Friday Face-Off – 1st May 2020

Friday Face-Off – 1st May 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that features a cat: “I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.” I’ve gone for The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.

Cover A:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 1

Cover B:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 2

Cover C:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 3

Cover D:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 4

Cover E:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 5

Cover F:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 6

Cover G:

Doctor Sleep Stephen King 7

And the winner is… COVER C!

I read and absolutely loved this book. A worthy sequel to a fantastic novel. The cat in the book is somewhat ominious, a portent of things soon to come. Something about the cat in C is ethereal, ominous in a way. I love the way it seems to materialise out of the smoke. And the piercing blue eyes are mesmerising.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover from a graphic novel.

Friday Face-Off – 24th April 2020

Friday Face-Off – 24th April 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that features armour: “Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.” This week I have picked The Red Knight by Miles Cameron.

Cover A:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 1

Cover B:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 2

Cover C:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 3

Cover D:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 4

Cover E:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 5

Cover F:

The Red Knight Miles Cameron 6

And the winner is… COVER D!

Honestly, any one of these could have won it for me this week. I really liked them all. D edges it though. The composition is fantastic. The metalic heavy looking gauntlet grasping that large sword, the rich red cloak billowing, and the red splashes of blood on the metalwork. Eye catching, and intriguing. I love it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features a cat: “I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?” Death thought about it. CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”

The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

The Last Straw by Ed Duncan

When a teenage girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history forge an uneasy alliance to protect the girl from a hit man with an agenda of his own.

After they find out that the crime boss is the father of the black teenage carjacker, Paul Elliott – lawyer and close friend of the witness’s family – begins counseling them.

As the long-simmering feud between Rico and John D’Angelo reaches boiling point, bodies start to pile up in rapid succession… and old scores will be settled.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.

The Last Straw sees the return of hitman-for-hire Rico. He finds himself caught up in a mess he hoped to avoid. When asked to carry out a hit, he refuses. Somewhere deep down he has a moral compass, that firmly stops him from taking up a hit on a child. Even less so an innocent child whose only wrongdoing was to have witnessed a carjacking that ended in murder. Events conspire to throw a figure from his past into the mix making for a perfect storm Rico would much prefer to have avoided.
The Last Straw Ed DuncanPicking up where Pigeon-Blood Red finished, Ed Duncan transports the reader back into the murky criminal underworld, this time in Chicago. Rico cannot help but wade into the fray and uncover the mysteries that link the seemingly unconnected threads together. 

Duncan manages to thread multiple story lines together masterfully. The energy and pace is present throughout. Rico gains layers of depth throughout the course of this second book, making him a more enjoyable and engaging character. Though bringing back additional characters from the first book, they did not feel to have been shoehorned in.

I found The Last Straw to be a fast paced novel with plenty to keep the reader engaged. Ed Duncan hides very little from the reader in terms of plotline, but the way the book is written grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me along for a ride filled with twists. With a third outing to come for Rico, I look forward to seeing what scrapes he finds himself in.

 

My rating:
goodread

An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

An Interview with Tyler Wandschneider

Welcome to the next instalment of my An Interview With… series here on Books and Beyond Reviews. Today I am speaking with the sci-fi author of Lockheed Elite. I reviewed this fantastic space adventure recently here on the blog. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Tyler Wandschneider!

64528841_Tyler Wandschneider _ Author Picture

Books and Beyond Reviews: Welcome to the blog Tyler. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me and answer a few questions. To start, I’m going to throw some left of field ice breaker questions your way so the readers can get an insight into the mind of the author. First up, If you could have an unlimited supply of just one thing for life, what would that be and why?

Tyler Wandschneider: A good one right off the get-go! My mind immediately started picturing things like pizza and cash but then smarts took over and I landed on “time”. I would definitely choose an unlimited supply of time. I’m the kind of person that likes to learn all kinds of things. For example, there was a time where I studied tournament poker for a while. When I started winning a lot, I got bored and picked up something else. This type of need means I must give up time on one thing to pursue another. Now with two young daughters that I absolutely love spending time with along with my wife, I find I need much more time not only to write but to just plain keep myself sane while learning other things. We just bought a house that needs a ton of work so the next couple of years will be home projects I’ve never tried before. I guess instead of an endless supply of time, I could do without the need to sleep. That’s an extra 6 hours a day I could use!

BaBR: Fantastic answer. And really refreshing for it not to be the usual answer of money! Next question. Would you rather be chased by a thousand duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

TW: Haha. Definitely a thousand duck-sized horses. Those are cute. The big-ass duck sounds scary!

BaBR: I love to ask this next one of authors to really get a feel for their influences. Who is your favourite author?

TW: I love all of the words from Patrick Rothfuss. I love the stories and creativity from Brandon Sanderson. I love the flow from Mark Twain. And I love the adventure and tears I get every time I read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I also give a good read to Ender’s Game every couple of years but that’s about it from OSC.

BaBR: If you could go for a drink with any person – alive or dead – who would that be and why?

TW: Any person who perished by freezing while floating in the water after the Titanic sunk. That person must be willing to have several whiskey’s with me and tell me all – leaving out no emotion felt or thought had!

BaBR: Wow, I don’t think I’ve had that answer before. The final ice breaker before we move on to your book. If you could see one movie again for the first time, what would it be and why?

TW: Interesting. This is definitely an age dependent question. I suspect I’d answer differently in each decade. Right now, I guess I’d go with Joker. Joaquin Phoenix did something special with that role that I’ve never seen before. Superhero (or villain) characters these days have a sort of arrogance, subtle or not, in each of the main characters. Phoenix’s portrayal of Joker here had a fierce kind of vulnerability in it that I’d never seen before. I loved it. I’m afraid to watch it a second time for fear of ruining the experience. I still bought the thing though. Definitely a trophy in my case for sure. If I ever met Joaquin I think I’d shake his hand and just tell him all this and thank him for it. I love movies and it’s rare you’re hit with a performance like that.

BaBR: Great shout – I absolutely loved Joker, and the performance was absolutely incredible. Now, let’s discuss Lockheed Elite. What led you to writing a sci-fi novel? Is this a genre you have always wanted to write in?

TW: Yeah it’s interesting. I read sci-fi less than fantasy and general fiction. I get stories in my head and sometimes it sticks like an itch and the only way to resolve it is to get it out. The characters in Lockheed Elite just worked in my head really well and I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I started writing it down.

BaBR: Where did the idea for Lockheed Elite come from?

TW: I’m sure it has inspiration from a multitude of media I’ve consumed. I mean anyone who’s seen Firefly can see that. But ultimately my gut had a desire for a good sci-fi read that was far more character driven than shoot’em up military meathead knocking skulls around. I just simply asked myself if life in space were a reality, what would it look like. Lockheed Elite was that for me. Most work around might just be doing any work available for anyone who can pay. Unless, of course, you wanna be tied to some entity that has strict policy. I saw a crew bent on living free and clear of oppressing rule. Scraping or salvaging seemed ideal for these guys and it gave me a nice avenue for the need for speculative inventions to get the job done.

BaBR: The character of Anders Lockheed feels well thought out and believable. Is he, or anyone else in the book based on anyone you know?

TW: Nope. I needed a captain that everyone respected. Anders fit that bill and felt right. With a large cast of characters, I needed him to be a smart kind of average guy so as to not steal the show from everyone else. They all played a big role and I think that helped make him believable. Most people aren’t extraordinary so making them all ordinary in their own ways, I think, is what made them work.

BaBR: Did you have a complete plan for Lockheed Elite, or was it a fly by the seat of your pants creation?

TW: I discovery wrote this book! I really enjoyed doing it that way. I just wrote until the end. Read it. Asked myself, what’s missing? What does this story need? Are twists working? Then I added Severn and Marko on the second pass. And then I read and edited over and over. I rewrote the beginning several times. I have to admit though that I wish I had rewrote the ending several times. It would go generally the same way, but I think I could have executed it much better.

BaBR: The crew in Lockheed Elite feel well bonded, and as if they have plenty more missions and mishaps in their future – are there plans for further books to continue the story of Anders Lockheed and his crew?

TW: Oh yes!! The second one is well planned out and mostly first drafted. I’m having trouble finding the time to write with work and two kids now. I wrote Lockheed when it was just Maryna and I and the more kids we have the harder it is to find the time. I suspect that I’ll have more time coming up here in the near future, what with working from home now!

BaBR: Once again, thanks for taking the time to put so much thought into your answers and chatting with me!

 

Friday Face-Off – 17th April 2020

Friday Face-Off – 17th April 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that is out of focus – double vision or all a blur. For this, I have gone with Mark Edwards’ Follow You Home.

Cover A:

Follow You Home 1

Cover B:

Follow You Home 2

Cover C:

Follow You Home 3

Cover D:

Follow You Home 4

Cover E:

Follow You Home 5

Cover F:

Follow You Home 6

Cover G:

Follow You Home 7

And the winner is… COVER C!

The chipped, peeling paint on the door and that ominous red glow cast a very unnerving atmosphere. It intrigues me greatly. Special mention to cover A – the mist that enshrouds the lone figure brings an imposing atmosphere to it.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that features armour: “Pretty armour doesn’t make a warrior.”

Friday Face-Off – 10th April 2020

Friday Face-Off – 10th April 2020

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s Friday Face-Off theme is a cover that is moody and atmospheric. For this theme I have gone with The Sixth Wicked Child by J.D. Barker.

Cover A:

The Sixth Wicked Child 1

Cover B:

The Sixth Wicked Child 2

Cover C:

The Sixth Wicked Child 3

Cover D:

The Sixth Wicked Child 4

Cover E:

The Sixth Wicked Child 5

And the winner is… COVER A!

This book and the two that preceded it in the 4MK Trilogy were a fantastic series of books filled with twists and turns and mystery. Cover A is so moody and filled with atmosphere. It exudes the darkness that flows through the series.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s theme is a cover that is out of focus – double vision or all a blur.

The Hitman and the Thief by Richard Dee

The Hitman and the Thief by Richard Dee

Assassination can be a messy business, especially if you’re having a bad day.

Dan Jones is the ultimate problem solver, the hitman for crime boss Fliss Bauer.

Fliss has a rival, Dan is told to arrange her demise. It’s just another job; until a random event means that it all goes horribly wrong.

To save his skin, Dan is forced to try again, only this time he has to work with a partner. He doesn’t want to but it’s the only chance he’s going to get; if he wants to put things right.

Can the hitman and the thief get the job done this time, more importantly, can they keep each other alive?

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author.

I’ve known Richard Dee now for some time now having reviewed all of his current Andorra Pett cozy-crime sci-fi novels. I’ve yet to try his steampunk novels but they are firmly on my radar. We spoke recently about an upcoming space-based novel, something very different from the Andorra Pett series, and so I came to read an early draft of The Hitman and the Thief.
THM^0TTProfessional “problem solver” and hitman Dan Jones is tasked with the biggest job he could imagine – carrying out a hit for crime boss Fliss Bauer. A hit on one her biggest rivals. It also represented a chance to prove he still had what it took to occupy such a critical role in the Bauer industry. Dan planned the hit as meticulously as ever. He knew all his options – his entries and exits, where to stash a gun, how to get around the premises. But a chance encounter with a small time thief threw a spanner in the works, leading to the ultimate failure of the mission.

In a last ditch opportunity, Dan must now work with this thief, a person he has no desire to work with, in a bit to finally take down their mark. Can the two work together and make a success of the job? And more importantly is his new partner trustworthy? I found this to be a really great read. I found myself rooting for Dan all the way through. He seemed a genuine character, trying to do the best job he can. Dee has crafted a narrative littered with plot twists making for a page turning story with a dark mystery at its core.

While it had its light moments, this was a decidedly different direction when compared with his cozy space mystery series. The sci-fi elements were well done without overriding the narrative thread. The Hitman and the Thief made for a page turning read, that I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to pick up where I left off. Not too often do I have the chance to read a book that I am actively looking for the next spare moment to dip back into. This is definitely a book to keep an eye out for, when it is due to release later this year.

My rating:
goodread