Book Review: Elderhaus by Anne Carmichael

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Gertrude spent the better part of her adult life scouring Europe for Helmut Klingenfelter, the father who vanished not only from her life and that of her mother but had forsaken everyone in his past.
With midlife looming on the horizon, Gertie made the decision to stop chasing the ghosts of the past and return to her childhood home of Pitch Pine, where she purchased a century-old house at 1211 Castle Lane sight unseen.
Elderhaus, as it came to be known, had a mysterious past of its own, one that would threaten more than Gertrude’s desire for finding happiness.

 

 

 

My Thoughts

 

 

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There is something about this book that draws you into it’s story. Who is Gertie Klingenfelter? And what happened to her father Helmut? It takes you down a path discovering her roots and mysterious family history. Finally she decides to return to her home town, Pitch Pine.

I found the setting of Pitch Pine with it’s characters to be very endearing ! There’s something about them that sticks out begging you to find out more. Gertie’s family history is heart wrenching but makes the story that much more resonant.

Quality writing with good characters. What else can you ask for? Recommended!

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anne Carmichael

Goodreads | Website | Twitter | Amazon

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Portraits of the Dead

Skeleton X-Ray - DJ 3

 

 

 

AUDIO FORENSICS EDITION

 

Portraits of the Dead by John Nicholl

 

 

 

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Written by: John Nicholl

Narrated by: Jake Urry

Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date: 10-18-16

Publisher: John Nicholl

 

 

 

 GOODREADS DESCRIPTION

Emma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night.

Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed at least five young women.

The greater the evil, the more deadly the game… How far would you go to save your life?

 

 

 

Hear Me Out….

 

 

Deaf man

 

 

This is one of my top audiobooks of the year so far. No one captures the twisted mind of serial killers quite like John Nicholl does. He puts you into the demented point of view of the killer throughout the story, which I think has certain benefits. You feel like you are literally there within the story seeing through the eyes of the killer. If you consider it, this is truly a remarkable skill to pull off effectively.

Another POV character was the victim, Emma, a young college student with a bright future ahead of her. In the midst of all of the dark things she endures by a sliver of hope. These kind of stories are always about hope, survival and justice.

It also brings you into the POV of the two primary detectives working the case. Clive Rankin and DI Gravel. We also get to see their quirks and personalities which I found very entertaining.

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, but I can’t say more otherwise there’d be a huge spoiler.

 

 

 

AUDIO FORENSICS

 

 

listen to music (+clipping path, xxl)

 

 

 

Narrator Performance: 10/10

Of course you should know that I’m a Jake Urry fan by now. He does an phenomenal job of drawing you into the story. He does it so well you don’t even notice he’s narrating at all. I just felt ‘in the moment’. What else can you ask for?

 

Story Connection: 10/10

Like I’ve said before, Urry connects very well to the characters and story as a whole. You can tell when someone is just reading text without much emotional attachment.  This is important to me as a listener. This is difference between experienced narrators and other ones. If your connection to the story is impeded by the voice or skill of the narrator that’s never good. Since they have to act as the medium this is pretty critical. The book could be a classic, but if the narration is not gelling I can’t finish the book.

 

Voice Switch over: 10/10

This is another ninja-like quality that narrators possess. I’m still not sure how they manage to do it the entire story! It’s utterly amazing. I also relate this to the narrators ability to connect with story/characters. Jake Urry does it so well his voices totally sound like different people. Their idiosyncrasies, intonation, dialect, and gender are excellent. The switching back and forth in the midst of dialogue between characters was flawless. This made it more believable and drew me more into the story.

 

Sound quality: 10/10

Definitely professional. It would show if the sound quality was poor. Not the case here.

 

Emotional Resonance: 10/10

I was really drawn into the story at every turn. Emotionally invested to everything that was happening. Whether it was being repulsed by the killer, sorrow for the victim, or hope for the detectives. I was bummed when one of the characters died! Was surprised and a bit disappointed honestly. Not sure if Nicholl is penning another in the series, but I definitely  want more!

 

Overall:  10/10

Listen to it! Author John Nicholl is a very skilled writer. You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

 

John Nicholl: Amazon | Audible | Goodreads | Website

 

Jake Urry:  Audible | Website | Twitter

 

 

 

Got Audiobooks?

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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Book Review: Winter of Wolves by Marc Rainer

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A Winter of Wolves (Jeff Trask Crime Drama #4)

 

Goodreads Description

 

Federal prosecutor Jeff Trask is summoned to a murder scene. A Park Police officer has been brutally murdered at the Lincoln Memorial. As Trask and a team of local and federal investigators try to find the killer, more police officers are murdered. While attending the funeral for one of these victims, Trask and his team find themselves in a firefight with a cell of radical Islamic terrorists. Disqualified because of his involvement at the scene at Arlington National Cemetery, Trask is reassigned to Washington D.C.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, where he discovers that the firefight at Arlington was only part of a bigger and much more sinister plot to bomb that threatens the entire eastern seaboard.

 

 

 

My Rating

 

 

 

Awesome Gold Vintage Label

 

 

 

 

My Impressions…

 

I was immediately drawn into this story from the beginning with a heinous crime committed against the ambassador of San Salvador. From there, every line, jot and tittle unravels layer upon layer until you reach the end. the level of detail is not only remarkable, but entertaining and relevant to the storyline.

The distinct effect of this book, as well as the others in the Jeff Trask Crime drama, bear a particular flavor. Marc Rainer a former Federal prosecutor has a working knowledge of law enforcement personnel at every level. Including intelligence, FBI, CIA, investigators, counterterrorism, Washington D.C, U.S. Attorney relations, and Police forces. It’s like the old Prego commercial theme “It’s all in there”.

Having said all of that, the book carried a unique ‘flavor’ to it unlike others I’ve read. It has more realism within it’s pages but not a boring kind of realism. It was still fascinating and kept me turning the pages!

The author really does an excellent job portraying a sense of family among the main characters. They really appreciate one another, play offer each others strength, and truly work as a team. The heroism of Jeff Trask was more balanced within the team approach, which I believe,  had a nice impact.

Winter of Wolves had all the necessary ingredients  for an entertaining read, including humor. You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

recommended vintage orange seal isolated on white

 

 

 

 

Marc Rainer

Goodreads | Website | Amazon

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

 

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Book Review: The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell

the-world-beneath

 

 

 

 

Introducing the Joe Tesla Thriller Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Description

 

***Winner of International Thriller Writers’s Best Ebook Original Novel award!*** Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell drops you into a vast, dark world: 100 miles of living, breathing, tunnels that is the New York City underground. This subterranean labyrinth inhales three million bustling commuters every day. And every day, it breathes them all out again… except for one. Software millionaire Joe Tesla is set to ring the bell on Wall Street the morning his company goes public. On what should be the brightest day in his life, he is instead struck with severe agoraphobia. The sudden dread of the outside is so debilitating, he can’t leave his hotel at Grand Central Terminal, except to go underground. Bad luck for Joe, because in the tunnels lurk corpses and murderers, an underground Victorian mansion and a mysterious bricked-up 1940s presidential train car. Joe and his service dog, Edison, find themselves pursued by villains and police alike, their only salvation now is to unearth the mystery that started it all, a deadly, contagious madness on the brink of escaping The World Beneath.

 

 

 

 

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My Rating

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You’re going to love Joe Tesla! A brilliant programmer and millionaire debilitated by agoraphobia, a gripping fear of crowds and public places. Throughout his journey to discover the truth about a hidden presidential train car hidden in the depths of New York’s tunnels, you’ll see his flaws and his strengths. Accompanied by his faithful dog Edison, they embark on a journey to discover the truth that might cost them their lives.

I found Joe to be a very compelling character. The mysterious settings and circumstances make this an intriguing adventure. I actually missed him when it was over! What more can you ask for?

 

  • Characters 10/10
  • Story 10/10
  • Settings 10/10
  • Mystery 10/10
  • Emotional Resonance 9/10
  • Antagonist 8/10
  • Resolution 10/10

 

Reading this book brought to mind the importance of creating great characters. Memorable characters. It wasn’t so much the action, or plotting per se, but it was Joe and Edison. A man and his dog confined to a myriad of hidden tunnels in New York City. You throw in a mystery with that and you have yourself a bestseller.

Joe Tesla stands for a certain group of people. People who have fears and weaknesses. Yet this man became a hero when it counted most. In the midst of life or death circumstances his brilliance in programming, resourcefulness, ingenuity, and will to survive are exemplary. That’s why I love Joe Tesla.

People are a combination of strength and weaknesses. Flawed virtues and quirky traits. But I found Joe’s character to rather refreshing and teeming with originality. Simple, yet resoundingly profound. Most of the ‘flawed’ characters we see today are very heavily flawed, troubled individuals. Those aren’t bad by any means, but maybe too much on the extreme side of things. Joe was certainly flawed but it seemed within reason.

Then you have his trusty companion, Edison. You can sense the love he has for his dog. Much more than a dog to him though. As he’s resigned by no fault of his to the dark tunnels beneath the city, he’s accompanied by no except Edision. Faithful Edision. What a team!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR RIDIN’ THE TRAIN!! DON’T BE A STRANGER!

 

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

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The Story of Author Anna Patrick

 

 

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WELCOME ANNA!

 

 

Here we are with another story to tell.

So who is Anna Patrick? Well, let’s find out.

 

 

 

 

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So her story begins…

 

 

 

 

*Are you originally from Northern Virginia?

Yes, born in raised in the suburbs of Northern Virginia, outside of DC.

Ive never been to northern Virginia before. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

alice-in-wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

*What do you do currently in your occupation?

I’m a Communications Associate for The Kennedy Forum, a mental health advocacy non-profit founded by Patrick Kennedy – his book, A Common Struggle, is a great read if you haven’t checked it out yet!

 Nice. Thanks for the book recommendation!

 

 

 

 

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

 

 

 

 

 

*Did you have a childhood fascination with fairy tales? Tell us about it and your all time favorites.

I don’t think it’s so much fairy tales, but just darker stories in general. I loved Alice In Wonderland, of course, and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe. Not your average childhood reads, but I think I had such an idyllic childhood that the dark and edgy stories captured my interest.

 That makes sense. I’ve read some of Poe’s work, but now enough.

 

 

 

 

edgar-allan-poe

 

 

 

 

 

*What genre do you write?

Fiction. Leaning toward the magical surrealist side. I think the creative possibilities there are endless, and that intrigues me.

 Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

 

 

 

 

“Imagination is the reality of the dreamer.” -Scott Ringenback

 

 

 

 

 

*Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I read a quote recently that said something like look to your childhood passions to see where your life calling lies. I’ve always written, and I think when I reached an age where you start to question what you want to do, becoming an author seemed like a natural goal for me.

 I love that quote! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Where did you go to school? Major?

I went to Boston College and majored in Communications. I wrote Meditations In Wonderland there my last semester.

 Wow. That sounds like a major feat. Penning a novel in your last semester of college is remarkable. 

 

 

 

 

 

*What led you to write Meditations in Wonderland? Your premise looks pretty intriguing.

Thank you! I grew up loving Alice In Wonderland, and I was inspired by the dark tones it took on over the years as my generation grew with the story. From that landscape my story manifested itself in my mind over a few years, primarily starting when I studied abroad in London, saw Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript and visited Oxford, through to my senior year of college when I finally wrote it. It’s been called Pretty Little Liars meets Alice In Wonderland.”

 

Never been to Oxford, but Cambridge is beautiful. 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Would it be classified as a psychological thriller?

I can definitely see an argument for that. As a dark Alice In Wonderland retelling I think no one would dispute that. It definitely has a lot of thriller-esque scenes and notes of magical surrealism. And, of course, a little nonsense.

 It’s amazing to see what different authors are able to craft with their imagination. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Tell us a little about the main character.

Elizabeth is 24, and she lives in Brooklyn and works as an interior designer in the city. I think many people can relate to the themes she’s struggling with – confronting and acknowledging the darker sides of herself, struggling with mental static and getting lost in the noise. In a sense she has to reclaim herself after giving in to a pattern of self-destructive behavior. She meditates, falls down the rabbit hole, and the rest is history.

 

Wow. Makes me want to know more about her.

 

 

 

 

 

meditations-in-wonderland

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re a writer; so whats your story, or what inspired you?

I don’t think I can pinpoint a single moment when I decided that I would be a writer – I’ve always just written, and then I couldn’t separate myself from the act of writing, it always felt a part of me. I used to carry around a composition notebook in elementary school that housed my first “novel,” scribbled in mechanical pencil between classes and after school, and eventually I graduated to my MacBook in college on which I wrote the manuscript for Meditations In Wonderland my last semester at Boston College. In terms of inspiration, I just follow that internal whisper that compels me to return to the blank page time and time again.

 

Keep following that internal whisper. And when you don’t hear it, write anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

“In terms of inspiration, I just follow that internal whisper that compels me to return to the blank page time and time again.”-Anna Patrick

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

Having my writing published has always been the “ultimate” goal for me, and I think many writers can relate to that, however I think a more realistic goal is just to keep writing, to keep the process alive. The hardest part about writing, in truth, is the act of sitting down to write in the first place. If I can cultivate and keep my writing practice going, that’s a goal in itself that I think leads to the more penultimate dream of having your work published.

YES. I love this. The more realistic goal is to keep writing. I struggle with having consistent writing time so I completely understand this. The ‘butt in chair’ is the only way. 

 

 

 

 

 

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What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Timing, spaces, and disconnect. As for the first, why is it when you’re about to shut your eyes and fall asleep, warm under the covers, does your muse begin to speak? I think mine might be a sadist in that way. So the first conflict for me is the timing of writing, capturing what I need to capture often against difficult circumstances for doing so, like commuting, unplugging for a night’s sleep, or while on a run. As for the second, my writing practice benefits from having a clean, creative space to work in with minimal distractions from my “to do” list, which is probably why I wrote my first novel out of my home in a local Barnes & Noble. Last, disconnect is often a gatekeeper I grapple with. Either feeling disconnected from the story, from myself, from my creative process, or just from the voice that compels me to pick up where I left off. Some days you’re just not “feeling it,” so to speak, and I think writers can all commiserate there. The goal is to at least try to make sure two out of the three are at bay on any given day to try to make writing happen, and keep it cohesive!

The writing process is so mysterious to me. Not sure if you’ve read Anne Janzer’s book , The Writing Process, but I was greatly helped by it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

If the story needs to be told, I’ll continue to tell it. When I don’t feel that ache in my bones to keep writing, I’ll stop, but I still have that voice that refuses to stop whispering.

Stories are great and equally mysterious. 

 

 

 

What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Aren’t all of the best antagonists just reflections of ourselves, or our greatest fears? The fear that any next novel wouldn’t live up to the first, or that those new daring stylistic choices won’t engage the reader the way we hoped they would – we all have our dragon at that gate. For me, it’s scales are green, shiny, and coated with that existential “if I finish this, I have to turn it over to the business side of things” doubts. Writing is the fun part, but I think it’s important to embrace every part of the process, even the parts that we might rather procrastinate in facing.

Well spoken. It’s always a constant battle. Let’s keep at it, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think leaving a project is a very personal choice, so the reasons could be many. The best reason is probably because the project no longer feels authentic, which I think is a noble reason to step away, and faced with the same reality I hope I have the courage to do the same if it frees me up for the better project waiting in the shadows!

Seeing the next project is always tempting!

 

 

 

What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Take your time away, if you need it, and return to it when you feel compelled, nagged, and eaten away to resume. Because then you’ll really enjoy it, and your reader will feel that, too.

For me, it’s a gut feeling. If I stop, then it returns begging to be written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BONUS: What else do you have coming down the pike? 

I’ve been playing around with a sequel to my next novel, loosely based off of Through The Looking Glass, as Meditations In Wonderland was loosely based of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

 

Keep us posted on the release date! 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Anna!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Goodreads | Amazon | Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin’ the train!!

 

 

 

 

 

freight train

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be a stranger….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up for a reading challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge  (Goodreads group here)

 

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

 

Introducing Audio Forensics

listen to music (+clipping path, xxl)

 

 

I’m happy to announce a brand new series deemed Audio Forensics! It will exclusively be about audiobooks and everything related to them. News, reviews, interviews from the latest and the greatest. Some will go here and others will go to my other site at Mystery Thriller Week. I’ll mix it up and try to keep things interesting. It should be epic fun! There’s more interesting things I’d love to say about Audio Forensics but I’m much too pooped to say more. Another day I promise!

If you would like to do a guest post in relation to this drop me a line in the comment section. The more the merrier.

The growth of audiobooks has been steadily booming the last several years and bound to only get better. Time to give them some lovin’.  I listen to about two per week so this will be a nice outlet for what I’ve experienced.

 

 

So, on that note let us introduce my favorite audiobook of 2016. And the winner is….

 

Drumroll….

 

 

 

 

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CRYPTIC LINES

 

 

 

cryptic-lines-audiobook

 

 

 

Written by Richard Storry

Narrated by Jake Urry

Length: 4 hrs and 13 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date: 03-16-16

Publisher: Richard Alan Storry

 

 

 

Goodreads

Set in a sprawling gothic mansion in a remote coastal location, somewhere in the British Isles, the elderly recluse Lord Alfred Willoughby is deciding what is to become of his vast fortune after his death. Whilst his head is telling him to leave nothing at all to his wastrel son, Matthew, his heart is speaking differently. After much deliberation, in a last-ditch attempt to try and show to his son the importance of applying himself to a task and staying with it to the end, he devises a series of enigmatic puzzles cunningly concealed within the lines of a poem – the cryptic lines. If he completes the task successfully and solves the puzzles he will inherit the entire estate; but if he fails he will receive nothing. However, from Lord Alfred’s Will it emerges that Matthew is not the only interested party. The mysterious old house holds many secrets, and nothing is as it first appears

 

 

 

 

My rating

 

 

 

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

Performance: Narrated by Jake Urry

 

Jake had the perfect voice to go along with this story. Absolutely perfect. He has that creepy, eerie, mysteriousness to his of voice that really brings out the story to the fullest degree. His performance was off the charts in my estimation.

 

 

Story: by Richard Storry

 

This story was amazing! I honestly didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, but was pleasantly surprised. It kept me on the edge of my seat the entire book. That’s probably what I enjoy most about it. The SUSPENSE was brilliant. The plot twists toward the end are even better. This one had it all. Out of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to this year, this one resonated with me the most.

 

 

 

Listen to an audio sample: Cryptic Lines

 

Have fun! Thanks for ridin’ the train folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

train-old-fashioned

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up for a challenge? Join the Book Hoarders Bucket List Reading Challenge  (Join the Goodreads group here)

 

 

A Challenge for Book Hoarders Like Me at SallyAllenBooks.com

 

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!! Check out Mystery Thriller Week on my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

waving-by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com