Archive for August, 2013

Review: Lay Death At Her Door – Elizabeth Buhmann

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Paperback: 314 pages
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing (May 10, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940215005
ISBN-13: 978-1940215006
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Kate Cranbrook
Miles “Pop” Cranbrook
Elliott Davis – College Professor
Jules Jefferson – Man imprisoned for rape and murder.


Kate Cranbrook is 42 years old. Twenty years ago she testified in court against Jules Jefferson. The trail was for rape and murder. He was convicted and sent to prison. She lied. Now Twenty years later, he’s being released and her past starts to unravel.


I really enjoyed this story. The character of Kate was not one you could like. She was a compulsive liar. She seemed to see beauty in someone until she didn’t get her way, then they became ugly and evil. She has a lot of underlying jealous feelings as well. While all that tends to make her a character the reader can’t like, she’s a well developed character, and the story itself is fascinating. As the story progresses, we see all the intricate spider web of lies that Kate has formed over the years start to fall apart. The more her lies and world crumbles, the more desperate she becomes to maintain control. This can often lead to tragic consequences.

Reading through, one cannot determine when Kate is telling the truth and when she is lying. The unreliable narrator is used in novels such as Huck Finn and Moll Flanders, and, in this case Ms. Buhmann uses it to her advantage in telling this story. Right off the bat you know the narrator can’t be trusted, so anything she says after that is suspect. This helps to lend the air of mystery to the story.

The supporting characters are well developed and their backgrounds play out through the narrative, particularly the Pops and Kate characters. There are twists and turns and surprises around ever corner, leading to a logical conclusion. I recommend this book for those who love mysteries or psychological dramas.

Due to the content, I’d say it’s for older teens and adults. But pick up a copy, give it a read, and stop back by and let us know what you thought about it.

About the Author

Elizabeth Buhmann is originally from Virginia, where her first novel is set, and like her main character, she lived several years abroad while growing up. She graduated magna cum laude from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh.

For twenty years, she worked for the Texas Attorney General as a researcher and writer on criminal justice and crime victim issues. Elizabeth now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, dog, and two chickens. She is an avid gardener, loves murder mysteries, and has a black sash in Tai Chi.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Ms. Buhmann and Red Adept Publishign for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Review: Kenobi – John Jackson Miller

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: LucasBooks (August 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345546830
ISBN-13: 978-0345546838
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Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi – Jedi Master, In Seclusion on Tatooine.
Annileen Calwell, storekeeper
Orrin Gault, moisture farmer and entrepreneur
A’Yark, Tusken war leader
Kallie Calwell, Annileen’s daughter
Jabe Calwell, Annileen’s son
Mullen Gault, Orrin’s son
Veeka Gault, Orrin’s daughter
Wyle Ulbreck, moisture farmer
Leelee Pace, Zeltron artisan


Ben Kenobi drops off the baby Luke Skywalker at the Lars’ Homestead then begins his exile on Tatooine. All is not as quiet as he’d hoped though, and he soon finds himself embroiled in a range war between a band of Tusken Raiders and local farmers and homesteaders.


I always loved Westerns when I was growing up. One of my favorite authors was Louis L’amour. Then when I was 10, Star Wars came along. The Tatooine setting was ripe for emulating that western tale setting and putting it in the Star Wars Universe. You have Ben Kenobi as the Sergio Leone Man with No Name. You have the stage coach depot/general store setting of the Calwell’s. You have the Cattle/Oil Baron character of Orrin Gault, then you have the threat of the Indians, or in this case, Tusken Raiders.

Mr. Jackson blends these two settings together into a tale that draws you in. While some may scoff at a Star Wars western, I think it works very well. I’d love to see more stories set in the Tatooine frontier such as this. The characters fit well in the Star Wars universe. We get to see more in depth what Obi-Wan did all those years in seclusion. We also get more of a look into the Tusken Raider culture and see some of their beliefs and superstitions.

This was a fun story to read and I’d highly recommend it to western or Star Wars fans. I’d say it’s suitable for pre-teen/older teens and adults due to some darker passages. Grab a copy, give it a read, and drop back by to let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Writer and game designer John Jackson Miller is the author of Star Wars: Knight Errant and Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories, as well as nine Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic graphic novels.

His comics work includes writing for Iron Man, Mass Effect, Bart Simpson, and Indiana Jones.

He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, two children, and far too many comic books.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Random House at Netgalley for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

Blog Tour: The Hobbes Family – Dan O’Brien

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Welcome to the second day of the Hobbes Family blog tour. It will run until September 2nd and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
The world had ended abruptly and without warning. How will a family navigate a world that seems bent on destroying them? Follow them in this exciting new serial adventure.

A few questions for the author:
If you’d die now, do you have any regrets?I have a lot of goals that would be unfinished, but I try to live each day as if it were my last.
Which one would you prefer, having a luxurious trip alone or having a picnic with people you love?

There are exceptions to the rule, but I prefer to vacation alone, or with my wife. I find that I am a high-maintenance traveler. Though luxurious is very rarely the flavor of the day. My preference would be for the right mood to write.
Who do you admire and why?

I admire anyone who pursues their dreams and throws fear aside. In terms of one polarizing figure, it would depend on the domain; though, it is still dependent on overcoming personal fear and persevering.

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:

Michael had been an insurance salesman before the world took a turn for the dark and weird. His wife, Susanna, taught 3rd grade; their daughter had just turned six.
The first day had been horrendous. As a family they had sworn off guns; they had even joined in on the sobering mantra of gun regulation. It was for this reason that the home invasion in their quiet suburban neighborhood came as a shock.
The television droned on about airborne toxins, blood-borne pathogens, and other maligned medical reasons for what was simply being called an outbreak. Sirens cried in the early morning as the sun peeked above the horizon like a shy trickster. Clara, his young daughter, ran through the house with wild abandon. School had been cancelled for fear of spreading the infection.
Hollywood had prepared the masses for a sudden outbreak with scampering, roaming bands of undead. The reality had been far more frightening. Loved ones degenerated slowly, like a full-body Alzheimer’s.
Movement slowed as well as brain function.
Alertness was replaced with a complacency that went well beyond fatigue. Mouths rotted and skin congealed, before sloughing off like warmed ice on a windshield. It was on this first day, as Michael watched his daughter run about the house yelling and laughing like it was a snow day, he learned that he was not as prepared as he thought.
They did not live in a large home.
The sound of broken glass was muted by a passing siren and raised voices farther in the distance. Clara did not react and Michael approached the front window that overlooked the manicured lawn in the secluded cul-de-sac. Wide in the shoulders, he was not a muscular man. His large hands were bony and calloused––strange for a salesman. He had lost his appetite, and his love for violence, during two tours in Afghanistan.
His brown eyes watched the street carefully, not paying nearly enough attention to the sounds of his house. As he watched the neighbor across the way pull bungee cords over boxes that were haphazardly thrown together, the realization that his daughter’s voice was no longer white noise to the wordless symphony outside dawned on him.
A narrow hallway led back into the house.
His voice was strained. “Susanna? Clara?”
There was a whimper, and then murmurs.
The sound of his heart thundered in his ears as the worst possible scenarios worked their way through his head: the disgust he felt for all the pornography he watched over the years; cheating on his taxes; not doing the dishes or telling his wife he loved her enough. These were the silly things that raced through the mind in a nanosecond when the world tilted ever so slightly.
The morning sun cast shadows.
Walking past the kitchen, he looked for a weapon.
A mallet, the kind Susanna used to tenderize meat for filets, was on the counter atop a cutting board. With no knives or pointy implements of any kind––clearly the desired weapon of any child of horror and gore movies from the late 20th century––he settled on the mallet. He was holding his breath as he took the two steps into the back bedroom.
A wisp of a man held his wife by the neck.
He hid behind her small body, which provided proof that the intruder was a featherweight at best. His wife’s auburn hair was wet in places from sweat and her green eyes screamed, though her lips remained tight.
Clara was nowhere in sight.
“Where’s Clara?” Michael rasped. The intruder looked at him strangely, clearly not recognizing the name. “Where’s my daughter? What’ve you done to her?”
A frightened squeak emanated from deeper in the room, among the shadows and piled sheets that had been a cascading fort hours before. Poking his head out from around Susanna’s head, the bird-like quality of the man’s face––sharp nose, thin eyebrows, and angular jaw––were quite apparent.
The invader’s eyes were a soupy gray. Gesturing with his free hand, in which he held a box-cutter, he started to speak. “Money….”
Michael took a step forward and the man squeezed harder on his wife’s neck and shook the box cutter angrily. “Let my wife go. You can have whatever you want, just don’t hurt her.”
A surreal moment passed, in which, were it a heroic action film, Michael would have leapt across and disarmed the man with a series of well-coordinated movements. Unfortunately, his life was not directed by Michael Bay. The intruder relieved his grip, convinced that the strong hold of societal norms would enforce the unspoken agreement made under duress.
Up until the moment that Susanna ducked to the side and fell against the side table, dislodging and breaking an antique lamp, he was still convinced that he might indeed get what he wanted. As Michael moved across the room with a lumbering tackle, the lie dissolved and the state of nature was restored.
Bringing the mallet down as hard as he could, Michael felt bone give way. The intruder screeched and swung the box-cutter as they rolled to the ground. Michael could feel the skin split far too easily, but the pain faded behind a kind of primordial rage that was unquenched. Grabbing the hand that held the box cutter with his free hand, Michael struggled with the man.
Clara screamed as her father and the freak came down in one convoluted ball near her. Clara was up, a small wound along her forehead bleeding and turning strands of her hair into gnarled clumps. Susanna grabbed her daughter in her arms and ran to the edge of the room, stopping to look back. Clara pressed her face against her mother’s shoulder and sobbed as the grunts intensified.
The intruder, though smaller and frail, was possessed of a surprising strength. It was then that the thin veneer between civilization and chaos gave way. Swinging his head wildly––though if pressed he would say he was attempting to strike the man with his head in a controlled movement––Michael crashed the hard bone of his forehead against the softer tissue of the man’s face.
The resistance faded into a groan.
The box-cutter rolled to the ground as the intruder’s arm went limp. Michael realized he was screaming as he stumbled back onto the bed. His vision was blurry and he could make out part of the man’s face; rather, only a portion of the man’s face resembled something human.
Civilization had died, but the concert played on.

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:


All of his books are only 99 cents on Kindle right now!


Download Hobbes Family for free on Kindle from 8/28 until 9/1!
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Review: The Beast – Faye Kellerman

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (August 6, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062121758
ISBN-13: 978-0062121752
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Marge Dunn – One of Decker’s Detectives
Peter Decker – Sergeant of Detectives
Rena Lazarus – Peter’s Wife


A routine call turns into a nightmare when the homicide scene turns out to have a loose tiger running around in an apartment. Peter Decker and his investigative team must search through clues and evidence and find who killed Hobart Penny and why and what the connection is to the tiger.


This was the first time I’d read a thriller from Faye Kellerman, and I’m hooked from the initial pages, it was impossible to put the book down. The main plotline involves the murder of a reclusive millionare. A secondary plotline involves the foster son of Peter Decker and Rena Lazarus and his forbidden relationship with his girlfriend.

The main plotline draws you in, and keep you wanting to read until the end. The secondary plotline, if I remember my teenage years correctly is very accurate. Teenage boys will do stupid things without thinking of the consequences. However, the character was able to think through and come to his own solutions to get out of his problems.

The main plotline had twists and turns leading to a satisfying finish. I found this story to be very enjoyable and I’ll definitely be going back to read more of Ms. Kellerman’s work. I’d recommend it, but for older teens and adults due to some very graphic storyline and adult plots.

But for a great thriller read, grab a copy of The Beast and as always, be sure to come back by and let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Faye Kellerman is the author of twenty-seven novels, including twenty New York Times bestselling mysteries that feature the husband-and-wife team of Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus.

She has also penned two bestselling short novels with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, and recently teamed up with her daughter Aliza to cowrite a young adult novel, Prism—the story of four teens in an alternate universe.

She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to at for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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Blog Tour: Mondays With Mephistopheles – Dan O’Brien

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
Welcome to the third day of the Mondays with Mephistopheles: 9am – Rhys blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
Abraham Rogers has an unusual psychotherapy practice: monsters. This first installment is a session with Rhys, the IT vampire who can’t quite connect with the modern world the way he would like.

A few questions for the author:
What’s your superpower, or what’s your spirit animal?

I think my superpower is organization. I have this ridiculous motor to get things done. Without a plan, I would just be running around like some kind of zombie. I think anyone can become more organized, and it becomes important regardless of your career.

Most Embarrassing Moment?

Too numerous to count. Any moment where I don’t realize the error I’ve made is pretty embarrassing, I suppose. Though I find that as I get older, the notion of embarrassment fades. I am less concerned about what people think of my actions, as I have limited time on this planet and I want to get things done.

How do you feel about your family, now that you’re an adult?

I am much closer to my family now that I am older. I miss them most days and wish that we lived closer, but that was not how it worked out. We moved around a lot when I was younger, so my immediate family was the only stable thing in my life. Being a moody teenager, I wanted out of there fast. Sometimes I wish that I had stuck around a little longer, so that we could live closer to each other today.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
“Are you trying to pry out blame? Find the golden egg of my psyche for which the morose bell tolls? I can assure you that my mother has little to do with my affliction.”Abe touched his pen to the notebook and scribbled a few illegible lines. “Tell me about your mother, Rhys. What kind of woman was she?”“What would my mother have to do with the creature I have become?”

“Your affliction, as you are so fond of calling it, is something with which you must live each day. While there are hurdles for you to overcome, you are still defined by where you have come from.”

“My mother did not make me the beast I am today.” Rhys seemed distracted. “She was a sad woman, prone to flights of dramatics. When my father left, she only became more beleaguered. My rebirth as this thing was more than she could bear. Her life, though filled with sadness, did not need the added burden of a child crawling into the darkness.”

“So she took her own life?”

Rhys looked at Abe with a dry look. “Why would you assume that? Did I say she took her life?”

“Was her life taken?”

There was a pregnant pause as Rhys looked away toward the wall of books to the right of the window. “Are you certain that window is closed? I can almost smell the light….”

Abe sensed that Rhys wanted to move on from talking about his mother. He made a quick note to broach it during a later session.

“I recall from a previous session that you despise the myths perpetuated by pop culture. Is this aversion to sunlight not the exact type of pandering that vexes you?”

“It is not the myths that irritate me. It is the purposeful reinvention of my kind to fit whatever pop sensibilities are en vogue during a particular age. Many of my dark brothers and sisters spent the better part of a century carving out a place in the night. The light holds no sway over us. It is unpleasant for the oldest among us. We do not relish in its vast nutrients as the living do.”

Abe pressed the issue despite the pontification. “Why then do you seek the darkness? If it is not fear of injury, then what?”

“The light brings out the melancholy in me. I find it difficult to bear. I have no energy to go about the day.”

“Why do think that is, Rhys?”

Rhys sighed.

His eyes remained unblinking.

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:


All of his books are only 99 cents on Kindle right now!


Download Mondays with Mephistopheles for free on Kindle from 8/21 until 8/25!
Would you like to win a Kindle Fire?

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Blog Tour: The Twins of Devonshrie and the Curse of the Widow – Dan O’Brien

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Welcome to the fourth day of The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow blog tour. It will run until August 17th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:

A plague has covered the land, a single word on the lips of the frightened masses: the Widow. Washing a wave of terror over the countryside and then disappearing like a thief in the night, the Widow holds a kingdom in the palm of her hand. The eyes of Chaos have settled on Prima Terra and heroes must rise. Xeno Lobo, enigmatic and cryptic, hunts the Widow, seeking an object taken from him years before. Will he be able to stem the tide of violence and horror that sweeps the land?

A few questions for the author:

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

Quite often actually. I am a practitioner of Wing Chun and an avid fitness enthusiast, so I am always cognizant of the sound and intensity of my breathing. I think that we become accustomed to the regulatory nature of our lives that we lose touch with basic bodily function. There is also a practical component to not paying attention to autonomic processes all the time. If we had to monitor our own breathing every second of every day, we would find we had time for little else.

What do you love? Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

I love writing and being a part of the process for other writers. All of my recent actions are toward this end. I am very fortunate to be involved in the very things that I love. Also, I love spending time with my wife and recently returned from a trip to the coast that was a wonderful change of pace.

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

I have a very precise memory that I hope holds up to the test of time. The minutia of the day will no doubt disappear, but the important moments will linger.

Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:

The castle was an oddity in the poor country. Wicker shacks and weathered woods that held the measly buildings together were a drastic contrast to the smooth, carved architecture of the castle upon the hillside. The providence of Me’lein was the most populated region this close to the western shores––it had fallen under threat since the coming of the Widow.

The path leading to the castle had been plowed in the early hours of the morning; several feet of snow had fallen during the night. No tracks had yet graced the way. The main bay doors were guarded by a pair of dark-garbed soldiers, their steel armor reflecting neither soul nor compassion. Pikes––gripped tightly––rose far above them; their other hand brandished a shield with the crest of Me’lein emblazoned across its center: the essence of a dragon king drifting lazily into the mist.

Past them was a hall that extended deep into the darkness––scores of doorways and spiral staircases on either side. The hallway narrowed toward its completion, the intricate stone walls ending in a wooden door at its center.

The same crest depicted all about the mighty castle was emblazoned here as well. The door opened inward. Within was a grand hall far taller than any manner of dragon, and darker than the depths of underworld. But, it was lit brightly by thousands of carefully-placed candles; at the center of the room was a brilliant white throne. The rests, the back, and even the cushions were bleached whiter than anything should naturally be.

The man who sat upon it was clouded in shadow. His gaze was that of a shroud. Bearded chin rested on closed fist, royal robes covering his sinewy flesh. His face was contorted into a frown and black eyes looked far into the distance, past the guests who shuffled about the room. The congregation was a mix of all the people of Me’lein. They were the poor and the rich, the beautiful and the desperate.

The crowd parted as a tall man approached the throne. His light purple hat extended far above his head and his moustache extended down the sides of his face, past his mouth like drooping lines. He knelt before the man upon the throne, his head bowed and his right arm across his bended knee.

“Rise, Gaition. What news do you bring my humble court?” rumbled the man, his head rising from his fist and leaning against the marble back of the throne.

“My lord, I bring a traveler. This man says he has killed the Widow’s beast, the Nighen. The destroyer of our lands,” responded Gaition. His light green eyes harbored both deceit and fear. Hands grasped one another, twisting against each other nervously. The king leaned back in his throne and closed his eyes. His throat exposed for a moment, the crest about his neck visible as he paused.

“Let him in,” returned the king, departing from his thoughts and staring ahead.

“As you wish, Lord Verifal. He waits as we speak.” Gaition bowed and turned from the king, his light blue robes swishing across the polished floor. His movements were more a scurry than anything else. Gaition gripped the iron ring that held the door in place and pulled it forward, revealing the shadowed hallway and the solitary figure of the hooded man.

He walked forward, his brown hair hidden beneath the robes once again. In his left hand, he gripped a cloth bag drawn tight with a string. As he walked through the congregation, some members grasped their noses, others covered their mouths. And some even became ill as the man walked past.

It was considered disrespectful to allow your hair to grow longer than that of a king. Verifal’s coal black hair rested around his shoulders, far shorter than that of the wary stranger who had graced the hall. The stench that emanated from the cloth bag reached Verifal’s nostrils and he rose quickly, pointing a finger at the approaching man.

“What manner of devilry do you bring upon my doors?” roared the enraged Verifal, as he stepped down from his throne to intercede in the robed man’s way.

The man stopped in his tracks. Reaching his hand into the bag, he produced the mangled head of the creature he had bested. “The Nighen.”

“You have defeated the Nighen?” queried Gaition, astonished. His thin face was drawn bloodless, and his hand covered his mouth at the putrid smell.

The king looked from Gaition to the hooded stranger who stood before him brandishing the head of the Nighen. “How did you defeat the Nighen?”

“Steel: the blade can defeat even the greatest creatures of the shadow,” replied the hooded man, tossing the putrid head to the bewildered Gaition. Wiping his hands along his cloak, he pulled the hood completely from his face. Gaition let out a panicked scream as he caught the head, and then dropped it unceremoniously upon witnessing the horrid image of the deceased demon.

“Are you a hero of Me’lein?” queried Verifal, regaining his composure and sitting back upon his throne.

The hooded man looked from side to side and then moved forward, closer to the throne. He coughed lightly into his hand. “I am from a place far from here. But I have heard of the Widow who plagues Telen, especially the providence of Me’lein. I came to aid you in your peril, for a price,” returned the warrior.

“A man in pursuit of wealth, I suppose it matters not. You have destroyed a powerful monster that has ravaged the people of Me’lein for many moons, and would have for many more without your intervention. What is your price?”

“I do not desire your money, King Verifal, but rather a trinket stolen by the Widow. I have come to kill her,” returned the hooded warrior. Laughter echoed in the crowd and was silenced quickly by Verifal.

“That is a tall order for a man who looks more the part of a beggar than a warrior,” called a voice from behind the hooded warrior. A man approached the throne, his armor tarnished silver and his head hidden beneath a steely skull cap.

A sheath at his side supported a grand broadsword almost as tall as the man himself. His dark brown eyes were hidden beneath the confines of the skull cap, and his size was obscured by his armor. But as he neared the hooded warrior, the size difference was evident.

The knight was certainly the larger man.

“Captain Uthen, this man deserves respect for destroying the Nighen,” commented the king as he rose from his throne once again.

Uthen placed his hands on his hips and towered over the warrior. The captain moved one of his hands over the hilt of his broadsword.

“I can see we have a problem here. Let me make it simple for you. You will lose that arm before you can even draw that sword,” cautioned the hooded warrior.

Uthen’s face darkened and his lip curled in anger, the grip on his sword tightening. The ripples of his glove made an abrasive sound.

“You might watch your tongue…”

Before the man could finish, the hooded warrior’s blade was in his hands and he had cut the sheath from Uthen’s side. Returning the blade to his back, a smirk was planted firmly on his face. Uthen glared at his fallen sword. Bending to retrieve it, he noticed the astonished glances of the gathered townspeople and the bewildered face of Gaition in the corner. He rose and met the warrior’s eyes, but did not speak.

His gaze went immediately to his king.

“Most impressive, warrior. You must pardon the brashness of Captain Uthen. Many have come before the court and announced such things. Some have turned to evil upon witnessing the power of the Widow,” spoke Verifal.

“I can understand such things, but I am here for that one reason and that reason alone. This beast was merely in the way, a spawn of the Towers of Darkness. Your captain…” replied the warrior, but was interrupted by Uthen.

“Pardon my inability to control my tongue. I have witnessed the horrors of the Widow first hand and know that she can turn a great man into nothing, no matter his skill with a blade. Please accept my apologies,” spoke Uthen, extending his hand to the warrior.

The warrior gripped it loosely and then let go.

“Apology accepted.”

Lord Verifal sighed with relief and sank into his throne. “With that aside, I feel that introductions are necessary, mysterious warrior. You have us at a bit of a loss. You know who we are. But we know nothing of you, not even your name.”

“Xeno Lobo. I am hunter from a faraway land,” replied Xeno, his eyes roaming the gathered masses. Their attention had already returned to their idle, individual conversations that had enraptured them before his entrance.

“What is this trinket you seek?” queried Uthen.

“That is my affair and will stay as such,” snapped Xeno. Uthen nodded, not wanting to provoke the man who had so easily disarmed him.

The king saw the tension and broke into the conversation. “When do you plan on leaving for the Tower at Sel’verene?”

“Tonight, by the light of the moon,” returned Xeno.

“But the Widow’s were-beast hunts in the night,” spoke Uthen.

“Karian’s playthings are no concern of mine,” replied Xeno dismissively.

“Karian?” queried the king.

“Who is Karian, Master Hunter?” asked Uthen.

“The Widow, the master of the Tower of Darkness at Sel’verene,” replied Xeno, his attention brought back to the conversation after realizing his words.

“You know the Widow by name?” asked Uthen.

“I am afraid so,” replied Xeno uncomfortably.

“This is why you go to Sel’verene?”

“In a way, but she had taken something from me the last time we met. I am going to retrieve it at any cost,” replied Xeno as he moved away from the throne and paced the small area in front of the royal seat.

“Last time,” whispered Uthen to himself.

“We are in your debt for killing the Nighen. If the Widow has truly taken something from you, then we would be honored to help you defeat her,” replied Verifal graciously.

The townspeople whispered among themselves.

Xeno looked at the boastful king and pondered for a moment. “How could you possibly aid me in my quest?” queried Xeno, and then continued. “No army can enter the windy paths that lead to the Tower, and there is no weapon that I can use better than my own. No magical artifact or incantation will suffice to defeat Karian, the Widow.”

“Then what can we lend you? We wish to help you,” pressed the king.

The presence of the dark lord Chaos flooded the land in shadow. The appearance of the Widow was another test of humanity, to see if they could truly outlast the dark tides of malevolence.

Xeno parried the question and looked around at the apprehensive gazes of the court of Me’lein. “What of Chaos? Surely his coming far outweighs my journey?”

“The Widow is a part of the evil that is Chaos, and all must be cleansed in order to restore peace across the land. Allies must be chosen and lines draw in the sands of war,” replied Uthen with his grand arms across his chest.

“Indeed,” returned Xeno with equal dissatisfaction at the options. “So be it then. Let me reside in Me’lein for the duration of the night, and then in the morning provide me with a fresh mount and supplies. This is how you may aid me.”

“Very well,” replied Verifal with a grand sweep of his hand as he rose from his throne. “Your request is granted. Gaition, prepare the guest chambers for Master Warrior Xeno.”

Gaition bowed and exited the chamber in haste, a spiteful glare upon his features as he pushed past the congregation of citizens. Uthen nodded to Xeno as the chatter and conversation of the antechamber was restored. The vagrant warrior melted back into the surroundings, awaiting his journey to the north.

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:

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Blog Tour: The Journey – Dan O’Brien

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
Welcome to the fifth day of The Journey blog tour. It will run until August 9th and will feature excerpts and new author interviews each day. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this strange world:
The Frozen Man. The Translucent Man. The Burning Man. The Wicker Man. The guide known only as the Crossroads, together these are the signposts and totems of the world that the being called the Lonely inhabits. Seeking out the meaning of his journey, the Lonely is a being consumed by philosophical inquiry and adventure. Filled with exotic places and age-old questions, the Journey is a book that seeks to merge the fantastical and real. Join the Lonely as he seeks out answers to his own existence and perhaps the meaning for us all. 

A few questions for the author:
Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones? 
This is a tough question. I would not want to lose old memories because they make me who I am. Though without the ability to form new memories, I would never be able to change and adapt to the world around me.
Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first? 
In a clinical sense, yes. However, I think we learn the most about the nature of truth when we challenge rigid and unfounded ideas that drive our life. I am a strong proponent of rallying against institutional ideas to learn as much as we can about the vastness of our universe.
Has your greatest fear ever come true? 
Not yet, and I hope it never does.
Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:
The Frozen Man
The Lonely marched into the darkness that was the tundra. The cold was all around him, though he felt nothing, neither warmth nor freezing cold. A man stood alone in the field, his features obscured.
“Why have you come to the North?” called the figure.
“I seek answers. I wish to know of the Truth.”
“Then you are the Lonely. I am called the Frozen Man.”
“Tell me of the North, Frozen Man.”
The Frozen Man was a pale silhouette defined by coal black eyes and hair. He spoke without inflection, without emotion, without feeling. “The North is a cold place, a desolate place. There is nothing here but survival. There cannot be failure, for failure is the death of the mind.”
“But how can there be success without failure?”
“There is no emotion here, no feeling. We of the North do not require emotions. Our success comes from science, not from emotions. Our accomplishments are different from all others. Ours are hollow, though we cannot see that.”
“Why are you here in the cold?”
“Cold permeates my being, my core. My body long ago ceased to possess the fire of passions, of emotions. A shell remains. This is the price I have paid to become the man I am. Though it was truly only half a life.”
The cold winds blew over the Lonely and the Frozen Man, their still forms holding strong against the elements. If there was nothing here to begin with, then against what were they truly holding strong?
“Why am I here?” called the Lonely.
“This is not your place. This place is for those who truly feel nothing. Those who have left nothing behind.”
“Then my answers cannot be found here?”
“The questions for which you seek answers can only be provided by the one who holds the keys to your creation: the Keeper of the Fates. Though he is no farther from you than you are to me.”
“I feel strange, as though I had just begun, or just ended. This place is so familiar, yet so distant. Why do I feel as I do?”
“This place is both a beginning and an end. Your presence here is a journey, one which molds you, shaping the person you will become.”
“Who am I?” spoke the Lonely.
The winds shifted yet again, but neither entity moved.
The world around them howled in silence, in the vast emptiness that was both nothingness and infinity. The Frozen Man’s features had shifted. His skin had grown paler, so much so that it was now azure.
It was the color of the icy waters of frozen lands.
“You are the Lonely,” the Frozen Man spoke.
“What does it mean to be the Lonely?” iterated the monotone, unflinching figure of the Lonely.
The Frozen Man’s face sluiced with icicles as if he were growing ever colder. “That is perspective. Your name here in the North would be of high status. To achieve a place where you require no solace or emotion would be a gift. True solitude would allow for incomparable logics and histories.”
The Lonely wrung his hands and looked down at the tattered rags that he wore. “Why do I not have fine clothes?”
“There is no need for such frivolities here. For in the North, it is your mind that is the greatest commodity. Why would any man place a material thing such as riches above intelligence? What can be gained by this?” returned the Frozen Man, his coal eyes watching the Lonely.
The Lonely looked off into the distance and saw only more tundra. The landscape about him was nothing more than a never-changing white sheet splashed occasionally with peaks and valleys of a useless existence. “To base one’s life? To give meaning?” the Lonely returned quizzically.
“Is intelligence not a grand enough reward, worthy enough pursuit?”
The Lonely shook his head, running his hands over his face. He felt for the first time that his skin was smooth, and warm. “Perhaps, but at the expense of longing and connection it may be too little of an effort for a life.”
The Frozen Man faded and then reappeared behind the Lonely. This time it stood twice the height of the smaller man. “We must all focus and commit to something. Can you think of something nobler? More important?”
The Lonely looked upon the horrific image of the giant Frozen Man. “I do not know. How can I possibly? I do not remember who I am or how I came to be here.” Then lowering his head, he mumbled. “Am I dead?”
“What is death?” echoed the Frozen Man.
The Lonely shook his head, defeated.
“To not live? Cessation of functions?”
The wind howled across them, but the Lonely could not feel the frigid touch of the gales, nor hear its mammoth cry. “To die is then to cease brain function? Is that what you believe?”
The Lonely shrugged; the act as difficult for him as it had been for Atlas. “I do not know,” he answered.
The Frozen Man nodded, crossing his mighty arms across his chest. “Then by that definition you are dead. Your body is no longer functioning in the realm from which you have come. Here you are anew.”
“Then am I not alive?” replied the Lonely, lifting his head to meet the empty gaze of the Frozen Man. Touching his skin and pressing his palms together, he gestured. “Am I not form again? Is this not a state of being?”
“What then is life?” mocked the Frozen Man.
The Lonely kicked aimlessly at the snow beneath his feet. As he did so, he realized that he wore no boots, nor shoes.
His feet were barren and his skin tan.
“I have no shoes.”
The Frozen Man did not seem surprised. “If you did not have a coat, why then would you possess foot coverings?”
“Is this all a dream?” whispered the Lonely. “How can I know that I am not dreaming?”
The Frozen Man had ceased to resemble a man any longer and appeared more as an ice creature. A gargantuan mound stood where the Frozen Man had previously and only the voice emanated from the mountain of ice. “To dream is a state in which there are concurrently literal and figurative meanings.”
“This must be a dream,” repeated the Lonely.
“A dream can be had when one is conscious or unconscious. To have a dream is to possess a wish or hope for the future to which all subsequent actions are directed. Are you asleep? Imagining this? Perhaps, but how could you tell? I would not know the answer to that question. Only you could know such a thing,” answered the Frozen Man, its voice like thunder rising from the depths.
“I have never dreamed such a dream as this. As well, I had never wished to be bound to such a place; so by your definition this cannot be a dream,” began the Lonely slowly. “However, that is by your definition and if this were a dream, then it would be based on my definitions, my wants and beliefs.”
The mound shuddered and the Lonely turned away.
A white glow struck out that was soon accompanied by a piercing whine that rose and rose yet again, until the mound dissipated in a storm of ice crystals. Removing his hand from his eyes, the Lonely saw that the Frozen Man had returned: where before it had been a pale man, it was now only the metallic exoskeleton of a robot.
Pivots and rotors of steel framed the creature.
It was now the very core of what it wished to be.
The Lonely looked upon what the Frozen Man had become. “You do not see a difference, do you?” queried the Lonely. “In yourself, when you look upon yourself. When you see yourself now it is as it has always been?”
The Frozen Man nodded.
“Flesh, humanity, emotion. These are devices and totems that hold no merit. We of the North require none of them. We are whole in our intelligence.”
The Lonely was not satisfied.
“Your intelligence cannot be complete when you see only one piece of the spectrum. To believe yourself whole by adhering only to the tenants of a pure intelligence, you neglect the aspects of other forms of intelligence. There is much more than accumulated knowledge. Can you not see that in all of your perceived wisdom?”
“By shedding all human endeavors, we can understand what makes them weak, incomplete. In our objectivity we need not experience them, only witness and catalogue,” replied the Frozen Man.
“There is not one form of intelligence greater than that of another. You speak as though the ones inferior are not worthy of your time. They are equal in the balance of things,” offered the Lonely.
The scream was like that of a thousand voices breaking upon one another. The mountains shook, the ice split at the feet of the Lonely. “Lies.”
The Lonely stepped forward, moving away from an ever-growing crack at his bare feet. “They are not lies, but perspective, true objectivity. What you look upon as truth is little more than the subjective product of your unfair judgments.”
The Frozen Man shook violently, the pistons of its joints spewed wildly. Its face, no longer masculine or feminine, contorted horrifically. “No, what you speak of is evil. Those are lies.”
“Is it evil to speak the truth?”
The Frozen Man had begun to hunch.
“The Truth is. It is without right and wrong, for morality is created by societal law influenced by perspective. Therefore information is neither evil nor good, but instead detrimental in the hands of those who do not understand.”
The Lonely nodded.
“Precisely, so what I speak is simply information that is hurtful because of what you believe. That does not make it truth or lies, it simply is.”
The Frozen Man had been reduced to little more than a dwarfish version of itself. “There are no more answers for you here. Leave at once.”
The Lonely opened his mouth to reply, but he felt a force tug upon the very fiber of his being. At first in one direction and then another, until his body was being pulled in so many directions that he felt as if he was going to be torn into nothingness. The world before his eyes was at once light and darkness and he faded.
Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here:


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Review: The Sociopath Next Door – Martha Stout

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (March 14, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0767915828
ISBN-13: 978-0767915823
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Psychologically speaking, a Sociopath is someone without a conscience. We all know people like that. In The Sociopath Next Door, by Dr. Martha Stout, she examines the sociopathic mind. There are 7 characteristics of a sociopath.

(1) failure to conform to social norms
(2) deceitfulness, manipulativeness
(3) impulsivity, failure to plan ahead
(4) irritability, aggressiveness
(5) reckless disregard for the safety of self or others
(6) consistent irresponsibility
(7) lack of remorse after having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another person.

Any 3 of these can give a psychiatrist the means to suspect this disorder. We see it in our leaders, our family members, our co-workers.

I found this book to be very informative, probably one of the most informative books I’ve read. I think it would be not only helpful for those in the medical field, but just for the average person in being able to understand others, and what makes them tick. I also think it’s a valuable guide for writers in understanding the human psyche.

It’s filled with multiple scenarios of different forms of sociopathic behavior, and in reading it I’m sure you’d recognize people you know, I know I did. For it’s informative nature, it’s interesting subject matter, and being written in such a manner that it does not come across as textbook dry, I highly recommend this book to all my readers. Check it out and drop back by to let us know what you thought.

About the Author

Martha Stout, Ph.D., was trained at the famous McLean Psychiatric Hospital and is a practicing psychologist and a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is the author of The Myth of Sanity: Divided Consciousness and the Promise of Awareness and has been featured on Fox News, National Public Radio, KABC, and many other broadcasts. She lives on Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.

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