Author Interview ~ Marc Neuffer

I’d like to welcome Marc Neuffer, author of Light Thief – Journey to the End as a guest on my website. He will be sharing a little about himself, his latest story, and of course his process as a writer. If you have questions that aren’t answer in this interview, please feel free to comment below so he can respond personally.

Let’s start by finding out a little bit about you…

  • What is your name, and do you write under a pen name?
    Marc Neuffer. My children refer to me as ‘the old one.’ I don’t have a pen name. I use a pencil.

Oh boy, it looks like Marc is a comedian… I have a feeling this interview might be very interesting.

  • Where do you call home?
    Middle of nowhere in Marshall County, Alabama
  • Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
    I’m fully retired from the U.S. Navy – 22 years – and a follow-on twenty-year civilian career as a business owner and as a professional photographer. Perhaps you’ve seen my work on the wall at the post office. I was very good at what I did and have the documentation to prove it. Those other records have been sealed by the court. In the navy, I was a nuclear propulsion engineer.
  • What is your family like?
    Well, my four kids are out on their own with successful careers and families, and they don’t ask for money. I blame their mother for their individual successes. We are empty nesters with one dog and three cats. I don’t know where the cats came from; I’m allergic to cats.
  • If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
    My childhood homes? Well, there were five of them. My father’s career, as an aerospace engineer, caused us to move around a lot until the space program settled down in Huntsville, Alabama. The houses were always in the suburbs, real Leave It To Beaver-villes.
  • Do you have any hobbies other than writing? What do you enjoy doing? Well, I like Pina Coladas and walks in the rain … no wait, that’s just a song I heard on the radio yesterday. Since retiring, I have taken up the piano; it soothes me as much as writing does.
  • What is your greatest dream?
    Well, if you’re asking about a persona dream of doing something I have never done before, then I haven’t got one. I have been around the world, visited more than a dozen countries, played guitar on stage with a band, arrested people, driven police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks, been a sports coach, and Scout Master, started and ran a successful small business, which I have since sold. Everything on my bucket list has been crossed off.

    Now, if you’re asking about things like people I would like to meet or places I would like to go, and we’re talking dreams here, then Samuel Clemens and Mars… yeah, those two.
  • What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
    I’d like to be thirty-two, tall, dark, and handsome with an exotic accent. My wife would like that. Time and genetics hold me back.

Yes, a comedian… I was right.

  • Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love?
    YES!  She had the most sorrowful brown eyes. Her tail wagged furiously the first time we met. I was twelve. Sadly, she passed away.
  • What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you? Well, I suppose I would have to say the deaths of my mother and father.
  • What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
    I remember precisely when I decided to start writing, I was just starting my daily nap, my mind disengaged, letting whatever thoughts might surface, drift around. I came up with a story idea. Ended up writing a science fiction novel around that … then four more books … since late March of this year.
  • What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
    Not really any dreams of the future when I was growing up. So, you can leave this one blank. I was a boy, and as I recall, we didn’t sit around planning our dream wedding, we were too busy finding food and fun.
  • Who is your role model?
    Sorry, I thought about this one … seriously, I don’t have one.
  • What is your greatest fear?
    The greatest fear is something terrible happening to my wife or children. No phobias
  • Do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers, or audio-books?
    When my children still lived at home, we would make a trip to ‘the big city’ once a month to visit the book store. Everyone loaded up for their monthly read. So, print books back then. Now I use e-books since I can keep my library on my phone available at all times. I have a few audiobooks I listen to … they help me fall asleep at night.
  • Have you ever read a book more than once? And if so, what was it?
    Since e-books have come along, I have occasionally re-read some of the Sci-Fi classics I read as a teenager. Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke.
  • What is your opinion of novellas?
    I like novellas much the same way I like short people. For me, it’s all about the story; word count is irrelevant.

As a rather short person, I appreciate the lack of discrimination. lol

  • Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
    No, not without reading a synopsis or back cover.
  • What is your favorite film based on a book?
    Can’t think of one.
  • What is your favorite book genre at the moment?
    History, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction
  • What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why?
    Humm … don’t have a wish list. I browse when looking for my next book.
  • What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
    “Let me see,” he said, reaching for his phone …

    Robinson Crusoe … to study Defoe’s first-person narrative style.
    The Ruin of the Roman Empire – James O’Donnell
    Sector C – The Chosen, by you-know-who

Yes, I do believe I know who write SECTOR C – The Chosen and I appreciate you reading it.

  • If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
    I don’t care for fictitious people with publicists.

Let’s shift somewhat and talk about your latest story.

  • What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say?
    Light Thief – Journey to the End
    Sci-Fi – In the far future, a twelve-year-old girl finds her purpose 20 years later, while searching for something else.
  • Is the above book part of a series?
    Yes, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel
  • How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)?
    When starting a new book, I browse the pre-made cover offerings for something that fits.  I do the title graphics myself.
  • Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)?
    Not unless my wife has the radio on.
  • How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
    Well, for the first one, I was thinking about physics and the universe, how heat and light are the basic building blocks. Don’t get me started on E=MC2; it’s not an equivalency.   Anyway, Heat and Light became the title, followed, naturally by Cold and Dark, then Light Thief. See what I did there?
  • Do you have a book trailer? If so, where can we watch it?
    No book trailer… have a boat trailer.
  • In your latest novel, who is the lead character, and can you tell us a little about him/her?
    In Light Thief, Darby is a 12-year-old, precocious self-assured daughter of a scientist mother and a lost space explorer father. The book follows her through the next twenty years.
  • What is your character’s greatest strengths?
    Belief in self and living a non-self-limiting life.
  • And what are his/her greatest weaknesses?
    Men?  The unrelenting pull into space to find her lost father, or what had happened to him.
  • What are some of his/her favorite foods?
    Jahuna chips — very crunchy with just the right amount of salt — the hot ones.  I made that up for the book.
  • Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
    Unless the reader is a sociopath, they will not only like, but identify with her coming of age story. She never kills anyone who doesn’t deserve it. What a girl!
  • What first gave you the idea for your latest book?
    A reader of my books, Paradox Twins and Riley 2.0  asked what happened to Riley after the 2.0 story. Rather than continue with Riley as the main character, in Light Thief, she becomes an off-stage (and disembodied) persona that occasionally interacts with Darby.

Let’s talk now about your writing process.

  • What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
    I write with my high-beams on … letting the characters live their lives unencumbered by me. I simply type as I watch the movies play in my head. Given that, I usually have an end-of-story I’m driving towards.

I write in much the same way. I do use a planning guide to help me keep track of important details, but mostly I just fly by the seat of my pants following my characters’ lead and writing what I see at the movie of their lives play out.

  • Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time?
    I would pick the brains of someone who had been through self-publishing themselves. As for writing, I generally do a very structured stream of consciousness flow, not letting myself be too concerned with commas, split infinitives or starting sentence with an –ing ending word.

    Self-publishing is very easy, once you learn the technical steps. If you need help, ask a teenager to walk you though the website steps. I think they are all IT department people.

  • Since you are a self-published/Indie author what made you go that route instead of the traditional publishing route?
    First, it is very time consuming to find an interested traditional publisher.  I think Amazon’s platform for indies makes them nervous. They may become the next buggy whip manufacturers, as in ‘what purpose do they serve.’

    Secondly, I don’t trust anybody’s opinion but my own. I know my material, I do research for my books, and I know when my work satisfies me.  I learned that editors don’t read like real people; it’s so sad.
  • What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
    I never received any, except from my 6th grade teacher who wanted me to write legibly. I didn’t know any writers when I started. So, I got nothing on this question.
  • Where can your readers follow you? Please list links to any applicable websites and/or social media accounts.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ~ Book Review

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

  • Title: Before We Were Yours
  • Author: Lisa Wingate
  • Release Date: May 21, 2019

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★ (4 Stars)
Writing: ★★★★ | Story: ★★★★ | Characters: ★★★★ | Appearance: ★★★★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

THE BLOCKBUSTER HIT—Over two million copies sold! A New York TimesUSA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“Poignant, engrossing.”—People • “Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.”—Paula McLain


Memphis, 1939. 
Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Publishers Weekly’s #3 Longest-Running Bestseller of 2017  Winner of the Southern Book Prize  If All Arkansas Read the Same Book Selection

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.”Parade

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

I didn’t know anything about this book when I started reading it. It was a book club selection, so I didn’t need to read the back – I knew I was going to read it. I had a feeling it was going to be emotional, and it was. It isn’t the typical genre I like reading, but I am so glad I read it. It has opened my eyes to a piece of U.S. history that I never knew about. Not all history is good, in fact most isn’t, this included. Yet, not knowing, doesn’t make it any better. The families that supported and participated in this “legalized” child trading should be ashamed of themselves. It was disgusting and unforgivable. No child should have to suffer the way these kids did. No child should be ripped away from their family for no reason. There is a difference between children being put into the system when there is abuse, drug use, or the families are just unable to care for the children properly. But to have a child kidnapped off their front porch or sold into the system, its not right.

WRITING (★★★★):

Lisa Wingate’s writing style is simple and elegant storytelling. The pages are painted with descriptive text that make you feel like you’re there in the world she’s seeing in her mind. Talk of magnolias smelling like freedom, children wrapped in bedsheets like caterpillars, and the way the boat moans beneath their feet…all of it allows you to hear, smell, even taste exactly what the characters are experiencing.  

STORY (★★★★):

This book tells two stories, the first centers around Rill Foss and her siblings and the second centers around Avery Stafford a woman who comes from a well-known political family. The stories take place about 70 years apart, but are weaved into each other for the purposes of the novel. The first story, that of Rill Foss and her siblings, covers their time and experiences within the Tennessee Home for Children, and is both intriguing and devastating. The second story, that of Avery Stafford and the Stafford family as Avery is digging up her grandmother’s history and past secrets was a little less intriguing. In fact, at times, it was quite boring.

The Tennessee Home for Children portion of the story takes the unthinkable facts, based on the recounted stories told by children who survived the Tennessee Children’s Homes Society orphanage and who later were able to locate their lost family members after the documents were unsealed in 1995, 45 years after the home was closed. Lisa Wingate has created a family of believable siblings, using an all to likely storyline, caught up in this terrible scheme of child trafficking. It is heart-breaking and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. When you consider these things actually happened, and may still be happening in some areas of the world, it is sickening.

As a mother, this was a rather hard book to read. The subject matter is disturbing and unforgettable. I kept picturing my children going through what Rill and her siblings when through and it made me sick. Having a story like this be based on something that really happened makes it all the much worse. That being said, I felt like it was extremely well-written and hard to put down. I needed to get to the end. I needed to find out if everything worked out for them in the end, even though I knew that for many of the children in the care of the Tennessee Home for Children, things didn’t work out well.

CHARACTERS (★★★★):

Character development is one of Lisa Wingate’s strongest tools. She weaves two stories; then and now, into this book and the only thing holding them together is the strong characters she has created. Rill Foss (aka May Crandall) and her siblings has such a tight bond that the entire book your hoping and praying that there will be a happy ending and everyone will find each other again. Avery Stafford, the great granddaughter of Rill’s sister is a truly honorable woman, set on finding out the truth even if the buried secrets could hurt her family politically.

APPEARANCE (★★★★):

The cover is beautiful. It speaks to the heart without giving anything away.  

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“One of the best things a father can do for his daughter is let her know that she has met his expectations. My father did that for me, and no amount of effort on my part can fully repay the debt.”

“A woman’s past need not predict her future. She can dance to new music if she chooses. Her own music. To hear the tune, she must only stop talking. To herself, I mean. We’re always trying to persuade ourselves of things.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Selected among BOOKLIST’S Top 10 for two years running, Lisa Wingate writes novels that Publisher’s Weekly calls “Masterful” and ForeWord Magazine refers to as “Filled with lyrical prose, hope, and healing.” Lisa is a journalist, an inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of literary works. Her novels have garnered or been short-listed for many awards, including the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, the Oklahoma Book Award, the Utah Library Award, the LORIES Best Fiction Award, The Carol Award, the Christy Award, Family Fiction’s Top 10, RT Booklover’s Reviewer’s Choice Award, and others. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with six others for the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who promote greater kindness and civility in American life. She’s been a writer since Mrs. Krackhardt’s first-grade class and still believes that stories have the power to change the world.

IN THE WRITER’S OWN WORDS: A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, made a writer out of me. That may sound unlikely, but it’s true. It’s possible to find a calling when you’re still in pigtails and Mary Jane shoes, and to know it’s your calling. I was halfway through the first grade when I landed in Mrs. Krackhardt’s classroom. I was fairly convinced there wasn’t anything all that special about me… and then, Mrs. Krackhardt stood over my desk and read a story I was writing. She said things like, “This is a great story! I wonder what happens next?”

It isn’t every day a shy new kid gets that kind of attention. I rushed to finish the story, and when I wrote the last word, the teacher took the pages, straightened them on the desk, looked at me over the top, and said, “You are a wonderful writer!”

A dream was born. Over the years, other dreams bloomed and died tragic, untimely deaths. I planned to become an Olympic gymnast or win the National Finals Rodeo, but there was this matter of back flips on the balance beam and these parents who stubbornly refused to buy me a pony. Yet the writer dream remained. I always believed I could do it because… well… my first grade teacher told me so, and first grade teachers don’t lie.

So, that is my story, and if you are a teacher, or know a teacher, or ever loved a special teacher, I salute you from afar and wish you days be filled with stories worth telling and stories worth reading.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by Lisa Wingate:

Click on the book cover images below to read the descriptions and order your copy! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Week 34 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

Today is the 34th Edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

Remember, #WritingWednesday is an EASY, STRESS-FREE (which is why I’m not stressing that this post is a day late), weekly writing challenge.

  • Read the writing prompt below,
  • Spend 5 minutes writing (in your own voice or the voice of a character you’re writing) whatever comes to mind,
  • DON’T EDIT what you write! IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!

The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

Today I am writing in the voice of Tanja, one of the characters in the novel I’m currently outlining. I’m not sure if this will be a selection in the novel, or just part of my character development journal.

Today’s writing prompt:

Describe one odd item you always carry with you, in your purse, your wallet, or just a pocket.

I was young when my mother died, but before she did, she shared the secrets of our lineage with me. She didn’t want to, but having watched as she and my aunt raised my grandmother’s body from the grave, she kind of had to. When she believed I was ready, or maybe just because she knew her time was coming to an end, she gave me her sacred ritual knife. It was an ivory white, alligator jaw bone boline-athame-knife. It was razor sharper and as strong as any knife I’ve ever seen. The blade is only three inches long, but it doesn’t have to be long when you’re only using it to slice into the palm of your own hand, or that of a relative of the dead you’re trying to raise. Since my mother died, I’ve kept that blade with me without fail. She had used it since she was a child, learning her craft. It felt like a piece of her was always with me, guiding me, and protecting me.

© 2019 Nina Soden


Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

Describe one odd item you always carry with you, in your purse, your wallet, or just a pocket.


What books have made your October reading list? Comment below and let me know! Then, click on the links below to check out the October 2019 New York Times Top Ten Lists and see which books you’d like to add to your reading list!


Let Passion Drive You!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

What are you passionate about?

When I sit down and think about my life, really think, there are so many things I am passionate about. It makes me wonder if you can have too much passion in your life. Can too much passion overwhelm your life, causing you to spread yourself to thin… thus never achieving greatness in any one area?

The following quote comes to mind: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman

The thing is I don’t know that I really want to change the world. My passions aren’t about earth-changing, life-altering, global-effecting issues. My passions are about: watching my children live, laugh, and love; experiencing the natural talents as I watch my husband on the golf course; spending quiet time as I put my thoughts on paper creating a new world for my readers; giving my time to the local community theatre and performing on stage with some amazing actresses and actors.

You see, I have had big dreams and amazing passions in my life… they are what took me to L.A. to pursue a career in film… However, what I have discovered, in my Blah Blah years, is that my true passions aren’t out there somewhere in the world undiscovered, but instead they are here, in my home, with my family close at hand.

So, as my all time favorite actress Audrey Hepburn once said, “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”

You see… the love I give to my family is my passion and through them my passion drives me!

No One’s Home by D. M. Pulley ~ Book Review

Would you prefer to watch the video, instead of reading the review? CLICK HERE

  • Title: No One’s Home
  • Author: D. M. Pulley
  • Publication Date: 9/1/2019
  • Genre: Horror | Ghost Thriller | historical mysteries
  • Pages: 397

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

RATING OVERVIEW (4.25 STARS)

Writing: ★★★★ Story: ★★★★ Characters: ★★★★ Appearance: ★★★★ ★

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:

or fans of The Haunting of Hill House comes a dark tale of a mansion haunted by a legacy of tragedy and a family trapped by lies.

Margot and Myron Spielman move to a new town, looking for a fresh start and an escape from the long shadow of their past. But soon after they buy Rawlingswood, a foreclosed mansion rumored to be haunted, they realize they’re in for more of the same…or worse.

After a renovation fraught with injuries and setbacks, the Spielmans move in to the century-old house, and their problems quickly escalate. The home’s beautiful facade begins to crumble around them when their teenage son uncovers disturbing details of Rawlingswood’s history—a history of murder, betrayal, and financial ruin. The Spielmans’ own shameful secrets and lies become harder to hide as someone or something inside the house watches their every move.

As tensions build between the family members, the home’s dark history threatens to repeat itself. Margot and Myron must confront their own ghosts and Rawlingswood’s buried past before the house becomes their undoing.

MY 2 CENTS / THE CRITICAL POINTS:

No One’s Home has been compared to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which I’ve read… It’s scary. This book, although good, does not compare. It just didn’t live up to the hype.

WRITING (★★★★): Pulley is a great writer. Her descriptive text is beautiful and she does a great job of pulling you into a scene. However, this book covers the story of five different families, at five different periods in time; the Rawlings family 1922-1931, the Bell family 1936-1972, the Klussman Family 1972-1990, the Martin Family, and the Spielman family – present day. Although the writing is good and the stories are interesting, going back and forth between the different time periods only pulled me out of the story. Each time the story shifted, I had to take a moment to think back, figure out who these characters were and what their story was. That was a huge distraction for me. Although I can see this story working really well as a movie, shifting from one period to the next with lighting changes, appropriate set dressing, and costumes for each time period, it just didn’t work for me as a novel. I see the film done in a similar manor as American Horror Story, which actors playing multiple roles within the time period – almost a reincarnation of spirit sort of thing.


STORY (★★★★): The story is well thought out although maybe could have been structured a little better. I think this could have worked really well as a series of short stories… a collection of stories that take place over the years all centered around this one house in Shaker Heights.


CHARACTERS (★★★★): I wasn’t really sure who the main character was. The back of the book reads as if Margot and Myron Spielman are the main focus, but then their son, Hunter pulls more of the focus when reading. Then, you have to consider all of the other families you’re learning about. The Spielman family isn’t given any more “screen time” or “ink” than any of the other families. So, what family did Pulley really want this story to be about? I think we could have learned so much about the history of the story and been drawn in more to each of the stories if this were a collection of short stories.


APPEARANCE (★★★★★): The cover is beautiful. It even has the feel of the cover from The Haunting of Hill House although this one is set in blues were as The Haunting of Hill House is more oranges and Yellows. Whoever designed the cover, I give them credit. The creepy old house with the single light in the attic really does draw you in. I noticed this one on the shelf the instant I walked past and even before reading the back, I knew I was going to read the book. That to me, is the sign of a really good cover.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

D.M. Pulley lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a Professional Engineer rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Since then, Pulley has sold over a half a million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into eight different languages.

Pulley’s historical mysteries shine a light into the darker side of life in the Midwest during the twentieth century, when cities like Detroit and Cleveland struggled to survive. Her latest novel, No One’s Home, unravels the disturbing history of an old mansion haunted by family secrets, financial ruin, and murder. The abandoned buildings, haunted houses, and buried past of the Rust Belt continue to inspire her work. Learn more at www.dmpulley.com.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

Also by D. M. Pulley

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The Unclaimed Victim

What if the last victim of Cleveland’s infamous Torso Killer got away?

In 1938, a serial killer terrorizes Cleveland, Ohio, leaving a trail of bodies along the rails and riverbeds. Ethel, a street-hardened woman who’s lost everything, takes refuge inside a city mission only to find that its righteous facade conceals the darkest of secrets. As she wanders the twisting corridors, it becomes clear she may never leave the mission alive.

Sixty years later, the police discover the body of Alfred Wiley, dismembered in a disturbingly familiar way. His daughter, Kris, finds herself pulled into Cleveland’s haunting past as things he never told her begin to surface. Stolen books about the unsolved Torso Murders, missing archives, serial killer chat rooms, and an abandoned city mission are all somehow connected to his disappearance. The more she learns of her father’s obsession with the Torso Killer, the further she stumbles into a madman’s sights.

Separated by decades but trapped in the same killer’s web, Ethel and Kris must unravel the truth behind the city’s most notorious unsolved murders . . . or die trying.


The Dead Key

2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Grand Prize and Mystery & Thriller Fiction Winner

It’s 1998, and for years the old First Bank of Cleveland has sat abandoned, perfectly preserved, its secrets only speculated on by the outside world.

Twenty years before, amid strange staff disappearances and allegations of fraud, panicked investors sold Cleveland’s largest bank in the middle of the night, locking out customers and employees, and thwarting a looming federal investigation. In the confusion that followed, the keys to the vault’s safe-deposit boxes were lost.

In the years since, Cleveland’s wealthy businessmen kept the truth buried in the abandoned high-rise. The ransacked offices and forgotten safe-deposit boxes remain locked in time, until young engineer Iris Latch stumbles upon them during a renovation survey. What begins as a welcome break from her cubicle becomes an obsession as Iris unravels the bank’s sordid past. With each haunting revelation, Iris follows the looming shadow of the past deeper into the vault—and soon realizes that the key to the mystery comes at an astonishing price.


The Buried Book

When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.

It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.

As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother—and now it’s chasing him too.


October 2019 ~ Book Haul

I LOVE to read… Sometimes my ‘To Read’ list grows a little to large, but those are the times I love the most. Right now, I’m celebrating my amazing OCTOBER BOOK HAUL!

Comment below and let me know how many of these books you’ve read and which one you recommend I start with! If you see something you like and plan to pick up a copy, you can do so by clicking on the book cover, the title, or the [BUY IT HERE] button.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


#1 The Starter Wife

by Nina Laurin

Local police have announced that they’re closing the investigation of the suspected drowning of 37-year-old painter Colleen Westcott. She disappeared on April 11, 2010, and her car was found parked near the waterfront in Cleveland two days later, but her body has never been found.

I close the online search window, annoyed. These articles never have enough detail. They think my husband’s first wife disappeared or they think she is dead. There’s a big difference.


#2 The Wife Between Us

by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.


#3 The Other Sister

by Dianne Dixon

One sister has everything. Her twin hates her for it. Would life be better without Ali? Probably. At least then people might notice Morgan. Ali’s always gotten everything-she doesn’t even realize how much Morgan resents her.


#4 The Last Time I Lied

by Riley Sager

Two truths and a lie. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and Emma played it all the time at Camp Nightingale. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she – or anyone – saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.


#5 Sometimes I Lie

by Alice Feeney

Amber Reynolds wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea.


#6 Parasite

by Mira Grant

Every six months or so, some conspiracy nut starts in with “what they aren’t telling you” and “These are the things they don’t want you to know,” and you know what? Not one of them has produced verifiable scientific evidence that the Intestinal Bodyguard is harmful in humans.


#7 Paradox

by Catherine Coulter

Author Catherine Coulter delves into the terrifying mind of an escaped mental patient obsessed with revenge in this next installment of her riveting FBI series.


#8 Sleeping Beauties

by Stephen King and Owen King

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep: they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent…



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I huge thank you to my Book Fairy, Stacy Kingsley – zombie author – CLICK FOR HER WEBSITE. PLUS, you should totally check out her books below:

JOKER (2019) ~ Movie Review

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HERE

Comment below and tell me what you thought of Joaquin Phoenix as THE JOKER!!!


SHOW RATING OVERVIEW ★★★★★ (5 Stars)
Writing/Story: ★★★★★ | Cinematography:  ★★★★★ Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★


IMDB STORY LINE:

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck embarks on a downward-spiral of social revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his infamous alter-ego: “The Joker”.

WARNER BROTHERS STORY LINE:

Joker centers around an origin of the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone story not seen before on the big screen. Todd Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a man disregarded by society, is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.

MY 2 CENTS:

This film is fantastic. It probably isn’t for everyone. I know it received a lot of negative reviews and a bunch of criticism for the amount of violence. However, it I feel that it also deserved some praise – both for the writing and the acting. I think the risks taken by writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver were great. Before seeing the film, I was a bit concerned. I had heard that there was talk about extreme unnecessary violence. I had no idea what to expect. However, after seeing the film, I can honestly say that wasn’t the case at all. After watching the John Wick movies, which are just riddled with violence to the point that it is hard to remember a scene without violence, this film is more drama than violence. In fact, the first time Arthur Fleck ever kills anyone, it is in self-defense. Sure, it is clear in that moment you can tell he is enjoying it… and that is where you start to see the typical evil of The Joker come through.  

Writing/Story: ★★★★★

WOW! The origin story for The Joker has always been a bit confusing for me. I never really understood it and it has always seemed a bit unrealistic and contrived. However, writers Todd Phillips and Scott Silver really developed a believable, heart wrenching backstory that allows the audience not only to understand why and how Arthur Fleck becomes The Joker, but to also sympathize with his situation and even root for him at times.

This film really forces the audience to think about mental illness, how we as a society often fail to give the appropriate care, attention, and medical treatment to those that really need it. Arthur Fleck is functioning in society, it’s a struggle but he is doing it. Then, when the funding for his state funded therapy is cancelled and he can no longer talk to his therapist and get his medications he spirals downhill.

Cinematography ★★★★★

The camera angles used during some of the scenes were truly beautiful and helped to pull the right emotional strings of the audience. One scene in particular was when Arthur was dancing down the steps and the camera is lower down, staring up at him. The joy he is portraying is both frightening and delightful at the same time.

Another case would be when Arthur has been beaten down and the camera is low on the ground with him. As an audience member, being down there on the ground with him, you feel his pain, his fear, his anger, and just a complete rush of helplessness.

The way this movie was filmed really made me feel like I was watching a Martin Scorsese film, such as Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, or even Raging Bull. After seeing the film, I read some reviews that said this same thing. However, were other people complained about this, I really liked it. I’ve always really liked Martin Scorsese’s film style.

Character(s)/Acting: ★★★★★

Joaquin Phoenix was brilliant in this film. I can’t think of another actor that could have played this role in quiet the same way or with the same amount of emotional connection. There are so many moments throughout the film where I was just swept away emotionally, and brought to tears even, because of what Arthur was going through. It isn’t because I agree with the violence and the killing, but its in the moments, such as the first time he attempts standup comedy, or when he is beaten down in the street (more than once) where as an audience member feel his fear, his pain, and his torment.

In an interview, Phoenix stated that perfecting the Joker’s laugh was the toughest part of playing the character and I can completely see why. Laughter is usually associated with joy and delight and comedy, however, when he laughs you see his struggle with pain, depression, and anxiety. It is in complete conflict with the act of laughing. He stated that he watched videos of people who suffered from pathological laughter in order to get it just right.

Joaquin Phoenix stated that he had been “interested in the light of Arthur for lack of a better word. It wasn’t just the torment, it was the joy, his struggle to find happiness and to feel connected. To have warmth and love. I don’t think of a character as tormented.” Ultimately, I feel that Phoenix was able to bring out all of Arthur’s deepest emotions and make him a character that audience members can both related to and sympathize with.

FUN FACT:

Robert De Niro‘s role as Murray Franklin, the talk-show host who gives Arthur Fleck his big break, and even the name The Joker, is an ironic role reversal from De Niro’s role in The King of Comedy (1982). In that film, De Niro played Rupert Pupkin, an unsuccessful, mentally-unstable comedian who stalked and kidnapped his favorite talk-show host, Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis).

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

“I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it’s a comedy.”

TO SUM IT UP:

This film is a dark, terrifying, gritty, raw, and often uncomfortable character study of a man who has been mistreated, abused (both emotionally and physically), and overlooked by everyone in his life. This film dives into how the circumstances of life and long-term abuse have affected Arthur Fleck physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen so you can get the full effect of the amazing camera angles and larger than life closeups.

Have you seen JOKER? If not, you should. If you have, let me know your thoughts, in the comments below. As always, I recommend seeing this film for yourself and forming your own opinion.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

JOKER (2019) Trailer: