The Lincoln Conspiracy – Timothy L. O’Brien

I found this book while I was wandering up and down the aisles of my library looking for a different book. Most of you probably know I am a HUGE Lincoln fan (I may have a problem!), so I always like to read books that revolve around him, his family, or his presidency.

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This one did not disappoint. Temple McFadden is a Detective in Washington D.C., and happens to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. From the beginning to the end, Temple, his wife Fiona, and their friend Augustus are doing everything in their power to protect two diaries. One is Mrs. Lincoln’s; the other belonged John Wilkes Booth.

They have assistance from some other friends, are double crossed, and every day seems to bring a new battle. It is believed that both diaries contain information on the possible real reason Mr. Lincoln was assassinated. Many want to see the diaries destroyed, in order to protect themselves and their business interests.

I always try to avoid spoilers at-all-costs, so I will have to leave this review here. If you enjoy history, this book is a must-read!

Night Mask – William W. Johnstone

Well, I know for a fact I have never read this horror story by Mr. Johnstone. When I bought it, I noticed many of the reviews discussed the high level of violence and depravity in the story. I was expecting it to be much worse than it was. It was right in line with most of the other horror novels he had written. I am guessing that those reviewers have likely not read anywhere near as many of Mr. Johnstone’s horror novels as I have.

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It is a rather lengthy story, but it certainly engages you right from the get-go and keeps those pages turning. I will not get into too many details since it really is quite graphic, and I always try to avoid spoilers whenever possible.

The main thing to remember about these stories is that they were written before there were computers in every home, DVD players, and cell phones. It is definitely part of the charm of why I enjoy these books.

Lani and Leo are police officers who are put on a case that will change their lives. What seems like one gruesome incident is just the tip of the iceberg. They are about to discover a killing club that has been active for decades.

As more and more bodies are discovered, more help gets brought in to assist the two officers. They soon realize there are people everywhere whom they should not trust, even in their own department.

Someone is using the local radio station to introduce subliminal messages to the listeners, who in turn fall under the control of a very evil pair of twins. What begins in one small town takes you from the East Coast to the West Coast, with a body count so high, it is the worst in history.

There are many characters involved in the story, so you definitely need to pay attention to all the different angles going on. In the end, it all comes full circle, and everything is tied together.

Definitely an intense read, but well worth the efforts!

Carnival – William W. Johnstone

I am sure this is one of the few, if not only, William W. Johnstone horror novels I did not read as a teenager. If I did read it, I do not recall it. That does not happen with Mr. Johnstone’s books.

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Martin Holland and his family live in Holland, Nebraska. A sleepy farming town where not much happens. At least, not much since that carnival about 50 years prior. That carnival that went down in flames, literally, killing over 100 carnival workers. Unfortunately, the residents of Holland were responsible for those deaths. Vengeance based on lies that were covered up by 3 powerful men who basically ran the town.

Vengeance against the carnival that did nothing wrong.

The carnival has returned, seeking vengeance of its own.

Martin has seen the changes in his wife, Alicia, and many others in the town. They were drawn to the fairgrounds where the carnival was being set up. Staring at the tents being set up, and the workers getting things in order.

Nabo was in charge of the carnival. The same Nabo that was burned to death in the carnival of 1954.

The closer the carnival gets to opening day, the more peculiar the town becomes. Martin and Doc Reynolds both sensed what was coming to the residents of the town. Martin discovers he has the “Insight”, something that has been in his family for generations.

Now it is up to Martin, and a small group of friends, to set things right in Holland, and put an end to the evil the carnival has brought to their town. Good versus evil, God versus Satan, and a small few versus so very many.

Although I started reading these books when I was 11 or 12, just a note that they are very, very gory. I am working my way through purchasing all of Mr. Johnstone’s books that I had as a teenager, so I can again enjoy these great horror stories.

Gingerbread Cookie Murder – Joanne Fluke

Another great series I love; and this one includes recipes!

Okay; I have not tried the recipes, but they sound amazing! I have my staple of Christmas goodies I make every year, but I really need to hop outside of that small, boring box!

So, for the good stuff. A Christmas story full of murder and mayhem. What more could you ask for?

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Hannah Swenson seems to be the most unlucky person you could ever meet. Unlucky at work, unlucky at love, and very lucky at finding murdered people. But, she has more than one suitor at any given time, so really; how unlucky is she?

This story has multiple murders, and multiple suspects. What more could one ask for on a negative-zero-wind-chill day?

Sorry; that is just my Michigan-me talking 🙂

While Hanna tries to run her cookie store, everyone else tries to run her life.

Have you read it? Do you love it as much as I do? Let me know! And if you ever tried the recipes, I have got to know what you thought!

When I am Not Reading or Editing…

…or raising girls, or working, or homeschooling, or making bookish gifts for my Etsy store, or trying to squeeze in time with my amazing boyfriend, or going to college… I take pictures! I love nothing more than getting in my car before the sun rises, and getting pictures. I love nature, flowers, plants, wildlife, and macro pictures are my favorite!

But Autumn in West Michigan is definitely my favorite time of year!

Meet the Author! Andrew Joyce

Biography:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and fifty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

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How he came to write this book:

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I would like to thank Angela for allowing me to be here today to promote my latest, Yellow Hair, which documents the injustices done to the Sioux Nation from their first treaty with the United States in 1805 through Wounded Knee in 1890. Every death, murder, battle, and outrage I write about actually took place. The historical figures that play a role in my fact-based tale of fiction were real people and I use their real names. Yellow Hair is an epic tale of adventure, family, love, and hate that spans most of the 19th century.

Now that the commercial is out of the way, we can get down to what I really came here to talk about: the research that goes into writing an historical novel or an action/adventure novel that uses an historical event as a backdrop.

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I want to say that I learned the hard way how important proper research is. But it wasn’t really that hard of a lesson. In my first book, which takes place in the last half of the 19th century, I made two mistakes. I had the date of an event off by one year and I had my hero loading the wrong caliber cartridge into his Winchester rifle. I would have gone blissfully throughout life not knowing how I had erred if not for my astute fans. Both mistakes were quickly pointed out to me in reviews of the book. One guy said he would have given me five stars if not for the wrong caliber bullet mistake. I had to settle for only four stars. Lesson learned!

Before I get into telling you about the year-long research I did for Yellow Hair, I’d like to tell you how I researched my second and third books and describe what that research entailed.

My second book was a western and the protagonist was a woman. The research took about three months. I had to know everything from women’s undergarments of the late 19th century to prison conditions for women in those days. (I sent my heroine to jail.) That kind of research was easy. Thank God for the internet. But then I had to do some real research. Molly (my protagonist) built up her cattle ranch to one of the largest in Montana, but she and her neighbors had nowhere to sell their beef. So Molly decided to drive her and her neighbors’ cattle to Abilene where she could get a good price. She put together the second largest herd on record (12,000 head) and took off for Abilene.

That’s when I had to really go to work. I wanted my readers to taste the dust on the trail. I wanted them to feel the cold water at river crossing. I wanted them to know about the dangers of the trail, from rustlers to Indians to cattle stampedes.

This is how I learned about all those things and more. First of all, I found old movies that were authentic in nature. I watched them to get a feel for the trail. Then I read books by great authors who had written about cattle drives to soak up even more of the atmosphere of a cattle drive. That was all well and good, but it still did not put me in the long days of breathing dust and being always fearful of a stampede.

That’s when I went looking for diaries written by real cowboys while they were on the trail. After that, I found obscure self-published books written by those cowboys. Then it was onto newspaper articles written at the time about large cattle drives. That’s how I had Molly herd the second largest cattle drive. I discovered that the largest was 15,000 head, driven from Texas to California in 1882.

My next book took place in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. Here new elements were added such as wolves and the extreme weather as adversaries. Dogsledding was also involved. I have seen snow only three times in my life and I have never dogsledded. I knew even less about wolves. I had to learn about those things. I had no idea what it was like to travel across a wilderness on a dogsled at seventy degrees below zero. I also had to acquire knowledge about the dogs themselves, especially the lead dog. I learned about all that by doing the same things I did for my second book. The old diaries were the most helpful. As to the gold rush, there was plenty of material in the form of self-published books by some of the participants. Some were never even published, but I found copies of them in the archives of universities and historical societies. Again, newspaper stories printed at the time were very useful. Concerning wolves . . . I read everything I could get my hands on about wolves—their habits, the pack hierarchy, the alpha male, and the different jobs or tasks the males and females have while hunting.

Now we come to Yellow Hair. As I mentioned above, the book is about the Sioux Nation from 1805 to 1890. I had to know both points of view, the white man’s and the Sioux’s. Getting to know the whites’ take on things was easy. There are many, many books (non-fiction) that were written at the time. I even found a book written by Custer detailing his strategy for wiping out the Sioux entirely. That was hard reading. And, again, there were universities and historical societies whose archives were a great help.

As to the Sioux’s point of view, there are a few books that were dictated to newspapermen years later by the Indians that took part in the various battles that I weave into my story. I found a lot of material from Native American participants of the Little Big Horn, written twenty to thirty years after the fact.

But I wanted to immerse myself in the Sioux culture and I wanted to give them dignity by using their language wherever possible. I also wanted to introduce them by their Sioux names. So, I had to learn the Lakota language. And that wasn’t easy. There is a consortium that will teach you, but they wanted only serious students. You have to know a smattering of the language before they will even deign to let you in. I had to take a test to prove that I knew some Lakota. I failed the first time and had to go back to my Lakota dictionary and do some more studying. I got in on my second try.

I’m running out of space, so I reckon I’ll wrap it up. I hope I’ve given you a little insight into the research process. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is also a blast. Every new discovery is like finding the motherlode.

I’d like to sign off with another commercial. The three books I alluded to above are:

I would like to thank Angela once again for having me over and you good folks for tuning in.

Andrew Joyce

Them – William W. Johnstone

This has to be one of the very few books of Mr. Johnstone’s that I did not read growing up. I enjoyed it as much now as I would have 25 years ago.

It is classic old-school horror…no cell phones, computers in the house, or text messaging.

You have one town that has three geniuses who have had their fill of being beat up and bullied. Unfortunately; one of them has really went off their rocker. So when Cag, from another advanced planet, shows up, he is putty in his hands.

Cag did not realize the level of incompetence he would encounter on Earth, and possibly too late, he realizes he cannot destroy everyone.

Sorry folks; you know I do not give out spoilers. But I have to say; reading this story put me right back in my family room chair at 13 years old reading a story in a day (to listen to my Mom bitch because she just bought the book 4 hours before!), and not letting up until I got to the last page.

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William W. Johnstone will forever be my favorite author ever, and if you just need to get away for a day as Autumn embraces us…. find his books!

You can find this story here: Them – William W. Johnstone

My favorite story ever? Rockinghorse! Soon to be released. Stay tuned! I have this exact book front and center in my shelf. Well; one of my four shelves…

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