Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Winter Warning - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Reflecting our own world like a volatile funhouse mirror, Winter Warning lures us back to the 1980s, an era that could have been ripped right out of our most recent political upheaval. Isaac Sidel should have been vice president, banished to some far corner of the West Wing, but the president-elect has been forced to resign or face indictment for his crooked land deals—and Sidel becomes the accidental president. He’s a maverick, a crusader with a Glock in his belt, who defies both the Republicans and the Democrats. He seems haunted by Lincoln’s ghost, and the presidential palace becomes his own “great white jail,” as it did for Harry Truman. There’s never been another president quite like Isaac Sidel, New York’s former police commissioner and mayor. There’s a secret lottery created by some bankers in Basel to determine the exact date of Sidel’s death. And Sidel has to outrun this lottery in order to save himself. His greatest allies are not the Secret Service or the DNC, but a former Israeli prime minister who was a explosives operative during the British occupation of Palestine . . . as well as a mysterious billionaire who belongs to a brotherhood of killers and counterfeiters. His only companions in the capital are the captain of his helicopter fleet and a sexy naval intelligence officer who realizes that something has gone amuck at Camp David, when a band of mercenaries arrive with their sights trained on Sidel.




My Review

Some presidents break the mold. Isaac Sidel is one of those presidents. And it's not long before the first Jewish president becomes everyone's favorite target.

Take for example the following offhand remark: "What does it feel like to ferry the big Jew around? Does he recite his evening prayers in a yarmulke?" Little respect is shown for the new commander-in-chief. The Secret Service can't protect him. His chief of staff ignores him. There's a civil war brewing in his cabinet. And oh yeah, there's an underground lottery out there betting on the exact date of his death.

And just who's running this lottery? A group of bankers, looking to get even richer. With his enemies ready to eat him alive, it's open season on Isaac Sidel.

Is it just because he's Jewish? Not necessarily. Their defiance and abandonment is fueled by more than just anti-Semitism. He's a danger to the establishment because he doesn't care about money or power. His campaign promises mean something to him, he never meant for them to become lies. Yet he's mocked by those seeking to bring him down, "Sidel's a dreamer. He'll turn Yankee Land into one big welfare state. All our holdings will be flushed into the toilet. We can't afford him."

Yet Sidel, an ex-police chief, isn't ready to go down without a fight. He's not about to let his presidency disappear down the black hole of politics. He doesn't care if he's their currency, their bait. In his mind, the only one who's going to determine his fate is him, regardless if their rate of exchange is currently being measured in spoonfuls of his blood.

For Isaac Sidel, his heartbeat is not negotiable, and boy, oh boy, in the latter half of the book does he ever turn the tables on them.

***

Winter Warning can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
iTunes
Biblio

Prices/Formats: $25.95 ebook, $25.95 paperback
Genre: Political, Espionage, Thriller
Pages: 256
Release: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Pegasus Books
ISBN: 9781681773483
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Jerome Charyn published his first novel in 1964. He's the author of Johnny One-Eye, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham, and dozens of other acclaimed novels as well as nonfiction works. His short stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, American Scholar, Epoch, and Ellery Queen. Charyn's popular crime novels featuring homicide detective Isaac Sidel inspired a new animated drama series: Hard Apple debuts on the small screen in 2017, helmed by Hollywood insider James Gray (The Immigrants) and illustrated by famed artists Asaf and Tomer Hanuka. Charyn lives in Greenwich Village, New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook (author)
Twitter (author)
Facebook (Isaac Sidel)
Twitter (Isaac Sidel)
Goodreads

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A. Keith Carreiro - The Penitent: Part II - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power. 17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her. A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.




My Review

"The forces and omens are assembling into play…to ignite into being."

Now that's what I call a great introduction. With opening references from the Bible to Shakespeare, the scene is set. What has been predicted, by so many for so long, is now about to come true.

So is this a novel all about doom and destruction? Surprisingly, no. Yes, there are parts that are graphically violent and crude. Yet the main message revolves around, "there is goodness and innocence in the world if we but look for it." And happily, it resides in the heart of a 17-year-old girl and the tender restored eyes of her grandfather-protector. Together, they shatter the enveloping darkness that begins to surround them with their own combined light.

A genuine miracle occurs when the girl begins to work wonders for the people, so that "the laws of nature are suspended…or rather fulfilled." It's an interesting way to look at things, as if the possibility of the miraculous is just within our grasp if we but reach for it. In the story, "each moment in time is filled with this potential. We have but to invoke it in faith for it to be seen in our presence."

Yet the girl's strength centers not so much on performing unbelievable feats, but on forgiving her enemies. She doesn't let hate fester inside of her. Instead, she turns the violence committed against them into an act of healing and love.

Yet grave danger accompanies the revelation of tenderness and mercy. It makes some people very uncomfortable, and it's not long until all the deadly sins are unleashed upon them. Envy. Pride. Fear. You name it. The rich, the powerful, the well-connected—all want to overthrow their sense of comfort and peace.

Yet they carry on because they know what they're doing is right. It's a burden they're willing to bear, secure in the knowledge that their treasure isn't found in this realm, but "within man's heart and heaven's home."

***

The Penitent: Part II can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $15.99 paperback
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 274
Release: May 15, 2017
Publisher: Copper Beech Press
ISBN: 9780997382716
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

A. Keith Carreiro earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the sequential help and guidance of three advisors, Dr. Vernon A. Howard, Dr. Donald Oliver and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Israel Scheffler. Keith’s academic focus, including his ongoing research agenda, centers upon philosophically examining how creativity and critical thinking are acquired, learned, utilized and practiced in the performing arts. He has taken his findings and applied them to the professional development of educational practitioners.

Earlier in his teaching career he was a professor of educational foundations, teaching graduate students of education at universities in Vermont, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Bridgewater State University, as well as teaching English, philosophy, humanities and public speaking courses at Bristol Community College.

He lives in Swansea, Massachusetts. He has six children and 13 grandchildren. He belongs to an eighty–five–pound golden retriever, an eight–pound Maltese, and an impish Calico cat.

Due to his love of family, he has seen his fervor for history, as well as his passion for wondering about the future, deepen dramatically.

Starting on May 23rd until October 9th of 2014, he sat down at his computer on a daily basis and began writing the first book of a science fiction/fantasy thriller in a beginning series about the quest for human immortality.

Links to connect with A. Keith:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

R. Franklin James - The Bell Tolls - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Hollis Morgan has survived imprisonment, received a pardon and persevered to finally become a probate attorney. Tough as she is, her newest case will further test her mettle. She discovers her client, Matthias Bell, is a deceased blackmailer whose last wish was to return the damaging documents he collected, letting his victims off the hook. It falls to Hollis to give them the good news. But it’s revealed that Bell was murdered, and the victims of “Bell’s tolls” are now suspects.

Hollis’ white-collar criminal past has left her with keen survival instincts. A gifted liar she knows a liar when she meets one. A lot of people in this case are lying and one is a killer.

On top of that, she’s also representing a dying stripper, a wealthy widow whose estranged daughter spurns her attempts at reconciliation, but whose husband sees the potential inheritance as mending all wounds particularly financial ones.

Clients aside, Hollis is defensive and wary. Her mother, who hasn’t spoken to her for years, needs a kidney, and Hollis is a match, but neither are ready to put away the past. With Hollis’ fiancĂ© and emotional support off on an undercover mission for Homeland Security, she must count on her own survival instincts. She is swept along on an emotional roller coaster as her absent love and her family’s coldness take their own toll.

Work is her salvation. The specter of a killer keeps her focused. Hollis has always had to rely on her wits, but now she finds that others who don’t have her well-being in mind are relying on them as well.



My Review

What are you supposed to do with a blackmailer?

For the five victims manipulated in this story, you wait for him to die.

What exactly did he have on them, you wonder?

Well, one had a fling outside of marriage. Another cooked the books at work, concocting a fraudulent banking system. A third failed at properly hiding his gambling addiction. While a couple of foreign spies were willing to pay an exorbitant amount to keep their true identity under wraps.

And you can say, living under the constant strain of such torment gets to be too much for them. So when their blackmailer unexpectedly dies, they can't believe they've actually reached the end of the line with him. Finally, they can let go of the imminent threat of exposure he's been holding over their heads for far too long.

However, Hollis, the probate attorney hired to let them off the hook, becomes acutely aware of her own precarious situation, now that she, too, is privy to all their secrets.

And when the blackmailer's family orders his body to be exhumed, suspecting foul play, the cause of death turns out to be murder. Now constantly looking over her shoulder, Hollis is afraid the killer may be out to get her too.

The big twist comes at the end of the book when it's revealed that the blackmailer never intended to return the material he was holding on his victims after all. Someone else set them free from his reign of terror. But did that person (or persons) kill him too? You'll just have to read the book and find out.

***

The Bell Tolls can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Overdrive

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Sleuth, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 239
Release: June 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812177
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. From there she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and public policy. After serving as Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles, under millionaire Richard Riordan, she went back to her first love—writing, and in 2013 her debut novel, The Fallen Angels Book Club was published by Camel Press. Her second book in The Hollis Morgan Mystery Series, Sticks & Stones, was followed by The Return of the Fallen Angels Book Club, and The Trade List. The Bell Tolls, book five was released in June 2017.

R. Franklin James lives in Northern California with her husband.

Links to connect with R. Franklin James:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rich Zahradnik - Lights Out Summer - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In March 1977, ballistics link murders going back six months to the same Charter Arms Bulldog .44. A serial killer, Son of Sam, is on the loose. But Coleridge Taylor can't compete with the armies of reporters fighting New York's tabloid war--only rewrite what they get. Constantly on the lookout for victims who need their stories told, he uncovers other killings being ignored because of the media circus. He goes after one, the story of a young Black woman gunned down in her apartment building the same night Son of Sam struck elsewhere in Queens. The story entangles Taylor with a wealthy Park Avenue family at war with itself. Just as he's closing in on the killer and his scoop, the July 13-14 blackout sends New York into a 24-hour orgy of looting and destruction. Taylor and his PI girlfriend Samantha Callahan head out into the darkness, where a steamy night of mob violence awaits them. In the midst of the chaos, a suspect in Taylor's story goes missing. Desperate, he races to a confrontation that will either break the story--or Taylor. Book 4 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.




My Review

"Stereotypes had a bad way of making you wrong."

But for poor Martha Gibson that sentiment no longer applies…because she's dead.

And the sad thing is no one seems to care that a young, black woman has been murdered, not when the press and the police are fixated on one thing: stopping the Son of Sam killer from killing again. Unsurprisingly, her case falls through the cracks, until a lowly news wire reporter named Taylor makes it his mission to tell her story.

"There was a White city and a Black city. He knew too little of the Black city."

Taylor is no rookie to witnessing racism in action in the city, but he becomes thoroughly disgusted by it when he starts investigating Martha's case. Just how did a college-educated woman get stuck cleaning toilets for a living? She started off well, rising from secretary to a sales position for a company located in the Empire State Building…until her boss started making unwanted sexual advances on her.

"He came on real strong. She said no. He fired her."

Holding fast to her principles, Martha was left with no other choice than to take a job as a maid on Park Avenue, until her predatory ex-boss came after her and assaulted her in an alleyway.

"Did she go to the cops?" Taylor questions a witness.
"You kidding? Black woman. White man. Black witness."

A rhetorical no.

Of course, she didn't. That's why she's dead. But did her ex-boss kill her? That's what Taylor is trying to find out.

Martha was a girl who didn't make enemies. She didn't make mistakes. She only talked about people if she had something good to say. And yet it quickly becomes clear to Taylor that Martha didn't know how she fit, or was supposed to fit, in 1977 New York.

No one else seems to know either, when her death is mocked by:

1) The tabloid press
"A black woman was murdered? We're looking a different reader."

2) The mother of her ex-boss
"A news story about her?" She laughed. "They can't even read."

3) Her friends and family
"A white man is doing a story on a black woman from Queens by coming up to Harlem?"

The story subtly addresses the question, has anything really changed?

***

Lights Out Summer can be pre-ordered at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback, $29.95 audio
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 288
Release: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812139
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (Lights Out Summer, A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).



The first three books have been shortlisted or won awards in the three major competitions for novels from independent presses. A Black Sail was named winner in the mystery category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Drop Dead Punk collected the gold medal for mystery ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.

 A Black Sail received a starred review from Library Journal, which said, “Fans of the late Barbara D’Amato and Bruce DeSilva will relish this gritty and powerful crime novel.”

Zahradnik was a journalist for 25-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.



Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches kids around the New York area how to write news stories and publish newspapers.



Links to connect with Rich:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sharon St. George - Spine Damage - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Paulo Ferrara, a young Portuguese man, lies comatose in the Intensive Care Unit of Timbergate Medical Center, shot in the spine. The neurosurgeon who would normally be in charge of his care has left town to attend to an injured daughter, and the only other neurosurgeon, the rude and egotistical Dr. Godfrey Carver, is about to be suspended for not completing his continuing education requirements. The unpleasant duty of ensuring that the staff obey the rules lies with Aimee Machado, the medical center's forensic librarian and Continuing Education Coordinator. Aimee and her pilot boyfriend Nick live together on her grandparents’ llama farm. While dealing with Dr. Carver, Aimee learns the circumstances of Paulo’s injury and enlists Nick’s help. Aimee is half Asian and half Portuguese, and her parents live on Faial, one of the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. Faial is the closest neighbor to Pico, home of Paulo and his family. Paulo came to rural Northern California in search of his fifteen-year-old sister Liliana, who vanished two weeks ago. Nick’s wealthy employer Buck Sawyer takes an interest in the girl’s plight as well, especially when they learn that she left the Azores on a superyacht. Not only is Buck a yacht owner, but he is also on a crusade against drug trafficking, and Paulo and Liliana have clearly stumbled onto a criminal operation of some kind. The trail leads Aimee and Nick from Timbergate, to the Azores, to San Francisco. Paulo’s condition is deteriorating, and he might never be able to explain what got him shot. Can Aimee, her brother Harry, and Nick unravel the mystery in time to save Liliana? Book 4 in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, which began with Due for Discard.




My Review

Are you two really serious about each other?
When are you getting married?
Don't you want to have a baby and start a family?

These are just some of the questions a young woman usually faces once she starts living with a man. Everyone is eager to move the couple along to the next step, whether they're ready to move forward or not. Most people mean well with their good-natured ribbing, and sometimes…yes, sometimes…they may encourage a young woman to really think about where her life is heading.

Aimee Machado is one of these women. When her on-again off-again relationship with her boyfriend, Nick, turns into a more stable arrangement, he shocks her with the revelation that he's been working with his boss to ferret out illegal drug traffickers. Needless to say, it's not something she expected to hear.

Defending himself, Nick claims he didn't tell her sooner because, "It isn't about trust. It's about timing, back when you and I weren't solid, it wasn't necessary to pull you into the deep end."

Yet all Aimee can think to herself is, "I wasn't convinced his definition of need to know matched mine."

So does she really want to continue down this dangerous road with him? He's never home as it is, and she admits her instincts aren't always reliable, no matter how much she wants the comfort of being close to someone.

When their romantic getaway to the Azores turns into more of a crime-solving mission than anything else, she's left more conflicted than ever. Nick doesn't have to solve this mystery. He's not a part of any police investigation. He could very well be putting the two of them in harm's way for nothing. So when Nick urges Aimee to keep a loaded weapon on her at all times, she laughs ruefully to herself that it's certainly not an expectant baby bump that's protruding from her midsection.

By the conclusion of the book, she's left to ponder whether or not she wants to raise a baby in this kind of environment. And the only answer Nick can give her is, "A ship is safe in harbor but that's not what ships are for."

***

Spine Damage can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $16.78 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 328
Release: May 15, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603815819
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Sharon St. George’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
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


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Friday, June 9, 2017

Tricia Dower - Becoming Lin - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s 1965. Twenty-two-year-old Linda Wise despairs of escaping her overprotective parents and the town of Stony River where far too many know she was sexually assaulted as a teenager. Deliverance arrives in the form of marriage to the charismatic, twenty-six-year-old Ronald Brunson, a newly ordained Methodist minister who ignites in her a dormant passion for social justice. He tells her war and racial discrimination are symptoms of the “moral rot” destroying the country, conjuring up something dark and rancid in her mind, thrilling in its wickedness. He sweeps her away from New Jersey to serve with him at a church in a speck-on-the-map prairie town in Minnesota. What lies ahead for her over the next seven years is the subject of Tricia Dower’s penetrating study of a marriage and a woman’s evolving sense of self as she confronts the fear that keeps her from an unfettered future. Becoming Lin conjures the turbulent era of Freedom Riders for civil rights, Vietnam war resistance, the US government’s war against the resisters, the push for equal rights for women and the unraveling of the traditional marriage contract—an era that resonates today in tenacious racism and sexism, perpetual war and wide-reaching government surveillance.




My Review

"Gender is the single most important factor in attitudes toward the use of military force."

So says the thesis of pastor's wife / college student, Lin Brunson. But her undergrad independent study project turns into a whole lot more than she bargains for when she starts handing out surveys to the women in her husband's congregation. They stir up a whole hornet's nest of questions including: Why not use the huge chunk of federal funds earmarked for war and allocate it for women and children's services instead?

But the ladies are quickly silenced when a veteran among them voices aloud that no one can deny the type of bond that forms between men serving in combat, guys who are willing to risk their lives for one another. In his mind, a woman just can't understand what that means to guys like him.

So the question is rephrased: "Do men get saddled with war and women childbirth in some cosmic balancing act?"

And Lin doesn't stop there. She starts marching in rallies for peace as well as sheltering draft dodgers in her home, on their way to Canada. But when she starts getting threatening letters in the mail saying, "Beware traitor," she begins having second thoughts. The exhilaration she felt at speaking out about the war soon turns into a sickening dread.

So much so that her marriage breaks apart and she ends up on her own as a single mom, trying to make ends meet. But she keeps crusading, taking on the upper levels of management and bringing to their attention the lack of women executives, not to mention minorities. When the company tries to stonewall her, a fellow female employee congratulates her, "You must be doing something right. Somebody's looking to shut you up."

This quiet, little mouse of a woman turns into a mighty crusader. Lin starts calling the shots of her own life, and it's inspiring to journey with her through the growing pains of her transformation.

***

Becoming Lin can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
IndieBound
BooksaMillion
Midpoint Trade
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $12.99 ebook, $22.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Fiction, Historical, Coming of Age
Pages: 240
Release: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Caitlin Press
ISBN: 9781987915075
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Tricia Dower hails from Rahway, New Jersey. You can find her on the “Rahway’s Own” website with other individuals the town has recognized for innovation and creativity. A graduate of Gettysburg College and a Phi Mu, she built a career in business before reinventing herself as a writer in 2002. Her literary work has crossed borders and won awards. She expanded a story from her Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl (Inanna 2008) into Stony River, which was published in both Canada (Penguin 2012) and the US (Leapfrog 2016). She gave a character from Stony River her own novel in Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press 2016), now available in the US.

The Vancouver Sun says, “Some of the most powerful and eloquent novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries…including Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and Ethel Wilson...open up what had been cloaked in silence, the oppression of women and their self-discoveries in resistance. We can now add to this important liberation canon the name of Tricia Dower.”

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.

Links to connect with Tricia:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Friday, June 2, 2017

Michael J. McCann - Burn Country - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The latest in a series of barn fires in Leeds County turns ugly when a body is discovered inside the burned-out husk of an old hay barn near the village of Elgin. When the victim turns out to be Independent Senator Darius Lane, a renowned artist and social activist recently appointed to the upper chamber by the prime minister, Detective Inspector Ellie March of the Ontario Provincial Police finds herself coping with an RCMP national security team which must first assess whether the senator’s involvement in sensitive government business led to his brutal murder by forces hostile to Canada. While Detective Constable Kevin Walker works the case files of the previous barn fires looking for a serial arsonist within Leeds County who may have killed for the first time, Ellie discovers that the intervention of RCMP Assistant Commissioner Danny Merrick, unexpectedly polite and charming, will place her directly in the cross-hairs of a homicide investigation with national repercussions! This is the second book in the March and Walker Crime Novel series and the sequel to Sorrow Lake, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best North American crime novel.


My Review

"This is burn country, man. I think half the population of this province just likes watching s*** burn."

From weeds crackling in ditches to bonfires set in newly cleared fields, the residents of Sorrow Lake, a small, backwater community in Canada, like a good blaze. So why in the world is the latest arson case considered a possible threat to national security?

Well, as it turns out, it's not just arson—but murder—when a charred body is found among the smoldering rubble. And it's not just any corpse, either. Oh no, it's that of a left-wing senator. Immediately the stakes are raised for the investigators assigned to the case, especially when the prime minister, himself, is expecting frequent updates when it comes to their findings.

That's why I love how the mindset of the killer is explained through magic tricks. Walker is a young cop who trusted the wrong people early in his career. He can't lie for the life of him, and he's sick of people taking advantage of his good nature. So he takes up this new magician's hobby in order "to see what it's like to fool people," much to the chagrin of his snarly, more experienced partner, Bishop.

But there's a method to Walker's madness. It's all about misdirection, or "forcing attention to one spot while doing something at another spot when they're not looking." In other words, it's like studying the art of getting away with a crime.

It's a neat technique that the author uses in order to get us to think about how someone goes about committing the perfect murder. Some plan everything down to the last detail, while others get caught up in the heat of the moment and make mistake after mistake after mistake, leaving a trail of evidence a mile long. Walker and Bishop don't know who they're dealing with as they begin crisscrossing the countryside investigating a series of confirmed arsons, but they're about to find out what kind of a firebug they're dealing with.

And when Walker begins making some serious headway, his star just may get a chance to shine a bit brighter higher up the ladder. Sometimes good guys don't always finish last, and this one may not have to settle for being a part-time magician at children's birthday parties after all.


***

Burn Country can be purchased at:
Amazon
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $24.99 paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781927884096
Publisher: Plaid Raccoon Press
Release: March 17, 2017
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned degrees in English from Trent University and Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

He is the author of Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best crime novel in North America.

He is also the author of the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel Series, including Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, and The Fregoli Delusion. The Rainy Day Killer, the most recent in the series, was longlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel in Canada.

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


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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.




My Review

Jerzy Kosinski, the title character of this book, was quite simply a con artist. He could spin fabulous tales to amuse high profile people at parties and social gatherings, but when it came to writing it all down, he used the hidden talent of a troubled young girl, claiming it as his own.

But like all those who try to pull off wearing different masks throughout life, Kosinski's eventually had to come off. When he's exposed as a fraud by The Village Voice, a quote from his childhood hits the nail squarely on the head, "I'm tired of chess. [My] whole existence has been a chess game."

Let's face it, his formative years growing up in German - then Russian - occupied Poland couldn't have been easy. He learned from a young age that to stay alive, "the best lies keep as close as possible to the truth." Humorously enough, he became "the village's Jewish altar boy." Yet it makes one understand his need for subterfuge.

However, the esteemed literary circles of Manhattan show him no mercy. He falls from the heights of grace becoming a social pariah among the elite and the powerful. No more talk show appearances. No more best sellers. In fact, it could be said that suicide was built into the very fabric of his work since he survived the war on his fierce will alone. One could conclude that his tragic demise was inevitable.

Is despondency Poland's national disease? Possibly. If as a child, Kosinski says, "I feel like I'm a hundred - when will I have time to be a boy?" And his parent replies, "When all our enemies are in the grave." It has to damage a person's psyche, and when it comes to Kosinski, the damage is beyond repair.

Ultimately, he turned into a creepy voyeur rather than a fully actualized person. He even admits it in the novel, when he says to someone, "I meant to say hello. But I was enjoying my little game too much - the pleasure of watching you."

On the whole, I found Jerzy the novel to be a sad tale of a man who was willing to do anything to live, yet didn't know how.

***

Jerzy can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Historical, Jewish
Pages: 240
Release: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781942658146
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Excerpt

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.



About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories, I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel. Among other honors, he has been longlisted for the PEN Award for Biography, honored as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

David E. Grogan - Sapphire Pavilion - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Steve Stilwell’s former Navy JAG Corps buddy Ric Stokes has been jailed for possession of heroin in Vietnam. He was found in the same room with his traveling companion Ryan Eversall, dead of an overdose and in the company of a prostitute. Steve knows his friend is a straight arrow. Was he set up? If so, for what reason? Steve travels to Ho Chi Minh City in search of the truth. In no time Steve is targeted by the people who framed his friend. A beautiful young American businesswoman insinuates her way into the case. Can she really help, or is she just a dangerous distraction? Ric and Ryan came to Vietnam in search of an Air Force transport plane that disappeared in 1968. The pilot was Ryan’s father. Before the heroin bust, they had located the wreckage. Ryan’s notebook, which Steve manages to obtain, spells out the exact location. Ryan’s widow has given Steve’s associate Casey another piece of valuable evidence, a file labeled “Sapphire Pavilion.” Someone is willing to go to any lengths to steal both the notebook and the file. From Virginia and Texas to DC and Vietnam, powerful, all-seeing forces with unlimited resources are determined to bury the truth about Sapphire Pavilion. But they have grossly underestimated Steve Stilwell and his associate Casey, a former Army pilot who lost her leg in a helo accident. And the ability to inspire loyalty wherever you go can come in handy when danger lurks behind every corner.




My Review

Why does a man always seem to lose his head when it comes to a beautiful woman?

Attorney Steve Stilwell should know better.

One, he's married. And two, he's investigating a politically sensitive case in Vietnam. But when a femme fatale wanders over to his table, asking if she can join him for dinner, instead of saying no—like he should—he takes her up on her offer. Beguiled by her charm, he discloses way too much information about the case and things quickly escalate from there, culminating at his hotel later that night with an unwanted kiss. Before leaving, a chill goes down his spine when she whispers to him, "We're not in Virginia anymore, Steve. This is the Third World. There are no bright lines between good and evil. Everything is a shade of gray."

Making a mad dash for the airport, he arrives back in the United States, and breathes a sigh of relief, thinking that he got away from her…until she shows up at his office uninvited. And this time, she has a stack of secretly-taken photos that she's threatening to show his wife of the two of them, unless he surrenders a key piece of evidence to her. Succumbing to her pretty face in Vietnam has now put Steve in a very compromising position, and he's forced to make a life-altering choice.

And he chooses his professional integrity over his marriage.

When his wife confronts him after viewing the photos, her reaction is gut wrenching. "Her eyes had an intensity about them; Steve felt them probe deep inside him, searching for something like evidence of innocence lost. They made him feel distant from her."

Because in that moment, he knows that he's lost her.

It's disturbing to watch their marriage disintegrate in such a painful way. She knows that she's just not that important to him, and he knows that he failed her as a husband. He didn't even sleep with the woman in Vietnam, but he didn't have to. He always said he'd work on his marriage down the road, but he never did. His job always came first, and when he wins the case that cost him so much, he realizes it's all he has left in his life.

Throughout his life, he's learned how to talk a good game, but his actions never backed up his words. He took advantage of his wife's trust. He used her generosity. And now he's afraid she's going to discover that she's better off without him. He hates that he let the one person he actually loved get crowded out of his life.

It's a brutal lesson for him to have to learn, but it's one that's truthfully told.

***

Sapphire Pavilion can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 280
Release: May 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603816038
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

David E. Grogan was born in Rome, New York, and was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from the College of William & Mary in Virginia with a B.B.A. in Accounting, he began working for the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co., in Houston, Texas, as a Certified Public Accountant. He left Arthur Andersen in 1984 to attend the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville, Virginia, graduating in 1987. He earned his Masters in International Law from The George Washington University Law School and is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Grogan served on active duty in the United States Navy for over 26 years as a Navy Judge Advocate. He is now retired, but during the course of his Navy career, he prosecuted and defended court-martial cases, traveled to capitals around the world, lived abroad in Japan, Cuba and Bahrain, and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf onboard the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. His experiences abroad and during the course of his career influence every aspect of his writing. Sapphire Pavilion is his second novel. His first was The Siegel Dispositions.

Grogan’s current home is in Savoy, Illinois, where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their dog, Marley. He has three children.

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


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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Kate Bloom - The Legend of the Dwarf - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Ever Trollkiller is a young dwarf, twenty-three years old, who had lived her entire life in an isolated cave far away from the dwarven kingdom. She lives with twelve other dwarves who have raised her in complete isolation, keeping the surviving dwarves a secret from the rest of the word. They hide form Terrisino, the Great and Evil Sorcerer, who demolished their kingdom a quarter century ago. But when Ever accidentally meets an elf, she decides that she is no longer satisfied with the stories she hears from her clan. She decides to seek out the mysterious elf so that he might show her the world. But it isn’t long before she realizes that the freedom of the world and the future of the races of elves, men, and dragons will soon end like the dwarven race. Orcs run rampant in the land, killing innocents and plundering the villages. Strange creatures are given rise as they bring death to those who dare harbor the dwarf that they seek. Evil men lie in wait till they might strike. And each of them is allied under Terrisino himself. The stories of hope reach Ever. The stories of legends that all center around one strange dwarf who is destined to defeat Terrisino and ensure the freedom to the world. Convinced that she is the dwarf of legend, she unites with the unlikely company of men, sorcerers, elves, and dragons to save the races and discover who she is.




My Review

The question of race exists, even in an imaginary realm.

Dwarves, elves, dragons - none of them can seem to get along with each other. Until an unexpected quest unites a ragtag group of exiles and misfits into one, and an "adopted" member of the elven royal family befriends a lowly dwarf, trying to pass for human.

Why the sudden turnaround in race relations?

Maybe because what the big bad sorcerer fears the most is the blood of all three races running through the same veins, suggesting the emergence of a very important person.

But does this person already exist or is he or she yet to be born? We really don't know. Clues are dropped along the way when the dwarf, Ever, discovers she's also part dragon. But is she part elf too?

Or... is she pregnant with the chosen one? There are signs that she's battling through morning sickness, because before leaving her secluded mountain home, she did her duty as one of the only two surviving females of her imperiled race. But the man she slept with was a fellow dwarf - not an elf.

It's only later that she develops a crush on the handsome elven prince, Jesper. They are drawn to each other from the start, and he feels the need to protect her. In the eyes of the world she's nothing but a mere mortal, but to him, she's so much more.

When dragon markings unexpectedly begin to show up on Ever's face, it only makes Jesper even more enamored of her. Proving the message at the heart of the story: race does not define a person. In a world where mixed blood is looked down upon, he can't take his eyes off her.

Too bad they just don't fit into society together. However, they know that separately they will fall to the forces of evil if they try and go it alone. It's only by forming a united front, will they stand any chance against an enemy who's determined to pull them apart.

***

The Legend of the Dwarf can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $15.00 ebook, $15.00 paperback
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 260
Release: December 18, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781540574176
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Kate Bloom is a tenacious and edgy millennial with a BS in English and history, giving her a knack for story-telling. As a fantasy writer, her mind is constantly running wild in fictional worlds, such as that of her first project, Alice in Dreamland (kindle2016). Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1994, and where she has lived her entire life, Kate found the dry dessert scenery to grow tiresome to look at. She found her escape in the fantastical worlds that played out in her head. She has fallen in love with the idea of putting those worlds in print so that everyone else might see those worlds as well.

Links to connect with Kate:
Web Site
Facebook
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A. Keith Carreiro - The Penitent - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

A baby is born and placed in his dead mother's arms. When the funeral shroud is cast over her, his father decides to name his son Pall. It will soon become a name that strikes a shiver into the hearts of those who hear it in combat. A lone survivor on a battlefield many years later, Pall dazedly recovers from the wounds of war. Despite the dead cast about him, everything he looks upon is unfamiliar to him. Wandering away from this scene of carnage, he encounters John Savage, a giant of a man who puts Pall within the sight of Savage's seven–foot, nocked longbow. What ensues from this deadly encounter is an elusive journey for truth. Yet, it is haunted not just by a ravening demon that is out to destroy Pall and John, but by the vision of a startling beautiful young woman protecting Pall from afar.




My Review

Upon reaching the end of this book, I was left scratching my head a little over the title. Why is Pall a penitent? In my mind, he's nothing but a force for good, singing a magical song that tames evil and battling evil with a sword earmarked to defend the defenseless. He doesn't commit any egregious crimes or heinous acts as far as I can see. Sure, he kills a bully of a brute in a bar fight, but sheerly out of self-defense. In fact, I'd label him more of a victim, than a perpetrator, when he's hogtied in an abandoned farmhouse by a roving group of sadistic men.

So what does he have to be sorry for? Why is he the one who needs to beg forgiveness for his sins?

It turns out the answers to those questions are hidden somewhere inside Pall's faulty memory.

At present, he can only see but darkly into who he really is. Which begs the question: So what did Pall do in his past that was so very regrettable?

Well, I'm guessing it has something to do with the striking figure of a girl named Evangel. We get to meet her only briefly inside one of Pall's dreams, and the moment the two of them lock eyes with each other. Wow, what a moment! But right when things start getting good... Pall wakes up.

Thankfully, the author provides a tempting little sneak peek into book two with the opening chapters of Evangel's backstory, describing her God-given mystical abilities. Now, I really can't wait to find out what happened between her and Pall. Who is the true penitent? Him or her? I'm crossing my fingers that he didn't do anything to hurt her, anything he needs to confess.

***

The Penitent can be purchased at:
Amazon
Lulu

Prices/Formats: $3.99 ebook, $13.99 paperback
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 254
Release: November 1, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781365287077
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

A. Keith Carreiro earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard Graduate School of Education, with the sequential help and guidance of three advisors, Dr. Vernon A. Howard, Dr. Donald Oliver and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Israel Scheffler. Keith’s academic focus, including his ongoing research agenda, centers upon philosophically examining how creativity and critical thinking are acquired, learned, utilized and practiced in the performing arts. He has taken his findings and applied them to the professional development of educational practitioners.

Earlier in his teaching career he was a professor of educational foundations, teaching graduate students of education at universities in Vermont, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. He currently teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Bridgewater State University, as well as teaching English, philosophy, humanities and public speaking courses at Bristol Community College.

He lives in Swansea, Massachusetts with his wife Carolyn. They have six children and 13 grandchildren. They belong to an eighty–five–pound golden retriever, an eight–pound Maltese, and an impish Calico cat.

Due to his love of family, he has seen his fervor for history, as well as his passion for wondering about the future, deepen dramatically.

Starting on May 23rd until October 9th of 2014, he sat down at his computer on a daily basis and began writing the first book of a science fiction/fantasy thriller in a beginning series about the quest for human immortality.

Links to connect with A. Ketih:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bonnie M. Hennessy - Twisted - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

An old tale tells the story of how a little man named Rumpelstiltskin spun straw into gold and tricked a desperate girl into trading away her baby. But that’s not exactly how it happened. The real story began with a drunken father who kept throwing money away on alcohol and women, while his daughter, Aoife, ran the family farm on her own. When he gambled away everything they owned to the Duke, it was up to her to spin straw into gold to win it all back. With her wits and the help of a magical guardian, she outsmarted the Duke and saved the day. Well almost… Her guardian suddenly turned on Aoife and sent her on a quest to find his name, the clues to which were hidden deep in the woods, a moldy dungeon, and a dead woman’s chamber. This is not the tale of a damsel in distress, but a tenacious, young woman who solved a mystery so great that not even the enchanted man who spun straw into gold could figure it out. Not until Aoife came along.




My Review

How does growing up in a broken family affect the type of relationship you'll have with your future spouse?

It's not necessarily a theme one would expect from a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, but I, for one, appreciated the more mature "twist." It shows a layer of depth, not often associated with young adult novels. Mainly because it brings up an interesting point: How does witnessing the behavior of one's parents color the way a person views love later in life?

Simple cause and effect, yet fascinating nonetheless.

First, the female perspective. Aoife's father is a loaf of a drunk, who shrugs off his breadwinner duties by blowing what little gold he has in the village brothel. Unfaithful father, check. While at home, Aoife has to deal with a fault-finding critic of a mother, who refuses to lift a finger to help ease their precarious financial situation. Bitter, broken mother, check. Which means the task of providing for the family ultimately falls to Aoife, so much so that she cares little about how she presents herself to the world. She knows she doesn't act or dress like a young lady should, and I love how she doesn't care about appearances. Yet it's tragic at how determined she is not to give any man a chance. No one—and I mean, no one—is going to get through the walls she's built up around her heart. Sadly, she prefers the only thing she's ever known, taking care of her impossibly weak father and her unappreciative mother.

Then, there's the male point of view. The Duke, also known as Ronan, is a child born out of lies and betrayal. Unfortunately, his mother isn't the woman he thought she was. Over the course of his childhood, he felt the truth, but it was never spoken aloud. Illegitimate birth, check. Now as an adult, he can't begin to fathom the thought of ever being loved by anyone, much less his future wife.

The entire concept is completely foreign to him.

Until he lays eyes on Aoife … and tricks her father into getting her to marry him.

Simply put, he wants her because she doesn't want him, and he pursues her with the sole intent of getting the better of her. Sure, he's attracted to her—more like frustrated with her—since he sees how she treats everyone with kindness, and he wants her to be kind to him, too. It's sort of sweet that all he really desires is her love and affection. But it's also maddening that he's too afraid to show her his vulnerable side. Instead, he chooses to play the part of the big, strong man, hiding who he really is from her.

And with Aoife, love can't be forced, and I admire that about her. She's human, set in her ways just as much as Ronan's set in his, and at first she judges him harshly. The last thing she feels like doing is reforming a spoiled, pampered man. Yet despite herself, she starts to warm up to him when he tries to get to know her better. Her tender heart can't resist his pleading eyes and things begin to change between them. But just when she starts to lower her guard, he retreats back to his selfish, manipulative ways, scared of the hitherto unknown feelings she's bringing to life inside him.

This back and forth drama goes on for a while, until there comes a tipping point in their relationship when a dire set of circumstances winds up bringing them closer together. They realize that the only way forward is if they come together as a couple. And that made me smile because Aoife ends up falling in love with the man she was so determined to escape, and Ronan learns how to care about someone besides himself, someone he deeply and truly loves.

Their relationship is no longer about their hangups over their parents' failed marriages. From this point on, it's all about making a go of THEIR marriage, by protecting their unborn child from a certain "little man."

***

Twisted can be purchased at:
Amazon

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $12.99 paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Mythological, Fairy Tale
Pages: 306
Release: November 11, 2016
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9781539753421
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Bonnie grew up a shy, quiet girl who the teachers always seated next to the noisy boys because they knew she was too afraid to talk to anyone. She always had a lot she wanted to say but was too afraid to share it for fear she might die of embarrassment if people actually noticed her. Somewhere along the line, perhaps after she surprised her eighth grade class by standing up to a teacher who was belittling a fellow student, she realized that she had a voice and she didn’t burst into flames when her classmates stared at her in surprise.

Not long after that, she began spinning tales, some of which got her into trouble with her mom. Whether persuading her father to take her to the candy store as a little girl or convincing her parents to let her move from Los Angeles to Manhattan to pursue a career at eighteen as a ballet dancer with only $200 in her pocket, Bonnie has proven that she knows how to tell a compelling story.

Now she spends her time reading and making up stories for her two children at night. By day she is an English teacher who never puts the quiet girls next to the noisy boys and works hard to persuade her students that stories, whether they are the ones she teaches in class or the ones she tells to keep them from daydreaming, are better escapes than computers, phones, and social media.

Links to connect with Bonnie:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Goodreads


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