Book Showcase: THE MADWOMAN UPSTAIRS by Catherine Lowell

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell 
ISBN: 9781501124211 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501126307 (trade paperback – 11/22/2016 [cover image shown at right])
ISBN: 9781501124228 (ebook)
ASIN: B010MH1D6U (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 1, 2016 | November 22, 2016 
Publisher: Touchstone 


In this smart and enthralling debut in the spirit of The Weird Sisters and Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the only remaining descendant of the Brontë family embarks on a modern-day literary scavenger hunt to find the family’s long-rumored secret estate, using clues her eccentric father left behind.

Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. As the last remaining descendant of the Brontë family, she’s rumored to have inherited a vital, mysterious portion of the Brontë’s literary estate; diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts; a hidden fortune that’s never been shown outside of the family.

But Samantha has never seen this rumored estate, and as far as she knows, it doesn’t exist. She has no interest in acknowledging what the rest of the world has come to find so irresistible; namely, the sudden and untimely death of her eccentric father, or the cryptic estate he has bequeathed to her.

But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and bits and pieces of her past start mysteriously arriving at her doorstep, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. As more and more bizarre clues arrive, Samantha soon realizes that her father has left her an elaborate scavenger hunt using the world’s greatest literature. With the aid of a handsome and elusive Oxford professor, Samantha must plunge into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by decoding the clues hidden within the Brontë’s own writing.

A fast-paced adventure from start to finish, this vibrant and original novel is a moving exploration of what it means when the greatest truth is, in fact, fiction. 




Praise

“A piquant paean to the Brontë sisters….Filled with gothic twists and leading [the reader] down pathways strewn with Brontë arcana.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Lowell crafts a first novel that is enthralling as it is heartbreaking. Brontë aficionados and fans of Soane Crosley’s The Clasp will love this title.”— Library Journal starred review

“The novel untangles scholars’ differing interpretations of the Brontë novels and the tantalizing hints the books offer readers about the Brontë sisters’ lives. Who, if anyone, was the real-life model for Mr. Rochester’s imprisoned, mentally ill wife? And was she really mad?”— Wall Street Journal

“For those who like their Brontë with a side of wry, turn to the hilarious The Madwoman Upstairs… Sam’s self-conscious quips are LOL hilarious and do Ms. Brontë proud.”
— USA Today

The Madwoman Upstairs had me hooked well into the wee hours; this book is absolutely addictive. Set in the most romantic parts of Britain, the story takes us on a clever present-day romp through the literary universe of the enigmatic Brontës and drills deeply into all their dangerous secrets. Catherine Lowell has such a unique, inspired turn of phrase that you’ll find yourself laughing out loud even as she lures you deeper and deeper into this delicious mystery that is destined to become the page-turner of the year.”
— Anne Fortier, Author of Juliet

“Catherine Lowell’s debut is a smart and funny literary mystery set among the dreaming spires of Oxford University. Lowell’s deft handling of her quirky characters and unpredictable plot twists make The Madwoman Upstairs a charming and memorable read.”
— Deborah Harkness, author of the All Souls Trilogy

“The storyline takes readers on a crazy ride of clues and reveals interesting facts about the Brontë family in the process. Lowell has hit it out of the ballpark with this novel.”
— RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

“A smart, clever and properly Gothic novel….Deftly, Lowell combines a rollicking treasure hunt with a wickedly dark story.”— Minneapolis Star-Tribune


Excerpt

Read an excerpt here.


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2016 Book 464: THE MARRIAGE LIE by Kimberly Belle

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle 
ISBN: 9780778319764 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460396353 (ebook)
ASIN: B01EF02ZUS (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 27, 2016 
Publisher: Mira


Even the perfect marriage has its dark side… 

Iris and Will’s marriage is as close to perfect as it can be: a large house in a nice Atlanta neighborhood, rewarding careers and the excitement of trying for their first baby. But on the morning Will leaves for a business trip to Orlando, Iris’s happy world comes to an abrupt halt. Another plane headed for Seattle has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board, and according to the airline, Will was one of the passengers on this plane. 

Grief-stricken and confused, Iris is convinced it all must be a huge misunderstanding. But as time passes and there is still no sign of Will, she reluctantly accepts that he is gone. Still, Iris needs answers. Why did Will lie about where he was going? What is in Seattle? And what else has he lied about? As Iris sets off on a desperate quest to find out what her husband was keeping from her, the answers she receives will shock her to her very core. 





Iris and Will Griffith had a whirlwind romance and, from all appearances, an idyllic marriage. Even after seven years of marriage, they seemed to still be head-over-heels in love with each other. Iris knows that Will loves her and thinks she knows everything about her husband and his past until that fateful day when he takes a plane and it subsequently crashes killing everyone aboard. The first question raised is why was Will on a plane to Seattle when he told her he was going to Orlando? This is followed by why did he lie to his assistant and say that he and Iris were on vacation in Mexico? What was in Seattle and why would Will be going there? The more questions Iris obtains answers to the more questions are raised until she finally realizes she didn’t really know her husband at all.

Initially, Iris is in a state of denial that her husband could be on the flight to Seattle. Then she’s in denial that he actually died in the crash. Her denial quickly becomes mass confusion when she’s faced with a past that Will had not only hidden but lied about his past. She doesn’t really know any of his friends or acquaintances except a few people from work until she meets a gym buddy at the memorial service, Corban Hayes. Just when Iris thinks she’s come to grips with Will’s past and demise, Will’s boss confronts her with the fact that Will had embezzled millions of dollars from their company. If that’s not bad enough, she’s receiving suspicious and taunting text messages. Will Iris be able to uncover the truth about Will before it’s too late?

I began reading The Marriage Lie while sitting in a hospital surgery waiting room during a relative’s recent procedure. The only reason I put this book down was because the procedure ended (it went well) and my relative was discharged from the hospital (kind of difficult, not to mention tacky, to continue reading during the discharge, etc.). I picked up the book a few hours later and didn’t set it aside again until the final page. Ms. Belle took this reader on one heck of a ride with this story. There were so many twists and turns I thought I might need motion sickness meds (not really, but you get the point). I can only liken this story to a reverse nesting doll where instead of dolls getting smaller the lies being revealed actually get larger and more confusing. Just when you think it can’t get any more confusing, yes — you guessed it, but Ms. Belle takes that confusion and neatly wraps it up with a surprise ending (no, I’m not going to tell you what happened, read the book!). The Marriage Lie is an amazing read and one that I found to be fast-paced and enjoyable from beginning to end. As a former Atlanta resident, it was nice to revisit some of the places I knew and loved. I may never be able to think of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens quite the same way again, but I’m glad she took such a unique spot and incorporated it into the story. The Marriage Lie provides phantom bad guys (not to mention real bad guys) and that made it even more realistic for me, especially in this high-tech and connected world we live in today. If you enjoy reading suspense thrillers or just want a read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then grab a copy of The Marriage Lie to read. I enjoyed The Marriage Lie so much that I’ve added Ms. Belle’s previous titles to my TBR list. 

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2016 Book 453: INHERIT THE BONES by Emily Littlejohn

Inherit the Bones (Gemma Monroe #1) by Emily Littlejohn 
ISBN: 9781250089397 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250089403 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DJ0Y0AI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 13, 2016 
Publisher: Minotaur 


Secrets and lies can’t stay buried forever in Cedar Valley.

In the summer, hikers and campers pack the small Colorado town’s meadows and fields. And in the winter, skiers and snowboarders take over the mountains. Season by season, year after year, time passes and the lies, like the aspens and evergreens that surround the town, take root and spread deep.

Now, someone has uncovered the lies, and it is his murder that continues a chain of events that began almost forty years ago. Detective Gemma Monroe’s investigation takes her from the seedy grounds of a traveling circus to the powerful homes of those who would control Cedar Valley’s future.

Six-months pregnant, with a partner she can’t trust and colleagues who know more than they’re saying, Gemma tracks a killer who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets buried.



Gemma Monroe has a good life in Cedar Valley, Colorado. She has a job she enjoys with the local sheriff’s office. She has family that she loves, and she and her partner are awaiting the birth of their first child. Now if she could only trust her life-partner and her colleagues, things might be as close to perfect as possible. While Gemma deals with her lack of trust issues with her life-partner and colleagues, she must deal with a murder case that seems to open the proverbial Pandora’s Box of secrets in her hometown. The murder of a young man with the traveling circus was strange, and the case becomes even more bizarre when the identity of the dead teen is revealed to be none other than the previously presumed deceased son of the mayor. Gemma realizes that the victim’s disappearance three years earlier is probably related to his murder, so she begins to dig into his background and family. Strangely, her grandmother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, warns her away from the grandfather of the victim. Gemma is then relegated to partnering a senior colleague on the case rather than leading the investigation. Adding to the overall strangeness of this case and investigation, Gemma is finding notes and messages in an attempt to get her to stop her investigation and then the newest deputy is severely injured in a hit-and-run accident. Is it possible that this murder could be tied to the town’s previously unsolved murder cases from 30 years ago? 

I found Inherit the Bones to be a fast-paced and wholly engaging read. I enjoyed the small-town environment, the angst from Gemma’s relationships with her life-partner, grandparents, and colleagues, not to mention the murder and its investigation. Yes, obviously there’s a lot more going on in Inherit the Bones than a current murder and its investigation, but you’ll have to read the book to find out for yourself. I enjoyed reading about all of the characters, especially the circus folk. The small town of Cedar Valley and its history is just as important to the story as the characters. Inherit the Bones is filled with quirky characters, plausible scenarios, and intrigue upon intrigue that kept me reading until the end just to find out whodunit and why (no, I’m not going to tell you who did it or why . . . read the book!). Inherit the Bones is the first in a series by Ms. Littlejohn and I’m looking forward to reading more about Gemma Monroe in the future. 



Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Inherit the Bones: A Mystery

Inherit the Bones :  A Mystery

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Inherit the Bones

Book Blast: THE EMPTY ROOM by Sarah J. Clemens












Mystery / Romance



Date Published: July 23, 2016






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Rain soaked and dreary, it was a 1901 abandoned Victorian that Dean and Elizabeth hoped would fulfill their dreams, even if the town of Eastbrook, Maine was trapped under a blanket of fog. The first neighbor they meet in town dashes those dreams when he raises a bizarre question: what happened to the last person who lived in their house? Under mounting pressure from the residents of Eastbrook to stop questioning the past, Dean and Elizabeth are driven deeper into the history of the house, and the town. When they discover what happened in Eastbrook, keeping the secret could save their lives, but uncovering the truth might be worth the risk.





A gripping psychological mystery, The Empty Room takes readers on a cat-and-mouse game where some secrets are better off hidden.












Excerpt




A knock pounded loudly on the door for a second time and Elizabeth involuntarily let out a small shriek. She frantically put her hand over her mouth, but the sound had already escaped and there was little doubt that Mrs. Jacobs had heard. 




“Well.” Dean sighed, as he stood up from the crouched position he’d been holding beside the window. “Now we answer the door because you apparently have Tourette’s.” 




As Elizabeth slowly stood up beside him, a third round of loud pounding ensued. Elizabeth jumped at the sudden noise and hit her head against Dean’s lower lip. His head jolted back from the force and he winced. 




“Oh my God.” She leapt forward toward him. “Are you OK?”




Dean reached up his hand and clenched his jaw, pulling it from left to right. He pointed toward the door. “Great, first I get physically abused, now I’m going to get emotionally abused. And I still have no underwear.”




He finally came to the door and put his hand on the doorknob. He looked back at Elizabeth. “Just for the record, you are the worst covert ops partner ever.” With a specific intent in mind, he quickly turned the doorknob and ripped open the door as fast as he could. A startled Mrs. Jacobs stumbled backwards.




“You almost scared me to death,” she asserted, quickly brushing her dress to remove the imaginary wrinkles that had not formed from the unexpected greeting.




He stepped outside and grabbed Elizabeth by the wrist to pull her out of the house with him. “Well, follow-through has always been my problem. Look, we were just headed out the door and into town so we’re going to have to finish this later.” He reached for the doorknob and slammed the door behind him. 




But Mrs. Jacobs did not move. Other than the slight falter when he opened the door, she held her stance and stared at the closed door. Dean had a feeling it was not the first or the last time she had ever had a door closed in her face. With their backs to the old woman, the couple took several steps toward the edge of the porch.  




“You live next door, right? We’ll stop by. Oh, the fun we’ll have.” Still holding on to Elizabeth’s wrist, he pulled her past Mrs. Jacobs and down the steps.




“Where are we going?” Elizabeth whispered.




Mrs. Jacobs turned to face them. Her hands clasped in a folded position in front of her. 




“We’re going to see if we can find out what happened in that room, what happened in that house. Someone here knows. Everyone in this town can’t be as bad as Mrs. HaWiggins back there,” he whispered back.








 About the Author







Sarah J. Clemens is the author of the debut mystery novel, The Empty Room. She started writing The Empty Room in 2008 and formed her own imprint in 2016 called Off the Page Publishing. She started out her professional career working as a news assistant for her local newspaper before finding a passion for the law and pursued an education in criminal justice. In addition to writing fiction, she is also a legal assistant with an Associate of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Human Services. Sarah was born in California and now lives and works in Boise, Idaho. She has the same sarcastic sense of humor as the characters in her books, and she has an unparalleled love for animals.





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Book Showcase: SMALL ADMISSIONS by Amy Poeppel

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
ISBN: 9781501122521 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501122545 (eBook)
ASIN: B01CO34E8Y (Kindle version)
Publication Date: December 27, 2016 
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books / Atria


For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love.

Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews.

Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.



Read an excerpt:

For one whole year, we worried about Kate. We worried to her face and worried behind her back, credited her with being tough, while judging her for being pathetic. Some days we thought she was suicidal; others she seemed homicidal, or as if she had the potential, anyway, not that any of us would blame her. We didn’t know how to help. Her sister, Angela, thought she needed therapy, antidepressants, and time to heal. She prescribed hard work and weekend hobbies, like kayaking or photography. Vicki thought she needed to quit wallowing; why not enjoy life as a single woman, celebrate her independence, go out and get laid? The guy who lived below her thought she should turn her music down and leave the apartment from time to time instead of stomping around over his head all day long. The lady at the liquor store suspected she drank too much. I didn’t know what to think. We all agreed she needed to get her ass off the couch and get a life. She needed to stop wearing sweatpants and put on a little mascara, for Christ’s sake. And would it kill her to go on a date? We were tired of the whole thing. Sure, life had thrown a huge piece of shit in her face, but…

Actually, there was no but. Life had thrown an enormous piece of shit in Kate’s face.

Whenever the topic of Kate came up, faces got twitchy; eyes got shifty. Our friends would glance at each other and look at me with a mixture of blame and embarrassment, making it clear what they all thought but couldn’t say, at least not around me. I could imagine them whispering, after I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room:

She must feel like it’s her fault.

It was her fault.

Well, she certainly is partly to blame.

Apart from him, it was all her fault.

I know! I mean, if only she had…

I wonder if she feels responsible?

Yes, bitches. I feel responsible.

To me Kate was something like a figure skater, skilled and balanced one second and then, bam, she’s splayed out all over the ice the next. Music still playing, and she can’t even get up to finish the damn routine.

But before her fall, it was a different story. Skilled and balanced. I remember Kate sitting cross-legged on her bed in our dorm room, laptop open, wearing glasses and retainers, reading an assignment she’d written out loud to us:

Day 1. Sundown. I enter a community living structure after the tribe’s evening repast. I am in the midst of seven female natives, and while I believe them to be a peaceful people, I approach them cautiously, watching from a safe distance. I see them communicating with each other, using language and gestures, drinking an amber-colored beverage out of red, plastic cups, and listening to music that causes them to jerk their heads in unison. I come closer to observe their rituals and seat myself on a contraption that hosts a variety of food particles in its fibers. When I insert my hand under the cushion, I discover a handful of blackened popcorn kernels, a pair of unwashed male undergarments, and two small copper medallions. The women in the tribe see the items in my hand and begin shrieking, gesticulating, and backing away from me. I fear I have insulted these gentle humanoids by unearthing their relics from the sofa, but they are forgiving. One offers me a large vessel, into which I respectfully lower the clothing and kernels. When I start to put in the copper medallions, the female makes a gift of them to me. I will bring them home to share with my people.

Kate looked up, ready for our critique.

“I don’t get it,” Vicki said. She was sitting up in her bed with a Town & Country magazine open across her lap.

“What?” Kate asked.

“If they’re pennies,” Vicki asked, “why can’t you just say pennies?”

“I like it,” I said.

“Thank you, Chloe,” Kate answered. She was hunched over, reading through her fictional field notes again.

“I didn’t say I don’t like it,” Vicki said. “I just don’t get the point.”

“Can you tell I’m from another planet?” Kate asked.

“Totally,” I assured her.

“It’s inconsistent, if you want me to be honest,” Vicki answered.

“How would an alien know what popcorn is?”

“You’re absolutely right,” Kate said, holding down the delete button.

“It’s so stupid.”

“You’re a freshman,” Vicki told her. “You’re supposed to be stupid.”

“She didn’t say she was stupid,” I corrected. “She didn’t mean to say that you’re stupid, Kate.”

“It’s no good; I’m starting over again,” Kate said, closing her laptop and getting ready to go. “I’ll work in the Student Center, so I don’t keep you up.”

“We’ll hear you anyway when you come in at two o’clock,” Vicki said.

“She’ll tiptoe,” I suggested.

We had only been roommates for two months, and we had already fallen into our roles. Kate was the bookiest of us. She spent more time in the library and less time in the shower than anyone I’d ever met. Not that she smelled bad or anything. She just couldn’t be bothered. She was a scholar in the making, bingeing on nineteenth-century novels whenever she had spare time, the more passion, suspense, and drama, the better.

“You know you’re wearing pajamas,” Vicki called after her, as Kate walked out of the room.

Vicki was smart and driven in a different way. She was exceedingly practical, registered for classes only if she found them real-world applicable and down-the-road lucrative. “When would I ever use that?” she asked when I suggested we all take a history class on serfdom in the Middle Ages. She signed up for stats instead. I had to check a map when I first met her to wrap my head around where she came from: a flyover state that she had no intention of returning to. One time I walked into our dorm room to find Vicki looking through Kate’s dresser drawers. Without thinking, I apologized to her.

And who was I? Among other things, my role in our clique was keeper of the peace. I held us together. For four years I bridged the gap, and it wasn’t easy. I was the one who made sure we were always assigned to the same dorm, with rooms on the same hall. I was the one who made plans (Friday-night cocktails and weekend getaways) and posed us in pictures, dressed up or dressed down, with me almost always in the middle. I cleared up misunderstandings and found common ground: in our sophomore year, Kate and Vicki got into a fight about gun control (Vicki’s libertarian principles clashing with Kate’s progressive sensibilities), and I spent an anxiety-filled week negotiating a truce, apologizing to one on behalf of the other, failing a sociology test in the process.

After we graduated from Wellesley, we decided to move to New York as individuals—still as a trio in spirit, but not as roommates. I figured it was for the best, knowing that our friendships would be far less complicated without the petty problems that stem from too much togetherness. I was relieved to move forward into something simple and more adult. 

And then Kate had her disastrous triple toe loop ass-on-ice wipeout and suddenly I found myself reentangled, back in the middle of a big mess.

Copyright © Amy Poeppel 2016




Praise

“Trenchant, funny, and observant…as a prose artist Ms. Poeppel leaves nothing to be desired, except this desire: that she write more and more, and as well as she does in this, her assured debut.”– Hilton Als, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of White Girls and The Women 

“Poeppel gives an in-depth look at the admissions process, with a side of secrets, bombshells, heartbreak, and hope . . . perfect for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.”– Booklist

“A witty and captivating page-turner punctuated with quirky characters and laugh-out-loud moments that are sure to appeal.”– Library Journal

“Fans of Primates of Park Avenue and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep will get a kick out of this novel, which is also a story about how women help one another get back on their feet.”– Refinery 29, Top Reads Out in December

“An excellent debut.”– Publishers Weekly

“In this absorbing story, Amy Poeppel brings her razor-sharp observations of the postures and pretenses found in our culture, in our cities,and especially in the world of admissions. Amy’s gift for dialogue, shown through the sidesplitting banter between our appealing, young heroine and the parents and children she interviews, will delight readers. Amy Poeppel displays a well of insight, forgiveness and wit that not only marks a talented writer, but the launch of what promises to be a marvelous career.”– Diane Meier, author of The Seasons of Chances and Ritual and Style in a Changing Culture 

“As Jean Hanff Korelitz did for college in her novel Admission, Amy Poeppel artfully and hilariously describes the gamesmanship in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of New York City’s private school admissions offices with spot-on dialogue and genuine insight. As the novel unfolds, the reader finds that Small Admissions lead to bigger, more important truths in the lives of the characters populating this hilarious book; I couldn’t put it down.”– David Harman, Headmaster, Poly Prep Country Day School

Small Admissions is quick-witted and razor-sharp. With a chorus of varied and absurd voices, you’ll laugh at everyone involved while secretly fearing that you see yourself in the mix. Amy Poeppel manages to tell a story both poignant and hilarious, hinting that this wry and absorbing debut is the beginning of an exciting career.”– Taylor Jenkins Reid, Author of Maybe in Another Life

Small Admissions is a hilarious romp through absurdities of Manhattan prep school life. Its characters are larger than life, it’s point of view delightfully farcical. You’ll read it in a snap and then wish for more.”– Jennifer Miller, the author of The Year of the Gadfly 

“Funny and incisive… Amy Poeppel’s rollicking debut skewers the crazy world of Manhattan private schools, the extreme sport of contemporary parenting, and the ridiculous seriousness with which we embark on our adult lives. There’s more here too: a thoughtful excavation of how we deal with rejections, big and small. I loved reading this book.”– Amy Shearn, author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is The Ocean From Here

“A rare book that actually makes you laugh out loud. Small Admissions offers a peek into the world of New York City private school admissions, but the deadly insights hardly stop there. Family, friendships, meetings(!)—Poeppel tells gleaming, hilarious truths about them all.”– Charity Shumway, author of Ten Girls to Watch

“This was quirky, funny and completely original. I loved it!”– Katie Fforde, author of A Vintage Wedding

“Charming, refreshing, and brilliantly funny, Amy Poeppel’s novel is a delightful surprise.”– Elizabeth Brundage, author of All Things Cease to Appear

“Delightful.”– RT Book Reviews

“Every once in a while, you just come across a book that is so good you want to shout it out to other readers . . . . Poeppel has found the perfect balance between humorous and insightful in the scenarios she writes about. In addition, the characters are wonderful–so multi-faceted and varied.”– Heroes and Heartbreakers, Bloggers Recommend: Best Reads of November 2016

“There are hilariously dysfunctional parents, kids whose folks don’t have a clue what they can do and what they can’t, and in the midst of it all, relationships among Kate’s nearest and dearest become unstuck and reconfigured in ways that mirror those Kate works with, and even Kate herself. I can’t tell you any more, because it would ruin it for you, but this snarky romp is not to be missed. It’s cunning, wickedly bold humor at its finest.”– Seattle Book Mama



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Small Admissions: A Novel

Small Admissions: A Novel

Small Admissions

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2016 Book 442: A COLD TOMORROW by Mae Clair

A Cold Tomorrow (Point Pleasant #2) by Mae Clair 
ISBN: 9781601837813 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781601837783 (ebook)
ASIN: B01DHWAC4G (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 20, 2016 
Publisher: Lyrical Underground 


Where secrets make their home…

Stopping to help a motorist in trouble, Katie Lynch stumbles upon a mystery as elusive as the Mothman legend that haunts her hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Could the coded message she finds herald an extraterrestrial visitor? According to locals, it wouldn’t be the first time. And what sense should she make of her young son’s sudden spate of bizarre drawings—and his claim of a late-night visitation? Determined to uncover the truth, Katie only breaks the surface when a new threat erupts. Suddenly her long-gone ex-boyfriend is back and it’s as if he’s under someone else’s control. Not only is he half-crazed, he’s intent on murder…

As a sergeant in the sheriff’s office of the famously uncanny Point Pleasant, Officer Ryan Flynn has learned to tolerate reports of puzzling paranormal events. But single mom Katie Lynch appears to be in very real danger—and somehow Ryan’s own brother, Caden, is caught up in the madness, too. What the skeptical lawman discovers astounds him—and sends him into action. For stopping whatever evil forces are at play may just keep Katie and Caden alive…



Author Mae Clair returns to Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the second book of her Point Pleasant series, A Cold Tomorrow. To some in Point Pleasant, Katie Lynch had a difficult childhood. She and her sister were raised by a single-mother that most people think enjoyed the company of men a little too much. Katie knew that her mother was a hard-working business owner and someone that always provided nutritious meals for her daughters and tried to provide all that they needed, if not wanted. When Katie’s older sister disappeared, most people assumed that she was “wild” and had run away. Now everyone knows that Wendy Lynch had been brutally murdered and buried outside of town all those years ago. Now a single mother herself, Katie is interested in providing a loving and stable home for her son, Sam, working hard at the Parrish Hotel, and growing her friendships with Eve Parrish and Sarah Sherman. Just when Katie thinks things are starting to settle down in Point Pleasant, she comes across a local conspiracy theorist in his car on the side of the road exhibiting very strange behavior. Afterward, she realizes she can’t describe the officer that came upon the scene and the name she remembers isn’t the name of any officer on any local police force. Adding to Katie’s sense of unease, her ex-boyfriend has been spotted in town and is apparently out to get Officer Flynn, and her son’s behavior is a bit strange and oddly familiar after he sees a “green cloud.” If that’s not enough, there are animals being found with strange deaths, the Mothman has been seen again, a local killer has disappeared from a closed room in a local mental facility, and a strange “man in black” is in town. What, if anything, ties these events together? Will Katie and Ryan Flynn be able to uncover the answers before something tragic occurs?

I found A Cold Tomorrow to be a fast-paced and intriguing read. If anything, Ms. Clair has raised the intrigue-quotient and paranormal-factor with this book. There’s a lot more suspense, paranormal thrills and chills, and I can’t wait for the next installment. I like that we get to see the continuing relationship between Eve and Caden, as well as watch the burgeoning relationship between Katie and Ryan. Ms. Clair has provided us with more information on the origin of the Mothman and the men in black (no, I won’t tell you any more about either, read the book!). As I’ve previously stated, as a West Virginia native I’m always on the lookout for books set in West Virginia or written by West Virginians to read and this series has provided hours of pleasure. I’ve enjoyed reading about this real town and folk legend, combined with the fictional lives and events in these stories. If you enjoy paranormal romantic-suspense (with an emphasis on the paranormal) then you’ll definitely want to read A Thousand Yesteryears and A Cold Tomorrow. If you’ve already read A Thousand Yesteryears, then I urge you to grab a copy of A Cold Tomorrow to read. My only regret with this series is that I have to wait until the Summer of 2017 for the third installment, A Desolate Hour, to find out what happens next.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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Book Showcase: OLD WOUNDS by Giacomo Giammatteo


Old Wounds


by Giacomo Giammatteo


on Tour November 1, 2016 – January 3, 2017





Synopsis:


Old Wounds by Giacomo Giammatteo

Gino Cataldi loved three things: his wife, his son, and his job as a cop. Cancer took his wife. Drugs have his son. And Gino is pulling desk duty, suspected of killing a drug dealer.

Every night he dreams of a chance to make things right. That chance comes when a high-society woman is brutally murdered, her body parts spread all over town. The investigation quickly hits a dead-end…until a late-night caller with too much information contacts Gino. Between the mystery surrounding what she knows and his penchant for helping women in trouble, more than Gino’s curiosity is aroused. He only hopes she’s not the killer.




Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Published by: Inferno Publishing Company
Publication Date: September 2016
Number of Pages: 425
ISBN: 9781940313108
Series: Redemption, Book 2 (Prequel to Necessary Decisions)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗



Read an excerpt:



Chapter 1


A Surreptitious Meeting

Houston, Texas

Barbara stared into the mirror and practiced her line. She wanted the recording to be just right—after all, it would be the last time anyone heard her, if things didn’t go well.

She pursed her lips and said, “My name is Barbara Camwyck. If you’re watching this video, I’m dead.”

Barbara rehearsed it a few more times, then thought about how her life was about to change. All the shit she’d been through would finally pay off.

She slipped on a comfortable pair of jeans, turned sideways to admire herself in the mirror, and then stepped into the closet to select a top. Something light, as it promised to be another unusually warm day for January. She decided on a cream-colored wrap top, one of her more expensive casual blouses.

Sometimes subtlety worked best, but this top would work better today, especially with the sliver of skin peeking out at her waist.

Barbara reached up and pulled a pair of Giuseppe Zanotti Crystal-Embellished sandals from the shelf in her closet. They would be the perfect complement. She slipped them on, stepped back, and smiled.

She then went to the kitchen. As she brewed tea she thought about her life. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t done well for herself, but doing well and 7 million dollars was different; in fact, doing well and 7 million dollars was another stratosphere. And if her blackmail scheme went as planned 7 million was exactly what she’d have.

She poured the tea, and then made a call, careful to use the burner she had purchased for just such an occasion. It had gotten to the point where a disposable phone was almost a necessity—nothing more than another monthly expense—at least in her current line of work.

A woman with a smoky voice answered the phone. “Hello?”

Barbara kicked her open-toe sandals up on the coffee table and said, “It’s Barbara. I’ll be ready in a few minutes. How long will this take?”

“Stop by on your way. It won’t take me more than a few minutes.”

“And you’re sure it will work. I can’t afford to have this fucked up.”

“It’ll work. Don’t worry.”

A half hour later, Barbara exited the 610 Loop and found her way to the dingy barbecue place where she had arranged the meeting. It was not a place she would frequent, but for today it worked perfectly; neither one of them would be recognized.

She leaned forward and adjusted the rearview mirror so she could fix her hair. Afterward, she applied lipstick, looked in the mirror again, cleared her throat, and then started the video.

“My name is Barbara Camwyck,” she said. “If you’re watching this video, I’m dead.”

Barbara finished recording, straightened her blouse, then spoke into her mic and said, “Okay, I’m going in now.”

She opened the car door, got out, and walked into the restaurant, thankful it at least had air conditioning. From the looks of the outside she had wondered. Half a dozen people stood in front of her, a sign that maybe the food was good. Or maybe it’s just cheap.

Camwyck craned her neck, scanning the place until she found the person she was searching for, sitting at a table near the back, in the corner. At least they followed directions. Camwyck needed that table so the mic didn’t pick up unnecessary sounds.

She weaved her way through a mob of sweaty construction workers, careful not to touch them, and not daring to inhale the odors until she passed them. She pulled a chair out and set her purse in the seat next to it. “It’s been a long time,” Camwyck said.

“Not long enough.”

Camwyck smiled. “Not interested in pleasantries? Good. Let’s get right to business.”

“Business? That’s what you call this?”

The comment drew another smile from Camwyck. “I guess in your world they call it leverage, but I see little difference. Blackmail or leverage. It’s all the same in the end.”

“Let’s discuss leverage then.”

Camwyck pushed a thumbnail drive across the table. “You know the terms. I have all the proof I need. After you pay, you’ll never hear from me again.”

“Remind me of the amount.”

“I’m surprised you’ve forgotten. It’s an easy number to remember. Seven million.”

Camwyck ignored the scoffing sound prior to them speaking. “Easy to remember doesn’t mean easy to arrange—especially in cash.”

“I’m certain you’ll think of something,” Camwyck said. “You’ve always been creative.”

“It will take me a while.”

“That’s fine,” Camwyck said, “But if we don’t do this within the next month, I may have to resort to other means.”

A waitress walked by and stopped at their table. “Ya’ll need to place an order at the counter. Then they’ll get you a number.”

“Thank you,” Camwyck said, and stood. She tossed two twenties on the table. “Order what you want. And you can keep the drive to inspect. I have the original.”

“One more thing,” the guest said, scooting the chair closer to the table. “If you try to come back on me, I’ll make sure it’s the last thing you do.” A pause preceded a glare. “You understand that, don’t you?”

“I understand,” Barbara said, “but you don’t have to worry. Seven million is enough for me. Once we conclude our business, you’ll never hear from me again.”

“If you try—”

“I won’t,” Barbara said, and she exited the restaurant.

As she walked across the parking lot, Barbara punched a number from the recently dialed list on her phone. She’d have to remember to delete that when she was done. “Did you get it?”

“Perfectly. Good sound and good video.”

“Good. I need a copy, but I want the original hidden where it won’t be found.”

“Not a problem. I’ll call when it’s done.”

“No. I can’t know either. If I don’t know, I can’t tell anyone.”

“However you want it,” the man said.

“Good. I’m throwing this phone away now. In the future, if anyone calls you from this number, or from my regular number, ignore it. In fact, run! If I need you I’ll make contact the same way as the first time.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks,” Barbara said. “I’ll need it.”



Author Bio:


Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.



Catch Up with Giacomo today on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & on Facebook 🔗!




Tour Participants:

Visit our tour hosts for reviews, guest posts, interviews, and some amazing giveaways!





There’s a Giveaway!:



This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Giacomo Giammatteo. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $50 Amazon.com Gift card & 5 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Old Wounds by Giacomo Giammatteo. The giveaway begins on October 30th and runs through January 4th, 2017. ** Plus visit the tour sites for additional giveaways! **


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Book Blast: CONCRETE SMILE by Bernard Maestas


Concrete Smile


by Bernard Maestas


Book Blast December 13, 2016


on Tour February 1-28, 2017





Synopsis:


Concrete Smile by Bernard Maestas

A crooked conglomerate makes a move on fictional Newport City by first attempting to incite a war between its existing criminal organizations before taking over with its own “in-house” group. Hired by a major gang leader to avert the war, freelance information broker Kevin recruits his ex-enforcer, ex-con brother Chance, and Kaity, a reporter with a vendetta, to uncover the conspiracy.




Book Details:


Genre: Crime, Thriller
Published by: Rebel ePublishers
Publication Date: December 15, 2016
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: pending
Series: Internet Tough Guys, #3
Purchase Links : Coming Soon!


Read an excerpt:

(Profanity alert!)

CHAPTER ONE

BUSINESS HOURS

Lost somewhere in Newport City’s densely crowded, late-night skyline, six bulky bodies packed into some unimportant restaurant’s musty storeroom. 

Bulging with prison muscles and bulletproof vests, their dark skin branded with black tattoos broadcasting their gang affiliation, the men were silent. They crowded around a single rickety card table, the room’s only furniture, and toiled under the dim glow of a single yellow bulb dangling from the ceiling. A masonry bucket full of glittering brass ammunition sat centered between them. None spoke. The rhythmic clicking of guns and bullets was the only soundtrack accompanying the tension.

Aside from their silence and the grim, practiced precision with which they pressed the unstamped cartridges into their magazines, they each had one other detail in common: Each man, whether dangling from a pocket, knotted around a wrist, or cinched across his brow, displayed a deep crimson bandana. That bandana, the gang flag of The Reds or Red Nation – the umbrella under which all the African-American gangs in Newport City fell – was the most crucial accessory.

Durel Rivers, better known as Bones, set aside his last loaded magazine and grabbed his weapon. Exceedingly illegal, the fully automatic Tec-9 machine pistol, with its taped grip and folding stock, actually had a Federal law banning it by name. A loud slap cut the stifling air as he locked a magazine into the receiver and jacked the first round into the chamber.

Bones covered his body armor with a baggy sweatshirt, loose enough to conceal the illicit firearm beneath it, its papoose pocket stuffed with the ready reloads he’d prepared. Behind him, the rest of his crew wrapped up their own loading tasks, donned jackets and hoodies of their own and then followed him out of the storeroom.

The creaky storeroom door swung open into the deep gloom of a deserted kitchen. The restaurant’s legitimate business hours long over, the white-coated cooks and staffers long gone, Bones and his crew had special access. He led them past the stainless steel appliances and shelves to and then through the back door.

Windows down, keys in the ignitions, a pair of black SUVs waited in the greasy shadows of the narrow alley behind the restaurant. Bones climbed into the shotgun seat of the leading truck while the rest of the crew split up between them, wordlessly sliding into their plush leather seats.

Bones gave a simple and wordless nod to the man who took the driver’s seat beside him. Engines came to life with deep rumbles but the music that came on in the cabins was low. They were on a mission and there would be no distractions.

As one, the pair of SUVs rolled out of the alley and onto the darkened Newport City streets. While the bustling city of nearly five million had plenty of nightlife, Bones’ crew stuck to the quiet streets of closed businesses, darkened storefronts, and slumbering apartment dwellers. It was late, or more precisely, early in the morning, and only the creatures of the night were out haunting the streets. Moving patiently, always five miles per hour over the speed limit – no more, no less – they rolled to their first stop at the fringe of a housing project complex, a U-shaped cluster of old tenement towers.

Silent and pensive, Bones scanned every inch of the block around them, scrutinizing each of the people who made up the sparse nighttime populace. A pair of teenagers with Reds’ flags on display occupied one corner while a homeless man wandered the block further down.

No police, no “jackers,” Bones was as certain as he could be of that. He twisted in his seat and said it all to the gangster in the back with another wordless nod.

The back door popped, as did that of the trailing SUV, two men emerging into the street and crossing, their hands beneath their shirts and gripping the handles of their guns. As they disappeared into one of the building lobbies, Bones let his attention slip for just a moment. He plucked a cigarette from his pack, set it between his lips, bringing it to life with the click of his lighter, and blew the fumes from his nose.

He had only taken two deep drags when the gangbangers emerged. The one from the trailing truck led the way, alert and ready. The man behind had a small gym bag slung over his shoulder. Bones turned to look as the man climbed back aboard the SUV.

“All there,” he said simply, ripping open the zipper to give Bones a look inside at the bricklike bundles of cash.

Bones straightened in his seat, his cigarette hand pushing out through the open window and waving the trailing SUV forward. Together, they pulled away from the curb and rolled off into the city.

It was after three when they finally pulled away from their last pickup in East Charity, a sleepy neighborhood on the southeastern side of the City’s eastern borough. Bones lit up a third cigarette and then threw a glance into the backseat. Aside from the burly gangster riding with them, more of those bulging bags of cash now packed the seat to shoulder height. Over the last hour and change, they had stopped everywhere from drug dens to basement casinos, collecting the week’s deposits.

With the trucks laden with money, the first half of the job, in some ways the easy half, was done.

Alert, mind focused, Bones allowed himself to relax just a little, let the flood of nicotine calm his blood slightly. From here on, it was a straight drive to their final destination where they would turn over the money to be cleaned. No more stops, no more tense minutes of waiting on the street like sitting ducks. That said, he also knew that the best time to hit the convoy would be now, when it was flush and the crew had backed off the razor’s edge of their nerves.

The bold glow of their headlights swung down a street heavy with shadows, most of the streetlights out except for some pale yellow ones at the far end. Bones’ hackles came up and he was just about to order them off the street when shrieking tires sang their discordant chorus into the night as something flashed out of the driveway ahead. No headlights had offered any warning.

“Shit!” Bones’ driver seethed as he stood on the brakes, grinding them to a hard halt.

In the glare of their SUV’s headlights, Bones now made out the form of the battered minivan that had darted across their path and stopped. He was already pulling his Tec-9 from beneath his shirt when the van’s sliding door scraped aside with a raspy grind of worn metal.

Crouched tightly in the back of the van, shoulder-to-shoulder, a pair of masked men took aim and opened up torrents of fully automatic gunfire.

The driver beside Bones jerked and flopped violently, his body riddled with relentless fire. Bones himself managed to duck down below the dash, behind the protection of the engine block, the only part of a normal car that would actually stop a bullet. Jagged pebbles of shattered glass rained down on the back of his neck.

Behind Bones, the back door kicked open and the armed gangster ducked out as he sprayed the van with his own vicious rake of fire.
Without rising from behind the dash, Bones reached out, shoving open the driver’s door and rolling the bloody, shredded corpse of the driver into the street. He was halfway over the center console when he saw his doom.

From behind the row of parallel-parked cars lining the far side of the street, cloaked in the heavy shadows, more gunmen popped up, bracing and steadying their rifles on the hoods, trunks or roofs of the parked cars. Bones threw his machine pistol into line but it was too late.

The last thing Bones ever saw was the hellish strobes of the muzzle flashes popping in the darkness as they poured another withering hailstorm of copper-jacketed death into the street.

***

 Don’t shit where you eat. Words to live by in Kevin Wyatt’s book. So, even at three in the morning, making the drive across the Admiralty Bridge into the peninsular eastern borough was just smart business. Polished black paint gleaming, throaty engine growling melodically, Kevin’s ’67 Mustang fastback made short work of the trip, weaving only occasionally around slower moving traffic.

An oasis in the night of closed businesses on an otherwise nondescript street in East Charity, a brightly lit parking lot snipped off the corner of the block. It wrapped around two sides of a large diner that, despite its size and popularity with the late-night crowd that knew of its existence, still looked like a greasy hole in the wall.
Kevin had grown fond of the place, though. Referring to it as his office, he conducted those meetings there that required a certain degree of public exposure mixed with only a modicum of privacy.

He’d chosen the spot for the food initially and had quickly adopted it as a regular haunt. Despite this, no one greeted him by name as he entered and left the biting air of the early November chill in the parking lot.

The diner was warm inside, full of the aroma of food frying in grease. At least a half-dozen parties of three or four twentysomethings in nightclub attire were scattered among the booths and tables. His regular booth, the one at the far back corner, just on the fringe of the last overhead bulb’s halo of light, was unclaimed, he noted with a smile.

Kevin took another moment to scan the diner’s patrons and confirm that his clients hadn’t arrived yet. He pivoted and swung down the row of booths running along the diner’s storefront of greasy picture windows. As he went, he sloughed his black leather jacket, a dark T-shirt with a stylish designer logo beneath.

Though he could have melded into one of the packs of club goers in the diner with his age and good looks, he wasn’t here to socialize. He had a narrow face of mildly chiseled features decorated with a light dusting of freckles that went appropriately with the rusty copper color of his short hair. He was above average height at just under six feet, but his fit and trim frame was not particularly remarkable.

A waitress, mopping the countertop with a rag, glanced up as he passed her. She made contact with his bright hazel gaze and a faint smile of passing recognition turned up the corners of her mouth. “The usual?” she asked, getting a nod and a smile in reply.

Kevin dropped into his booth’s far side, his back to the wall, his face to the door, and slid into the corner. It was a good spot, behind the wall and out of the frame of the big window while still giving him an excellent line of sight into the parking lot and the establishment.

Kevin scanned with intent while taking care to seem oblivious, just another late night customer out for a midnight snack. A nondescript sedan, gray, neither old nor new enough to be noteworthy, coasted to a halt outside. Three young men, cautious and patiently panning their gazes over every angle of surrounding night, sat in the car for a few long moments before dismounting and approaching the diner door.

The waitress returned and slid Kevin’s order in front of him just as the trio filed through the front door. She turned and left the table while he raised an arm, brushed with a sleeve of freckles, and waved them over.

In a moment’s pause of prudent appraisal, they sized Kevin up from the door before sliding down the row. They were dressed to slip under notice, plain jeans and plainer hooded sweatshirts, but that didn’t fool Kevin for a second.

“You the guy?” the first, a deeply tanned Hispanic in his late twenties, asked with no discernable accent.

“I am,” Kevin confirmed with a nod. “Have a seat.”

“How’d you know it was us?” asked the second, a black man of the same age as the first, as the whole trio – rounded out with a smaller and younger Asian man for diversity – took the opposite side of the booth.

“Lucky guess,” Kevin replied plainly. He lifted his steaming cup of black coffee and nursed a sip, careful to keep his eyes above the rim to watch the three of them. “You have something for me?” He set the cup beside the plate holding his so far untouched “Heartstopper” sandwich.

The trio exchanged glances before the leader threw one back over his shoulder at the rest of the diner. Kevin didn’t have to look so obviously to know no one was paying them any mind. Satisfied, the leader nodded at the Asian at the end of the booth. He slipped an envelope from the papoose pocket of his sweatshirt, laid it on the table and slid it across.

Kevin took the envelope and peeled it open in his lap, leafing through its stack of crisp twenty-dollar bills. He kept his poker face firmly in place as he did, lifting his head to nod to his clients in approval. He reached across the booth, stuffing the envelope into the inner pocket of his jacket and slipping out a coin-sized SD card. He slid it across the table the same way he’d received his payment.

The Asian man took it, plugging it into a small tablet and scanning through it.

“As promised,” Kevin said, his focus on the leader. “Truck routes, communications protocols and duty rosters for Allied Armored Couriers. Good until the end of the month.”

The leader looked from Kevin as he finished, to the Asian, who had completed his scan and nodded. Kevin scooped up his mug and took another sip of his coffee, watching as the leader turned back to him. “How’d you get this?”

Kevin smiled a thin smile that didn’t reach his eyes as he lowered the mug. He offered his hand across the table for a shake. “A pleasure doing business with you.”

The leader’s eyes narrowed, but he clasped Kevin’s hand in a brief squeeze before he and his crew exited the booth. He watched them leave, as did the waitress, who glanced over at him and met his eyes. This time, his smile was a little warmer as he offered her a shrug and dropped his attention to his plate.

***

The Heartstopper was an egg sandwich, in simplest terms. To be more exact, however, it was a heaping serving of scrambled whole eggs capped with a slice of full-fat American cheese and enclosed in two slices of grilled and buttery bread. It was decadently delicious and so worth the bloated feeling in Kevin’s gut as he left his booth, leaving cash, including a generous tip, on the table top and exited the diner.

He mounted up the Mustang, kicking it to grumbling life, and swung out of the parking lot, aiming for home. Business for the night finished, it was late and, crucially, he had a very early and very important errand awaiting him in the morning.

Blue and red strobes blazed through the Mustang’s rear windshield as the howl of a siren drowned out even the healthy rumble of his powerful engine. Kevin’s heart nearly stopped as his eyes flicked to the rearview mirror framing the police sedan rushing up on his bumper.

“Fuck me,” he breathed, hands tightening around the wheel. For half a second, he considered running. Lean fingers coiled around the shifter, his dress boots settled over the pedals, and Kevin sketched out a plan for his flight for freedom. It started with a downshift and a ferocious bellow of acceleration but he had no idea where it went from there. Instead, he reminded himself he wasn’t carrying anything illegal, nor did he have any warrants out for him. At least, as far as he knew. Easing toward the first gap in the row of cars lining the curb, Kevin blinked as the patrol car blew past him.

Before he had a chance to relax, crack a smile of relief, three more cops in roaring sedans, their emergency lights screaming their urgency, sirens wailing, blasted down the road. They were moving fast, fast enough that their passing rocked Kevin’s heavy car as they went.

Kevin stared after them as they faded into the distance before whipping around the corner at the end of the next block. His hands squeezed the wheel tightly and his mind reached, pondering the possibilities. Slowly, his thin lips spread in a smile.
Something big had happened. He had a pleasant influx of new business to look forward to.

From CONCRETE SMILE, A novel, By BERNARD MAESTAS© BERNARD MAESTAS



Bernard Maestas

Author Bio:

Bernard Maestas lives in paradise.  A police officer patrolling the mean streets of Hawaii, he has a background in contract security and military and civilian law enforcement.  When not saving the world, one speeding ticket at a time, and not distracted by video games or the internet, he is usually hard at work on his next book.



Catch Up With Bernard Maestas on 


His Website, Twitter, or Facebook!







Book Blast Participants:







Tour Participants:

In February 2017 Bernard will be touring with his book Concrete Smile at these stops and more! Visit for reviews, interviews, guest posts, & more great giveaways!





Don’t Miss This Snazzy Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Bernard Maestas. There will be 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Concrete Smile by Bernard Maestas. The giveaway begins on December 11th and runs through December 18th, 2016.


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A Holiday Suggestion…Books!

“This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.”



This year simplify your holiday gifting decision by choosing to give a book subscription to the book lover in your life. Great suggestion, but what company do I choose? There are a number of good companies to choose from, but one company that has been around for quite some is Book of the Month Club. 


Book of the Month Club makes gifting easy for you as you can choose a three-month gift membership at $44.97, a six-month gift membership at $83.94 , and even a twelve-month gift at $143.88 for your loved one. Give the gift of reading at bookofthemonth.com  You can even get a one-month membership trial with your gift subscription purchase. Share the love of reading this holiday season and gift the reader in your life a Book of the Month Club membership subscription.


 

Book Blast: BAD ROAD TO NOWHERE by Linda Ladd

Bad Road to Nowhere

by Linda Ladd

December 8, 2016 Book Blast



Synopsis:

Bad Road to Nowhere by Linda Ladd

Bad Memories

Not many people know their way through the bayous well enough to find Will Novak’s crumbling mansion outside New Orleans. Not that Novak wants to talk to anyone. He keeps his guns close and his guard always up.

Bad Sister

Mariah Murray is one selfish, reckless, manipulative woman, the kind Novak would never want to get tangled up with. But he can’t say no to his dead’s wife sister.

Bad Vibes

When Mariah tells him she wants to rescue a childhood friend, another Aussie girl gone conveniently missing in north Georgia, Novak can’t turn her down. She’s hiding something. But the pretty little town she’s targeted screams trouble, too. Novak knows there’s a trap waiting. But until he springs it, there’s no telling who to trust…



Book Details:


Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Lyrical Underground
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
Number of Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781601838568
Series: A Will Novak Novel, #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 


Read an excerpt:

Will Novak swung a leg over the starboard gunwale of his sailboat, got a good firm grip on the railing, and then stretched down far enough to reach the layer of salt and brine crusted at the waterline. Novak was a big guy with big fists and big shoulders and an intimidating look to him. People usually gave him a wide berth if they didn’t know him well, and that’s the way he liked it. It was a beautiful afternoon, late September in South Louisiana, and still hot as hell.

Unseasonably so. He was shirtless, muscles straining with effort, sweat shining on his torso. His body was in peak physical condition, banded with thick, powerful muscles that he knew how to use and that he wasn’t slow to put to good use if anybody messed with him. He followed the rigid daily workout he had mastered a long time ago while in the military, and still adhered to it almost every day. He wasn’t quite as fit as when he ran special ops missions with the SEALs, but he wasn’t too far off. He liked that kind of order and rigidity and purpose in his life, especially now when little else he had meant a damn thing to him.

The Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 379 on which he labored was a sleek and powerful craft, practically new and spotless after an entire day spent scrubbing her after over a week spent at sea. She was a forty-footer that he’d had for almost three months, new out of the factory and built to his own specifications. He’d made sure that the boat was perfectly suited to him. Everything was somewhat oversized, enough to comfortably accommodate his six-feet-six-inch frame. He’d sailed her from South Carolina on the Intracoastal Waterway to his home deep in the bayous of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes. He’d worked hard all day making her look like new again. Everything was spotless, inside and out, his gear clean and orderly and stowed in the proper places. That kind of thing was important to him.

On the eve of September 11, he had steered his gleaming boat down the wide Bayou Bonne that edged the back side of his property and eventually sailed her out into the deep royal blue waters of the vast Gulf of Mexico. He’d spent ten full days out there, completely alone, as was his habit every year on the anniversary of that day of infamy for all Americans. He had stayed out on the rolling waves, working through the most catastrophic event in his life, a trauma that he had fought to accept daily for so many years that he no longer kept count. It didn’t matter how long it had been. Not if he lived to be a hundred. He wasn’t going to get over it. He had accepted that now. He just forced himself to live with it. Endless day after endless day.

Out there, though, completely by himself in the dark, quiet, everswaying, ever-restless sea, under untold billions of glittering stars spangled across ink-black skies, he had suffered alone and wept fresh tears for his dead family while he fished for bonito and sea bass and flounder and mourned to the depths of his soul and studiously drank himself into oblivion every single night. But that’s the way he liked it during his own personal, self-inflicted hell week, far away from every other living being on earth, alone and buffeted by ocean winds and rocking waves and the merciless sun, and most of all, the silent solitude where he could work through the grief that never left him, not for one hour, one minute, one second of conscious thought.

But now, on this sunny day, Novak was back at home, ready to live his miserable existence once more, an empty, futile objective that he never really accomplished. But that’s the way it was. Swiping his sponge a few more times down the wide blue stripe painted along the length of the white hull, he took a few extra minutes to scrub the giant silver letters naming his boat. He had called her Sweet Sarah, in memory of his dead wife. Another way to keep Sarah close when she wasn’t close and never would be again.

Once Novak was satisfied with his efforts, he hoisted himself back up and straddled the rail. He raised his face, shut his eyes, and felt the fire of the sun burn hot into his bare skin. He was already sunburned from his time out on the drink, his skin burnished a deep, warm bronze. After a few minutes, he shifted his gaze down onto the slow, rippling bayou current. It was good to be back home, good to be sober, good to be able to think clearly. He had wrestled his demons back under control, at least for the moment. He left his perch, stooped down, and pulled a cold bottle of Dixie beer from the cooler.

He twisted off the cap and took a deep draft, thirsty and tired from a full day of hard physical labor. That’s when he first heard the sound of a vehicle, coming closer, turning off the old bayou road and heading down through the swampy woods to his place.

Grimacing, annoyed as hell, not pleased about uninvited guests showing up, he lowered the beer bottle, shielded his eyes with his forearm, and peered up the long grassy field that stretched between the bayou and the ancient plantation house he’d inherited from his mother on the day he was born. He had not been expecting company today. Or any other day. He did not like company. He did not like people coming around his place, and that was putting it mildly. He was a serious loner. He liked to be invisible. Anonymous. He liked his privacy. And he was willing to protect it.

The sun broiled down, the temperature probably close to ninety, humidity hugging the bayou like a wool blanket, thick and wet and heavy. Drops of perspiration rolled down his forehead and burned into his eyes. Novak grabbed a towel and mopped the sweat off his face and chest. Then he took another long drink of the icy beer. But he kept his attention focused on the spot where his road emerged from the dense grove of giant live oaks and cypress trees and magnolias.

The sugar plantation was ancient and now defunct, but it was a huge property, none of which had ever been sold out of his family. It took a lot of his effort to keep the place even in modest repair. The mansion on the knoll above him had stood in the same spot for over two hundred years. And it looked like it, too, with most of the white paint peeled off and weathered to gray years ago.

Once upon a time, his wealthy Creole ancestors, the St. Pierre family, had sold their sugar at top price and flourished for a century and a half on the bayou plantation they’d named Bonne Terre. They had been quite the elite in Napoleonic New Orleans, he had been told. They still were quite the elite, but mostly in France now. The magnificence with which they’d endowed the place was long gone and the house in need of serious renovation. Someday, maybe. Right now, he preferred to live on his boat where it was cooler and more to his liking.

Minutes passed, and then the car appeared and proceeded slowly around the circular driveway leading to his front gallery. It was a late model Taurus, apple-red and shiny clean and glinting like a fine ruby under the blinding sunlight. Probably a New Orleans rental. He’d never seen the car before. That meant a stranger, which in Novak’s experience usually meant trouble. Few visitors found their way this far down into the bayou. Ever. That’s why he lived there.

Claire Morgan was the exception and one of the few people who knew where he lived, but he trusted her. She was a former homicide detective who’d hired him on as a partner in her new private investigation agency. But it wasn’t Claire who’d come to call today. She was still on her honeymoon with Nicholas Black, out in the Hawaiian Islands, living it up on some big estate on the island of Kauai. They’d been gone around eight weeks now, and that had given Novak plenty of time to do his own thing. Especially after what had happened on their wedding day. The three of them and a couple of other guys had gotten into a particularly hellish mess and had been lucky to make it out alive. Novak’s shoulder wound had healed up well enough, but all of them deserved some R & R. Other than Claire, though, only a handful of people knew where to find him. He didn’t give out his address, and that had served him well.

Novak wiped his sweaty palms on his faded khaki shorts and kept his gaze focused on the Taurus. Behind him, the bayou drifted along in its slow, swirling currents, rippling and splashing south toward the Gulf of Mexico. As soon as the car left his field of vision, he headed down the hatch steps into the dim, cool quarters belowdecks. At the bottom, he stretched up and reached back into the highest shelf. He pulled out his .45 caliber service weapon. A nice little Kimber 1911. Fully loaded and ready to go. The heft of it felt damn good. Back where it belonged. He checked the mag, racked a round into the chamber, and then wedged the gun down inside his back waistband. He grabbed a clean white T-shirt and pulled it over his head as he climbed back up to the stern deck. Picking up a pair of high-powered binoculars, he scanned the back gallery of his house and the wide grassy yard surrounding it.

Nothing moved. He walked down the gangplank and stepped off into the shade thrown by the covered dock. He moved past the boatlift berths but he kept his attention riveted up on the house. The long fields he’d mowed the day before stretched about a hundred yards up from the bayou. The big mansion sat at the far edge, shaded by a dozen ancient live oaks, all draped almost to the ground with long and wispy tendrils of the gray Spanish moss so prevalent in the bayou. The wide gallery encircled the first floor, on all four sides, twelve feet wide, with a twelve-feet-high ceiling. No wind now, all vestiges of the breeze gone, everything still, everything quiet. He could see the east side of the house. It was deserted. The guy in the car could be anywhere by now. He could be anybody. He could be good. He could be bad. He could be there to kill Novak. That was the most likely scenario. Novak sure as hell had plenty of enemies who wanted him dead, all over the world. Right up the highway in New Orleans, in fact. Whoever was in that Taurus, whatever they wanted, Novak wanted them inside his gun sights first before they spotted him.

Taking off toward the house, he jogged down the bank and up onto a narrow dirt path hidden by a long fencerow. Then he headed up the gradual rise, staying well behind the fence covered with climbing ivy and flowering azalea bushes. He kept his weapon out in front using both hands, finger alongside the trigger. Guys who were after him usually just wanted to put a bullet in Novak’s skull. Some had even tried their luck, but nobody had tried it on his home turf. He didn’t like that. Wasn’t too savvy on their part, either.

When he reached the backyard, he pulled up under the branches of a huge mimosa tree. He crouched down there and waited, listening. No thud of running feet. No whispered orders to spread out and find him. No nothing, except some stupid bird chirping its head off somewhere high above him. He searched the trees and found a mockingbird sitting on the carved balustrade on the second-floor gallery. Novak waited a couple more minutes. Then he ran lightly across the grass and took the wide back steps three at a time. He crossed the gallery quickly and pressed his back against the wall. He listened again and heard nothing, so he inched his way around the corner onto the west gallery and then up the side of the house to the front corner. That’s when he heard the loud clang of his century-old iron door knocker. He froze in his tracks.

Directly in front of him, a long white wicker swing swayed in a sudden gust of wind. He darted a quick look around the corner of the house. Three yards down the gallery from him, a woman stood at his front door, her right side turned to him. She was alone. She was unarmed, considering how skin-tight her skimpy outfit molded to her slim body. While he watched, she lifted the heavy door knocker and let it clang down again. Hard. Impatient. Annoyed. She was tall, maybe five feet eight or nine inches. Long black hair curled down around her shoulders. She was slender and her body was fit, all shown to advantage in her tight white Daisy Dukes and a black-and- white chevron crop top. She turned slightly, and Novak glimpsed her impressively toned and suntanned midriff and the lower curve of her breasts. She was not wearing a bra, and her legs were naked, too, shapely and also darkly tanned. White sandals with silver buckles. She looked sexy as hell but harmless.

On the other hand, Novak had known a woman or two who’d also looked sexy and harmless, but who had assassinated more men than Novak had ever thought about gunning down. Keeping his weapon down alongside his right thigh but ready, he stepped out where she could see him but also where he’d have a good shot at her, if all was not as it seemed. The woman apparently had a highly cultivated sense of awareness because she immediately spun toward him. That’s when Novak’s knees almost buckled. He went weak all over, his muscles just going slack. His heart faltered mid-beat. He stared at her, so completely stunned he could not move or speak.

Then his dead wife, the only woman he had ever loved, his beautiful Sarah, smiled at him and said in her familiar Australian accent, “How ya goin’, Will. Long time no see.”


Author Bio:



Linda Ladd is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels. Head to Head marked her exciting return to publishing with a debut thriller after almost a decade’s hiatus. Linda makes her home in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where she is at work on her next novel. Bad Road to Nowhere is the first in a new series featuring Will Novak.


Catch Up with Linda Ladd on her Website  & on Facebook !





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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Ladd and Kensington Publishing Corp. There will be 5 US/CANADA winners of one (1) eBook copy of Bad Road to Nowhere by Linda Ladd. The giveaway begins on December 7th and runs through December 14th, 2016.


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