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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett

will to live

Reputation is everything.
When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.
As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.
With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.
When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

 

Many thanks to the author for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review!

Rachel Amphlett is a master at starting a story off by grabbing your attention, and this one is no exception. A horrific murder takes place on the railroad tracks and intrepid detective Kay Hunter is tasked with finding the killer.

WILL TO LIVE has two strong female characters: Kay and her coworker/sidekick Carys. Together they support each other and race against the clock to find the murderer before he kills again. I’m happy to report that the killer’s identity was not evident until nearly the end; and there were some delightful red herrings and twists along the way.

I can’t recall many murder mysteries taking place in railway yards, so I’m giving kudos to Amphlett for creating suspense in a creative location There is always a great opportunity to make death by train gory, and those who like a bit of gore will not be disappointed.

This installment delves a little deeper into the secondary plot of Kay’s personal mission – she is trying to find out who removed evidence from a previous investigation, causing friction between her and DCI Larch,a superior officer. Some hints are dropped but that part of the plot doesn’t have a lot of forward motion, much to my chagrin. I really want to find out who the guilty party is!

Kay Hunter’s character is completely human, which makes the book a good read. One reason is that she is not one of those perfect cops that never make a mistake; plus she has stress and self-doubt and guilt. She also has people on her side, which tempers Larch’s dismissive and possibly abusive attitude towards her. I so cannot wait for him to get his comeuppance in a future book!

The only thing that I would question is the mention of “antidepressants” used to drug the victims. Without any drugs being named, I was hard pressed to figure out what drugs were being used that could cause a reaction like that. I’m certainly not an expert, but that was a small detail that seemed out of place to me. This could be entirely my ignorance and not the fault of the author. Otherwise, the story moved along at a rapid pace. The ending wrapped things up neatly, leaving me both satisfied and ready for another round with Kay.

Amphlett is a writer that I would always say yes to. Her style is polished and realistic without being overly heavy on either dialogue or description – it’s a perfect blend of both along with plenty of suspense.  If you haven’t read any of her work I absolutely recommend it!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

the marriage pact

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC given in exchange for an honest review!

Unfortunately, this book was a DNF for me. I was not interested in the characters at all, and the pace was very slow. Great idea, poorly conceived. That’s pretty much all I have to say about the book; I gave it two separate tries before I finally gave up about 25% of the way through.

You can pick up your copy here, in case you want to try it for yourself.

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. Until they find the girl on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, dead. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing–and this time it’s Sophie Walker. Hard as they search, Cole, Mattie, and Robo can’t find her anywhere. Mattie’s primary suspect, a strange man who lives near the wilderness area, calls to report he hears deer “screaming” in the woods. Suspecting the man might have lost touch with reality and is referring to something he’s done to Sophie, Mattie takes Robo into the dense pine forest, hoping to pick up a trace of her scent. But when Robo does catch Sophie’s trail, it leads them to another clue that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case. Now Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down Sophie’s kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a review!

Hunting Hour has the best of both worlds for me; a murder mystery plus a lot of canine activity. Not sure how I managed to miss this series, but I’m glad NetGalley decided to recommend it to me.

This book is number three in a series, which means that there are things alluded to from the first two books in order to flesh out the backstory. These flashbacks piqued my interest and I am going back to read the other books in the series, if only to see how Mattie was doing mentally before the history with her father came to light.

The author is brilliant, painting Mattie’s K9 partner as the only trustworthy companion she has. Despite her emotional issues, Mattie is a great cop. Some of her demons move to the forefront during this investigation, and she struggles to stay neutral and weigh all the evidence equally. Letting your personal history color your opinions is something that many people experience, and I found it refreshing that the story took this turn. Mattie truly wants to do the best she can for the victims, yet she can be blinded by personal issues. The other members of the police department understand what she is going through and are appropriately sympathetic.

There isn’t a lot of rollicking “cop talk” as you would find in a John Sandford book, but the action and suspense held my interest. The author threw in the required red herrings, but to my surprise, I managed to guess who the perpetrator was fairly early in the book. I had a strong suspicion, and was satisfied when it turned out to be who I suspected.

I absolutely loved that one of the main characters was a veterinarian! The animal medicine was true to life, not too gory, and added another dimension to the plot that was refreshing. The romance was part of the backstory, but kept at an acceptable level. (I’m not a fan of mixing mysteries and relationships.)

The inclusion of the animals makes this series stand out. Dogs are the best companions ever, and the human – animal bond shines through on nearly every page. Mizushima’s description of Robo’s facial expressions are perfect! I didn’t know what to expect, as some animal mysteries are written awkwardly; but there was nothing awkward about this one. I felt fully invested in the characters, the dialogue was smooth, and there were no gaping holes in the plot to make me cringe.

Hunting Hour was a great way to spend a few hours, and I look forward to the next adventure of Mattie and Robo.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

HOW TO BE AN EVEN BETTER MANAGER by Michael Armstrong

 

This new edition of How to be an Even Better Manager covers 50 topics organized into three key areas in which every manager needs to be competent: managing people, managing activities and processes, and managing and developing oneself. With new chapters on how to learn, achieve continuous improvement, foster engagement, make a business case, and prepare a business plan, this is an up-to-date handbook for existing and aspiring managers.
How to be an Even Better Manager provides sound guidelines that will help readers develop a broad base of managerial skills and knowledge and build on existing skills. Even the most experienced manager needs to keep abreast of new developments and brush up on essential skills. This new edition will continue to be a valuable aid.

 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an review!

New managers are inundated with books to read and advice from well meaning coworkers. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the best use of your time and which books to read. HOW TO BE AN EVEN BETTER MANAGER is not a new book per se; it’s been updated and modernized for today’s work world. The original edition has sold over 170,000 copies worldwide, so you know this is advice that gets results.

Wondering how to promote a learning culture? How to have those difficult conversations with an underperforming associate? How to gain confidence and engage your team? This book has those answers, and more!

There are 5 sections: Managing People, Developing People, Management Skills, Personal Skills, and Business and Financial Management. Armstrong provides a guideline for the new and seasoned manager alike by putting forth situations (something went wrong, here is how to fix it) in simple language with reasons why this works.

Another great thing about this book is that you don’t have to read it from chapter to chapter – you can pick and choose what you need to know and get to that section quickly. The sections are not overly long and are digested easily.

The final chapter gives an overview of reading balance sheets, financial ratios and what they are used for. I found this wonderful because a lot of beginner management books never touch on the money aspect of things; they just show you how to be more of a people person.

Taking a few moments each night to read a few pages at a time will help fledgling managers immensely, as well as encourage “old hats” to try some new things and think outside the box.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

the child

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

 

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a review!

The Child brings back journalist Kate Waters, first seen in Fiona Barton’s The Widow. When a baby’s skeleton is found at a construction site, the lives of three women are affected. Kate Waters seizes the story and tries to figure out where the tiny body came from.

 

Delightfully British with well written characters, The Child is another treasure. Kate’s interaction with her coworkers are dead on, as Barton illustrates how print journalists must cope with 24 hour online news media. The women’s family dynamics are integral to the story; giving the reader the backstory slowly and tantalizingly. Each woman gets to tell her story – there are changing points of view throughout and we see firsthand what Kate, Emma, and Angela are going through. Emma’s mother, Jude, is also part of the dynamic. I found Jude to be annoying and narcissistic; she was easy to loathe. Emma and Angela were both dealing with their own mental issues as well, and at times all of the angst became overwhelming. That didn’t deter me from continuing to read – but at times I wished there was a bit less whining and a little more action.

Kate is an expert reporter, adept at the art of manipulation to get her story. As a matter of fact, almost every character manipulates someone in some way. Barton is a master of keeping a dark story hovering just above the despair line, tempering the distress with hope.

Some reviews have noted that the plot twists were easy to spot- not for me! I had a feeling that these women were going to be intertwined somehow (for plot purposes, of course), but could not predict what was going to happen until Barton gave the Big Reveal. I was appropriately shocked and enthralled. Everything came together in a satisfying way and I felt that there was room for Kate’s character to grow, possibly to be featured in another book.

Barton’s insight into the female psyche is peerless, and knows how to illustrate the seamy side of the human condition perfectly. I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next work.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

REVOLT by Tracy Lawson

The Explosive Conclusion to the Award-Winning Resistance Series     

To Deny Freedom is to Deny the Human Spirit.

Fugitive Resistance fighter Tommy Bailey has come out of hiding to help rescue Careen Catecher from the clutches of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, where she’s been held and interrogated for information about the rebel group. The OCSD is poised to launch the Cerberean Link, a security device that will put all minors under constant surveillance under the guise of protecting them.

Fearful that OCSD director Madalyn Davies’s bid for control won’t stop there, the Resistance puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn from the directorship. Just when everything seems leveraged in the Resistance’s favor, treachery, lies, and long-held secrets threaten to derail it all.

Will even a life together on the run be impossible for Tommy and Careen? Or will the Resistance’s efforts convince the public to put their fears aside and demand freedom?

Thanks to author Tracy Lawson,  GTB was lucky to score an interview with one of the main characters of REVOLT! Here is her story:

When we first meet Careen Catecher of the Resistance Series, she’s a first-semester college freshman at a prestigious university. But in Careen’s world, most of the freedoms that today’s young adults enjoy have been curtailed, in the name of preventing terrorist attacks. The Civilian Restrictions that have been in place nearly all of Careen’s life forbid people to gather in public places. Cash has been eliminated, and any buying or selling of items between individuals is not permitted. Only a select few, mostly high-ranking government workers, are granted driving privileges, and even grocery stores have been outlawed to protect the food supply from being tainted. Yet somehow, the OCSD’s efforts haven’t worked. As the story opens, the OCSD makes the public aware of a looming threat that will change Careen’s life forever.

Careen is at the center of the action in Counteract, Resist, Ignite, and now Revolt, the fourth and final book in the Resistance Series. She’s answered some questions about how she went from scholarship student to freedom fighter.

 

 

1) What was it like growing up under the OCSD’s Restrictions? In my earliest memories, I’d have to guess that my life wasn’t all that different from anyone else’s. We weren’t rich, but no one in our neighborhood was. My parents owned a café. I can remember when the Restrictions relating to food sales went into effect, and it got harder to obtain the variety of foods they’d been used to. They had to take a lot of things off the menu, and once people were required to subscribe to meal plans through the government, hardly anyone could afford to eat out. If terrorists hadn’t bombed the plaza and destroyed the restaurant, I’m pretty sure it would have gone out of business on its own.

 

I was nine years old when it happened. My dad and I had gone over to the café, on an evening when it was closed. I don’t even remember why anymore. We were inside when the bomb went off, and by the time rescue workers found us, my dad had bled out. My childhood ended that day. After that, it was just my mom and myself, and somehow, I became the adult in the family.

 

2) Did you have a favorite toy or game when you were little? I loved books more than anything. They were my escape from my not-so-happy teen years when I didn’t fit in with my peers. I did keep one toy, a stuffed animal cat from when I was little. Dee Dat went to college with me in my duffel bag. It was the only truly personal thing I took with me when I left home.

 

3) What’s the best thing about being a member of the Resistance? I think I’m truly following my heart for the first time in my life. I understand now that a lot of my discontent stemmed from helplessness. I had learned early to hide my feelings, and I believed that the only way to get along in the world was to shut other people out and be self-centered. Just before I became aware of the Resistance, I realized that the problems that affected me were everyone’s problems—not just mine. When I had the opportunity to speak out and tell the truth, I was too angry to be afraid.

 

4) What’s the worst thing? I never got used to feeling like I was on display and recognizable—especially when Tommy and I were on the run after I was accused of a murder I didn’t commit. I was terrified of being captured by the OCSD and going to jail. When we became part of the Resistance, it was my job to reach out to the public and share our message in a series of bootleg anti-government videos. But the worst thing was when being a recognizable member of the Resistance backfired on me. Big time.

 

5) What happened? You’ll have to read the series to find out!

 

6) What do you miss about your old life? Not much. (laughs) I guess that shows how low my expectations were, doesn’t it? After my dad died, I wanted someone I could count on to take care of me. That didn’t happen, so I learned to rely on myself, and I guess I became kind of a control freak. I convinced myself that a good education and a good job were the only things that would lead me to the kind of life I wanted. So there I was, in my first semester of college, on my way to realizing my goals. When the OCSD announced the chemical weapons threat, I was afraid not to take the antidote because I couldn’t ignore the danger.

And I never went back to class. Even though my life was more out of control that it had ever been, the antidote had a kind of lulling effect, so I didn’t care.

 

7) What about romantic involvement? A relationship wasn’t part of my plan. But I can say that the heart of my story isn’t whom I choose to love, but that I choose to love, in spite of everything that’s going on in the world around me. When I first met Tommy, I didn’t want to get close to him because I thought I’d get hurt. But that changed after I got to know him. One of the things I like best about Tommy is he keeps me from taking myself too seriously.

8) So do you see a future with him? Whether we’ll end up together is pretty up in the air, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings for him. It’s so confusing, because Tommy’s hard to resist, you know? He’s cute and funny, and really charming when he wants to be. He promised to always protect me, but that was a promise he couldn’t keep. Without giving any spoilers, I can say our trust level is at an all-time low as Tommy and I head into the final book in the series. We need to work past that, and it’s difficult.

 

I can’t believe we’ve only known each other a few months. The day we met was the day of the supposed chemical weapons attack. We’d run out of the antidote that was supposed to keep us safe from the airborne poison, and I was so sure we were going to die. But he didn’t put the moves on me or invoke the “what if we die tomorrow?” cliché. Instead, we sat up late talking, getting to know each other. When we didn’t succumb to the poison, we tried to figure out why. We saw what the antidote was doing to the people who were still taking it, and we realized the real threat came from the OCSD, not the supposed terrorists.

 

After we detoxed, it was like we were the only people on earth. Everyone else, well, besides the quadrant marshals and some of the government workers, was high on the antidote. Tommy and I learned to rely on each other, and as I grew to care deeply about him, we also came to realize there was no way to escape our situation. It was only a matter of time before we ended up in jail or were forced into the civilian army. We sought comfort in each other, and to be honest, he didn’t seem to mind when I made the first move. (winks) Even though I committed my heart to Tommy that day, I’m not clingy or dependent. I can think for myself. Tommy and I don’t agree on a lot of things.

 

9) So what is happening in Revolt? Again, I can’t get into plot specifics, but the OCSD has developed the Cerberean Link, a GPS tracking and monitoring device, which they say is the ultimate tool to keep children safe. Many people think it’s another plan to control the population. I’m in a tough position because I can see both sides of the issue and understand why parents would be desperate to try and protect their children. I wish someone had been able to protect me when I was little. The Resistance is extremely opposed to sentencing innocent children to a lifetime of surveillance, and puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn Davies from her job as the OCSD director. Just when it seems like the Resistance’s plan is going to work, things spin out of control.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Visit Tracy Lawson on Instagram: @tracylawsonauthor or Facebook!

REVOLT – Giveaway and Special Deals!!

Revolt: Book Four of the Resistance Series

Book Launch Giveaway and Special Deals!

 

“I’ve been reading this series basically since it first came out, and honestly I really still love the characters and all of their weird interactions. As the conclusion to the series, Revolt is not one of those books that gives you a neatly tied bow on a package and tells you it’s over. It has twists, turns, and you’re going to be in for yet another adventure with the Resistance crew.”

 

“So, this series that I’ve been reading since the beginning is over. What’s a girl to do? Restart from Book One, of course!”

 

Take advantage of these special deals July 17-21:

Counteract: Book One of the Resistance Series FREE!

Resist: Book Two of the Resistance Series and

Ignite: Book Three of the Resistance Series for 0.99 each!

 

Can’t get enough of the Resistance Series?

Wanna know what happened the night of the car accident that changed

Tommy Bailey’s life forever?

Take advantage of this limited-time offer:

 

Get a FREE PDF of Shatter: Tommy’s Prequel to the Resistance Series, which includes a gallery of the amazing artwork created for the series! This prequel will NOT be available on Amazon.

Here’s how it works:

Order Revolt: Book Four of the Resistance Series on Amazon for $2.99:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071S8KFML

Email your receipt to tracy@counteractbook.com, and in return you’ll receive Shatter: Tommy’s Prequel to the Resistance Series.

Spread the word!

#GetReadytoRevolt #revoltgiveaway

 

 

No Limits – Blow The Cap Off Your Capacity

no limits

#1 New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell’s latest book will enhance the lives of leaders, professionals, and anyone who wants to achieve success and personal growth. We often treat the word capacity as if it were a natural law of limitation. Unfortunately, most of us are much more comfortable defining what we perceive as off limits rather than what’s really possible. Could it be that many of us have failed to expand our potential because we have allowed what we perceive as capacity to define us? What if our limits are not really our limits? In his newest book, John Maxwell identifies 17 core capacities. Some of these are abilities we all already possess, such as energy, creativity and leadership. Others are aspects of our lives controlled by our choices, like our attitudes, character, and intentionality. Maxwell examines each of these capacities, and provides clear and actionable advice on how you can increase your potential in each. He will guide you on how to identify, grow, and apply your critical capacities. Once you’ve blown the “cap” off your capacities, you’ll find yourself more successful–and fulfilled–in your daily life.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

If you are feeling down, all you need to do is pick up a John C. Maxwell book and you are guaranteed to become empowered fast. To me, there is nothing greater than the mini pep talks on every page.

So many books encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and work on learning new things. In this latest work by the management genius, Maxwell tells you how to increase your capacity by concentrating on things you are good at. I found this refreshing and unique. Most of us take our strengths for granted and concentrate on things we struggle with, hoping to get better at them. Imagine if you worked on things you ARE good at; how much better would you be with practice?

Some of Maxwell’s suggestions are easily implemented, such as always assuming there is a solution to a problem, discussing your ideas with mentors before they are “perfect” and using your gifts to help others who may need a push forward.

I believe you are always learning and growing. Maxwell holds the same view – no matter what you are doing, there are always things you can take away to benefit either yourself or others. His writing style is clear without being preachy, with generous examples thrown in using real people and actual situations.

On every page you can find a phrase or sentence that can be used as a daily affirmation or work focus point – which is the golden part of this book. I fully intend to buy a hard copy and highlight the things I find valuable.

The author’s love of inspiring others shines through loud and clear. He has created an empire of empowerment with his books and lectures, and you can tell he truly loves his fellow man. No one cares more about your personal growth than Maxwell, and that is refreshing.  He’s like a businessman’s Mr Rogers – no judgement, always upbeat and full of confidence.

Simon Sinek is all about the “why”, while John Maxwell is about the “how”. The combined information from these books creates a powerful message for managers, which in turn creates a harmonious and wondrous work message for staff.

This latest book is truly a winner! You can pick up your copy here.

Guest Post – Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon PLUS GIVEAWAY

liquid cool

 

Liquid Cool: The Cyberpunk Detective Series

Science fiction is a popular genre and it has dozens of sub-genres. Cyberpunk is one of them—dystopian fiction succinctly described as “low life meets high tech.” Often, it’s a bleak future involving computers, virtual reality, hackers, and computer-human hybrids. Ironically, the genre came and went back in the 80s, launched by authors such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, but books in the sub-genre still sell today. From a literary standpoint, most books that claim to be cyberpunk—are not, and my cyberpunk detective series, Liquid Cool, is no different. For the general public, you say “cyberpunk” and they think of the classic Ridley Scott film Blade Runner or The Matrix.

My reason for creating my Liquid Cool series was quite simple: I wanted to write a fun science fiction series that is ongoing—each novel is a new case for our hero detective. Through it, I can explore a different issue or issues without having to create a whole series. It is the mirror opposite of my After Eden science fiction series, which is not devoid of humor, but it is very much not fun—it is after all the events leading up to, and including, World War III.

Liquid Cool is a wild and crazy detective series with hovercars, cyborgs, two-hundred-plus monolith skyscrapers, and people have not only colonized the moon, but Mars. It is my version of cyberpunk. The original cyberpunk of the 1980s envisioned a future (now) where corporations subplanted governments and ran society—well, we know better now. Despite, the propaganda of some, the exact opposite is true—government is bigger and more intrusive than any could have predicted. However, this science fiction series is set centuries in the future. In the Liquid Cool world, I replace the détente of the U.S. versus the Old Soviet Union, with a détente of governments and megacorporations, with we, the people, caught in between—and then we have the crime world. This is the serious setting of the world of Liquid Cool, but again we have the fun —action, laughs, more action, and more craziness.

Here are some early 5-star reviews:

  • “Lots of shooting, lots of crazy maniacs, lots of action and fun!”
  • “I loved this book. It takes place in the future, and what a weird future.”
  • “A funny, intelligent (and sometimes crazy) main character…playing detective.”
  • “Cool and Smooth.”
  • “I had a hard time putting this book down to do things like sleeping and eating.”

Want a free copy of the prequel? You can get it here. Liquid Cool, Blade Gunner, and NeuroDancer are all out now, too, so prepare to be thrilled with mystery, action, and laughs! But, don’t get shot by a laser-pistol-packing cyber-punk on your way to the digital store. Enjoy!

Let’s not forget this awesome GIVEAWAY! Click here to enter – you can win a Kindle Paperwhite, a Kindle Fire, or a 10-book bundle! Be cool – enter the giveaway!

R-Austin Dragon-_15 small

 

Author Bio

Austin Dragon is the author of the epic After Eden Series, the classic Sleepy Hollow Horrors, and the new cyberpunk detective series, Liquid Cool. He is a native New Yorker but has called Los Angeles, California home for more than twenty years. Words to describe him, in no particular order: U.S. Army, English teacher, one-time resident of Paris, political junkie, movie buff, campaign manager and staffer of presidential and gubernatorial campaigns, Fortune 500 corporate recruiter, renaissance man, and dreamer.

 

He is currently working on new books and series in science fiction, fantasy, and classic horror!

 

Breaking Faith by E. Graziani

 

Breaking Faith high rez coverFaith Emily Hansen is the eighteen-year-old narrator with a lot of life to talk about in this gritty novel about family, mental illness, and addiction. All Faith wants is to be loved, to have a stable home, and to live without the need to “chase the dragon” – the heroin addiction that seemed to keep the Darkness at bay but ultimately led to her life on the street. As the story begins Faith appeals to other kids battling their own inner darknesses. Ultimately Faith wants to tell her story to show that there is hope and that she herself was pulled back from her ledge by an unlikely champion – the sister who she blamed for many of her problems.

 

 

Many thanks to the author for this review copy!

BREAKING FAITH is the hard hitting, roller coaster story of a girl from a dysfunctional family that just wants to be loved. Her mother is on drugs, her grandmother is frigid, and her two sisters are normal. As the middle child, Faith takes things a lot harder than the others, due to a murder she witnessed when she was just a child. She has the Darkness (what I feel to be depression and anxiety) inside her, and she turns to drugs to escape life.

The plot goes into stark detail about how easy it is to get hooked, especially when you feel like an outsider in your own skin. We see Faith as she struggles through school, experiences letdowns, and finally runs away. It is not a book for the faint of heart. Just as I thought things would finally go right for her, she falls back down the rabbit hole into the Darkness.

Graziani is known for her strong female leads, but this is the first time she has explored a plot like this. Faith is indeed strong, but as those who have battled depression or addiction, sometimes intentions are not enough to save you.

My heart ached for the girl as she existed, homeless, during a freezing Canadian winter. It seemed the world conspired against her until she was ready to give up. The author is adept at investing the reader into Faith’s story so as you read, her struggles become real, almost larger than life. One cannot help feeling devastated at how Faith gets so close to being loved, only to have it ripped away again. The plot turns are done realistically in the author’s capable hands – nothing is too removed from reality.

I yearned to be able to put my arm around this sad girl and tell her that everything was going to be all right. Sometimes it’s easy to take the path of least resistance; even though Faith showed early signs of strength, her circumstances made it easy to turn to drugs again.

This was an excellent read, with just the right touch of despair and joy. Graziani knows exactly what details to include so the reader never has that “suspension of belief” moment. As I read, I felt connected to Faith and her battles throughout the entire book. I can only hope that a girl who is struggling as Faith did, will read this and understand that there is love in the world for her. I also believe that there will be those who read this and gain strength from it.

Perhaps Graziani will be able to change lives with this book. I certainly hope so.

You can pick up your own copy here.

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