Angels At Midnight: Love, Theft, And Revenge

Today I thought I’d reprint my review from my own blogs for Angels at Midnight, and so without ado, let us begin….
Norma published the book during her days with Berkeley, and gives us two very sympathetic protagonists we can immediately connect with in an intricately plotted, well paced novel that explores themes of love, family, loss, revenge, and how far people will go for their own measure of justice. While our protagonists don’t actually meet until halfway through the book, that’s a good thing, as we get to follow them along parallel lines for more then a decade, getting to know them, sharing their triumphs and their despair.
Collin Deverell is one of two twin sons, heir to a fortune that his father, an oil tycoon, expects him to take part in. While his brother Justin readily involves himself in the family business, Collin has little wish to tie himself down to an executive life, preferring a carefree life of adventure and his love of fencing. With the sudden death of their parents on a business trip, Collin takes the chance to live life on his own terms, turning over shares in the family company and all responsibility to his brother in exchange for the family mansion, the art collection, and his mother’s jewellry. He lives abroad for some years, rarely settling down, living his carefree life, seducing whatever woman crosses his path. When he returns home, he finds that the valuable paintings and jewels have all gone missing, sold off by his devious brother. Collin vows to take back what’s rightfully his, even if it means breaking the law and going after some very dangerous people to do it.
Ashley Gordon is an artist from the Napa Valley in California who establishes a career for herself in San Francisco. After becoming a success in the art world and on the social circuit, she falls in love with Brandon Hollister. They’re happy together, and Brandon wants to marry her, though she’s puzzled by his complete estrangement from his parents. When we meet them, it’s not hard to understand: Bradley and Claudia Hollister are downright nasty to the core. Ashley and Brandon marry, have a son, Robert and are happy together, until Brandon is killed in a plane crash. In the wake of her grief, Ashley is hit again when her in-laws launch a custody battle for their grandson, using bribery, lies, and their connections to take him away from Ashley. Ashley is, understandably, devastated.
It’s into this mix that Ashley and Collin meet. Collin’s been busy recovering what was stolen from him by becoming a thief himself, learning the trade from a master who saves his life. What started out for him as a mission to take back what’s his becomes something more, as he discovers his father’s company has been mismanaged by his brother, and is falling into the hands of a criminal syndicate who are readily dismantling it. The syndicate are made up of the same people who have possession of his property, and what began as thefts to recover property gradually shifts, as Collin realizes he does, in fact, have a responsibility to save the company his father built. And since Bradley Hollister is a member of the syndicate, Collin decides to enlist his former daughter-in-law as a partner to bring down the syndicate, save his family company, and restore Ashley’s son to her custody.
It’s a wise decision to keep the two from really meeting until mid way through the book. We, the reader, get to see both characters develop fully on their own, so we care about them and what happens to them (Ashley’s loss of her husband and her son are particularly painful, which is one of the reasons the book works so well). When Collin and Ashley start working together, we see a growing connection between them, an emotional intimacy that comes across as very real. This is a testament to how human the two characters feel. They have depth, quirks, and flaws. As Ashley learns the tricks of the trade, of sleight of hand and the use of disguise, she and Collin find themselves drawn closer and closer. The bond and growing love between them comes across to the reader as the real thing. We come to root for them to achieve all they’re after, and it’s because of how well both of them have been written.
In every heist story, to root for the person pulling off the heist, it requires that the target be unsympathetic. Certainly having the target be a criminal syndicate is a very good way of having the reader dislike the target. And the primary targets, Bradley and Claudia Hollister, are more then worthy of our dislike. Both of them, particularly Claudia, are cruel and malicious. It’s not hard to understand why their son broke ties with them, and as readers, we want to see them brought down, broken, and defeated.
Justin Deverell is another interesting character in the book. Early on it felt like he’d be the primary antagonist of the book, but as things go on, it’s made clear that he’s the dupe, the tool for the syndicate to dismantle the family company after they’re done using it. I enjoyed the premise Norma used that Collin and Justin aren’t the kind of twins we’re used to in fiction… they have nothing in common but blood, barely speak for years, and ultimately are so far apart that it’s doubtful they’ll ever bridge that gap. There’s no closer then blood mental connection sort of bond between these two twins, and it’s a refreshing change.
There is a wild card sort of character I thought I’d make mention of. Anton DeVries, an insurance investigator, lurks in the background of the story. He first comes into the picture after Collin discovers the theft of his possessions. Through the rest of the book, he suspects Collin, looks for proof, and takes part in a pivotal moment towards the climax. He’s an interesting character, something of a bloodhound, or a Javert to Collin’s Valjean. DeVries is a good adversary, conflicted by catching a man who he knows to be morally right.
The attention to detail throughout the book is spot on, and perhaps never as much as during the various thefts that take place in the book. From training sequences in which both Collin and Ashley learn how to become thieves to the heists themselves, each act feels intricate, and brings a lot of variety to the table. An escape from a time lock safe and a judicious use of a mirror stand out particularly for me during the theft sequences. And the attention to detail also reflects itself in the early sequences featuring fencing and the artistic process.
Angels At Midnight is a beautifully written book that you’ll enjoy reading. The plot and pacing of the novel keeps the reader on the edge. The details drawn out in the book about technique, places, and situations give it a very real world sensibility. And the characters really make the novel. Collin and Ashley are a winning couple that we can’t help but sympathize with, to root for, and to cheer.
And who knows? Perhaps Robert has siblings… and all of them have grown up to take after Ashley and Collin’s habit of breaking into high security vaults….

Still Got Those Gift Cards?

So, I’m sure you have yet to fill those shiny new Kindles and Nooks you all got for Christmas. I mentioned this book in an earlier post but I need to give it its own listing. Fellow WMD Author Norma Beishir has proven herself time and again. Having traditionally published 14 novels and made bestseller lists, she obviously knows how to write. Now that she has gone Indie, her incredible creativity comes out even more. With her upcoming book, Army of Angels, coming out in 2012, I figured I would call attention to the first book of the series, Chasing the Wind. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you’re missing out. For $2.99 in eBook format, you’d be crazy to pass this one up.

Chasing the Wind Cover

eBook is $2.99 and Print is $15.00

Mike’s Review

Get ready for an intense ride with Chasing the Wind. This book grabbed me from the beginning and never let go.

Dr. Lynne Raven is an archeologist on a dig in Egypt, looking for biblical artifacts from the time of the Exodus. The problem is, money is drying up and it looks like the dig is over until a saving grace comes along in the form of a man named Connor Mackenzie. He is a man shrouded in mystery and has an obvious interest in Lynne, but he also has access to what appears to be near limitless wealth. He offers to fund the dig for 5 years and provides resources they could never have dreamed of.

Lynne is approaching middle age. She is divorced and has no children, but always wanted them. Connor’s interest in her transformed when he did something that he never thought would happen: he fell in love with her. That’s when the flood gates opened.

Connor’s mysterious past comes alive. He and Lynne both discover that there is far more to his past, and their future, than either of them could have ever imagined. Pursued by a mysterious cult that seems to believe Connor is the way to jumpstart the Apocoalypse, they must fight for their very survival.

Aspects of this book are actually brought about by real research. The portions of the Exodus mentioned in this book (the timing of it, the parting of the Reed Sea instead of the Red Sea, etc) are actual debates taking place with biblical scholars.

The characters also come alive with some great dialogue. Some examples:

“This whole thing is so fishy you could serve it with fries and hushpuppies.”

“You know Darcy, there’s a saying that only the good die young. If that’s true, you’re going to live forever. God doesn’t want you and the devil won’t have you for fear of a power struggle.”

I highly recommend this book. I’m looking forward to the sequel, Army of Angels.

Spending Those eBook Gift Cards

Christmas has come and gone and, as many of us know, millions of Kindle and Nook units were given as gifts, as well as smarthphones and tablets that will be used as eReaders. Of course, this means that we have to stock those up with books, especially if we received gift cards. Well, WMD author Beth Muscat needs to be on your list of authors to scope out as those gift cards burn a hole in your pocket.

Remember the Eyes Book Cover

Remember the Eyes is available in eBook format for $1.19.

A paranormal romance that doesn’t involve vampires!? I thought that was a dying theme. Well, if it was, Beth Muscat has resurrected it with “Remember the Eyes”, the first book of a trilogy that does not star a vampire. I’m not putting down vampire romances, it’s just nice to see something different.

We are introduced to Riley. She’s a young woman getting ready to go to college. She doesn’t have a high opinion of her appearance but she has something few other people have: psychic ability. Not just some cheesy, vague future predictions either. She can read minds, astral walk, use telekinesis, and is even learning to astral travel.

We have Michael, a young man who lives in London and is looking to go to college somewhere out west. Actually, he is drawn to it. As you might have guessed, it’s the same school Riley is going to. He’s in a band with a group of his friends who are also going to the school.

So everyone manages to get to school. Michael and Riley literally run into each other. Their interest is sparked immediately. Actually, it’s so intense, at first you may say huh? Keep reading. Keep the title in mind. It makes sense.

Now, you can’t have a paranormal romance with out some pesky malcontent getting in the way of the intense love of the main characters. In this case, enter psycho chick Brenda. She’s about as mentally unbalanced as they get.

What is Brenda’s secret?

What is the mystery behind Michael and Riley’s intense connection?

What is the truth behind Riley’s dreams?

Fans of paranormal romance definitely need to check this one out. I am not a fan of paranormal romance and I still found this book to be cool so that should tell you something. At $1.19 for the eBook, you won’t have to worry about draining your gift card.

Nothing WIthout You Cover

Available in eBook format for $3.09.

“Nothing Without You” is the continuation of the “Remember the Eyes” trilogy. Picking up shortly after the first book leaves off, Riley decides to surprise Michael for Christmas with a trip to London to see his family. They have a great time but when they return to school, Riley’s room has been ransacked. Of course, she wants to report it to security, but she never makes it there.

We see the return of Brenda, who is even more psychotic this time around than she was last time and is still obsessed with Michael. In league with Dr. Simpson, a sadistic man, she helps her “boy toy” Doug kidnap Riley for experimentation due to her psychic abilities. Michael vows to do what he must to find her. But how can he do it? By the discovery of something that was secret even from him.

This trilogy focuses on two soulmates who have been together through numerous lifetimes. Their intense love comes surging back from the time of their first meeting in the first book and grows stronger with each passing moment. This particular volume is quite intense. Unlike the first one, there are some disturbing themes and imagery.

Beth Muscat stays true to the characters. You’ll want to take a crowbar to Brenda and Dr. Simpson, who probably don’t even have souls. Your heart will ache for Riley and the trials she endures. You’ll feel for Michael as he is truly lost without her. Fans of paranormal romance will eat this up.

Infinite Book Cover

Available in eBook format for $3.09

“Infinite” is the third book in the “Remember the Eyes” trilogy. It is unusual in that it takes place 30 years after book 2. After a long courtship, Michael and Riley become Mr. and Mrs. Stone, this book picks up on their 25th Wedding Anniversary. They are still as into each other as they were in the beginning. Matter of fact, they’re that couple that people make fun of because they are secretly jealous.

The first part of the book has a lot of recounting of the past, as couples do on such a major anniversary. They had built a life together, and their adult daughter, Clara (their only child and she does not have powers) was about to be married. Then tragedy hits when a long time family friend is killed by a drunk driver and another one is critically injured and hospitalized. It casts a shadow on what should have been a celebratory period.

Clara’s wedding to her fiance Justin goes forward and while they are away on their honeymoon, the family friend is able to speak to Riley and Michael from beyond, giving them a cryptic message about Clara. When she returns from her honeymoon, she mysteriously develops psychic ability and has no idea how to control them.

The book puts you on an emotional roller coaster, first celebration, then tragedy and you bounce back and forth between the two. Finally, just as things are looking up, Riley makes a startling discovery that could change everything. What could that be? And what is the surprise that Clara is carrying?

Though an unusual way to complete a trilogy, it stays true to the previous two books. And don’t worry about a gap, the author does a great job with weaving in the back story of the characters’ lives in a natural and fluid way that keeps your questions answered. This trilogy was the first time I not only completed one book of a paranormal romance, but I ended up completing and liking all three.

The Bracelet Cover

eBook available for $1.19

Someone finally did it. If you look at my reviews, you’ll notice something different with this book as it relates to me. I haven’t ever reviewed a fantasy romance. That was because, up until this point, I’ve never even come close to finishing one. That’s not to say that there aren’t any good ones, I just typically don’t like the genre. This one is different though, it had a charm to it that I haven’t found.

The book is written in the first person. Here’s the interesting thing. The narrator changes by chapter. Typically, it switches between the two main characters, Alaric and Aislinn but there are others too. I thought it was pretty cool. It may be helpful to you to know this before getting into it.

So we begin in Polasia, a fantasy realm. The warrior Alaric and his guys are kicking the crap out of monsters which is always fun to read. They even have a healer along so I get my full dose of fantasy action (probably why I like the book). The action is detailed but not over the top.

We switch to Aislinn’s point of view. She’s on modern day Earth. She lives with this worthless guy named Eddie. Her life is definitely not where she’d like it to be. Now here’s where it gets interesting. When she sleeps, she “dreams” of a man who cares about her and will listen to her and all of that. As time goes by, she can sense him when she’s awake. At first she thinks he’s a ghost.

Now it turns out that Alaric has a bracelet that lets him travel to Earth but no one can see him. The thing is, Aislinn is different. He falls for her. He hits up his wizard friend Sauron (who made his bracelet) to fashion one for Aislinn so she could not only see him but come home with him. The catch is, once she does it, she can only visit Earth but never stay there.

As the book progresses, we run into some interesting twists. There’s more to Aislinn and Sauron than meets the eye. Also Eddie. He’s not simply the immature drunk we think he is at the beginning.

The book flows nicely and the characters are great. Actually, the author portrays Eddie so well that it makes me want to knock him out, even though he’s not real (although after working in University housing for so many years, I’ve known plenty of guys just like him and he IS a VERY realistic character). You get a good package here and the Kindle version is only a little over a buck so you can’t really go wrong on the price. Enjoy!


eBook version available for $1.19

Admittedly, I haven’t read this one yet. I still don’t have a problem recommending it because my wife read it and gave two thumbs up so that’s good enough for me. Since I read her other four, I have no doubt that this one is worthwhile, especially for $1.19.

Book Review – Mayan Calendar Girls: The Great Meso-American Novel by Linton Robinson

Mayan Calendar Girls Cover

Available in Print for $18.95 and eBook for $5.95

Mayan Calendar Girls is a book unlike any I have ever read and I honestly am going to have trouble putting the style into words but will attempt to do so. It reminds me a little bit of the movie Crash, in that there are several, simultaneous stories going on at once with various characters who at times, will influence others in ways that they are completely unaware of. That is the case here. The biggest difference, however, is the amount of humor present in this book.

Another aspect of Mayan Calendar Girls that makes it stick out is the humor and satire present. Realistically, even if the story doesn’t intrigue you, you may find that reading this is great just for the humorous way it is written. Some examples of amusing lines:

“It might actually be water level rising, Global warming, perhaps? I lay the blame squarely on Al Gore.” To which is replied: “Inconvenient, if true.”

“She had only heard of crack, but lusted for a taste because the name itself just sounded so very, very bad. Which is to say, of course, extremely good.”

Political satire is strong here and is probably one of my favorite aspects of the book. President Obama has his own show. Other political figures actually take active roles in this book. Again, an amusing set of lines starting with Joe Biden:

“Is it like a real honeymoon, Barry?” to which was replied “Not really. They don’t screw you until the honeymoon is over.”

To give you an idea of just how much witty banter is here, even the descriptions read like some of these sarcastic dialog lines. For instance:

“She was quite a sight for anyone who cared to stare instead of blathering about cryptoarcheology: breasts as spherical as stone temple houris in India, Chinatown cheekbones, matte skin the color of cinnamon sugar, and sleek black hair so long it brushed the floor every time she shifted her delectable ass (which was the only time it ever got swept).”

“The best way to explain Ganzo might be to just realize he marched to a different drummer. A really slow, muted drum with wacko syncopation.”

There are a couple of things to warn potential readers about. First, the language. Swearing. Yes, swearing. If that’s a problem, you may want to look somewhere else (like a Little Golden Book or something). Graphic sexual encounters. Yes, there’s sex in this book and quite a bit of it. Matter of fact, it starts with a woman having a major orgasm. There’s another part where a woman is climaxed by a dolphin. It can get extreme. If you’re sensitive to this kind of stuff, you are dually warned. Finally, there are themes around racial tension and other such sensitive topics.

Basically, this book isn’t for the overly sensitive. It’s funny. You will most likely find yourself laughing through much of it. If you like humor, this is a great book because it mixes so many different types: political, racial, sexual, etc. Have some fun with it. The short chapters insure that it keeps moving along.

New and Upcoming WMD Releases

Millions of Kindle units, including the new Kindle Fire, as well as Nooks and other eReaders have been sold and will be given as gifts tomorrow and wonderful gifts they are. Of course, for those of you who either have eReaders or are getting them, you’ll need books to populate them. Well give us a look.

99 cents for the eBook

eBook version available for 99 cents

The first book of a trilogy, 7 Scorpions: Rebellion has gotten a boatload of great reviews as well as a bunch of awards. Click on the cover image to check out the amazon listing or here for the Barnes and Noble listing. You can download a free sample from the website. Soon, the book will be re-released (eBook will still be 99 cents) under my own press, Sagido Publishing. I will be re-typesetting it and fixing a few issues that made it into the final version for the previous release. For the most part, it will remain unchanged although the overuse of all caps will be removed (which is the result of the feedback I’ve gotten, see, I listen to constructive criticism). You can nab the current version which has been well received without fear. Again, it’s 99 cents and you can read the sample chapters just to make sure (which everyone should do, even if you don’t shop at Amazon use the Look Inside feature).

7 Scorpions Revolution Book 2

eBook version available for $2.99

The second book of the trilogy was just released a few days ago. You can check out its first review on the Eclectic Artist Cave. You can nab it on Amazon by clicking on the cover image or from Barnes and Noble. The price tag is only $2.99 so you’ll be spending a total of 4 bucks for both of them. Not bad, huh?Just a side warning, these books are based on nightmares I used to have to it’s not all daisies and singing in the rain. I once had someone upset about the level of violence. I asked them what about a post-apocalyptic setting wasn’t understood.

Now, I’m not a selfish bastard and this isn’t all about me. I highlighted some other books in the back of my new release, and I will mention them here as you will want to pay attention to them.

Unexpected Cover

eBook available for $3.99

WMD’s own Erin Lausten just released her new book Unexpected. I downloaded it on release day. As soon as I finish this Star Wars book I’m reading, this is my next read and I’ll post a review here. I’ve read her stuff before and I have no doubt it’s good. For 4 bucks, what the hell do you have to lose? Click on the pic to go to Amazon or here to get the Nook version.

Army of Angels

Coming in 2012!

Bestselling Author and WMD founding member Norma Beishir and her son Collin are going to be releasing the sequel to Chasing the Wind (which was f**king awesome, you can scope out my review which is posted on the page the previous link leads to, along with several other reviews, nab it for $2.99). I will be diving into this one the moment it comes out but I’m sure Norma is getting annoyed with me for constantly bothering her for it.

Heaven and Hell Front Cover

In 2012, a very promising release by WMD’s William Kendall will be gracing the shelves and our eReaders. Heaven and Hell is a terrorist thriller but I can tell you, William has done more research for this book than I will probably do for my dissertation. He even spoke to police officers to ask about pain level of various bullet wounds, just to insure he could get this as realistic as possible. Talk about dedication. This is one to grab the moment it comes out, it promises to be a big one.

Same Time Tomorrow Ad

Norma and William have alter egos who go by the names James Morgan and Scarlett Martin. These alter egos have two things on their mind: sex and writing about sex. That being the case, they are releasing what promises to be a steamy story called Same Time Tomorrow. Definitely another one to pick up.

Extinction Level Event

Collin Beishir will soon be releasing his first solo novel, ELE (Extinction Level Event). I have to admit, I have a side interest in astrophysics so the premise of this book has got me eagerly awaiting its release. When a nearby star in the Alpha Centauri system goes Supernova, time is limited before the Supernova Remnant reaches Earth. Exciting realistic science fiction? Hell yeah! Can’t wait for this one.

Stay tuned and keep an eye out for new and upcoming releases from WMD. Now, I know that I have questioned the validity of book trailers in the past but if you know what you’re doing, they can be fun to make, so I made one for 7 Scorpions: Revolution. Check it out here: