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Showing posts from July, 2011

Guest Post: Author Wayne Zurl Shares The Road to New Prospect

Yesterday, I reviewed a great mystery/detective novel, A New Prospect. Today, the author, Wayne Zurl, shares the story of The Road to New Prospect.

When I began writing the story of ex-New York Detective Sam Jenkins becoming police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, I used the working title, MURDER IN THE SMOKIES. After my second major rewrite, I changed it to A NEW PROSPECT. I hope changing titles isn’t bad luck like changing the name of a boat.

The first title focused on a murder, and for a new author writing a murder mystery today, he had better produce a body and start an investigation right up front if he wants to please an agent or editor. I didn’t do that, nor did I intend to.

Never being one to do things the easy way, I wanted the book to be more about people than the crime or the big question, “Who dunnit?” A commissioner I once worked for told a graduating police academy class, “We’re in the people business.” That was a very true statement. I wanted my cast of characters, my “peo…

Book Review: A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl

Sam Jenkins retired from the NYPD 14 years ago, moving to the quiet town of Prospect, TN, to live a more serene life with his wife. But when he reads about an opening for police chief of the small town, he can't help but jump at the chance to get back into it. After all, Prospect is a rural town where there aren't many high-profile crimes to solve.

In A New Prospect, Wayne Zurl throws Jenkins into more than he bargained for when he is faced with a murder just two days into the job. The victim is Cecil Lovejoy, a wealthy man Jenkins soon learns wasn't the nicest guy in the world. Actually, he probably deserved to die. But Jenkins may not get a chance to find the killer as Lovejoy's wife gets the case reassigned to the state investigators. He soon finds himself on the wrong side of a good old boy network of politicians and local folks who are all trying to get him off the case.

A New Prospect is a great mystery that kept me guessing for quite some time about the killer. …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you had a good week. I was away for a few days attending my father-in-law's funeral, unfortunately, but I'm home now and hoping for a peaceful and happy remainder of the summer. We have a couple trips we're planning so hopefully that will help.

I didn't get any reviewing done last week, but I did put up an interview with Leonard D. Hilley, II, author of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath.

You would think I would get a lot of reading done on the flights I took, but I've discovered some issues with reading on a Nook and taking short flights. You don't get much time to actually read since you have to keep it off for so much of the flight! I did finish reading  Murder in the 11th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis. And I finished A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl. I'll be reviewing A New Prospect tomorrow, and posting an interview with the author on Wednesday. I'll put together my review of Murder in the 11th House later in the week.

Currently Read…

Interview with author Leonard D. Hilley II

Today, I'd like to welcome Leonard D. Hilley II, author of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, which I just reviewed earlier this week. Read my review.

Q. Welcome to My Book Retreat! As you know, I loved Predators of Darkness: Aftermath. In that book, you bring a very dark world to life. Where did you come up with the idea of this world? 

This came to me as a gift from my muse. I never planned or outlined this novel. The opening sentence came to me one night before I was going to sleep: "Dropping a cat from the top of a ten story office building was not the best way to remain hidden, but it was necessary." Needless to say, this grabbed my attention, and I had to write it down. The rest evolved from this one line.

Q. A prominent theme in your book is genetics and cloning. Did you focus a lot on genetics when you were pursuing your degree in biology? 

The idea for this novel came to me in 1996, just a few weeks before I went back to college after taking a few years off. I …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you had a fabulous week. I've been fairly busy here, finally getting caught up on reviews. And I've had some time to read a bit as well.

I started off the week asking for some advice on what to read next for NetGalley Month. I had a couple memoirs as well as several thrillers/mysteries from NetGalley and I finally decided to move through the thrillers/mysteries since that's what I've been in the mood to read lately.

Before getting to a NetGalley book, though, I read Predators of Darkness: Aftermath by Leonard Hilley. If you like sci-fi and dystopian thrillers, you need to check this out. I loved it and am very excited to have the next two in the series ready to read! Click on the title to see my review.

As I mentioned above, I got caught up on some reviews. First, I reviewed Flesh and Bones, a legal thriller by Paul Levine. Then I reviewed Simply Genius! And Other Tales from My Life, a memoir by Ervin Laszlo.

Currently Reading
I'm now reading M…

Book Review: Predators of Darkness: Aftermath by Leonard D. Hilley II

It's 2073 in Pittsburgh. Three years have passed since missiles hit the city, destroying it. A group of people from the university survived by hiding in a fallout shelter belonging to Helmsby’s Genetic Research Center. There they stayed for two years until supplies ran low and they ventured out into the streets. They quickly found they were not alone. The city was also now inhabited by shape-shifters ~ animals that shift into the form of violent creatures that thirst for human blood. 


Leonard D. Hilley II brings us into this dystopian world in his sci-fi thriller, Predators of Darkness: Aftermath. The survivors have been living completely inside since the creatures violently killed some of them. Just two men, Daniel and Lucas, venture outside of the Research Center regularly to forage for food and supplies in abandoned stores and buildings. Daniel's latest trip has led him to a discovery that makes him question what really happened those three years ago. Who really sent the mi…

Book Review: Simply Genius! And Other Tales from My Life by Ervin Laszlo

Ervin Laszlo has had a fascinating life. Growing up in Hungary during World War II, he was a concert pianist at a very young age. He went on to become a philosopher who has written numerous books and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice. In Simply Genius! And Other Tales from My Life, Laszlo shares some of the stories of how he came to be the man he is today.

He tells of his time growing up in Hungary during the war in a family with Jewish ancestors. His shares stories of his living conditions when Soviet forces were in Budapest, and the short time he was sent away from his family to keep him safe. He also tells tales of traveling around Europe with his mother to perform and compete in piano competitions as a child. His love of music is evident, yet it's interesting to note that his mother had wanted to be a concert pianist but wasn't allowed to start playing until she was older. This is what prompted her to push her son toward the piano at a very young age, leading…

Book Tour: Flesh and Bones by Paul Levine

Jake Lassiter is a former football player turned lawyer, which makes for an interesting combination. One night, while sitting at a bar with a friend, he watches a beautiful woman walk in, pull out a gun and shoot the man sitting next to his friend. After hesitating long enough for her to get off three shots, Jake finally jumps out of his chair and gets to her just in time to catch her as she passes out in his arms. Soon, he finds himself taking on her case, defending this beautiful model named Chrissy who is charged with murdering her own father. 

Flesh and Bones: A Jake Lassiter Novel is the seventh book in Paul Levine's Jake Lassiter series, but I didn't know that going in, and it certainly didn't take away from the experience having not read the other six books. In this one, Jake is determined to find a way to win his case, despite the fact that several people ~ including himself ~ watched his client shoot her father in cold blood. 

But all is not what it seems. Chrissy r…

NetGalley Month: What Should I Read Next?

Since July is NetGalley Month, I want to move on to a NetGalley book after I finish the book I'm reading right now. So, here are all the books I currently have from NetGalley:

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen (thriller)
Murder in the 11th House by Mitchell Scott Lewis (mystery)
The Sandburg Connection by Mark deCastrique (mystery)
The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (thriller)
Idea Man: A Memoir from the Cofounder of Microsoft by Paul Allen (memoir)
Two Kisses for Maddy by Matt Logelin (memoir)

Which should I read next? I'm leaning toward the mysteries and thrillers over memoirs at the moment. The fiction books all publish in August and September, but the two memoirs were published back in April. I just don't think I'm in the mood to read another memoir right now, though.

What do you think? What would you choose?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. The coffee is brewing and I'm ready to start my day. Hopefully work won't be too crazy today. We had a fun weekend, spending time at the pool and hanging out with our goddaughter.

I got a lot of reading done last week. I finished Flesh and Bones by Paul Levine. The review will be up tomorrow for the book tour.

I also read Simply Genius! by Ervin Laszlo. I need to write my review of that memoir later this week.

I reviewed Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston, a techno-thriller that was a bit too technical for me, but you you might like it. And I reviewed some children's books in my What My Children Are Reading post this weekend.

Finally, I put up my June month in review post, in case you're wondering what I read and reviewed in June.

Currently Reading
I'm now reading Predators of Darkness: Aftermath by Leonard Hilley.

Up Next
Next, I'm going to read one of the many NetGalley books I have on my Nook. I'm just not sure which one yet.

What a…

What My Children Are Reading

Once again, I report that the kids are continuing the two series they've been reading for a while. C is still reading Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne and M is still reading the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.

This week C read the first of the Merlin Missions, which is the set of Magic Tree House books that starts with number 29: Christmas in Camelot. This book is all about Jack and Annie keeping the magic of Camelot alive. Unlike the previous 28 books, this one is evidently more fantasy and folklore, and it's my understanding that all of the Merlin Missions books (29-45 so far) are similar. I'm very interested to see if C continues his obsession with this series as he tends to be a bit more apprehensive about fantasy stories. I do like that these Merlin Missions are longer and have harder words, according to C, but he said he didn't have a problem reading them. So that's good! We got this book from the library and have the next two on hold th…

Book Review: Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston

Mick O'Malley is an expert in computer security. Some would say he's a bit over-the-top when it comes to his own security and privacy. But there are many threats out there, and he is determined to keep his own information secure. So when Mick uncovers the potential threat of a massive zero day attack by a huge botnet, he takes on the challenge of stopping it before it's too late.

In Counting from Zero, Alan B. Johnston throws us into the world of computer security through the eyes of one man whose expertise seems beyond compare. There are many other characters along the way, including a Russian firewall expert with whom he develops a close relationship, a few interesting colleagues, and his sister and niece who provide a bit of a personal story to offset the technical. But this story is really about Mick and his personal mission to stop the botnet from initiating a catastrophic attack.

Unfortunately, this was a tough read for me because of the technical details that Johns…

Month in Review: June 2011

I'm a bit late sharing my recap of June. It's hard to do a lot of blogging on a holiday weekend! But here I am finally. June was a quiet month here in terms of reading and reviewing, but I got a few things done.

Books Read in May: 4
I read just four books in June. They were all adult fiction books: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively
Island Girl by Lynda Simmons
Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston

Reviews Written: 5
This month, I wrote five reviews. First, I wrote reviews for two books I read in May:
A Game of Character by Craig Robinson
The Genius Files by Dan Gutman

I also wrote reviews of three of the books I read in June. You can click on the links above to read them.

Spring Reading Thing Challenge
I completed the Spring Reading Thing Challenge that was hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days.

I Want More Book Challenge I didn't read any more books for this challenge in June, so I still need to read three to six more by the e…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I hope everyone here in the U.S. is having a fun and safe 4th of July weekend! Unfortunately, our weekend plans changed on Saturday morning when my husband had to take a last-minute trip to see his dad, who is very ill. I'm still having some family over this afternoon but I don't think we'll be doing anything big or going to see any fireworks this year.

I am doing something big for the 4th of July here on My Book Retreat, though. I'm participating in the Freedom Giveaway Hop and giving away a book of the winner's choice (up to $15) written by a U.S. author. The giveaway ends on Thursday night so be sure to sign up today if you haven't already. I have to say I've never gotten this many responses to a giveaway before. It's quite amazing. But you could still be the winner!

In addition to the giveaway, I had a very busy week here. First, I reviewed a fun mystery called Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively. Then I put up a review of Island Girl by Lynda Simmons…

What My Children Are Reading

My kids are still mostly reading the same books I've talked about before. C is making his way through the Magic Tree House books (he's on #24 now) and M is still enjoying the Elephant and Piggie books as well as other books from our bookshelves. So today, I'm going to share two books I received for review.

The first is a picture book called Bye Boon by Steph Smith. This is the story of two sisters who have balloons. The youngest girl, Georgie, whispers to her balloon and then lets it go, saying, "Bye, Boon." She tells her big sister that she told her balloon a secret. Then she tells of all the places her balloon is going to visit, with her older sister occasionally adding in a place or two as well. As the balloon travels along, Georgie reminds her sister that her "boon" is not going to tell her secret each time it arrives somewhere new ... until it gets to its final destination.

This is an adorable story of a balloon on an adventure. The illustrations a…

Freedom Giveaway Hop

Simply Stacie and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer are hosting the Freedom Giveaway Hop in honor of Independence Day in the United States, and I've decided to participate.

To stick with the theme of Independence Day:

I'm giving away a book of your choice that is written by an author from the United States.
It can be any genre as long as the author is from the United States. You choose the book (up to $15), and I'll order it and have it mailed to you from the vendor of my choice.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me your favorite U.S. author (this doesn't have to be the author of the book you choose if you're the winner). Include your email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only. I've decided to open this up to international entries as long as Book Depository ships to your address.

For extra entries:
Leave a separate comment if you follow My Book Retreat through Google Frie…