Guest Post: Fear is the Common Denominator, by: Mark Rubenstein, author of Mad Dog Justice


Publisher: Thunder Lake Press

Publication Date: September 1, 2014

Synopsis: Roddy Dolan, a surgeon, and Danny Burns, an accountant, are being hunted as prey. Someone is after them with lethal intentions but they don't know who or why. Whoever it is, and for whatever reason, they and their families are in the crosshairs of killers. Everything they know is unravelling. They must hide, send their families away, abandon their homes, and leave their lives behind.

The second book in the Mad Dog series, Mad Dog Justice is a harrowing tale of friendship, morality, betrayal, and dire consequences.


Guest Post: Fear is the Common Denominator

My recently published novel, Mad Dog Justice, is a psychological crime thriller. It plumbs the depths of dread and fear. Roddy Dolan, a surgeon, and his lifelong friend Danny Burns, realize they are in the crosshairs of mobsters after a business deal has gone bad. The novel asks what price men must pay for doing very bad things for very good reasons. It also grows into weightier issues of friendship, love, vengeance and betrayal.

Above all, fear plays an essential part in the novel.

As a novelist and forensic psychiatrist, I’ve become intimate with fear. I’m not referring to ordinary worries or anxieties, such as, will I get a promotion, or will the IRS audit my return? These are troubling concerns, but they don’t rise to the level of true fear.

I’m talking about raw, gut-quivering, life-threatening fear—the primal upsurge of emotion that has been with human beings since they first populated the earth. It’s fear so profound, it can be life-altering. It arises from the brain’s limbic system, which plays a central role in triggering that primitive emotion upon which our ancestors depended for survival. It can cause a heart-thumping, pupil-dilating, sweat-pouring, knee-quaking bodily reaction—the nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. It’s elemental, basic, biologic. Fear is a legacy every one of us has inherited. Most of us manage to avoid fearful situations, and we strive to live secure, peaceful lives where we don’t feel threatened or endangered. But, as we all know, sometimes the unthinkable happens.

Through my work as a forensic psychiatrist, I treated or examined combat veterans; survivors of concentration camps; people who lived through the 9/11 terrorist attack; railroad, airplane and bus crash victims; survivors of vicious dog attacks, catastrophic accidents; and people who lived through riots, rapes, and other near-death experiences.

As a writer, I know when it comes to fiction, the most frightening depictions are those describing events that could really happen. They resonate deeply because, unlike paranormal experiences, they fall within the realm of possibility. They could happen to any of us.

In psychological thrillers, fear drives the plot and mesmerizes us.

I think the most frightening novel Stephen King ever wrote is Gerald’s Game because it depicts a terrifying situation that could happen to anyone. (Imagine being handcuffed to bedposts in a remote cabin, miles from civilization. Your spouse is dead at the foot of the bed and a wild dog roams nearby.)

For a shrieking level of fear, there’s none better than Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, or for that matter, The Silence of the Lambs. Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is not only compellingly well-written, but conjures real fears: where and how has my wife disappeared? Why am I suspected of being a murderer? What will happen to my life?

There are good reasons why the best-seller lists are populated by Stephen King, John Sandford, Lisa Gardner, Dennis Lehane, James Patterson, Andrew Gross, Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Dean Koontz, Janet Evonovich, and others. Their novels depict people dealing with unmitigated fear, the primeval common denominator of the human condition.

Mad Dog Justice, a sequel to Mad Dog House, is a standalone novel. I wrote it because so many of my readers told me they wanted to go down the rabbit hole once more, feeling and smelling the fear with every inch of the descent.

We all love to experience fear, so long as we can do it from the safety of our armchairs.

Mark Rubinstein
Author of Mad Dog House and Mad Dog Justice


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Book Review: The Circus in Me by: S.M. Bjarnson


Rating: 3/5

Publisher: Createspace

Publication Date: April 24, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Goodreads

Synopsis: The Circus in Me confronts a girl’s outcast journey. Amish to the bone, born and bred to be as such, Tracey Aliza discovers a magical land outside of her traditional community. On a quest for solitude amongst the vagabonds. She comes as a drifter transforming into a better version of oneself called by the name Trae Lae. Outside the safety of confinement Trae Lae learns hands-on experiences being an adult in modern society. Struggles to let the past remain behind her she concentrates on performing as part of the team. Back and forth motions bring her to a whole new level of acceptance. College in due course calls to her. Off she flees to the next adventure on the map marked with an X. Welcome to BYU-Idaho! A Mormon college located on the southeastern region of the great potato state. Trae Lae traces a path in-between a religion she was forced to vacate and another indulging her capacity to a newfound faith that contradicts her soul further. The journey grimy and gray toward the new beginning of endearment. On a mounting podium to seize control of the wild beast conformity. She becomes an acquaintance of a young man by the name of Briggs who is also in torment of historical demons. Their lives intertwine into courses neither of them accused as possible. One girl’s bonnet for another man’s briefs. Do our conclusions meet requirements previously posted? Turn the pages to find out if Trae Lae and Briggs can find a way out of fate’s fortitude. With every whimsical there is a wish, with every star there is a shine, where there is a shunned Amish girl there is bonnet about to be burned.

Review: THE CIRCUS IN ME is the story of an Amish girl, Tracey Aliza, and her transformation into Trae Lae. She left her very traditional community after a devastating loss and now drifts from place to place absorbing knowledge and creating new experiences. Along the way, she meets Briggs when she is attending a Mormon college in Idaho. Can they both overcome what others believe is their fate? Written in a distinctive style, THE CIRCUS IN ME is a journey from bud to bloom. It does take a bit to get into the way the author writes and to decipher the events laid out on the page. THE CIRCUS IN ME is definitely different than anything I’ve read in a while. Give it a try if you’re looking for a coming of age story told in a vastly original voice.

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Book Review: Devourer of Souls by: Kevin Lucia


Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Ragnarok Publications

Publication Date: June 30, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Book Links:  Goodreads

Synopsis: Sophan

An ancient game of chance and Fate. One boy's smoldering hate, another boy's need to make things right, and a father's ghosts of Vietnam past. These are the key players in this latest tale of revenge and reparation performed on the stage of the strange Adirondack town of Clifton Heights, NY.

The Man in Yellow

Tahawus is a small, isolated Adirondack town just north of Clifton Heights. A quiet place filled with simple people of an ardent faith, nothing much ever happens there...until the man in yellow comes calling. He knows your worst nightmares, and he can offer your fondest wish. All you need is faith...and a mouth from which to scream.


Review: DEVOURER OF SOULS features two novellas, ‘Sophan’ and ‘The Man in Yellow’. Overall, DEVOURER OF SOULS is excellent; tapping into the primordial and collectively unconscious fears humans share. Two men meet in a diner, old friends, and share tales of the secrets they know to be true. Ones which should never see the light of day, but in sharing do not halve the fear, but multiplies it exponentially. ‘Sophan’ features a primitive, yet deadly Vietnamese game of chance where the price is your soul. ‘The Man in Yellow’ only wants the most precious thing from his followers…and proves the adage, “All that glitters is not gold”. I preferred ‘Sophan’ to ‘The Man in Yellow’, but they were both amazing. Clinging to your psyche long after you’ve finished, DEVOURER OF SOULS is one of the most delightfully dark tomes I’ve read in a while. This author is wickedly talented!

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Book Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by: Malia Ann Haberman


Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Crossroad Press

Publication Date: May 28, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Goodreads

Synopsis: In Chase Tinker's world, magic, lies and secrets can be a lethal combination…

For eight agonizing months Chase Tinker's guilt over the despicable act he committed on Halloween night has been eating away at his heart and mind. Chase's life gets even more complicated when secrets about the mysterious Relic in the attic are revealed on the eve of a visit from an unwelcome caller. It doesn't help that this all occurs on his fourteenth birthday!

Despite his problems, his biggest concern is that his family's Dark Enemy, the Marlowe Family, is becoming more powerful with each passing day, fueled by the energy they continue to pillage from the many magical beings of the world. If Chase and his family are ever going to win, they will need a whole lot of magical help; they must destroy the most evil threat the world has ever known!


Series: Chase Tinker series

Review: Chase Tinker is tired of secrets, especially the one he’s been keeping close to his chest since Halloween. As event more secrets pile up, Chase has had enough and is willing to let everyone know how he feels. Chase was snappy, whiny, and paranoid – alienating both family and friends. Now, Chase had plenty of reason to be paranoid, with the Marlowe family plotting to get their hands on the Tinker house and the Relic. I can also understand Chase’s irritability, with his profound guilt, but sometimes it seemed to go a bit too far. When a Marlowe comes to the Tinkers for aid, Chase is against it from the start, even though the elder magical Tinkers are willing to let him stay. In the meantime, the kids go on a quest to find magical creatures who will help them against the Marlowes. They find it is not only the Tinkers who have been affected by the dark greed of the Marlowe family. CHASE TINKER AND THE HOUSE OF DESTINY continues the magical story of Chase and his fight to save his family. My favorite parts of this book are their quest to find magical allies and how effortlessly the author makes the magic real. There will be another book after this one, which will conclude the series. Once I got to the end of CHASE TINKER AND THE HOUSE OF DESTINY, I needed the next book right away! The best aspects of this series are the family bonds between the Tinkers, as well as watching Chase grow into himself and his powers.

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Book Review: The Beholder by: Ivan Amberlake


Rating: 3/5

Publisher: Breakwater Harbor Books

Publication Date: April 29, 2013

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Goodreads

Synopsis: Around the world, people die under mysterious circumstances. Each has a sign. Each is a piece of a jigsaw puzzle. A NYC interior designer Jason Walker receives a message saying he is the final piece.

Emily Ethan, a startling beauty with supernatural powers, appears and tells Jason that powers dormant within him are about to wake. He is the only person who can prevent darkness from enslaving the world. He is the Beholder whose advent has been awaited for many years.

Setting out on a journey with Emily, Jason discovers the world he could have never imagined, but the greatest surprise arrives the moment he realizes he has fallen in love with Emily.


Series: The Beholder Series

Review: With palpably vivid descriptions, THE BEHOLDER could easily translate into a feature film. Jason has always thought he was just an ordinary man, working at an interior design firm. He’s been having nightmares of murders, which he discovers are not ordinary dreams, but supernatural visions of the past and future. In the true world, there are the Sighted (whether Light or Dark) and the Unsighted (regular humans). When Jason meets Emily, the girl in his visions, he is told he is the One. Jason is the Beholder, the only one who can put a stop to the darkness once his powers are awakened. Learning about the unseen world along with Jason was fascinating. The personification of evil, The Pariah, was truly sinister. THE BEHOLDER brings us a mystery, wicked supernatural fights, and a beautifully complex love story. THE BEHOLDER is a quick and intense read, filled with exquisite detail, bringing readers a new twist on a classic theme.

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