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Featured Author: Rob Shackleford

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An English-born Australian, Rob Shackleford has lived in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, with a varied career that has included Customs Officer, Scuba Instructor, College Teacher, and management roles in too many places.

With degrees in the Arts and Business, he is mad keen on travel, scuba diving, family history, martial arts, astronomy, and playing Djembe and Congas.

Rob is a father of two and lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.

  1. When did you start writing? I started writing about six years ago and took me about four years to write.The book was originally known as “Traveller”, a title that was too common. Since then it has been test-marketed, edited, retitled, added to, and finally emerged as “Traveller Inceptio”. It has been a long road.

  2. What is your inspiration? This is difficult to define clearly, as I became aware that I had stories that needed to be told. While I have been an avid reader for most of my life, writing was probably delayed by my being too busy with the mechanics of life rather than in living. I could quote authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling, or others who were inspiring. My inspiration can be described to have been garnered from the terrific stories by the many sci-fi, history, and adventure writers, both fiction or factual, whose moments I have shared.


  3. How did you come up with your stories? I am most fortunate to live reasonably close to beaches in sunny Queensland, Australia. One day I was sitting on a beach and, as I looked at some nearby hi-rise apartments, I had the thought, “What was this location be like 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, or let’s go the whole hog and imagine what it was like 1000 years ago.” Then it was – “How would I survive if I was to travel back to that time?” Extrapolate that out and Traveller Inceptio became, um, incepted.


  4. Where is your favorite place to write? I have a desk in our apartment. Recently I moved to the Gold Coast and have the good fortune to live even closer to the beaches. My desk is a bright, airy place where I have views of the sea. It is not distracting enough to take my mind off the task at hand, but bright enough to be inspiring and it has a positive vibe.

    My desk, with Internet availability, is my favorite place to do some serious writing. It’s really about having information at my fingertips.

  5. Do you plan your stories before starting? “Traveller Inceptio” began organically. I knew roughly how it could end, but the story soon developed as I wanted to portray how real people would react. In all, I do try to be as realistic as possible, how humans can react when placed into challenging circumstances. Naturally, Traveller Inceptio has suffered numerous axe-attacks by editors and I have learned a lot about story formation, removing guff, and writing in something close to the English language.

    A few times I experienced where I felt someone else was writing the story, where I was typing away and would go “Wow, I didn’t know that was going to happen!” I’m not sure if I am possessed, but the experience seemed to be a productive one.
    I have just completed a draft of Traveller 2 – Traveller Probo, which is a natural continuation of the story in Traveller Inceptio. There, I had had a better idea as to where I was going. In fact, the final chapter was one of the first that I wrote.
    “Traveller Inceptio” began organically. I knew roughly how it could end, but the story soon developed as I wanted to portray how real people would react. In all, I do try to be as realistic as possible, how humans can react when placed into challenging circumstances. Naturally, Traveller Inceptio has suffered numerous axe-attacks by editors and I have learned a lot about story formation, removing guff, and writing in something close to the English language.

  6. When did you first consider yourself an author? I see myself as a writer and a storyteller. When I get the big break – then I feel I can call myself an author. I still stumble over the “a” word as I have it tied to unrealistic expectations such as money, celebrity, and a mini-series, but I’m getting there.


  7. Do you see writing as a career? Yes, I do. If one is to complete a book and then go through the onerous task of publishing and being noticed, it becomes inevitable that you have to take this seriously. So, yes, my writing is a career at which I aim to eventually make a living.

    I might add on a personal note that I have had the good fortune to have sold my house, moved in with my lady love, and have the cash to do what I need for some time as yet. I don’t have the burden of a crappy job, a mortgage, or debt, so I am in the enviable position of making the choice to become a paid author and have the time to maintain the unending motivation to achieve that goal. I did, however, begin my writing path when I had all three of the aforementioned.

  8. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I think writing is a major learning experience. I aim for my writing to entertain, where readers can invest the time to digest my story and come out of the experience happy to have made that investment. I hope to make my stories unique, even a little bit, and hope someone isn’t writing something along the same lines.

    My most challenging task is in the mechanics of writing; to remove excessive waffle, improve my language, be creative in an appealing manner, and learn to be a better wordsmith. In the end, writing is about using the tools of trade to create an entertaining outcome that readers will pay for.

    However, I enjoy writing and especially love having someone say they enjoyed reading my work.

  9. What was the hardest part of writing your book? The hardest part of writing “Traveller Inceptio” was in accessing accurate information regarding the people about whom I was writing. I had to know about the Saxons, a people of 1000 years in the past about which a surprising amount is not known. I had to learn in detail about how they dressed, what they ate, attitudes to sex, etc etc.

    The second hardest part was in learning to write in a more engaging style than the business manner to which I was most familiar.

  10. Can you share a little of your current work with us? I originally self-published “Traveller Inceptio” – then it was just called “Traveller”. I had the book printed and received a lot of positive feedback. The question I was asked most was if there was to be a sequel.

    I hadn’t really planned to write a sequel, but the first book lends itself to a continuation of the story. So, I have just completed a draft of the second of the trilogy – called “Traveller Probo” (Latin for investigate or prove). In “Traveller Probo”, we follow on from the success of Saxon Traveller, where governments compete to initiate their own Traveller projects. No spoilers, but politics and fame make for a heady mix when selecting which nations conduct their own projects to send their mission specialists 1000 years into the past. Some locations will surprise.

    While writing “Traveller Probo”, I submitted myself to having “Traveller Inceptio” professionally edited. There was a lot of blood, but I survived and the work was retitled, tightened, and rewritten to the version now in existence. I am again submitting the book for a final professional proofread and edit prior to “Traveller Inceptio” being printed.

    While I hope to improve my writing and composition skills and make “Traveller Probo” a technically better book, readers can be assured that their favourite characters will not be forgotten.

    I have just begun drafting “Traveller Manifesto”, the third in the Traveller series.


  11. Do you have advice for other writers? Yes. As a fellow traveller (no pun intended) I can advise the following:

    1. Writing is like acting, dancing, and music. There are a lot out there hoping to win. All I can suggest is don’t be daunted. Live the dream, write your story and don’t give up. Understand it will take a lot more effort and time than you can ever imagine. The process will change you.

    2. Writing for publication is a hard slog and a tough gig. Learn the publication process, how the traditional process is no longer valid, that agents and publishers won’t even respond to you. This is a lonely path, but if it is your dream, then you must be true to yourself and give it your best shot. Who knows where it can end up. Maybe you are the next J K Rolling. I love her story.

  12. Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers? I hope you enjoy “Traveller Inceptio”. It might be a little longer than most, but the story is as had to be told.

    I most welcome your comments.

 

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Traveller

Read our review of Traveller Inceptio by Rob Shackleford

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How we review

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Welcome to Bona Fide Book Reviews, where we promise to say it like it is. This might be our blog, but we’re writing it for you, the reader. We post in the hopes of guiding you and preparing you. A negative post doesn’t mean the book is bad. It just means we didn’t care for it. Don’t let that scare you off. We hope that a positive post will encourage you to read the book, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll love it as much as we did.

Here is a guide on how we review.

  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It changed our worlds
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It blew us a way
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️ – It was good, but it wasn’t our favorite
  • ⭐️⭐️ – It wasn’t great, but the author really tried
  • ⭐️ – It was so bad we wish we had a time machine so we could go back and unread it

We also comment on:

  • The genre and general reading age
  • The level of sexuality
  • Whether there was graphic language
  • Did we cry and if so, how much
  • If it is part of a series, which book and whether it is a stand-alone
  • Level of character development
  • How hard did we laugh

We also do not guarantee that there won’t be spoilers. These are our honest reviews of these books and not solicitation. The reviews are written in first-person, but it’s a collaborative effort.

We promise to never let an author sway our opinions through any forms of badgering, guilt-tripping, or gifting. We stand strong against the current, for you.

Thank you and welcome to Bona Fide Book Reviews.

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Amazon Review Bias

It has been brought to our attention that there are coerced reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Amazon will remove reviews that are not in the author’s favor. We stand by our promise for honesty and will never review a book that is pressured from the author and even if our reviews are taken down from Amazon we do rate and review on Goodreads. This blog is for you, the reader, and not a way for authors to promote their books in a dishonest fashion.

In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree by Michael A. McLellan

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This turned out to be a fascinating story. It starts with Henry and Eliza, newly freed from slavery at the end of the Civil War. The beginning of their freedom has a very big downside in that they have no idea how to manage it. They were released like little puppies with no idea how to save themselves. Being slaves, they were used to hardship and injustice, and once they are free they have to rely on gossip and a lot of hope in their desire to acquire land in the northern U.S. They have heard there are places they can live and work without the terror of the South.

Several times I closed this book and decided I couldn’t review it. The hatred in people’s hearts is easily admitted, but this story lays it bare. Post-war South was a seething pool of hatred. Henry and Eliza don’t get far before they are captured, even though they carry their papers of freedom. Henry is hung and Eliza is dragged away by a group of ragged men with evil in their hearts. Luck or not, Henry’s hanging rope is rotted through and he falls to the ground, where he abandons Eliza to escape his captors.

Some years later, Henry is working for the military as a scout in Indian territory. Here he meets up with people who have grown tired of prejudice and the soulless men who look only to themselves. They have grown tired of men who talk falsely to the Indians and then use their arrogance to become rich while others starve, while they ferment war with the Indians and send soldiers to kill their babies. Because of this, Henry finds people who at least are interested in calling him by name and, at the same time of crisis, support his desire to do something for the Indians that he has come to care so much for.

John and Clara are interesting characters. John is a military man forced to serve in Indian country, because he loves Clara. Her father, being a controlling and selfish man, thinks he can manipulate two people who are in love. As John is forced to go on a foray to an undefended Indian village where soldiers kill every woman, child, and man, he is sickened and actually walks away from the military he though he would spend his life serving. Clara also comes to her own recognition that there have been people in her life that she has loved, but refrained from admitting to herself or them for fear of social ostracism.

Once the people in this story are forced into company with each other, they realize people are similar no matter who or what they are. They all had many of the same worries and the same desires. They could not like each other as a whole population, but on a face-to-face basis they found how to accept, care, and love each other.

I highly recommend this book. It is an eye-opener into the American past and a reminder of what we should hope for today. Without saying, this book points out the fact that we have a long way to go.

The rating:

  • Genre & general reading age – Historical for adults and older teens.
  • Level of sexuality – Very low-key.
  • Is there graphic language – Quite a bit.
  • Did I cry? No, but I was saddened at times.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? This is a standalone.
  • Level of character development – This book is so well-done, I never had a sense of the characters lacking.

I am very happy to give Mr. McLellan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars.

Available here on Amazon

A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot

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Mercy Kilpatrick is a quiet, lonely woman, her life marked by a tragic incident from her past. She was forced from home at eighteen when she became alienated from her parents by trying to protect her sister, Rose, and her brother, Levi, and spent fifteen years hiding the secret that pulled them apart. She was raised in a small town, but found living in a big city a challenge she was ready for. Her heart yearned to see the world beyond where she grew up, so she learned to support herself, graduated college, and eventually joined the FBI.

Now, Mercy is being sent to the last place she wants to be; she is being sent home to investigate several murders of ‘preppers’, people who spend their lives preparing for the end of government and high-tech society. Many are loners and hoarders, who actually have a great deal of knowledge about preparing for the end of the world. Mercy has no qualms handling this investigation, but knows people will recognize her. She fears who will welcome her and who will give her the cold shoulder.

Having arrived in town with her fellow FBI agent, Eddie Peterson, the first priority is to establish themselves with the current police chief, Truman Wade. He has his own painful memories and it doesn’t take him long to see that Mercy is also a troubled soul. Being alone for many years, Mercy is completely tied to her job, but as the investigation delves deeper she realizes the police chief has his eye on her. He appears to be quite curious and she becomes concerned that he knows something of her past. Nervous, she attempts to get him to admit she can handle the investigation without his help.

Gradually, Mercy makes contact with her four siblings and joyfully finds that, although she may not be accepted by all of her family, the two she held closest in her heart, Rose and Levi, seem genuinely happy to see her. The time apart was difficult and she looks forward to beginning anew with her family once the investigation is complete.

With the concern over her family lightened, Mercy jumps into the murder cases and begins to see similarities between these murders and two that happened right before she left home, fifteen years ago. She doesn’t want to bring attention to her past, but knows that these facts cannot be ignored. As the case takes another turn, Truman is determined to become more to Mercy than just a police chief. On the other hand, she is determined to keep him at arm’s length.

This is a well-written story. There is a certain amount of tension that all thrillers must have. However, I was disappointed with the lack of dialogue between Mercy and Truman, which could have drawn them together. They suddenly acknowledge their attraction and the investigation simply moves on. Also, I suspect that Mercy would have needed some kind of assistance in her investigation, but mostly she wanders around, picking up what clues she can. I thought Eddie would turn into a strong character, but he appears mostly on the sidelines. Mercy’s father is a unlikeable man. His arrogance such that he can never be wrong. His wife seems to like him well enough, though, but I just couldn’t see how she refrained from booting him out of the house on occasion. Several characters were interesting and it would have added depth to the story if they’d had more involvement. That said, overall, I did like the story.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Suspense for older teens and adults.
  • Level of sexuality – It was very low-key.
  • Is there graphic language? Mild, for the most part.
  • Did I cry? No.
  • Did I laugh? No.
  • Is this part of a series? I have not seen a sequel mentioned, however, the ending sounds like there could be more.
  • Level of character development – The characters are fairly strong and I didn’t notice much change.

I give this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 stars.

Available here on Amazon

Upcoming Release: Completing Domain Book III by J.L. Moore

IMG_3572Completing Domain Book III

Ultimate Domain Series by J.L. Moore

RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2017

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BEAUTIFUL

FLAWED

LOVE STORY

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DAMAGED

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Completing Domain, is the completion to the beautifully damaged love story of Dominic Main and Iris Bloom. In this last installment of their story, Dominic will come to realizeIris was not unfaithful, and the two will reunite and continue to navigate through their torrid passionate relationship. When Giovanni gets out of jail, his freedom poses a real threat to Iris’s safety. Can Dominic keep her safe? It won’t be easy, and you will soon find out why the stakes are higher now than ever before.These two lovers deserve to find everlasting love, and this conclusion does not disappoint. Dominic will find all the love he never thought he wanted, and Iris, will find all the happiness she never dared to dream. You won’t want to miss their journey to epic love. This is a heartfelt story you are sure to remember, long after you turn the last page.

Completing Domain is the third book in the Ultimate Domain Series. This is a contemporary romance, with an erotically sensual flair. Watch for “Main Attraction,” book IV a sequel to the original trilogy, coming soon. This is the love story of Dominic’s best friend, Logan McAlister, and Dominic’s sister, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Main; two characters originally introduced in the first three books.

Find it here on Amazon

Please be sure to add it to your GR TBR list! Goodreads

In case you have not read books I and II, please find the links below.

Book I Solitary Domain: Solitary Domain

Book II Contemplating Domain: Contemplating Domain

Website: http://www.jlmooreauthor.com/

Facebook: http://facebook.com/jlmooreauthor/jlmooreauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JLMooreauthor

New Release: Broken by Aleisha Maree

 

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Broken

When broken is all you have left, can you ever become anything else?

I’m Knox Ambrose, better known as Assassin, the MMA Fighter. Women fall at my feet and I use them, hard and unforgiving. Shatter them and leave them on a hotel room floor to pick up the broken pieces of their soul.

I’m broken.

I could never be what they want me to be. I pull them under to save myself.

I can’t save you.

Can you save me?

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Available here on Amazon  |  Available here on Barnes & Noble

Survive at Midnight by Kayla Krantz

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This is an amazing book to follow after the first two. Personally, I didn’t read either, but I didn’t need to. This is one book that gives you all the details you need to truly enjoy it. There was plenty of back story and the history was easy to follow. While I wish I had been able to start from the beginning, I’m still excited that I got to read this one.

Luna is probably the loneliest girl on the planet. Only a few years out of high school and pregnant with no friends. Why? Because mostly they are all dead. Murdered in numerous and vicious ways. Even the relationship with her mother, Rose, is painfully strained. She spends her days lamenting the loss of her loved ones and developing a connection with her baby. The father is her mortal enemy, so it’s not an easy thing to do, but she grows to love her baby immensely.

So much happens in this book that it is hard to discuss it without giving anything away. Suffice it to say that it’s a roller coaster of emotions and jumps from one “No way!” moment to the next. I wondered through the entire book whether what was happening was real. It seems her enemy is not exactly who she thought he was and that revelation has dire consequences. Chance, the villain from the previous books, did a marvelous job at isolating her and destroying everything of meaning in her life. He had a grand exit in the second book, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Chance.

The story does an incredible job of taking someone who is despicable in every way and whose past behavior can only be described as pure evil, and turning them into someone human and a person to sympathize with. It is not a task accomplished right away, though. So much goes on that the reader must grow along with the character to get the real emotion behind it. At times it is very difficult to read and disturbing doesn’t quite cover it. The question is who is Luna really. Who is she becoming? Was she always destined to become an extension of Chance? Can she turn around from the path she has started down? The answers are only found at the end of the book, when your jaw is on the floor and you feel Luna’s pain and desolation.

From the very beginning I was sucked in. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and I only saw three ways out: prison, asylum, death. The author proved that I wasn’t thinking outside the box and I was relieved to discover that it had the perfect ending. The story remains consistent from start to finish and carries you through Luna’s journey as she evolves. There were several issues that caught my attention. The story is definitely not your everyday tale with realistic interactions, but the fantastic never bothers me. It was the little things, like Rose expecting her daughter to pull herself out of her grief in a matter of weeks, or an obstetrician doing house calls in the matter of fifteen minutes. If only that was true, then a pregnant woman’s experience would be much easier. It was only these moments of un-believability that interferred with the flow of the story. Keep in mind, though, that I’m a stickler and pay attention to the little things.

The grading:

  • Genre and general reading age – Paranormal for adults. Definitely not for teens.
  • Level of sexuality – None. Her pregnancy is already a done deal when the book begins.
  • Is there graphic language? Nothing that impacted me or my reading experience.
  • Did I cry? No, but I felt her sorrow and her confusion acutely.
  • Did I laugh? Absolutely not.
  • Is this part of a series? You bet. This is book three in The Rituals of the Night series. Book four is due out later this year.
  • Level of character development – Luna has a complete makeover. Throughout the course of the book she becomes an entirely different person. It is a fantastic example of how a character can start out as one person and, through internal and external forces, do a one-eighty.

This is a suprising and chilling tale. Do not approach this book lightly and prepare yourself for many shocking moments. I love Luna and the way she is torn between her old life and her new. At times it felt like Stockholm syndrome, but she ultimately chooses who she becomes. The ending is satisfying and this is a book that I would gladly read again. I was so engrossed that I cannot give it anything under ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars. Well done, Ms. Krantz.

Available here on Amazon