Monday, September 11, 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

Very young. Very kind. Very approachable. Very much touched by God. That's who Evangel is in the eyes of the people who encounter her.

She has a presence. She stands out from the crowd. But why? She's just a 17-year-old girl who grew up in a secluded forest cabin with her adopted grandfather. Why would someone so far removed from the world captivate and fire the imagination of so many?

Chalk it up to her forthrightness. It's because people believe she's the real deal. Her words and actions convince them of her truthfulness and depth of faith. She heals. She converts. She even brings the dead back to life. But she's humble enough to know it's not on account of her own authority. It's all thanks to the deep, abiding connection she has with the Risen One and the love she has for Him in her heart.

Her life bears a powerful testimony, and at times, it's hard for her to deal with the repercussions. She gets uncomfortable with all the attention. She withdraws. She wants to go back home. She doubts herself, thinking she made a mistake by making use of her gifts. In her mind, she's only a silly girl, thinking girlish thoughts. And yet, no one can deny the changes she's worked in the lives of others.

And that's where she draws her strength. For her, it's all about saving lives without concern for her own. It's personal. When she was just an infant, her parents sacrificed their lives in order to save hers. They were murdered in cold blood while she remained hidden in a ditch her mother placed her in. She was born into the world with death all around her, with no one to protect her.

That's why she wants to help others.

And that's why people love her.

***

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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Monday, September 4, 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

A fallen angel, that's how Hollis Morgan describes herself. After having served time in prison for committing insurance fraud, now she's on the rebound, trying to reestablish herself as a licensed probate attorney. But there are people out there who won't let her forget her criminal history, and they enjoy holding it over her head like a dark cloud.

At its heart, this book examines what it means to give someone a second chance, the sheer power of it. Everyone has something they wouldn't want the world to know about them, and the unlucky ones whose past sins are made public are left to shoulder that burden, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

That's why Hollis is the last one to point fingers at anyone. She proclaims, "I know what it feels like to lose the faith of family, friends, and society, and worse - in myself. I know what it's like to be shunned, and I know I'm not going to let a scum…hurt an innocent person."

So she becomes a crusader, looking out for the welfare of those who share her lot.

First, there's young Vince, the guy with a checkered family life, whose mom is constantly in and out of rehab. His new girlfriend works in the office and doesn't think he's good enough for her, so he bends over backward to try to impress her. Hollis understands where he's coming from and decides to trust him with some additional freelance surveillance work, giving him a temporary promotion out of the mail room, and hopefully a boost in his girlfriend's estimation.

Then there's Kiki, an ex-stripper, who Hollis is trying to help reconcile with her daughter before she dies. Hollis knows the two need to finally face one another because another arms-length, third-hand conversation isn't going to help matters. After years of being unable to communicate with each other, Hollis gets Kiki to admit to her daughter, "I knew from the very first time I held you in my arms I didn't deserve you. You were an angel, and I was...what I was."

What it all comes down to is healing by being able to let go of the lingering guilt and self-righteousness on both sides. It's all about taking a person at face value for who they are now, not who they were before. There's some small part in all of us that seeks some kind of closure with the past. Bottom line, who isn't grateful to be forgiven and given the gift of peace of mind?

***

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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Tuesday, August 8, 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

Taylor is a reporter who likes to collect scenes of New York by peering into all of its dark corners. For him, it's not just a job, it's his passion. So when he's called to investigate a murder related to one of the city's most prestigious families—think Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Carnegies—"he doubted an army field jacket made the grade at 827 Park Avenue."

A seasoned veteran, Taylor's not one to be easily intimidated, yet he's not about to let himself become the punch line to some rich man's joke. Yet as it turns out, Taylor ends up liking the older gentleman he's sent to question, even though they come "from opposite ends of the New York social solar system." Taylor knows this is New York. Nowhere is safe. But the patriarch of the DeVries family feels "separated from what the city could do to them," when in all reality, their wealth is what drew the bad right to them and they never saw it coming.

After overhearing a conversation about how DeVries is "still writing the same checks to charities when [he's] going to be the charity. He has to be stopped"—the family maid almost immediately turns up dead. In a city known for transforming high profile murder cases into front page news, Taylor is well aware that the family's fall from grace is the kind of story readers are eager to read. Yet he's not looking to tarnish the family's reputation, he only wants to get the victim's story out there.

And the most likely candidate for knowing something about her murder is DeVries's son, "one of those kids…handed all the opportunity in the world and get more and more confused about what to do with it." With no job, no company, he's not the kind of guy who rides the subway. After observing him in many different circumstances from high scale dinner parties to the infamous Studio 54, Taylor realizes the young DeVries lives in a whole other world from him, a world where drugs, women and any type of depravity is within easy reach, as well as the criminal element that is more than willing to provide such things.

When Taylor confronts young DeVries after his father, too, turns up dead, all he can sputter in response to Taylor's line of questioning is, "[What is] this…some stupid game of Clue?"

Not exactly the heartfelt cry of a grieving son. But is he in anyway guilty of what happened to his father? That's for you to read and decide.

***

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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Tuesday, August 1, 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

"Man, you're making me hope I never end up in a hospital."

Apparently, there's more drama going on behind the scenes in these places than many of us would care to think care about. In SPINE DAMAGE, Sharon St. George gives us an eyeful into the many varying personality types that make up the average hospital, and the friction they cause. As a reader—let's be honest—it really made me want to avoid being stuck in one of them any time soon.

"If I'd heard him call his employees his girls one more time…"

It's clear that surgeons are on the top of the pecking order. They act like divas and get away with it. Why? Because they possess skills that not many people have, and they know it, and they're not ashamed to use this knowledge to their advantage by lording it over their co-workers, and even some of their patients.

It's not surprising that most of them are playboys, an acceptable, albeit sadly predictable lifestyle for men with big, fragile egos. I guess it's a given in medical communities that surgeons have women on the side. And if these women aren't living in their hometown, then they're somewhere the docs are likely to travel to on a frequent basis, like Florida for a yachting trip or to visit the family.

One in particular, Dr. Godfrey Carver, is labeled "the poster boy of bad behavior." His surgical privileges are about to be suspended because he can't prove whether or not he actually completed his continuing education credits. The book pivots around his crucial lapse in judgment when a young Portuguese man is shot by an unknown assailant. The police really need to talk to him, but he keeps slipping in and out of a coma, and good old Dr. Carter is the surgeon assigned to his care.

Now it's up to Aimee Machado, our heroine, to verify the existence of Dr. Carter's missing educational credits, and she's quick to point out that she has "to be sure his loathsome personality isn't coloring my judgment." And that's not an easy thing to do when he threatens to have her fired by bullying her into fudging the paperwork for him. But she holds firm, not about to be intimidated by any doctor, "no matter how brilliant he was in the operating room."

She's up against the "us vs. them" mentality of hospital administration vs. medical staff, but she's not about to go down without a fight. She doesn't care how much Dr. Carver enjoys the limelight. He's slip shot with his post-op work, not to mention the fact that several nurses have filed harassment charges against him. This time, Aimee's determined to hold him accountable for his actions so that a young man, far from home, can have a second chance at life.

***

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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Thursday, June 8, 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

Throughout the novel, the main character, Lin, is labeled again and again as "emotionally infantile." It's how she describes herself. It's what her parents think of her. It's how her husband treats her. And it cracks me up because…really…how many adults in the world today can truly be called "emotionally mature?" I don't know where they're all hiding because I certainly don't meet that many on a day to day basis.

It's a hard knock on a character whose choices are often limited by the situations she finds herself in. Growing up, she was raised in a household where her parents put her in the middle of their bitter rivalry. Later on, as an overweight girl in a small town, she's the repeated bearer of rude comments and sly insults, and quickly comes to find "females in packs menacing." And tragically when she becomes a teenager, she's the victim of a sexual assault that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

It's no wonder that when she marries a young pastor, a guy she knows nothing about, she comes across as closed off and guarded. So what if she's not a people person? There's nothing wrong with that. But instead of following her gut and just being herself, she tries to play the role her husband and his parishioners expect her to fill.

And big surprise when it doesn't work out.

After years of trying to make a go of it, the numbness that seeps into her bones gets to be too much for her. All she owns are the thoughts in her head, and she wants something more, a lot more. So she separates from her husband, gets her own apartment, and a job with an insurance agency, and for the first time feels like she doesn't need to be rescued by anybody, that she can actually take care of herself.

Until she finds out that her husband's been having her followed and even lets himself into her apartment while she's at work in order to read her journal to see what she's been saying about him.

So what does Lin do? Does she stand up for herself? Does she go back to him? Are they able to find some common ground?

Well, you'll just have to read the book and find out.

***

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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Thursday, June 1, 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

If you like ruminating over little slices of life like I do, then you'll enjoy trolling through the pages of this detective novel.

Michael J. McCann has a knack for using superfine brush strokes when it comes to crafting his characters. Admittedly, his novels are peppered with a wide variety of names and faces—from police personnel to various suspects—and admittedly I'm not all that great at keeping them straight—but what I do remember are those subtle nuances that jump off the page and hit me square between the eyes.

There are lines I simply won't forget like, "I think she'd charge admission to her own funeral, the bloodsucker." Now the elderly woman being referred to by the investigator only makes a brief cameo appearance before exiting stage left, but the humor in McCann's writing makes you take notice of her when she informs him that she intends to charge him for her coffee, her chili, and even for the use of her copy machine.

Another one is, "…an eccentric, retired academic with not a lot of exposure to the harsher side of life." Again, this person emerges only once, as someone who knew the victim, but the description resonates because I think we all know someone like this guy.

Even when capturing the feel of a vicious, angry dog, McCann describes the action of his chain as, "Snap, drop. Snap, drop," and it makes you feel the surging energy in the dog as he's ready to attack the cops on sight. It's a brilliant way to depict the danger that police officers face day in and day out when investigating a murder, showing that they never know what they're going to encounter on a minute to minute basis.

There are many other instances I can talk about such as a female cop's sarcasm at having to dress appropriately for an important meeting, "Look professional. Feel professional. Act professionally. The world according to Nordstrom." Or even a line about the victim who was beaten and then set ablaze, "He was a hard man to love, never mind like."

But hands down the one that got me was, "I've always been attracted to a man who fights back." Who makes this whopper of a statement? Let's just say she's one difficult lady to arrest. Hmmm…a possible female killer in a tale full of male suspects? Happy reading, mystery fans.


***

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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Monday, May 8, 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

Let me be perfectly honest. This is a challenging novel to review. It centers around the actual flesh and blood figure of Jerzy Kosinski, yet plenty of creative license is taken by author Jerome Charyn as he views Jerzy's life through an extremely imaginative lens. Fact blurs with fiction, yet Charyn still remains true to the man, capturing how Jerzy, himself, must have projected his concocted Holocaust survivor persona to the public.

Throughout the book, the different people in Jerzy's life provide insight into who they thought Jerzy was. Yet none of them get it quite right, only catching fleeting glimpses of the chameleon here and there. He amuses Princess Margaret so she invites him over. Comedian Peter Sellers becomes obsessed with him, determined to resurrect his acting career by bringing Jerzy's book, The Painted Bird, to the big screen. Charyn slyly adds this about the legendary Pink Panther, "[Sellers] had glanced into the novel's crazy mirror and seen himself."

However, familiarity becomes a double-edged sword. When Charyn has Jerzy counter with, "I can see that I'll have to be careful with you now, or you'll use my own words against me." The two indulge in a cat and mouse game until Jerzy finally grants Sellers the movie rights to the book, but egotistical Sellers is so thrown off his game having Jerzy on set that during filming he kicks him out, taking away any input Jerzy had in the production.

It's sad because even after achieving some degree of success, Jerzy is still "the little boy who sees himself as a changeling who has to avoid being picked to death by his own kind." In his tortured mind, he'll always be the painted bird, who sticks out like a sore thumb among the rich and famous. The Jew who doesn't belong. Not here, not there, not anywhere.

Falling into disgrace after being deemed a plagiarist later in life, Jerzy commits suicide, leaving behind the crowned royalty and Oscar winners he had so desperately tried to fit in with, but never really could. Charyn is the only one left to tell his story for him, and tell it he does.

***

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:
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Facebook
Twitter
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Monday, May 1, 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

Sometimes a supporting character really steals the show, and in this one it's an ex-Army fighter pilot, who just so happens to be a woman.

Her name is Casey and after completing a grueling rehab stint at Walter Reed—as the facility's only female amputee, no less—she's currently in the private sector, looking for work. It hasn't been easy finding employment since she's still suffering the affects of PTSD, unable to get over the crash that claimed the life of her co-pilot. The cause was determined to be a mechanical failure, yet she can't put the sense of lingering guilt behind her.

So when a former JAG attorney turned civilian offers her a position in his law firm, she's overjoyed, especially when he tells her that he's okay with her full schedule of treatment appointments at the VA. He not only understands, but encourages her on the road to making a full recovery. He doesn't avoid talking about her leg, he accepts her for who she is, and that is pretty cool.

However, Casey faces difficulties from the get go, when on her very first assignment, she has to console a woman who just lost her husband. Not only that, but it occurs right on the heels of the annual Memorial Day phone call she makes to the widow of her co-pilot.

Casey's emotions are the brink, but all is not lost. Throughout the course of the story she battles through them, even when she feels like giving up when terrible things keep happening to her. On assignment, she's attacked by an assailant in the bathroom of her hotel room. Then she has to use her prosthetic leg to break through a window to escape a blazing office fire. But through it all, she doesn't let anything stop her. She continues on, until the case is solved.

In the end, she's even able to work through the issues from her past. At the conclusion of the book, while attending a service at Arlington National Cemetery, jets fly overhead in the missing man formation. And at that moment, she's given a rare second chance to honor her dead co-pilot, whose funeral she was unable to attend on account of her injuries.

Now, finally, after all these years, she's able to walk away with a bit of peace in her soul and a much-needed "W" in the win column.

***

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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Wednesday, March 1, 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

Why would anyone want to follow a dwarf?

Well, Ever isn't your typical dwarf. Sure, she's ferocious and stubborn, fumbling about on heavy feet. And yeah, after being sheltered in a mountainous cave all her life, she's naive to the ways of the world, exhibiting a child-like innocence that's bound to get her in trouble.

Yet when she emerges from the seclusion of her exiled people, there's something about her that others pick up on. She's special, different. There's a mysterious quality to her. She's petite for a dwarf. Her ears are too pointy. Not to mention, she's able to wield the swords of a dragon like a natural. Which makes everyone who comes in contact with her want to know: just who is this girl?

As it turns out, there exists a legend about an unstoppable dwarf, a savior. But is it Ever? People seem to know more about her than she knows about herself, and it starts to unsettle her. She begs for some form of enlightenment, an inkling to her true identity. But no one can tell her. It's something she has to discover for herself.

And what she starts to uncover, she doesn't like, especially when the branding of a dragon tattoo appears on her face. Horrified that dragon blood runs through her veins, she doesn't want to be a part of what's considered to be a more sinister race. Feeling conflicted, she knows that the dwarves will never take her back now. Not when she's descended from a line of schemers, schemers who stood back and let her dwarven people be virtually annihilated.

But not everyone sees her that way. The companions on the journey to avenge her people, accept her for who she is. They see her as family. In fact, they believe she can be a game changer, if presented with the right opportunity. She could, indeed, end up having the greatest story of them all.

***

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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Monday, February 6, 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

In the midst of a post-apocalyptic descent into savagery, the tender heart of humanity is still beating strong.

Where?

In the family.

Pall is a young warrior who is brutally tortured by a gang of marauding thugs. Before they're able to kill him, he's lucky enough to escape into the forest, where he takes comfort in his happy childhood memories. Even though his mother died giving birth to him - hence his name, Pall - he grew to love his stepmother just as much. Looking back, Pall deeply appreciates, how along with his father, the two of them created such a loving environment for him to grow up in, despite the tragic way he entered the world.

As he grasps the sword his father made for him, he is filled with pride, knowing how it was forged from the metal of "heaven's own starry host." It's a blade that knows not defeat, a priceless gift, and Pall is well aware that by wielding it, he is sworn to uphold his calling to protect the weak, the ill and the aged. The job falls to him to uphold justice in a land ravaged by violence and cruelty, and Pall willingly shoulders the burden of responsibility that comes along with that.

Yet even among so much hostility, Pall encounters kindness in the form of a young, married couple and their two little girls. His heart immediately goes out to them when he sees how vulnerable they are, and he agrees to help them cross a raging river with their wagon full of supplies. It's a beautiful expression of camaraderie and goodwill, knowing that even if they make it, they're still going to be facing nearly insurmountable odds to stay alive.

Despite the unforgiving environment, Pall is able to see in them a reflection of his own upbringing, and it gives him hope that maybe all is not lost. A glimmer of what he remembers so fondly still remains, and Pall cherishes the love this family has for each other. For him, they are a bright light shining through the darkness, refusing to go out.

And I, for one, love the message that goes along with that.

***

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. Keith:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Wednesday, February 1, 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

Aoife is a strong, modern heroine, a girl who's not only out to define herself, but a girl who flat out refuses to be defined by others. She's not interested in fitting into any preconceived gender roles that are laid out for her. She's ready to wear the pants in the family if she has to. Getting all dolled up to land a rich husband … no, thank you. Her freedom is what's most important to her. She's definitely not someone who's won over by false flattery or sparkly gifts. How refreshing!

All she's looking for is for someone to have faith in her abilities. That's it. Sounds simple, right?

Yet even in a fairy tale setting, those around her continue to underestimate her. And I admire how their lack of insight only fuels her determination even more. She's had enough of the hypocrisy. She's not about to be subdued by anyone or anything—not if she can help it. No one's going to control this feisty lass.

Until her drunk, philandering father loses her in a game of cards to an arrogant, young duke. Yet even then, Aoife doesn't let the overwhelming sense of disappointment crush her. She's good at getting herself out of impossible situations, and she's quick to hatch an escape plan in order to free herself from this hasty, unwanted marriage.

But after awhile, she comes to learn that the idea of ever finding a soul mate, or "perfect" love, may not really exist. It becomes clear to her that, when threatened, darkness lurks inside every heart, including her own. When the duke finally lets down his guard and shows her the light he has burning inside his tormented soul, I really started pulling for the two of them to make it—especially when Aoife, herself, begins to hope that she can ultimately win in this twisted game of love, despite the losing hand she was dealt at the beginning.

Even though she's willing to give the duke a second chance, it's still not going to be easy for her to adapt to being a wife. The insecurities that her mother repeatedly drilled into her head begin to influence her—like how a man would only ever want her for her body or that she's a woman so therefore she needs the protection of a man in order to survive.

Yet Aoife is not a girl who runs away from what scares her. Instead, she courageously decides to trust her new husband, and when she does, she discovers that she may be the only true source of love he's ever had in his life. Thus, giving her what she's always wanted—a purpose.

***

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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