Month: April 2019

Marah Chase Shows You How To Conquer a Tomb the Correct Way!

Rogue archeologist Marah Chase is approached by MI6 with an impossible mission: to help them recover a lost treasure with the potential to destroy humanity.

Once a rising star in the field of archaeology, Marah Chase is now a black-market treasure hunter, her services available to the highest bidder. But when she s caught “rescuing” relics in Syria before they’re destroyed by war, an MI6 officer named Joanna Mason approaches her with an offer she can’t refuse: help save the world or rot in prison.

All Chase has to do is find Alexander the Great s lost tomb, recover an ancient weapon of mass destruction he may have used to conquer the earth, and destroy it before the bad guys can get it. Among those adversaries are a powerful church that believes in a forgotten epoch of advanced alien technology, the white supremacist thugs in its employ, and the rival archaeologist who recently left Chase for dead.

Chase can’t resist a challenge or the British spy recruiting her. There’s just one problem. If Chase has any hope of unearthing Alexander’s tomb before the forces hot on her heels do, she’ll need the help of the one person she’s been afraid to see since her fall from grace: Zoe Forrester, the heir to a hidden journal that holds the key and Chase’s ex-girlfriend.

A contemporary homage to the best adventure stories of literature, television, and film, Marah Chase and the Conqueror’s Tomb is an action-packed, globe-trotting quest, perfect for anyone who’s ever thought Indy really ought to be Jewish, female, and gay.

Continue reading “Marah Chase Shows You How To Conquer a Tomb the Correct Way!”

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16 Questions With Faye Hall Author of Wrath & Mercy

Topher Hoffman: Ladies and gentlemen, today we have a special guest here at the House of 1000 Books blog.   She’s a mother by day, and steamy romance novel writer by night!   When reading her work, if you can’t sense that love is in the air, at least you will witness corruption, deceit, murders, and a lot of other topics that will make you grin.

Continue reading “16 Questions With Faye Hall Author of Wrath & Mercy”

10 Unwritten New Rules of the Road You Should Learn Today!

Possibly, one of the most significant milestones in a young person life is the day that they finally go for their driver’s license.

For most, they spend countless hours practicing, they read up on the laws of the road, and even shed some tears of frustration, while they deal with the learning curve of full-filling one of their many teenage dreams.

In Ontario, Canada one of the rites of passage for the soon-to-be driver is when they get their own copy of The MTO Driver’s Handbook. This legendary tome is filled with an abundance of information that both young novice and old veteran drivers should have imprinted into their brains. It includes the do’s and the don’t s of the road that include such topics as how to take corners correctly when to use your lights, speed limits, and an abundance of other valuable and essential information.

I remember the day I was ready to write my test. It was my16th birthday. I really knew my stuff when it came to the rules of the road, and I was sure I was going to pass my written driving exam. Walking into the examination room, I felt like a slightly nervous baby kitten, walking out I was an overconfident road warrior because I beat that test with flying colours.

That was then, this is now, and boy-oh-boy how times have changed. I now have thousands of hours driving, and use to consider myself a safe, considerate, generous, and knowledgeable motorist. But recently, I have been second guessing those claims and asking myself, do I still know the rules of the road? How I drive versus the way other roadies operate their cars are definitely in contrast.

I for one, am confused about when the rules of the road updated? I can not answer that question at all, because I don’t’ have the slightest idea, but I do have a couple of facts about where I stand in regards to the situation.

Fact 1. The version of the handbook I knew and studied has to be extremely outdated, and the rules have completely changed.

Fact 2. The bulk of the people out there on the roads today have either read, studied, or wrote the newer test. Making them the ones who know the rules of the lanes the best.

One thing I have figured out, and lucky for you, I am absorbing each day how to maneuver out there and apply the new rules of the road as I learn them. That, in turn, my friends, saves you $9.99 and you don’t have to go out and buy the MTO Handbook. Instead, let me teach you what I have learned out there for free! (Damn, I’m a nice guy!)

So let’s begin, shall we?

Stopping and Going

stop-sign-1174658_960_720The first rule of the road for any young driver to learn is when to stop and go.

Stop signs in Ontario have not changed one bit since I learned how to drive. They are still red, have eight sides, the word STOP on them, and they are on top of a pole at intersections.

Although, the appearance of the signs has not changed the rules have improved tremendously.

Rule 1

Old Rule: Located at intersections, stop signs were used to make sure you came to a complete stop. When the way was clear, you advanced through the intersection.

New Rule: When you come to an intersection with a stop sign. Advance with caution, and if you do not see any other vehicles, keep on going. It’s called a rolling stop. It’s a useful skill to have, not to mention trendy.

Rule 2

Old Rule: The four-way stop. This was when you came up to an intersection with four stop signs, one on each corner. A bit more tricky than a two-way stop.

The way it worked was when you got to the four-way stop and were first, you had the right of way. It’s used to be basically a first-come first-go system. If two cars arrived at the same time, the person on the left went first. If the two motorists got there at the same time across from each other, with one was turning left, the person going straight went first.

New Rule: Nowadays, you treat the four-way stop much like a two-way stop where rolling-stops are permitted. When you are approaching the intersection, stay confident, and when the other person hesitates, advance before them. The technique is tricky at first, but like everything, with a little practice and time, you will be a natural at it! It’s their own fault, the other driver should have gone.

Rule 3

Old Rule: Located above some more prominent intersections there are three lights. One light would come on at a time. The system was pretty simple. Green was to go. Yellow was to advance with caution. Red was to stop.

New rule: This rule is the same with slight differences. When you see the green light, you keep on driving. The small change becomes evident when you see the amber light. Where you use to slow down, you now speed up and try to beat the red light. The red light means slam your breaks on, you were too slow, and you missed the chance to speed through the amber light.

Signal Lights and Headlights.

porsche-798916_960_720The second set of rules involved using the lights of your vehicle you were driving. Believe it or not, each one of the lights on the outside of your car had a function and reason to be there. Within the first 30 minutes of being out there on the road, you will realize that this is not the case anymore. Some lights are used all of the time, and some not at all, and I believe that on specific models of cars they may even be just for show.

Rule 4

Old Rule: When you are going to turn there is an arm on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. This arm actually works your signal lights letting people around you know you are turning or merging into a lane.

When I was learning to drive, you would move the arm up until you heard a click. This would cause two lights to flash, one at the front and another at the back of your car. This would indicate to other drivers that you were going to turn right. Once the vehicle was out of the turn, the light would turn off automatically.

On the other hand, if you moved the arm down, it would cause the same two lights on the left side of your car to flick on and off. Once you came out of the corner, just like when you moved the arm up, the lights would shut off.

New Rule: Since my time, the name for the arm has changed. Now instead of it being for the function of the mandatory signal lights, they are now called consideration lights. They do not have to be used, but if you wish to use them to give people the warning you are turning or going to go in front of them, you can use them. To use these lights is merely a gesture of consideration and kindness.

Rule Note: Luxury cars apparently have the option to disable the turning lights altogether. This includes vehicles like Audi’s, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, etc. If you see one of them turn without the lights, it could be because it has been disabled or the feature wasn’t purchased. This, of course, could be a completely incorrect assumption to make, but I am not in the tax bracket to own one of these cars or to share my opinion any further.

Rule 5

Old Rule: The rules about low-beam lights use to be that they needed to be turned on 30 minutes before sunset and used until 30 minutes after sunrise while using the vehicle. They were also used when the weather was terrible so that other motorists could see you in the poor driving conditions.

New Rule: Cars now have running lights. There is no need to worry about turning on the lights. What you do need to work about is the high-beams. These do not come on automatically. While driving at night, use them. The new rule of the road is, turn on once, and forget. Don’t bother flicking off, after all, the other drivers will appreciate the concern for safer driving.

Speed Limits and Super Passing

speed-164063_960_720A wise man once said, “if you ain’t first, your last!” That man was Ricky Bobby.

The speed was a pretty big factor in the process of learning the rules of the road. It wasn’t hard to know how fast you should be going because the signs were posted along the roadways. These signs, I believe are now a waste of money with the new rules of the road. They are simply ignored, and most drivers out there today are experienced enough to handle their cars at higher speeds.

Although the signs can now be ignored, there are still some rules to take note of.

Rule 6

Old Rule: Once upon a time, the speed limits in Ontario are as follows, 100 km/h on Freeways, 90 km/h on Trans-Canada highways, and other highways 80 km/h. 50 km/h everyplace else unless marked.

These speed limits were ingrained into our memory.

New Rule: I suggest now that you forget about those limits. The rules have changed to were drivers are required to go either 10km/h under the speed limit or 20 km/h above the speed limit. Never drive the speed limit. That is not only distracting but pretty hard to do when you have a lead foot.

Rule Note: Slow driving actually causes one-third of road vehicle accidents. Slower drivers are to stay in the furthest right lane. They often don’t. This causes impatience and irritation to other drivers on the road and forces them to pass the slower driver on the right. This creates confusion and it extremely dangerous.

Rule 7

Old Rule: While in rush hour traffic, we would pick a lane, and stay in that lane. Especially if everyone was going in the same direction. We would merge into the right lane to exit.

New Rule: Yes, another rule that does not apply anymore and is now obsolete. If you have the chance to pass on the left, right, or use an off-ramp to pass, do it. The road is your canvas, fill it with zigzags as you weave in and out of traffic like the artist you are! One thing to remember, try is to take advantage of lanes that run out and merge into the other lanes of the road. Use these ending lanes to accelerate and cut off your fellow drivers. You can gain, one, two, or even more car lengths in rush hour traffic.

Settling the Score With Father Time

beard-1295730_960_720Distracted driving wasn’t as big a deal when I first started driving. There were no mobile phones, you had an AM/FM radio that more than likely didn’t have any stations, and everyone didn’t try to make their lives into a living fashion show. Life was simple.

Now, every day I see people putting on make-up, texting, using their phone to take pictures, blaring loud music, just to name a few things. This forced the rule called hands-free driving to come out. This is just another category of distracted driving.

I am the last person you will hear complaining from when it comes to how precious your time is, and I can totally understand why people do some of the things they do while driving. It’s pretty straightforward, Father Time is a royal prick. For instance, if you fail to wake up too early to take care of your daily life at home, by all means, make sure you do it in your car. There are some essential tasks you can do in your vehicle like doing your hair and make-up, texting friends, downloading your podcasts.

The concept is, it’s not so important when you get it done, it is that you merely get it done!

Rule 8

Old Rule: I would like to start with loud music. Music used to fall under the category of distracted driving. Not only is it distracting to the driver and other drivers around you, but you can not hear oncoming emergency vehicles.

New Rule: The new rule is Turn it up and play that funky music! You are probably one of the few people in the city that have an impeccable taste when it comes to music. Share it with the people out there on the road. It is up to you to share with other your tastes in music and immerse others in your cultural tastes. Also, who cares, use your mirrors. It is recommended that you keep checking your mirrors for advancing emergency vehicles.

Shout and Be Heard

angry-44591_960_720Communication is essential, especially when you are on the busy streets. Therefore, don’t be afraid to communicate with each other. It’s doing others and yourself a favour in the long run.

Rule 9

Old Rule: When I was learning to drive, people would wave, nod, and give a thumbs up to other friendly drivers. It was a much more relaxed and understanding time.

New Rule: Nowadays, the more effective way of driving is being a lot more aggressive and a lot less civil. If you see somebody do something you do not appreciate, like breathing, for instance, you make sure you let them know about it. Be heard at all costs and make sure you get your point across. Driving is at an age where you can save the fuzzy feelings for your mom.

Rule 10

Old Rule: We use to use our horns to warn people of advancing and potentially dangerous situations. For example, if the other driver is going to merge in front of you and didn’t see you, it was perfectly acceptable to hit that horn.

New Rule: Cars come with horns for a reason. They tell slow drivers to get out of the way. If they do get out of the road follow it up with either yelling obscenities or creative sign language. Remember, it’s the survival of the fittest and don’t be afraid to release your inner animals!

Rule Note: Letting out your steam in your car is an excellent way to reduce your stress. Studies have shown if you honk your horn on an average of 3 times more than people who do not, you significantly lower your chances of developing heart disease.

Conclusion

Ok! Before you get all bent out of shape and tell me that these rules are wrong and I’m risking peoples lives and safety, I would like to point out the following.

My post is a mockery of the situation.

The lack of consideration and the ignorance of other human existence is mind-boggling on the road. It is unclear to me where this behaviour has come from if it’s the different generations, cultural influences, or the amount of mediation that doctors feed our brains. If there is one thing I can tell you for sure is, this is not the way things used to be.

Now, with a fantastic post like this, I feel I have to add this final note.

Note: if you are unsure of the rules of the road, please pick yourself up an MTO Drivers handbook, or study up on the laws of the road by reading The highway traffic act, The motorized vehicles act and The off-road Act of Ontario.

What have you seen on while driving that made you think, “Boy, that guy is a lousy driver!”?


 

 

16 Questions with Corlet Dawn the Author of Bee’s Flowers: Book One

Topher Hoffman: Hello! Hello! Hello! Welcome to an interview that is just in time for spring!
I had a chance to ask Corlet Dawn a few questions on her new and upcoming novel Bee’s Flowers: Book One that is coming out just in time for spring, April 30, 2019.   This book will more than like bring on some cheers, some smiles, and some tears of both!

Continue reading “16 Questions with Corlet Dawn the Author of Bee’s Flowers: Book One”

17 Questions with John Mead the Author of The Fourth Victim

Topher Hoffman: Hello folks! And welcome to the House of 1000 Books!  Today I have a special guest who happens to be the writer of two excellent novels.  The Hanging Women and The Fourth Victim! He specializes in the crime, thriller, and mystery genre and writes about events that are based on actual people and real events.
From his biography, it states that he is a vivid people watcher! That indeed works out for his writing in my opinion because he can sit back and wonder what really makes people tick!
Anyways, enough of what I think, let me introduce you to John Mead!
Welcome John, to the House of 1000 Books! I’m super thrilled that you are here and I more pleased that you were willing to take the time to talk to the readers! So without wasting any more of your time, let us begin the cross-examination! (See what I did there, he’s a crime writer, get it?)
John, from your biography I see that you are a worldly traveller.  Can you tell me, what was your favourite place to visit?
d6vWNUIX_400x400John Mead: The easy answer to this question is always Tibet, with Nepal in a close second. However, in reality, I find all travel fascinating – watching people and what they do is completely absorbing. Whether it’s simply walking around or sitting outside a café watching people go about their everyday business. Or waiting at train stations and in airports imagining all those journeys that are about to start. The spirituality of some places, like India, or the gun culture of America, or discovering the horrors of past wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Enjoying a glass of wine in a small air-conditioned bar in Venice, a power cut in Shanghai, ice cream in San Francisco, watching Fruit Bats fly across the Mekong. Or, simply, eating a delicious plate of mussels with a pint in a pub, by the beach in Llandudno, on a warm spring day.  Every excursion becomes a new adventure.
TH: With you being in so many parts of the world, do you recollect a time that you were visiting another country or city that you feared for your life or, at a  minimum, your safety?
JM: In many places, the biggest threat is getting run over – and you don’t always have to be on the road for that to be a danger. India seemed the worst, where even driving towards oncoming traffic on a motorway didn’t seem out of place.
In most cities, there are places you are told to ‘watch your back’, though Durban SA came out top on that score. We did a stop over there and the hotel we stayed at gave us a map with about 80% of the city covered in crosses as being unsafe for tourists.  Although, in Egypt, the guide happily showed us the bullet holes on the temple walls were the tourists had been recently shot. And, in more than one place, we have aroused suspicion and curiosity in equal measure by wandering around back streets and markets not usually frequented by foreigners.
In practice, we have never had any trouble, apart from a couple of attempted pickpockets (Florence and Paris) and having my camera stolen whilst in a hot air balloon over Luxor – long story.
TH: Are any of your books based on your travels?
39104053JM: The Hanging Women – we travelled by train across the USA and, along the way, I was really taken by Chicago and it’s history. The incredible rate of technological, social and economic change taking place in the 1800s was staggering.  Throw in the gun culture, gangs and racial mix and you have the basis for a real potboiler.
TH: You are a people watcher, have you ever worked any of the personalities you have seen into a story? If so, what is that person like?
JM: Virtually every character has some personality traits of people I’ve met. Initially, I start by thinking I need to use a character, someone like X, for a particular part of the story. But the problem is they soon take on a life of their own, even the minor characters, and the plot ends up following the characters. So, in the end, I doubt if anyone would recognise themselves in the character.
It has been my experience that there are no good or bad people, no heroes or villains, just people with a mix of everything in them. It is the process of living a life, that causes that mix to come out in a certain blend, that is what is important to understand when developing a character.
TH: Ok, changing pace a bit here is a random question and the one I ask everyone that I have interviewed.  If you had the chance to tell your younger writing self one thing about writing, one piece of advice that you wish you knew when you were younger,  that you know would have helped, what would it be?
JM: If you want to develop a career in writing then start early – build a base, start a blog, review books, read a wide range of books, write short stories and articles. Basically, do anything and everything that helps build a following and will show your talent and credentials to potential agents and publishers in the future. Don’t bother about writing a great opus, write what you enjoy – what you need to write – in a style that is your own.
From a practical point of view: always assume your book can stand to be edited at least once, if not twice, more than you think necessary.
TH: Who is your favourite author, and why?
JM: PG Wodehouse – for his wordplay
RL Stevenson – for never wasting a word
C Hibbert – for his historical research
G Simenon – for atmosphere and character
TH:  If you had the chance to meet one author, and ask them one question about their work, what would it be?
JM: It would have to be Shakespeare – and the question would be: ‘Did you really write every work accredited to you?’
TH:  Most people say that their family supports their writing, I’m asking you, does anybody in your family disapprove of your writing?
JM: To be honest, I don’t ask, and I suspect they are all too polite to tell me if I did.
TH:  If you had to give up one thing that is exceptionally important to you, what would it be, and why would you decide that is the one thing that you would give up?
JM: I’d lie – I’d never give up anything important to me, not willingly.  As Confucius once said: ‘If someone demands you give them your pen, then your only logical recourse is to stab them in the eye with it.’  Or was that Machiavelli?
TH:  What is your favourite quote?
JM: ‘Out, damned spot!’  (MacBeth, Act 5 Scene 1)  – Shakespeare.
It was the only quote my school friend learned for O Level English Literature, while I memorised 30 plus quotes and had context and analysis to use them in a variety of ways – he ended up with the same grade as I got.  There is, I feel, a lesson in life there.
TH: I see that you have two books published in 2018.  What one is your newest book, and can you tell us about it?
41072341JM: The Fourth Victim – it’s a police procedural crime story.
I wanted to write something that tended to reflect how police really go about solving crimes. It is more team based rather than around a central angst, a filled hero who ends up solving the crime against the odds. And, like most crime stories, it isn’t meant to be a mystery, the real uncertainty is how or if the police will discover who the real killer is – the story is in the journey rather than the end. The latter is especially true as knowing who the killer is doesn’t mean they will be convicted.
It is set in modern-day Whitechapel –
‘Whitechapel is being gentrified, the many green spaces of the area give the illusion of peace and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…’
And the police are not only having to do battle with crime but also budget cuts. Solving crime is about choices not just about detection.
TH: What is one thing in the book that you have left out of the blurb that should have been in the blurb?
JM: ‘This is not a cosy murder mystery.’
Or
‘A story about how life will bite you back.’
TH:  Who is your favourite character from your newest novel, describe that character in three words.
JM: I’m developing the ‘Whitechapel theme’ into a series of books and one of the characters that emerge is an old, smalltime East End gangster whom one of the police officers describes as ‘a proper arsehole crawling, racist little shit.’  Unfortunately, he reminds me of one or two people I grew up with.
TH: Using that same character, if a movie adaptation was produced out of your book, who would you pick to play that character, and why?
JM: Bob Hoskins – cornered the market in this type of character in The Long Good Friday
15.  There are so many genres out there that you could have decided to write, what has drawn you to write in the mystery, thriller, and crime genre?
JM: Given the context of this genre, stories tend to be looking at the most terrible moments in a person’s life – events that bring out the worst and best in people. They will also have a smattering of technology (in the form of forensics, etc) and tell you something about society – how the criminal and victim are viewed and treated.  Therefore, they have a large range of angles and issue to explore.
TH:  Where can the readers find out more about your work?
TH:  Is there anything else at all that you would like to share?
JM: I like to thank the following for their support:
o My publisher: @BookGuild
o Blog Tour Arranger: @rararesources
o London Crime Fans: @LondonCrime1
And, of course, many thanks to yourself for this opportunity.