Monday, June 18, 2012

"Leaving Fantasy Land" by James E. Parker - REVIEW

Goodreads Synopsis:
Milwaukee comic book store owner, Tram Taylor, is rattled to his core when a mysterious dead body suddenly turns up in the dumpster behind his store, Fantasy Land. In a weekend that could not possibly get any worse, his wife is violently kidnapped and held for ransom. Tram Taylor is left reeling in the aftermath as he wrestles with helping the MPD or striking out on his own to connect the dots. Is there a connection between the two seemingly random events? Will all of Tram Taylor's courage and former cop training be enough to help him uncover who's behind it all before it's too late? Find out all these answers and more in James E. Parker's debut novel, Leaving Fantasy Land.

My Take:
I LOVED reading this book! The writing, for one, was PERFECT! There was not '1' error whatsoever that I came across! The editing was professionally done to a "T"! The story was very SO suspenseful! It is truly a white-knuckle read! A GREAT Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Crime novel! One of the BEST I have read in a LONG time! In my honest opinion, you do not 'need to like this genre in order to enjoy this book.' This is one of those books that engages you from the start, until the very end! 
Tram Taylor is married and has a couple of children. His wife works full-time, and Tram owns a comic book store called Fantasy Land, which is quite prolific. He has a huge business going on here, including great success on Ebay.
Tram goes into work one day, and finds his store has been turned over. What is going on? Not only does he find his store like this, but he has to go outside to the garbage dumpster and he finds a dead body in it! What is going on?
Tram calls the police, but says nothing about the dead body. For some reason he feels he has to keep this part of what he found quiet for now. Later we find out why he has a gut feeling about this dead body. 
The Police start inquiring about items that were brought into his store the day before and traded. The next thing Tram knows is his store is being searched in every nook and cranny by the police, as well. The police are looking for something that they don't even know what it is they are looking for. They feel that something that was traded in his store the day before must have something inside of it. Tram is questioned relentlessly.
The police include Tram's computer in their search as well. It is his ebay account, in particular, to be exact that they are focusing on. The police inform him someone has been trading in his account other than the person he has given permission to. Is the guy who has the permission to handle the ebay account guilty of what is going on? Can he be trusted? What exactly is going on? What are the police looking for? The police don't even know exactly what they are looking for. Something BIG is going on, and no one knows exactly what it is. Meanwhile, Tram is still keeping quiet about the dead body in the dumpster. This is the last thing he needs the police to find out about. Tram feels if the police find out about this, they just might think he has something to do with all of this.
A couple of Detectives are assigned to Tram to help him and the whole case. According to them a man by the name of Don Johnson, who happens to be an officer on the force, is being accused of being a part of what has happened to Tram's store and what is going on. They find out something about someone bringing in something to trade that has something in it which is VERY valuable. Doesn't this sound confusing? It is! What could this possibly be? What is this something the police are looking for?
Tram questioned relentlessly. He keeps trying to make heads and tales about  what is happening. Tram then figures out he is being followed and watched. Okay. He knows how this works. He had once attended and graduated from the Police Academy. What stopped him from becoming an Officer of the Law was a DUI he received shortly after graduating the Police Academy. He figured that ruined his entire chance of ever becoming a police officer. With a DUI, it ruined any and all of his hopes and dreams of ever becoming a Police Officer.
The next thing he learns is his WIFE has been taken HOSTAGE by these people, and she is being held for ransom in exchange for this 'thing' everyone is looking for. These must be the same people who had broken into his store who has now taken his wife hostage. Now Tram is worried about his children. He is right to worry about them because the next thing he knows is the place he has hidden his children at has been found out by these people who took his wife. They let Tram know they know where his children are. 
Tram finds out something about a Flashcard? They have accused Tram of having this Flashcard, and they want it back. They are serious in their threats about killing his wife, and they even record a video of her last words, so they claim, and they do something to her to make him convinced she is dead.
Tram no longer knows who to trust, especially when he ends up in a high speed chase by Don Johnson, the accused. What is going on?
This story is so full of action and suspense. We never know what is going to happen next. Just like Tram, we don't know who to trust, who is the good guy, who are the bad guys. Now his children's lives are threatened. Tram doesn't know what to do. 
Tram falls back on his training from the Police Academy to help him with this case, and to help him stay sane knowing his wife is most certainly dead, and he watched these people kill her. What about his children? Are they safe?
A high speed chase happens and it is Don Johnson behind the wheel. Tram loses and Don takes TRAM hostage. 
What I have told you about this story is only a small fraction of what this book is all about! The really neat part about this book is to watch this character go from running his dream store, to bringing back and using what he learned in the Police Academy. It was neat to watch this character grow as the story went on.
The rest of this story I am going to leave for you to read about! The suspense, the action, the mystery, ALL of this continues on. Your white knuckles stay white, and you may even chew a few nails off while reading this! 
What happens, how does this end? Is his wife really dead like the kidnappers made him watch on video? What about his children? Are they safe? Does Tram get away from Don Johnson? Does Tram solve this case? It's up to YOU to read this book to find out! I can tell you the action, suspense, mystery, the thrilling ride of this story does not dull at all. It continues on!
The writing is darn near perfection, and I'm NOT just saying this!
I HIGHLY recommend this book! I would put this book up against any other Best Selling book in this genre and I feel it is even BETTER than some of the Best Sellers I have read. This is my HONEST opinion. Hands down, James E. Parker can write! There is a sequel to this book coming, too! I'm excitedly waiting for it! Perhaps this story does NOT END? You've GOT to read this book!

This was a book I chose to read on my own. I happened to be on Twitter one day, and they suggest people to follow. I sent out some messages to these new people I started to follow, and I gave my contact info and said I was open to reviewing any of their books! Guess who replied? YES! This is how I met Independent Author, James E. Parker! 
After I started talking to Jim and hearing what he had to say about this book, I did not wait for him to offer me a copy of this book to read! I decided to go and purchase this book from Amazon and read it for myself! As I have already said, this book does NOT disappoint! This IS a MUST-READ book!
And now, a sequel! It can't get any better! HOORAY, for Jim! EXCELLENT WRITING!

If YOU would like to read this book and NOT wait to see if you have won a copy, you can do so by clicking on this LINK - the photo of the book just below and on the left! It will take you directly 'to' Amazon where you can purchase it for yourself. You will NOT be disappointed! 

About the Author:

Who is James E Parker and why does he want to KILL so many people?

James E Parker has been telling stories for over twenty years. In his other life, James is the Pastor of a "church for people who don't like church" called Journey. He and his wife, Danell, started Journey in 2010 in Sheboygan Falls, 
Wisconsin. When James is not Pastor'ing people, he is cleaning up the grit and grime from the mean streets of Milwaukee in his debut crime novel, "Leaving 
Fantasy Land". What makes a Pastor write about killers, psychopaths, and the occasional dirty cop? Ask James:

 I've always loved a great story. I've been writing them since middle school. I like to take Readers on a Journey. One of my favorite things on the planet is movies. Movies take us away from the hum-drum of daily life for a magical two hour trip. Books are even better. They reach down into the human heart and lift us into a world of fantasy where our imagination is our only limitation. I live a lot of my life dreaming. Dreaming of a better world, a better life, a better place. 
My books are about the human condition. The stories I tell are about psychopaths, cold-blooded killers, and flawed heroes, like Tram Taylor. But, the themes are about life, love, loss and the pursuit of happiness, something we can 
ALL related to. I love to tell stories that take me away from the grind of daily life, and I love to take readers along for the ride. 

Author Interview:

1.   Jim, have you always wanted to write? Has it been a life long thing you have always enjoyed doing, or did the bug hit you later in college or later in life?

I've always loved writing. Even in elementary school about the only interest I had in school "work" was on the days we did creative writing. I always came up with wild stories and loved getting to make things up and not get in trouble for it. I think I've always had a very vivid imagination.

2.   This book is a Mystery/Suspense/Thriller. Is this the genre you like to read, too?

I love Mystery and Thriller novels. I read lots of stuff in the genre but I just plain love reading. I've read kids series like the Hunger Games (Which I highly recomend). I read Sci-Fi, spiritual books, classics, I love it all. I just love great Authors who can craft characters that I love, hate, or love to hate. I think that is what draws me to books.

3.   Was there any '1' thing that gave you the idea to write this story, without giving any spoilers! 

I've taken several runs at writing my first novel, but never seemed to be able to get anything that interested me off the ground and in the air. Then, out of the blue, the concept for "Leaving Fantasy Land" just kind of came to me one day. When I first started, I wasn't sure where exactly I was going with it. About half way in, I began to feel I was onto something.

4.   Comic Books were involved in this story. Do you like to read comic books, and if so, what are your favorites? Are you a collector of comic books, too? Also, what is your FAVORITE comic book and aspiring hero or comic book 'character' you would like to be in the comic world?

I've always loved Super Heros. I wasn't much of a collector of actual comics as a kid but I love their stories. I read comics on my cell phone these days. Isn't technology grand. :) I'm an avid movie buff and have always loved the Marvel and D.C. Comic inspired films. Hands down, I'm a Batman fan though. There's just something about a guy who can do all Batman does with no real super powers. Batman is just a guy with, as the Jokers says, "All those cool toys." Ok enough about that. If I go into 'Nerd Mode', I will ramble on all day.

5.   I see you have a 2nd book you are done with, and you are getting it ready to be published! CONGRATULATIONS!! Can you tell us a 'little bit' about this book? I believe it is another Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Crime novel? It is called "Taking Out the Trash"!

Yes, Laurie, I do have my second almost complete. Thanks for that. I hope to have it out by the end of summer or maybe even a little sooner than that. It is called "Taking Out The Trash", and it finds the main character of "Leaving Fantasy Land", Tram Taylor, a few years further down the long, hard road of his life working as a Milwaukee Detective. Tram is faced with his first BIG case. He and a new character I introduce in the book, his partner, Benny DeLuca, are on the trail of a serial killer that for some strange reason is killing Milwaukee garbage men. I'm really excited about the book.

6.   What is your 'ideal' writing experience? Do you like to listen to music while writing or do you need it quiet? Do you prefer to write in a certain place, like the attic or basement, or an office? Do you have a certain snack food you like 'only while writing', things like that?

I need quiet to write. I live in Wisconsin, so in the winter I enjoy writing in my recliner looking out our picture window at the snow. Wisconsin has AMAZING summers, so I like to write out on our patio. In fact, that is where I'm doing this interview from as I type. Its sixty degrees and beautiful. Sorry Southerners out there. I'm from Arkansas originally, and I know what those hot humid southern summers can be like.

7.   What is your favorite type of music?

I'm a classic rock guy at heart. My daughters' and wife are all musicians, so I have wide appreciation for all kinds of music. Everything from Travis Tritt, to Lady Gaga. But my favorite is still all that classic rock. Eagles, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, and a host of others.

8.   What is your favorite sugary snack?

I'm more of a salty guy, but I like a good bowl of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream when I have a sweet tooth.

9.   What is your favorite salty snack?

Salty has too many to choose. I love Chex Mix, peanuts, chips, french fries (are those a snack?) they are to me. I could go on about food almost as long as I could go on about Batman.
10. Do you like Smores? Or, what is your favorite 'special' treat?

I do like smores. We sit around the fire pit with friends a lot of nights and have smores. A special treat for me is cherry pie. They take so long to make but they are sooooo very good. (Salty and sweet...that can't be beat)

11. When you finish writing a book, do you have a celebration of any kind?

"I really don't have a celebration. My wife is the first to read my books when I'm done and I SO value her opinion that I can't wait for her to read the first draft. So I get really excited and nervous as she is the first to read through it."

12. I know from talking with you that you have a beautiful wife (I've seen a photo of her) and two beautiful children, too! I know your wife is VERY supportive of your writing career! What do your children think? Has your writing influenced them, such as do they read more now than ever before, now that their own DAD is a WRITER? What kind of books do they like, such as are they copying what you are writing? The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew? I bet they think you are a pretty cool Dad, huh! Or is the saying 'cool' different today? I guess I'm kind of 'out of it' when it comes to the current trends of what kids are saying today!

"You are right, Laurie, as I mentioned, my wife is super supportive of my writing and works harder at the editing process to tell me what SHE thinks I need to change. She really does a GREAT job BEFORE the book even GOES "to" the Professional Editor! I've even had the professional Editor tell me she's hardly had to make ANY revisions to my writing! Isn't my wife wonderful! I told her SHE should go into the Editing business! Hmm? Gives me an idea there! No! She's got ENOUGH to do besides going into the Professional Editing business! Heck, she'd probably have a few words for me if I even suggested it! LOL! " 

13. I know your parents are still with you, AND, as a matter of fact, they are visiting you and your family THIS WEEK! What do they think of their son being an accomplished writer?

Well we will see what they think once I'm an actual "accomplished" writer, LOL!  They have always been very supportive of all my dreams and aspirations.

I have to interject here, Jim. You ARE an accomplished writer now! You are too humble!!! You have a published book that is being SOLD on Amazon, and people you don't even know are writing GREAT reviews about your book, too! I think you have surpassed the 'accomplished writer' part already! You are now a "published Author"! Congratulations!!!

14. I am superstitious of the number 13. I NEVER used to believe in ANY of that kind of stuff until Friday, January 13th, when I had a HORRID ordeal in the Dentist's office!!! I can't leave this interview with 13 questions! YOU pick a question and answer it for us! Thanks!

If I had to pick a question, I think it would be, "What makes a person like Laurie Carlson read and review so very many books and do it all for free?" My answer would be. . . "I don't know, you would have ask her." But, I think she's one of the coolest people on the planet . . . and I don't care if the kids are still using that word or not! :) Thanks, Laurie, for taking the time to sit down with me in the cyber world and do this interview and thanks to all you Readers for taking a part of your busy day to read through this interview.

First, from me, thank 'YOU' so much for such a wonderful compliment you gave me! I would do it all again in a SECOND! A huge 'Thank You' to you, for giving us your gift of writing, sharing it with us and turning it into a wonderful story for the Readers, too! We thank you, as well! 
Well, I LOVE to read and I LOVE to share the LOVE of reading with as many people as I can! Reading is a hobby of mine, and one I CAN STILL DO! I have a neurological muscle disease which does not allow me to work, nor do many old hobbies I used to have because of physical limitations. Seriously, this is ONE hobby I have always loved, always done, and I CAN STILL DO IT! Nothing can 'physically' rob me of this one! You know, in a book you can forget the outside world even exists! You can forget everything and step into the life of another person, another era, a different country even. I love doing that so much, that I almost like 'the other worlds' WAY better than my own 'at times'. I don't have to deal with this neuro muscle disease in any of those other places! That, is a HUGE plus! I just forget! Also, how can anyone who LOVES reading as much as I do, NOT share it? That is not comprehensible to me. I want to share the love of reading and escaping into another time and place for a little while, or show them how to do it by highlighting some of my favorite books! Or showing off new books I have found. What I will never understand is how anyone can 'not' read! Or, how can anyone not love to learn about something they never knew existed? The World of Books and Reading is one that is infinite. To accept money for doing something I LOVE, need and want to SHARE with others? NEVER! I love sharing great books I find, new authors like yourself, and revisiting with favorite authors a second, third or more times! To me, this is truly a privilege!

The Reader's are going to LOVE what you had to say about them! Thanks!

Thank you, SO much, Jim, for taking all the time you have in answering all my questions. Wow!


This book is STILL up for grabs for 1 more day! Click the GIVEAWAY TAB up above and you will see this SAME review and Author Interview, but at the END of all of this, there will be a Rafflecopter form for you to enter! Good Luck!

If you read this AFTER the giveaway, you can get this at Amazon! Here's the LINK again!


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