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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Deal + Author Interview: Dead End Deal

Title: Dead End Deal

Author: Allen Wyler

Genre: Medical Thriller

About the Book:
World renowned neurosurgeon Jon Ritter is on the verge of a medical breakthrough that will change the world. His groundbreaking surgical treatment, using transplanted non-human stem cells, is set to eradicate the scourge of Alzheimer’s disease and give hope to millions. But a radical anti-abortion group resorts to violence to stop it. Faced with a dangerous reality but determined to succeed, Ritter turns to his long-time colleague, corporate biotech CEO Richard Stillman, for help. Together, they conspire to conduct a clandestine clinical trial in Seoul, Korea. But the danger is more determined, and more lethal, than Ritter could have imagined.

After successful surgical trials, Ritter and his allies are thrown into a horrifying nightmare scenario: The trial patients have been murdered and Ritter is the number one suspect. Aided by his beautiful lab assistant, Yeonhee, Ritter flees the country, now the target of an international manhunt involving Interpol, the FBI, zealous fanatics and a coldly efficient assassin named Feist.

Dead End Deal is a fast paced, heart-pounding, and sophisticated thriller. Penned by master neurosurgeon, Allen Wyler—who often draws from experience, actual events and hot-button issues when writing—Dead End Deal is unmatched as a technical procedural. And yet, the technical expertise is seamlessly woven into a riveting plot, with enough action and surprises to engross even the most well-read thriller enthusiast. A smart, unique, page-turner, Dead End Deal delivers.

What Readers are Saying:

“Dead End Deal is a medical thriller of the highest order, reviving the genre with a splendid mixture of innovation and cutting edge timeliness. Neurosurgeon Allen Wyler knows of what he speaks, and writes, and the result is a thriller that equals and updates the best of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton.”
--Jon Land, bestselling author of Strong at the Break

“The suspense builds and builds in this riveting page-turner. It’s a skillful merging of the medical thriller and political thriller…Tom Clancy meets Tess Gerritsen!”
--Kevin O’Brien, NY Times Bestselling Author of The Last Victim and Killing Spree

Interested? The buy the book for a special low price of 0.99 during the month of October! 

An Interview with Allen Wyler

Q: What inspired you to write Dead End Deal? 

A: Good question. Like all my plots, the kernel came from a real life experience. At the time, I was working as the Chief Medical Officer for a start-up medical device company and was on a business trip to Seoul. As is often the case when traveling across numerous time changes, it was hard to sleep. At 2 am, while sitting at my hotel window looking at the lights of the city, I got to wondering how it might feel to be trapped in a foreign city without my passport, language fluency, or the means to escape. On top of that, what if I were accused of a felonious crime I hadn’t committed? What would I do? How would I manage to escape? The questions became so appealing, that I started hammering out a plot to encompass this situation. Because I love to put up roadblocks for my protagonist, the problem of how to reenter the United States without a passport became an interesting challenge. It was a fun book to write. 

Q: How do you get your ideas for stories? 

A: My ideas spring from various things that happen to me during a day. I can be doing just about anything and some small facet about it may spark an idea. More often than not, I mentally toss the idea around until it’s got so many holes in it that I reject it and move on. Rarely does an idea hold up to real scrutiny. But when it does, it’s one I believe I can work with. Cutter’s Trial, for example, is a non-thriller which will be released by Astor+Blue next year. It came from a malpractice suit against me years ago. It was, in fact, the basis for the first novel I ever wrote. My writing was so awful that I finally sent the manuscript straight to my computer’s recycle. But the idea stuck in the back of my mind and resurfaced every now and then. So once I’d honed my skills, I took another crack at it and believe it turned out much better. Or at least I hope it did. We’ll see. 

Q: How does Alzheimer rank as one of the most pressing diseases in the 21st century? Why and if it goes unchecked how will it impact our society? (Is there any progress on finding a cure?) 

A: Chances are you know someone among who either has Alzheimer’s Disease or is directly connected—by relation or care—to someone who has it. As of this year an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with AD. That translates to roughly one in eight older Americans. That’s a staggering number, but yet in the public consciousness, AD isn’t as widely considered (“top of mind”) as the dangerous killer that it is; not like say, cancer or heart failure. (AD is the sixth leading cause of death in the US). 

The fact is, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are becoming more prevalent as the average life span of individuals increase and the more common health care problems ARE better treated. It’s predicted that by 2020, thanks to drugs like Lipitor, mortality from heart disease and stroke will be way down, making Alzheimer’s the leading cause of death in our time. The personal consequences to individuals or families is devastating, but the general consequence to society as a whole is great as well. That’s because AD patients often live a long time, their care is very expensive and will become a major health issue (both in cost and quality of life) that our society will have to bear. 

There is hope in some novel drugs to treat AD. Because the disease results from the build up of Amyloid in nerve cells, a promising approach is to block the production of this protein. In addition, there is intriguing research into the concept of surgically implanting stem cells into especially damaged brain areas. This possible cure is a central element that I used in the plot for my new novel, Dead End Deal. 

Cures and treatments for diseases like AD are very expensive to develop, (millions upon tens of millions of dollars of R&D) with the resulting payoff even greater (billions of dollars of revenue for the “drug” or the “procedure”) often creating entire new branches of medicine, with thousands upon thousands of new jobs. This high risk / high reward fact of life for medical researchers and practitioners like me is a natural stage for heroes, villains and high-stakes drama. I try to capture that in my Thrillers, but the true high-stakes drama on the medical treatment/development stage is much more exciting than any fiction; the heroes are by far much more worthy of praise (though they often go unnoticed). I like to see my books as homage to them, at least in some small way. 

Q: Is there something you need in order to write, such as music? 

A: I prefer working in silence without distractions. Most often with a cup of coffee next to me. I tend to limit distractions because I know I am easily lured away from the task at hand. Funny, but when in the operating room, I usually had music going. I get asked how that could be. Well, unless I was dealing with an unforeseen complication, surgery was mostly manual dexterity task, so the music cut the drama. In contrast, for me at least, writing requires more concentration to be creative. Especially on the first draft. How should my character react? What would he say? Might sound paradoxical but when starting, say a brain tumor, I where I should end up and how to get there. When writing, such clarity isn’t always the case. 

Q: Authors you admire 

A: For thriller and mysteries the authors I admire most are: John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Stephen King, and Dennis Lehane. I also read a ton of non-fiction and for that I admire any author who can make a dry subject interesting. I read constantly. 

About the Author
Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity. He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.

In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.

Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.

He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review + Tour: The Making of Michael Bishop

Title: The Making of Michael Bishop

Author: Kathleen Collins

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Book Blurb: 
Keep your distance. Don't look him in the eye. Feed him and leave. 

Michael D'Augustino is a priest in the time of the Inquisition. Marked as weak for his refusal to torture those charged with sorcery, heresy, devil worship or worse, he's given another task. Feed the prisoner in the cell in the darkest corner of the dungeon. With the edict comes a set of instructions. 

Ever obedient, Michael does exactly as he is told. Until the night his charge doesn't eat and Michael has to enter the cell to find out why. Instead of the beast he believes to be imprisoned there, he finds a man. A broken, tormented man who asks for help. 

But all is not as it seems and, before the night is through, Michael will be changed forever. 

I will admit upfront: The cover was what caught my attention and prompted me to sign up for this tour...I loved the color scheme, the photography was eye catching and the colors kind of match the whole "autumn" season thing.  Okay, getting off track here *mentally steers brain back on topic*

I think it should be mentioned that this is a short story, clocking in at about 17 pages.  Sometimes I think that it's harder to write a short story, because the author must convey so much--has to get the readers to connect with the character, involved in the plot, etc--in such a short amount of time/pages.

The Making of Michael Bishop was well done, with a clear beginning, middle and end.  There was quite a bit of description, but only to set up the ambiance.  I enjoyed the short background given about Michael, the main character, since I have not read the other books in this series, so this gave me a chance to familiarize with the MC.  Michael's not your typical hero--he's considered weak and as a result, shunned by his father.  But things take on an unexpected turn when he's asked to care for a prisoner who isn't quite human...

I found some of the dialogue to be awkward/forced, particularly towards the end of the story.  I don't know if it's because I'm not used to the writing style or what--the conversations simply seemed choppy.

The ending was semi-conclusive, with Michael having solved one problem, but with another set of challenges already rising up for him to face.  I think if given the chance, I would be interested with reading the first book of the Realm Walker series.

Overall thoughts: There was a lot of action to take in for a 17 page story; making the story slightly longer (say, 30 pages) would've allowed some of the scenes to sink in more and provide for a greater impact later on.  But then again, that's part of the challenge of crafting a short story.  The plot kept me on my toes and Michael seems like an interesting character to know better.


Available at Amazon and BN

About the Author
Kathleen Collins has been writing since Kindergarten. And while her ability has drastically improved, her stories are still about monsters and the people who play with them. 

The rare instances that she actually finds some spare time, she spends it playing with her two boys. Three if you count her husband. 

She is currently hard at work on her next book. 
Follow her on Twitter: @kathy_collins

Author Links

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: The MacInness Legacy + Novella (Yes, FOUR reviews in ONE post!)

***Note from Tina:  Wow! I am super impressed with Aly's super speedy reading abilities!  I just think it's worth mentioning that she managed to read 3 novels and 1 novella and crank out reviews for all of them in three days!!!!  Haha--now I'm jealous of her reading superpowers.  Also, be sure to check out the Tour Stop for The MacInness Legacy here and enter the giveaway for the chance to win your very own boxed set***

Title: The Fire Weaver

Author: Julie Moffett

Genre: Historical Paranormal Romance

Reviewer: Aly

The most noticeable thing that kept popping up in my head is how Julie Moffett brings both the time periods to live. She brings the witch trials to the reader and shows them as a person must have experienced them. And let me tell you that is a scary thought. And the 1770’s in which this book is set for the most part is done in the same way. All of Bridget’s fears you can at least understand in the context of that society even if you don’t understand it as we are now. 

Throughout the book I was kind of wondering where everything was going. Bridget seemed like a great character who was struggling and I knew there would probably be witchcraft involved but I was curious as to what the prologue had to do with the rest of the book and where it connected. It took a little while to figure things out and there were certainly surprises I didn’t expect in their entirety so that was a good thing about reading The Fireweaver. The reader is shocked at least slightly by some of the revelations. 

And yet I also found myself growing frustrated with Bridget. Some of the decisions she was making and why she was making them were frustrating me to no end. I almost wanted to put down the book but then I wouldn’t know what was going on and that would almost be worse.

The romance definitely made me sigh and cheer and want to smack both characters upside the head...not all at the same time. But I really enjoyed having that element as marriage for love isn’t something you often think of when you think of the 17th century. And so I wasn’t expecting that and to have it in The Fireweaver added to my enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed The Seer mostly because it did contain elements similar to the first book but it also was different. It definitely had very different main characters, and I have to say I almost enjoyed Alexandra a little bit more than Bridget? I’m not certain if I saw something of myself in her or just enjoyed her spirit a little more but it’s true.

There were certainly times I wanted to smack Pierce, the idiot, but at the same time he did eventually come around and make things right. And then there were the fathers. It seems like no matter how old a child is, the parent still feels a need to interfere. I found myself laughing as it happened and couldn’t wait to see if they really did orchestrate this whole plot together.

The Seer definitely ripped my heart out and it physically hurt. At one point I was almost in tears trying not to cry as I didn’t want to creep out my roommate. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the pair and it just hurt. The ending though I almost felt like cursing the author but refrained. Not to spoil anything but that ending is definitely a doozy, one that will have you fooled.

The Seer was a marvellous addition to the MacInness series.

I was glued to my seat for this one. It was really the ending to the series and I was excited and yet nervous to see if the four could pull it off. The author didn’t disappoint and made the reader sweat for the happy ending they so desperately wanted.

And to finally have my suspicions come true was certainly a good feeling of satisfaction although it didn’t last long. 

I also enjoyed the way that they took an unexpected route and stuck true to their characters, all of whom wouldn’t do something terrible because of what had been done to them and I loved that.

The only thing I have to say about this book and the series in general was that I wasn’t a big fan of the dialogue, not because it dragged or anything like that. It was just much more formal than I’m used to and that was to be expected for the era. At times I did feel that the dialogue dragged but again that’s mostly because I’m so used to contractions and slang words that were not in use at that time period. 

Overall the MacInness series is one that will have you follow an emotional rollercoaster and stick with it no matter how many times you silently wish you could get off if only to save yourself from pain.

Again, there were completely different characters, and by that I mean none of the previous characters were in this novella and that they had completely different personalites as well. 

The Bewitching Novella is much more lighthearted than the MacInness series and I almost needed something like that to have settled me down after the whirlwind of emotions in the series. So I was really happy to find this novella attached!

And there was a bit of a surprise that I honestly didn’t see coming but couldn’t help but laugh at. 

Bewitching is a nice, lighthearted novella that will give your emotions a bit of a break after reading the MacInness series.