26 June 2020

Book Recommendation: The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas by Sudha Murty


About the book: 

The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas by Sudha Murty is a poignant tale of two men, Venkatesh and Mukesh, as they set out on a journey to find out the mothers they never knew. Both men are happy and settled in their respective lives when they come across a shocking truth.

The two men are bound by the same dilemma and the same complexity of emotions. And it is important for them to find their way back to bring stability in their lives. The core interest of the book is in exploring if it is really possible to come to terms with reality as blaring and as deceiving as that of Venkatesh and Mukesh.

The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas by Sudha Murty is available in paperback format and was released by Penguin Books Limited in 2014.

Book Name: The Mother I Never Knew: Two Novellas 
Author Name: Sudha Murty 
Publication Date: 17 July 2014
Print Length: 216 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books Limited 
Language: English
Purchase Links: Amazon India | Amazon USA


My Thoughts: 

I had received this book as a gift from my friend in the year 2014. I read it back then, and afterward, it was lying on my bookshelf. Recently I was cleaning my bookshelf and rediscovered the book, and started reading it. I did remember both the stories roughly, still, I enjoyed it like a homesick girl eats a food cook by her mother.

Rather than the story of the book, I will talk about how the story makes me feel. For both the stories, the protagonist is beautifully described and one can easily relate to them. It's like, you know them for a long time, maybe a friend or a relative.

Although this falls in the drama genre, however, when the protagonist is trying to discover the truth, it gives a feeling of suspense.

Another amazing part of the book is the well-described characters. One can easily understand each character of both the stories, even if they appear on one page or one line. This is the brilliance of Sudha Murty, able to give a clear view of every character, even with very few sentences dedicated to them.

The book took me back to my childhood when I used to read Bengali novels on lazy afternoons and fell in love with each story. Both the stories are short in length, still, capture a wide range of life, various characters of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicity, and social-economical background. And within these short stories, the reader will travel to various parts of India and meet characters of different colors.

Personally, I loved this book from its first word till the last and recommend this to everyone.

💓💓💓💓💓


Author Bio:

Sudha Murty began her professional career in computer science and engineering. She a very famous writer all across the globe and wrote many books, namely The Gopi Diaries: Coming Home, Grandma's Bag of Stories, The Magic of the Lost Temple, and many more. She is the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation and a member of the public health care initiatives of the Gates Foundation.  Sudha Murthy is best known for her social work and her contribution to literature in Kannada and English.

Catch up with Sudha Murty On:





21 June 2020

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko

Tooth for Tooth

by JK Franko

on Tour June 1 - July 31, 2020

Synopsis:

Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko

What would YOU do?

What would you do if you got away with murder? Would you stop there? Could you?

Susie and Roy thought that they committed the perfect crime.

Their planning was meticulous. Their execution flawless.

But, there is always a loose end, isn’t there? Always a singing bone.

Now, while enemies multiply and suspicions abound, their perfect world begins to crumble.

The hunters have become the hunted.

IN THIS BLISTERINGLY RELENTLESS SEQUEL TO HIS DEBUT SHOCKER, EYE FOR EYE, J.K. FRANKO TAKES READERS ON A BREATHTAKING JOURNEY OF CAT AND MOUSE

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Legal
Published by:Talion Publishing
Publication Date: April 4th 2020
Number of Pages: 400
ISBN: 9781999318819
Series: Talion Series, #2
Purchase Links: Amazon || Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

Before meeting Susie and Roy, I had never met a murderer. But then, I had also never lied to the police or destroyed evidence. I had never seen the inside of a jail cell. And I had most certainly never been complicit in a homicide.
I have to reluctantly admit that I am a better person for the experience. I now appreciate that murderers really are just regular people like you and me. Indeed, I have come to consider Susie and Roy more than mere patients... they are friends. And I think back on our time together with nostalgia—fondness, even.
This did not happen overnight. It was a process.
What would you do if you found out that your neighbor was a murderer? Would you double-check that you’d locked your doors every night? Keep an eye out for strange comings and goings? Would you ultimately put your house up for sale, not disclosing what you knew about the folks next door to potential buyers?
For most people, being in the proximity of a killer is neither pleasant nor desirable.
Imagine how I felt about having not one but two as-yet-undetected murderers as my patients. Sitting with each of them for hours every week. Trying to guide them toward more moderate conflict resolution techniques. And failing.
Well, I’m here to tell you that despite the complexities inherent in that situation, I found my path to inner peace and happiness.
I know. I may have said elsewhere that, as a psychologist, I’m not a big believer in “happily ever after.” But my thinking has evolved.
I’ve come to believe more in choices—in the power of decision. This is the key nugget of wisdom I have taken away from this whole mess: We are not what happens to us. We are what we choose.
And I am pleased to report, for the first time in years, that I can finally say I am happy.
You have to understand that my unhappiness was not due to lack of trying. Chalk it up to naiveté—but, at first, it was difficult to process everything Susie and Roy told me and still be happy.
It’s hard to put a positive spin on murder.
Selfishly, I was overwhelmed by the fear that they might turn on me. They had shared everything about their crimes with me in meticulous detail. It was manifestly apparent that I was the weak link. The one person who could bring them down.
I was not just a loose end.
I was the loose end.
And, though I tried, I could not initially find peace under these circumstances. But, as I said earlier, happiness is a choice. And it was a choice that I made which finally ended my torment and brought me to a place where I could be at peace—even though everything ended tragically: my relationship with Susie and Roy, their marriage, the whole mess.
For you to understand the rest of my journey with Susie and Roy, I must share with you something that happened years ago at an ostensibly happy event. I say ‘ostensibly’ because it was a wonderful night for almost everyone concerned.
There were two people at that event who figure in this story—in my story.
The first is Sandra Bissette. For her, the night in question was the beginning of what would become a successful career in politics and law.
For the other, Billy Applegate, the night would end in tragedy.

PART ONE

Billy Applegate

1974
Everybody loves a party.
And there’s nothing quite like an election night party. What makes an election night celebration different?
The guest of honor. You see, all parties—birthdays, anniversaries, wakes—feature a guest of honor. But an election night party is a completely different animal because it isn’t about any one person or couple. It’s not even about the candidates.
At an election night party, the guests of honor are the attendees.
The people who gather to watch election results together are all of one mind. Of one spirit. They are like pack animals, all focused on the same outcome. They all share the same heroes and the same enemies.
If their candidates win, they all win. And a “win” means real-world changes for them—tax breaks, preferential government spending, judicial appointments—and money in their pockets.
Now, that’s a party.
This particular election night party took place in Maryland in 1974. To be precise—because I can be—this party was held on the night of the 1974 midterm elections, on Tuesday, November 5th.
It was a good year for Democrats.
This was the first national election after Watergate. Nixon’s resignation had severely damaged the Republicans’ chances in the election. Gerald Ford was just three months into his presidency, having taken over from Richard Nixon a few months earlier. And, of course, having pardoned Nixon in September, Ford had destroyed his own hopes for re-election and added to the national animus against Republicans.
This election night party took place in a spacious colonial-style home decorated in red, white, and blue, with American flags hanging from the windows and banisters. It featured a spacious living and dining area. The kitchen was large and well-equipped. There was a generous backyard with a comfortable deck and a terrace around the pool. All four bedrooms—aside from one guest bedroom—were upstairs.
There was even a “pin the tail on the donkey” game set up near the bar, for those with a sense of humor. No one actually played.
This house belonged to Dan and Annette Applegate, two proud and active members of the Democratic party in Maryland.
Dan’s family had always been active in politics. His grandfather had been a state representative. His father had served as a county judge for most of his career. Dan—born Daniel Parsons Applegate IV—was the fourth generation of Applegates admitted to the Maryland bar. While he would never actually serve in public office, he understood the value of political contacts and actively cultivated them.
This party was part of that effort.
Dan was dressed in a three-piece, tan wool suit, a white Brooks Brothers shirt, and a burgundy silk tie. The lapels and tie were wide, and the shirt collar oversized—all very fashionable at the time. Annette wore a slim, gold-belted, navy blue flare-leg pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse and a pair of simple gold earrings. Apropos for the gathering, and it went quite nicely with all the flags, she’d decided.
Their twelve-year-old son, Billy Applegate, was in dark green overalls with a white shirt and blue Keds. A handsome boy, Billy had inherited his mother’s cornflower blue eyes and his father’s thick sandy blond hair, which he wore in a neatly trimmed surfer cut.
Billy was an only child. His parents doted on him, as did his grandparents since he was the only grandchild in both families. Even so, Billy was a good boy and knew to stay out of the way when his parents had guests, though he stayed close enough to be in the mix and see what was going on. He was at the age where he still enjoyed watching the grown-ups. Spying on them. In fact, he was familiar with many of the faces that night from other events of this kind. It was a small community.
Tonight, Tuesday night, the guests were arriving early, many coming over straight after work before polling places even closed.
It was going to be a long night.
The band played. Alcohol flowed. Anticipation and excitement were in the air at the prospect of big Democrat wins. And, after everything Nixon had put the nation through, how could voters not want a change?
In the living room, a handsome mahogany console TV with a big twenty-five-inch-diagonal color screen announced results as they came in. Dan was loitering by the avocado green Trimline rotary phone, mounted on the kitchen wall, that rang periodically with live information. The spring-coiled, twelve-foot receiver cord allowed him to pace anxiously as he fielded calls from the few Democrats charged with providing up-to-the-minute results from county polling.
Remember, this was back in the days before computerized voting machines. Back then, voters travelled to their precinct’s designated polling station and used a machine to punch holes in their ballot. These were then collected and transported to a central counting center where the ballots were put through a counting machine which tabulated the results that were then released to the public.
Dan relayed results to his guests, with each ring of the phone bringing more good news. More cheering and more drinking.
It was a good year to be a Democrat.
At the peak of festivities, there were over 250 guests in and around the property, to the point where the party overflowed onto the street, which was not a problem. No one was going to complain, as most of the neighbors were in attendance. And these were all good white folk. The police were kind enough to block off both ends of the street and make sure that those who’d had too much to drink made it home safely.
Inside, the house was a political orgy. Supporters rubbed elbows with candidates. Candidates rubbed elbows with incumbents. Incumbents rubbed elbows with donors. And lobbyists rubbed elbows with everyone except each other.
There were a number of judges in attendance. Several city council members hovered by the buffet, and a few state representatives were sprinkled through the crowd.
It was into this whirlwind of excitement that Sandra Bissette arrived.
At a time when men still ran everything in politics, Sandra hoped to make a name for herself. The fact that she was a Yale-graduated lawyer didn’t hurt, nor did the fact that she had both the figure and the looks of Jackie Kennedy.
Sandra was the daughter of lifelong Democrats, and her father happened to be the county sheriff. Although Sandra was not part of the elite set in Maryland, she was making her way. She was two years into working as an associate at a top law firm after having done a couple of high-level summer internships in D.C.
That night, Sandra was primarily interested in meeting two people: one was Annette Applegate. Although Sandra knew that both Dan and Annette were active in the Maryland Democratic party, Dan was known to be a snob—his career consisted of riding on his family’s coattails. Annette was universally recognized as the nicer of the two. Annette knew everyone, and everyone loved Annette. It was with her that Sandra was hoping to build a connection.
The second person who Sandra had added to her charm offensive for the evening was Harrison Kraft—another young Yale lawyer who, unlike her, was connected in all the right ways. Having graduated a few years ahead of her from law school, Harrison was running for state representative. He checked all the right boxes— family pedigree, education, professional credentials. There was no doubt the man was going places. Sandra had heard good things about him as a person and was interested in seeing for herself.
It was a little after 9:00 p.m.—Dan had just announced the results from Precinct Four in Montgomery County when Sandra saw an opening. Annette was by the buffet chatting with Howard Patrick, an older lobbyist—handsy, and a bit of a bore. Sandra straightened her back, raised her chin, and approached.
“Hello Howard,” she said with a big smile.
“Sandra! Hello, my dear. Don’t you look beautiful tonight?” “Why, thank you, Howard. Ever the charmer,” she said, allowing him to kiss her hand.
“Have you met our hostess, Annette Applegate?”
As Sandra turned to greet Annette, she noticed that the woman was looking past her, over her shoulder.
“Um, excuse me, young man!” Annette said, eyebrows raised and pearly white teeth dazzling.
Sandra turned and followed Annette’s gaze to a young boy in green overalls filching shrimp from the buffet. She guessed he was just shy of being a teenager.
“Aw, crap,” said Billy as he chewed.
“Come here, you,” Annette said, narrowing her eyes in mock disapproval.
The boy hesitated as he took in the young woman, the fat old man, and his mother, who stood waiting for him expectantly with her hands on her hips. He’d never seen the young woman before. She was new.
Unconsciously, he slowly moved to return the three shrimp in his sticky hand to the platter.
“With the shrimp, silly,” his mother said, shaking her head. Billy moved toward her, chewing rapidly so he could stuff
the other shrimp into his mouth.
Howard put his hand against the small of Sandra’s back, a little too low, and harrumphed to her under his breath, “Better seen, not heard. That’s how it used to be.”
Sandra tried to smile and fought the instinct to pull away.
Howard’s breath smelled of scotch and cigarettes.
Annette overheard, but ignored the old lobbyist’s comment.
“I suppose I don’t need to ask if you’ve had dinner? I left meatloaf for you in the kitchen.”
“I know. But, Mom, these shrimp are amazing.”
“And the meatballs?” asked Annette, looking over Billy toward the platter on the buffet.
Billy blushed. “Those, too.”
“Well, it’s getting a bit late for you,” Annette said, ruffling her son’s fair hair and then kissing him on the forehead, making him squirm. “Finish up the shrimp and get to bed.”
“What about Dad?” Billy asked, looking around. Annette’s face darkened, and she sighed. “I’ll send him up for a goodnight kiss. But you come along now, young man.” She put her hands on her son’s shoulders and steered him towards the stairs. “Excuse me for a moment,” she said over her shoulder.
Shit, thought Sandra as she twisted politely away, getting the old lobbyist’s hand off her lower back as he struck up a conversation. While she tried to focus on what he was saying, it was all she could do not to stare at the green thing wedged in between the man’s tar-stained teeth.
It took her ten minutes to extricate herself from Howard, thanks to Alan Watts—a wiry man who was only modestly more interesting. His family ran a small chain of grocery stores. Alan had asked her out a while back, and though she’d declined, he still had hopes—she could tell.
After a few more minutes of polite conversation, Sandra fell back on “old reliable” with a forced smile. “Excuse me, gentlemen… ladies’ room.”
Once she was sure she had escaped, she continued to work the room. About half an hour later, as she accepted another glass of white wine from a passing waiter, she felt a hand pressing low on the small of her back.
Oh fuck, not again.
“Yes, Howard?” She turned, fake smile firmly in place, to find Annette Applegate standing behind her.
“Gotcha!” laughed Annette.
Sandra laughed, both from relief and from delight at the inside joke made by the woman to whom she’d hoped to ingratiate herself.
This is going to be a great night.
While Sandra and Annette chatted amiably, many other members of the party were well beyond civility.
The drinking had begun five hours earlier, but there was more than just alcohol flowing. Other substances were being abused. It was all very discreet, of course. Most were partaking solely for recreational purposes, but a few were ingesting more heavily. Beyond alcohol and drugs—and most hazardous of all, given that it was infecting everyone to some degree and was in ample supply—was the potent and dangerous combination of two psychological stimulants, victory and power.
You see, politics doesn’t attract only “normal” people. As in every part of society, there is a spectrum. And politics, too, has its outliers. The smug and the superior. The arrogant and the snide. And the sociopaths.
Victory and power are dangerous to all, but more so to the sociopath.
Do not consume alcohol or operate heavy machinery while taking...
For these select few, the alcohol, drugs, and victory combined with power was toxic. It created a euphoria that knew no rules.
No limits.
No fear.
* * *
Upstairs, Billy had fallen asleep with the soothing press of his mother’s goodnight kiss still fresh on his cheek.
A small nightlight plugged into a wall socket illuminated his bedroom, casting a warm glow on a baseball snuggled in a catcher’s mitt that lay in a corner next to a wooden Adirondack baseball bat.
On one end of his small dresser sat a model airplane—a Douglas A-20 Havoc that he’d built with his grandfather. It was a replica of the plane Gramps had flown during World War II. The model was flanked by a teddy bear that Billy claimed he’d outgrown but refused to give away. The other end of the dresser was reserved for the little boy’s current prized possession—Rock’em Sock’em Robots. A gift from his parents for his birthday.
The room was quiet, the party sounds muffled.
Suddenly, the door opened, spilling light into the little boy’s room along with the blare of music and the chaotic chatter of voices. Then, just as quickly, the door shut, returning the room to calm semi-darkness.
Billy was groggy and didn’t try to open his eyes. Instead, he just spoke out loud. “Dad?”
He felt the bed sag as his father sat next to him in a cloud smelling of alcohol and cigars.
Then he felt dry lips on his forehead. The kiss made him smile sleepily.
A hand stroked his head and his hair as Billy snuggled into his pillow and drifted back to sleep.
Suddenly, the same hand that had been stroking his hair gently clamped over his mouth. It was a man’s hand, but it was soft. Clammy. It was not his father’s....
Billy tried to sit up, but the hand squeezed harder, the man leaning into him, pushing him down and pinning him to the bed as a second hand groped at him, pulling away his sheets.
Billy didn’t know what to do. He was terrified. He opened his eyes, but with just the little nightlight on, he couldn’t see anything other than the vague shape of the form pressing down on him. He could smell booze and food on the man’s warm breath.
Tears came as the vise over Billy’s mouth forced him to suck air noisily through his nose as the groping continued—searching, finding, fondling, stroking, then reaching, penetrating, sending a hot shard of searing pain through his body. Inside.
He tried to fight, but couldn’t. The hands were too strong. The body too heavy. He felt sick. The stench of cigars, food, and alcohol on fetid breath was nauseating. And he was scared. Terrified. In pain.
Bile rose in Billy’s throat. But the hand over his mouth prevented him from vomiting. He gagged, then swallowed everything back down.
His body began to convulse.
To thrash.
As it did, the second hand stopped.
The man’s weight eased on top of his body, no longer pinning him down. The hand over his mouth loosened slightly, and Billy felt the other stroking his hair. He wanted to move, but he was paralyzed with fear.
The whole ordeal lasted minutes, but it felt like hours.
Then the presence leaned over and whispered, “Sleep. Sleep.
You were dreaming. Go back to sleep.”
The weight lifted from the bed, and as it did, the hand fell away from Billy’s mouth, leaving him shivering in the aftermath.
The door opened, first slightly. Through the crack, the man looked out into the hall as the babble of music and voices invaded the bedroom. Then the door swung fully open, and as it did, Billy saw the man clearly in the light from the hallway. The image burned itself into his memory. The image of a stranger whose identity he would eventually learn.
The door closed and the crowd cheered as the band started playing—“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”
And Billy Applegate cried himself into a fitful sleep.
***
Excerpt from Tooth for Tooth by JK Franko. Copyright 2020 by JK Franko. Reproduced with permission from JK Franko. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

JK Franko
J.K. FRANKO was born and raised in Texas. His Cuban-American parents agreed there were only three acceptable options for a male child: doctor, lawyer, and architect. After a disastrous first year of college pre-Med, he ended up getting a BA in philosophy (not acceptable), then he went to law school (salvaging the family name) and spent many years climbing the big law firm ladder. After ten years, he decided that law and family life weren’t compatible. He went back to school where he got an MBA and pursued a Ph.D. He left law for corporate America, with long stints in Europe and Asia.
His passion was always to be a writer. After publishing a number of non-fiction works, thousands of hours writing, and seven or eight abandoned fictional works over the course of eighteen years, EYE FOR EYE became his first published novel.
J.K. Franko now lives with his wife and children in Florida.

Catch Up With JK Franko On:
jkfranko.com, Goodreads, Instagram, Bookbub, Twitter, & Facebook!




Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!






Enter To Win!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for JK Franko. There will be six (6) winners. Two (2) winners will each win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. Two (2) winners will each win TOOTH FOR TOOTH by JK Franko (print) and two (2) winners will each win TOOTH FOR TOOTH by Jk Franko (eBook). The giveaway begins on June 1, 2020 and runs through August 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.
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19 June 2020

Lenny by B.R. Stateham


Lenny 
by B.R. Stateham 
Genre: Mystery 


Lenny has stared death in the face many times, from the jungles of Thailand & Vietnam to the mountain passes of Afghanistan. Now after a career of service he’s back in his hometown of Ballard, Texas looking for what comes next. Sheriff Greene knows an asset when he sees one and it’s not long before he signs Lenny up as his new deputy in the fight against the narcotics cartel that has over-run their quiet border town.20 years in the army have taught Lenny never to underestimate the things people are capable of but as the bullets begin to fly and the casualties begin to mount it’s just possible that his investigation may bring him closer to home than he ever expected. 

Praise for B.R. Stateham 

“Cooler than a fridge full of beer…”“ 

This is modern noir at its very best…” 

“B.R. Stateham is at the top of his game right now…” 

“Lenny may be the best thing B.R. Stateham has ever written, and as readers of his work will know, that’s quite a high bar to hit.” 

“B.R. Stateham has created an action packed tale - another winner from Fahrenheit Thirteen…” 





B.R. Stateham is a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seventy-year-old body. But his enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continue. 

Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive. He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, Near to The Knuckle, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime. He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy. 




$20 Amazon 

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18 June 2020

Isolation by Tera Lyn Cortez


Isolation 
The Soul Scribe Trilogy Book 1 
by Tera Lyn Cortez 
Genre: New Adult Fantasy 


What if you woke up one day and discovered all the things about yourself that you thought made you a walking disaster, actually made you very special?
Growing up on Earth left Everleigh totally in the dark about the magic that exists in the world. In fact, she was unaware that the realms beyond her own even existed. She spent her life struggling to hide her peculiarities from the world, believing she was an anomaly, a freak of nature.
Then a stranger showed up on her doorstep one day, leaving cryptic instructions that would lead her to discover just how much she didn't know. If she follows them, she will learn that not only do the other realms exist, but that she is an integral part of their survival.
The abilities she spent years trying to bury inside are just the tip of the iceberg. She must not only embrace them, but nurture them, and master them as quickly as she can.
The world is counting on her, whether they know it or not. By the time she's capable of making a difference, will it already be too late to save the ones she loves? 




Invocation 
The Soul Scribe Trilogy Book 2 


Everleigh's life has gone from Isolation and loneliness to being bombarded with magical beings from all sides.

When she is forced to flee the safety of the cabin and travel to the other realms, her world is turned upside down yet again. As she struggles to meet the needs of those relying on her, will she be able to balance the demands of learning her magic and preparing for war?

If she wants to survive in a magical world, she'll have to. 




Inauguration 
The Soul Scribe Trilogy Book 3 


What steps would you take to ensure that you came out the victor in a war that had been brewing since before you were born?

Everleigh must answer that question correctly to ensure that magic as they know it will not cease to exist. To protect the realms, and those she has come to love, she must make life-altering choices guided only by her intuition.

She has gathered warriors from every magical race available, seeking out those who are willing to help her put an end to the dark mage's reign of terror. As they march on to the final battle between good and evil, will their forces prevail? Will everything they have done be enough? Even if it is, will the cost of victory prove to be too much for them to pay?

At the end of the battle they can only hope that what is left of their world will be worth living in. 





In addition to being a newly published indie author, Tera Lyn Cortez is a wife, mother to five and a voracious reader. She is also a lover of coffee, the ocean and all things chocolate. Her home is in the lovely Pacific Northwest with her family, although she does admit to being consumed with Wanderlust. Life as a writer allows her to indulge in traveling both our world and those that live only in our imagination when she can’t leave her office. 




$25 amazon gift card 

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17 June 2020

The Chalice and the Crown by Kassandra Flamouri


The Chalice and the Crown 
by Kassandra Flamouri 
Genre: YA Fantasy 


Driven, talented, and determined to live up to her family's fame, Sasha Nikolayeva is ballet’s crown princess. But just when Sasha lands her most prestigious role yet, she falls prey to a host of disturbing neurological symptoms that threaten to end her career and her very life. As her mind and body deteriorate, Sasha spirals into a nightmare world where beauty and cruelty exist in the same breath and villains rule from the shadows.

In the glittering, sharp-edged City of Roses, Sasha is no princess. She’s a thrall, a slave. Thousands like her suffer in cursed silence while citizens enjoy the splendor of the City, blissfully unaware that their servants are anything more than living dolls enchanted to do their bidding. But the City's slavers know the truth, and they are always watching. One misstep could cost Sasha her life—or her soul.

Even as she endures the violence and indignity of captivity, Sasha can't help being drawn to the beauty of her nightmare world and the underground rebels who offer her friendship, shelter, even love. Before Sasha can break her chains for good, she'll need choose between the life waiting for her at home and the countless lives she could save if she stays. To choose a nightmare over her real life, her future, would be madness...but maybe a little madness is just what it takes to change the fate of a city built on lies. 

Dreams and reality perform a captivating pas de deux in this tale of legacy and longing. A lyrical and original fantasy that, like its heroine, has the soul of a dancer. 

- Adi Rule, author of STRANGE SWEET SONG 





In retrospect, I probably should have realized a lot earlier that I was meant to be a writer. Even as early as kindergarten, I struggled to pay attention in class because the outside world was just not as interesting as what was going on in my head. By that time, I had already made my storytelling debut ("Squirm the Worm," delivered at age three) and had spent countless hours playing make-believe with my 284 stuffed animals, every one of whom had a name and detailed backstory.

Though I quickly learned to pay attention (or at least look like I was paying attention) during school hours, I retained a tendency to daydream and a love of stories. When I left high school to attend the Sunderman Conservatory at Gettysburg College, I learned to translate both emotional and programatic content into music. Now, as an exam prep and college essay tutor, I have the time and flexibility to really dig into fiction again. My work has appeared online and in print in such venues as Timeless Tales Magazine and Quantum Fairy Tales. 




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16 June 2020

Where the Truth Hides by Liane Carmen


Where the Truth Hides 
by Liane Carmen 
Genre: Suspense, Thriller 


Buried secrets can be deadly.

Becky Morgan has a life most women would envy until a car accident lands her in the hospital. She insists she’s fine, but it quickly becomes clear she’s changed. She’s forgetful, paranoid, short-tempered. Her husband wants to write off her change in personality to the IVF hormones she's taking in an attempt to get pregnant.

Becky's best friend, Jules Dalton, is a gorgeous, single woman, with a habit of sabotaging relationships. When Jules loses the man who could have been “the one,” she confronts the realization that being adopted at birth is contributing to her trust issues. She’s obsessed with finding out why she was given up and turns to DNA testing in hopes her matches will lead to her birth parents.

As Jules dives into her DNA results, Becky’s life soon becomes one she doesn’t recognize. Those closest to her are accusing her of things she simply can’t explain or remember. She’s terrified of losing everything: her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother.

Desperate to put the pieces of her shattered life back together, Becky needs her best friend more than ever. What she doesn’t realize is that Jules knows something that could explain everything away.

Becky has a dark past she’s unaware of. A darkness that’s coming for her.

It could also get her killed. 





I've always been an avid reader and a fan of the suspense/thriller genre. Several years ago, we decided to solve a family mystery using DNA and my obsession was born. My love of writing and my new addiction led to my first novel, "Where the Truth Hides", newly released in May of 2020. It will kick off a series of books delving into the mysteries that DNA can reveal. 




$50 Amazon 

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13 June 2020

Vanwest the Past by Kenneth Thomas



Dystopian, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Date Published: May 2020

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VanWest The Past is the first book in the VanWest series, about an Enforcer who lives in a dystopian Earth of the year 3000 and works for an authoritarian ruler called the Universal Council. Tasked with travelling through time to stop a renegade sect, that seeks to change Earth’s past, he comes to learn about his dark origins and his unique ability.

Falling in love with the daughter of its leader, Mad Newton, he returns to the present to face a difficult choice, whether or not to save her. And be part of the New Beginning.


Coming Soon


In Van West The Present, he must confront his past, taking him on a new mission to Mars that brings him face-to-face with the man who created him. To be released soon.







About the Author

Kenneth Thomas is a British author from Windsor, home of Windsor Castle. He used to live in Los Angeles where he worked for BBC News and MGM Studios, but is currently living and working in the Netherlands.

He is currently writing book 2 and 3 of the VanWest Series (The Past, The Present and The Future).


Contact Links


Purchase Links
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False Start Fairy Tale by Kelly St-Laurent


False Start Fairy Tale
Kelly St-Laurent
Publication date: June 9th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Adèle Villeneuve is attempting the impossible. At twenty-four she’s opened an events company in her small French village, which at last count has a population of 1501. Even her parents tried to stop her. But Adèle has a plan. Or, at least she did.
Then the Reniers returned to town.
Aside from the dilapidated chateau that’s sat in ruin for the past forty years, Saint-Germain is known for one other thing: a bitter feud between the Reniers and the Villeneuves that has gone on for so long no one remembers how it started. It’s practically folklore, a hatred so deep it ended with the Reniers leaving France back in the eighties, never to be seen or heard from again.
Until now.
With the feud reignited, Adèle’s quiet life is upended. Even more so when she finds out that the Reniers are not only refurbishing the chateau but also opening a competing events company. When Finn Renier, the alluring son of her father’s enemy, offers her a truce that could save her business, she makes a decision that goes against her family, a choice that changes everything.
As she finds herself falling for the one person she’s not supposed to, secrets and lies become entangled, a dangerous truth threatening to be revealed.
Because Finn isn’t all that he seems.
And the Reniers didn’t just return to Saint-Germain for a fresh start.
EXCERPT:
“How about a drink?”
I stare at him, certain that he’s joking. “A drink?”
“Yeah.”
He says it with such confidence. I can’t imagine what it’s like to walk around with that level of self-assurance. “I can’t have a drink with you.”
“Why not? You did last Friday.”
“You showed up at my table. Uninvited, I might add. And that was in Laval. My papa’s office is right over there and he would disown me if he saw me speaking with you, let alone having a drink with you.”
He watches me closely. “Do you always do what your dad wants?”
“No.” The moment I say it I have my doubts.
“So, have a drink with me.”
“Sure,” I say sarcastically. “We’ll go into the café where Gloria’s only known me all my life. I’m sure she won’t tell Papa.”
A subtle hint of annoyance crosses those cover model features of his. “Are you serious about not being seen in public with me?”
“Are you serious in not realizing why?” I glance around, worried that we’ve been talking too long. Saint-Germain’s gossips have eyes everywhere.
“Adèle, it’s just a drink. I’m not asking you to marry me.”
My mind conjures up an image of him in a suit, standing at an altar, watching me, teary-eyed as I walk down the aisle. Appalled at my disturbing, traitorous thoughts, I get to the point. “Our families are at war.”
“Should I be sharpening my sword?” he asks. “Or will it be pistols at dawn?”
Both those words are far too phallic for my liking. “Surely you have something better to do, like repair your dilapidated château so you can put me out of business.”
“The workers start next week.”
“Well…” I have no comeback to that.
“If you won’t drink with me, will you at least take a walk with me?”
“Why?” I ask, confused.
“Because I’m new to town. Aren’t you supposed to be friendly to newcomers?”
“There are plenty of other people you could ask,” I tell him.
He chuckles at that. “As far as I can see, there are two other people my age in Saint-Germain. You and your cousin.”
“Then ask her,” I say.
“I’m asking you.”
My heart does an unmistakeable flutter, proving itself to be as traitorous as my thoughts. I realize I need to be blunt. “The only way you could ever get me to drink with you is if it was to toast your family’s departure from Saint-Germain.”
He moves even closer. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“Then I suppose you’ll have to get used to drinking alone.”
The air between us thickens, his eyes glancing at my lips. For a fleeting second I think he might kiss me. For a horrifying moment, I think I want him to. But then it passes, like temporary psychosis. Still, a worrying realization persists.
I cannot trust myself around Finn Renier.


Author Bio:
From the moment when she believed that the worlds inside the television were real, Kelly St-Laurent has run away with her imagination.
Born in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet, she spent her childhood inspired by the mountains and oceans of New Zealand, constantly wondering about the places beyond the horizon. At age nineteen she decided to find out and hopped a plane to Canada. And, so began her love affair with the Great White North, that has come to be her second home.
Prior to writing her first novel in 2016, Kelly worked as a production coordinator in visual effects where she got to help bring fairies, dragons and monsters to life.
Kelly currently lives in Montreal with her husband Alex and their Shetland Sheepdog Bucky. When she isn't writing, she's often found re-watching her favorite films with a wine in hand.
She still believes the world inside her television is real.

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12 June 2020

A Barren Heart by Shilpa Suraj

~ Book Tour ~ 

A Barren Heart by Shilpa Suraj



About the Book:
When having it all isn’t enough…

Aman and Rhea seem to have the perfect marriage. They are madly in love - with each other, with their own careers and the home and life they are building in a quiet Mumbai suburb. 
Rhea is a successful interior designer with a thriving business while Aman is a commercial pilot who is at peace with his life, on the ground and in the skies! What could possibly be lacking in their picture-perfect marriage?

A baby. 

Like most women, thirty plus Rhea Chakraborty, wants to hold her own flesh and blood in her arms. And Aman too wants the same. 

Or does he? 

After another unexplained miscarriage that takes a severe emotional, physical, and psychological toll on them, Aman isn't sure if having a baby will complete them or destroy them. 
Suddenly, Rhea and Aman find the fabric of their stable marriage fraying beneath the strain of their failed conceptions. Where once they were a team with a common goal, they now find themselves on opposite sides with shifting goalposts. 

A Barren Heart is set in so-called modern India and is the story of the struggle of an affluent, educated couple who are still fighting the shackles of societal indoctrination and expectations and losing each other in the process.

Book Links:

Read an Excerpt from A Barren Heart


“I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”
Rhea’s smile faded slowly. Confused, she looked up at the doctor but couldn’t read anything in her perpetually grumpy face.
The hard probe between her legs was withdrawn abruptly leaving a cold vacuum behind. Icy gel smeared the insides of her thighs leaving her feeling dirty and exposed even though a sheet covered the naked, lower half of her body.
The doctor hadn’t spoken since and was busy scribbling something in Rhea’s file. Rhea cleared her throat. The lady didn’t bother looking up from the file. She finished writing and handed the file to the nurse.
“We’ll scan again in two weeks for a viable pregnancy. You can go see the doctor now with the report.”
“What do you mean by that? Scan for a viable pregnancy? Am I not pregnant now? My pregnancy tests were positive.”
All she got was a pointed glare. “The doctor will answer all your questions.”
“If I have so many scans, will it affect the baby in any way?” Rhea had to ask. She couldn’t help herself. Anxiety and panic had her pulse thrumming.
“It’s not a baby until there is a heartbeat.”
Rhea’s head spun, the room doing a slow revolve. The nurse handed her a bunch of tissues, oblivious or uncaring of her turmoil. Rhea pulled herself into a sitting position and took them. Wiping herself, she pulled on her clothes slowly and made her way out of the scanning room, the file clutched to her heart.
Aman looked up the minute she stepped out of the room. A big smile split his face as he reached for the file.
“How was it? All okay?” His excitement caused her hands to shake, the file fluttering from her grasp to the floor.
Startled, Aman ignored the mess of papers at his feet and instead, hauled her into a tight embrace.
“What’s wrong, hon?”
The endearment had her tightening her hold on him. Aman was the love of her life, her rock, the stable foundation to her forever tumultuous world. Even as she held him, she felt his strength, his calm seep into her and steady her.
She said, “I’m not sure. I don’t know. The doctor inside wasn’t very clear.”
“What did she say?” Aman led her to an empty seat in the crowded waiting area.
“She said there’s no heartbeat.” Ignoring the tremor in her own voice, Rhea forced herself to keep talking. “We have to come back in two weeks to check for a viable pregnancy, whatever that means.”
Aman’s grip tightened on her hand. “Let’s go see what Dr. Vashisht has to say alright? Don’t jump to any conclusions before that.”
Rhea nodded. Yes. That was smart. She watched as he walked over to the nurse in charge and handed over her file. She heard him murmur Rhea Chakraborty, wife of Capt. Aman Gill, to the harassed looking lady.
She turned slightly away so that he couldn’t see what she was doing. Pulling out her phone, she quickly went to her one stop for everything search engine. Fingers flying, she typed, ‘six weeks pregnant no heartbeat’ and waited, heart pounding. In less than a second, the results flooded her screen.
She was still scanning them when Aman came back and sat down beside her. He took her hand and cradled it against his chest. Too caught up in what she was reading, Rhea pulled hers back immediately and pointed at the screen.
“Look at this,” she said, excitedly. “There are a ton of results about people who didn’t hear a heartbeat in the first scan but did in the second one two weeks later.”
Aman sighed. “I thought we were going to wait to hear what the doctor has to say.”
“Yes, of course,” she brushed his concern aside. “And Aman, I have none of the other worrying signs of…” She couldn’t say the word. She wasn’t even going to think it. “Of things not being okay. No bleeding, no pain, nothing. I feel great. This is good, right? There’s hope?” The last word held a wealth of uncertainty as she looked at him. “Right?”
Aman’s face softened. “Yes, there’s hope. There’s always hope.”
“That grumpy, old woman inside just frightened me for nothing. I bet we will hear our baby’s heartbeat in the next scan. Loud and strong.” Rhea was bouncing in her seat now, her earlier excitement resurfacing.
“Rhea,” Aman started to say something and then stopped at the unspoken plea on his wife’s face. “Of course,” he said, finally. “I can’t wait to hear it.”
“Loud and strong.”
“Loud and strong,” he affirmed, a silent prayer winging its way from his heart to the heavens above.
But when they came back two weeks later, there was only silence.


About Shilpa Suraj:


Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.




Shilpa on the Web:









False Front by Debbie Baldwin



Bishop Security Series, Book 1
Romantic Suspense
Date Published: April 2020
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press

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Emma Porter is not real. She is an accomplished young woman, living a fulfilling life in New York City, working for an online news agency, and striving toward normalcy. The truth, however, is something else. She was once Emily Webster, a child of privilege, and the twenty-first century Lindbergh Baby. Her high-profile, unexplained abduction and subsequent rescue led to a childhood of paranoia and preparedness, as her kidnapper remained at large and still on the hunt. With her father’s guidance and resources, Emily became Emma Porter, living each day in her new identity, vigilant and unattached. Unattached but for the seemingly unbreakable tether that connects her to the man who, as a young boy, lived next door.

Like Emma, Nathan Bishop is not what he seems. Preparing to helm his family’s defense contracting company, Nathan is better known for his womanizing and reckless behavior than his business acumen. His striking image peppers the pages of society tabloids and police blotters, but beneath the facade of a rake, lurks a warrior. When an arms dealer procures a lethal bioweapon and is rumored to be selling it on U.S. soil, Nathan and his team must use every resource at their disposal to stop the threat.

With danger closing in, fate, once again, puts Emma in Nathan’s path, and the two must determine if the weathered bond between them is enough to find the truth behind their false fronts.



Fans of Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, and Jayne Ann Krentz will love False Front.

Be advised: this story contains scenes of violence equivalent to an R-rated movie and explicit sexual situations.




About the Author


Debbie Baldwin is a successful print media and television writer. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Debbie and her husband live in Saint Louis, Missouri with their puggle, Pebbles. They have three children in college. False Front is her first novel.


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