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Archive for July, 2012

Lisa is a brilliant, 30-year-old computer programmer recruited by ISF-Intel Securities Foundation, a contractor for the Department of Defense. At such a young age, she already has a patent on a software that the DOD is willing to buy from her at any price. Overnight, it has become the most sought-after program on the planet.

Then one day she is kidnapped and badly hurt in the process. To avoid giving her captors what they want, she fools them by faking amnesia. What keep her alive are thoughts of seeing again her son and the man she loves.

Meanwhile, her father Sam and her son Zach, together with the authorities, are doing everything they can to find her. Sam has a love-hate relationship with Lisa because he blames her for the death of her mother–and the only woman Sam ever loved.

Their relationship is further damaged by the fact that he took Zach away from Lisa and raised him as his own son. His action was partly due to the fact that Lisa was only a young teenager when she had Zach. The story, told in multiple points of view, switches from Lisa and her ordeal as she’s kept captive, to Sam and Zach as they try to find her.

There is quite a lot of backstory, especially at the beginning, which together with various punctuation mistakes, was somewhat distracting. However, I was able to root for Lisa and I also found interesting the dark family dynamics taking place between father and daughter, and mother and son until the compelling ending when there’s a transformation among the characters.

Part-thriller, part-drama, Betrayal and Forgiveness is an out-of-the-ordinary story that will appeal to fans of Christian fiction.

Purchase from Amazon.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN BLOGCRITICS.

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Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition is special to me for many reasons. It was my first published novel in 1984 and as it comes out again on June 1, 2012, rereleased from Damnation Books for the first time in nearly thirty years, it’ll bring my over forty year writing career full circle. With its publication all fourteen, and one novella, of my old books will be out again for the first time in decades. Sure, it’s been a grueling, tedious two-and- a-half year job rewriting and editing these new versions but I’m thrilled it’s over. I have my babies reborn and out in the world again…and all in e books for the first time ever. Now, perfectionist that I am, I can finally move forward and write new stories.

I’ll start at the very beginning because, though Evil Stalks the Night was my first published novel, it wasn’t my first written one.

That first book was The Heart of the Rose. I began writing it after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, no longer going to college, not yet working full time, and was bored out of my skin. I read an historical romance one day I believed was horrible and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my borrowed typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I’d tentatively called that first book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer who was falsely believed to be a witch but who was loved by Edward the Fourth. At the library, no computers or Internet back then, I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty, the civil and political strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the infamous Earl of Warwick and Edward the Fourth.  Edward’s brother Richard the Third.  A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league, though. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote page after page, emotions high believing I could create a whole book. So naïve of me. Reading that old version now (a 1985 Leisure Books paperback) I have to laugh. Ironically, like that historical novel I’d thought in 1971 was so bad, it was pretty awful. That archaic language I’d used–all the rage back in the 80’s–sounds so stilted now. Yikes! Yet people, mainly women, had loved it.

And so my writing career began. Over 40 years ago now. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? Flown away like some wild bird. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, getting a real job and finding the true love of my life and marrying him. Life, as it always seemed to do and still does, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a time.

Then years later I rediscovered it and decided to rewrite it; try again. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, shipping it here and there to publishers, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that’d make suggestions or comments on how it could be better. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive. But eventually, as you shall see, it sold.

Now to Evil Stalks the Night.

In the meantime, as I waited for the mail, I’d written another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky ambiance to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the story into a horror novel…like Stephen King was doing? Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would sell easily, she said.

Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood and my young adult life–my heartbreaking divorce, raising my young son alone, my new love–as hers. It was more of a romantic horror when I’d finished, than a horror novel. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and began sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly to a mass market paperback publisher called Towers Publishing.

But right in the middle of editing Towers went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! What terrible luck, I remember brooding. The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract, didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a new husband, my son and my minimum-wage assistant billing job was one step above poverty at times. In those days, too, I was so clueless how to deal with the publishing industry.

That was 1983, but luckily that take-over publisher was Leisure Books, now also known as Dorchester Publishing. A publisher that quickly became huge. Talk about karma.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate stepped in and the Tower’s editor, before she left, who’d bought my book told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to give it a read. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I’d completely given up on Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy it! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and, liking it, too, she also bought it in 1985; asking me to sex it up some, so they could release it as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?).  It wasn’t a lot of money. A thousand dollar advance each and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But in those days the publishers had a huge distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, sent to bookstores and warehoused. So 4% of all those books over the next couple of years did add up.

Thus my career began. I slowly, and like-pulling-teeth, sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years–as I was working full time, raising a family and living my hard-scramble life. Some did well, my Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when publisher Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, an apocalyptic end-of-days-novel, and The Woman in Crimson, a vampire book, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course–and all in ebooks for the first time ever) my 7 out-of-print paperbacks, including Evil Stalks the Night–I gave her a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite Evil Stalks the Night for the resurrected edition, as well as my other early novels, because I discovered my writing when I was twenty-something had been immature and unpolished; and not having a computer and the Internet had made the original writing so much harder. Also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it.  There were so many mistakes in those early books. Typos. Grammar. Lost plot and detail threads. In the rewrite I also decided to keep the time frame (1960-1984) the same.  The book’s essence would have lost too much if I’d updated it.

As I finished the final editing I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the life changes I’ve had since I’d first began writing it so many years ago. Though it was actually published in 1984, I’d started writing it many years before; closer to 1978 or 1979. I’m as old as my Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother and who the grandmother in the story was loosely based on, was back then. While I was first writing it so long ago, I was a young married woman with a small child holding down my first real job and trying to do it all. Now…my Grandmother, mother and father have all passed to the other side. Many other family and friends I’ve left behind, too. I miss them all, especially my mom and dad. It’s strange how revising my old books reminded me of certain times of my life. Some of the memories I hid from and some of them made me laugh or cry. This book, though, is the most autobiographical of all my novels as it contains details of my childhood, my devastating divorce, and what my life was like when I first met my second husband, Russell, who’s turned out to be my true love. We’ve been happily married for thirty-four years and counting. Ah, but how quickly the years have clicked by. Too quickly. I want to reach out, at times, and stop time. I want more. I have so much more life to live and many more stories to write.

So Evil Stalks the NightRevised Author’s Edition (http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 ) republished by Damnation Books/Eternal Press will be out again for the first time in nearly thirty years on June 1, 2012, and I hope it’s a better book than it was in 1984. It should be…I’ve had over thirty more years of life and experiences to help make it so.

Written this 1st day of June, 2012 by the author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

 

***

 

A writer for over 40 years I’ve had 14 novels, 1 novella and 7 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRERevised Author’s Edition was a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.

My books (all out again from Damnation Books http://damnationbooks.com/people.php?author=79 and Eternal Press http://www.eternalpress.biz/people.php?author=422): Evil Stalks the Night, The Heart of the Rose, Blood Forge, Vampire Blood, The Last Vampire, Witches, The Nameless One short story, The Calling, Scraps of Paper, All Things Slip Away, Egyptian Heart, Winter’s Journey, The Ice Bridge, Don’t Look Back, Agnes novella, In This House short story, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, The Woman in Crimson, The Guide to Writing Paranormal Fiction: Volume 1 (I did the Introduction) ***

You can keep up with me on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1019954486, my Author’s Den www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith  or my My Space www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

 

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Amanda McNeil is an energetic, masters degree educated, 20-something happily living in an attic apartment in Boston with her shelter-adopted cat.  Her day job is a medical librarian, and her hobbies (besides writing and reading) include cooking, fitness, and exploring everything from museums to dive bars.  She writes horror, scifi, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy.  This is her first novel, although she has previously published short stories and a novella, Ecstatic Evil.

Book description:

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

Purchase link:

Amazon

Interview:

Thanks for being my guest today, Amanda! Would you call yourself a born writer?

Absolutely.  I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t telling stories.  One of my earlier creative projects as a child involved writing, drawing, and binding my own story about a grasshopper at around the age of four.  I’ve been writing ever since.

What was your inspiration for Waiting For Daybreak?

I was walking home from the public transit stop in Boston during a Thanksgiving holiday.  Boston is one of those cities where almost everyone goes out of town for Thanksgiving, but I had to work.  The streets were deadly empty, and it was foggy.  It suddenly struck me that this was what a post-apocalyptic Boston would look like, and naturally I almost had myself convinced that zombies were going to come get me.  I had also just happened to be reading articles at work that day about fMRI imaging of the mentally ill demonstrating that their brains are made up differently.  That led me to wonder if that might make them immune to a zombie outbreak, and the rest just flowed from there.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing?

My writing always revolves around women.  Women trying to figure out their place in the world.  How to function and be a happy, whole human being in a world not necessarily designed for us.  I want to give readers the chance to see a woman’s perspective of events more typically described from a male perspective in scifi and horror.  I also am keen on exploring issues of ableism, classism, and sexism.  I hope that my writing will help people relate to and see things from groups traditionally underrepresented in genre fiction.

How long did it take you to complete the novel?

One and a half years.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.

I am not a disciplined writer. At all. I wish I was more disciplined, but, as for all of us, life happens!  I can’t really explain a typical writing day, because that’s too narrow of a time-frame for me.  I’d say it’s more like I have a typical writing week.  I’ll squeeze it in on my lunch break at work and hopefully twenty minutes or so on work nights.  The bulk of my writing happens on weekends though.  I wake up, make a nice breakfast, then sit down with tea and write for a few hours in the late morning.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book?

There are a couple of scenes that were emotionally difficult for me to write, particularly toward the beginning of the book when Frieda is not in a particularly healthy or functional place.  Forcing myself to go to that dark place was far scarier than any zombies could ever be to me.  It led to me putting things off periodically, even though I knew this was a story I needed to tell.  Sometimes as a writer you just have to kick yourself in the pants and say, do it.

What do you love most about being an author?

Probably most of all when someone says that a character who is a strong, independent woman bugged them at first but they grew to love her.  That shows me that someone’s perspective changed from reading what I wrote, and that is what I value most as someone who loves books.  The ability of books to help us understand each other as human beings.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?

I self-published!  I “practiced” the first time with a novella in July 2011.  I’m glad I did that, because it was a difficult process to learn.  Not intuitive at all!  Since that time, though, better software has come out for assembling your work into a book, so it was much easier this time around.  I am incredibly happy with being self-published.  Everything from the cover to the plot to the dialogue gets to be exactly the way I envisioned it as the artist.  I like how self-publishing and ereaders give the power to the people.  Letting the people choose what they want to read and not read and not have some editor somewhere standing there saying yes or no.  I follow other indie authors who I think are very talented who were turned down by publishing houses, and it shocks me that I never would have been able to read their work without the advent of ereaders.  Participating in this culture of independent art makes me incredibly happy.  Plus, it lets me write and publish at my own rate. Which we hope will speed up now, lol.

Where can we find you on the web?

I have a blog, twitter, and GoodReads.

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ImageChris Karslen was born and raised in Chicago. Her father was a history professor and her mother was, and is, a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books. Her parents also loved travelling, a passion they passed onto her. Karslen wanted to see the place she read about, see the landand monuments from the time periods that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.

She’s now a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies. Her desire to write came in her early teens. After she retired, she decided to pursue that dream. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.

Thanks for this interview, Chris! When did your passion for thrillers and action/adventure fiction begin?

I don’t know if I could put a specific timeframe to my interest. I can’t remember a time it wasn’t there. As a child, I loved the old horror movies where folks were chasing or running from the Mummy or Dracula etc.  and the thrillers like North by Northwest,  The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Manchurian Candidate. When I got into my teens, James Bond became popular. I loved the movies and devoured Ian Fleming’s books.  Along that same vein, I enjoyed The Jackal, and Three Days of the Condor. Who didn’t love Indiana Jones? Now, I can’t wait to see movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, The Bourne Identity and still love the Bond movies.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

 I wanted to write since I was a teenager. But by the time I was ready for college I lacked the confidence to try so I went with the “safe” route and became a business major. Once I retired, I was ready to take a risk and live my dream.

Tell us about your latest novel, Golden Chariot.

ImageThe heroine, Charlotte Dashiell, is a nautical archaeologist. She’s working on her Doctorate in that field. Her thesis is very controversial and approval by the Doctoral Committee for her thesis is at risk if she doesn’t find evidence to support it. A shipwreck found off the coast of Turkey may hold her proof. She manages to obtain a position on the recovery team. En route, the Turkish government agent assigned to the wreck is murdered and she is on the scene at the time it occurred. Her close presence at the time of the crime coupled with a loose connection to a private collector of black market artifacts makes her a person of interest to the Turkish authorities. Atakan Vadim, the hero, is the Turkish agent sent to investigate her further. He becomes her dive partner. As the story progresses, he discovers smugglers plan to steal certain high value relics from the wreck and frame Charlotte for the theft. He also learns the thieves plan to murder her in the process. For her own safety, he presses her to leave the recovery team. She refuses. If she leaves, she loses all hope of finding proof of her thesis.  Together, he and Charlotte work to find out who is behind the smuggling operation. During the course of the story, the relationship between the two turns from one of wariness and distrust to friendship, trust and love.   

What made you decide to set it in Turkey?

 I love Turkey. I’ve visited several times. I knew after the first time, I would set a story there. It’s such a fascinating country. In Istanbul, the exotic Ottoman architecture mixed with the modern immediately captures your interest. There’s the hustle and bustle of the bazaars, which I enjoy, especially the Spice Market. It’s a colourful place. You can’t throw a rock in Turkey and not hit something historical. Their history goes back to the Bronze Age. Turkey’s been part of the Hittite Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire and a secular, independent modern nation. The people are nice.  The food is excellent. The landscape is remarkable in its variance. There’s the beautiful coastal area along the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean and the starkly different coastline on the Black Sea. The region of Cappadocia with its fairy chimneys and underground cities is other worldly in appearance.   To the east are mountains and grassy plains. 

Did you have to do a lot of research about police procedural there?

Not police procedural per se. Atakan is actually a representative of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. I was fortunate enough to have a contact/advisor who is an archaeological diver and Turkish. He told me that all legitimate archaeological sites in Turkey have a representative of the Ministry present to watch over the safety of the site and relics. I took some dramatic license and gave Atakan more police authority than he’d have in real life. For the SWAT operation, I did research weapons used by the Turkish authorities and how they would interact with our military stationed at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey to obtain intelligence information needed. Again, I was lucky. I have a friend who headed up a SWAT team for a major US city and who was a Marine reserve who served in Iraq and trained our soldiers in urban-crisis entries. My friend was familiar with how the flow of intelligence gathering is handled. He also advised me on some of the SWAT tactics.

There are a lot of Turkish words in the story. Do you speak Turkish?

 No. I’d like to learn. I do have the Rosetta Stone program for Turkish but it is an extremely difficult language. It uses the Latin alphabet that we are familiar with but the conjugation and pronunciation is not what you’d expect. My Turkish diver friend helped with the translation as did another Turkish friend who’s a tour guide. I cannot understand it when spoken to me (rarely anyway). I am better at reading it and then I really only know some basic words and phrases.

I found the myth about Troy fascinating. To this day, do they know for a fact that Troy existed?

  Yes, Troy definitely existed. There have been archaeologists working the site for many decades. When we speak of Troy, it usually the kingdom associated with the Trojan War. At the time the war was supposed to have taken place, the kingdom was known as Wilusa and part of the Hittite Empire. Excavation at the site is ongoing and they have made some incredible discoveries in the last couple of decades. *I should mention that not all archaeologist/historians agree that the war occurred. Personally, I tend to believe those who do think it happened. 

There are many underwater scenes in the story. Do you scuba dive?

 No, I don’t dive. I had the benefit of an archaeological diver to advise me. I also did a lot of research on the subject and had books that documented many shipwreck recovery projects.  The books had pages of pictures showing the divers working a wreck.  I had pictures of the entire process from building the camp to cleaning the relics. Twice I’ve been to INA (Institute of Nautical Archaeology) in Bodrum, Turkey. I was given a tour of the facility and shown some of their photos, the conservation lab, the desalination tanks and the hard work and time involved in the piecing together of artifacts.

How long did it take you to write Golden Chariot?

Two and a half years, mainly because of the research. While I worked on one of my paranormal romances, I began the research for Golden Chariot. I’d done eighteen months of research before I wrote a single word. Then, I did several drafts over the next year before I was happy with the result.

Are you disciplined?

Yes, for the most part. I have to admit that I do have days when the smallest shiny object can distract meJ I do try to get some writing in at least 6 if not 7 days a week. I don’t always get the number of pages done I want. Some days I consider it a success if I get a few paragraphs finished but I try to make an effort.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

 I try hard to get all my errands and appointments done in the morning. Then, I take a break and have a bite to eat. I am usually at my desk by 12:00 or 12:30. I work on promotion, answer emails and try to read at least a few chapters of stories from writer friends for review purposes. After that, I pull up my work in progress. I read the last few pages I wrote to get my head in the same place again. I spend the next 4 or 5 hours writing or rewriting as needed.  That’s a typical “good” day. Like I said, there are those days I spend hours writing, deleting… sighing…writing, deleting and again…sighing.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

 When a reader tells you how you’ve moved them or which character or scene they loved. It’s so wonderful to have a reader say “I felt like I was there.”

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

 Writing is hard work. You’ll have days that are pure frustration, days that you can’t seem to get three lines right. Keep at it. Keep studying the craft. Every workshop I attend, I take something useful away. If you’re stuck on how to approach a scene, one thing I find that helps is to read a similar scene by an author you like. Analyze what you like about it and how they handled the scene and see if you can recreate the feel in your story with your spin.

What’s on the horizon for Chris Karslen?

 I am currently working on book three of my Knights in Time series. The first two are: Heroes Live Forever and Journey in Time. This is a paranormal romance series. I hope to have my current story, Knight Blindness, done and ready for release later this year. I’ve also finished the draft of the sequel to Golden Chariot. I hope to have the final finished and ready to publish early next year. 

 

 

 

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Talented author Chris Karslen has written an action-packed adventure story set in exotic Turkey that will be relished by fans of underwater archaeology and lost treasures.

Our feisty protagonist, Charlotte Dashiell, is about to complete her doctorate in nautical archaeology. She travels to Bodrum, Turkey, to start a new excavation for the Maritime Institute of Archaeology and Research. In fact, she’s there to investigate a wreck possibly associated with Troy. This is her dream come true, as she’s always wanted to focus her research on shipwrecks located in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean. Her field of interest, the Trojan War, is focused on that area. Her work there could mean the proof she needs for her theory: that the shipwreck contains the lost treasure of the king of Troy.

Unexpectedly, though, her boat is broadsided and the craft responsible mysteriously explodes. To make matters worse, the only man who has any answers goes missing and then is found dead. As a result, the local authorities don’t believe her story—not only that, but they suspect her of criminal intent.

Our hero, Turkish archaeologist Atakan Vadim, is there to protect the relics and the integrity of the shipwreck. He’s warm, genial and has a good sense of humor. However, with Charlotte he behaves cold and somber. He doesn’t trust her one bit. For him, she means trouble in all the sense of the word. He also thinks her mad and an utter romantic because of her theory.

As tension escalates and more deaths happen, Charlotte knows she’s in grave danger and should go back home, but there’s no way she’ll do that. If she does, she’ll miss the chance to be part of the exploration. It could mean a break or make opportunity for her theory.

This is one of the most entertaining novels I’ve read in a long time. I loved the whole scenario of the exotic location and the underwater shipwreck, and also the connection to the enigma of the lost treasure of Troy. I’ve always been an avid fan of underwater archaeology, so this was right up my alley. Charlotte is a smart, sympathetic heroine. I also enjoyed the fact that the hero is Turkish and that the story is rich with local flavor. I lived in Turkey for five years and know the author did an excellent job with the setting, local customs, language and people. The historical facts and everything about the underwater exploration was fascinating. The villain was particularly terrifying in a cold blooded way. I highly recommend this novel to anybody who enjoys a good story full of action and adventure, especially those who love archaeology and/or are interested in Troy.

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Golden-Chariot-ebook/dp/B007KNLC02

Purchase from B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/golden-chariot-chris-karlsen/1102118693

This review originally appeared in Blogcritics Magazine.

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