Friday, 31 May 2019

Marked by Sloane Murphy


Title: Marked
Series: Black Water Academy Book 1
Author: Sloane Murphy
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Available Now!
Welcome to Black Water Academy.

The school where all supes in the territory come to learn and master their skills as they come into their power. Eden DeMonford is just like every other teen starting at Black Water, or is she?

With truths unravelling and suspicious people waiting in the wings, Eden must learn who she can trust and quickly…

Before the secrets of her past catch up to her.



Also Available:
B&NKoboiBooksAngus & Robertson







Meet the Author:


Hi everyone! I'm Sloane *waves*. I'm 29, a total book nerd with a penchant for travel and I probably use the words Dude & Awesomesauce far too often in real life.! I write mainly Paranormal Romance NA & YA, but I'll be branching out into other Romance genres too.


I was born and raised in Peterborough, England along with 2 sisters, 2 brothers and a plethora of cousins, I come from a REALLY big family! I'm one of the clumsiest people you'll ever meet, but I try to stay on my feet *haha*. I still live here with Mr M & our fur baby Arya.

Please don't be afraid to come and say hi! I don't bite I swear :)







Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Soul Mate Tree Series



An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds.
To some, it’s nothing more than a dream.
To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.




Title: Finding Faith
Series: The Soul Mate Tree Book 12
Author: April A. Luna
Genre: Fantasy


Faith Kometo cleans out the church coffers of a quaint village, flees on foot from pitchfork-wielding townsfolk, and ends up entangled in the veil between parallel worlds by a primordial spirit with Hayden Cox, an elite scout with the Order of Hunters, hot on her trail.

It’s taken Hayden two years and three timelines to trap his gargouille prey—a member of the Kometo clan. Now that he has his target in hand, he’ll stop at nothing to unearth the truth behind the order, genocide, and love’s pull.


Excerpt:

“Behind you,” Hayden’s voice echoed.

A whirling blue-green light spun around Faith, twirling her body. Bursts of light blinded her, making her eyes water.

‘I am old, infinite,’ said a feminine voice. ‘I am ancient.’

“Yeah. Like time itself.” Faith rubbed her eyes. “You said that already.” She glanced around but only flashing balls of light swirled. “Where are you?” A tree. How the hell was she inside the trunk of a tree?

‘My purpose is clear.’

“To you, perchance.” Faith surveyed the vicinity. Nothing but a light show filled her vision. “Ya care to share because what you want isn’t transparent to me?” She fought against the empty space. “How about you, hunter? Is it clear to you?” She eyed Hayden, scrutinizing his every move.

“Show yourself.” Hayden pressed a finger to his lips. “Why’d you bring us here?” He motioned with his index finger for Faith to remain quiet and observe. “What do you want?”

‘To give those who are needy, such as yourselves, a treasure so dear.’

“Exactly, what are we talkin’ about?” Faith followed a string of glowing threads. “Gold. Silver. Chromite Ore?”

‘They who come to my roots, with an opened heart, touch my bark, stroke my leaves. Find the one true soul mate of their lives.’

“Um . . . About that.” Faith shook her head. Who the hell does this being think she is? “Yeah. I won’t be touching or stroking anything, especially your bark or leaves, and just so you know, I’m not in the market for a mate.”


Author Bio:

April A. Luna (also writes as Michelle L. De La Garza) is an American freelance writer and poet,

who lives with her husband and children in Texas. She has an extensive background as an operational training manager writing corporate curriculum and facilitating training sessions. April holds degrees in BSBF, HRMS, and an MFA in Creative Writing (fiction, poetry, & scriptwriting). You may reach her on Facebook by clicking on the desired pen name: April A. Luna or Michelle L. De La Garza

Are you interested in obtaining April A. Luna's/Michelle L. De La Garza’s latest book releases and promotional news straight into your inbox? Sign up for her Newsletter.


April A. Luna

Michelle L. De La Garza




Q & A with April A. Luna:

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Time-travel, hands down. The ability to move through time, visit parallel worlds, or travel the galaxy are all at the top of my list. Think of all things a person could witness first hand. I could walk with dinosaurs both big and small; visit the missing link of man to uncover secrets now but only a whisper of a former time; see how the wild west was won; visit my childhood to see my grandfather and father—the great storytellers of my youth, and above all, watch the birth of a star.


What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
When preparing to write a book, I research my characters with rigger. For instance, for a vision-impaired character, I interviewed a woman, who amazed me with her ability to draw second sight from her other senses. Per her suggestion, I walked around my home, making a mental map of each room then donned on a black-out mask. For a week, I moved around my home without a touch of light. Sound, the first sense to take fight, tricked me. At first, pinpointing the origin of noise proved difficult. However, as time ticked on, each sound and crick became familiar, it was eye-opening. Even the plumbers digging tunnels under my home to repair broken pipes added to the experience since I could feel the vibration under foot. The last day of my black-out phase, and once the work crew left, I crawled under the house inside the three-by-three tunnels. The soil, cool and grainy to the touch, wafted around, filling my nose with an earthy aroma. The air, thick and heavy, promised a taste of unknown adventure, and as I moved through the winding opening without sight, a spacial awareness kept me from running into the carved-out walls. As far as research goes, this was my favorite experience thus far.


When writing descriptions of your hero/ine, what feature do you start with?
My hero and heroine must have an imperfection, something that makes them human at the core. A scar on a cheek, a chipped tooth or tooth out of line, callouses on one’s fingers, even a beauty mark one may view with an uncomfortable stance. To me, it’s the little imperfections people have that bring them to life as a character. After all, at the heart of each and every one of us, there is something that we’d change if given the opportunity to do so. However, should we? What makes us different or stand out in a crowd provides individuality that sets us apart from others. If imperfections didn’t exist, and we were all the same, it would be a boring world indeed.


Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter all the way, 100% or more. When it comes to drafting a new story concept, the spark rolls around in the folds of my brain, building in intensity, waiting for a chance to live on as something more than a mere thought. The world swirls into view first with vivid color followed by the selected Myers-Brigg’s personalities of my characters. My mind’s eye unraveles each scene in real-time like a movie reel playing in a theatre. Laptop open, curser blinking on a white page, I type out the sixteen main beats of my story using the Snyder Beat Sheet, which later becomes the work-in-progress (WIP) synopsis. The first chapter brings with it all the joy, sadness, and adventure of rekindling with an old friend. Flexibility, first and foremost, keeps me on track, a lesson hard learned in my earlier writing days. I might axe an idea or scene here and there as I move forward or kill a slated conflict if it isn’t working. Every aspect of the story, plotted right down to the end conflict, must speak to me before I write. Now, don’t get me wrong, surprises do creep up from time to time, but they are welcomed with an open mind and happy fingers that love to type.


Did you learn anything from writing this book? If so, what?
Yes. Why, yes, I did! Finding Faith, my first book written in past tense, taught me to shift gears when writing. The shift provided some rather odd obstacles to overcome, such as converting the live image unfolding in my head in real-time into a story told in past tense. My editors, C One and C Two, who encouraged me to push forward, provided words of inspiration and coaxed me to move forward when stuck.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” C One often stated. “Just follow it out of the woods.”
C Two offered a list of kill words and said, “Go forth and slay the little beasts.”
 In the end, once all the beasts were stricken from the manuscript, what I was left with was a past tense written novel, my first baby in this mode or style of writing, that found its way out of the dark and into the light of publication.



A randomly drawn commenter will receive a $50 Amazon/BN GC.




This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by:



Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Children in Chains by Lorraine Mace


Title: Children in Chains
Series: D. I. Sterling Series Book 2
Author: Lorraine Mace
Genre: Crime – hard boiled
Publication Date: 21st February 2019
Publisher: Accent Press


Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling is determined to shut down the syndicate flooding Bradchester’s streets with young prostitutes.

When a child is murdered, Paolo becomes aware of a sinister network of abusers spread across Europe, and spanning all levels of society. But Joey, the shadowy leader of the gang, always seems to be one step ahead in the chase.

Has Paolo come up against a criminal he cannot defeat?


Price Drop Alert!

Children In Chains is on offer at 99p/99c across all Amazon stores until June 15.
Amazon

Excerpt:

D.I. Paolo Sterling and D.S Dave Johnson are on stakeout after being given a tip off that a consignment of young girls is being smuggled into Bradchester. He and Dave are in a parked car waiting for the smugglers to arrive.



Paolo felt himself dozing off and jerked awake just as a van drove past and parked in the darkest corner of the car park, diagonally opposite their car.

“Dave, I think this might be our man. Let’s see what he does next.”

As they watched, the driver climbed out and lit a cigarette. Leaning against the van, he took out a mobile phone and made a short call. When he’d finished, he slipped the phone back in his pocket. He looked around the car park, as if searching for something, then turned and climbed back into the van.

“What do we do now, sir? It looks as if he might be pulling out again.”

“We’ll watch for a bit. If he drives off one of the teams out on the road can follow at a safe distance. At least until we’re sure this isn’t our man. But he hasn’t started the engine, so maybe he’s waiting for someone.”

Twenty minutes later a dark van swept past Paolo’s and pulled up next to the lorry. Both drivers got out of their vehicles and embraced. Then the first driver took the second man to the rear of his vehicle and unlocked it. From where they were parked, Paolo couldn’t see into the van, so signalled to Dave to wait.

The second van driver returned to his vehicle and manoeuvred it so that the two ends faced each other, blocking any view of what was being transferred between the two vans.

“Now,” Paolo said into his phone.

The car park lit up as several police vehicles switched on their lights and moved forward, blocking any chance of the vans making a getaway. The two men took off, one towards the services and the other towards the motorway.

Paolo jumped out and ran after the one aiming for the motorway. He was almost past him when Paolo threw himself at the man and brought him down with a flying rugby tackle. As the air whooshed out of Paolo’s lungs, he forced himself to hang on to the man’s legs.

Panting, he held the man down and waited for Dave to arrive. Between them, they got the man handcuffed and dragged him to his feet. They handed him over to the uniformed officers to put into a squad car. The other man was already sitting in one of the other cars.

It took Paolo a while to get his breath back and he realised how unfit he was. He’d turn forty later this month; too old to be throwing himself about the place like a kid.

“Right, let’s see what they’ve got hidden in those vans,” Paolo said when he had enough air in his lungs to be able to speak again.

He and Dave walked over to the open doors of the first van. Cartons of cigarettes filled the entrance floor to ceiling like a wall.

“Pull them all out,” Paolo ordered the uniformed officers. “There might be kids hidden behind there.”

An hour later both vans had been stripped bare. A fortune in stolen cigarettes filled the area around the vans, but there was no sign of any children. Paolo swore, but it didn’t relieve his frustration. Whoever was bringing the girls in had taken him for a mug.


My Review:

Having read and enjoyed the first book of the series, Retriever of Souls, I went ahead and bought book 2, although I was a little wary of the subject matter. Child abuse is not an easy topic to read about. I needn't have worried, the issue was dealt with sensitively although it was still a dark and disturbing read.

We join Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling and his partner, Detective Sergeant Dave Johnson, as they investigate the murder of an abused child and discover a network of child traffickers and paedophiles.

The cast of characters from book one are back and I enjoyed seeing their personalities and relationships develop further through the book. Paolo's home life is still complicated and his work made more difficult when one of his colleagues talks to the press.

I can't say this was an enjoyable read, but like Retriever of Souls, it was a gritty and gripping thriller that kept me turning the pages.

The third book of the series is on my TBR list!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)



Author Bio:

When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers' Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s Abc Checklist (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel Vlad The Inhaler – Hero In The Making, and Notes From The Margin, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.









Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Astraeus by Haley Cavanagh



Title: Astraeus
Author: Haley Cavanagh
Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Romance


One pre-apocalyptic Earth. One desperate space mission to find a solution. One unexpected alien.

When Dr. Sakota Thorell signed onto the mission to scout out a new, habitable planet, she knew discovering extraterrestrial life was always a possibility. But she never expected to find an alien adrift in space, nor for that alien to be so intriguing. Sakota feels an instant and undeniable attraction to Astraeus, but he represents a million possibilities, and just as many threats.

There are others hunting Astraeus, and his rescue may cost Earth its last hope.


Excerpt:

She moved to pull away, but the man’s fingers closed over her wrist.

“Let me go.” She jerked her arm, but he wouldn’t release his grip. She gave him a cautionary look, and he loosened his fingers, though he still held her. Warning bells went off. What if he’s not here in peace? But his eyes sparkled impishly. He seemed to enjoy her skin pressed against his. Maybe he hadn’t been touched in a while. Or maybe he had a crush. Who knew.

Before she could extricate herself, the intercom chimed. “Sakota, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. He’s just being friendly—”

The man’s forefinger trailed along her arm again. She sucked in a breath and shut her eyes as a series of images flashed through her mind. A high wall made of stacked stones. A hand spread out to touch the tips of tall, golden wheat of a field. Multihued buildings in the distance under a purple sky. Children’s laughter and then screams. She jerked when the images changed. Strange rain, like metal. Black ships attacking from the sky, horrible screams which rent the air, death. A gentle brush against her hand again. She inhaled and opened her eyes. The man searched her, calm and patient. She struggled to see straight, but her mind spun.

“W-was that your—”

The isolation walls shot up. Rutledge burst into the room and advanced like an angry bear, brutish, immaculate, and combat ready in his black Oceanstone fatigues. “Let her go,” he snarled.

Rutledge yanked the man’s hand off her and pushed her aside. She fell to the floor on her back in a dizzy haze, reeling from the vision. She turned her head. The man bellowed and tore loose from his restraints. His and Rutledge’s images faded into one as they collided and fought. Rutledge’s weapon whirred as he strained to activate it. The rifle propelled over her head and hit the wall.

“Stop.” Her pleas fell on deaf ears. She closed her eyes.

The men barged into the room with heavy footfalls and angry shouts. She opened her eyes, but her vision swirled. The blurred image of the alien lifted Rutledge’s lieutenant like a kitchen chair and catapulted him in the same direction as the weapon. “Stop,” she hollered to the men. “Don’t shoot him. He wasn’t attacking me.”

Another soldier fell to the floor with a sick thud, holding his stomach. “Yeah? Well, he’s attacking me.”

The alien pounced over her, crouching low. He caged her with his body and made a guttural rumble in his throat, a warning to the men. She turned her head to the marines, who zeroed their weapons in on them.


The audio book for Astraeus is live!



Amazon


Author Bio:

Haley Cavanagh is a military veteran, wife, and mother. She is an alumna of Columbia College, a musical theater nut, and she loves to dive into any book that crosses her path. Haley resides with her family in the United States and enjoys spending time with her husband and children when she’s not writing. She loves to hear from her readers, and encourages you to contact her via her website and social media.







Haley Cavanagh will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.



This post is part of a virtual book tour to celebrate the release of the audio version of Astraeus.
Tour organized by:


Monday, 27 May 2019

The Raven Coven by Emma Miles


Title: The Raven Coven
Series: Fire-Walker Book 2
Author: Emma Miles
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 27th May 2019


Kesta had left her heart across the sea. They were at peace, her people saved from slavery, and yet… her soul was uneasy.

Chem lies in chaos, its people suffering as a result of the death of the ruling sorcerers. Refugees flee the cursed Borrows, begging for help from those they had made their enemy. A Queen unknowingly makes a dark, deadly pact, and new powers rise to fill the seats left empty by the Dunham necromancers.


Excerpt:

This extract is taken from the beginning of The Raven Coven. Kesta has been back in her home on the Fulmer Islands for several weeks and is still coming to terms with having made her decision to leave Jorrun and Elden. Her calm has been severely disrupted by the imminent arrival of an ambassadorial delegation from Elden.


      Kesta shifted on the short-cropped grass, hugging her knees to her chest. She could feel the vibration from a small waterfall that plunged down from above to her left, and far below waves threw themselves at the cliff. The sun was warm against her skin but the wind off the sea still had a chill to it. Kesta glared out across the ocean, watching as the two-masted ship drew closer to Fulmer bay. Her teeth clenched tighter as pins and needles tingled in her chest and she realised she was tapping her feet.
      With a loud sigh she stood, her eyes still on the ship. She hadn’t wanted to be here for the Elden delegation, but her mother had insisted. She told herself she’d be polite, then find excuses to get out of the way. Tearing her eyes away, she turned and climbed slowly up the cliff to the path above and made her way toward the hold, her feet feeling heavy. There were a lot of people coming and going across the causeway from fortified Fulmer Hold, carrying supplies for the welcome feast. She caught herself scowling and drew in a deep breath to compose herself. It was the Elden’s king she hated, not the people, in fact she quite liked Merkis Vilnue who was coming here as their ambassador. Her mother’s closest friend, Heara, certainly liked the Merkis. Kesta grinned.
      By the time she got close to the beach, the Elden ship had already sent out a row boat toward the shore. Her mother was easy to spot. Although not as tall as Kesta, Dia wore the authority of the Icante, ruler of the islands, without the need of any crown or ornament. Kesta’s uncle, Worvig, stood to Dia’s left and her father, Arrus, to her right. Although much quieter than his brother, there was something about Worvig that always made Kesta feel safe.
      Kesta’s eyes lifted toward the rowboat and she drew in a sharp breath, her foot slipped off the edge of the path and she raised her arms to keep her balance and prevent herself falling. It couldn’t be! She swallowed, eyes wide, breathing hard as her heart raced. He was unmistakable. Taller than the men around him and as poised as a stag, dressed as always in elegantly tailored black. The Dark Man of Elden. Her husband.



Author Bio:

I presently live in the stunning county of Dorset where I’m a cat slave to Wolfe and Piglitt. I spend as much time as I can outside in nature and love exploring and learning about new cultures and languages. I’ve visited Greece, Serbia, Transylvania, Sicily and Norway as well as making several road trips around our beautiful United Kingdom. I paint, sculpt, dabble in photography and do a little archery but most of all – whenever I get a chance – I write.

My writing started from a very young age when I often found myself being the one taking charge of and entertaining all my younger cousins. They loved to hear my stories and although they mostly called for ghost stories it was fantasy I fell in love with when I read The Lord of the Rings when I was ten. I went on to write stories and short ‘books’ for my friends through school and college; then one evening whilst I was waiting for my aunt and uncle to visit an image came to my mind of a boy sitting beneath a bridge. I didn’t know who he was or why he was there, but from exploring those questions ‘The Wind’s Children’ trilogy blossomed and grew with roots going back into his far history as well as stretching out to his future. The boy’s name was Tobias.

I have since left Tobias's world of 'Naris' to explore the Valley with Feather in the 'Hall of Pillars' which is now available through Amazon. I am now presently finding my way through Elden, the beautiful Fulmer islands, the ravaged Borrows and haunted Chem with Kesta Silene; a shamaness of sorts with a big journey ahead of her. I hope you come along to share her story and join her adventure; she needs you and you won't regret it.




*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Sunday, 26 May 2019

Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream by Garret Thomas Godwin


Title: Chasing Quetzalcoatl to the American Dream
Author: Garret Thomas Godwin
Genre: War, Fiction
Publisher: Xlibris


Set in the Southwest, this is a story of soul evolution - the story of a soldier who came back from Vietnam and knew he had to adapt to a rapidly changing world. The story chronicles his transformation from a soldier to a man of God, but for him the process of change was not always kind. Making his journey more difficult is the fact that he comes from a mixture of two cultures, Native American (Navajo) and white. He encounters people who are further along the path in their soul evolution than he is, along with incredible obstacles to his education and business endeavors. But most importantly, he must learn to reconcile his warrior nature with God's plan for him.

AmazonB&NKoboiBooksIndiebound






Author Bio:

Garret Godwin received his BA in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his MA in English literature from Temple University in Philadelphia. He was the Robert Sterling Clark scholar in classics at St. John's College in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and he holds an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh. He is the author of True Philadelphia Stories (aa collection of short stories and essays), three novels - Chasing Quetzalcoatl To The American Dream, Down and Out in Philadelphia and New York, and Through The Dark Looking Glass, and an anthology of poetry, As You Sow. He lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.




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Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Last Van Gogh by Will Ottinger


Title: The Last Van Gogh
Author: Will Ottinger
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: March 2019
Publisher: Black Rose Writing


"The Last Van Gogh" received the 2019 Maxy Award for Best Mystery-Detective Novel


A brilliant and troubled artist. A lost masterpiece. The desperate search for the truth.

An unknown Van Gogh painting disappears from France at the outbreak of World War Two. A notorious con man later claims he smuggled the immense painting to the U.S. where it is never seen again. Ninety years later, his two sons, Adam and Wesley Barrow, discover letters that supposedly confirm the painting's existence, now valued at $250 million if it exists.

Dogged by a dysfunctional childhood and skeptical of his father's tale, Adam at first dismisses the old letters.

The painting's possible existence also attracts the attention of three unscrupulous collectors, all former associates of his father, one of whom engages a professional killer to find the painting.

Doubtful of its existence, Adam teams with Katya Veranova, a beautiful KGB defector and ex-assassin, as they travel to Holland, Paris, California, and New York on a desperate mission, forming an intimate but tenuous bond. Tracked by the unseen contract killer and threatened at every turn, Adam and Kat face increasing danger in their quest to find the last Van Gogh.

AmazonB&NKoboiBooksIndiebound

Excerpt:

Chapter Four

         The ambulance bearing Wes disappeared around the corner onto Wells Street, siren moaning as traffic pulled to the curb to let Chicago’s latest casualty pass. They’d removed Vasily’s body after a flurry of police photographs, Chicago’s finest dispersing the gawkers. The storm whipped gray curtains of rain off Lake Michigan, washing blood from the sidewalk as I surveyed the damage.

         Red and blue strobes atop the remaining police cars illuminated my gallery like a roadside strip club. Inside the shattered window, a desecrated painting hung askew on the nearest wall, its frame splintered, the canvas holed by bullets. Beneath the destroyed Expressionist nude, crumbled wallboard fragments littered my proud new carpet. None of it mattered so long as Wes was alive.

         I raised my coat collar and retreated beneath the awning followed by a bored Chicago police sergeant, glass crunching under our shoes. The cop was a street veteran down to a scarred chin and wary expression, his belly encroaching on his belt buckle. He removed his brimmed hat and brushed rainwater from the clear plastic covering, wiping the checkered band with a thick thumb before he tugged it back on with a street-weary sigh.

         “Looks like you and your brother dodged a bullet,” he said with a caustic half-smile. Discomfited by my expression, he said, “Well, he didn’t actually dodge it. The EMT’s said the bullet nicked the back of his calf without finding bone. Some blood loss but no permanent damage.”

         “I’ve got to call his wife,” I said.

         “Sure, in a minute. First, you wanna tell me what happened?”

         Across the rain-slicked street, the space sat empty where the Lincoln had waited for us. “We walked out and someone started shooting from a car parked across the street.”

         The cop contemplated my shattered window. “I don’t figure the boys from the projects, but you never know about those crazy bastards.”

         I shook my head, recalling the tinted window sliding down. Maybe a loan shark fed up with Wes’s late payments? “The car was a black stretch Lincoln, the kind limo owners drive.”

         The cop took a cheap spiral notebook from his yellow raincoat and made a note. “But it could be gang bangers the projects. They like to cruise the streets at night,” he said. “Lot of random shootings. The worst call themselves the Deuce’s Disciples.” He kicked at the glass rubble around our feet. “I think tonight probably was a screw-up. Mistaken identity or drug deal gone bad.”

         I didn’t say so but the cop’s reasoning didn’t feel right, a bunch of brainless bangers shooting up an art gallery from a limousine. Glad to be out of the rain, the cop made another note and took on the jaded expression of investigating endless mayhem. Another Saturday night shooting and one more bewildered citizen he was supposed to protect.

         “The dead guy,” he asked. “Customer?”

         “One of my artists.” I almost told him about Vasily’s uncle and decided against it. The police would find out soon enough, and a whole new avenue of investigation would begin, including my association with Viktor Krushenko. I didn’t want to think about it.

         The sergeant closed the notebook. “The detectives will want to talk with you tomorrow.” He frowned at the rain blowing through my broken window. “Lousy fucking weather. Better get something over that hole. We’ll keep a man here until you leave,”

         He ambled back to the circus parade of flashing lights and I went inside, wondering where in hell I’d find someone to board up a window on Saturday night. I’d lugged the exposed paintings to the work area, too disheartened to touch the ruined painting. I thought about Viktor and knew I should call him, but I put it off. Viktor would know about the attack soon enough and I tried not to think about what might follow. Vasily was dead and that would bring repercussions for someone. Possibly me.

         I called Barbara and got her calmed down after a few minutes, explaining Wes was basically okay. She kept asking me why Wes had been shot but I had no answer. I gave her the name of the hospital where they’d taken him and said I’d meet her there. Hanging up, I stared at the jagged hole where my front window once existed. I waved to the cop stationed at the door and went to my office. Thumbing my iPhone for repair companies I located one open 24/7. The answering service claimed they’d be on their way within the hour and I almost believed the voice. Bundled in a raincoat I walked outside and told the patrolman to go home, that I’d wait until the hole was boarded up.

         I pulled up a chair by the front door as the adrenaline ebbed, watching cars slow to ogle the destruction. Gusts of rain gleefully destroyed my new carpet and I tried not to calculate replacement cost, wondering if my insurance covered gunfire. To my surprise a panel truck arrived half an hour later. Two workmen hammered up plywood sheeting, the rough wooden patch blighting the front of my beautiful gallery.

         Not owning a car in a city where parking was a mixture of fate and voodoo, I called Uber to take me to the hospital. During the ride, it occurred to me the gunshots had been oddly muffled. I hadn’t told the cop, but the recollection increased my uneasiness. Why would underage gangsters or a shyster bother with a silencer?

***

         Wes had been discharged by the time I reached the hospital. A young black intern assured me the injury wasn’t serious enough to keep him overnight. In the midst of usual Saturday night mayhem and need for beds, they’d bound the wound and released him with a supply of pain killers.

         It was still raining as I called Uber again and headed for Wes’s apartment. Barbara let me in and I found Wes with a glass in his hand, leg propped on an ottoman, his smile vacant.

         “Hey, this Vicodin is great stuff,” he said as if he’d discovered the solution to world peace.

         Barbara sat on the arm of his chair and shook her head at me with less than fawning eyes. She inclined her head at the glass in his hand.

         “Water,” she informed me.

         Maybe the shooting would prove a respite for him. Provide an enforced vacation from his favorite lounges and liquor stores. Barbara sure as hell wasn’t going to let him mix painkillers with booze. I pulled up a straight-backed chair from the dining room and tried to smile.

         “You okay?” I asked.

         “Is Vasily dead?”

         I nodded.

         “Damn. He seemed like a great guy.”

         “He was.”

         Wes shifted his weight and winced. I looked around. The apartment was sparser than I remembered, and Barbara appeared five years older. She was a lean woman who never worried about her weight, a great wife to Wes but not my biggest fan. She believed I enabled him with loans and bail money, short term solutions to his deeper issues. But what was I supposed to do? Leave him to the mercy of the drunk tank? She loved him in her own patient way that allowed me to look beyond her faults, mainly her dislike of me.

         She hovered over Wes, curly auburn hair and blouse still damp from the rain, her face wet with tears. “This is quite a night,” she snapped, her voice trembling as she brushed away a limp strand of hair. “Our home gets broken into, then you call to tell me Wes has been shot.”

         “You got robbed?” was all I could think to say.

         “Never imagined the art business was this violent,” Wes laughed, his eyes swimming with the Vicodin. “Russian gangsters and artists murdered in the street.”

         “You sure you’re alright?”

         He held up the glass of water. “I’m fine, but I never needed a drink more in my life. What the hell happened?”

         “The cops aren’t sure.”

         “Great location you picked, Adam” Barbara said over her shoulder as she strode to the kitchen. “A trendy neighborhood. You serve Sneaky Pete wine at your gala last night?”

         “C’mon, Barbara,” Wes croaked.

         I resented her criticism. I hadn’t envisioned a shooting gallery when I selected the location. “You’re clear on the other side of town and you got robbed,” I reminded her, although the sparse apartment didn’t appear a likely target.

         “We need to talk about what happened,” Wes said.

         “I’ll talk with detectives tomorrow. The cop told me...”

         “Not about the shooting,” Wes said. “The break-in.”

         “Wes,” Barbara called from the kitchen, “don’t start again.”

         “He needs to know.”

         “Know what?” I asked.

         Barbara sat on Wes’s chair arm again and lightly ran her fingers through his hair. “He’s not making a lot of sense, what with the pills and all,” she said. “Something about a Van Gogh painting your father claimed to have owned.”

         “He told me about that, but what am I missing here?”

         “The letters are gone,” Wes said. “We checked but they’re not here. Nothing else was taken.”

         “You sure the letters were here?”

         “I changed clothes before I came to the gallery. They were in my jacket.” He looked on the verge of bursting into tears. “Our one link to the painting.”

         “You’re sure they were stolen.”

         “I’m a recovering drunk, not a moron,” Wes snapped, slumping back in the chair as the pills worked their magic.

         Barbara shot me a warning look that hovered between ‘help me’ and ‘get the hell out of here.’ It was obvious they’d fought a war over a fictional masterpiece that would solve their problems.

         Wes bent forward and winced. “Dammit, Barbara, it’s real.”

         She searched his haggard face, her own reflecting defeat fostered by years of disappointment. She started to reply but looked away.

         “Okay, I’ll agree our old man was crazy,” Wes admitted, “but he had no reason to lie to us. No money in lying. If he owned a forgery, why didn’t he pawn it off on somebody years ago? God knows he always needed money.”

         “This is crazy,” Barbara said. “What about us? You’re putting this fantasy before everything we’re trying to do. You’re in no shape to traipse after some painting. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re almost broke. Where do you think we’ll find money to search for your Eldorado? You have a portfolio or bank account I don’t know about?”

         “Maybe we can find a backer.” Wes insisted. I’d heard the same desperation when he discovered a liquor bottle was empty. He looked up at me. “What about your gangster friend?”

         “Viktor Krushenko is not my friend.”

         “He was Vasily’s uncle. He could help us.”

         “Wes, do you have any idea who these people are? Where their money comes from? It’s possible Viktor was trying to get rid of me after our argument. The bastard’s crazy, you saw that. You heard how unhappy he was about the split Vasily was getting. Maybe he meant the shooting as an object lesson to me and he screwed up. Either way, he won’t be a happy Boy Scout when he finds out Vasily’s dead.”

         “We need to find a way,” Wes said, his optimism bolstered by the pain killers.

         Barbara turned away again and I was out of arguments. Our dead father was ripping our lives apart yet again, his sons lost in his dysfunctional shadow.


Author Bio:

Will Ottinger spent his early life in Savannah, Georgia. A graduate of Emory University with a BA in history, he is also a graduate of Northwestern Graduate Trust School in Chicago.

His first novel, A Season for Ravens, published in 2014, was named by Reader Views as one of its top-three Historical Fiction works of 2014-2015. The second novel, The Savannah Betrayals, was published in March, 2018. His third novel, The Last Van Gogh, was released in March, 2019 by Black Rose Writing. Windrow and Greene Publishers in Great Britain earlier published his non-fiction work on the art of historical miniatures, an art form in which he gained international recognition as a Grand Master painter. He authored a magazine column for seven years, trained and lectured extensively in the financial field, wrote articles for trust and investment publications, and has spoken to large and small audiences. He served as president of Scribbler's Ink, a Houston writers’ group.

Former founder and owner of a wealth management training/consulting firm, he and his wife also owned an art gallery in downtown Chicago. Both are inveterate fly fishermen and now live in Atlanta Georgia.




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Friday, 24 May 2019

Mrs. Murray's Hidden Treasure by Emily-Jane Hills Orford



Title: Mrs. Murray's Hidden Treasure
Series: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 2
Author: Emily-Jane Hills Orford


There is a hidden treasure in the grand old mansion on Piccadilly Street, in a place called London, but not the real London of English fame. There’s also a lot of mystery and a murder that’s been unsolved for decades. But it’s the treasure that captures Mary’s interest.

Mary lives in this house along with her family, her Brownie friends and a ghost. When the ghost reveals her secret about the hidden treasure, there’s no stopping Mary, her Brownie friends, or her enemies from searching for this treasure.

Why the intrigue? Apparently there’s a little bit of magic connected to this treasure. And so the adventure begins. Who will find the treasure first?


Excerpt:

      But this treasure alluded her. She knew it was here, in this house, somewhere. The question was, where? And Mrs. Murray wasn’t being any help. Not one bit.
      Mary let out a deeply pent up sigh. “You must remember something! When was the last time you held the jewellery in your hands? Did you ever wear the ring? Or the necklace? Or both?”
      “Oh yes!” Mrs. Murray beamed, if a ghost could beam through its shimmering effervescence. Even her eyes glistened, sparkled really, as the memories started to wash over her. “I wore it as a teenager. Only briefly. My grandmother gave it to me when I turned sixteen. She said it was very special, full of magic. I didn’t believe her then. I didn’t believe in magic. You see, I hadn’t met Brunny and Pelly yet. They were connected to my grandmother until she died, which was only days after she gave me the jewels. Very sad. She was so strong and healthy. It was as if some horrible curse took her away. That’s what Brunny said when he first appeared to me. Both my grandmother and Brunny insisted I take special care of the jewels. And certainly not wear them around for the world to see. Such a shame, really. They are beautiful. Were beautiful. Are beautiful. I don’t know which, past or present. Do they even still exist? I don’t remember the last time I saw the necklace. It must have been before I left Scotland. Perhaps it is still there. Perhaps I misplaced it. I don’t really know. But the ring is here. Somewhere. If it still exists.”
      “Oh, it exists all right.” Mary dropped her legs over the side of the bed. “Maybe if we wander the house together, you might remember and I might sense something.”
      “What if we wake your family?”
      “I’ll pretend I’m sleepwalking,” Mary chuckled softly. “I do that enough anyway. They’ll believe it. Besides. Everyone’s exhausted. They’re out for the night. Like Dad will say in the morning, sleeping like a log.”
      “If you insist.”
      “I do.”
      “Where are the Brownies? I hope Elizabeth hasn’t poisoned them again.”
      “In which case, we shall be extra vigilant as she may be watching our every move.” Mary didn’t say it out loud, but she had decided it might be best to just sense a location of the treasure and then go looking for it in daylight, at a time when she was sure Elizabeth wasn’t snooping.


Author Bio:

Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including Gerlinda (CFA 2016) which received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, To Be a Duke (CFA 2014) which was named Finalist and Silver Medalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention. For more information on the author, check out her website.



Interview with Emily-Jane Hills Orford:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was surrounded by story tellers. As the youngest, I couldn't get a word in edgewise, so I listened. As soon as I could hold a pencil and write my letters, I was writing stories and I knew I wanted to be a writer. I may have been sidetracked over the years, but I always returned to my first passion: writing.


What motivates you to write?
Everything and anything. I get my ideas listening to the news, reading, walking my dog, working in the garden, sharing ideas with other writers.


What are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?
The hardest part is the rejection letter. Every writer receives them, but it's still difficult to accept. At least now that rejection letters come in e-format, I don't have to recycle multiple stacks of reject letters.
The easiest part is sharing my stories with others and listening to comments, both good and bad. We learn from each other.


Which, if any, of your personality traits did you write into you characters?
Well Mary, the main character in "Mrs. Murray's Ghost" and "Mrs. Murray's Hidden Treasure", is modelled after myself. Everything from the childhood illnesses, the school bully, the shyness, Rosie the best friend, playing with Barbies and imagining all kinds of things.


Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Oh definitely. I know you're not supposed to "judge a book by its cover", but how the book appears certainly attracts potential buyers and readers. I love the covers for both "Mrs. Murray's Ghost" and "Mrs. Murray's Hidden Treasure".


When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
Like all writers, I want to be a writing sensation, a best-selling author. Will it happen? Only time will tell.


How do you spend your free time?
Reading, writing letters (the old fashioned way), walking my dog, working in the garden (or, in the winter, making plans for spring gardening), needlework, collage painting, playing the piano, composing music. I guess you could say I do just about everything that is creative. Each creativity inspires the other.


Which fictional character, book or film, would you like to meet and why?
Marley - from the book by the same name. I can't help it. I love dogs. And, despite his compulsive behaviour, Marley really was rather cute. I like the book better than the movie - of course, isn't it always that way?


A genie grants you three writing-related wishes: what are they and why?
1 - That everyone would see the importance of reading and start reading books again.
Why? If more people read, then the publishing industry would grow again and there would be a greater demand for books such as mine and so many other very talented authors who are not getting the attention they deserve.
2 - The end of ebooks and the renaissance of the real, paper-bound book.
Why? I'm not fond of high tech in any way, shape or form. I only connect because I have to connect to promote my writing. I prefer reading real, paper-bound books. Nothing can replace the feel of a book in one's hands, the smell of the paper, the luxury of turning a real page and the pleasure of using a real bookmark to mark your place.
3 - That every country in the world would adopt Iceland's holiday tradition of giving books to loved ones on Christmas Eve.
Why? I think this is a lovely tradition and a great way to support contemporary writing talent.


Thank you, Emily-Jane.



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Thursday, 23 May 2019

The Gordon Place by Isaac Thorne





Title: The Gordon Place
Author: Isaac Thorne
Genre: Horror
Publication Date: 04/15/2019
Publisher: Lost Hollow Books


Lost Hollow constable Graham Gordon just walked into his abandoned childhood home for the first time in twenty years. Local teenagers have been spreading rumors about disembodied screams coming from inside. Now, thanks to a rickety set of cellar stairs and the hateful spirit of his dead father, he might never escape.

Meanwhile, Channel 6 News feature reporter Afia Afton—whose father is the victim of a local decades-old hate crime—is meeting with town administrator Patsy Blankenship. Her mission is to develop a ghost story feature for a special to air on the station’s Halloween broadcast. When Patsy tells her about the screams at the Gordon place, the past and the present are set on a collision course with potentially catastrophic results.

Can Graham come to terms with his father’s past and redeem his own future? Can the murder mystery that has haunted Afia for most of her life finally be solved?

It’s a fight for the future and the past when spirit and flesh wage war at the Gordon place.


Excerpt:

The only net gain for Graham, if it could be considered such, that had come out of the election so far was that he had been able to use the position to convince the town to turn his old homestead over to him for a song and a promise he’d clean up the blight. That had been another lark. In the same town board meeting that had seen him sworn in as constable there had appeared on the agenda a plan to demolish the old place as a means of curbing the juvenile delinquency it seemed to entice. The rumors being spread by the kids in town had reached the board’s ears, and they had come to the same conclusion he had: the place was turning into an attraction for vagrants and ne’er-do-wells. Therefore, tear it down.

When the time came for public input on the matter, he’d suddenly found himself standing—without having previously planned to do so—and arguing that the place had sentimental value for him and that he’d like a shot at restoring it. He might even turn it into some kind of tourist spot, an idea he’d come to by way of town administrator Patsy Blankenship, she whom he’d hung up on moments ago. She had already renovated one old local homestead into a bed and breakfast that hosted the occasional guest or local event. The board had balked at his idea at first, but after he’d promised to either clean up the blight or hand the old Gordon place back to the town for demolition within a year, they’d relented. Now he owned the home: a shelter for rats, snakes, vagrants, and bored teenagers. He had no idea where to begin.

Graham pushed the thoughts away. This was no time to go second-guessing his life choices and cost himself what little nerve he had summoned to search for trespassers. He sidled up the hall. The back of his shirt created a loud scraping sound against the faded and peeling fleur-de-lis wallpaper covering the entry hall, a remnant of his mother’s New Orleans roots. He left his own narrow trail of Wolverine sole prints in the dust on the floor, carefully avoiding stepping on the ones left by the previous visitor. The physical memories of life in the house came flooding back to him. The sound of his footsteps on the hardwood floor. The sound of his father’s footsteps. Even the scrape of the wallpaper against the fabric of his shirt bubbled up memories of him dashing all over the house, running his hands and fingers over the walls as he did, just as any normal wild young boy might do.

The tiny hook and eye latch that had been meant to secure the cellar door was already undone when he got there. Graham didn’t know whether his father had initially installed that latch, but he’d always thought it a silly and unnecessary addition. The door to the cellar was no more than three uneven slats of painted pine carelessly supported along their backs by two horizontal two-by-fours. Large gaps between each slat rendered useless any attempt to keep the cooler air of the cellar out of the entry hall by just shutting the door. Besides, it had always managed to swing shut and stay closed on its own—even unlatched—which was one more reason the cellar had made for such an excellent hiding place.

A small wooden cabinet knob was mounted a couple of inches below the hook. Graham grabbed it and pulled. The door swung open easily on its spring hinges and without much complaint about the new tension; surprising after so many years of disuse. The ray from his Maglite spilled into the opening and revealed three splintery and slowly disintegrating steps, approximately one-quarter of the familiar set of plank stairs leading from the mouth of the door before vanishing into the damp darkness below. Graham felt for the light switch just inside the cellar door and flipped it on, but it produced nothing. He’d had service activated so he could begin work on the place. Maybe the power company hadn’t gotten around to it yet. That would certainly explain the state of the security light out front.

“Hello?” he shouted into the depths of darkness. “Lost Hollow Constable! Is anyone down there?”

There was no answer.

Graham stepped through the door. He’d covered only one tread before the sound of the creaking staircase started to get to him. There he paused, not allowing the door to swing shut behind him and not liking the soft and spongy feel of the tread on which he stood. It had much more give in it than he remembered from his youth.

From this position, the narrow beam of his Maglite enabled him to see the end of the staircase, but nothing beyond. The final step looked black and almost completely rotted away. The one above it didn’t appear to be in much better shape. If he went forward, he risked breaking those steps, which would make climbing out of the cellar much more difficult. If he didn’t go on, and someone was trapped down here, he might lose his job in disgrace. Worse, a real law enforcement officer, like a county sheriff’s deputy, might end up investigating the “screams” and finding a dead body he’d missed out of fear, in which case he could at the very least be accused of neglecting his duties as an officer of the peace.

Maglite secured in his left hand, Graham pawed at his right hip, immediately taking comfort in the shape of the county issue radio clipped to his belt. He ran his fingers along the top of the device until they closed around the volume knob, which he turned to the right. A thin click and a spurt of white noise erupted through the tomb-like silence of the old house. It vanished just as quickly, leaving in its wake the distinct hum of radio silence. Even so, it was reassuring that he had not only remembered to carry his direct connection to the Hollow County Sheriff’s Department inside with him but it also appeared to be in proper working order.

“Let’s hear it for technology. Thank God.”

From somewhere inside his head, he thought, the darkness replied: GOD AIN’T GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

The next thing he felt was the bone-crunching shock of something blunt and heavy striking the back of his head. He heard what sounded like the shattering of thick glass. He was able to stay upright just long enough to feel what might have been a trickle of blood oozing from his scalp to the nape of his neck. A pair of unseen hands at his back thrust him into the darkness of the cellar, launching him down the full length of the rickety staircase. He fell forward, plummeting face first into the densely compacted earth beneath the house. The bridge of his nose exploded in a bright starburst of pain. His upper teeth crashed down on his lower lip, ripping open the pliable flesh. He felt an immediate swelling there. A thin stream of hot blood ran tear-like down his chin from the wound. Dimly, he heard the crack of splintered wood as his shins came down last, disintegrating the deteriorated lower steps in a fireworks show of wood rot and ancient dust.

His radio went flying when he hit. He heard it shatter in a hiss of static somewhere off to his right. The base of his Maglite struck the ground at the same time. It flew from his hand and bounced off the earth once, twice, and rolled some distance over the ground before coming to rest against the farthest cinder block wall of the cellar. The lamp behind the flashlight’s lens flickered madly, creating a nauseating strobe effect, a stop-motion version of Graham’s shadow on the wall beside him as he at first struggled to regain his feet and then gave up, collapsing flat to the earth.

The lamp finally steadied itself at a low burn, illuminating almost nothing about the cellar but the corner in which it had landed. It had come to rest too far from the limit of Graham’s reach. He stretched his left arm out for it anyway, hopeful that the darkness had merely created some sort of illusion of depth. His fingers clawed at the dirt for a second or two before they ultimately surrendered and lay still.

Graham Gordon lay broken and exhausted on the black earth at the bottom of the cellar stairs. In the fading last rays of his dying Maglite, he saw an eye: a disembodied, full white orb broken by jagged lightning-shaped lines of red capillaries. The iris in the center of the eyeball was a murky dark brown color, unshining and nearly black. Its pupil was but a pinprick in the beam from the flashlight.

It stared at him from just beyond the edge of the darkness, unblinking.

“Dad?”

The world went dark.



My Review:

The Gordon Place is a chilling paranormal tale that kept me turning the pages. The writing switches between the past and modern day, and presents a tense and creepy story.


Duty calls and, as the only constable in the small town of Lost Hollow, Graham Gordon has returned to his childhood home. A place where his mother left him to be beaten and abused by his alcoholic father, who has now been dead for many years. Graham has an accident and because of the run-down state of the house, he can’t get out.

Meanwhile, reporter, Afia Afton and cameraman, Joe ‘Staff’ Stafford are on their way to Lost Hollow to film a ghost story feature. B&B owner, Patsy, has a tale to tell them about the local entity, The Black Bitch, a dog with a human face.

Afia left Lost Hollow as a child, after someone murdered her father, a few years after her mother had disappeared, and she’s never been back until now.

Graham and Afia’s fathers had bad blood between them, but no-one knew, or cared, about how deep the hostility ran, or the extent of Lee Gordon's hatred, until the events in the book run their course.


An intriguing and creepy, haunted house story with ghosts, spirits and possession. Not for the easily offended as the antagonist is a vile and abusive racist.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.)




Author Bio:

Isaac Thorne is a nice man who has, over the course of his life, developed a modest ability to spin a good yarn. Really. He promises. Just don’t push him down a flight of stairs.

You can find Isaac on Twitter or on Facebook.

Isaac reviews films for TNHorror.com and TheHorrorcist.com. He is the host of Thorne’s Theater of Terror and Classic Cuts on 24/7/365 horror-themed SCRM Radio.

More of Isaac’s work is available at isaacthorne.com and wherever books are sold.







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