Monday, August 14, 2017

Rich Zahradnik - Lights Out Summer - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In March 1977, ballistics link murders going back six months to the same Charter Arms Bulldog .44. A serial killer, Son of Sam, is on the loose. But Coleridge Taylor can't compete with the armies of reporters fighting New York's tabloid war--only rewrite what they get. Constantly on the lookout for victims who need their stories told, he uncovers other killings being ignored because of the media circus. He goes after one, the story of a young Black woman gunned down in her apartment building the same night Son of Sam struck elsewhere in Queens. The story entangles Taylor with a wealthy Park Avenue family at war with itself. Just as he's closing in on the killer and his scoop, the July 13-14 blackout sends New York into a 24-hour orgy of looting and destruction. Taylor and his PI girlfriend Samantha Callahan head out into the darkness, where a steamy night of mob violence awaits them. In the midst of the chaos, a suspect in Taylor's story goes missing. Desperate, he races to a confrontation that will either break the story--or Taylor. Book 4 in the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.




My Review

The "Yes Virginia" editoriala front page editorial affirming the existence of Santa Claus in exquisite language. Yet it said moreAffirmed the idea of hope.

Think about it—it's only 1977 and Taylor is already mourning the glory days of newspapers. Why is a career newsman so forlorn nearly twenty years before digital media? Because for him, facts are stubborn things. You blow your credibility with your sources, you're done. You don't jump on the bandwagon. You go after the stories no one else is doing. Yet not many reporters follow these hard and fast rules. They run in a pack, chasing the one big bad guy, they're told to chase.

Remember half the stories in the Post are made up now that Murdoch owns it. Might as well be crime fiction… No flipping out because the Post has some fantastic story. Fantastic because it's fantasy.

So when the Son of Sam killer strikes New York City—shooting defenseless young white girls in the dark—every news outlet in the five boroughs is giving extensive daily coverage to the story—but not Taylor. He'd rather look into the murder of a black woman, that occurred on the same night as one of the Son of Sam killings, the one no one is talking about.

However, Taylor's not exactly what you would call a big-time reporter. He works for the City News Bureau, a wire service that supplies quick news bites for radio stations. In fact, his late father used to say he was nothing more than "a scribbler with a high school degree." So when temptation comes calling in the form of a job offer from the New York Post, proudly boasting a healthy circulation of over half a million, it feels "like any bargain with the devil…it offered something he wanted so badly."

Because realistically, Taylor doubts that he can keep doing what he's doing, and make a living out of it. He knows the Post would think he was nuts to care about a story no one cares about. That's not what sells newspapers. So after wrestling with the decision for a while, he comes to realize that it's not that he can't compete with the big guys—it's just that he doesn't want to. In his mind, all victims deserve to have their stories told, instead of the mass media making the decision to focus on a single case just "because the victims look like your family."

If you chased what readers wanted, not what they needed to know, you'd do anything. Bend facts. Break them.

So Taylor chooses to fight the good fight, and give a voice to the people, everyone else in the city is quick to write off. Who needs Panavision when you can do so much more with a close-up?

***

Lights Out Summer can be pre-ordered at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback, $29.95 audio
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 288
Release: October 1, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812139
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (Lights Out Summer, A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).



The first three books have been shortlisted or won awards in the three major competitions for novels from independent presses. A Black Sail was named winner in the mystery category of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Drop Dead Punk collected the gold medal for mystery ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.

 A Black Sail received a starred review from Library Journal, which said, “Fans of the late Barbara D’Amato and Bruce DeSilva will relish this gritty and powerful crime novel.”

Zahradnik was a journalist for 25-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.



Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where he writes fiction and teaches kids around the New York area how to write news stories and publish newspapers.



Links to connect with Rich:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Sharon St. George - Spine Damage - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Paulo Ferrara, a young Portuguese man, lies comatose in the Intensive Care Unit of Timbergate Medical Center, shot in the spine. The neurosurgeon who would normally be in charge of his care has left town to attend to an injured daughter, and the only other neurosurgeon, the rude and egotistical Dr. Godfrey Carver, is about to be suspended for not completing his continuing education requirements. The unpleasant duty of ensuring that the staff obey the rules lies with Aimee Machado, the medical center's forensic librarian and Continuing Education Coordinator. Aimee and her pilot boyfriend Nick live together on her grandparents’ llama farm. While dealing with Dr. Carver, Aimee learns the circumstances of Paulo’s injury and enlists Nick’s help. Aimee is half Asian and half Portuguese, and her parents live on Faial, one of the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. Faial is the closest neighbor to Pico, home of Paulo and his family. Paulo came to rural Northern California in search of his fifteen-year-old sister Liliana, who vanished two weeks ago. Nick’s wealthy employer Buck Sawyer takes an interest in the girl’s plight as well, especially when they learn that she left the Azores on a superyacht. Not only is Buck a yacht owner, but he is also on a crusade against drug trafficking, and Paulo and Liliana have clearly stumbled onto a criminal operation of some kind. The trail leads Aimee and Nick from Timbergate, to the Azores, to San Francisco. Paulo’s condition is deteriorating, and he might never be able to explain what got him shot. Can Aimee, her brother Harry, and Nick unravel the mystery in time to save Liliana? Book 4 in the Aimee Machado Mystery series, which began with Due for Discard.




My Review

The human trafficking of young girls is the ugly secret of life on the high seas.

Liliana Ferrera, a fifteen-year-old girl, willingly boards a fancy super-yacht that's docked in her hometown, a small island in the Portuguese Azores, thinking she's going to America to meet her online boyfriend and finally pursue her interest in fashion design. For Liliana, it's all about breaking free of parental control and doing what she wants to do with her life, but little does she know that she's in way over her head and in a heck of a lot of trouble.

The boyfriend she never met could very well be a creep, who's catfishing for an unsuspecting kid. The boat she's on could be in the hands of an ISIS terror network or any number of major crime organizations. Ultimately, she could end up anywhere in the world, and not even know it. Impetuous and headstrong, "she knew she was exquisite looking. That was obvious. What she apparently didn't know was how her beauty might put her life in danger."

It's a known fact that violent crimes committed in international waters frequently go unreported. Young girls are lured onto these yachts with the promise of employment as a maid or galley worker in exchange for their passage. Some are convinced that they're being hired as models, as Liliana is led to believe, when she's really been classified as "unblemished merchandise," or code for still a virgin.

When the auctioneers release a photo of her to prospective buyers, she appears happy and unharmed, ensuring that if the photo ever falls into the hands of the police, they'll simply classify her as a runaway, with little chance of ever being rescued. When the bidding for her starts at half a million dollars, she quickly becomes a valuable commodity for the rich men who charter flights and arrive in limos, ready to quietly haul away their human cargo and avoid detection by the authorities.

When an undercover DEA agent happens to stumble upon a drugged Liliana during an unrelated raid, she sums the situation up best by saying, "Just when I'm convinced human beings can't think of anything worse to do to each other, someone comes up with another creative way to prove me wrong."

***

Spine Damage can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $16.78 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 328
Release: May 15, 2017
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603815819
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Sharon St. George’s writing credits include three plays, several years writing advertising copy, a book on NASA’s space food project, and feature stories too numerous to count. She holds dual degrees in English and Theatre Arts, and occasionally acts in, or directs, one of her local community theater productions. Sharon is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, and she serves as program director for Writers Forum, a nonprofit organization for writers in northern California.

Links to connect with Sharon:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tricia Dower - Becoming Lin - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s 1965. Twenty-two-year-old Linda Wise despairs of escaping her overprotective parents and the town of Stony River where far too many know she was sexually assaulted as a teenager. Deliverance arrives in the form of marriage to the charismatic, twenty-six-year-old Ronald Brunson, a newly ordained Methodist minister who ignites in her a dormant passion for social justice. He tells her war and racial discrimination are symptoms of the “moral rot” destroying the country, conjuring up something dark and rancid in her mind, thrilling in its wickedness. He sweeps her away from New Jersey to serve with him at a church in a speck-on-the-map prairie town in Minnesota. What lies ahead for her over the next seven years is the subject of Tricia Dower’s penetrating study of a marriage and a woman’s evolving sense of self as she confronts the fear that keeps her from an unfettered future. Becoming Lin conjures the turbulent era of Freedom Riders for civil rights, Vietnam war resistance, the US government’s war against the resisters, the push for equal rights for women and the unraveling of the traditional marriage contract—an era that resonates today in tenacious racism and sexism, perpetual war and wide-reaching government surveillance.




My Review

No one addresses the concept of God quite like Tricia Dower.

In her latest release, BECOMING LIN, she picks up where she left off in STONY RIVER, by following the path of Linda Wise, the girl who gave up on God after being violently attacked by a man in the front seat of his car.

So when she falls head over heels for a passionate, young pastor/civil rights activist named Ron, she surprises even herself. Throwing her former doubts about the Almighty aside, "she knows, just knows, God has made her endure the ignominy of remaining in Stony River so she can meet this man."

It seems before she can blink, she's Mrs. Lin Brunson, imagining the good they'll be able to accomplish together as a couple. Unfortunately, her new husband may have a commanding presence behind the pulpit, but in their personal life he tends to spout Scripture verses at the most inopportune times, so much so that Lin exclaims in anguish, "I'm not a lost sheep that has to be found."

Going into their marriage, Lin thought the two of them were going to be equals, yet when Ron informs her that there will be no secrets between them and that her dad has already told him about the assault she went through as a teenager, she withdraws from him. After practically losing her faith over the whole traumatic ordeal, she resents how Ron tries to comfort her by saying, "It's obvious, my love. God was watching over you."

But Lin hasn't asked Ron for his prayers. All she wanted was a fresh start. And being around him day and night, all his Bible talk gets to be too much for her. When she openly resists his attempts to coddle her, he asks her flat out, "What's wrong with me taking care of you?"

Unfortunately, Lin realizes a little too late that she's not cut out to be a pastor's wife. She never wanted anybody to rescue her, and she definitely doesn't want to live the rest of her life under the pressure of having to be perfect. What she eventually does come to understand is her need to find herself. Ultimately, at some point it's up to every person to decide what to believe—about themselves, and God.

***

Becoming Lin can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
IndieBound
BooksaMillion
Midpoint Trade
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $12.99 ebook, $22.95 paperback
Genre: Women's Fiction, Historical, Coming of Age
Pages: 240
Release: March 20, 2017
Publisher: Caitlin Press
ISBN: 9781987915075
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Tricia Dower hails from Rahway, New Jersey. You can find her on the “Rahway’s Own” website with other individuals the town has recognized for innovation and creativity. A graduate of Gettysburg College and a Phi Mu, she built a career in business before reinventing herself as a writer in 2002. Her literary work has crossed borders and won awards. She expanded a story from her Shakespeare-inspired collection, Silent Girl (Inanna 2008) into Stony River, which was published in both Canada (Penguin 2012) and the US (Leapfrog 2016). She gave a character from Stony River her own novel in Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press 2016), now available in the US.

The Vancouver Sun says, “Some of the most powerful and eloquent novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries…including Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and Ethel Wilson...open up what had been cloaked in silence, the oppression of women and their self-discoveries in resistance. We can now add to this important liberation canon the name of Tricia Dower.”

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.

Links to connect with Tricia:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Michael J. McCann - Burn Country - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The latest in a series of barn fires in Leeds County turns ugly when a body is discovered inside the burned-out husk of an old hay barn near the village of Elgin. When the victim turns out to be Independent Senator Darius Lane, a renowned artist and social activist recently appointed to the upper chamber by the prime minister, Detective Inspector Ellie March of the Ontario Provincial Police finds herself coping with an RCMP national security team which must first assess whether the senator’s involvement in sensitive government business led to his brutal murder by forces hostile to Canada. While Detective Constable Kevin Walker works the case files of the previous barn fires looking for a serial arsonist within Leeds County who may have killed for the first time, Ellie discovers that the intervention of RCMP Assistant Commissioner Danny Merrick, unexpectedly polite and charming, will place her directly in the cross-hairs of a homicide investigation with national repercussions! This is the second book in the March and Walker Crime Novel series and the sequel to Sorrow Lake, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best North American crime novel.


My Review

"The loneliness of seeing things the way no one else sees them."

That's how romantic modernism is defined—a type of realistic painting style that finds significance in the commonplace. And it's also the school of thought employed by the unfortunate murder victim in Michael J. McCann's latest detective story, BURN COUNTRY.

"The Fire in a Boy's Heart" is Darius Lane's most famous work, ironically titled since he ends up meeting his demise amid the smoky remains of his torched artist cabin. But there's more to this painting than meets the eye. It's also the childhood favorite of Canada's current prime minister, who used to stare at it for hours on end, imagining he was the boy standing in the sunburned field against a horizon on fire, a look of determination on his face.

Now this same prime minister wants to know why his favorite painter is dead and it's up to investigator Ellie March to find the answer. A self-professed people watcher, Ellie's a pro when it comes to interrogations, but not so much in dealing with the internal politics attached to such a high profile case. She's not someone who's out to make a name for herself. For her, this murder isn't a lucky hand she's been dealt in order to advance her career. To her, they're all important. Each and every case is personal to her.

That's why in order to get to sleep at night she allows herself one cigarette, before washing it down with a splash of alcohol. She's learned to compartmentalize her emotions because she's had to. People don't understand that the mind of plain and awkward Ellie March is continuously filled with terrible things. She's not out to network or cultivate relationships based on someone else's tragic demise. Her focus is on the work, thereby lending her own brand of quiet dignity to the deceased.

Others probably would use the opportunity to butter up the prime minister—but not her. Because deep down she knows that later that night she'll be staring out at the calm water from her lakeside cabin, hoping to bring some relief to her restless mind. And she knows that no amount of money or influence will change that.


***

Burn Country can be purchased at:
Amazon
Kobo

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $24.99 paperback
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781927884096
Publisher: Plaid Raccoon Press
Release: March 17, 2017
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. McCann was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. He earned degrees in English from Trent University and Queen's University in Kingston, ON.

He is the author of Sorrow Lake, the first March and Walker Crime Novel, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Hammett Award for best crime novel in North America.

He is also the author of the Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel Series, including Blood Passage, Marcie's Murder, and The Fregoli Delusion. The Rainy Day Killer, the most recent in the series, was longlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for best crime novel in Canada.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog (mystery)
Blog (paranormal)
Pinterest
YouTube
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, May 12, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.




My Review

Jerzy Kasinski was a bit of a head case.

In Jerome Charyn's colorful portrayal of the mid-20th century writer, we get a look at this tragic figure from many different angles. Peter Sellers. Lana Stalin. His mistresses. His ex-wife. His parents. And yet in the end, when the book circles back to his early childhood years in Nazi-occupied Poland, we still don't know who the guy is, not really.

Jerzy's claim to fame was the book, The Painted Bird. His name was on the cover, but as it turns out, a young woman, he picked up off the street, is the one who honed it to perfection with her little green pencil. This unknown girl knew how to work on instinct alone, something Jerzy was never able to do. He could think in chapters, in swaths of connected material, but he couldn't put it down on the page, never mind translate his thoughts into English. Charyn describes his futile attempt at writing as "chaotic, without a fine thread…the charm of his narration wasn't there."

Meaning Jerzy could BS with the best of them, but when it came to knowing how to fully capture his haunted voice in print, he was clueless. His audience was expecting a factual story of a Holocaust survivor. Instead, they got a book filled with pious little lies about himself. Charyn even labels Jerzy's duplicity as "the greatest disease of his life."

When he's found out, the critics decide to either ignore him or crucify him. Yet even as they mock him, Jerzy remains defiant. Charyn explains his response in this way, "All his gifts, all his talents, are tied up in mischief. His currency was pain - pain he inflicted on others and himself."

Jerzy's defense? That his father burnt it into him, that he couldn't have gotten through the war "without a million lies." But upon reaching the final page of Charyn's intriguing portrayal of him, the question still remains: Was it worth it?

***

Jerzy can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Historical, Jewish
Pages: 240
Release: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781942658146
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Excerpt

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.



About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories, I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel. Among other honors, he has been longlisted for the PEN Award for Biography, honored as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

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