Monday, 15 April 2013

Book Review: Assured Destruction

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host a Tribute Books blog tour. This time we welcome Michael F. Stewart as we take an inside look at his novel Assured Destruction.

Assured Destruction: Book Summary

Sixteen-year-old Jan Rose knows that nothing is ever truly deleted. At least, not from the hard drives she scours to create the online identities she calls the Shadownet.

Hobby? Art form? Sad, pathetic plea to garner friendship, even virtually? Sure, Jan is guilty on all counts. Maybe she’s even addicted to it. It’s an exploration. Everyone has something to hide. The Shadownet’s hard drives are Jan’s secrets. They're stolen from her family’s computer recycling business Assured Destruction. If the police found out, Jan’s family would lose their livelihood.

When the real people behind Shadownet’s hard drives endure vicious cyber attacks, Jan realizes she is responsible. She doesn’t know who is targeting these people or why but as her life collapses Jan must use all her tech savvy to bring the perpetrators to justice before she becomes the next victim.

Formats: paperback and ebook
Release: March 22, 2013

Amazon paperback ($8.99)

Kindle ($2.99)

Michael F. Stewart: Biography

After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.

Our Review of Assured Destruction

Michael F. Stewart's Assured Destruction is a YA novel that is well-written, interesting, and enjoyable to read. It follows the exploits of the young protagonist as she builds her Shadownet of virtual friends and then must face the consequences as real life intrudes on her private domain, and bad things begin to happen in real time. But Jan Rose is up to the challenge as she tries to dig her way out of the mess, save her mom's company, and find the real culprits. 

The protagonist is both likeable and humorous, and the references to Ottawa throughout the novel (the city "that fun forgot”) will spark instant recognition by anyone who has lived or worked there. At the same time, the protagonist faces numerous challenges in her own life, and Stewart has done a very good job of weaving serious themes into the novel: Jan's perceived abandonment by her father, her mother's daily struggles with MS, and the daunting task of surviving school life and online bullying. A central thread in the novel is Jan's attempt to write an essay on Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. Plath's depression and subsequent suicide serve as a counterpoint to Jan's conscious efforts to take control of her life and resolve her problems. It's good to see a strong female protagonist in YA novels.

As Stewart's website indicates, Assured Destruction is planned as a transmedia experience, with four books serving as an anchor for an Internet connection that will bring Shadownet to life. We wish him the best with this endeavour and look forward to following Jan Rose in her future adventures!

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Book Review: The Grace Painter

Once again The Overnight Bestseller is pleased to host a Tribute Books blog tour. This time we welcome Mark Romang as we take an inside look at his novel The Grace Painter.   

The Grace Painter: Book Summary

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is the one reflecting back at you from inside a mirror. Matthew London can attest to this difficult truth. Ever since the former NYPD hostage negotiator changed his identity and fled New York City for the backwaters of Louisiana, regret has ruled his life.

For eight years London has lived like a hermit in a declining plantation house. Only his talent for painting Renaissance-style murals and paintings keeps the inner-demons from totally destroying him. Each day the disgraced hostage negotiator longs for a chance at redemption, never expecting it to actually happen. But then a down-on-her-luck FBI agent shows up on his doorstep one evening. It turns out Jean-Paul and Sebastian Boudreaux, two local brothers famous for lawlessness have inadvertently kidnapped a little girl.

London is quickly thrust into the starring role of a daring rescue attempt. But before he can rescue the child from the dangerous Boudreaux brothers, he first must find a way to forgive himself for a past misstep, a blunder that forever altered his once promising life. But in the Atchafalaya Basin swampland, nothing is promised. Grace cannot be purchased or earned. It can only be given.

Price/Format: $0.99 ebook
Pages: 303
Publisher: self-published
Release: November 26, 2012

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Mark Romang: Biography

Mark Romang was born in 1967. He is self-described as an avid reader, suspense novelist, faithful husband, baffled father, factory worker, reformed head-banger, failed musician, contact sports lover, MMA enthusiast, distressed KC sports fan, Lord of the Rings geek, workout fiend, dog owner, nature lover, proud American, disgruntled voter, pistachio addict, caffeine-riddled screw-up and saved-by-grace sojourner.

Our Review of The Grace Painter

Mark Romang has a colorful prose style with plenty of alliterations, similes and metaphors reminiscent of pulp-style detective novelists.On his website, the author talks of his love for the action adventure novels of Clive Cussler, and it is obvious from the start to finish of his debut novel The Grace Painter that he is writing in the tradition of the suspenseful, action-packed thriller.

In addition to the protagonist Matthew London, there are many secondary characters and sub-plots in The Grace Painter to reinforce the themes of forgiveness and redemption, as well as the underlying battle of good versus evil. However, the author is successful in maintaining the momentum of the novel and also manages to introduce a plot twist at the end that readers did not see coming.

Readers of Christian suspense thrillers by such novelists as Steven James and Ted Dekker will no doubt enjoy this new voice in the genre.

Best of luck with your next novel, Mark. It sounds as if it will be equally suspenseful!

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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Why I Enjoy Writing Genre Fiction

I'm currently working on the fourth Donaghue and Stainer crime fiction novel, The Rainy Day Killer, so I thought it would be a good time to discuss why I enjoy writing and why I chose to write genre fiction.

When I was a kid, I was a book reader and a daydreamer. I devoured every juvenile novel the library had on their shelves back then, and I always wanted to be able to tell the same kind of stories myself. Science fiction, sports, historical fiction, you name it. I wrote literary fiction for a while in the 80s, mostly short stories, and sold a few to periodicals such as Fiddlehead and Quarry, but once I went back to work full time with Customs I had to set the writing aside until I was able to take early retirement. By that time, Donaghue and Stainer were ready to burst out onto the scene.

The crime fiction genre interests me because I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. The power of narrative over us as human beings is remarkable, and in genre fiction a strong story is very important. As a crime fiction author, I have an opportunity to use the power of narrative to grab my readers’ attention and move them forward through my story. Once I have them, crime fiction allows me the opportunity to work with certain themes more freely than other types of fiction might allow. Themes relating to our search for justice as a society, the need to explain the existence of evil in the world, and the toll that a career investigating violent crime can take on a person are among those that I've explored.

For those who are new to my blog, the Donaghue and Stainer series is set in the fictional city of Glendale, Maryland, and focuses on the homicide investigations of Lieutenant Hank Donaghue and Detective Karen Stainer. They come from very different backgrounds, and their approaches to investigation and enforcement are at times very different. Donaghue tends to intellectualize, while Stainer is more of a butt-kicker. As the series progresses, they grow closer (as friends and co-workers, but with no romantic interest in one another), and the reader sees why law enforcement officers often bond together for mutual support and protection.

My latest novel presents a few challenges to me: for the first time, I'm writing about a serial killer and I'm doing a great deal of research to ensure that the portrayal is realistic. And because Karen will be marrying her fiancé Sandy in this novel, I've also had to research and plan a wedding!

I'll keep you posted on how it's going. . .