Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Warrior Kids - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The future looks bleak unless eighteen year-old Lance and his New Camelot Earth Warriors can save the planet from catastrophic climate change. 
Spurred by twelve year-olds Billy, Enya, Itzamna, and his ten-year-old brother, Chris, Lance creates a branch of Earth Warriors, a youth-led movement designed to save the earth from its greatest enemy – greed. His involvement leads to Earth Warrior crews springing up all across America. Millions of kids leap into action, paralyzing the country and alarming the rich and powerful. Having adopted his father’s philosophy of doing what’s right, rather than what’s easy, Lance makes serious enemies when he calls out New Camelot donors who represent fossil fuel or other polluting industries, and then barely escapes a series of "accidents” designed to kill him. When he challenges the United States Congress to step up and act immediately on the climate crisis, the attacks on him escalate. With the majority of America's kids on his side, Lance and his young Earth Warriors prepare for the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Paris, where they will call upon world leaders to stop talking about sustainability and start acting on it. But whoever wants him dead isn't giving up. Will Lance and his crew live long enough to even get to Paris? Warrior Kids is a standalone tale set within the Children of the Knight universe.



My Review

The environment is a hot button issue. Every human being has a hand in destroying the earth. No one is blameless. However, there are many who talk the talk about the need for change, yet few are willing to walk the walk.

"If the environment is to heal, every single one of us has to step up."

The Earth Warriors hope to be a leading voice when it comes to tackling the complexity of this multi-layered problem. They're a group of young activists who are looking to achieve long-lasting results, using their brain power to figure out what it's going to take to get government and big business on board and convince them to change their ways. There's just one big problem.

"Big corporations that support us with donations - some of them are the biggest carbon emitters in the country. [They're] giving us money knowing they earned it by wrecking the planet."

What's a non-profit to do: close up shop or work with the enemy? The kids involved find it ethically challenging to say the least. By taking on the fossil fuel industry, they're literally putting their lives at risk by daring to go up against them. A car they're in is nearly forced off a bridge. A sandbag almost takes one of them out during a live televised debate. They face some very real consequences for standing up for what they believe in, yet they persevere, refusing to let anyone stop them.

"Nature is God's way of talking to us."

These kids put their faith in the Public Trust Doctrine, which states that resources such as land, water and air must be preserved for public use and that it's the government's job to maintain them. They petition Congress to remember that pledge and live up to it.

It's uplifting to read how they work tirelessly to raise the public consciousness on this very important matter, uniting everyone under one banner.

The dream of a better future.

***

Warrior Kids can be purchased at:
Amazon

Formats: ebook, paperback
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 211
Release: October 6, 2015
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871149
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Special message from the author:

THE eBOOK OF WARRIOR KIDS IS FREE FOR EDUCATORS. It is available in the following formats: PDF, Kindle (mobi), and ePub (Nook and iBooks). In addition, teachers can purchase the paperbacks at the per unit cost of $3.08 (plus shipping and applicable tax.) Educators can contact the author via the Warrior Kids Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1505241449796357/) or directly by email – stuntshark2.0@gmail.com. For paperback orders, the author will generate an invoice from Createspace (the physical publisher of the book) and payment can be made through PayPal. There is no profit motive and he will earn nothing off the paperbacks sold to teachers. Per unit cost and shipping rates are exactly as Createspace charges him – no markup. As an educator, he has always sought supplemental reading material that would engage his students on important issues. Having found very little, he decided to write one and make it readily available.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine novels—A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America; Spinner (Winner Hollywood Book Festival; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Reader’s Favorite; Literary Classics Seal of Approval), and Warrior Kids.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook. He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

Links to connect with Michael:
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Facebook
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Blog
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Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Leta Serafim - When the Devil's Idle - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder? 
Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.



My Review

"The Bible was the first murder book. Cain and Abel. Humanity hasn't changed much since it was written."

God and man, the relationship between the two is always a source of conflict. And in Leta Serafim's mystery series, she explores how the Greek Orthodox Church is as much an institution of the economically-challenged nation as Socrates and Plato. It's what makes Greek culture an interesting blend of the old and the new, whereby tourists, migrants and the youth of today are quickly wiping away centuries of pride and tradition, the very cradle of Western civilization.

But Papa Michalis sees things differently. He's an old priest who likes to tag along on police business. An ardent watcher of American crime shows, he's able to quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at will. While he's a lover of fiction, he hasn't given up on humanity just yet. To him, even a man murdered for the heinous acts he committed over the course of a lifetime "is still a child of God."

Some on the detectives on the police force think that Papa Michalis is blissfully naive to the pervasive nature of the evil that lurks all around him. They feel he preaches about a just world that really doesn't exist.

"Holy fool that he was, he believed everyone was good simply because he was."

Yet Papa Michalis brings a voice of wisdom to the story, always taking a more compassionate approach toward the victim's family as well as any possible suspect. He doesn't jump to conclusions. He sees the big picture, and urges the officers he's advising to tread carefully because everything is not always as it seems.

"So our troubles are caused by fallen angels?"

Papa Michalis shakes his head at such questions. He knows better than to try to have a discussion on theology with a bunch of hardened cops. Yet he provides them with a ray of hope, hope that there's a point to the work that they do, even when they're not able to claim victory in justice.

***

When the Devil's Idle can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery Suspense Thriller
Pages: 192
Release: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Coffeetown Press
ISBN: 9781603819985
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Excerpt

The police cruiser arrived later that day and Giorgos Tembelos and Papa Michalis disembarked, the priest inching down the ramp like a tortoise.

“I think the identity of the old man is the key,” Papa Michalis announced when they’d all gathered in a taverna to review the case. “I analyzed it and that is my conclusion. It simply cannot be anything else. It has elements of an Agatha Christie story, one of her locked-room mysteries like And Then There Was None. Nobody else had access; ergo, one of the people inside the estate, a family member or a servant, must be the guilty party.”

“Anyone could have gained access,” Patronas pointed out. “The Bechtels were careless. They didn’t keep the door locked and there were keys lying around everywhere.”

“No matter. It’s got to be one of them. We can interview other people forever, but it will eventually come back to them. Them and them alone.”

“I think Father is right,” Tembelos said. “The identity of the victim is the important thing here. There was nothing about him in any of the European databases I checked. I called our counterparts in Germany and asked them to run him through their system, but I doubt they’ll find anything. It’s like he never existed. We need to establish who he was. Could be he changed his name.”

“Why would he change his name?” Patronas wondered.

“I don’t know.“

The four of them were sitting outside by the water, it being too hot to venture inside. A haze hung over the sea, and the air was very still. Suddenly, a soft breeze rose up and stirred the tamarisk trees that lined the shore, setting their feathery branches in motion. Patronas liked the rustling sound the trees made, the relief the wind brought. It was almost as if he could hear the earth breathe.

I’ll go swimming tonight, he told himself, looking out at the harbor. Float on my back and look up at the stars. Frolic like a dolphin.

Maybe he’d ask Antigone Balis to join him. He pictured her dripping wet, that long hair of hers hanging down over one shoulder like Botticelli’s Venus. Adrift in his vision, he subsequently lost track of the conversation.

“Hey, boss, you with us?” Tembelos nudged him with his elbow.

Patronas made a show of straightening his back, stretching. “Sorry, it’s the heat. Always makes me sleepy.”

“You were grinning.”

“So what if I was? A man’s allowed to grin.”

“I don’t know, Yiannis,” the priest said. “I think when one is discussing a homicide, it might be better if one dispensed with grinning. At such a time, such behavior is unseemly. It makes one appear insensitive at the very least.”

“Thank you for that, Father. In the future, I will dispense with grinning.” He tapped his pencil on his notebook. “So, to sum up, we have nothing concrete in the case, no witnesses or physical evidence, nothing that will lead us to the killer.”

“Gardener’s clean,” Tembelos reported. “I ran his fingerprints and there was nothing. There was a match on the shoes, too, exactly like he told us.”

“What about the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou?”

“Same thing. The case is heating up. If we don’t catch the killer, it could get ugly. Ministry’s already clamoring for action.”

“We need to turn the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou, inside out, also the members of the family,” Patronas said. “Check their history. Something’s going on here, but as of yet, I haven’t established what it is.”

“You can’t rule out a random act of violence,” the priest said, “directed at them because of their nationality.”

“Worse would be if it were a case of mistaken identity,” Patronas said, “the killer targeting the owners—the Bauers—and killing one of their guests by mistake.”

He was thinking of Charlie Manson, who along with his disciples had wiped out six people without blinking an eye, not realizing his intended victim was a subletter. “Personally, I think someone targeted the family for reasons we don’t know. The cat, the old man. It stands to reason.”

“I’d start with the housekeeper,” Tembelos said. “What she said doesn’t add up. That bit about coming to Patmos on holiday and staying on as a maid.”

“Unlikely, Giorgos. She’s in her seventies.”

Papa Michalis continued to promote the locked room concept. Citing a case in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he described how the killer had released a cobra through a fake vent and activated its poisonous energy by whistling. “ ‘Oh, my God, it was the band,’ the victim shouted, ‘the speckled band.’”

“Fiction, Father, fiction,” Patronas said impatiently. “Remember? We discussed it.”

“My point is if you are determined to kill someone, a lock is no deterrent. Sometimes murderers are ingenious. Using a cobra as a murder weapon is brilliant when you think about it. Absolutely brilliant. No fingerprints involved, no way to trace it back to you. The snake does all the work.”

“I repeat, Father, there is no snake involved here. A stone maybe, but no snake.”

“A stone? What makes you think that?”

And around they went again, weighing the possibilities. The victim had been hit on the head, but with what? A hammer or a rock? A shovel or pickax? Rock, scissors, paper.

Forget swimming, Patronas told himself. I might as well drown myself.



About the Author

Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

Links to connect with Leta:
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Facebook
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scott A. Lerner - The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Samuel Roberts, a lawyer in Champaign, Illinois, has just moved to a new home to escape the memories of his old place—the stray body parts left by evil entities as well as traces of his relationship with Susan, who left him because he couldn’t stop risking both their lives trying to save the world. That leaves Sam free to fall in love again. Sam falls hard, suspiciously hard, for Bridget Gillis, a beautiful fortune teller who also happens to be a witch and a member of a coven. The village that encompasses the coven was founded by Bridget’s great-great aunt, also named Bridget and a dead ringer for her descendant. The new relationship quickly gets complicated. It is two days before Halloween, and Bridget is about to be tried by her fellow witches for the crime of practicing dark magic involving the blood of children. The punishment is to be burned at the stake. Bridget needs an advocate, and Sam is the perfect man for the job.

Sam brings in Bob, who is suspicious of his best buddy’s sudden passion. The two of them have until the Witching Hour on Halloween to clear Bridget’s name and find out who is killing the local children. As they comb the area for clues, quiz the locals, and take a crash course in witchcraft and Wiccan customs, Sam and Bob can’t shake the question: is Bridget a good witch or a bad witch?

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest is the fourth book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons and The Fraternity of the Soul Eater.


My Review

Sam's father once told him: "If you're bored, go out and play." It's a little tidbit of advice he's never really forgotten, even though it's not exactly a winning strategy for a lawyer plagued by the supernatural. Based on the strange things he's encountered over the past year or so, Sam seriously doubts that he's going to live a long life, especially when twenty crows swoop down and surround him with their black-eyed stare.

After receiving such a dire omen, the message he gets from a dominatrix-like fortune teller is no less disturbing. She emphatically states that, "There are many people who are uncomfortable knowing about their destinies." But apparently Sam is not one of them. When she agrees to read his Tarot cards, she's perplexed by what she sees.

First Card
His Past
The Tower
He has seen great evil and has survived it.
Second Card
His Present
Ten of Swords
He is trapped. Evil is trying to hold him in place.
Third Card
His Future
The Devil
He is addicted to his struggle with darkness.
Fourth Card
How He Will Deal with His Future
Death
He is learning to deal with the darkness that has been haunting his past.

But for Sam, her reading raises more questions than answers. When he asks if there's anything he can do to change his fate, she responds, "We have free will, so the future is not set in stone, but it rarely changes."

Despite his trepidation, Sam finds himself insanely attracted to her. He's thinking about returning to her purple Victorian house and asking her out—until he learns that her quaint little neighborhood is what locals refer to as 'The Village of the Damned.' His lovely fortune teller is thought to be a witch, and a very powerful one at that, one accused of killing innocent children and using their blood to perform dark magic.

But Sam ignores all of the warnings, believing her to be innocent. His lawyering instincts even kick in when he agrees to defend her.

By taking on her case, Sam's motto becomes; "Life is about risks. You can't always play it safe." He puts everything on hold to work tirelessly on her behalf. Reading ancient spell books and brushing up on the basics of Wiccan philosophy, he immerses himself in the world of the occult. Yet what he finds most intriguing is the history of her sequestered community. Hidden among the cornfields of Illinois, it was meant to be a safe haven for those born with magical gifts, offering them a place of protection against the persecution of the outside world.

Yet Sam fears the threat may be coming from within when one of their own is found dead, chopped up and laid out in a refrigerated display case with price tags listed for each body part.

The gruesomeness behind such an act is not lost on Sam. The killer means to send a message—anyone who comes to the defense of the fortune teller will meet a similar fate. Sam's just hoping his seductive client really didn't kill those children, and he's not just falling under her spell.

***

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Formats/Prices: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 230
Release: October 31, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812917
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

Links to connect with Scott:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Scott A. Lerner - The Fraternity of the Soul Eater - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.

Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons.


My Review

DNA experimentation always makes for quite an entertaining premise.

Author Scott A. Lerner does it one better by having a mad scientist, Dr. Oaks, try to manipulate our genetic code so that he can bring the Egyptian gods back to life.

How's he been doing it? By implanting half human / half animal fetuses into the wombs of the unsuspecting women he imprisons in his top secret laboratory. There's just one problem—none of the monstrous offspring have survived their tumultuous entry into the world.

So it's back to the drawing board, and our hero, Sam Roberts, becomes guinea pig number one after getting too close to investigating the good doctor's work. He has Sam beat up and captured by members of Zeta Ankh Iota, the secret society that's funding his horrific tests. Now his plan is to inject Sam's body with a chromosome cocktail so that he can manipulate the double helixes of a live host.

In order to escape, Sam is forced to fight his way out of a steel cage by cutting off a guard's hand. Yet committing such an act of barbarism really bothers him.

"I had just murdered a man who might have had nothing to do with the plot to take over the world. A man whose only crime—as far as [I] knew—was to bring [me] dinner."

Sam then takes the severed appendage with him, using the fingerprint to open the security doors that are holding him hostage—in an underground pyramid that just so happens to be in, of all places, suburban Illinois.

The evildoers are out to awaken the Soul Eater, the Egyptian god, Ammit, who is part human, part lion, part hippopotamus. This imposing figure is said to dwell in the underworld, waiting to devour the human hearts of the recently deceased, the ones deemed too heavy on the scales of justice. Now Dr. Oaks wants to bring the Soul Eater into the dimension of the living by turning an ordinary human like himself into a god.

Dr. Oaks explains his reasoning this way:

"The modern world is a mess. A mess that mere mortals cannot clean up. If we allow the ancient gods to help us through me, their representative on earth, we can create a new world order."

But to escape this torture chamber of craziness, Sam must resort to doing a lot of terrible things. He literally has to kill his way out. He's never taken a human life before, and a sort of darkness falls over his soul. Without or without a change in his DNA, he feels like he is not the same person as before he entered the pyramid.

But is Sam damaged beyond repair? He's seen a lot of terrible things from a cobra coiled inside the hollowed out body of a young girl to one of his fellow captives blowing off part of a man's skull. Sam willingly takes down anyone blocking his path to freedom, and it makes him ponder the fate of his own soul.

"The kill was cold and horrible. The fact that [I] could do something so nightmarish said a lot about what [I] had become. [My] humanity, [my] soul, [was] so damaged that [it] certainly would weigh more than a feather. [I] would be denied the afterworld."

But he knows what Dr. Oaks is trying to do can't be done. His efforts to merge the supposed life force of a god into the body of a man are nothing but futile.

Because deep down Sam believes in his heart that:

"All the power and money in the world can't bring [anyone] back from the dead."

Not even one of the gods of the underworld.

***

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Formats/Prices: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 218
Release: June 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812894
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

Links to connect with Scott:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Michael J. McCann - Sorrow Lake - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Detective Inspector Ellie March of the Ontario Provincial Police is called in to investigate when a man from the village of Sparrow Lake is found shot to death, execution style, in a farmer's field in rural eastern Ontario.

Leading an inexperienced team of detectives, she probes beneath the wintry surface of the township to discover the victim had a dark secret--one that may endanger others in the community as well.

For young and enthusiastic Detective Constable Kevin Walker, the chance to work with Ellie March is an honour, until the situation turns ugly and unexpected betrayal threatens to destroy his promising career.


My Review

Kevin Walker has a problem.

He has a massive inferiority complex.

As a police detective, he thinks he's too soft. He throws up during autopsies. He wears casual clothes to a crime scene. He doesn't like looking at dead bodies. But he has a driving need to protect the good, hard-working people of Sorrow Lake from any dangerous criminals who mean them harm.

So when he's called in to investigate his first murder case, his old insecurities kick in. He turns to his mentor, Waddell, the guy who had his job before him, the one who retired to start his own security company. Because Kevin thinks that he'll never be as good as he was, convinced he'll never reach that high level of expertise. He puts himself down, letting Waddell fill his head with even more negative thoughts, when he tells him not to trust anyone and to not let his new female partner, Ellie March, take all the credit for solving the crime.

But what makes Kevin even more intriguing is that he's a big strapping guy, a part-time hockey player, who's not afraid to rough someone up against the boards. But deep down, he's a reader, a thinker. He's obsessed with local history and the area's geologic makeup. He's not some dumb jock. He's sensitive, and compassionate, even if at times he comes off as bumbling and naive, especially when those he's questioning tell him he could ask better questions.

But he's learning. His dad was a rotten drunk, who abandoned and cheated on his mother before she died. Kevin was left to fend for himself, and he was determined to grow up and be the exact opposite of his father.

"I went into law enforcement because I wanted to be the kind of man who's responsible. I wanted to be someone people could look to for help and depend on to do whatever had to be done, no matter how hard it was."

But the tendency he has to doubt himself throws his entire career into jeopardy when it comes out that he's actually good friends with the main suspect. Many on the police force begin to look at Kevin differently, wondering if he was involved in the murder or if he tried covering anything up. Kevin feels like the walls are closing in on him when he starts taking drastic measures to prove his loyalty, like disarming a local drug lord during a raid, virtually disobeying orders by putting himself and his fellow cops at risk.

But Ellie is an experienced professional, and she's seen a lot. She hates that Kevin's friend took advantage of him and made him look like a fool, but she knows he had nothing to do with the murder. When he comes to her seeking advice on how to keep his head above water, she tells him:

"Remember your strengths, and use them to your advantage on the job." 

Having a heart isn't a bad thing. In fact, it could be what sets him apart from all the rest.

And with this being the first of many cases these two plan on investigating together, it's a given that Ellie is only going to help make Kevin into an even stronger and better detective.

***

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Sorrow Lake can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $19.99 paperback
Pages: 316
ISBN: 9781927884027
Publisher: Plaid Raccoon Press
Release: April 30, 2015
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) with a major in English Literature from Trent University in Peterborough, and a Master of Arts in English from Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

He served as Production Editor of Criminal Reports (Third Series) at Carswell Legal Publications (Western), where he was also Co-ordinator of Law Reports, before joining Canada Customs, now the Canada Border Services Agency. While at CBSA he was a training specialist, project officer, and national program manager before leaving public service to write novels full time.

Mike now lives and writes in Oxford Station, Ontario. He is married to supernatural novelist Lynn L. Clark. They have one son.

Mike is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada and the Horror Writers Association.

He is an author of crime fiction and supernatural thrillers. His Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel series includes Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, The Fregoli Delusion, and The Rainy Day Killer. He is also the author of the supernatural thriller The Ghost Man. His most recent novel, Sorrow Lake, is the first book of his new March and Walker Crime Novel series set in eastern Ontario, Canada.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog (mystery)
Blog (paranormal)
Pinterest
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Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lesley A. Diehl - A Sporting Murder - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It's smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida's Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of 'gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David's supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake's land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports "exotics" from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder.

Blake's nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve's brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends' misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy's extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word.


My Review

Cutthroat business competition.

That's what drives this mystery novel.

And the competing parties meet during what's supposed to be a fun Sunday out on the water. Eve and Madeleine are on a double date with their boyfriends, Alex and David. Madeleine's swimming next to David's boat when Blake Reed suddenly motors up next to them and tosses a bucket of bloody bait over the side, attracting a whole swarm of sharks. Madeleine barely makes it onboard before they start attacking everything bobbing on the surface.

Eve doesn't wait to give Blake a piece of her mind, but she's taken aback by his "So what?" reaction to almost getting her best friend killed.

"His predatory gaze reminded me of what I'd seen in the shark's eyes when it surfaced to take the bait. Hungry. Evil. A killing machine."

Eve and Madeleine had hoped to enjoy their day off, since owning the consignment shop, Second to None, usually has them working six days a week, and resting on the seventh. They have to bust their butts to stay afloat in a risky retail climate by catering to the tastes of the rich matrons along the Florida coast.

But when they go back to work on Monday, after their nasty encounter with Blake, their rent is suddenly doubled overnight, forcing them to have to move out without much notice. And who's the person taking their space? Blake's wife, Elvira. She's out to ruin them by starting her own clothing store in their location.

"Yes, I know what you do. I intend to do the same."

It doesn't help that David is also competing against Blake when it comes to their abutting hunting ranches. However, David is actually looking to sell. A few years ago, a thirteen-year-old intruder broke into his home and threatened his daughter at gunpoint. David had no choice but to shoot the kid, killing him in the process. Ever since, he's hated guns, wanting to put as much distance between them as he can.

But David doesn't want to give the ranch away either, but he might not have a choice when a client is found dead on his property.

David admits that he got into an argument with the man, telling him not to kill the exotic oryx that wandered over from the Reed ranch. Stocking exotic game isn't a practice that David approves of.

"Hunt what Florida has to offer—not setting up the African plains in Sabal Bay." 

But the man apparently shoots the oryx because his body is found sprawled in the mud next to the animal carcass.

When Blake Reed arrives on his neighbor's property to see what all the ruckus is about, Eve watches him intently.

"I wondered at someone who could drive up to a crime scene, see a human corpse, and remark only on the dead animal lying nearby. The guy was a piece of work."

In the end, David is charged with first-degree murder, and Eve firmly believes that Blake Reed set him up—she only has to prove it.

Then Second to None burns down.

Eve and Madeleine are forced to transition their business into a mobile home, converting it into a "new shop on wheels" while hitting local outdoor flea markets and casino parking lots. Yet they can't help but wonder if Elvira was behind it when the fire is ruled an arson.

But the Reeds have something much more sinister in store for them than just taking their livelihood, and throwing their loved ones in prison. Eve and Madeleine are about to find out just how exotic the game is at the Reed ranch, and how dangerous a game this psychotic couple is ready to play.

***

A Sporting Murder can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Formats/Prices: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genres: Cozy Murder Mystery
Pages: 250
Release: July 15, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819398
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water.

Links to connect with Lesley:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Kathleen M. Rodgers - Johnnie Come Lately - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Would life have been different for Johnnie if she'd been named after a woman rather than her dead uncle? Or if her mama hadn't been quite so beautiful or flighty? The grandparents who raised her were loving, but they didn't understand the turmoil roiling within her. And they had so many, many secrets.

Why did her mama leave? Would she ever return? How did her Uncle Johnny really die? Who was her father? Now Johnnie Kitchen is a 43-year-old woman with three beautiful children, two of them grown. She has a handsome, hardworking husband who adores her, and they live in the historic North Texas town of Portion in a charming bungalow. But she never finished college and her only creative outlet is a journal of letters addressed to both the living and the dead. Although she has conquered the bulimia that almost killed her, Johnnie can never let down her guard, lest the old demons return. Or perhaps they never went away to begin with. For Johnnie has secrets of her own, and her worst fear is that the life she's always wanted--the one where she gets to pursue her own dreams--will never begin.

Not until her ghosts reveal themselves.


My Review

Why does a woman cheat on her husband?

There are so many reasons, you can probably write a book about it.

And Kathleen M. Rodgers did.

Johnnie Kitchen is good at keeping secrets until…

The following conversation happens with her seventeen-year-old son, Cade, who just put his baseball scholarship at risk by getting caught underage drinking.

He moans:

"I wish I were dead."

And she replies:

"I had an affair." 

She puts things sharply in perspective by basically admitting to her son that she's not perfect either.

And just like that, years and years of suppressed guilt come tumbling out.

However, Johnnie's revelation results in upending her entire family. Her husband, Dale, moves out. Her teenage daughter, Callie Ann, can't even look at her. Her eldest son, D.J., asks:

"Is Dad my real father?" 

But Johnnie's been frustrated for a long time. She's sick of doing housework. She wants to be useful for a change. She wants to a have a purpose. She realizes she never pushed her husband about pursuing the things she really wanted in life. She should have never dropped out of college. She should have never let him view her as one of his fixer-up projects.

Because Johnnie has some skeletons in her closet. She's a recovering bulimic and the tragic circumstances surrounding her birth—from her father's death to her mother's disappearance—all lead her to act out in ways that are destructive to her happiness. She admits:

"There's been a lot of information withheld from me all my life. Then I went and did the same thing to Dale."

Dale was the only one who cared about getting her better, putting her into therapy for her bulimia once they got married.

"She watched the life getting sucked out of the only person who had tried to save her." 

She cheated on him with his arch rival, Jeral Cagle, the son of his former employer. When Dale left and went off to start his own construction company, Jeral tried to put him out of business, but that didn't stop Johnnie from sleeping with him.

Johnnie says she only strayed because Dale was never home, he was always working, building her a beautiful life with his own two hands. He even asks her flat out:

"Where would you be without me?" 

In her defense, Johnnie responds:

"I wanted to be with someone who didn't know I was broken, who wouldn't try to fix me. I stashed [you] behind a closed door, same place I stashed God when I was retching."

She feels unworthy of her husband's goodness. He's an attractive man who women tend to notice, yet he was never unfaithful to her. He even gets out of his truck in the rain to help a senior citizen cross the street. He's that good.

"He'd been the strong sturdy trunk rooted to the spot. She'd been the swaying leaves, changing colors to fit her moods."

How they go about fixing their marriage is as real as it is honest. For months, Dale doesn't want to talk about it, and when he does, things get pretty intense. But they make the commitment to each other to work it out, trying to salvage what they have together. Their love has endured a lot, but can it endure the repercussions of her betrayal?

***

Johnnie Come Lately can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
BAM

Special $2.99 ebook sale!
now through July 31, 2015

Formats/Prices: $4.95 ebook, $9.75 paperback
Genres: Military Family, Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction
Pages: 292
Release: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812153
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Award-winning author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle magazine and Military Times. Her work has also appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. Deer Hawk Publications reissued the novel in e-book and paperback September of 2014.

Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, released from Camel Press February 1, 2015. Barnes and Noble in Southlake, TX hosted the official launch on February 7, and Kathleen signed copies of both novels for three hours straight. In 2014, she was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus.

She is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas, a graduate of University of North Texas and a working artist in Denton, TX, and J.P., a graduate of Texas Tech University and a former Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in 2014 in Afghanistan. Kathleen’s husband, Tom, is a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and they reside in Colleyville, TX with their rescue dog, Denton. Kathleen is working on a new novel titled Seven Wings to Glory and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

Links to connect with Kathleen:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Spinner - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

Fifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight. In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end. They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity. The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humankind. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed. The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty. If he survives…


My Review

Pulse-pounding, spine-tingling, chill-inducing horror.

Michael J. Bowler, a prior screenwriter of scary movies, should stick to what he does best because his writing comes alive when he delves into the crazy, demented things that go bump in the night.

The opener where the poor, feeble Special Ed teacher is mauled to death by a massive wave of demonic cats is brilliantly jaw-dropping in the sheer terror of how it unfolds. Bowler employs the right amount of tension and gore that'll have the hair standing up on the back of your arms. It's a scene that reminds me of the best R.L. Stine novels I used to read as a kid—the ones that would leave me terrified to turn the page, but too morbidly enthralled not to.

As a reader, there's a two-sided fascination that encompasses such a visceral level of fear. One, we're glad it's not happening to us, and two, we can't turn away from watching it happen. In fact, we WANT to watch it happen. There's a primal curiosity that's aroused that can only be satisfied through fiction. We don't want to stare at a car crash as we drive by, but we do. We don't want to watch continuous replays of a plane crash, but we can't look away. But in story form, we know it's not real, and we're able to feast on the delightfully juicy details in our own little private nooks because we know what we're reading's not real—even though it feels like it is.

And that uneasy sense of foreboding is certainly captured at Eucalyptus Park. The streetlights go out one by one. The wind picks up. And strange things begin to occur. And what makes it even more frightening is that it's all happening to a paralyzed boy in a wheelchair. He can't run away. He can't call for help. He has to depend on his friend to get him out of there as a dark, hooded figure comes at them with a knife.

Great stuff!

I love passages like, "Individual drops made a pop pop pop sound like bullets he'd sometimes hear in the neighborhood at night," and "The wind felt like a whole football team pushing against him."

For me, I would've liked the novel to have been shorter and focused more tightly around those types of scenes. I'd take twelve to fifteen concisely written chapters of sheer horror over the lengthy conglomeration of genres the book turned out to be. I'd scrap all the subplots and concentrate on Bowler's strengths—because the man can definitely bring it. He just needs a firmer editing hand in order to show off his skills to their best advantage instead of letting them get bogged down in the wordiness of overly detailed "camera angle" movements and repetitive dialogue that doesn't advance the plot. Having ten characters speak in one scene gets confusing for even the most diligent of readers.

SPINNER doesn't have to contain YA, LBGT, and a whole alphabet soup of different subject matter in order to find an audience. Horror fans know good writing when they see it, and Bowler should be rewarded for what he's accomplished in these pages, whether or not readers have to sift through all the teen speak and inner self-loathing to discover the true gems hidden within.

***

Spinner can be pre-purchased at:
Amazon

Format/Price: $6.99 ebook
Genre: Horror, Young Adult
Pages: 463
Release: August 5, 2015
Publisher: YoungDudes Publishing
ISBN: 9780994667519
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of eight novels—A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America, and Spinner.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook. He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He is currently outlining a sequel to Spinner.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Jerome Charyn - Bitter Bronx - Review and Giveaway



About the Book

Brooklyn is dead. Long live the Bronx! In Bitter Bronx, Jerome Charyn returns to his roots and leads the literary renaissance of an oft-overlooked borough in this surprising new collection.

In Bitter Bronx, one of our most gifted and original novelists depicts a world before and after modern urban renewal destroyed the gritty sanctity of a land made famous by Ruth, Gehrig, and Joltin' Joe.

Bitter Bronx is suffused with the texture and nostalgia of a lost time and place, combining a keen eye for detail with Jerome Charyn's lived experience. These stories are informed by a childhood growing up near that middle-class mecca, the Grand Concourse; falling in love with three voluptuous librarians at a public library in the Lower Depths of the South Bronx; and eating at Mafia-owned restaurants along Arthur Avenue's restaurant row, amid a "land of deprivation…where fathers trundled home…with a monumental sadness on their shoulders."

In "Lorelei," a lonely hearts grifter returns home and finds his childhood sweetheart still living in the same apartment house on the Concourse; in "Archy and Mehitabel" a high school romance blossoms around a newspaper comic strip; in "Major Leaguer" a former New York Yankee confronts both a gang of drug dealers and the wreckage that Robert Moses wrought in his old neighborhood; and in three interconnected stories—"Silk & Silk," "Little Sister," and "Marla"—Marla Silk, a successful Manhattan attorney, discovers her father's past in the Bronx and a mysterious younger sister who was hidden from her, kept in a fancy rest home near the Botanical Garden. In these stories and others, the past and present tumble together in Charyn's singular and distinctly "New York prose, street-smart, sly, and full of lurches" (John Leonard, New York Times).

Throughout it all looms the "master builder" Robert Moses, a man who believed he could "save" the Bronx by building a highway through it, dynamiting whole neighborhoods in the process. Bitter Bronx stands as both a fictional eulogy for the people and places paved over by Moses' expressway and an affirmation of Charyn's "brilliant imagination" (Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune).


My Review

What really intrigues me about this splendid, little anthology is the way the author makes himself a part of it, yet holds back from claiming it's the slightest bit semi-autobiographical.

And he has every right to do that.

Let him work his magic in a fictional setting rather than give a play-by-play account of his life. It's more fun this way. He can be as creative as he wants to be without having to stick to a timeline or rigid set of facts. He can explore facets of himself through the guise of different characters. It broadens the scope, stretching the gossamer veil over our eyes, only giving us a purposefully distorted view of himself in order to more fully engage our imagination.

What really tickled my fancy is that Charyn even names one of the characters, Jerome, a male model who's traded like a piece of meat when all he wants is to further his literary ambitions and save the girl he loves from herself. "Archy and Mehitabel" is the classic doomed love story of Central Park privilege versus Bronx practicality. Jerome isn't enough for his lady love, and he knows that. Her mind is her treasure and her downfall, while his striking appearance is his. He's not taken seriously, and some of the bitterness of the book's title weighs heavily on his shoulders.

The high school teacher who is banished to the outskirts of civilization in "Milo's Last Chance," also bears some Jerome-esque qualities. He's expected to fail at his job, but instead he succeeds with the youth of the Bronx, filling their hearts and minds with the poetry of Byron and Keats. He even gets some of them into Harvard and Yale, garnering the attention of a PBS documentary crew. His modus operandi goes something like this, "He would find a rare prodigy—a girl from Senegal or a boy from Martinique—who dared dream of college, and Milo tutored such prodigies, helped them to write a decent composition." But he couldn't save himself. Having an affair with a former student breaks his spirit when she uses him to get her into a college in Maine, before running off with the owner of the town lap dance club, and eventually marrying him. Milo never recovers from the betrayal. He just plods through life, the fire having gone out of him.

But perhaps my favorite insight into Jerome's psyche comes through the voice of Dee. She's been "dubbed the photographer of freaks" and goes through the gestational pains that can be associated with a writer. She's "a huntress," who relentlessly pursues her subjects. She beleaguers them with her flashbulbs until they drop the mask they're hiding behind, showing her their real souls. She's presented thus, "She'd always been clicking, clicking with her eyes long before she had a camera." In essence, you can picture a writer clicking away in much the same way at a keyboard. But there's a reluctance to her work, especially when she wears down the giant of the Bronx who just so happens to be her friend. Jerome says it straight out, "She'd manipulated Eddie Carmel." Charyn even gets Dee to voice her embarrassment aloud to make some kind of amends, "I took advantage of you, Ed."

There's an interesting line to be crossed when blending reality with fiction because inevitably the two inter lap. Writers draw inspiration from the people they meet, regardless of how they meld their personality traits together. For any writer, this can create a conflict of conscience. How far is too far? That's why I think it's wise for Jerome to wrestle with these questions in prose instead of autobiography. He wants to talk about his past. It's burning within him to be released, even if he chooses the form he's most familiar with in order to tell it and share it with the rest of us. He may be bitter about the Bronx, but that's okay, because beneath all the sorrow you can tell it still fascinates him too.

***

Bitter Bronx can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $9.99-$12.49 ebook, $24.95 hardcover
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780871404893
Publisher: Liveright
Release: June 1, 2015
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines. His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan.

Links to connect with Jerome:
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Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ellen March - Love on the Menu - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jago Tanner is a loner. He works up a good hunger at his outdoors pursuits centre in Wales and looks upon each female conquest as just another meal. When he’s sated, he doesn’t go back for dessert. Until Riley shows up. A Londoner hired through an agency to assist him with activities, she isn’t at all what he asked for. For starters, with the name Riley, he expected a man. But Riley is all woman—the sexiest woman Jago has ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately she dresses like a trollop and curses like a sailor. Though ignorant about most outdoors pursuits, she’s a skilled horsewoman, able to calm even his nerviest stallion. And her lively and generous nature enchants his housekeeper Emily and his ancient friend, Tom.

In short, Jago’s new employee is a bundle of contradictions. Which is why, when Jago falls for her, he doesn’t trust his feelings. Riley seems unusually accident prone, and when her brother’s shady friends menace her, she plays the innocent. But how can anyone so self-sufficient and mouthy also be so trusting and na├»ve? And can a man with Jago’s volatile nature endure the jealousy a woman like Riley provokes just by strolling down the street?


My Review

Romance novels are meant to be fun, silly even. They're an escape from reality. It's a world where the volume on life is turned all the way up. Personalities are huge. Every action has major consequences. Love is the motivating force behind every behavior. Well, love and sex.

Case in point, Riley's a gal who has no shame talking about wet dreams and hormonal imbalances in front of a man. While Jago's the guy who is wound so tight he can't react to anything without throwing a punch or biting someone's head off. She's the lit flame to his fuse. They go at each other like cats and dogs. He's rude and she's crude, yet somehow they can't stop fantasizing about each other.

Of course, Jago's a millionaire who inherited his heartless uncle's estate in the middle of the Welsh countryside. To increase his financial worth, he's also a crack investor, who makes a killing on the stock market. He doesn't have to work, but he operates the property as an outdoor recreation center for businessmen, scout groups and girl time weekends because he loves being out in nature. He's the rough and tumble guy who's just aching to be fulfilled even though he doesn't know it yet.

Riley, on the other hand, is the penniless scrapper, just hoping to get by. Yet, she's not a hustler or a swindler. She's a virgin with a heart of gold. Her brother conducts nefarious drug deals and she even worked in a gentlemen's club, but she never took her clothes off. She's innocent but she's obsessed with sex, even though she never had it. The second she meets Jago, she knows she wants to give her virginity to him because the guy is such a stud.

It's the type of behavior most readers would roll their eyes at if confronted with in real life, but in fiction it's readily forgiven. At heart it encapsulates all of the fantasies we want to believe are possible. The dastardly rogue who beds as many women as he can, just because he's lonely and misunderstood. Until bam the right woman comes along and sets him on the right course. Then from there on out he's all about monogamy, marriage and babies.

What sets this fairy tale apart is that the author, Ellen March, really sells the melodrama. It's soap opera-esque, but she pens a thrillingly passionate ride. There's sex on a mountain. There's a bedroom door broken down. There's a playtime in the shower. And that's just the hot and heavy stuff. Don't forget about the near drowning, almost snake bite and two attempted rapes on Riley's honor by two different men (and no, one of them isn't Jago).

This book's got it all and then some. If you want a read that'll take you out of the day-to-day norm, then this is it.

***

Love on the Menu can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble 
Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 244
Genre: Steamy Cowboy Romance
Release: February 14, 2015
Publisher: Fanny Press
ISBN: 9781603815680
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Ellen March and her husband live on top of a mountain in Wales, which is ideal in the summer but not so much in the winter months or when it rains. She has three grown children, one suicidal cat--it really does have nine lives--and three Alaskan Malamutes. One of her hobbies is showing and working them. Ellen's first love, however, is reading and writing. Since childhood, she has devoured every romance and fantasy she can get her hands on and enjoys acting out her own fantasies in print. Her body of work includes erotic romance, psychological thrillers, and supernatural fantasies. Fanny Press has published three of her erotic romances--Promises, His Girl Friday, and A Ghost of an Affair--and will be publishing more in 2015 and beyond.

Links to connect with Ellen:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sharon St. George - Due for Discard - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in a nearby Dumpster and soon identified as her supervisor's wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee's heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list.

Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is. Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can't be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Book 1 in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Aimee Machado.


My Review

There are a lot of things going on in this mystery.

Some definitively aid the plot while others turn out to be quite head-scratching. The plus side is that Sharon St. George offers up several quirky elements that really set her mystery novel apart.

For starters, her heroine, Aimee Machado, lives next to a field full of llamas. So even though she takes on the dangerous work of investigating a murder in her spare time, she has no need for an alarm system. Why? Because llamas let out a ferocious bleat whenever they sense a predator nearby.

Another factor is the zany pack of suspects that fall under Aimee's radar. The biggest shocker is the cross dresser who's later revealed to be the wife of a prominent community figure. St. George even has Aimee go on a date with her, thinking she's a man, before learning her true gender. Yikes!

Things get even more peculiar when Aimee's focus shifts to the dodgy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Underhill, who happen to be running a cryogenics non-profit organization called Everlasting Pets. This shady endeavor operates under the guise of one day being able to clone the family dog, cat, llama, whatever. These two turn out to be even more bizarre when they elude to the numerous three-way sex romps they used to have with the murder victim, even soliciting Aimee to take her place and become their new partner.

But the novel isn't all about shock value.

There's plenty of substance to the plot, particularly concerning the class structure of working in a hospital environment. There is a definite food chain mentality in the pecking order, especially when Dr. Beardsley, a noted plastic surgeon becomes the prime suspect in the killing of his trophy wife, Bonnie. She was beautiful and manipulative with a voracious sexual appetite that he just couldn't satisfy, but Quinn, the hospital administrator doesn't want to hear any of that. Oh no, his loyalty is to the hospital, and solidifying its reputation, and ultimately its profit margin. While the security attendant, Orrie Mercer, the person with the grave responsibility of guarding the outside entrance, is harshly reprimanded by Quinn for failing to use the designated restroom.

As the new hospital librarian, Aimee must weave her way through this complicated maze of conflicting interests. She's a college-educated professional, but she's only allotted two elderly women as volunteers and a space deemed of little value in order to set up shop. Her situation gets even more dicey when Quinn asks her to spy on Dr. Beardsley for him. Aimee quickly becomes disgruntled working under these conditions, feeling like this isn't what she signed up for.

Her frustration over her job begins to filter into her day-to-day life when her brother, Harry, comes under scrutiny for committing the murder. He was one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, and due to some bad blood he has with one of the cops on the small town police force, the circumstantial evidence against him begins to mount. Aimee refuses to let her brother go to jail for a crime he didn't commit, but Quinn makes it clear to her that he won't get involved in the way the investigation is heading, whether Aimee's brother is innocent or not. What's good for Dr. Beardsley is good for him and therefore good for the hospital.

Aimee, at her wit's end, starts taking a lot of unnecessary risks in order to get the spotlight off her brother, and the consequences are dire. Her tires are slashed. Her apartment is vandalized. Her body is physically assaulted. Yet Aimee's a tough cookie with a heart of gold, and she won't give up no matter who tries to stop her. She's loyal, passionate and unwavering in her support of her brother, and as she starts to piece all of the clues together, she finds out more about the people she's working with than she ever bargained for.

***

Due for Discard can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
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Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Pages: 340
Genre: Detective Murder Mystery
Release: March 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812238
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About the Author

Sharon St. George had the good fortune to spend an idyllic childhood in a small northern California town, riding horseback and camping with her family in the nearby mountains. One of her favorite pastimes was reading fiction, and a trip to the library was always an occasion of great joy. She’s traded horses for llamas, but she still treks to the high mountain lakes near her home—always with a mystery novel in her backpack. Sharon’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
Web Site
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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