recommend this book to those who enjoy science fiction, especially when it deals with difficult decisions. There could be much discussion about Echo and her actions and what was really best for her community." ~ Joan N.

Guest Post by the Author
My Inspiration for Writing this Book
When I started to write the first Echo Hunter 367 book, almost all I had was the basic concept of a nature/nurture conflict and a very strong image of a woman in the desert, a kind of soldier, protecting from some unseen enemy another woman, a runaway of some sort, who was her prisoner. The dynamic between them was clear to me right away: the soldier determined to do her duty no matter what it required; the prisoner, wryly admiring her captor’s skill, even though it meant her own doom. And, as the two of them faced hopeless odds together, we’d see a gradual switch in roles, until the duty-bound soldier wanted only to set the prisoner free, and the prisoner realized that she could run no longer and had to face her destiny.
That only left me about 89,500 words short of a novel.
And that’s where I really started to have fun. I knew the heart of my story, but building the world it would work in was something else entirely. A kind of soldier genetically programmed to think only of duty? Were there lots like her, or was she the only one? Who would have the tech to make people like that? What did her makers need her for? (Or as my editor astutely put it, what exactly was her job?) And that desert was starting to feel pretty post-apocalyptic. What had happened to all the people? Plague? War? Zombies?
I never seriously considered zombies. But I had just read Thomas Cahill’s brilliant history book How the Irish Saved Civilization, which they did by copying ancient manuscripts in their monasteries while the rest of the Roman Empire was falling into the dark. So I began to play with the idea of the Church saving civilization again, only this time not through religion but with science. Where that all went was into the first novel in the duology, Dissension.
Since Regeneration is a sequel, some of the inspiration was honestly just the need to get the characters out of the mess I had left them in at the end of the previous book! But I also wanted to go further with something I hadn’t had enough time to explore in Dissension: the idea of a post post-apocalyptic world. Many post-apocalyptic novels focus on the time right around the end of the world, on the disaster itself or the stories of the survivors. I wanted to set my books later than that, at a time when people are living a few generations into the next part of history. This wouldn’t be a changed world to the people born into it; it would just be the way things were. These citizens wouldn’t mourn the loss of television or football or coffee shops or the internet; they never had any of those to lose. They wouldn’t be haunted all the time by the past. Instead, they’d want things we all recognize: a nicer house, ready access to meals without subsistence farming, a family. And fun! They might not have clubs, but they’d certainly make music, and if they made music, they’d be dancing. In short, they’d be trying not just to survive, but to be happy.
Of course, being human (most of them), they’d also be trying to steal each other’s stuff; they’d be jealous and ambitious and selfish and kind. And some of them would be thinking about building civilization up again. That, finally, was my inspiration for Regeneration: I wanted to tell a story about the world being reborn.

About the Author
Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebook copies of Dissension by Stacey Berg.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"The Outsider" by Anthony Franze

The Outsider
by Anthony Franze

The Outsider by Anthony Franze is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

For another book by this author, please check out my blog post on The Advocate's Daughter.

A young law clerk finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a serial killer in this breathtaking thriller set in the high-pressure world of the Supreme Court, from renowned lawyer Anthony Franze.
Things aren’t going well for Grayson Hernandez. He just graduated from a fourth-tier law school, he’s drowning in student debt, and the only job he can find is as a messenger. The position stings the most because it’s at the Supreme Court, where Gray is forced to watch the best and the brightest - the elite group of lawyers who serve as the justices’ law clerks - from the outside.
When Gray intervenes in a violent mugging, he lands in the good graces of the victim: the Chief Justice of the United States. Gray soon finds himself the newest - and unlikeliest - law clerk at the Supreme Court. It’s another world: highbrow debates over justice and the law in the inner sanctum of the nation’s highest court; upscale dinners with his new friends; attention from Lauren Hart, the brilliant and beautiful co-clerk he can’t stop thinking about.
But just as Gray begins to adapt to his new life, the FBI approaches him with unsettling news. The Feds think there’s a killer connected to the Supreme Court. And they want Gray to be their eyes and ears inside One First Street. Little does Gray know that the FBI will soon set its sights on him.
Racing against the clock in a world cloaked in secrecy, Gray must uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again in this thrilling high-stakes story of power and revenge by Washington, D.C. lawyer-turned-author Anthony Franze.

When her computer pinged, Amanda Hill ignored it. This late at night, she shouldn’t have, but she did.
All her energy was focused on tomorrow’s closing argument. Her office was dark, save the sharp cone of light from the desk lamp. She’d waited for everyone to leave so she could run through her final words to the jury. So she could practice as she’d done a thousand times, pacing her office in front of imaginary jurors, explaining away the evidence against the latest criminal mastermind she’d been appointed to represent. This one had left prints and DNA, and vivid images of the robbery had been captured by surveillance cameras.
She glanced out her window into the night. Normal people were home tucking in their children, watching a little TV before hitting the sack. Her little girl deserved better. She should call to check in, but she needed to get the closing done. Amanda’s mother was watching Isabelle, and her mom would call if she needed anything.
There was another ping. Then another. Irritated, Amanda reached for the mouse and clicked to her email. The subject line grabbed her attention:
Amanda opened the email. Strange, there was no name in the sender field. And the message had only a link. Was this one of those phishing scams?
She almost deleted it, but the subject line caught her eye again. Her seven year old’s name.
Her cursor hovered over the link— then she clicked. A video appeared on the screen. The footage was shaky, filmed on a smartphone. The scene was dark, but for a flashlight beam hitting a dirty floor. Then a whisper: “You have thirty minutes to get here or they die.”
A chill slithered down Amanda’s back. This was a joke, right? A sick joke? She moved the mouse to shut down the video, but the flashlight ray crawled up a grimy wall and stopped on two figures. Amanda’s heart jumped into her throat. It was her mother and Isabelle. Bound, gagged, weeping.
“Dupont Underground,” the voice hissed. “Thirty minutes. If you call the police, we’ll know. And they’ll die.”
The camera zoomed in on Isabelle’s tear-streaked face. Amanda’s computer began buzzing and flashing, consumed by a tornado virus.
Amanda drove erratically from her downtown office to Dupont Circle. She kept one eye on the road, the other on her smartphone that guided her to the only address she could find for “Dupont Underground,” the abandoned street trolley line that ran under Washington, D.C.
Her mind raced. Why was this happening? It didn’t make sense. It couldn’t be a kidnapping for ransom. She had no money— she was a public defender, for Christ’s sake. A disgruntled client? No, this was too well organized. Too sophisticated. Common criminals, Amanda knew from her years representing them, were uneducated bumblers, not the type to plan out anything in their lives, much less something like this.
She checked the phone. She had only fifteen minutes. The GPS said she’d be there in five. She tried to calm herself, control her breathing. She should call the police. But the warning played in her head: We’ll know. And they’ll die.
She pulled over on New Hampshire Avenue. The GPS said this was the place, but she saw no entrance to any underground. It was a business district. Law firms and lobby shops locked up for the night. She looked around, panicked and confused. There was nothing but a patch of construction across the street. Work on a manhole or sewer line. Or trolley entrance. Amanda leapt from her car and ran to the construction area. A four-foot-tall rectangular plywood structure jutted up from the sidewalk. It had a door on top, like a storm cellar. The padlock latch had been pried open, the wood splintered. Amanda swung open the door and peered down into the gloom.
She shouldn’t go down there. But she heard a noise. A muffled scream? Amanda pointed her phone’s flashlight into the chasm. A metal ladder disappeared into the darkness. She steeled herself, then climbed into the opening, the only light the weak bulb on her phone. When she reached the bottom, she stood quietly, looking down the long tunnel, listening. She heard the noise again and began running toward it.
That’s when she heard the footsteps behind her. She ran faster, her breaths coming in rasps, the footfalls from behind keeping pace. She wanted to turn and fight. She was a god-damned fighter. “Amanda Hill, The Bitch of Fifth Street,” she’d heard the defendants call her around the courthouse. But the image of Isabelle and her mother’s faces, their desperation, drew her on.
The footsteps grew closer. She needed to suppress the fear, to find her family.
The blow to the head came without warning and slammed her to the ground. There was the sound of a boot stomping on plastic and the flashlight on her phone went out. The figure grabbed a fistful of her hair and dragged her to a small room off the tunnel. She was gasping for air now.
A lantern clicked on. Amanda heard the scurrying of tiny feet. She saw the two masses in the shadows and felt violently ill: her mother and Isabelle. Soiled rags stuffed in their mouths, hands and feet bound. Next to them the silhouette of someone spray-painting on the wall.
Amanda sat up quickly, and a piercing pain shot through her skull. She averted her eyes, hoping it was all a nightmare. But a voice cut through the whimpering of her family.
“Look at them!” Amanda lifted her gaze. She forced a smile, feigned a look of optimism, then mouthed a message to her daughter: It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.
It was a lie, of course.
A godforsaken lie.
[Please click here and use the "Look inside" feature on Amazon to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
"The Outsider is as authentic and suspenseful as any John Grisham novel - and I like Grisham a lot." ~ James Patterson, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"[A]ll ingredients of a fine thriller, and that’s exactly what this one is." ~ Booklist
"Crafty and clever! Franze’s insider knowledge of the Supreme Court sets this twisty legal thriller apart. The sympathetic plight of the outsider hero, Grayson Hernandez, will keep you glued to the pages; the explosive plot will leave you breathless." ~ Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"Franze raises the ante and with an astute piece of misdirection that keeps the reader guessing. A lawyer in a prominent Washington firm and an expert on the Supreme Court, he uses his experience and knowledge to create an authoritative, taut tale of power and revenge that focuses on a justice-minded, admirable protagonist." ~ Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Truth, justice, and the American way, Franze-style. From the first page to the last, The Outsider is a stellar look inside the Supreme Court, and a killer thriller to boot. Franze has cemented himself as a top-notch legal thriller writer. If you like Grisham, you will love this book." ~ J. T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author

About the Author
Anthony Franze is a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, and a critically acclaimed thriller writer with novels set in the nation’s highest court. Franze has been a commentator on legal and Supreme Court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, National Law Journal, and other major media outlets. He is a board member and a Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization.
Franze lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 gift card.