Sunday, January 29, 2017

Whistling Past The Graveyard by Susan Crandall ~ 2013



That's what Daddy called it when you did something to keep your mind off your most worstest fear ...




Author: Susan Crandall
Publisher: Gallery Books / A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Publication: June 2013
Pages: 320
Hardback
ISBN: 978-1-4767-0772-3
Language: English
Jacket design: Layman Kwan
Jacket photograph: Silas Manhood Photography
Ferris Wheel by Stephen Alvarez / Getty Images
Author photographer: Melissa A. Crandall


... Book Clubbin' with Ms. Susan


5 Stars


Susan Crandall
Last Thursday, my sister-club the Rookie Bookie's and I got together and whistled past a graveyard.  Susan Crandall's graveyard.

There were a few in total agreement with Karen White - Sea Change 2012, - this read is destined to become a classic.

Whistling Past The Graveyard is a nine year old's POV look into race relations in the early '60's.  With spit fire red hair and an innate drive for seeing justice through, Starla Claudelle is a drive herself through this read.

When Starla Jane Claudelle! broke Jimmy's nose, (page 9) this story took off for me.  In regards to her reasoning, I wanted to see more of how her personality is depicted in the tale.  Reading how the little 'shitbird' excersized her innate ability to see righting the wrong, was fun to read. Yet and so sad in a comical way, her sassy mouth is not in sync with it.

Starla is growing up with her Mamie in Mississippi, while her Momma left to become a singer in Nashville and Daddy is working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Her tongue has gotten her into more trouble than Mamie likes.  Teaching Starla the ways of being a lady (and mostly just staying quite and out of the way) will be an uphill battle.  After Starla broke Jimmy's nose, she was restricted to her room/house and - it's the fourth of July to boot.  The festival is happening and it is, the best time all year in those parts.  Oh hell!

Mamie went to the festival.

Afraid of being sent off to reform school from her continuing bad actions (according to Mamie of course), Starla breaks free and hits the road toward Nashville to find her Momma.  Then Daddy and Momma and Starla could be a family again, and of course, live together happily ever after and enjoy Momma's stardom.  Yes, that's right, a fairy tale.  Ahh - no. (no spoiler)

On the way she meets Eula, a young black woman who has appeared to have kidnapped a white baby.  Eula talks and brings Starla home with her at least for some dinner then tomorrow, yes tomorrow, sounds better to take off for Nashville.  Eula's husband, Wallace, is one worried character.  Personally, I don't think he would ever have found peace.

On this journey to Nashville, Starla and Eula experience adventures that were live and kicking of racism back in '63.  This is some beautiful writing.  I'm sitting here imagining the fear & anger & acquiescence that went through Eula at times throughout the story.  These two characters are shining stars in Mississippi.  You gotta pick this read up folks.

They run into problems on the way as you can imagine, and Starla gets slapped smack dead in the face of actual real-life situations.  Her "red-rage" (as her Daddy called it) spirit runs free and Eula pours out her own personal maternal love to cover some of the outcome.
Eula being through her own hell before Wallace's, she is a character detailed so nicely - you can feel her emotions.

Starla, herself, is a star in this future classic.

I could write and go on about my issue with Mamie keeping Starla's momma's letters and packages from her, the carnival's, the Jenkins boys, Miss Cyrena, Patti Lynn, Daddy, Starla's Momma  -  all these character's and issues  -  but, I'm going to let Susan tell you.

This is one hell of a read.  It was a hell of a roadtrip for Eula, Starla and baby James.

Susan Crandall's tone covering this theme of racism and friendship is spectacular.  The dialog for each character was absolutely distinct with its southern patois penned at the right moments I felt.  Her atmosphere she built, sure I was in the south.  What made this book for me was the POV.



I most recommend folks, most.


✒ ✒ ✒



Here's where you can get your fingers on Whistling Past The Graveyard:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $11.99 ~ Hardcover $22.09 ~ Paperback $10.44 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $11.99 ~ Hardcover $22.39 ~ Paperback $10.67 USD


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About the author ~






Connect with Susan Crandall










Unlike so many writers, Susan Crandall did not emerge from the womb with a pen and paper in hand and a fully formed story in her mind.  Instead, she was born with an incredible love for books.  This must be genetic, because her father and now her son, both hated school, but are somehow addicted to books.

For much of her young life, even those exhausting years when her children were young and Susan worked in her previous profession (yes, the rumor is true, she was a dental hygienist) she was an avid reader.  Susan has always been fascinated with words - those of you who catch yourself reading the dictionary when you cracked it open to look up mesopelagic you just might have a writer hiding inside you, too.

Then, her younger sister admitted that she'd been writing, secretly of course.  That admission led to Susan editing her sister's work (as the older sister, Susan was never short of opinions to share).  Then Susan and her sister co-authored four novels, none of which were published.  Her sister decided to move on after those four books, but Susan was totally addicted.  She'd learned too much about the process of writing, the craft of storytelling and the world of the written word to give it up.

BACK ROADS was Susan Crandall's first solo work, her first published work, and her first award winning novel, winning a RITA for Best First Book and two National Reader's Choice Awards.
Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while.  She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay.  She and her husband have two grown children.  "They make me proud every day," Susan glows.  "My son, who has the heart of a poet, is also a writer.  My daughter, who is both beautiful and brilliant, is about to take her first steps into the working world of science."


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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hush by Kimberly Shursen ~ 2014


Behind every silver lining are shades of gray.





Author: Kimberly Shursen
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 21, 2014)
Publication: January 21, 2014
Pages: 363
ebook
ASIN: B00HZKBGW4
Language: English
Jacket design:
Author photographer:


Read for my curiosity


5 Stars


Kimberly Shursen
Hush will take you on a journey of an unbelievable path destined to destroy your path to an ever-lasting blissful life.

Kimberly Shursen takes her pen and gives a reader pause.  She makes a reader reflect, some soul-search, feel, others may stay aloof for reasons of their own.

Please, pull up a chair, ...

there you go.  Now, first off, I would like to thank you, Ms. Shursen, for another astounding read and a look into your writing style.  You are one hell of a captivating artist writing topics most times society carries with a hush.

Folks, Kimberly Shursen is an Indie author introducing you into a world of thrills and chills and suspense - living in an element of absolute freedom from reality - then closes into a world of pause, then, reflection.  In all her novels.

Lottery, was the first book I read of Ms. Shursen's work.  A beautiful dark and macabre thrilling ride into a look of madness - a madness that as I read the trilogy, the description of what this disease did to a family spanning three decades was packed full of  twists of thrilling suspense.  Super good read, incredible.  I read her next book, a psychological thriller, Conviction and now I see how she's writing.  The way she was penning these topics, these controversial topics, I had to read her debut legal thriller Itsy Bitsy Spider.  I see a flair.  Now folks, Hush ~ ...

Here's such a sad story of a couple, Ben and Ann Grable with a family in mind, but, ended on opposite sides in the courtroom.  The idea/theme here, I can hear some folks would be saying - let's get real here.  You know damn well these circumstances exist.

The subject manners of abortion, divorce, incest, drugs are all under different views from the hoi polloi - even Ben and Ann each had different views.  The completely unexpected twists before and /or after the build of suspense are pretty much a trade-mark of Kimberly's.  This elixir of thrills are throughout her novels.  In Hush, there might not be a 'right' side to the view, except for the matter of the fact there is a right side.

Not going into the story itself here folks.  As I have touched on her writing style, rest assured Hush is another phenomenal time for you as a reader of thrillers, killers, and chillers.  Her suspense is a bit more than palpable, rather, palatable.  Controversial genres - I think Kim, you're starting a new category.

Hush will take you through an opinionated debatable emotional time.  As you could probably attest to from the aforementioned topics, with an ending that will be satisfying, reason being - it will give your cognition something to do.




I most recommend.  This novel and her others, and man, I really loved her Lottery series.  That son-of-a- ...



Here's where you can get your fingers on Hush:

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $4.99 ~ Paperback $17.95 USD



Looking forward to her paranormal thriller Miracle in 2017


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About the author ~



Kim
Thriller/mystery writer, Kimberly Shursen, began making up stories in grade school. Growing up in a small town in Iowa with a population of 2,000, imagination not only became her entertainment, but a passion.

After graduating from a private college with a BA in education, Shursen began writing a musical. Five years later she presented the music, book, and lyrics to private investors. The play premiered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and later opened in Sweden.

Eden, Shursen's second full-blown musical was also produced by investors, catching rave reviews.

Knowing her passion had always been to be an author, Ms. Shursen left her position as a marketing director to pursue a full-time career in writing. She has yet to regret the decision.

Shursen's debut novel, political thriller ITSY BITSY SPIDER, was voted one of the top two thrillers of 2013. Legal thriller HUSH was published in January of 2014 and a top pick for Underground Book Reviews.
Kimberly Shursen's psychological thriller series follows the lives of a family caught in the web of a malevolent mental illness that spans over four decades and two generations. LOTTERY, SON OF CALEB, CALEB'S LOT, are available  ~  Amazon

 






"The absolutely best part of being a writer is meeting interesting people I would never have met if they had not taken a chance on a new writer and picked up my book. I will always and forever be grateful."  ~  Kimberly Shursen


Reviews  for

~    Kimberly Shursen   ~
 
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Hush

Lottery

Caleb's Lot

 Conviction


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Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Necessary Act by Tony Wirt ~ 2016


Superb ... A refreshing new twist on serial-killer fiction
A brilliant literary debut



Author: Tony Wirt
Publisher: Broken Bricks Publishing (April 12, 2016)
Publication: April, 12, 2016
Pages: 284
ebook
ASIN: B01C6HLU94
Language: English
Jacket design: Design for Writers
Author photographer: Bill Harris


"This book was provided by Tony Wirt in exchange for my honest review alongside my proffered thank-you for asking."


5  Stars



Tony Wirt
Ever finish one of those novels and say, damn, that was a good book to yourself while you shake your head in slow approval as you broadcast the word wow?

Well, it's partly due to one of those endings folks.  One of those that you bark aloud - Wait, What, What!  The world does seem that it actually stops for you as your eyes scurry the read so they can slow your emotions for you - (nice how God put us together.)

Aptly titled, A Necessary Act, will induce page-turning excersizes for your thumb and fingers as you read, hell, along with a few of those sudden poundings against your rib cage - either from your lungs gasping for a quick breath or your heart smashing up against it.

Midwesterner Tony Wirt takes his pen and gives you a debut that you will not put down.  I have looked back at this read and smell awards.  If not, in tales to come - bet me and lose, your call.

I apologize here for the mild spoilers you are about to read, my mind was in a zone, though now, I would like to put forward a review for your enjoyment.  So, please, have your munch ready and drink within reach, let's let Tony tell you a story  ~


1996 ~


Personally folks, if I were David? I would keep an I on Scott too.  Wouldn't give a rat's ass if Matt wouldn't care less.  Matt wasn't there, but David Rowe remembers what Scott did.  And now this?, he could have killed her.  In fact he's pretty damn sure of it.  David knows Scott Alston will someday actually kill someone.  He explains to Matt the FBI listed 14 traits serial killers supposedly share.  Scott has every one.  And hell, the things he did as a kid.

For most high school kids in Lake Mills, the weekly hangout was the Wreck.  Here you'll see quarters lined up on the rails and you hear of bets and dares being placed, balls cracking, and music blaring off the jute-box - this dive - was ran by good ole' Woody.  Adrenaline rushing because you're kickin' ass on the table and getting away with drinking something like PBR's, but in this case, Busch Light, and someone always remembers to warn, wearing the look that it came from the deepest source -  Man, the cops are going to be here this weekend for sure, but, they never come.

Matt Carlton came across Scott Alston rough handling his girlfriend Amy Martin in the alley behind the Wreck.  Seeing the way Amy's eye's were bulging from the grip and hearing the calm eeriness in Scott's voice in the alley that night, David was right.

Like any average American high school, Lake Mills High had the same mix of kids as any other: Nerds, cheerleaders, bullies, goody-too-shoes and the ilk, with a couple of good guys here and there.  Couple of bad guys here and there.  And maybe a few of you could attest, as classes came and went sometimes with those fears riddling through you - Oh man, he's going to be waiting for me when the bell rings.  This is the atmosphere your surrounded with as you head for the auditorium at 12:30 for a special announcement.

After David hearing the news from Principal Donald that four year old leukemia plagued Leah Peterson and her mother Kim were killed before school this morning, the rest of it was a bit foggy - another lay in coma ... student Scott Alston.

Turned out Scott ran his Mustang head-on into their van when Leah, sporting her Team Leah T-shirt and her mother were heading to Mason City for a doctor's appointment.  Scott was on his way to school.

Yeah, the bully came out of his coma - eventually.  His parents Pastor Len and Cathy Alston prayed like mad and Scott did heal enough for Winnebago County Attorney Brian Lentz to send him to prison.  Oh David remembers what Scott did to that cat.


2015 ~


How in the .... Why am I, ....  Well, I'm here.  Despondent Matt Carlton is back in Lake Mills after "corporate down-sizing", but he as a character, has moxie and lands a job at the Graphic-Glimpse weekly.  Bill Harris, the Editor/Publisher/Writer/Photographer/Ad Salesman and anything else Lake Mills Graphic-Glimpse might need will be his boss.  He's been doing that for the last 50 years or so.

Life back in the small town did have its changes.  Though few.  Some practically never changed, like Sheriff Ed Schwab's post.  He's still there.  And good thing, there's been a murder.  Now, another.  Same kind of way?, kind of?

Matt runs into old friends/acquaintances, David seems a bit aloof.  Turns out, David keeps a low profile - been keeping an eye on Scoot Alston ever since he was released early for good-behavior.  Yeah, Scott keeps to himself and his parole officer has no complaints.  Goes to church every Sunday.  Takes good care of his mother, especially right after that fender-bender she was in.

"Big-City" reporter Matt Carlton has the scoop that is going to be his ticket out of Lake Mills.  Maybe, even a book deal.  It is eerily strange to him the victims seem strikingly similar.  He's thinking serial-killer.  Damn, what a scoop - in Small Town, USA.

Here, where you as the reader, you're really not caring if you ran out of your munch or your drink is dry.  You have to find out how Tony Wirt irons out and ties all loose ends together.

As a reader who enjoys atmosphere, pace, character growth/development, pages that grip one after another and that sweet Hell I go through, a momentarily lapse of insanity that is peppered with madness enveloping my brain as I'm trying to figure out the ending before it comes and then -


Whew,  I'm tellin' ya folks  -  this was a dynamite read.  Wow.




A Necessary Act


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Here's where you can get your fingers on A Necessary Act:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $2.99 ~ Paperback $13.99 USD


 About the author ~


Tony Wirt

I got my first taste of publication in first grade, when my essay on Airplane II: The Sequel appeared of my elementary school’s Creative Courier.

Seriously.

Questionable parental movie supervision notwithstanding, seeing something I had written in print was invigorating. So after spending my formative years running around a small town in rural Iowa, I enrolled in the University of Iowa and eventually picked up degrees in Journalism and Communication Studies. During that time I also spent three years writing for the Daily Iowan.

After graduation crossed over to the media relations world in the University of Iowa Sports Information Department, where I spent nine years on the road, running stats and frantically writing postgame stories before the team bus left.

I only got left behind once.

Marriage and a baby made road trips an impossibility, so I thought the life of a stay-at-home dad would be the perfect way to finally write that novel that had been bouncing around my head for years.

How cute is that?

Needless to say, caring for a 6-month-old leaves precious little time to breathe, let alone write. I was barely able to keep up with the fake blog I decided to make for her at 3 a.m. the day she was born.

But despite being parented by me, the kid got older and my novel idea poked its head out from under an avalanche of dirty diapers. I was ready to start writing.

Just in time to find out we were having another kid.

This time I knew what I was getting into, however, and I hustled to get whatever I could down before the next avalanche arrived. It was about 14,000 words, and it wasn’t good, but it was the seed from which A Necessary Act grew.

That was six years, six drafts and a move to Minnesota ago. There were plenty of detours along the way, including a stint writing opinion pieces as a member of the Rochester Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Advisory Board, but I finally got the book done.

I can’t say if it’s good or not—that’s your job—but it’s full of the things I like. Creepy bad guys, twists and bad decisions made for good reasons.

Hope you like it—

Tony

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Kimberly Shursen ~ 2014


Those in power have one goal: maintaining a squeaky clean image – whatever it takes.






Author: Kimberly Shursen
Publisher: CreateSpace (February 26, 2014)
Publication: February, 26, 2014
Pages: 306
ebook
ASIN: B00CMFI7WE
Language: English
Jacket design:
Author photographer:


Read for my pleasure


5 Stars


Kimberly Shursen
I have read a couple of Kimberly Shursen's novels before and a taste for her debut settled on my taste-buds after reading her novel Conviction, and let me tell you, it was extremely tasty.

Tasty enough to dive into seconds with her second novel, Hush.  After I finish that read, I'll let you know what I think.   I believe it should satisfy me until her next amazingly tasty read comes off her imagination.  Kimberly Shursen crafted a phenomenal debut folks.  Period.  With an exclamation point. 

Itsy Bitsy Spider (damn arachnids) starts off:

... three weeks before ~

Boston Globe reporter Matt Christenson is on the phone with Claire McCallin, step-daughter to the Boston Mayor Jack McCallin, trying to update the news on Theodore Johnson  -  the missing lawyer and friend of the mayor's family.  After stating she did not know anything about it, Matt couldn't get an answer to his next question  -  she'd hung up.

Just before finishing his editing on the next one, his cell rang.  "Look at me, Mommy."  Matt heard faintly and pressed the phone firmly against his ear.  No one answered when he asked if anyone was there.  Another day as a reporter.  Personally, that was a hook for me to grab the next page.

Story goes that Claire's husband, James Dougherty, is killed in the war, and then, this lawyer goes missing.  Jamie Tessman, Matt's fearless co-worker and best fact-finder the Globe has, had filled in the back story for him.  Jamie scratches her elbow  -  something in Claire's life just doesn't add up.

Matt digs.  Let's turn a page here, because here's a twist that makes Matt scratch his own elbow.  And on top of that, Claire has been holding on to a secret for the last twenty years.  A secret, once known  -  bad things happen.

The story moves, so will my review ~

Matt devises a plan and at times, had to on the whim, to get to the bottom of this with all these beautifully described characters.  He helps Claire and her daughter Lizzie escape.  With characters in play, everyone has an agenda and their destinies through the story is vivid as hell.  Remmie Bradford, the house-keeper for the McCallin's was my favorite character.  Her destiny is in a good spot.

Isolated Claire Marie McCallin-Dougherty seemed to me as an aloof character to reality of a few things and I've said to myself as I read, "Claire, c'mon!"  Beautifully written character Ms. Shursen.  After a few murders, I'm so glad she just had enough!

From Bill Kizer, editor-in-chief at the Globe and all his kickbacks and bonuses from the mayor, the thugs - that at times do get the job done, and everyone connected to keep Claire's secret a secret has brought you, the reader, into the midst of it all.

Rachel, Katherine and Andrew Samuelson, Hank and Jamie Farber, Maxwell McCallin and his wife Cynthia, and of course Elizabeth, granddaughter to 65 year old mayor Jack McCallin, even the police  -  all these characters give an exciting tribute to your future suspenseful anticipations.

Jennifer Samuelson, Matt's neighbor from across the hall, has a beautiful role in this tale. She is a lady wanting nothing more than to be normal and be just like you instead of ....

Ms. Shursen brings you some great history as you read about Boston and its surroundings.  Architecture of buildings and bridges and Harvard and Cambridge and the St. Charles River, everything, even the diner's are described so you could see them.   Even some local lore and myth is thrown in, to the mix.  Love traveling the world through the pages of author's mind's.  Love it.

In this read you will find intense situations, difficult decisions, love for family and friends and definitely you will go through anxieties of hope with Lizzie and her destiny for this story.  This read is a great atmosphere of suspense.  A well developed read.  The sequence of events keeps you engaged as you read of horrendous unexpected setbacks.  Yet, Matt is not deterred.

Keeping things real here - You know what the hell is going on early in the book.  So what?!, the way Kimberly Shursen pens her story to you, you can't help but turn the next page.  This tale's pace built emotion as you ride the rushed pace where needed and you'll feel satisfied relief where that's needed too, so pace yourself folks as I know you'll try to rush through.  Enjoy.

Not every novel has a happy ending, maybe this one does ... for whom?

This novel has not a thing to do with spider's, yet, when you hear Itsy Bitsy Spider being sung, you'll think of Kimberly, oh yes you will.



Most recommended for a debut folks ~


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Itsy Bitsy Spider




 Here's where you can get your fingers on Itsy Bitsy Spider
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $1.99 ~ Paperback $15.99 USD

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About the author ~


Kimberly Shursen
Thriller/mystery writer, Kimberly Shursen, began making up stories in grade school. Growing up in a small town in Iowa with a population of 2,000, imagination not only became her entertainment, but a passion.

After graduating from a private college with a BA in education, Shursen began writing a musical. Five years later she presented the music, book, and lyrics to private investors. The play premiered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and later opened in Sweden.

Eden, Shursen's second full-blown musical was also produced by investors, catching rave reviews.

Knowing her passion had always been to be an author, Ms. Shursen left her position as a marketing director to pursue a full-time career in writing. She has yet to regret the decision.

Shursen's debut novel, political thriller ITSY BITSY SPIDER, was voted one of the top two thrillers of 2013. Legal thriller HUSH was published in January of 2014 and a top pick for Underground Book Reviews.
Kimberly Shursen's psychological thriller series follows the lives of a family caught in the web of a malevolent mental illness that spans over four decades and two generations. LOTTERY, SON OF CALEB, CALEB'S LOT, are available  ~  Amazon

 





"The absolutely best part of being a writer is meeting interesting people I would never have met if they had not taken a chance on a new writer and picked up my book. I will always and forever be grateful."  ~  Kimberly Shursen


Reviews  for

~    Kimberly Shursen   ~
 
Itsy Bitsy Spider

Hush

Lottery

Caleb's Lot

 Conviction


  ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒ ✒