“The Klansman’s Wife” by Scott Skipper

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First of all, I know that I’ve been absent from my reviewing duties for a while now. That’s  because I’ve been up to my eyeballs writing a story that began as a cozy mystery that expanded into a thousand-page conspiracy thriller which has required an astounding amount of research. I truly hope to get at least the first book out in a few months. I expect it will be worth the wait.  Recently I took a trip, however, which gave me time to read on the plane and this was the story I selected. It definitely made the miles fly by at a rapid pace.


The title alone constitutes a spoiler though this cautionary tale definitely drives the message home. Set in South Carolina in the 1970s, this gripping story captures the dark side of the south in the post 60s Civil Rights era. This culture was entirely off the radar of those who lived in other parts of the country and deserves to be read for its education value alone.

I have to smile at the main character’s name, Mason, a Californian who definitely has some interesting revelations and adventures upon venturing below the Mason-Dixon line. A young man in his late 20s who has recently lost his job and been divorced by his wife accepts employment at a company in South Carolina that manufacturers machines used in the printing industry. From reviewing ECRs (engineering change requests) to interactions between employees with a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds, the author did a great job capturing the work climate of such a facility which included plenty of gossip and the inevitable backbiting. It was easy to visualize the environment and feel as if you, too, were an employee observing the drama and goings-on.

Mason is immediately attracted to a flirtatious woman named Jill. Despite warnings that her abusive husband is the Grand Knight of the local KKK, he pursues a relationship with her. As expected, he is attacked and harassed in a vicious manner, any relief from law enforcement nonexistent since they are also members of the Klan. His obsession with her is not to be doused, however, and ultimately becomes coupled with compassion and the desire to help her escape her abusive marriage.

Further description will definitely tread upon spoiler territory, though I’m sure just about anyone can figure out that this is probably not going to end well. Actually, the ending does carry a few major surprises, though the author did a good job of alluding to them. This suspense-laden story is not only a warning not to allow your libido to lure you into dangerous situations, but also provides a glimpse into what it was like in the Deep South a half-century ago. While some of it has improved, it’s still a place immersed in echoes of a culture that few outsiders understand.

Scott Skipper is one of my favorite authors, particularly his Alien Affairs series. Being much darker, this novel lacks the dry humor found there, but his skilled writing style and attention to detail make it an outstanding read.

As mentioned earlier, I read this story while on an airplane. As I was about to get into my car in the remote long-term parking lot I heard a shot. Duly sensitized by the action in the book, I ducked, wondering what was going on and whether I was in mortal danger. Then it dawned on me that it was New Year’s Eve and all I’d heard was a firecracker.  Nonetheless, it illustrated the author’s skill in pulling me into the story. Don’t miss it.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here. You can learn more about Scott Skipper and his other stories through his social media links below.

Official Author’s Website www.ScottSkipper.com
Facebook.com/Scott Skipper
@SSkipperAuthor

A Perfect Story for Native American Heritage Month

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Morning Star: Let Us Make a New Way

by Richard DeSirey


November is Native American Heritage Month and if you want to expand your knowledge of American History there is no better place to start than with this well-written, historically accurate story.


This book chronicles the story of those who came to be known as the Northern Cheyenne. They were driven from their ancestral home in the Black Hills area to Kansas, but promised if they went peacefully, they could return to their sacred ground at a later time. Of course this promise was not honored. Determined to return to the land given to them by the Great Spirit, whom they knew as Maheo, they escaped from the barracks in which over 300 had been imprisoned without food, water or heat in the winter and started the long trek back to Montana.

This band was led by a wise chief and leader whose name was Morning Star. In the historical record, he is usually referred to as Dull Knife, a derogatory nickname given to him by the Sioux (Lakota) because he was a peacemaker and wanted to co-exist with the white man. Clearly this is not what the white man wanted. Promises and treaties were made and consistently broken. Those who signed them on behalf of the United States often didn’t have the authority to enforce them. Treaties had to be ratified by Congress, and when this didn’t happen, the terms of the treaty were not met, though the Native Americans were expected to honor their side of the agreement. The military was especially brutal, leaders often decorated for the cowardly slaughter of peaceful groups that included women, children, and the elderly. Yes, Custer did get what he deserved.

The original explorers of North America treated the Natives Americans horribly, especially the Spanish and English. Believe it or not, the French showed them more respect. When the United States attained their independence, the treatment of the Native Americans got even worse. They were in the way as far as western expansion and “Manifest Destiny” were concerned and treated worse than animals or even slaves because they were in the way and of no value.

It is absolutely shameful and a national embarrassment that it took a court decision to declare them as human! Even the pope had declared it acceptable to slaughter indigenous people. In what universe is this acceptable?

As a baby boomer, my impression of the First Americans was that they were blood-thirsty, uncivilized savages. This came from what I was taught in horrifically biased history classes combined with the TV and movies of time. Nothing could be farther from the truth, yet never was it mentioned the depth and spirituality of the culture that they espoused, especially the Cheyenne tribe. In many respects, they achieved a culture that was far more advanced than our own.

As an author myself I am currently working on a trilogy in which my main character is Cheyenne. This has motivated me to do a significant amount of research to assure its accuracy. I have been shocked, heart-broken and ashamed of my country as I have learned how these people were treated. I am currently working with a full-blooded Cheyenne to further develop this character and he is the one who gifted me with this book. The author worked diligently with the Cheyenne people for decades to gather Morning Star’s story as it had been preserved by oral tradition by his descendants. This book is the real deal.

You owe it to yourself to learn how history really unfolded in this country. With all the controversy these days over immigration, try putting yourself in the moccasins of the First Americans as the white man invaded them from across the Great Waters, then proceeded to systematically steal their land.

Would you fight back if they refused to negotiate? You bet you would.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

“Dark Energy”: Another hilarious episode in “The Alien Affairs” Series

DarkEnergy

The Alien Affairs team is at it again in another hilarious adventure. I love this series and it is one of the few that I have actually read more than once. It’s witty, politically incorrect, intelligent, and never fails to make me laugh, sometimes hysterically. There were a few parts in this one where I laughed so hard I was in tears, especially when they retrieved that “American hero” mentioned in the online book description.  I was reading this while in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment and I was getting all sorts of funny looks when I would giggle out loud. Best of all, by the time they took me back to see the doctor, my blood pressure was surprisingly low, proving that laughter truly is the best medicine.

There is plenty to be worried about in the world today. As with most things in life that are troubling, we can either cry or laugh. I much prefer to laugh and these stories are guaranteed to generate plenty. Whether it’s grey alien, Deschler, and his persistent body odor issues; banter between Terrie and their avatar, Cassandra; or Uncle Eddie and his antics with Nordic wonder, Emelda (no doubt pictured on the cover), the snarky dialog, clever sci-fi plot that’s full of surprising twists and turns, and of course the author’s strong writing style, kept me fully entertained.

This episode deals with finding a new home for a bunch of Nordic invaders, the options for which lie in different time-frames and dimensions. The fact that these uninvited guests think that Earth’s terraforming efforts on Mars are insufficient,  making it no more than another “sh*thole” planet, cause all sorts of problems for the team, the solutions to which are innovative and original as well as suspense-filled.  There’s a lot of bouncing back and forth through time and space with fascinating effects that testify to the author’s fantastic imagination.

This is the fifth in the Alien Affairs series and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Keep ’em coming, Scott, you have created a hilarious world that is far better than the one we live in.

You can pick up your copy of “Dark Energy” on Amazon here.

Click on the titles to see my reviews for other books in this series, which include Alien Affairs, Alien Eyes & Alien Child,  and Gravity Waves.

Here are my reviews for additional stories by this author, who you can probably tell is clearly one of my favorites.

A Little Rebellion Now and Then

Half-Life.

Meet #RWISA Author, Peggy Hattendorf!! (2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop, Day #4) #RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along. 

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”


Today’s featured author is Peggy Hattendorf and her intrigue-filled novel, “Son of My Father.” You can follow Peggy on Twitter @PeggyHattendorf

PEGGY HATTENDORF PIC

PEGGY HATTENDORF BOOK

SON OF MY FATHER

It was always “Father” never “Dad.” The love and respect was manifest so was the distance – the distance not as evident. Christiana Lynn Barrington’s life was a carefully constructed world built, presented and controlled by her billionaire father, Jonathan Robert Barrington. She never knew anything else.

Frequently, she wondered if her father had wished to have had a son instead of a daughter but never posed the question. Maybe she was afraid of the answer.

As the only child of Jonathan and Elizabeth Matthews Barrington, she was the heir apparent to the behemoth Barrington Holdings International. But a threat to her hard-earned succession waits in the shadows ready to take everything she’s worked for away from her.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

#RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

Meet Another One of My Favorite Authors, Mary Adler!! (2nd RRBC “TREAT”Reads Blog Hop, Day #2) #RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

 We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”


MARY ADLER PICToday’s featured author is Mary Adler, another one of my favorites. You can tell by that mischievous smile that she’s going to mess with your head in her book, “In the Shadow of Lies”. This well-written and beautifully crafted story is an intriguing murder mystery set in an historical setting, the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area in the 1940s. Learn more about it in the book blurb below. You can read my review of this great story here. Follow Mary on Twitter @MAAdlerWrites

In The Shadow of Lies by Mary Adler

IN THE SHADOW OF LIES

Richmond, California. World War II.  Marine Lieutenant Oliver Wright comes home from the war in the Pacific injured and afraid his career as a homicide detective is over.  But when an Italian Prisoner of War is murdered the night the Port Chicago Mutiny verdicts are announced, and black soldiers are suspected of the crime, the Army asks Oliver to find out the truth.

 He and his canine partner, Harley, join forces with an Italian POW captain and with a black MP embittered by a segregated military. During their investigation, these unlikely allies expose layers of deceit and violence that stretch back to World War I and uncover a common thread that connects the murder to earlier crimes.

In the Shadow of Lies reveals the darkness and turmoil of the Bay Area during World War II, while celebrating the spirit of the everyday people who made up the home front. Its intriguing characters will resonate with the reader long after its deftly intertwined mysteries are solved.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon here.

#RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

Meet Award Winning Historical Novelist, Ronald E. Yates!! (2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop Day #1) #RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

“Greetings!  Welcome to the 2nd RRBC “TREAT” Reads Blog Hop!  These members of RRBC have penned and published some really great reads and we’d like to honor and showcase their talent.  Oddly, all of the listed Winners are RWISA members!  Way to go RWISA!

We ask that you pick up a copy of the title listed, and after reading it, leave a review.  There will be other books on tour for the next few days, so please visit the “HOP’S” main page to follow along.

Also, for every comment that you leave along this tour, including on the “HOP’S” main page, your name will be entered into a drawing for a gift card to be awarded at the end of the tour!”


Ron at Southcoast WineryThe first author on this blog hop is one of my favorites, Ronald Yates. As a former journalist and foreign correspondent, he does impeccable research and creates unforgettable characters. I’ve interviewed Ron on a previous blog which you can find here. Ron’s Billy Battles trilogy is outstanding. The book featured below is the second in the series, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles.” I was amazed how much I learned about history. You can read my review here. Follow Ron on Twitter @jhawker69.

THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS OF BILLY BATTLES

Book Blurb: The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far billybattlescoverEast. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.

Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.

As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.

You can pick up your copy on Amazon.

Are you an author who would like to network and support other authors for your mutual benefit? Then check out Rave Reviews Book Club!

#RRBC #RRBCTreatReads

 

Historical Fiction at its Best: Review of “Finding Billy Battles: The Lost Years” by Ronald E. Yates

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5stars

This well-written conclusion to the Billy Battles trilogy is its crown jewel. This series’s characters are so vivid and compelling it’s hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Their involvement in the events of the late 19th and early 20th century brings history alive as well. The author has outdone himself in researching that era and many of the events of which only true history buffs would be aware. In doing so, he has performed a great service bringing them to readers’ attention because these various international skirmishes laid the foundation for much of the contention seen in today’s world.

As they say, victors are the ones who write history. It’s also true that what you hear in history class is based on what higher powers want people to believe and incorporate into their view of the world. There is nothing more enlightening than to see familiar situations from the other side of the fence. Through these novels, Ron Yates has done a stellar job of placing the reader in the middle of various international situations and, in the true spirit of journalism, objectively presenting both sides. Sadly, today there is so much bias in the news media that true journalism has virtually disappeared. But even before they stooped to fake news and blatant lies, the stories presented by the media were designed to maintain a certain mindset that fueled nationalism at its worst.

When the U.S.A. entered World War II, they were definitely invited. Western European countries still appreciate us for the victory made possible by our intervention. For example, to this day Luxembourg places a wreath every Veterans Day on George S. Patton’s grave, which is in a U.S. Military Cemetery within that country. However, there have been times when our actions were nothing less than intrusive, albeit based on self-protection. That is justifiable to a point, but once that goal is achieved, hanging around terrorizing other country’s native populations is flat-out wrong. If you’ve ever wondered why Mexico hates us, this book will provide some answers.

European colonialism, which we supported, is another thorn in the side of many countries, especially in Far East countries like Korea and Vietnam. Bringing our version of civilization to these foreign shores, which we were convinced to consider a favor, in many cases wasn’t. How we’ve treated indigenous populations in other lands is shameful and even persists to this day with regard to Native Americans.

Of course America did not start this practice, which originated millennia ago. Not that long ago, we were a colony ourselves, who were being oppressed, which ultimately resulted in the American Revolutionary War. So what did we do, but turn around and support colonization by those who had once been our enemy. When our borders or way of life are threatened, that’s one thing. If someone attacks us, we have the right to defend ourselves, but our intrusion into these other battles has often made us the invader. It’s no wonder that other countries fear us, and it spirals down from there. However, the world is now entangled in the unfortunate consequences of thousands of years’ worth of conquests. Cliché though it may be, it’s true that those who fail to learn from history are indeed doomed to repeat it.

I didn’t intend for this review to turn into a political essay. However, it demonstrates how effective this novel and its predecessor, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles”, have been in enlightening me to some of the less than savory facts embedded in U.S. history, thanks to the exploits of Yates’s amazing characters. Their interaction with actual historical figures makes it all the more interesting and convincing. Astounding imagery puts you right in the thick of things, whether geographically or via the use of the conversational vernacular of the time. In more ways than I can count, this book is a masterpiece. Do yourself a favor and get started on this series today. You’ll not only be entertained, but see the world in an entirely different way. Isn’t that what great fiction is all about?


You can pick up your copy on Amazon of “Finding Billy Battles: The Lost Years” here.

You’ll also want to read “Finding Billy Battles: An Account of Peril, Transgression, and Redemption”, Book 1 of the series, which you can find here.

Book 2, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles”, can be found here. My 5* review of this one is here.

Ron at Southcoast WineryLearn more about the fascinating background of author, Ronald E. Yates, and how it prepared him to write such outstanding stories from our interview here.

 

Today’s Writing Tip

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Editing is essential, but it’s extremely difficult to edit your own work. Letting your work rest as long as possible before revising and/or editing helps view it more objectively. If you absolutely can’t afford an editor, arrange a beta exchange with another author, preferably one who’s seasoned, not just someone who will praise your work. Make sure both of you are skilled enough to do the job and clarify your expectations.

“The Last Dog” is Sci-fi at it’s Best, Especially if You’re an Animal Lover!

lastdogcvr

5stars

The Last Dog

by Dawn Greenfield Ireland

This story is not only original, but science fiction at its absolute best. While the story is suitable for young adults, it has enough substance to satisfy even a hardcore science fiction fan like myself. Animal lovers will especially love it, since one of the main characters is a dog.

The story is set in the 2080s in a dystopian setting. The author provides background in the prologue, which explains how different events in the 21st century, of both a political and natural disaster variety transformed the United States. It was a story in itself, which was not only tremendously interesting and entertaining, but showed how much thought and creativity the author has invested to develop this outstanding story.

Probably the most important technological angle is the development of the Dot, invented by one of the main characters, Bill Maxwell, which enables dogs to talk. The human birth rate has been greatly compromised, so few are able to have children. Thus, having dog and cat “children” is the norm. Anyone who’s ever had a beloved pet knows they are like our children. Then add the ability to have them talk to you and you can imagine how amazing that would be.

However, another disaster comes along, which kills millions of people as well as nearly all the dog and cat children, except a puppy named Abby, who belongs to Bill and Teresa Maxwell. However, Abby is taken by the government under the pretense of trying to find any other canine survivors and cloning or otherwise finding a way to re-establish the canine population. Meanwhile, a robotic dog has also been created, which is endowed with artificial intelligence. One of these in particular, named Rex, is another major character who is entirely endearing.

While all of this probably sounds pretty far-fetched, the author has done a fantastic job of creating a futuristic world where it all comes off as believable. Furthermore, if you’re an animal lover, chances are you already talk to your pets and can imagine them talking back. The gist of the story relates to if and how the Maxwell’s and Abby will ever be reunited. I absolutely loved it and know that I will someday read it again, which is the highest recommendation I can ever give a book because my TBR is so long, it’s a rare book indeed that I indulge in more than once.

If you’re a science fiction fan you’ll love the technologies and if you’re a dog or cat lover, you’ll love the pet angle. I highly recommend this heart-warming and original story from one of my favorite authors.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.