Wednesday, October 4, 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

Jerome Charyn paints a disturbing picture of what life might be like for the President of the United States. It's quite a sinister and disturbing portrait. Why? Because everyone wants him dead. There's even a lottery, taking bets on the exact day he's going to die, with everyone from corporate bankers to international criminal networks, entering the sweepstakes. For President Isaac Sidel, there's not much to feel happy about.

Yet it's even harder for him to deal with when the mortal danger he's in is soon coupled with paranoia. Besides death threats being found inside the White House, it seems as if the walls have ears. All phone lines are tapped, and every call is recorded, so that it seems like half the planet is listening in on his conversations. Every one of his moves is mapped out and diagrammed, his destination logged and recorded. On the road, there's always a Lincoln behind him and a Lincoln in front, with a body double sitting in either one of the two. Every person he comes in contact with is scrutinized as a potential terrorist or saboteur.

No wonder the poor guy feels like the shrinking man of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Yet now with a price on his head, he feels like he can't even travel anywhere because he can't trust his own mechanics. And if the President of the United States can't go out, then he can't govern, which is exactly what the lottery pundits want - to immobilize him. The White House is "a mansion in the middle of nowhere. It [can't] connect him to the nation's pulse." His supposed safe haven is now nothing but an asylum.

And on top of it all, he has to deal with the blatant disrespect and open subordination of those who are supposed to be working for him, listening to talk like, "We have to walk around on tiptoe and protect a president who's an utter incompetent, who doesn't have the least conception of his own responsibility, who's putting all of us in harm's way."

There's the sting. His intelligence teams gather little intelligence, or no intelligence at all, and he's left to fiddle in the dark. It's not his fault that there's an assassin in the White House. As a college dropout, he feels like he doesn't belong in the White House, but yet he resents being trapped in a cocoon like some kind of recluse.

He even succumbs to tears when he thinks about the Manhattan lifestyle he left behind, especially when he's barraged with gunfire at Camp David, and a bomb explodes under his feet in Czechoslovakia. However, when a hired assassin finally appears in his private chambers, that's the last straw. Sidel has had enough. He's ready to fight back, especially when the killer turns out to be someone who was right under his nose, all along.

***

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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Wednesday, September 13, 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

When the main characters live in a forest called God's Temple and name their cottage The Refuge, you know it's going to be a good book.

Matthew is a hermit. Other people distract him from God, so he'd rather not be around them. However, when he finds a little baby girl abandoned in the woods, all it takes is one smile from her and he's a goner. He takes her in and ends up raising her in a loving, safe environment, developing her seemingly innate ability for meditation and contemplation.

He shelters her, yet as she reaches the age of maturity her self-awareness begins to grow. She's the first to admit that, "the world out there and the one I grew up in are the exact opposite of one another. Yet, even though I live in such beauty and innocence, I am still part of this other, baser world."

Her spiritual encounters with the divine are an even mix of the two. She envisions a Christ-like figure on the cross whose agony is suddenly turned into glory. She relates, "When he smiled at me, he was no longer on this awful tree. We were walking on a beautiful road. He showed me many things. We went and talked together underneath the shade of a wood filled with copper beech trees and a stream flowing in the middle of them."

Her confidence and optimism waver a bit when a group of men invade her tranquil home. For the first time for her, "life had lost its simplicity. Everywhere she looked now things were so complicated."

So will she be able to adjust to the wider world of corruption, rivalry and greed? I don't know. Don't be surprised if—instead of the world changing her—she ends up changing the world. When the clouds part and a rainbow appears, it sends a galvanizing message that with her maybe anything is possible.

***

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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Wednesday, September 6, 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

San Francisco 49ers by 10.

That's John's safe text greeting. The one he sends to his girlfriend, Hollis, from his stash of toss-away phones whenever he's undercover, working for Homeland Security. It's just to let her know that he's okay and that he's thinking of her.

And it's sweet because Hollis isn't one to open up to people. Living in Oakland, she's somewhat of a workaholic at her law firm, not one to waste time chit-chatting or sharing anything significant about her personal life with co-workers. As far as she's concerned, she has John, her best friend and wise counsel, and that's all she needs.

Because neediness makes her feel inadequate. When it comes to needy people, she doesn't feel like she could ever give them the answers they're looking for, so she backs away from them. Yet when it comes to her relationship with John, she catches a glimpse into how needy people must feel inside. In fact, "she didn't want to think she needed him, but over the next month, it would be as if a part of her was in Washington" with him.

Then everything falls apart when she gets an actual phone call, not from John, but from one of his fellow agents, telling her that John's not coming back, that he died. And for Hollis, "the finality of that - the silence - left her aching and numb."

Her friends attempt to draw her out of herself, but she's having none of it. In her mind, "she didn't need friends. She needed John." She gets so closed in on herself that she doesn't even notice nature anymore the way that she used to, not taking the time "to gaze at the splash of color in the sky as the sun rose over the East Bay Hill."

A young colleague in the office tries to lift her spirits by telling her how he never takes one minute of the relationship he has with his girlfriend for granted, saying, "I asked her, what if I was her 'one' and she was my 'one'? Anything can happen tomorrow, but it's today that matters. We only get one shot."

Yet at the very end of the book, when Hollis's cell phone unexpectedly lights up, it raises the distinct possibility that maybe we don't get only one shot at love, maybe if we're lucky, we get two.

***

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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Thursday, August 10, 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

The Son of Sam killer is on the loose.

A massive blackout results in a night of looting and destruction.

People are broke, and jobs are scarce.

It's just a few years after the end of the Vietnam War and, "It didn't matter how much sacrifice. Everybody's trying to forget. Not trying. Succeeding. America only loved a winner."

And in 1977, New York City certainly wasn't winning.

Even a former member of the NYPD admits, "Crime I can take. This madness is…evil." It seems people are willing to kill over anything—a rent-controlled apartment, dominance in the drug trade, embezzling a family out of its Park Avenue fortune. It's as if a population of 15 million people are "banished to an outer circle of Dante's hell, with New York moving ever inward."

It pains lifelong residents to look back on a time in the not-so-distant past when people actually helped each other. Back then, New Yorkers believed they could cope with anything…now they don't. And that's the difference, and what causes these downward spirals to happen.

How does a corrupt, bankrupt city turn itself around? Is it economic opportunity? Is it good leadership? Do ethics and morals only hold sway in times of prosperity? The book brings up topics of conversation that are worth discussing because New York did turn manage to turn things around. Let's face it the Times Square of 1997 sure looked a heck of a lot different than the one from 1977.

A reporter makes an apt remark that, "he never imagined how fast a newspaper could disappear—be forgotten. Not until he'd seen it happen. When was the last time you saw…people lined up to buy a newspaper?"
Yet when the Son of Sam killer releases an exclusive letter just in time for the Sunday edition: "Everyone stayed in line, calm, polite. Surprising in New York these days, maybe people needed to hear about a maniac and mayhem to decide to be civil."

I guess when the circus comes to town, it's not likely to pack up and leave anytime soon.

***

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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Thursday, August 3, 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

The crying of gulls… The pungent smell of seawater… The bright morning sunlight shining through the window of a porthole…

Sharon St. George's crime novel SPINE DAMAGE takes place in the Azores, a picturesque chain of islands off the Portuguese coast. And it's a fitting locale since Aimee Machado, the character this mystery series is named after, is half Portuguese. In this installment, Aimee returns to the paternal side of her roots by visiting her parents' home with her boyfriend, Nick.

"Sunburned, wind blown and happy," Aimee's parents trade "knowing smiles that said, typical tourist," when Nick gets all excited at seeing a whale up close and personal during a boat ride. They're used to living in paradise and the book hits all the right notes in establishing a sense of island living.

For example, local legend has it that a superstitious sailor once painted a small picture on the marina wall in order to ensure a safe journey home, and to this very day, sailors continue to do the same, adding color and artistry to the walkways surrounding the Horta Marina.

Hospitality is also a key ingredient when it comes to the home life of the Azores people. It's common practice that a woman always takes time to bake for her guests, and the names of some of the Portuguese delicacies - such as "dreams" and "sighs" - sound just as good as they taste.

The population itself is a mishmash of tourists and locals, giving a sense of diversity and worldliness to a place tucked away from the world. But things really amp up during Sea Week, when everyone is hoping to spot the American celebrities who descend upon the town.

But chasing celebrities isn't why Aimee is there. She'd much rather spend time in the little white stucco house with a red-tied roof. Belonging to three generations of her family, it holds a very special place in her heart.

However, this time around she doesn't get to indulge in a little family tradition by taking Nick to the top of Mt. Pico, because as it turns out, a teenage girl with dreams of Hollywood in her head, gets on board one of those fancy American yachts, never to be seen again.

With Aimee and Nick soon to fly home to the United States, can they somehow try to help her distraught parents and find their missing daughter?

Goodbye, paradise. Time to get back to reality.

***

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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Monday, June 12, 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

Lin Brunson finds herself pregnant during the height of the Vietnam War, and for a moment she can't help thinking to herself, "We can't bring another child into this violent world."

Picture it. The country is in shock. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy are dead. A hundred cities are still recovering from a fresh string of riots and not even Walter Cronkite believes in the war anymore.

Yet Lin Brunson takes it very much to heart. For this mom-to-be, the war is not just images on a TV screen. It's personal. And it becomes even more complicated for her since she's married to a pastor, and his church seems just as divided as the rest of the country.

But that's what her husband, Ron, finds her so intriguing about his wife. He tells her, "How you see the world, what you believe, what's happened to you and how it's affected you? I want to know all that."

It turns out Ron's a former Freedom Fighter, himself, and was even arrested down South for helping to register African Americans to vote. He's no stranger to standing up for what he believes in, and he admires that quality in Lin, even from the very first time they met, openly admitting to her, "What struck me was your spirit. A voice inside me said that is the girl I'm going to marry."

Yet preachers and politicians tend to oversimplify complex issues, and the strain begins to show in their marriage when their phones are tapped and their friends start disappearing. Things are different now that they have a child. The risks they're taking don't just affect them anymore, they have a little one to think about now.

Stressed, Lin tells Ron, "I married you under false pretenses, I wasn't mature enough to accept your proposal." But he quickly counters with something his mother told him about her, "God sent this woman to you. Keep praying until you understand why."

Are they able to work things out as a family? Well, for me, this particular quote from the book sums it up beautifully: "You forget that you are eternal. He has always been with you and always will be."

***

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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Monday, June 5, 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

Crime Scene Report; Homicide

Population: 600
Terrain: country roads, back lanes, countless lakes, swamps and rivers
Average salary: $32,500

The outlying regions of the city of Ottawa provide a study in contrasts between the haves and the have-nots, depicting a place where "well-being exist[s] on a sliding scale."

It sets the stage perfectly for the murder of a senator and why his body is found in a cabin, far from his downtown office. The likely suspects are a delinquent who set fire to a Burger King restroom after getting into an altercation with the staff behind the counter and a troubled veteran suffering from PTSD, who just can't seem to put his life back together.

They're two young men who are on the downward spiral of prosperity. The fast food fire starter has "still, grey eyes that held the emptiness of rural poverty," while the one-time soldier has to quit his new post at the volunteer fire department when his wartime flashbacks become too much for him.

One of the cops sent to interview the two men can't help but notice their lack of upward mobility, and he no longer feels so bad about having to share a small house with his girlfriend and her two kids. Reflecting, he asks himself the question, "Why be envious of people far above you…when you [are] envied by people struggling below you."

He even develops a sense of empathy for the two suspects when he sees how they can't even afford things like a cell phone, Internet service or even a place to live. One is dependent on the social services his alcoholic father receives from the government while the other is forced to crash indefinitely in his brother's basement. The cop realizes how good he has it, and why similar men in his position turn to a life of crime in order to relieve their frustration or just to make ends meet.

As a law man, he doesn't condone their behavior, but he understands it, which is what good fiction does—it paints a picture of how the other half lives.


***

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
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Wednesday, May 10, 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

What would a Russian dictator's daughter think of living in America? It's an apt question both in our time and in the post-World War II setting of this novel, when Josef Stalin's pride and joy, his dear Lana, seeks refuge in New York City. Everyone knows who she is, she can't hide. Yet the infamy that surrounds her family doesn't seem to bother her. When she's gawked at from the moment she enters the illustrious Rainbow Room, she readily admits afterward that she loved every second of it.

Fame is a fickle thing, especially when you're known not for something you did, but for your last name. Lana laughs when good-hearted people in Nebraska and Kansas write to her, offering to adopt her. Yet the only person in America she experiences some sense of kinship with is the "supposedly" exiled Polish writer, Jerzy Kosinski. After seeing his wild eyes on a book jacket, she knew that she'd found her soul mate.

The two of them never become romantically involved, but they sure act like a squabbling couple. Lana's father was notorious for playing mind games with her, kind to her one minute, and cruel the next. Stalin's bipolar behavior is what Lana's accustomed to in a man. So when she says about Jerzy, "It was my misfortune in America that Jurek revived this addiction and made it worse. I was drawn to him and his maddening games." It doesn't bode well for the two of them.

Since they're both, in essence, Stalin's children. Jerzy admits that he could never relate to American heroes like Patton or Eisenhower because the Russians were the ones who saved his skin from the Germans. However, replacing one oppressive regime with another doesn't seem to bring any source of relief, even though that's what he wholeheartedly believes, illustrating the way that he thinks. No one is going to change him.

Lana recognizes this quality in him. She knows that beneath his calm demeanor, he's screaming inside, and she knows why. At any moment, the Kremlin could snatch her off the streets and send her back to the motherland. While Jerzy is convinced that the Polish secret police are out to get him. They're both paranoid, walking a tightrope they willingly stretch between them.

Recognizing the dark side in each other, they are, in fact, children of war. They hate what they've become, yet they can't stay away from it, either. As Lana adds, "His love was shot through with hate. He clawed at my weaknesses while he held my hand."

Some soul mate.

***

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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Wednesday, May 3, 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

This book is set in Vietnam.

The American author wrote it while in Vietnam.

And that's why I like it.

It's an authentic portrayal of an oft misunderstood place and it shows how it is right now, today. The author could've relied on his imagination, secondhand research, TV, movies, the Internet, etc. But he chose not to. Instead, he did the legwork and brought current day Vietnam to life from his own personal perspective. And let me tell you, it makes for a much more interesting read.

I felt like I could trust him, and what he was showing me. The ever present bribery. The oppressive heat. The crowded streets of a bustling Saigon. What he saw and felt, he was letting me see and feel too. And from one American to another, he was giving me a glimpse of the generational effects that the war has had on both countries. There's a great line that I just have to quote that comes from the point of view of Steve, the American lawyer/tourist and how he views his young Vietnamese motorcycle driver, Phan.
"Keenly aware that he was insanely wealthy compared to Phan - made him appreciate Phan's willingness to reach across the divide to help him even more. He offered to help at a basic human level."
The encounter begs the question: Is Phan more open minded because he was born after the war?

Because in a similar exchange Steve has with an older woman in a public park, he gets a much different reaction.
"The woman's hostile glare stayed with him reminding him Americans weren't the only ones scarred by the Vietnam War."
It's interesting that even in America today, many feel the up and coming generation is more tolerant of differences and displays more initiative to help others, even people who look different from them. It's an encouraging sign that the author noticed this in Vietnam too. It seems that the youth of both countries are able to look beyond the past and see a brighter future of cooperation and hope.

And that's what I'll take away from this book. Thanks to an author who was considerate enough to bring these two encounters to light, and what they meant to him. Whether they're fictional, based on real life, or a little bit of both—it's all good.

***

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:
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Monday, March 6, 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

It's not easy growing up as a refugee.

Even if you happen to be a dwarf, living in the Earth of Eald.

However, the parallels ring true to reality. When roots are stripped away, there's nothing left to ground you to your heritage. You're not where you're supposed to be, the place where you belong. You're just wherever you ended up in order to escape persecution. You didn't choose to end up in a certain place, you just did.

So how does a young dwarven woman like Ever cope? Her mother fled their homeland when she was pregnant with her, only to die, leaving her - not only an orphan - but the last surviving child of their doomed race. She went through her entire childhood without anyone her age to socialize with. Being around adults all the time made her long for the experiences they talked about, the ones of home, the ones she'll never have.

Until she decides to runaway and find out for herself what remains of their forsaken kingdom.

But there's just one problem. She's never ventured far from the safety of their cavelike dwellings. She knows nothing of the world since she's been hidden away her whole life with just a dozen or so other dwarves for company. That's it. That's all she's ever been exposed to. And she knows that if she leaves, something big is going to happen. She just doesn't expect what awaits her to be as monumental a mission as it turns out to be.

For Ever discovers that not only does everyone think that dwarves are extinct, but she carries the fate of the entire world on her tiny shoulders. From marshlands to dragon lairs, she is hunted, haunted by a psychic vision of a dark sorcerer who wants to, in his words, "Kill the dwarf!"

Oh boy, what has Ever gotten herself into? You'll just have to read the first of these fantastical tales to find out.

***

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:
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Wednesday, February 8, 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

The year 2156 is a frightening place. Probably because it looks more like a scene out of earth's feudal past than a promising glimpse into the future. In fact, it reminded me of something you might see in a "Walking Dead" episode, where the strongest humans enjoy picking off the weakest one by one, while making them suffer. Existence in this land is a day-to-day, minute-by-minute game of survival.

But evil doesn't just lurk in the hearts of men. Oh no, it takes a definite physical presence in the form of the supernatural creature called Unger, a black serpent that can break off into multiple animal shapes to devour human life in "a high mass of death." This demon-like entity is as unforgiving as it is scary. Once it has a human in its sights, watch out because there's no getting away from it.

Yet there exists a ray of hope in all this gloom in a boy named Pall. He seems to have the power of heaven on his side when an angel appears to him, rescuing him from danger with its song. Not to mention how he's guarded by a forest full of illuminated trees, shielding him against the encroaching terrors of darkness.

The power of unspoiled nature, itself, delivers him from his enemies, granting him mercy from the sort "who take grim satisfaction at the fear they put in men's eyes."

So when Pall utters an ancient plea for help, his prayer is heard and answered from above. And what a comforting thought, that is. He's not alone, and therefore, neither are we, as we travel with him on this perilous journey.

There's a higher power watching over the good people who are left in Pall's world (and hopefully in ours, too).

***

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:
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Facebook
Twitter
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Blog


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Friday, February 3, 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

In a fairy tale, the forest is usually a place to be feared. But not for Aoife. For her, it's her sanctuary—a place she goes not to become as bitter as her mother. Among the sturdy trees, she's able to find something much more dependable than her father. In her heart, she knows that nature will always be there for her.

Or at least, the infamous little man with the big name will be.

Unbeknownst to Aoife, Rumpelstiltskin has been her faithful companion during her outdoor jaunts. When she almost drowned in a pool of water, he was the one who jumped in and saved her. But he's never shown himself to her.

Until now.

All because a rival for her attention has arrived on the scene—a handsome duke who wants to marry her.

Aoife knows she going to need the little man's help, if she's to escape marrying the duke. But he's curious to see how she will react once she finally sees his face.

And unfortunately they both end up disappointed.

For a second, Aoife fights her repulsion and allows herself to imagine what it would be like to take him up on his offer and agree to live in his warm, safe, peaceful cottage in the woods. She's never known what it's like to be cared for and appreciated, and she's quick to dismiss the notion. Suspicious of his motives, it's hard for her to believe that all he wants from her is her company.

During the stolen moments he's had with her in the woods, she knows he's seen all of her—the good and the bad. And she can't believe, that now that he's aware of every single one of her flaws, he'd really give so much and ask for so little in return.

And sadly, her lack of faith in him causes everything to unravel, setting into motion a chain of events that will tragically end with the death of one of them.

TWISTED is a fresh, gripping take on a classic childhood tale—similar to "Beauty and the Beast" but with a much more poignant ending, one that will make you stop and think: what is love?


***

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:
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Facebook
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