Friday, December 9, 2016

Nancy McCabe - Following Disasters - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

On her twenty-first birthday, Maggie Owen receives an unusual birthday gift: a house. That same day, the house’s owner, her aunt, dies. For three years, Maggie has been fleeing her childhood demons: the deaths of her parents, estrangement from her terminally-ill aunt, and a betrayal by her best friend. But now her career on the road, following natural disasters in temporary insurance claims offices, ends abruptly as Maggie returns home to face her past. But why does the house hold a mysterious spell over her? Why does she have the persistent feeling that her aunt is haunting her? Why did her aunt lie to her about the circumstances of her parents’ deaths? Who is the ghost child that may be hanging around the house? And what’s with the guy next door who seems so hostile toward her? FOLLOWING DISASTERS is tightly woven ghost story that raises questions about legacies and their influence on our choices.




My Review

Perception is in the eye of the beholder. How one sees oneself can vastly differ from how others view you. Maggie Owen is a young woman, who has been misunderstood most of her life. Friends tell her that it takes a lot of work to get to know her. Why is that? Apparently, she gives the impression that she's self-sufficient, that she doesn't need anybody. Not only that, but she comes off as cynical about love, expressing high expectations that nobody can possibly meet.

But for Maggie that assessment of who she is couldn't be further from the truth. She just doesn't trust her own judgment since she's been burned so many times in the past. Mainly because she finds it incredibly difficult to figure people out. It handicaps her ability to open up. In light of her weakness, she prefers to be alone rather than risk getting hurt, again and again and again.

To her, it's comical that people think that she's difficult and complicated, because in her mind she sees herself as really quite simple. She knows who she is, but has a hard time, expressing that to others. And it's understandable why. Her father dies in a house fire when she's a little girl. Years later, when her mother dies unexpectedly, she can't bring herself to go to the funeral. While shortly thereafter, her aunt passes away without their estrangement ever being reconciled. It's clear Maggie is carrying around some pretty heavy baggage for someone so young.

To protect herself from having to share the details about her past, she's learned to make adjustments to her personality in order to survive. It's not her fault, but it also limits her ability to move forward. She literally hems herself in by moving into her aunt's house, sheltering herself within the same four walls where she once felt loved and cherished as a child, hoping to bring a semblance of that feeling back into her life again.

The book casts an interesting glance at the idea of self awareness. Maggie wants to resuscitate her heart, but she knows she can't do it alone, no matter how much she insists that she can. Despite her ardent refusal not to depend on others, deep down she realizes that she's going to need someone to get her broken heart beating again, no matter how much she hates to admit it.

She's not delusional. She knows what's going on with her. Something's wrong. Something that needs to be fixed. And maybe, just maybe, someone out there will be able to understand her without her having to explain every single detail of her life to them. They'll like her simply for the person she is.

***

Following Disasters can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $9.99 ebook, $16.00 paperback
Genre: Gothic, Horror, Ghosts
Pages: 234
Release: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Outpost19
ISBN: 9781944853037
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Following Disasters is Nancy McCabe's first novel. She has also published four books of creative nonfiction, including Meeting Sophie: A Memoir or Adoption; Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge: A Journey to My Daughter's Birthplace in China; and From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood. She is a regular blogger for Ploughshares and has published work in Newsweek, Writers' Digest, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, and other magazines and anthologies. Her work has received a Pushcart and six times made notable lists in Houghton Mifflin Best American anthologies.

Links to connect with Nancy:
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Friday, October 7, 2016

Tricia Dower - Stony River - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It wasn’t all poodle skirts and rock ‘n’ roll. From its deceptively innocent beginning—two young teens exploring the riverbank and spying on “Crazy Haggerty’s” dilapidated house—through the intertwining story lines of paganism, murder and sexual violence, Stony River shows how perilous life was for some girls in the 1950s. Absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenage longing and small-town pretense abound. The threat of violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighborhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl and another gone missing.

The central mystery, inspired by the crimes of Robert Zarinsky as documented by Robin Gaby Fisher and Judith Lucas in Deadly Secrets (Newark Star–Ledger 2008), keeps the reader guessing until almost the very end, when the frightening truth is revealed. In this coming-of-age mystery, three girls learn who they are and what they’re capable of surviving—and forgiving.




My Review

It's sad when religion gets distorted because it can really mess a person up. In STONY RIVER, the spiritual views of three different characters are shaped based on what they experience in their lives and the varying influences of the people around them. Who is God? Teresa, Miranda and Linda are all searching for an immediate truth to what is, in fact, a lifelong quest.

For irreverent, provocative Tereza, God is a "Peeping Tom," who spies on everyone, but doesn't do squat to help them. Admittedly, she doesn't think about God much, probably because her mentally ill husband is always referencing the devil. Tereza doesn't take his claims seriously, when he says sometimes Satan takes over his body, as he stands outside of it, watching himself do terrible things. Even though he's had violent outbursts at home, Tereza has no faith whatsoever in what he believes, until something tragic happens.

Miranda, on the other hand, is shockingly impregnated by her father during a pagan ritual in the basement of their home. She doesn't know what to believe when she goes from total seclusion into the care of the nuns of St. Bernadette's orphanage. There, it's discovered that she has a gift of clairvoyance, seeing things others can't. She doesn't know if her deepened spiritual sense is a result of her father's ancient gods and goddesses or if she's on the verge of becoming the latest in a long line of saints the good sisters urge her to pray to.

Linda is perhaps like most people, her God is the god of guilt. She thinks she has to be perfect in order to get to heaven, and it's up to her to save the souls of every hoodlum boy who comes her way. When something terrible happens to her, she wonders what happened to God's divine justice. Why didn't he avenge her? Why did he let it happen? Her faith, weak to begin with, shatters. Trying to piece together the lessons she memorized in Sunday School into some kind of meaning, she valiantly attempts to sort out the misinterpretations from the half-truths.

Religion is a difficult subject to tackle for any author. Challenging anyone's beliefs is bound to get a writer into hot water. But Tricia Dower doesn't back away from addressing several controversial topics. She brings them out into the light in order to examine them for what they are. She's not out to claim that one religion is better than the other. She's just out to make the point that when misapplied, any one of them can be made to look ridiculous.

***

Stony River can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes

Prices/Formats: $10.99 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Crime, Historical, Coming of Age
Pages: 320
Release: October 6, 2016
Publisher: Leapfrog Press
ISBN: 9781935248866
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

Tricia Dower confesses to smoking a river punk or two in Rahway, New Jersey, where she was born and raised by perfectly fine parents who did not keep her hidden in a spooky house. 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 first published in Canada (Penguin, 2012). Her novel, Becoming Lin (Caitlin Press), was released in Canada in 2016. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dower lives and writes in Brentwood Bay, BC.

Links to connect with Tricia:
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Friday, August 5, 2016

Rich Zahradnik - A Black Sail - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.

Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.




My Review

Doing the right thing. Does anyone ever do that anymore? Apparently, not in 1976. Yet, there's a dichotomy to this book that rings true even today. In America, there's a group of people who are powerless to fight the system. They're either too poor, too uneducated, too unconnected to stand up for their rights. While there exists another sort, those who know how to manipulate those in charge until they get what they want. They're either rich, involved in criminal activity or both, and they're not about to take no for an answer.

Taylor is a seasoned New York City reporter. He's seen a lot. He knows how the game is played, and yet he refuses to play it. He sticks to his own personal code of honor. If a young woman turns up dead, he wants to know why and who did it, and nobody is going to silence him.

Yet, his chivalrous attitude isn't all about the greater good. Taylor's looking to move up the ladder, possibly catch the attention of an editor at the Post or the Daily News. He's a guy with a high school education who started off as a copy boy. He wants to do something important with his life, something that'll make an impact. He's ambitious, but at the same time, he's out to help what he calls the "strays" of society, the people who fall through the cracks, be it a child drug addict, a college student going down the wrong path, or even his dog.

However, by doing so, he realizes that in many ways, he's just as helpless as they are. When threatened for sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, the wrath of the federal government descends upon him. For daring to cross them, they make it clear that they can destroy his entire life in an instant by taking away his job, dragging him to court, you name it. They have all the power, and he has none.

Is that how any freedom-loving American likes to think of themselves, being at the mercy of those in positions of authority? I don't think so. But is that the way it is? Unfortunately, yes. Taylor is coerced into backing down and shelving his story, if only to continue to keep fighting another day for those without a voice, including himself.

***

A Black Sail can be pre-ordered at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Pages: 264
Release: October 1, 2016
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812115
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 (A Black Sail, Drop Dead Punk, Last Words).



The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie 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 IndieFab 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.



Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-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.



In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction.



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 writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.

Links to connect with Rich:
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Friday, July 29, 2016

Michael J. Bowler - A Matter of Time - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The world's greatest evil stalks the world's greatest ship, and the only one who can stop him hasn't been born yet. Jamie Collins is a junior at Santa Clara University in 1986. He has friends, a professor who mentors him, and a promising future as a writer. Then the dreams begin - nightmarish memories that transport him back to a time and place fifty years before he was born: Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912. When Jamie discovers a foreign cell in his blood that links him to the famous vessel, the two timelines begin to overlap and he realizes an unimaginable truth - something supernatural stalks the ill-fated ship, something that will kill him if he can't stop it first. And the only way to stop it may be to prevent Titanic from sinking. But even if he can figure out a way to do that, should he? What will be the effect on history if he succeeds? And what about the lady he wasn't supposed to fall in love with? As her destiny becomes entwined with his, Jamie discovers the value of friendship, the power of love, the impact of evil, and the vagaries of Fate.



My Review

It's no secret that author, Michael J. Bowler believes in a higher power. You can read as much in his bio. But the way he works faith into a science fiction novel about time travel and the Titanic is what makes this book more than just a fun read.

Bowler explores some pretty deep topics under the guise of what Hollywood considers to be the supernatural, i.e. vampires. Of course, there's the usual play on light and dark imagery associated with good versus evil, but the novel goes a step further by focusing on the causes of spiritual blindness.

It turns out sight is the predominant theme. In fact, Bowler often returns to a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's THE LITTLE PRINCE to bring it to the forefront: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye." Whenever characters are tempted to make a bad decision, it's no coincidence that their vision starts to dim.

For Bowler, the eyes are the window to the soul, and he uses that particular metaphor to good effect. The gaze of the vampire is cold, empty, heartless, while the look of a young mother is full of life, warmth and understanding. Despite everything that's going on around him, Jamie is so taken with her goodness that, "All he could see with his eyes and his heart, was her." For him, her ethereal glow pierces through all the gloom surrounding them. Light fosters life, while darkness becomes the harbinger of death.

The crew members don't see the iceberg in the blackness of the eerily calm Atlantic, even though the ship's lights are illuminating the dark for miles. After the impact, they send flares up into the night sky, but it's too late for anyone to cheat death. Once the Titanic begins its final descent, the lights flicker, trying to stay on, echoing the heartbeat of those clinging to the rails, hoping to survive. Yet the tragedy circles back to how Jamie first encountered the ship as it churned out of the darkness toward him, in all reality denoting that the souls onboard were already dead. There was really nothing Jamie could do to save them, no matter how much he wanted to.

Biblical references abound from David and Goliath to the Good Samaritan to the holy water of Lourdes, but it's the struggle of God granting man free will that the novel pivots around. Bowler claims that the choices an individual makes ultimately result in making the world better or worse for the rest of humanity. It's pretty heady stuff to think about, but it's an issue worth examining, both inside the context of the story, and outside of it.

***

A Matter of Time can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes

Formats/Prices: $2.99 ebook, $12.95 paperback, $14.95-$21.83 Audible
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense
Pages: 340
Release: March 2, 2012
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 9781432787110
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine novels—A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner – 2013 Wishing Shelf Book Awards; Reader Views Honorable mention; Runner-Up Rainbow Awards; Honorable Mention - Southern California Book Festival), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear (Finalist – 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards), And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America; Spinner (Winner Hollywood Book Festival; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Reader’s Favorite; Literary Classics Seal of Approval; Runner-Up - Southern California Book Festival; Honorable Mention - Halloween Book Festival; Finalist – 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards), and Warrior Kids: A Tale of New Camelot (Honorable Mention in the London Book Festival and The New England Book Festival; Finalist – 2015 Wishing Shelf Book Awards).

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II.”

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has finished writing a novel based on his screenplay, “Like A Hero,” and another book aimed at the teen market. He hopes to find a publisher or an agent for both.

His goal as an author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world. The most prevalent theme in his writing and his work with youth is this: as both a society, and as individuals, we’re better off when we do what’s right, rather than what’s easy.

Links to connect with Michael:
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Claudia Riess - Semblance of Guilt - 99¢ Ebook Sale, Review, Excerpts & Giveaway



About the Book

Ellen Davis’s husband left her for another woman. Post-divorce, she’s trying to reassert her independence and lands a job as a reporter for her local newspaper. One of her assignments is covering weekly items on the police blotter, which is how she gets to know Lieutenant Pete Sakura—a handsome, witty Japanese- American Ellen is drawn to immediately.

Another of Ellen’s assignments is interviewing for the paper’s “Around The Town” column, and in this capacity, she meets Graham and Sophia Clarke, newcomers to the community. He’s an administrator at Columbia; she’s his beautiful Greek wife. Ellen and Sophia become fast friends, so it comes as a great shock when Sophia ends up dead.

Sophia Clarke is found murdered, and to all appearances, Ellen is the last person to have seen her alive. When Ellen’s fingerprints are found on the murder weapon, she’s arrested, and evidence steadily mounts against her. Ellen takes matters into her own hands as her romantic feelings for Pete intensify. Closing this case could either save Ellen or lead to her destruction.


Review

Details—a good book hinges on them. And when it comes to a mystery novel, an author must leave a tantalizing trail of breadcrumbs to make for a satisfying read. Nothing written into the story can be insignificant. Thought must be put in before sitting down to write, mapping out a strategy, planning where every clue will be dropped. Whether an author does so or not becomes evident in the first few chapters.

And for the most part, I can say Claudia Riess certainly made the effort.

In fact, she winks at her readers, sprinkling subtle hints throughout the novel. I was most impressed with the introduction early on of an artistic photo book full of controversial subject matter. It's a head-scratcher of a moment that Riess doubles back to it later in the book, using it to expose the motivations behind one of her main characters, setting the stage to deliver when it counts.

Riess is a writer with a keen eye for people watching, seamlessly incorporating a character's body language to infuse the story with a treasure trove of little important gestures that don't get overlooked or ignored. In order to show how alone Ellen is feeling, Riess places her in the back of a cab, forcing her to make small talk with the driver. This happens right before a pivotal moment, revealing just how desperately Ellen is seeking some kind of connection with another human being, even a total stranger who cares more about the cab fare than he does about what happens to her.

How people observe one another resides at the heart of Riess's storytelling. It's how Ellen gets herself into trouble in the first place. After her husband leaves her, she befriends Sophia, and it's not long after that that she catches Sophia's husband out with another woman. Transferring what happened to her onto the infidelity she thinks she's witnessing, Ellen follows the other woman to the door of her apartment, the whole time telling herself that she's only snooping in order to help her new friend, something she wished someone had done for her.

However, everything is not is as it appears to be. No two marriages are alike. Each dissolves in its own way. And Ellen, feeling adrift, goes looking for something she would've been better off staying away from. Blinded by her own sense of heartache, she forgets the wisdom behind the age-old adage, misery loves company.

But what keeps you on the edge of your seat is: will she have to pay the price for it? Or will her good deed go unpunished?


Excerpts


After navigating past the desks, she knocked on the door of the cubicle. No response. The second, more deliberate, rap was answered with an impatient “Come!”

Ellen entered the office and was somewhat taken aback by the sight of an attractive Asian man in shirt-sleeves awkwardly poised by the side of his desk, arms out, legs spread one behind the other, the front one slightly bent, the rear rigidly locked. He looked, she thought, as if he were trying to keep his balance on a skateboard. His attention was fixed on an open book sitting at the edge of his desk. “Give me a second,” he said testily, without taking his eyes off the book and at the same time adjusting the position of his front foot to a more pigeon-toed angle.

“I won’t ask what you’re doing,” Ellen said.

“Smart.” There was a sound of raised voices coming from the outer room. “The door!”

She closed it. “However, maybe you’d like to know what I’m doing?”

He ignored her question. “Damn, I’m not getting it.” He glanced up. “Do me a favor, take a look at number fifty and tell me what the hell is wrong here.”

Ellen approached the desk and peered down at the open book. A two-page spread of photographs showed a man in what looked like an usher’s uniform demonstrating a series of exercises. “Is this tai chi?”

“This is a pain in the ass. Could you look at the picture, tell me where I’m off, please?”

“‘Fair Lady works at Shuttles,’” she read aloud. She looked up from the page at him then back down again. “I see where you are. Figure fifty-A. It says: ‘Elbow bent, your right hand comes to your center line, fingers pinched together…’” She looked up. “For starters, your fingers aren’t pinched together.”

“Just hold the book up so I can see it from a better angle, okay?”

She held the book, show-and-tell style. He went through a variety of disconnected motions, clearly becoming more frustrated. “Shit.”

Ellen had formed a perception of the Japanese male as meditative, controlled, mysterious, soft-spoken, one who quietly went about transcending the material world while politely manipulating it. She had never realized she harbored this fully defined and fallacious stereotype until that moment, as she was looking at what appeared to be its antithesis. “If your phone rings, should I answer it?”

“Forget it.” He dropped the pose, took the book from her and put it back on the desk. “I’m all out of sync.”

“Now I’ll ask. What are you doing?”

“Getting my goddamn yin and yang together. My doctor tells me I have an ulcer and prescribes pills, but I don’t like pills. I’m taking up the eastern approach.”

“But isn’t tai chi Chinese?”

“Yeah, so?”

“‘Sakura’ sounds like a Japanese name.”

“Let me ask you a question. You ever eat chow mein?”

“Well, yes.”

“I rest my case.” He waved her toward the chair on the other side of the desk and dropped down into his own. “Sit.”

She remained on her feet. “I’m Ellen Davis. I was told you had the data for the Chronicle’s ‘Blotter’ column. I’m just here to collect it.”

He threw up a hand. “What’s the point of that column? All it does is stigmatize the poor saps who appear in it. There’s no investigation of circumstances, no disclaimers stating charges could be erroneous. Just a cold-blooded list of citations.”

“It’s supposed to serve as a deterrent,” she said without conviction. “Actually, I don’t particularly like the column myself, but I don’t make up the rules. I’m sorry I messed up your exercise routine. May I have the material, please?”

She became aware of herself as an unattached, uncompromised individual as she once was at Penn. She sensed the boundaries of her being as clearly as she felt the hem of her knit dress pull tightly against her legs with each step she took. It was as if she had never been married, had instead dressed for an interview and walked straight out of west Philadelphia into Morningside Heights.

Mid-block between 109 and 108 Streets, as she was passing a shoe store and scanning the view across the way, her attention was drawn to the bright blue awning of Charlie’s Snack Bar. At that moment the door to the restaurant opened, and a tall young woman with cropped red hair and wearing a tight black turtleneck sweater, clingy black pants and black cowboy boots, stepped out into the daylight. The girl stood aside to allow the man behind her to pass, and as he emerged completely into the sunlight, Ellen recognized Graham. She was about to hail him, when he took a step toward the redhead and Ellen realized he was with her. Unable to tear her focus from the scene or insinuate herself into it, she backed up into the shadow cast by the overhanging eave of the shoe store.

While Graham snapped down and adjusted the removable sun-visors of his eyeglasses, the young woman reached into the breast pocket of his blazer, drew out a pair of sunglasses he must have been holding for her, and put them on, in the process grazing her breasts against his left elbow. The act defined them as intimate friends, yet the distance springing up between them immediately afterward seemed devised to refute it. They stood apart talking to each other, their postures stiff and formal, their not touching as conspicuous as an open embrace.

Ellen watched them as her years at Penn were sucked into a black hole, and all she could remember was her husband Kevin dropping the bomb, telling her he was leaving her. Watching Graham and the redhead across the street was like catching the discovery scene she had missed, seeing it replayed for her benefit, like a burlesque in which she was both captive audience and object of scorn.

Almost at once she felt a connection with Sophia.

Sophia pulled her hands away and struck out at Ellen in one continuous movement, throwing herself off balance and stumbling sideways. She stared in horror at the gouge one of her nails had made on Ellen’s chest, and Ellen, stunned by the violence and not yet feeling the pain, gazed in disbelief at the drop of blood tracking toward the scalloped edge of her white satin bustier.

“Go—get out of here,” Sophia rasped. “I’m afraid what I might do to you. Get out, get out.”

The blood trickled onto the rim of smooth white fabric, forming a small, irregular stain. Ellen looked up at Sophia. The woman she thought she knew had become a trapped animal, her eyes wary-wild.

A sharp pain from the nick in her chest jolted her from her numbing inertia. She moved quickly from the room, feeling the tears coming, holding them back, postponing them as she ran silently down the hall. She descended the steps with blazing deliberation, her pace quick and even, her focus on reaching the door and disappearing into the sheltering night. She could feel her eyes, static-wide in bewildered alarm, betraying her attempt to appear in total control. Still, she focused straight ahead, concentrating on her goal, hearing Anna calling her name but moving through the sound, pacing herself to simulate haste without flight as she sliced through the clear zone of the foyer and pushed open the storm door. Midway across the porch she collided with an incoming guest, all pearls and black silk, the woman’s staccatoed “Shit!” like a gunshot in an open field of combat.

Picking up speed, she hurtled down the bluestone drive, anticipating the sound of the engine starting up even before she could spot her car.

***

Tuesday, March 13. First day in court. The jury sat knit-browed and entranced, leaning forward so as not to miss a word, not yet settled in their role of deliberative body. To Ellen, they looked as if they’d been caught off guard at the supermarket, a rainbow assortment of shoppers rounded up one afternoon and transported to a box at the opera, best seats in the house.

Ellen sat in a heavy, slat-back chair drawn up close to a long oak table. She was wearing a gray suit and paisley print blouse because Rosenthal had told her to wear something conservative but not somber. The skirt buckled and slid around her waist every time she moved because in the last two months she’d lost ten pounds from under-eating and over-exercising. As she’d taken her seat in the courtroom, she’d snagged her pantyhose on a rough spot on the table leg and felt the rip crawl up her leg, making her feel exposed to the prying eyes in the room. She’d been unable to choose earrings that morning, vacillating between small and large, shiny and dull, gold and silver, fixating on this final aspect of her attire as if she could determine the decision of the jury by choosing the politically correct objects to hang on her earlobes. When Rosenthal blew his car horn in the driveway she’d grabbed for familiarity, the small gold hoops, before allowing herself to be whisked off to the mind-boggling unknown.

Sitting next to her at the oak table, “Try to relax,” Rosenthal whispered in her ear, leaning toward and away from her in one smooth, condensed motion.

Ellen sat back in the chair, her rigid spine meeting hard wood, the word “relax” banned from her body’s vocabulary. Through an impromptu technique of auto-suggestion and deep breathing, she was barely managing to bring under control the strangulating tension in her neck and the explosive blood-humming in her ears. It was not her lawyer’s fault she hadn’t been prepared for Mark Gilbert’s speech. Rosenthal had described the prosecutor’s meticulous approach, but there was no way he could have prepared her for the immediacy of the event: the way Gilbert cocked his left hip as he stood facing the jury; how his dark eyes seemed to glow from some deep passion or conviction; how he flashed her alternating looks of consternation and pity; how he stressed syllables unexpectedly, so that his words jumped against the wall of her chest—“enter the room,” “points of the scissors,” “homicidal violence”; how his brow suddenly furrowed as he reminded the jury—“You and I, we represent the People. We have been charged not to avenge a wrong, but to deliver justice.”

***

“Come up to the bedroom.”

“Yes.”

“Stay the night.”

“Yes.”

“Hurry.” She wanted to be taken on the spot, jammed against the table or pinned to the floor, but delay would set the act apart. She could foresee it, her first experience of absolute exposure—the loss of her true virginity on her sex-worn bed. The chaste and devilish nuances of amazing contradiction lifted the event to the peak of desire. He was one step behind her, holding on to her hand as they climbed the staircase. She was aware of every footfall, every breath, every sound of this outwardly conventional drama. She led him down the hall, almost turning in at the wrong doorway, almost forgetting where she slept, his presence casting an aura of unfamiliarity on the surroundings. He caught her hesitation and uttered a short, nervous laugh, sharing her bewilderment.

As they entered her bedroom, it seemed to lose all connection to her past, as if it had come into existence at that very moment just to harbor them.

In rapt silence they helped each other with the shedding of clothes, marveling at the unhurried pace of the ritual, as if their bodies had agreed to temper urgency with curiosity.

They lay on the white comforter, barely disturbing it in their intent exploration, the upheavals taking place inwardly, while over audacious globes and rises and along newly accessible furrows, their fingers, lips, tongues concentrated movement in targeted pressures, exacting exquisite modulations of sensation from each focal point.


***

Semblance of Guilt can be purchased at:
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99¢ EBOOK SALE!
runs July 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: 99¢ $3.99 ebook, $21.99 paperback, $39.95 hardcover
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 328
Release: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Archway
ISBN: 9781480827851
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

"A determined amateur detective who'll garner fans with her refusal to either back down or give up." -Kirkus Reviews

***

About the Author

Claudia Riess, a Vassar graduate, has worked in the editorial departments of The New Yorker and Holt Rinehart and Winston. On her first novel, Reclining Nude, Oliver Sacks, M.D. commented: “exquisite—and delicate.” Her second, art suspense Stolen Light earned: “complex and intriguing” —Kirkus Review

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Frank Nappi - Welcome to the Show - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s 1950 and Mickey Tussler—the now-famous pitching prodigy with autism and a golden arm—is back for another baseball season in this third installment of Frank Nappi’s critically acclaimed Legend of Mickey Tussler series. Talk of Mickey’s legendary exploits on the field has grown since his improbable debut two years prior, as have the fortunes of Murph and the rest of the lovable ragtag Brew Crew. Now Mickey, Murph, and Lester find themselves heading to Bean Town to play for the Boston Braves.

The call up is sweet, for all of them have overcome insurmountable odds to get where they are. But life in the major leagues is filled with fast-paced action both on and off the field. The bright lights of Boston hold a new series of challenges, hardships, and life lessons—especially for Mickey, who finds himself a long way from throwing apples into a barrel back on the farm. The three newest Braves have each other to lean on, as well as a new group of fans who are swept away by pennant fever, but balancing everything this new world has to offer may prove to be the greatest challenge of all.




My Review

Could an autistic pitcher really get Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio out?

As a baseball fan, it's fun to think about. Back in 1950, when Frank Nappi's tale takes place, not many people knew what autism was. Which means, this story isn't too far-fetched. There very well could've been players in baseball with autism at the time. They, themselves, just didn't know they had it, and neither did the fans watching them.

Instead, Mickey Tussler ends up being one of those guys who's automatically labeled a "retard," a "nitwit" or a "bonehead." He doesn't talk much, and when he does it's only to share his encyclopedic knowledge on some random topic. He also has a bad habit of referring to himself in the third person, and when someone speaks to him, he has a tendency to take everything literally, to the point most of his teammates just laugh at him and walk away.

His social skills are very weak, but not through any fault of his own. It's just the way his brain is wired. So it's not hard to see why this farm boy from Indiana prefers the company of animals to that of people. They don't judge him. They're not unkind to him. They don't bully him.

Yet despite all the challenges he's facing, Mickey has a lot to offer. When he's able to tune out the sensory overload and simply focus on the ball in his hand, he can really pitch, the pop in his fastball unlike anything anyone's ever seen. But his outings are irregular. Sometimes he can tune out the verbal insults of his father he hears running through in his head, and sometimes he can't.

Like any autistic person, sticking to a routine helps. He has a strict regimen he follows, putting on his uniform. When he takes the mound, he smoothes the dirt out just right before starting his warm-up tosses. That sense of familiarity settles him.

But it's the support of his manager that allows him to succeed. Mickey's special. He needs someone to watch out for him so that he can thrive in an environment that's mentally taxing even for a non-autistic player. All it takes is a little patience, a little tolerance and it's not long before Mickey's well on his way to becoming the Rookie of the Year, while giving his team a legitimate chance of making it to the World Series.

It's a great, feel good story about overcoming obstacles, and educating people on how to treat those who may be different from them. It's a book that makes one stop and think, while at the same time tugging at the heartstrings in a tender, yet powerful, way.

Hands down, this is one of the best books I've read all year.

***

Welcome to the Show can be purchased at:
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Prices/Formats: $9.99 ebook, $9.99 paperback
Genre: Sports, YA, Special Needs
Pages: 288
Release: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony
ISBN: 9781634508292
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Video




***

About the Author

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty five years. His debut novel, ECHOES FROM THE INFANTRY, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, THE LEGEND OF MICKEY TUSSLER, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Nappi continues to produce quality work, including SOPHOMORE CAMPAIGN, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. The third installment of Nappi's Mickey Tussler series, WELCOME TO THE SHOW, was released April 2016, and he is currently working on his next thriller, AS LONG AS WE BOTH SHALL LIVE. Nappi lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

Links to connect with Frank:
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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

M. Glenda Rosen - Dying to Be Beautiful Mystery Series - 99¢ Sale, Excerpts & Giveaway



BOOK ONE: WITHOUT A HEAD

Saturday Morning, 6:00am

The head in the sink stared up at her. Darcy Monroe, the owner of a popular, chic hair salon was used to this. Only this time, the head was there without a body.

Chapter One: The Murder

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons. A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish setter sitting next to her.




Excerpt


Chapter 1
The Murder


Saturday, 6:10 A.M.

As a Private Investigator, Jenna Preston had been hired to help solve murders, insurance fraud, cheating spouses and more. This was a new one for her.

She received what could only be described as a hysterical call from Darcy Monroe, owner of a popular, upscale hair salon in The Hamptons.

A head without its body was rolling around in one of her shampoo basins.

Almost five-feet, five-inches tall, always looking taller in her two or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, blue eyes and was often seen driving around the East End in a white jeep, and in recent years, with her Irish Setter sitting next to her.

As a well-respected private investigator in the area, she told the salon owner, “I’ll be right there, and don’t touch anything until the police arrive.”

Jenna knew they needed to secure the business as a crime scene and Coroner Doc Bishop and Head of Forensics Lara Stern had to be brought in as well.

“Troy, someone left a head, without the body, in a shampoo bowl at Darcy’s Salon. I’ll be there in about ten minutes.”

”Damn it, Jenna, I nearly spilled my coffee listening to this bizarre message. I’ll be there within the half hour. Meantime, I’ll ask Lara to get over there to check the crime scene for prints and other possible evidence and for Doc to arrange to bring the head to the morgue. We’ll want to look at it there, after he’s had a chance to determine how it was cut off and anything else he might find.”

Detective Johnson hung up.

He and Jenna had worked together and known each other for a long time. They clearly trusted each other. He knew she would follow police protocol at the crime scene.

Saturday, as always was an exceptionally busy day, “in season” at Darcy’s Salon, which is why she had gotten there so early. She always wanted the salon looking perfect, ready for stylists and clients, who this day had appointments beginning at 7 am.

Located off the main avenue of this posh resort at the East End of Long Island, less than ninety miles from Manhattan, the salon was known for catering to the rich and famous, as well as some of wanna-be customers, primping for weekend parties and fundraising events.

The salon was truly beautiful with warm color tones and soft matching leather client chairs facing gold (well, fake gold), trimmed mirrors. There was a reception area with the latest issues of fashion magazines from Paris and Rome, and a few of the more popular Hampton rags, like Dan’s Papers were spread out on a marble table, next to it a coffee machine offering gourmet flavored coffee and teas.

Most of the women who came to Darcy’s Salon had plenty of money, some from their own success, although others were arm candy for much older, wealthy men. Sometimes one of them would joke (maybe not) that they were “Dying To Be Beautiful” like some of the famous models and celebrities, many of who summered in the Hamptons.

“Jenna, you’ve seen how difficult and fussy they can be, and their egos—they’re constantly seeking confirmation of how beautiful they look. They want to come to a high-end salon, expecting to be treated like royalty. And believe me, we do.”

Darcy Monroe was only too glad to charge megabucks for her services since it included a whole lot of catering to their whims and demands. Beauty could indeed be expensive in The Hamptons. The chatter amongst the clients, the eight hair stylists, three manicurists and several assistants meant gossip was a basic ingredient of conversation. The story about the body without a head, and the head found in the salon, was sure to explode through The Hamptons. It certainly had all the elements of a soap opera.

“My god, Jenna, the gossip about this mess is going to be like a volcano spilling over this town.”


***

Dying to Be Beautiful: Without a Head can be purchased at:
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99¢ EBOOK SALE!

runs June 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 140
Release: February 1, 2016
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 9781483445304
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

BOOK TWO: FASHION QUEEN

Monday, 6:45am

Kevin Larson swam in his pool nearly every morning. Going on sixty-five, he prided himself on being in good shape.

Walking toward the small pool house, off to the left of the pool, he noticed a light was on. He was certain he turned it off the night before. Strange, he thought.

Even stranger, lying in a different sort of pool—blood—was his long time friend and lover, fashion designer Andre Yellen. Yellen was stuffed into one of the gowns he had designed and a wearing a blond wig.

The gown had been auctioned off the night before at a huge Hamptons fundraiser.

People in the Hamptons were certainly dying to be beautiful.




Excerpt


Chapter 1
THE GOWN


Monday, 7:30 a.m.

Detective Troy Johnson was at Larson’s house when Jenna arrived. He had covered the victim with a large beach towel until the coroner and forensics arrived. [deleted “He and”] Sergeant Stan Miller, who had taken the call, accompanied him and was presently attempting to hold back the media. They had heard about Yellen’s death on the police scanner, and in no time, the active crime scene was quite a wild sight.

It was 6:30 A.M. when she had received the call from Johnson that he was on his way to Kevin Larson’s house: “Jenna, there’s been a murder. Designer Andre Yellen, the Fashion Queen, was found dead this morning at the home of movie mogul Kevin Larson. He gave her the address and exactly where it was located, “past the windmill at the edge of Southampton.”

“More like the situation was at the edge of reason,” Jenna thought.

“Jenna, they’re acting like a bunch of hungry vultures. Help! These are your people. Well, they’re reporters like you used to be. The homeowner is either in shock or just completely uncooperative except for telling me where and when he found Yellen’s body.”

Jenna sighed, “Sure, I can’t say no to such a lovely invitation.”

The death of Andre Yellen was big news.

Andre Yellen was squeezed—really, truly squeezed—into a beautiful ocean blue, sleeveless, silk gown he had designed and donated for a fundraiser the evening before. The size-8 dress was torn at all the seams. Yellen, in his early fifties, 5’9” and clearly out of shape, was more like a size-18-plus, and stuffed into a dress way, way too small for him.

As a designer for major celebrities for nearly twenty-five years, Yellen was a man about town who loved both the ladies and the men, or so it had been gossiped around the East End of Long Island, also known as The Hamptons.

After all, this is THE HAMPTONS, and all sorts of lifestyles are accepted, where choices are supposedly not judged, and relationships are not restricted by conventional boundaries. Unfortunately, there are always those determined to exercise their own brand of severe judgment.

However, there was no evidence this murder had anything to do with narrow minds. Not yet, anyhow. In fact, it wasn’t clear at all what this murder was about—or who had committed it.

Private Investigator Jenna Preston was familiar with many celebrities who lived or vacationed on the East End. Before becoming an investigative reporter, she was entertainment and social events reporter for the local daily paper and had interviewed quite a few of the “anointed” as she had once called them. Gossip columnists covered the rest.

Jenna was regularly hired by law firms, insurance companies and businesses for corporate fraud issues. She also had an arrangement and relationship with the local police—especially when it came to murder investigations. Some of the people she had once written about also tried to hire her for personal investigations and for, what she considered, ridiculous reasons. Such complaints included some new fence being too high or people walking on the beach in front of someone’s home.

Most of these cases she didn’t accept.

“For me, it’s about justice. We all have reasons, even life experiences motivating our passions. I have mine for what I do,” Jenna told a local reporter whose paper was doing a story on crime in The Hamptons.

Jenna had a solid reputation for being smart, resourceful and most definitely charming—without an attitude—which was different from many of the people who summered in The Hamptons.

She did love nice clothes, including the red shoes or red boots she almost always wore.

“Hey,” she laughed once when Troy made fun of her red shoes, “you wear a cowboy hat most of the time, so don’t make fun of me, Tex.”

Jenna and Troy worked together professionally almost as soon as she had become a licensed private detective. It was a small police force, often stretched thin during the summer season. Because they actually had few experienced investigators, he had requested and been given approval by his captain to use a discretionary fund to hire Jenna on an as-needed basis. She was often a member of his investigative team, usually for murders.

Lately, there didn’t seem to be any shortage of them.

Slender and almost 5’5,” yet always looking taller in her two- or three-inch heels, Jenna had long red hair, sometimes pulled back in a ponytail when she was working. She also had deep blue eyes. With more than a hint of spunk and mischief about her, she was definitely considered attractive.

Jenna’s new romance, Dave, thought so!


***

Dying to Be Beautiful: Fashion Queen can be purchased at:
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99¢ EBOOK SALE!  

runs June 1-30, 2016 

Prices/Formats: $2.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 132
Release: June 1, 2016
Publisher: Lulu
ISBN: 9781483449159
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

About the Author

M. Glenda Rosen is the author of The Woman’s Business Therapist: Eliminate the MindBlocks and RoadBlocks to Success, and award-winning My Memoir Workbook. For over fifteen years, she helped numerous authors develop and market their books, and presented writing programs in New York, The Hamptons, New Mexico and Carmel, California, on “Encouraging and Supporting the Writer Within You!” She's the founder and owner of a successful marketing and public relations agency for twenty-five years.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Jerome Charyn - A Loaded Gun - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

We think we know Emily Dickinson: the Belle of Amherst, virginal, reclusive, and possibly mad. But in A Loaded Gun, Jerome Charyn introduces us to a different Emily Dickinson: the fierce, brilliant, and sexually charged poet who wrote:

My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—

Though I than He— may longer live
He longer must—than I—
For I have but the power to kill,
Without—the power to die—

Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson’s correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn’s literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.




My Review

It's always fascinating when one author examines the life of another, and Jerome Charyn has his work cut out for him with Emily Dickinson. Few traces remain of the celebrated poet. She's the unknowable genius…because she wanted it that way.

But Charyn won't be deterred. He's determined to make contact with her coquettish spirit. From the secrecy of the grave, she delights in hiding behind many masks. The virginal recluse. The half-cracked spinster. The resentful daughter. The village harlot. The closeted lesbian. The patrician princess. The doting aunt. The affectionate mistress. Take your pick.

So he delves into her poetry line by line, dash by dash, until a seminal moment occurs when he's in the presence of the few remaining scraps covered in her actual handwriting. He's so moved, he's literally bowled over, like he's discovered the building blocks of the universe, the charge that ignited the Big Bang.

Not stopping there, he holds up to the light the one known photograph of her in existence, before turning a critical eye upon the second, recently unearthed by a junkman in a Massachusetts estate sale. He meticulously presents the testimony of family members as well as scholars, critics and artists from all mediums that span the better part of three centuries. And still the mystery remains.

Just who was this woman?

A loaded gun. That's the conclusion Charyn inevitably comes to.  Returning to the source, Dickinson's words remain at the heart of his search because they allow him to relate to her on a personal level and that's where the richness of his portrayal comes into sharp focus. Charyn is a man, a New Yorker, living in the twenty-first century, yet he understands this female rebel from New England like no one else can. He sees a part of himself in her, and that's when the book hits its stride.

In terms of making a lasting impact, Dickinson was the longest long shot in history. She never sought earthly ambition. She kept to herself, composing her work in the silence of her bedroom or scribbling away in the pantry, diluting the sunlight just enough through the window slots to accommodate her failing eyesight. She was closer to her dog, Carlo, than she was to any living person. Yet her words roared with thunder at a time when women weren't encouraged to explore an inner life full of the tumult that comes for those brave enough to strive for perfection.

Not many writers reach the pinnacle, and Charyn feels this deeply. He knows no one walks away from reading Dickinson unscathed. Chasing her is an exhilarating—often frustrating—journey, one that he's obliged to preface with a warning: Beware. Her words leave a permanent mark.

***

A Loaded Gun can be purchased at:
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Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $11.99 ebook, $19.95 paperback
Genre: Literary Criticism
Pages: 265
Release: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781934137987
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

***

Video




***

Excerpts

CLICK HERE to read Excerpt One.

CLICK HERE to read Excerpt Two.


***

Reading Groups

CLICK HERE for a Reading Guide.



About the Author

Jerome Charyn was born and raised on the mean streets of the Bronx. He graduated cum laude from Columbia College. He has taught at Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Rice, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the City University of New York and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the American University of Paris. Charyn is a Guggenheim Fellow and has twice won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His stories and articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, American Scholar, New York Review of Books, New York Times, Ellery Queen and many other publications. Charyn's most recent books are The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I Am Abraham and Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories. His latest book is A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century.

Links to connect with Jerome:
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kathleen Gerard - The Thing Is - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy dog named Prozac who possesses supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ? Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancĂ©, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac. Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week. Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and even love—along the way. THE THING IS—a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!




My Review

Is this an endearing book about a dog? Yes. But it's more than that. The devastating ache of loss throbs through its pages from beginning to end. Even though the story is tempered with a good dose of humor and tail-wagging cuteness, be prepared—it's an emotional read with a capital E.

But that's what I like about it.

Author Kathleen Gerard doesn't sugarcoat anything. She doesn't patronize the reader by simply writing a standard dose of feel-good fluff. Her book is funny. It's sad. It leaves its mark on the heart by putting you inside a grieving woman's head. You feel everything she's feeling—why she's withdrawn, why she's given up on life, but then Gerard goes the extra mile by showing that woman's pain from the point of view of a therapy dog.

That's what got to me, feeling the pity the dog has for her. He doesn't want to see her so sad. He wants her to live again. And something about that, really tugs at the heartstrings. This little Yorkshire Terrier becomes her biggest cheerleader, rooting for her to take a chance on life again, encouraging her to follow his example and not be afraid to open up to people.

And the beautiful thing is, that little by little, that's exactly what she does.

***

The Thing Is can be purchased at:
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Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Pages: 299
Release: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Red Adept
ISBN: 9781940215587
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been awarded many literary prizes and has been published in magazines, journals, widely anthologized and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Kathleen writes and reviews books for Shelf Awareness. Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won "Best Romantic Fiction" at the New York Book Festival.

Links to connect with Kathleen:
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