ARC Review: Lucky Strike by Thomas Fenske

Lucky Strike by Thomas Fenske

Thomas Fenske does not disappoint with his third installment of the Traces of Treasure series, Lucky Strike. Changing focus from the lost gold mine to a mystery buried treasure from World War II, Fenske steps it up in the complexity department. I’m impressed by his ability to weave together so many disparate parts into a coherent whole, slowly revealing bits of information both about the resolution of the mystery and about the characters we’ve met through the first two books. World War II, deserters, and buried treasure; international criminals, kidnapping, and murder. Oh, and our friends the ghosts, who once again play a pivotal role in the resolution of the key drama. As the drama unfolds, we learn in bits both information useful for solving the mystery of the lost treasure as well as some of the backstory to the characters we’ve come to love from the first two books. I originally erroneously thought the series was going to end with this book, and that made me sad because Sam, Smidgeon, and Lance have started to feel like old friends. I’ve spent so much time with them and in Van Horn that sometimes I forget I’ve never actually been to Texas. I’m glad to spend more time with them, though at the same time I do wish they could live in some sort of peace!

Four stars!

Check out my reviews of Books 1 and 2, The Fever and A Curse That Bites Deep, then go buy them and read up in anticipation of Lucky Strike‘s release this fall!

Prepare to be haunted! Check out “Please Disappear” by M.K. Shivakoti, read my interview with him, and buy the book! Available for PREORDER NOW, Releases March 25

Please DisappearLast year at some point I had the great privilege of beta reading M.K. Shivakoti’s debut novel, Please Disappear. It was a truly rewarding experience because the book is fantastic, and because it led to an engaging dialogue about the book and the characters and where he might go with a sequel (yay!). I am so excited now to tell you that Please Disappear is releasing March 25th, and is available for preorder NOW on Amazon.

If you read my blog often, then I presume you trust or at least are interested in my opinions on books – so you should read it just because I said it’s worth your time, haha! But in truth, Shivakoti weaves a complex mystery, revealing bits of information at a time and keeping the reader guessing. Here are some of the comments I made to him in my beta reader feedback:

You do a phenomenal job with the dark-and-twisted stuff!

I looked forward to picking up the book every night, had a hard time putting it down at bedtime, and was disappointed when it ended.

I would buy your sequel!

In case you’re not sold by my praises, and if you’re a visual as well as literary person, you can check out the book trailer Shivakoti put together to promote the book. This whole book trailer realm is new/foreign to me, kind of like book-tubing… but that’s just me. So, if this is your thing – then enjoy!


An NOW, here’s an interview with M.K. Shivakoti himself!

M.K. ShivakotiThe Edifying Word (EDW): Tell us a little about yourself!

M.K. Shivakoti: My name is M.K. Shivakoti. I was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, but have spent most of my adult life in the United States. I’m also a debut author of a suspense thriller, Please Disappear, which is releasing on March 25, 2019.

My story is perhaps not that unique. I’m an immigrant who is regularly questioned about my Nepalese versus American identity. Many ultimately conclude that I don’t truly belong to either. To the nativists, I don’t have enough pride, enough loyalty, enough faith, enough whatever it takes to be called one or the other.

But from my vantage point, being part of the two cultures has been a tremendous blessing. As a writer, I’m able to draw similarities and differences and use it in my fiction. My characters are multi-cultural and are free to express themselves however they would like; they are not bound by religion, national origin, faith or dogma. I’m able to tell human stories, without being shackled to the continent I grew up in or the continent I live in. And it’s all because I have had the privilege to be part of two beautiful yet distinct cultures.     

EDW: Writing is hard work – why do you write? 

MK: My parents and friends tell me that I’ve always been a writer, that I enjoyed writing even at a young age. It all seems a little hazy to me now since there was a period when I didn’t write at all. What I now know is that creativity needs a certain environment to flourish and I didn’t have that space until my late twenties.

Anyhow, I write because I have to. It’s part of who I am. It’s always been that way, even though I had to re-discover this in my life. To non-writers, this may be difficult to understand, but writing to me is akin to eating, drinking, or using the bathroom. Of course, I’m not going to die if I don’t write for a week or two. Nevertheless, my point is that if we’re devoid of these basic needs, our bodies would complain. Why eat? Why drink? Why go to the bathroom? These are not questions we bother ourselves with. These are facts of life. These are things we do. These are things we must do.

EDW: I’m so excited for your book release! What can readers look forward to when they pick up Please Disappear?

MK: My debut novel, Please Disappear, took four years to write and a few additional years to get published. I have a lot of emotions attached to this book. It’s upcoming release, and associated anticipation, anxiety, and whole array of emotion is second only to the birth of my son.

My hope is that readers will quickly find themselves engrossed in the thrilling suspense. As a reader, I gravitate toward books that grab you from the first page and won’t let you go until the end. As a writer, I have attempted to create something similar. I hope people enjoy reading what I thoroughly enjoyed writing.

They can read more about the book here:

If anyone’s interested in reading sample chapters, I’m sending that for free. They can find more information at:

EDW: If Please Disappear were made into a movie, who would you hope would play your lead character?

MK: Wouldn’t that be great!! If something crazy like this were to happen, I would love to see Jared Leto as Gabriel and Priyanka Chopra as Sara Sardana. Katie and Arun are tough for me to imagine. Maybe Dev Patel would be great as Arun, but then he’s a little too tall and his English a little too native to pull off an immigrant from Nepal. Although a comic, Kumail Nanjiani, maybe a better fit. Given an opportunity, I’m confident he can do justice to gritty roles. 😊     

EDW: Do you have a favorite writer, or someone who influences your work?

MK: One author in particular stands out for me—Stephen King.

I read ‘The Shining’ when I was a grown man. One day I was sitting outside on a lounge chair, overlooking our community swimming pool. It was a bright sunny day, and I was reading ‘The Shining.’ When that woman stepped out of the bath tub, I had to close the book and look around just to double check. There was another family across from me, eating hot dogs and burgers. One kid was about to canon ball into the pool and a couple had found a sweet corner to canoodle. The hideous woman from the book was nowhere to be found and I was just glad she didn’t jump out of the pool. Yet, my heart was going boom, boom, boom.

Stephen King not only creates fictional worlds, but he possesses the magical ability to transmit real palpable emotions through his writing.

EDW: When you are not writing, what’s your favorite way to spend time?

MK: I have a full-time job and daddy duties most days of the week. So, if I have any free time, my favorite things to do are to read and write.

EDW: Finally, is there anything else we should know about you?

MK: No, I think we’ve covered quite a bit here. I want to thank Kristin for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank you all for reading this post. There are million other things online to watch and read, I’m truly grateful you chose to read this instead.

EDW: You’re welcome, and thanks for being my first author interview here at The Edifying Word. Okay everyone, now go buy Please Disappear!

You can connect with M.K. Shivakoti the following ways: 








Short Stories and Sci-fi – Stepping out of my comfort zone (and a book review!)

So, my first grown-up book of 2019 was Nomad of the Emirates by E.B. Dawson (I mentioned this in a previous post).


This book was fantastic, and reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, which I read last year at the recommendation of author Thomas Fenske. As in The Left Hand of Darkness, Nomad of the Emirates features a lone human emissary to an alien planet and follows the human’s interactions with and efforts to survive in the entirely foreign environment. Nomad of the Emirates tackles issues of race, culture, and class with a depth and emotionality that is impressive in such a short story, and these are the issues, I think, that will resonate with a wide audience. Jessica, the protagonist of the story, I believe, will also strike a chord with many people. What really blows me away is the Dawson’s worldbuilding. I feel like I understand the fictional world of Dawson’s The Emirates as well as, if not better than, Le Guin’s Winter, which is an impressive feat for such a short work. (There’s your bonus book review!)


Now, about that comfort zone…

One author who asked me for a review described my reading style as “hard to pin down,” which I think is a pretty apt description; I read a lot, from all different genres. That being said, short stories and science fiction are things I’ve only recently begun to seek out. I started picking up short stories in 2017, and continued to do so in 2018. It’s a form of writing that I just didn’t even really think about. I’ve read quite a few now, though, including some collections, and I find the format intriguing, if a little broad. Let’s look at a dictionary definition of “short story”:

(n) an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot (Merriam Webster)

“Shorter than a novel.” That explains how some I’ve read are two pages long, and some are much, much longer. I do find it interesting, though, to think about the intention as described in the definition. It’s something I’d like to reflect more upon as I read more short stories…

My adventures into science fiction sort of happened by chance, and while I’ve enjoyed the works I’ve read I’m not sure it’s a genre I’ll seek out for its own sake. My big sci-fi read of 2018 was The Left Hand of Darkness, which is described on Goodreads as “a groundbreaking work of science fiction.” I picked this up after the death of Ursula Le Guin in 2018, of whom I had sadly just become aware; Nomad of the Emirates is my most recent sci fi read, and I think the last time I read sci-fi was when I read Ender’s Game over a decade ago. Left Hand and Nomad were both good books, but each makes me want to read more from the author rather than more of the genre per se. I’m open to persuasion, though, if you all have any suggestions!

I think by last count I have over 60 unread books on my Kindle (yikes!), but I’m always open to recommendations. What short stories do you love? What books made you fall in love with science fiction? Share in the comments!