Tag Archives: Mystery

Review: Connected Underneath by Linda Legters

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About Connected Underneath

Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else’s business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn’t love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn’t have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son. Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of disaster.

Connected Underneath is a lyrical, scalpel-keen dissection of the ties that bind and of those that dissolve.

My Review

An emotional read exploring the dangers of harboring secrets, adoption and single parenting of a teen, relationships.

Theo and Seph are on the verge of a major collision. Theo desperate to mend rents in the relationship with his daughter as he achingly tries to figure out how along with what’s eating her alive, clawing at maintaining the thin tether of connection. Parents will be able to relate to Theo’s dilemma and conundrum. His pain, confusion and love for Seph is evident, I thoroughly empathized with his struggle. Natalie and Celeste frustrated me to no end, selfish troublemakers period. I felt for Seph, confused, wounded, lost. Interesting perspectives from protagonists, truly reveling their inner thoughts and feelings, no doubt all the characters are seriously flawed with yearnings for more as they flounder.

A glimpse into small town life full of suspense, moments of tenderness, leaving the reader with lots to contemplate, plenty avenues open for deep discussion. Understatedly moving story.

About Linda LegtersLinda-Legters-AP

Linda Legters was born in the far western reaches of New York State. She earned her B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and her MFA from Vermont College. She lived in Boston and New York before settling in Connecticut to raise her three sons. She currently teaches at Norwalk Community College and at the Fairfield County Writers’ Studio.

Her short stories are about people from across the social spectrum and have appeared in literary journals such as Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review. She is passionate about art and music in addition to literature, and is at work on her second novel.

Find out more about Linda at her website.

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Publisher: Lethe Press (April 4, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, May, Review

Spotlight: 122 Rules (122 Rules Series) by Deek Rhew

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Rhew 2 Rhew Blog Tour ­ 122 Rules Book Blitz Extravaganza! How’s that for a catchy title? What a crazy adventure this has been FIVE years in the making, and it has finally arrive: 122 Rules has been born unto the world. The stories I could tell just so I could tell you this story…well, let’s just say it’s been an interesting, educational, and life ­altering adventure. 3811370

This has been a grand journey, filled with hardships, fun, learning, and growth. But of all the things that have happened on the writing road, meeting the love of my life is the most unlikely and easily the luckiest, most blessed things to have ever happened to me.

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Ahhhh, it’s cold out here!

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Do ya feel lucky punk? Well, do ya?

Erin Rhew and I started out as critique partners, became friends, and now she’s my bride. She’s my best friend and partner in all things. Even if I don’t sell a single copy of my writings, I’ll always be a smashing success because I met Erin.

Book Blitz

6439764_orig On this half of the Rhewination tour, I am visiting blogs all over the globe, from Australia to the farthest corners in Canada. Next week, on the second half of the tour, Erin will be gracing the pages of 50+ bloggers! In addition, we are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card! Prepare yourselves to win! Page 1 of 6
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122 Rules

1088662_orig Today, we are announcing my adult thriller novel, 122 Rules. 9371548_orig

Synopsis

In his black and white world, Sam Bradford­­former Marine turned government assassin­­ finally sees a speck of grey. He has always followed orders without question, but his latest assignment threatens to disrupt the precision of his universe and may either severe or redeem his last remaining sliver of humanity. Using his mastery of the 122 Rules of Psychology, Sam hunts down everyone The Agency sends him to find and eliminates them. Just as he has his rifle scope focused on his latest victim, Monica Sable, a SoCal girl entangled with the mob, his long­dormant conscience reappears for a final performance…one last ditch effort to save the sinking ship of Sam’s soul. He’s killed innocents before, but tarries on pulling the trigger this time. When Monica escapes his crosshairs and fumbles her way across the country in a pathetic attempt to elude capture, Sam gives chase. But he’s not the only one after her. Ruthless henchmen, hired by the mob, froth like bloodhounds and nip at Monica’s heels. Now Sam is faced with a choice: turn his back on the rules and jeopardize his way of life by helping her or join the pack and rip her to shreds. What are readers saying?

122 Rules is a fast­paced thrill­ride, filled with rich characters living in an expertly woven world of mystery and suspense. Deek Rhew’s debut novel will take readers by storm, and keep them coming back for sequels.

​~Michelle K. Pickett, Bestselling and award­winning author of PODs and Unspeakable.

The perfect, fast­paced novel for fans of kick­butt heroines, creepy killers, and getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. An absolute must­read!

~Meradeth Houston, author of Travelers, An Absence of Light, and the Sary Society Series

Visit the 122 Rules Web Page

 Visit Amazon and Goodreads!

While you’re on Deek’s site check out Birth of an American Gigolo.

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Synopsis

An old party girl shoehorned into domestic divaship, infuriated by her husband’s cheating and his holier­than­thou, tree­hugging, no­tits and no­hips girlfriend, inflicts her wrath by training a local boy in the fine art of seduction. She and her new boy toy turned love god start a gigolo business as a distraction for the neglected and mistreated housewives of Alabaster Cove.

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Take a selfie with your ebook or paper copy of Birth and post it on social media with the tag #BirthSelfie. We’ll post you on the Rhewination web site!

Deek Rhew

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Deek lives in a rainy pocket in the Pacific Northwest with the stunning YA author bride, Erin Rhew, and their writing assistant, a fat tabby named Trinity. They enjoy lingering in the mornings, and often late into the night, caught up Erin’s fantastic fantasy worlds of noble princes and knights and entwined in Deek’s dark underworld of the FBI and drug lords. He and Erin love to share books by reading aloud to one another. In addition, they enjoy spending time with friends, running, boxing, lifting weights, and exploring the little town­­with antique shops and bakeries­­they call home.

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Review: Ægir’s Curse by Leah Devlin

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About Ægir’s Curse

A thousand years ago, the Viking colony of Vinland was ravaged by a swift-moving plague … a curse inflicted the sea god Ægir. The last surviving Norseman set the encampment and his longboat ablaze to ensure that the disease would die with him and his brethren.

In present-day Norway, a distinguished professor is found murdered, his priceless map of Vinland missing. The ensuing investigation leads to the reclusive world of Lindsey Nolan, a Nobel Laureate-inventor and recovering alcoholic. Lindsey reluctantly agrees to help the Norwegian detective who’s hunting the murderer, but she has a bigger problem on her hands: a mysterious disease that’s spreading like wildfire through the population of Woods Hole. As she races against a rising body count to discover the source of the plague, disturbing events threaten her hard-won sobriety – and her life. Will Lindsey be the next victim of Ægir’s curse?

Amazon

My Review

Devlin created a fascinating mystery. So many components made this a pleasure to read, quite a solid page turner taking me by surprise.

I liked the feel of Woods Hole, charming seaside village. The intricate weaving of Nordic and Viking history was well done, enough to pique interest without taking over. The varied cast of characters were well drawn, plenty of intelligent, accomplished, strong female protagonists with their share of flaws and challenging backstory’s guaranteed to have you fully invested in their well-being throughout the book. The plot progressed nicely as the mystery builds, the ending – absolutely superb.

A very well written mystery full of intrigue and adventure, gripping, with wonderful characters.

About Leah DevlinSONY DSC

Leah Devlin is a marine biologist who grew up in the Washington DC area. She’s a left-handed, middle child of five siblings, which explains a lot. In addition to being a writer of novels, Leah is a biology professor with research specializations in biological exploration in the Arctic in the early nineteenth century and neuromuscular control in marine invertebrates.

The Bottom Dwellers, Ægir’s Curse and The Bends comprise a trilogy of mystery-thrillers centered on the scientific village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where Leah was a scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory for over ten summers. The novels center around the brilliant yet disturbed Nobel Laureate, Lindsey Nolan, her colleagues and family.

Leah’s second series of mystery-thrillers, the Chesapeake Tugboat Murders, are set in the fictional village of River Glen in the upper Chesapeake Bay. The first novel in this series, Vital Spark, a modern pyrate yarn, is scheduled for release in summer 2016. The second novel in this series, Spider, was just completed and should roll out in late 2016.

Leah enjoys outdoor adventures of all kinds: motorcycle journeys along winding back roads, boating, diving, rock-climbing, skiing, and long-distance trekking. When not traveling, she divides her time between Philadelphia and her boat on the Chesapeake.

Connect with Leah:  Website  |  Amazon  |  Penmore Press  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Spotlight: Storm and Silence by Robert Thier

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About Storm and Silence

Freedom – that is what Lilly Linton wants most in life. Not marriage, not a brood of squalling brats, and certainly not love, thank you very much!

But freedom is a rare commodity in 19th-century London, where girls are expected to spend their lives sitting at home, fully occupied with looking pretty. Lilly is at her wits’ end – until a chance encounter with a dark, dangerous and powerful stranger changes her life forever…

Enter the world of Mr Rikkard Ambrose, where the only rule is: Knowledge is power is time is money!

Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

About Robert Thier6123144

Robert Thier is a German Historian and writer of Historical Fiction. His particular mix of history, romance and adventure, always with a good deal of humor thrown in, has gained him a diverse readership ranging from teenagers to retired grandmothers. For the way he manages to make history come alive, as if he himself had lived as a medieval knight, his fans all over the world have given him the nickname “Sir Rob”.

For him, Robert says, becoming a writer has followed naturally from his interest in history. “In Germany,” he says, “we use the same word for story and history. And I’ve always loved the one as much as the other. Becoming a storyteller, a writer, is what I’ve always wanted.”

Besides writing and researching in dusty old archives, on the lookout for a mystery to put into his next story, Robert enjoys classical music and long walks in the country. The helmet you see on the picture he does not wear because he is a cycling enthusiast, but to protect his literary skull in which a bone has been missing from birth. Robert lives in the south of Germany in a small village between the three Emperor’s Mountains.

Connect with Robert: Website | Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

Published March 19th 2016 by Robert Thier

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Review: Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

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About Journey to Munich

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue.

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.
Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

My Review

Maisie Dobbs returns and I am always happy to reconnect with this fabulous woman. Winspear strikes again with one of my favorite characters turned book friend.

Maisie’s suffered her share of profound loss as we journey with her on her road to healing. In fact Winspear sets the table for the reader to understand the fear all are experiencing as war looms.

A narrative filled with excitement and sensitivity while providing an intimate glimpse into the beloved Maisie as she struggles with her personal life while maintaining her professional equilibrium. The narrative primarily focuses on Maisie with her assignment secondary. Despite the plot being unconvincing, I found it enjoyable simply due to Maisie’s involment and unmistakable presence.

Maisie’s strenghth, calm, intelligence and courage not to mention fearlessness, combined with personal and professional poise mold her into a favored character. Winspear certainly allows her creativity to run wild as she demonstrates through Maisie.

About Jacqueline WinspearJacqueline-Winspear

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Timesbestsellers Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among the Mad, and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other national bestselling Maisie Dobbs novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Agatha, Alex, and Macavity awards for the first book in the series, Maisie Dobbs, which was also nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel and was a New York Times Notable Book. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

Find out more about Jacqueline at her website and find her on Facebook.

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Publisher: Harper (March 29, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, April, Fiction, Review

Review: The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

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About The Girl in the Red Coat

Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
Dagger Award finalist

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go
missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally
unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to
keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

Alternating between Beth’s story and Carmel’s, and written in gripping prose that
won’t let go, The Girl in the Red Coat—like Emma Donoghue’s Room and M. L.
Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans—is an utterly immersive story that’s
impossible to put down . . . and impossible to forget.

My Review

Engaging read from the start. I was flipping through pages to reach the end, to read more of Carmel as well as the final outcome.

Beth and Carmel are compelling characters, I was invested immediately. Beth’s anguish, guilt, her emotional rollercoaster tore at my heart. I cannot fathom grappling with a missing child, I would be shattered. I admired her strength and hope. Carmel, her courage, precociousness served as tools to her survival. I do wish her ‘specialness’ was handled differently. Both protagonists felt authentic as did their emotions.

The narrative left several unanswered questions, too many for my liking. Alternating from Beth to Carmel possessed depth although further ferreting would have been appreciated, at times it seemed as if vital pieces were missing. Not much of a thriller, the plot explores the emotional damage and turmoil spectrum mother and daughter endure. The plot ebbs and flows, the ending felt wildly rushed.

Well written magnetic read in need of a slight nudge with the potential for more, nonetheless worthy of your reading time.

About Kate HamerKate.Hamer_

KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.

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Publisher: Melville House (February 16, 2016)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, March, Review

Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

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About The Big Rewind

Listening to someone else’s mix tapes is a huge breach of trust. But KitKat was dead . . . and curiosity got the better of me.

When a mix tape destined for her friend KitKat accidentally arrives in Jett Bennett’s mailbox, Jett doesn’t think twice about it—even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, the hipster residents of the Barter Street district of Brooklyn are in a constant competition to see who can be the most retro.

But when Jett finds KitKat dead on her own kitchen floor, she suspects the tape might be more than just a quirky collection of lovelorn ballads. And when KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is arrested for her murder, Jett and her best friend, Sid, set out on an epic urban quest through strip joints and record stores, vegan bakeries and basement nightclubs, to discover who the real killer is. However, the further Jett digs into KitKat’s past, the more she discovers about her own left-behind love life—and the mysterious man whose song she still clings to. . . .

My Review

After reading this book it’s fair to say I’m not part of its intended audience, at least this was the aftertaste I felt upon completion. I’m a mature hipster, a fan of 80’s music, mildly nostalgic yet I felt misplaced with the plot.

Cudmore’s writing is springy, she’s creative, great premise. Incredibly fast read but I felt it was a tad misleading from the summary.

I was expecting a mystery, and a mystery was there although it felt like a forgotten second fiddle to a narrative centered more around music, romance and a huge chunk of nostalgia, in fact it was all over the place, too scattered for my liking.

I enjoyed the music references but soon they became monotonous and annoying, overdone. Jett and her ‘boyfriend box’ was a bit much along with her ‘love’ reunions with past boyfriends, far-fetched and saccharine. The fact she continually dwelled on her ex was trying, she just couldn’t move on. Wasn’t a fan of Sid’s quasi indecisiveness towards Jett until his mistake was realized and outed, it screamed predictablity.

The narrative couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to grow up to be. What parts were thrown in regarding KitKat’s murder were darn good, if only the book stuck with this angle as I was led to believe, as is the entire KitKat fiasco felt like afterthought or filler, it certainly digressed to other avenues.

If you’re looking for a hipster murder mystery you might want to change your taste to align more with women’s fiction, certainly the sub-genre this plot conveys.

I would give Cudmore another shot with the hopes of better execution where I didn’t feel like non-millennial diaspora.

About Libby CudmoreLibby-Cudmore-AP

Libby Cudmore worked at video stores, bookstores, and temp agencies before settling down in upstate New York to write. Her short stories have appeared in PANK, The Stoneslide Corrective, The Big Click, and Big Lucks. The Big Rewind is her first novel.

Follow Libby on her blog and connect with her on Twitter.

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The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore, published by William Morrow Paperbacks (February 2, 2016) is available at AmazonIndieBound and Barnes & Noble.

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Filed under 2016, February, Fiction, Review

Review & Interview: No Ordinary Life By Suzanne Redfearn

About No Ordinary Life

A story about a young mother’s fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she’d have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it’s impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children’s lives.

AMAZON  |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Redfearn did a marvelous job exploring every scenario Faye faced with her daughter’s catapult in to stardom. Every trial faced seemed plausible and added multilayers to the narrative.

Characterization ruled this story. Faye, Molly, Chris along with the entire ensemble drove the narrative. A motley of personalities, motives, positions created an array of entertainment supporting the subject matter.

I was conflicted over Faye. I felt for her situation but her passiveness, stubbornness, helplessness and weakness was very unappealing. I understand why Redfearn took this direction with Faye, nevertheless I wasn’t a full on fan. Her choices left me shaking my head on more than once occasion, her stupidity floored me, needless to say Faye left me exasperated and frustrated. I prefer my female protagonists possessing strength, smarts and independence, none demonstrated by Faye.

I was very uncomfortable with Redfearn’s handling of Emily’s traumatic event. For something as supercharged as that incident it should have been addressed and resolved, as is it serves as a terrible message. A pet peeve of mine is introducing a heavy and fragile incident and leaving it messy and glossed over, wrong in so many ways.

Great glimpse into life of a child star and the machinations of Hollywood et al along with its impact on family, siblings and life in general. I enjoyed the book but the incident and improper handling of Emily’s tragic event marred my reading enjoyment.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Suzanne Redfearn. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Suzanne

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part is always starting, sitting in the chair and putting words on the page when I don’t know what I’m trying to say. I knew I wanted to write about a child star and the fascinating world of Hollywood, but I didn’t want to tell a train wreck story like the ones written about constantly in the tabloids, and I didn’t want to write a mommy dearest story. Faye introduced herself to me first, then I discovered Molly, and through them, I figured out I wanted to tell a story about a family, not an individual, to focus on what celebrity does – not just to the person who is famous but also to those around them.

How do you want readers to view Faye?

I hope they like her and sympathize with her. She is a young single mom doing the best she can and who finds herself in a dizzying world that would be difficult for anyone to navigate. She is presented with impossible choices, having to decide what is best for the family as a whole as well as weighing the welfare of each of her children against each other. She is also forced to choose between her compassion for others as opposed to her need to buffer her children from the insanity of the world in which they have found themselves. She evolves throughout the story, is forced to become stronger and more resilient. Hopefully the readers understand her transformation and identify with her journey.

Emily’s traumatic event, why did you handle it the way you did considering its seriousness?

It was important to drive the point home of how dangerous the world of celebrity can be. Access to excess doesn’t come without its hazards. Emily’s trauma is not made up. Unfortunately, many young stars and those around them suffer at the hands of their handlers, their fans, or as a result of not having anyone looking out for them and protecting them. One of the most disturbing parts of my research was discovering how many former child stars were sexually abused as kids.

What secret talent do you have?

It’s not much, but I can sing all the words to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

Are We There Yet?

What can we expect from you in the future?

I am currently working on a story about two moms on the run together from the police and their husbands. It’s a road trip story, which I have always wanted to write, and so far I am having a lot of fun with it.

Thank you, Raven Haired Girl, for the great questions!

About Suzanne RedfearnSuzanne Redfearn Headshot

Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

 

Connect with Suzanne:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  | Goodreads

 

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, Interview, January, Review

Excerpt, Review & Giveaway: Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs

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About Black Wings

A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war.

The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain.

Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured.

Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down?

GOODREADS  |  AMAZON  |  ROAEN PUBLISHING

 

Excerpt

She grabs the bottle and drinks rapidly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her drink so quickly.

“Don’t eat the bottle!” I joke, hoping to put a smile on her face. She thanks me with a small smile. Suddenly the door opens, and our moment of joyful peace is broken. Lucas walks in. He comes over and grabs my hand.

“You will pay for that, damn girl!” He threatens as he hauls me off my bed.

“What did I do?” I shout at him, confused, and draw back.

“You—trying to be so nice…helping your poor beat up friend who is not supposed to have water!” He’s yelling, taking the blanket and dragging me to the door.

“Leave her alone!” Kate screams at him, jumps up to stop him. The Varkin turns around and hits her so hard she falls to the floor. Holding my hand tightly, he walks me to the elevator. As we walk in, he presses the SS button. I barely get right in before the elevator door closes, almost pinching my leg. He pushes me against the opposite wall.

“Where are you taking me?” I demand, but I’m panicking—I’m in trouble.

“Relax,” Lucas puts his cold arms around my waist. “You might still have a chance to change things…”

He pulls me close to him. I feel his ice cold lips on my neck. I close my eyes, disgusted as never before. He pushes me to the wall with his body and rips my shirt from my back.

He’s going to beat me. I’m not going to make it easy.

I shove him away. He picks me up, throws me against the wall. He slaps my face, his nails scratch my cheek.

“Stupid, damn Anlight! You will get it good this time! I promise!”

His tone brings chills, all the way down to my legs.

When the elevator stops on the SS floor, he drags me down the hallway, the blanket in his hand. My ripped shirt is left lying in the elevator. All I have on is a dirty old black brassiere that’s seen better days. He looks back, and catches a glimpse of my stomach. A couple of days ago I’d been given a deep scratch, and he’s just noticed the scratch has gone.

“What happened to your scratch? It could not possibly heal so fast!”

Lucas takes me to the room where Victorius beats me if I don’t do what they tell me. We walk in and there are about twelve other Varkins in groups. Red lights and smoke make the place into a horror scene.

“She needs punishment like never before!” he screams, tossing me like a grubby rag to the middle of the room. All the Varkins turn and look. Glowing eyes look at me—without a shirt—as I try to break my landing.

“What did she do, my dear friend?” Victorius asks. He’s calm, still sitting in his chair.

“Her room-mate was not allowed to drink,” the Varkin replies. “But this one hid water and gave it to her friend. She stole this blanket, knowing she is not allowed to have one.”

Victorius’ face is serious as he listens closely. I get up, stand right in front of him. He stands, walks down to me, around me. I feel my pulse beating with each step he takes. My body tenses—I expect him to hit me any moment. I’ve been hoping I’d get used to this torture eventually, but every new punishment brings new terror and fear.

“Well, well…” Victorius stops in front of me. “Seems like I see your pretty face here more than other Anlights. We do not have many left…but I do remember you well…” He smiles. “Let me first inform you, this Varkin here is my ‘right hand’. The one I trust the most. And now he is telling me terrible things about you. Hmm…” he looks in my eyes, “…should I believe his tales?”

I know if I tell him the truth, no one will believe me for a minute. And it would make my situation even worse. I don’t think he’ll even let me open my mouth.

“Believe what you like.” I keep looking downwards, and the other Varkins whisper around us. They didn’t expect my careless answer. They’re probably trying to figure out why I won’t try protecting myself by finding excuses.

“Lucas!” he shouts and his right hand comes to him.

“Yes, my majesty.”

“What do you think we need to…do…with her, considering everything she has done?”

“Victorius, there is something interesting you might want to know about her…” Lucas said.

“What?”

Lucas comes up to me and points at my stomach. I don’t know how to deal with this. I’m shaking as I try to cover the healed scratch with my hands.

“Two days ago she had a long cut on her stomach. It was bleeding. Now it is not there anymore. It is healed. There is something going on with her.” Lucas pulls my hands away.

“It’s not true,” I burst out. “The cut was not too deep, and it was more than two days—” Victorius slaps me before I can finish talking.

“I have noticed things like that as well, but I thought it was just my mind playing tricks with me,” Victorius talks slowly, calmly, as he turns my face back toward him with his cold hand. “Now here is evidence.” He’s smiling, which isn’t necessarily a good sign.

“We need to take her blood, do tests on her,” Lucas suggests.

“My friend,” Victorius looks at him, “tests have killed almost all my Anlights. I cannot afford to lose any more of them. But we will surely take her blood and see why she is different.” Victorius comes to my side and puts his arm around my shoulders.

“But there is one test I can do right now…”

My Review

Combs provides a thorough prologue setting the stage for plenty of anticipated action matched with interesting characters, an imaginative science fiction tale of good vs. bad peppered with correct amounts of dystopian, fantasy and romance.

Annabel is one strong female heroine. What she endures is affecting and her strength is amazing. She’s humble, quiet and grounded for what she hast lost, suffered and uncertain of the future. Combs gives an all around glimpse into Annabel and as time passes Annabel grows and evolves. She is a young woman willing to sacrifice much for her homeland and people.

The narrative is exciting, I enjoyed the practical and slow romance angle, just enough to push the story along. Annabel is traumatized from her experience and needs time to heal, I like Combs approach on this giving Annabel a realistic edge while developing a deeper connection with the audience.

Imaginative narrative with one memorable uber strong and independent female protagonist. I would love to see this translated into a graphic novel, very vivid descriptions penned by Combs, an artists keen eye could really bring the story to illustrated life.

About Iryna K. CombsIrina [DSC_9148]cmp

Originally from the Ukraine, I am still considered a new face to America. Speaking three languages including English, that became just as natural to me as my native Russian.

I grew up in a town on the south of Ukraine doing the same things that other kids my age did. Dreaming, hoping and wishing. Growing up, I spoke absolutely no English and never even saw myself somewhere abroad. Nevertheless writing a novel in another language!

I went to the local school that brought mostly negative experience in my life. But it shaped me throughout the years. My college life was much better. I was known to study well and to go out partying as much as it was possible.

In my first year of college I began to work in the marriage agency and met my future husband. We dated and traveled to most of the Europe along with Egypt.

When I finally got my fiancée visa, we both moved to the states, where soon after, got married. In the first few years I did some modeling and acting. Photo-shoots, run-way and photo in the magazine fulfilled my childhood’s dream.

A few years later I became a mother of a wonderful and most handsome little boy. Along with learning and experiencing motherhood, I began to make hand-made jewelry and organic soaps. This hobby turned into my small business and became bigger than I thought it would.

In the last year I discovered: an author lives inside me. Never did I think that I would write an English book and that I would love doing it. But I did! And I loved it!

Connect with Iryna:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Giveaway

Enter to win a digital copy of Black Wings by Iryna K. Combs. Open internationally. Ends 1/29/19.
ENTRY-FORM

Published October 23rd 2015 by Roane Publishing (first published July 15th 2015)

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Filed under 2016, Fiction, January, Review

Review: Silent Night / Holy Night (Rock Harbor) by Colleen Coble

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About Silent Night / Holy Night

‘Tis the season for mystery and romance featuring characters from two of Colleen Coble’s most popular series!

“Silent Night”

As Christmas day nears, Bree Matthews and her faithful search-and-rescue dog Samson follow the trail of a troubling mystery into the snowy forests of Rock Harbor.

Newlywed Bree Matthews and her husband Kade are preparing for Christmas guests when word arrives that a parachuter has disappeared in the North Woods, along Lake Superior’s icy shore. Bree and Samson plunge into the search.

Will this snowy, silent night search lead Bree and Samson to the missing girl?

“Holy Night”

One sinister phone call has derailed their Christmas wedding. Will it keep them apart forever?

Leia and Bane are looking forward to their long-awaited Christmas wedding on the beach. Everything is going as planned–until Leia’s phone rings and her world skids out of control. A muffled voice informs Leia that her sister has been kidnapped and will be killed unless Leia calls off the wedding without explanation–and no police. If she disobeys instructions and tells Bane, she’ll risk her beloved sister’s life. But can she handle this trauma without his help? And will he ever trust her again if she lies to him now?

My Review

I enjoyed the messages of both stories along with the Christmas theme. I’m also a fan of Christian fiction so the light spiritual aspect is appreciated. Silent Night focused on ungratefulness, searching for a purpose, patience, greatest hope coming true. Holy Night addressed the vulnerability of those with Down syndrome, forgiving, trust, love, overcoming childhood trauma.

I’m not a fan of the writing or the narrative, both lack puissance, far too saccharine and dilettante for my tastes.

Fans of a super fast paced novella with Hallmark traits, spirituality, wonderful messages and uplifting wrap ups with less focus on writing and underdeveloped narratives will find this pleasing.

About Colleen Coblecolleen-coble-headshot-small

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website.

Published October 7th 2014 by Thomas Nelson

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Filed under 2015, December, Fiction, Review