River, Sing out: Interview and Giveaway

   

RIVER, SING OUT
BY
JAMES WADE
 
Categories: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Rural Fiction / Crime Fiction / Coming-of-Age
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Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 315 pages
 

“And through these ages untold, the river did act as the lifeblood of all those things alongside it.”

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.



PRAISE FOR RIVER, SING OUT

”With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine

”If you read one novel this year, make it this one. James Wade’s River, Sing Out, is an instant classic filled with characters that will break your heart, lyrical prose as haunted as the river it evokes, and a Southern Noir undertow that wholly sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages until it’s searing, masterful conclusion.” —May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives

”Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.” —Kirkus Reviews




Interview with James Wade

 

How has your formal education impacted your writing?

When I started trying to break into the fiction world, I felt inadequate in a number of ways, but one of the biggest was my lack of an MFA. Everyone I knew or met or talked to was always asking where I’d gone to grad school. There was a time (and sometimes I still feel this way) where I thought every single writer in Texas had gotten an MFA at Texas State or UT. I had an agent at a conference tell me that I would only be taken seriously if I went back to school.

But then I was published a few times in literary magazines, and I won a couple of contests, and all of a sudden not having an MFA became like a point of pride– even a little bit of a chip on my shoulder that kept me working hard.

I’m an incredibly privileged person (far too privileged to complain as much as I do), and there are very few instances where I can claim the role of underdog, but the absence of a formal writing education gives me a little bit of that extra motivation.

 

Did you experience rejection when submitting this manuscript for publication?

I didn’t, but only because I had signed a three-book deal with my publisher (River, Sing Out being the second of the three books). However, I did receive several rejections for my first novel from agents I queried. When I finished All Things Left Wild, my wife and I sat down, and each made a list of ten agents we thought would be right for the book. My agent, Mark Gottlieb at Trident Media, was the top name on both of our lists. So I sent a query to Mark and about a dozen other folks. Mark reached out the same day asking for more, and he read the manuscript over a weekend and signed me the following Monday. I emailed the other agents and basically told them not to waste their time (which to an agent is like gold). Still, a few of them got back to me with rejection emails. Some were templates, others more personal (and brutal), and I couldn’t help but wonder how different that would have felt if I hadn’t already found Mark. In fact, Mark had secured a great deal with Blackstone Publishing before most of the agents had even replied. But I could see how devastating that might have been if I were receiving rejections up front, so I always tell new writers not to get too caught up on how long something is or isn’t taking. There is so much luck and timing involved, but at the end of the day you only need one ‘yes’ to be a published author.

 

What do you like to read in your free time?

My daughter just turned one, so free time seems like a hilarious and cruel concept. But in that great yesterday, when the house was quiet and my wife and I were free to lounge about at our leisure, I read as much as I could. First and foremost, everything Cormac McCarthy has written (novels, screenplays, essays, etc.). I also enjoy the novels of William Gay, Kent Haruf, and William Faulkner, as well as the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. Much of my reading time is devoted to religious and moral philosophy, political science, and histories, and more recently I’ve been fascinated with geology (Texas geology in particular). When I open a book, I’m looking to learn– learn about lyrical prose from masters of fiction, or learn about mercury mining in West Texas, or cattle ranching on the high plains, or how the Caddo Indians in East Texas believed the world was created.

 

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?

Of course. It’s the one subject no author should ever write about: Mathematics.

 

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

I think the appropriate answer is something like, “be a good father and husband,” or, “find peace and happiness,” or even, “write a NYT bestseller and win a Pulitzer.” But the only real goal, real desire, that I have is to write a novel that I’m happy with. Unfortunately, as is the nature of writing, that is almost guaranteed to never happen. So, here’s to a life of frustration.

 

What do you want your tombstone to say?

It has been a wonderfully strange privilege.

 

James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of All Things Left Wild, which is a winner of the 2016 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, a winner of the 2021 Spur Award for Best Historical Fiction, and a winner of the 2021 Reading the West Award for Best Debut Novel. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines.
 

Deadly Business Cover Reveal and Blitz

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DEADLY BUSINESS

BY ANITA DICKASON

COVER REVEAL

Anticipated Publication Date: July 3rd, 2021 Pages: 324 pages Categories: Suspense | Thriller | Crime Thriller

Deadly Business PB-5-3-21

A Texas Multi-Billion Dollar Lure!

Following a tactical raid at an Oklahoma farm, a phone call sends U.S. Deputy Marshal Piper McKay rushing back to the East Texas cattle ranch where she grew up. Her grandmother, Jennie Layton, is near death from a crushed skull. When local authorities claim the cause of the injury was an accident, Piper isn’t convinced. Who wants Jennie dead and why? Is the reason connected to a dubious contract Piper finds in Jennie’s desk? Piper realizes her grandmother isn’t the only one in danger when she barely escapes a deadly attack. Thrust into the middle of a high-stakes, high-risk shell game, Piper’s become the target. The case takes a bizarre turn when Piper unknowingly crosses paths with a Special Ranger. If he can’t derail her investigation, it could cost him his life.

With millions of dollars on the line, nothing will stop a ring of cold-blooded killers, including the murders of a U.S. Marshal and a Special Ranger.

PRE-ORDER on Amazon

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Award-winning author Anita Dickason is a twenty-two veteran of the Dallas Police Department. She served as a patrol officer, undercover narcotics detective, advanced accident investigator, tactical officer and first female sniper on the Dallas SWAT team. Anita writes about what she knows, cops and crime. Her police background provides an unending source of inspiration for her plots and characters. Many incidents and characters portrayed in her books are based on personal experience. For her, the characters are the fun part of writing as she never knows where they will take her. There is always something out of the ordinary in her stories. In Anita’s debut novel, Sentinels of the Night, she created an elite FBI Unit, the Trackers. Since then, she has added three more Tracker crime thrillers, Going Gone!, A u 7 9, and Operation Navajo. The novels are not a series and can be read in any order. As a Texas author, many of Anita’s books are based in Texas, or there is a link to Texas. When she stepped outside of the Tracker novels and wrote, Not Dead, she selected Meridian, a small community in central Texas for the location.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

LinkedIn | Vimeo | Amazon Author Page

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Giveaway on Anita Dickason’s Website!

Pre-order Deadly Business, and you could win one of three prize packages (value $40 each) containing a tote bag, mousepad, coaster, pen, & bookmarks!

Visit www.anitadickason.com/ for details!

(US only. Contest ends at midnight, CDT, July 2, 2021.)

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Gingerbread Kisses: Sneak Peek and Giveaway

GINGERBREAD KISSES
Hot in Magnolia Book 4
By Minette Lauren

Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Pages: 275
Categories: Sexy Romance

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Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?
 




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Sneak Peek Excerpt

from HURRICANE KISSES

the Forthcoming 5th Book

In the Hot In Magnolia Series

By Minette Lauren

**LANGUAGE ADVISORY – THE FOLLOWING EXCERPT CONTAINS PROFANITY**

Cecilia Lockwood grunted as she shimmied backward with the tall parrot cage in her clenched fists. “Of all the good and bad luck in my life, I’m not sure if my inheritance is the best or the worst.”

“Shut up!” The blue and gold macaw screeched.

“That’s it, you fancy blue chicken, I’m making parrot soup tonight, with a side of cockatiel!”

The green Quaker parrot, who had been out of his cage and resisting capture all morning, stared at her from where he’d perched on top of her computer monitor. “Um—that’s good!”

Cecilia blew at a stray lock of hair that escaped her long ponytail. Years ago, she’d worn it at a fashionable length. That was before she’d lost her prestige with the Magnolia Blossoms Ladies League.

 An IRS audit revealed some of her extra purchases with the non-profit money she’d earned, but she didn’t understand all the fuss. She was the one who raised the money for charity, so why couldn’t she enjoy a day at the spa or buy a new pair of shoes? At the time, she hadn’t thought she was cheating anyone out of anything, but according to the IRS and the whole flock of biddies in Magnolia, she’d done just that. After moving back to Dallas with her mother and father, Todd and Brenda Lockwood, she thought things would turn around. Celia felt she had better potential in a city like Dallas and was over her big-fish-in-a-little-pond syndrome. She could admit now that being the president of The Magnolia Blossoms wasn’t her destiny.

When her father put her in the accounting office of his oil company, she’d felt right at home. Taking up where she’d left off, Celia tallied columns of debits and credits, including a small account for herself to buy whatever she wanted. She worked hard for her father, so in her eyes, she was just rewarding herself with an extra bonus for all her effort. Unbeknownst to Celia, her father’s partner hired a spy. A very handsome co-worker named Steve, whom she’d taken out to lunch several times with her petty cash account, and had almost taken to bed once after a few too many martinis. Thank God, she hadn’t. It infuriated her that the ratfink ratted her out. She’d trusted him enough to share her secret, and he had sold her down the river for a promotion. When she was fired, Steve took her job and her dignity. She’d cried to her mother without much success.

Barbra Lockwood sipped her mimosa and petted Mimi, the family’s black teacup poodle. “Darling, why are you blubbering? You know your father. He loves you, and he wants you to learn important lessons in life, but I say go get your money the old-fashioned way. Find yourself a rich husband, like I did. Then you can visit with your friends and shop until your heart is content.”

As Celia pushed the cage into a corner, Chica, the blue and gold macaw, pinched her finger through the bars, letting out another ear-piercing screech.

Celia let out a howl of her own. “Ouch!”

“Shut up!”

Celia gave the sassy parrot a low growl. Macaws weren’t usually the big talkers of the parrot world, but this one wouldn’t shut up with the few words it knew. Since inheriting her grandfather’s exotic bird sanctuary, and it being the only source of income that she had, Cecilia had tried to catch up on understanding parrots and the necessary habitat they needed to survive. The sanctuary ran off regular donations, but it was barely enough to pay the utilities and have enough left over to buy birdseed. She needed more, and if she had to put up with a teenage macaw that hated her, so be it. When she started parrot adoptions, Chica would be the first to go, but before that, she needed to teach the saucy parrot some manners. Besides, repeating her name, hello, shut up and pretty girl were the only other words Chica knew.

Feathers floated in the air as Celia swept the floor. As she pushed the broom around the cages, she noticed Baby, the Quaker parrot, disappear into his cage. Just as Celia snuck close enough to shut the flap to the enclosure, a knock sounded on the door.

“Excuse me, Miss.” A man’s voice called out, startling her and Baby, who flew back out of his cage.

“Jesus H Christ!” Celia grabbed her chest and spun on her heel. Glancing at the man and then back at the cage, she scowled and then burst into tears. “Stupid asshole,” she sobbed.

She heard the door shut and the man’s boots on the hard tile as he approached. “Hey, sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I closed the door so the bird won’t escape. I’ll help you catch him.” There was a pause as he put his hand on her shoulder.

She felt her body shudder as she tried to gain control of her tears. Celia didn’t even know why she was crying. She was tougher than this. A smarty-pants little bird would not, could not, best her.

His steady voice continued. “I promise. I’m not an asshole. I’ll make it up to you. Do you have a towel and a ladder?”

That made Celia’s tears turn to laughter. She was cursing the parrot who’d teased her all morning, not the man. As she finally looked up at her visitor, she was mesmerized by his clear blue eyes that were as light as Tiffany-blue glass. His features were symmetrical, and his sandy-blond hair was golden in the light pouring in from the window. He was the stuff of Greek God movie actors in those delicious romantic comedies. His smooth southern drawl sent tingles from the pit of her stomach to her toes. Even touching her shoulder, he was tender and stood his distance, careful not to invade her space. His smile was warm and showcased perfect white teeth.

Feathers still floated in the air around his head, giving him an ethereal look. Entranced, she reached out and touched the side of his face. “Are you real?”

He reached in his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, offering it to her. Who carried a clean hanky in their pocket these days? As she dabbed at her eyes, it occurred to her that there was no guarantee that it was indeed clean, and she must look like a clown in her manic state. She quickly pressed the kerchief back into his palm. Celia stared at him and he seemed to look back at her with the same dazed look. Did he like what he saw as much as she liked looking at him? It was then that she remembered her messy hair that the cockatiel had perched in half of the morning, and the tired old gym clothes she’d been wearing to clean cages. She probably had bird poop in her hair or worse, and he was possibly contemplating how to tell her. Celia brushed at her shirt, as if it would suddenly turn into a beautiful ball gown, and he would sweep her up in his arms and carry her away from the cage she was living in. She snorted at the thought.

His hand shot out again, offering her the hanky.

Oh god. My life has got to get better than this!








Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town. 



 



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THREE WINNERS
 First place: Signed copies of the Hot in Magnolia series books (prequel included) + $25 Amazon gift card
Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses

(Continental US residents only. Ends midnight, CDT, June 4, 2021)

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A Witches Brew: Book Review and Giveaway

A WITCH’S BREW

Conquest of the Veil Book III

By Michael Scott Clifton

Publisher: Book Liftoff
Publication Date: April 14th, 2021

Pages: 318 Pages
Categories:

Sword & Sorcery / Magical Realism / Fantasy / Paranormal


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Intent on defeating the Dark Queen and destroying the Veil, Prince Tal and Alexandria arrive at Markingham to discover a city on the verge of collapse, its people starving, and children vanishing without a trace. Hopes of launching attacks from the city against the Dark Queen evaporate. To make matters worse, the tiny breach in the Veil allows only a trickle of soldiers and supplies to pass through. 

Before the city’s defenses can be restored, the Baleful, a vast army composed of melded humans and animals led by a giant centaur, sweeps across the land like locusts, leaving nothing behind. 

In the midst of turmoil and conflict, the love between Tal and Alex reaches white-hot intensity. But the leader of a ragtag militia group wants Tal for herself and will do anything to get him…even strike a bargain with a child-killing witch for a potion to make her irresistible. 

But every witch’s brew comes with a price. 

 

Purchase on Amazon

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It was fun getting to jump back into the world that Michael Scott Clifton had created! A Witches Brew is the third book in the series Conquest of the Veil. Our heroes, Tal and Alex, are back, along with some new characters both good an bad. The hunt for the Evil Queen is on, but is quickly delayed as they stumble upon a town in desperate need of aid. The citizens of Markingham are starving. The walls of buildings are crumbling. If the enemy were to attack the city, it would be easily lost. Prince Tal and Lady Alexandria do their part to help repair the town. Lighting a fire to their beautiful story arcs in this book. 

Tal and Alex’s relationship grows deeper, their love and understanding of each other clearly shown in each of their interactions. There is so much chemistry between Tal and Alex, and well written tension. I love their interactions with each other, and how much they really care about each other. 

But not everything can be perfect can it? 

Along comes Maggie, a new character to the story. She completely throws a wrench in everything! We are first introduced to her while she’s riding her horse and Tal demonstrates his magic. I wanted to yell at him to take his hand off of Maggie, but Maggie and to throw it off herself. This definitely sets the tone for the three. And though I absolutely despise any sort of love triangle, I couldn’t help but really enjoy Maggie’s character. She had a new dynamic to the story, and her arrogance and stuborness was actually a bit refreshing. 

May I also add that I love a good villain. Drusulla does not disappoint! 

The world building is wonderful. I love how Clifton’s story just seems to flow so easily. And how easy it is to be submerged into these beautiful world he has created. This story is filled with suspense, adventure, action, and magic. A fantasy world unlike any other. He has such a vivid imagination and it’s easy to get lost into the story and to pretend I can see it unfolding right before my eyes. 

The characters are so well rounded and multi-dimensional. It’s easy to fall in love with our heroes and easy to be awed by the other characters, even the villain. 

I cannot wait for future reads by Clifton!

If you enjoy fantasy, magic, adventure, and a dash of love, be sure to check this story out! I highly recommend it!


Rating: 4/5




Multi Award-Winning Author Michael Scott Clifton, a longtime public educator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie. An avid gardener, reader, and movie junkie, his books contain facets of all the genres he enjoys—action, adventure, magic, fantasy, and romance. His fantasy novels, The Janus Witch, The Open Portal (Book I in the Conquest of the Veil series), and Escape from Wheel (Book II), all received 5-Star reviews from the prestigious Readers Favorite Book Reviews. The Open Portal has also been honored with a Feathered Quill Book Finalist Award. In addition, Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator earned a 2021 Feathered Quill Book Award Bronze Medal in the Teen Readers category. Two of his short stories have won Gold Medals, with Edges of Gray winning the Texas Authors Contest, and The End Game, winning the Northeast Texas Writer’s Organization Contest. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine

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THREE WINNERS!

Grand Prize:
 Signed copies of all three books in the Conquest of the Veil series
 + $15 Amazon Gift Card
2
nd & 3rd Winners: eBooks of A Witch’s Brew. 
Ends midnight, CDT, May 28, 2021.
 

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The Paris Betrayal: Deleted Scene and Giveaway

THE PARIS BETRAYAL
By James R. Hannibal

Published by: Revell
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 352 pages
Categories: Fiction / Christian / Suspense

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After a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance–reserved for incompetents and traitors.

Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him–and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.

Award-winning author James R. Hannibal ratchets up the tension on every page of this suspenseful new thriller.


PRAISE FOR THE PARIS BETRAYAL
“A masterful thriller is created by a masterful writer, and James R. Hannibal is at the top of my list. I devoured every page with the lights on!” DiAnn Mills, author of Airborne

“James Hannibal once again displays his dazzling prose and ability to keep even the more experienced readers guessing. In The Paris Betrayal, Hannibal sets his hook deep and early, then drags you through a riveting, edge-of-your-seat story. Another gripping, high-octane book from one of the best thriller writers in the business.” 
Simon Gervais, former RCMP counterterrorism officer and bestselling author of Hunt Them Down

“Riveting and action-packed! The Paris Betrayal is everything you want in a thriller–suspense, intrigue, and white-knuckle action. Hannibal has a knack for keeping you guessing in a plot that moves at a breakneck speed. This is one you don’t want to miss!” 
Ronie Kendig, bestselling author of The Tox Files

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From THE PARIS BETRAYAL

by James R. Hannibal

 

The following scene didn’t make it into The Paris Betrayal. This impromptu meeting between Ben and his spymaster, the Director, was meant to be a humorous calm before the coming storm. It was also meant to be an allegorical come as you are moment where man meets his Creator. The Director shows up unexpectedly while Ben is in his boxers. Our Creator sees us and sees through us no matter how we dress ourselves up, and we serve His timetable, not the other way around.

In the end, though, the scene felt wedged into the story and required some technology that needed too much explanation. I clipped it out to keep the action moving for the reader and consolidated Ben’s run-in with Clara with another moment later in the story.


DELETED SCENE, CHAPTER SEVEN

A blue-haired girl came down the steps as Ben entered his apartment building’s stairwell. “Haven’t seen you in a while, Jacob.” Her Slovakian heritage colored her English, which—as she had told Ben when they first met—was better than her French. She knew him by his local cover name, Jacob Roy, a wool salesman from Montreal. She held a dachshund close to her chest. He looked as tired as Ben felt.

“Winter sales route. Lots of stops. Big time of year for wool.” He tried to squeeze past.

The girl, Clara, did not give him much room. “We could get something later, if you like. No need to cook if you’re worn out.” The dachshund lifted its head from her forearm, eyes pleading for the extra evening company.

“Thanks, but not tonight. Maybe another time.”

She always asked. He always declined. It felt like a sad game.

“Yes.” Clara set the dog down at the base of the steps. “Another time.”

Bed.

Ben dropped his bag on the floor of his flat and collapsed onto his king size mattress, eyes closed. Traffic had picked up on the streets outside, honking and beeping. A pounding above told him the upstairs neighbors were renovating. But he could easily have slept—if not for the file burning a hole in his smartphone’s case.

His eyes popped open, and he held the phone before them, frowning. “Stupid analysts.”

He threw open his wardrobe and divided his hanging shirts. A three-inch false panel at the back covered the slick where he kept his A19 Matchbox decryptor. Without the Matchbox to unscramble the data, the file was useless, and keeping the software in a separate device added an extra layer of security. Before digging it out, he hung up the jacket he’d bought in Rome and stripped down to his T-shirt and boxers. Might as well get comfortable.

The Matchbox had no switches and only one connector. He plugged it into his phone and waited. Usually charts and maps popped up on the phone’s screen in rapid sequence—new forms to fill out. The Company nerds liked an overabundance of detail. But the Matchbox decrypted only one page with one line.

channel two

“What on earth?”

Ben read the line again. Channel two. What was that supposed to mean?

His phone did not operate like a radio. There were no channels. And he had no other communication devices. He stared at the empty wall beside the bed for a long moment, then glanced at the TV. “Okay. Channel two.”

The TV always powered up on Channel 8. He’d never bothered to ask himself why. He waited for the backlight to warm up, giving him a clear picture, then pointed his remote and punched the channel down button. The numbers in the corner counted backward. 07, 06, 05, 04, 03.

02

The screen went black for a moment, then resolved to a video of a white-haired man with his back to the camera, wearing blue-jeans and wool coat with the collar flipped up. Ben cocked his head left, then right, taking a step toward the screen. This guy looked familiar—the back of him, anyway.

The man turned to face the camera, and Ben lost all doubt. “The Director,” he said under his breath. “It’s a video message from the Director himself.”

Many at the Company knew him as the Old Man, but the nickname didn’t fit, not to Ben. Sure, he had white hair—snow white—but the lines on his forehead spoke more of experience than age. And though he was tall, the Director never stooped. He eyed the camera with a look of mild surprise, then slipped his hands into the pockets of his coat and smiled. “Hello, Mr. Calix. Did I catch you at a bad time?”



James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. This former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his children’s mysteries, a former Thriller Award nominee, and a 2020 Selah and Carol Award finalist for The Gryphon Heist–the opener for the CIA series that now includes Chasing the White Lion. James is a rare multisense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells, and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.
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The Takeaway Men Blitz

 
THE TAKEAWAY MEN By Meryl Ain
 
Publisher: SparkPress
Pub Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 265 pages
Categories: Historical / Jewish Literature / Sibling Fiction / Holocaust

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.
PRAISE FOR THE TAKEAWAY MEN: “At a time when the darkness of the Holocaust is being whitewashed, Meryl Ain’s remarkable debut novel illuminates the postwar Jewish American landscape like a truth-seeking torch. An emotionally rich and lovingly told saga of survivors, with great sensitivity to what was lost, buried, and resurrected.” — Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible. “The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” — Kirkus Reviews

Purchase Links: 

Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble | AppleBooks | GooglePlay | Indiebound

Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday, and other publications. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal.  She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator. The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York. Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and an active supporter of UJA-Federation of New York.  She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. This is her first novel.

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Stiff Lizard: Book Blitz

STIFF LIZARD by LISA HANEBERG

Series: A Spy Shop Mystery Publisher:
Written Pursuits Press Pages: 364 pages
Pub Date: March 13th, 2021
Categories: Women Sleuths / Cozy Mystery / Private Investigator / Humor



Rodent Roger, a popular Galveston Island exterminator, goes missing the day after he tells private investigator and spy shop owner Xena Cali about a concerning uptick in green iguana sightings on the island. They’re crapping in people’s boats and falling from trees. Are the lizards swimming over from Florida to escape the pythons, or is it something more nefarious? Can Xena help untangle the mess before the raucous reptiles take over Galveston? Ultima Penelope Roger is a best-selling writer of romance novels. The Lizard Liquidators have set up shop on Galveston Island. Herpetologist Quintana Flores, PhD, works on a bizarre cruise ship that sails out of the Port of Galveston. Sasha Barlow is a driven junior reporter who’ll do anything to get the story. Ned “The Pelican Man” Quinn writes a column about bird necropsies. Captain Ethan Slaughter is the head of the Major Crimes team at the Galveston Police Department. Xena and her team will have to partner with and/or battle this cast of characters and others to solve what becomes a disturbing murder investigation. Stiff Lizard is the third full-length book in the Spy Shop Mystery series. If you like fast-paced crime novels, clever satire, and gritty beach towns, then you’ll love Lisa Haneberg’s humorous and contemporary cozy caper.

 

PRAISE FOR STIFF LIZARD “Lisa Haneberg has a wicked sense of humor. She can also write a fast-moving, totally original mystery.” — Alan Rinzler Lisa Haneberg’s newest entry in the Spy Shop Mystery Series lives up to its predecessors. A good number of laughs, lots of intrigue, a bit of titillation, lots of interesting information, and lots of mystery make for a good read.” – Verified purchaser from Amazon 

 Purchase Links  Amazon | Bookshop | Barnes and Noble 
 
 
 

Lisa Haneberg loves to explore Galveston Island’s gritty back streets, stellar seafood joints, magnificent natural areas, and all points in between. In addition to the Spy Shop Mysteries, she’s a blogger and has authored over a dozen nonfiction books. She earned an MFA degree from Goddard College and a BS in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Maryland.

Before writing crime fiction, she was a seasoned human resources professional with a strange attraction to gnarly internal investigations. She lives with her husband and dog in Lexington, Kentucky. Lisa once owned a home on Galveston Island and is a frequent visitor.

 

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Amazon Author Page | Goodreads Author Page

 

 

 

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Dire’s Club: Blog Tour Giveaway


DIRE’S CLUB
by Kimberly Packard

Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: March 23, 2021
Pages: 326 Pages
Categories: Action & Adventure / Contemporary / Women’s Fiction

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Dying isn’t just hard on the ones left behind, the regret of unfinished lives weighs heavily on the terminally ill. That’s where Dire’s Club steps in, a specialty travel agency that takes a small group of dying people on one final adventure-so they can be free of guilt, be more than a diagnosis, and find a way to confront life…and death.


Life Coach Charlotte Claybrooke built a successful second career guiding people out of grief, but the impending tenth anniversary of her own heart-wrenching tragedy sets her on a journey to find life among the dying.


Staring death in the face was Jimmy Dire’s business. He met it with a warm hug, a kind word, and a smile. Dire’s Club gave the terminally ill one final, bucket-list adventure before passing on, but dying was expensive. The bills, like Jimmy’s lies, were piling up. It’s only a matter of time before he’s forced to face a different type of death.


A rock god, a telenovela star, a grandmother living her life-long dream, and a young tech genius round out this group of strangers facing death together. But when tragedy strikes, their bond is shattered. Lies and fraud surface, forcing the dying to come together to save someone’s life.

Everybody dies. The lucky ones have fun doing it.


CLICK TO PURCHASE




Dire’s Club trailer from Kimberly Walton on Vimeo.


From author Kimberly Packard: When this story idea came to me, I journaled this part out. These were the very first words of DIRE’S CLUB. I had no clue where it would go – and quite frankly, it’s been all over the manuscript, but it now lives with Jimmy’s first chapter and I see it as his philosophy on life.





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Her Every Move: Excerpt and Giveaway

HER EVERY MOVE
By Kelly Irvin

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 352 pages
Pub Date: February 9th, 2021
Categories: Christian / Romance / Suspense

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He’s a cop trying to stop a serial bomber. And she’ll stop at nothing to clear her own name.  
 
When a deadly bomb goes off during a climate change debate, librarian and event coordinator Jackie Santoro becomes the prime suspect. Her motive, according to Detective Avery Wick: to avenge the suicide of her prominent father, who was accused of crimes by a city councilman attending the event.  
 
Though Avery has doubts about Jackie’s guilt, he can’t exonerate her even after an extremist group takes responsibility for the bombing and continues to attack San Antonio’s treasured public spaces.  
 
As Jackie tries to hold her shattered family together, she has no choice but to proceed with plans for the Caterina Ball, the library system’s biggest annual fundraiser. But she also fears the event provides the perfect opportunity for the bomber to strike again.  

Despite their mistrust, Jackie and Avery join forces to unmask the truth—before the death toll mounts even higher.  


Bestseller Kelly Irvin is back with a nail-biting romantic suspense where nothing is certain until the very last page.  

 

PRAISE FOR HER EVERY MOVE: 

“A gripping story that will have you on the edge of your seat until ‘The End.’” —Patricia Bradley, author of The Logan Point Series, Memphis Cold Case Novels, Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers series  


“Explosive, tender, and races all the way through!” Jennifer Graeser Dornbush, author, screenwriter, and forensic specialist 







Excerpt from Her Every Move

by Kelly Irvin

  

When Jackie and Avery meet for the first time:

Finding a cop was no problem. Getting him to stop long enough to listen proved more challenging. Jackie approached the uniformed officer standing guard outside the command center. He had his spiel down. “Wait. They’re interviewing everyone. They’ll get to you as soon as they can, ma’am.”

“I may have important information—”

“Everyone is anxious to get out of here, ma’am. Have a seat. They’ll get to you as soon as they can. They’ve got more than eight hundred witnesses to process. Have a cup of coffee. The Red Cross is bringing in sandwiches.”

He was trying so hard to be kind. Jackie stuffed a sock in her impatience. First responders and law enforcement saw the worst of the worst—just as she had this day.

She trudged toward the chairs again. A lanky, scruffy-looking man in street clothes and a Windbreaker emblazoned with SAPD across the back brushed past her, headed the same direction. “Excuse me, are you interviewing witnesses?”

He glanced back and stopped. The irritated expression faded. “If you’ve been triaged, ma’am, you can wait in the area set up by Victim Assistance. We’ll get to you as soon as we can.”

“I know that. Please listen to me.” Jackie fought to bring her voice down a notch. He didn’t need a hysterical witness right now. “I have information that might be important to give to you now rather than later.”

“Who are you?”

“Jackie Santoro, the adult collections coordinator at the Central Library. I helped plan this event.”

“You don’t look like a librarian.”

Jackie got that a lot. She didn’t understand it. Librarians came in all shapes and sizes. “Sorry I don’t meet your expectations.”

“Don’t apologize. It’s been a day for everyone.”

His assessment of the day was spot-on, even if he didn’t catch her sarcasm. “Do you want to take my statement or not? Officer—”

“It’s detective. Detective Avery Wick. SAPD Homicide Unit. I’d be happy to take your statement.” He glanced around, then took her arm.

Surprise washed through Jackie, followed by sudden warmth. He had a steely grip—one a person could count on—and he hadn’t hesitated to reach out. It had been a long time since someone did that for her.

He guided her to the curb. “Someone who volunteers to share information is either innocent or trying to look that way.”

So much for warmth. Detective Avery’s prickly pear persona reasserted itself.

 Anger could be a tonic under the right circumstances. Jackie’s bubbled up. She tugged her arm free. “I was one of a team of people who planned this event. One of my best friends died in there.” She pointed to the Tobin Center. “What possible motive would I have to set off a bomb in the middle of my event?”

“Sit down, please.” Detective Wick’s assessing gaze ran over Jackie from head to toe and back. A shiver ran through her that had nothing to do with the cold. It felt as he could see through her. He smiled—a grim, sardonic half smile. “Give me a minute. I’m sure I can come up with a motive.”

Before Jackie could introduce herself, he walked away, leaving her with her mouth open and her entire body shaking.

He returned a minute later with a blanket and a cup of coffee. Jackie wrapped the blanket around her hunched shoulders automatically. It wouldn’t help, but his offer was so unexpected in light of his last words, she couldn’t refuse.

“Here, drink this.” He held out a Styrofoam cup filled with steaming liquid. “You look frozen.”

Did this man have multiple personalities? “Bless you.” Her words came out in a croak. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Thank you.”

Her hands shook so hard the hot liquid spilled over the edges, burning her fingers. “Ouch. Sorry.”

“Stop apologizing.” Detective Wick cupped his hands around hers and steadied them. Again, with the touch. “You’re in shock. Why weren’t you transported to Baptist or one of the other downtown hospitals?”

“I’m not hurt, not physically.” Her voice didn’t quiver. For that small victory she was grateful. “I refused to be transported. Or treated.”

She wasn’t leaving until Estrella did.

“Not smart.”

“Not hurt. They’re overwhelmed as it is.”

“We’re doing preliminary interviews . . .”

His big hands covered Jackie’s completely. She closed her eyes, concentrating on how real and firm they were. He had a callus on his thumb. His fingers were strong. Finally, the shaking stopped.

“You’re not going to pass out on me, are you?”

She opened her eyes to find him leaning so close his scent of cinnamon gum and citrusy aftershave filled her nose. After the stench of blood, excrement, and burned rubber, it was comforting. So was his angular face filled with a mixture of concern at war with barely tethered impatience.

Jackie leaned away from his space. “Absolutely not. I’ve got it—the coffee, I mean.”

His hands dropped. The warmth dissipated. She swallowed against sobs. No more tears. Estrella would not want tears. She would want action. She deserved action. “Did they find the remnants of the explosive device? Do they know how it was triggered?”

Detective Wick looked up from the narrow notebook he’d tugged from the hip pocket of his Dockers. “You said you had important information. Let’s start with that.”

Once she told him about the bag, her opportunity to get information from the detective would be gone. “Were there any unexploded devices found?”

Impatience spread across his face, his effort to muzzle it obvious. “The bomb squad cleared the hall before search and recovery began. Let me ask the questions, if you don’t mind.”

Everyone knew that. The other first responders wouldn’t have been allowed in otherwise. Search and recovery. “One of the victims is—was—my best friend Estrella Diaz.”

Detective Wick’s pale-blue eyes studied her so intently, he squinted. “I’m sorry about your friend. This has to be the worst day of your life. The faster we get all the facts, the faster we can track down the monster who did this. Okay?”

Another day came close, but Detective Wick didn’t need to know that. They were on the same page, even if he chose not to share information with her. “Won’t the ATF and the FBI have jurisdiction? How does SAPD figure in?”

“You ask a lot of questions.” The crow’s feet around his eyes and the lines around his mouth deepened. He sucked in a long breath and let it out. “Contrary to what you see on TV, the Feds don’t come in and take over. They assist. There’ll be a joint task force. But you can be sure we’ll be leading the charge with one of our own dead. Chief Little—”

“Chief of Police Little is dead?” Confirmation of the city manager’s words. Body bag number five. The chief, dressed in street clothes, had been sitting near the front with his wife—right behind the city manager and his spouse. The Littles had four kids, all still young enough to live at home. “I’m so sorry for your loss. Did his wife survive?”

“Yes, but she’s in critical condition. We want the monster who did this for the sakes of all the victims, but this one is personal.”

Estrella would be relegated to the also killed paragraph of every news story written about this incident. After the biographies and quotes collected from the peers of Councilman Sandoval, Chief Little, and Milton Schaeffer. That was fine if it meant law enforcement went after the killer with every resource available to them because of the intense public scrutiny that came with their lofty status in the community.

“You said you had something important to tell me.”

She held the coffee close, concentrating on its warmth. “There was a backpack left on the front row. I found it.”

Any hint of cordiality disappeared from his rugged face. “You found it? When?”

 




Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of 28 books, including romantic suspense and Amish romance. Publishers Weekly called Closer Than She Knows “a briskly written thriller.”  The Library Journal said of her novel Tell Her No Lies, “a complex web with enough twists and turns to keep even the most savvy romantic suspense readers guessing until the end.” The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats. 



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Scorched Earth: Review and Giveaway

SCORCHED EARTH
THE HALO TRILOGY, BOOK 2
by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

Publisher: Pumpjack Press
Pages: 318
Date of Publication: February 14th, 2021
Categories: Science Fiction / Hard Boiled Detective

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The year is 2188 and the Earth—long-ago abandoned for Mars by the plutocrats—is scorched by poverty, disease, and environmental collapse. What these wealthy elite don’t know is that on his last trip upuniverse, Detective Crucial Larsen stumbled onto a secret that could destroy them. But he doesn’t intend to use it. Fighting back against the ruling Five Families of Mars is a fool’s game destined for failure—or worse, he thinks. Plus, he never wants to set foot on that damn planet again. Then Melinda, his long-lost love and a staff scientist on Mars, begs for his help clearing her fiancée of a murder charge. Crucial jumps on the next q-rocket, hoping maybe this time he can patch things up with Mel. His investigation ultimately leads back to the radiation-blasted sunbelt, where cannibal lizard-people—a climate change mitigation genetic experiment gone terribly wrong—hold the key to a different future, if only Crucial can stay alive long enough to unlock it.


Praise for Scorched Earth:

“Others have attempted to blend the genres of an investigative detective piece with sci-fi, but few achieve such a seamless integration as do McFall and Hays … a compelling saga, edgy and different, thoroughly absorbing.” 

Midwest Book Review


Purchase: Amazon





Futuristic Science Fiction meets NCIS in this gripping murder mystery that takes place on the planet Mars. Crucial, a labor cop, is controlled by an advanced AI called Halo, as is everyone else on earth. Crucial does what he can to send secret messages to his team as they use nanonites to disrupt Halo’s abilities. He’s happy what he’s doing, fighting the good fight, helping his sister Essential whom is a leader in the resistance. But then he gets a call from his ex Melinda who needs his help to clear her fiance’s name whom has been charged with murder. Though Crucial never wanted to return to Mars, he will do it for Melinda. 


However, Mars is ruled by the Five Families, the wealthy elite. People that Crucial believes are futile to fight against. His investigation however leads him back to Earth, to a genetic experiment that has created lizard like cannibals. And Crucial will do what he can to find the truth, clear Melinda’s finances name, and stay alive, of course. 


I must say Scorched Earth was very intriguing. It took a little to get used to all the scientific names for things, as I’m not used to reading futurist science fiction books. There’s alot of terminology that I had to stop and think about to understand what it was Crucial was describing. Once I got used to the narration the story flowed more easily. I loved how detailed and complex Scroched Earth was, but at the root of it is this investigation that leads Crucial down a path that lets us really explore these two worlds. Especially with things happening now, with the Mars Mission that is going to happen in our lifetime, it was fun to envision a world where people lived on Mars. 


Crucial is such a wonderful character. He’s honorable and dependable. He doesn’t give up on people or himself. He’s definitely the “good cop” in this story, and you’re left rooting for him every step of the way. The depth of his character development had me flipping through each page. To be submerged in this world was unlike anything I have read before! And what Crucial ends up investigating was so beyond the stars, that I had to keep going to figure out how the story was going to unfold. It’s exciting, and a little horrifying, to be honest. But a little dark elements sure was the icing on the cake for me. 


Though Scorched is the second in the trilogy, I read it before reading any of the others and it did fine as a stand alone, though now I am interested in the other books in the series! 


Scorched is definitely a gripping read! It’s vivid and engrossing. A read for anyone that loves a good, dark, murder mystery, especially for those science fiction lovers out there! Be sure to check it out!


Rating: 4/5




Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed.  Scorched Earth is their ninth co-authored book. Pumpjack Press  ║  Pumpjack Press on Facebook Facebook ║ Instagram Connect with Kathleen Goodreads ║ Amazon ║ Facebook ║ Twitter Connect with Clark Goodreads ║ Amazon ║ Facebook ║ Twitter