Heart of the Oak: Review and Giveaway

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HEART OF THE OAK
by
J.L. NOVINSKY

Genre: Children’s / Nature / Life Cycle Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing Publication Date: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 36 pages

  SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 



Heart of the Oak is a sweet story of the life of an old oak tree.   He’s old and weathered; his skin is rough and knotty.  But he has memories of joy, of love, and of tragedy.  He has endured many years and felt the sorrow of so much loss.  But his greatest joy is just ahead!  
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Praise for HEART OF THE OAK from Amazon reviewers!
“Such a great book with a heartfelt story!”
“My children and I LOVE this book. We had a wonderful and insightful conversation after we read it.”

Heart of the Oak is such a sweet story. As a special ed teacher, I’m always looking for good books that can be used for a wide range of teaching. This book has so much I could use. I love it because it tells the life cycle of a tree. It’s also a book about friendship and love, nurturing, and caring. The tree loves the boy that comes to see him, and remembers the moments they shared together. The tree also vows to protect the man and the boy. 

I love it because we don’t really think about all the years trees have. They live such a long time and so much can happen to them in those years. I love how the book is about the life of a tree, of his memories, and the pain and joy he had felt. 

I love the word usage in the book. It’s definitely a book that’s for families, for children and adults. The vocabulary in this is a little advance for children, but it can definitely be a good book to teach children new words!

What a heart warming story and a great one to share with others!


J.L. (Joan) Novinsky was born just outside of Chicago, but she got to Texas as fast as she could! Joan started college at age 55, and while taking a Creative Writing class, she wrote her first story, Heart of the Oak. Joan has now written a second children’s book, Horace and Giselle, available for on-line purchase January 2019. She was married to Bob in 1992, had a son, Stephen, in 1998, then in 2001, she and her husband took on the challenge and excitement of adopting a boy from St. Petersburg, Russia. Andrei joined the family in 2002, and the family resides just north of Dallas with their various and numerous pets.

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JANUARY 3-12, 2019
(USA only)

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Book Trailer
1/4/19
Review
1/5/19
Review
1/6/19
Guest Post
1/7/19
Review
1/8/19
Sneak Peek
1/9/19
Character Interview
1/10/19
Review
1/11/19
Notable Quotable
1/12/19
Review

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Paper Bag Mask Review

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Paper Bag Mask

By Brock Heasley

Publisher Pen Name Publishing

Published October 23rd

Pages 252



At the same moment he catches his teacher giving illegal drugs to a student, Redmond Fairweather loses his friggin’ mind and steals Mr. Street’s prized possession—a stupid wooden sword with round edges that will never, ever cut through anything—“The Whomper.”

Redmond has no idea why he stole the Whomper. He guesses his extreme dislike (okay, hate… so much hate) of the school’s most popular teacher probably has something to do with it. To his surprise and delight, the hottest girl in school, Elodia Cruz, hates him too.

Soon, Redmond’s small band of misfit friends joins up with Elodia and the most popular kids on campus to hold the Whomper for ransom, pull off an elaborate, broad daylight heist to steal something even bigger from Mr. Street, and expose their teacher for the scumbag he really is.

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Review

There’s so many things that go into a book to make it special. The characters. The plotline. The meaning. As a reader, I always want to somehow predict the outcome. It can be frustrating, especially if I’m right. I wasn’t in this case which just made the experience better. Paper Bag Mask has this sense of ‘chaotic good’ energy that can make a reader, such as myself, stay up to early hours of the morning reading because it honestly can’t be put down.

There’s just so much to say about this book. I’ll try to not create a jumbled mess of a review for you readers. First and foremost, I wanted to somehow reach into the virtual pages of this book and smack Redmond over the head. Not in a vicious way. It’s much like watching a puppy destroy your prized sneakers. It’s cute? But also, whyyyyyyy puppy?! Redmond is the puppy if that wasn’t super clear.

The adults in this book had me so frustrated and confused. Mainly by their odd and somewhat illegal behavior (for future readers, it’ll be what happens to Deep). However this book is so clever in it’s writing. While I won’t claim to be the expert, it has a series of internal and external voices that emerge throughout the plot. Redmond is our main character, driven by motivations that he doesn’t quite realize or won’t admit. However, throughout the book, other voices emerge such as the popular Elodia, Alice, and Mr. Street. Then you have your narrator, which can sound eerily similar to Redmond, perhaps an older version that is telling us the story. Or perhaps an altered version of the Author. Either way, the narrator can be unreliable at times and will purposely mislead you. Or maybe it was just me. The point being is you’ll be able to read the lines between the lines and discover subtle stories that the reader can and will discover. (The sentence makes more sense in my head.) Even the often hilarious asterisks placed throughout the story add an extra mixture to this memorable book. Not to mention the great art! I can easily see why this book has become so popular. Brock Heasley has a great sense of humor that can be lighthearted and dark without bringing the pacing down. It reminded me a bit of Rick Riordan’s talent of writing humor into intense scenes.

So I’ve mentioned the clever writing. Let’s talk about the characters. Each of them are interesting, are flawed, and unbearably realistic teenagers. I wasn’t too keen on teenagers even when I was one. Mainly because they can be mean, erratic, and easily say harsh things without the repercussions. Actually, that’s a complete lie and generalization that doesn’t pertain to an age group. Instead, we have Elodia, who is a popular girl and completely aware of her status and how it affects others. We also have ‘actual’ Elodia, who despite being popular, considers herself to only have one friend. She’s smart and stands up for people. She sees Red’s potential for more and is forgiving despite many things going wrong.

Alice, a girl that immediately recognized the kindness in Redmond but also the flaws. She’s creative and confident in who she is. Except when she isn’t. She’s loyal, even if that means not always standing by her friends. In short, Heasley does a great job writing characters. I was never waiting to get through a scene or to the next chapter. It was great just reading in the moment and having a laugh.

I tend to perceive an overall meaning in a book. It helps tie up my thoughts about it and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. What I took from Paper Bag Mask was forgiveness. Not just forgiveness from people that apologize but the ones that don’t. The people or events that just happen and there’s really no way to make it the way it was. Everything and everyone changes and we can get lost in the shuffle. We can feel we’re alone or invisible. Redmond calls himself invisible in the very beginning and I easily have felt that way as well. It’s forgiving the little things that get to us and can build up over time. Mistakes that we make and are made against us. Maybe not everything has to have a meaning. Not every book. But I enjoyed what Paper Bag Mask offered and I know many other readers will too.



Brock Heasley is a writer and artist who, to the shock of absolutely no one visiting this site, was a member of such prestigious high school organizations as “The Nerd Herd,” “Last Picked for Teams,” and “They Who Eat Alone.” He is a graduate of California State University Fresno, the creator of the online comic The SuperFogeys, and the award-winning filmmaker behind The Shift.

Brock lives with his wife and three daughters in California where they enjoy Pixar movies, dancing in the living room, and eating breakfast for dinner.

  




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12/19 All the Ups and Downs Interview
12/19 Blunt Book Blog Review/Excerpt
12/20 Unbound Book Tours Interview
12/20 Rebecca R. Cahill Guest Post
12/21 Oh Hey! Books. Guest Post


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Covey Jencks: Excerpt and Giveaway

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COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 68 OF
COVEY JENCKS
BY SHELTON WILLIAMS

(JayJay speaking)

Freddie said it best. “Men always leave.” They die. They take off for younger women. They get run out of town. They turn to drink. Best to stay away, keep uninvolved. Black or white, it doesn’t matter. At an early age, I made a pledge to myself: Never again will I get married. Never again will I depend on a man.

So, how did this happen? How did I end up not only loving this guy but trusting his judgment about life and death? All my instincts say to be cautious, protect myself, but all my thoughts turn to how to protect us against killers and racists. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” Shakespeare said. If we die, maybe our story will inspire a play or at least a country and western song.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
 
 
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11/27/18
Review
11/27/18
Excerpt
11/28/18
Audio Review
11/29/18
Guest Post
11/29/18
Playlist
11/30/18
Audio Review
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Author Interview
12/1/18
Character Interview
12/2/18
Review
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12/6/18
Audio Review
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Story Bends Review

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Story Bends
Published October 9th
 
What if your only escape from death was to meet it half way?

 

If the voices called on YOU…

 

Needed YOU…

 

 

Brought YOU in between the Bends of time where all faith is lost to those who wait. Your etchings hold the secrets to guide them on their way. Yet, there will be no safe passage if evil finds you first and you have no toll to pay.

 

 

Soul Bends is one of the most explorative books I’ve read. It reaches beyond normal writing with poetic descriptions that can leave you dizzy. Frequently I would get lost in this book. Not only by the story but by the writing style. It was interesting in many ways. At times, it read like pure poetry. Even the day to day events of Edward were filtered with unusual and quirky words to enjoy.

It follows Edward Story, a boy that is living his second life. That is to say, when unfortunate circumstances as a child meant crossing over, he got a second chance. Except remembering and comprehending are different things. Where Edward drifts between the wakeful and dreaming, consciousness is a mystery. He struggles with the in between, The Bend, that once claimed him. There he meets others lost and trapped in their circumstance, not much different from him. Except he is. He can move from there to here; and with his journal no less. Maybe he is their answer. Maybe they are his.

 

Truly this is a wonderful journey into self discovery and coping with our own broken parts. It is an inspiring read that challenges not just your own perspective but sense of usual reading. This book will frustrate you, delight you, and give you a unique reading experience. Most definitely recommend it to all.

Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of this book!

 

I began making my first connections to story in the early days of my childhood. Raised by my mother who ran an in-home daycare was where my imagination could run free and unencumbered. It was a safe zone and I learned from that experience the power of unconditional love.But my story wasn’t always filled with happy ever afters, and I came to understand that there are some sorrows and trauma that are part of all of us. As love and joy are universal, so is pain and suffering. Through the magic and alchemy of story, we can reach farther and heal our wounds.

I started my teaching career nearly 20 years ago and knew from the moment I began that this was my true calling. Teaching was in my bones and so, naturally was the little nip of my conscience for storytelling. I work to build strong, long-lasting relationships with my students. In fact, I began on this path toward a writing career because of the imprint they’ve had on my spirit. What I didn’t know was what the Muse had in store for me as the children I still come into contact with today continue to inspire the stories I write.
My greatest loves are exploring nature and spending time with family and friends. Whether I’m splashing it up on the local reservoirs, rafting down the Poudre River with my husband, two boys, and our dog Sophie, or shaping young minds in my classroom, I consider myself lucky to call Fort Collins, Colorado my home.

 

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11/12 . A Striking Viper, Caught in a Web Interview
11/12 Book Inspector Guest Post
11/13 . Just Books Excerpt
11/13 . All the Ups and Downs . Interview
11/14 . YA/NA Book Divas . Excerpt
11/14 . Blunt Book Blog . Review
11/15 . The Faerie Review . Audio Excerpt
11/15 . The Page Unbound Review
11/16 . Rebecca Cahill . Guest Post
11/16 . Jennifer Reads . Review
11/16 . The World of My Imagination . Review

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Toxic

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Toxic

By Lydia Kang

Genre: YA Scifi

Release date: November 6th 2018

Entangled Teen

Book Summary

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned—one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive—unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.

 

Purchase links available HERE!

 

About the Author

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.

Author Links 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

A signed copy of TOXIC plus a swag bag, including enamel pin, signed print of a hand painted TOXIC artwork, bookmarks, and signed book plates. Open in US only (a $20 Amazon e-gift card will be substituted for an international winner)

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The Big Inch Review

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THE BIG INCH

Misfits and Millionaires #1

By KIMBERLY FISH

Narrated by Sydney Young

Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance / WWII Spies 

Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing

Date of Publication: August 1, 2018

Length: 10 hours, 22 minutes

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Fans of Pam Jenoff, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Kate Quinn will want to read the first book in a sparkling WWII historical fiction series, The Big Inch. Lane Mercer is a spy recovering from a disastrous mission in France when she’s assigned to protect the interests of the new federal project sending American oil to the Allies. Thrown into the high-stakes world of Texas oilmen, she’s inventing maneuvers on the fly to outwit would be counter-intelligence and Fascist sympathizers. Complicating her mission is a handsome con-artist who manages to be under her feet at the most inopportune times. Trapped between trusting her gut or trusting her informers, Lane has to learn to navigate a town that is laced with more intrigue than she’d ever have guessed, and she soon discovers that the life she might have to save. . .is her own.

Kimberly Fish’s well-researched writing drops readers into the colorful world of the American home front known so well to those who lived alongside the Greatest Generation. Buy The Big Inch today to begin this exciting first novel in a WWII series set in Texas.

PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH: 

“Narrator Makes Book Exciting!” 

 5 Stars Review on Audible

“Kimberly Fish’s writing style snatched me out of my easy chair.” 

— Vickie Phelps, author of Moved, Left No Address

“Kimberly Fish has a gift for combining conflict, emotion, and characterization to create a compelling story.” 

— Louis Gouge, author of Love Inspired Historical Four Star Ranch series

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 Amazon  Audible 

The Big Inch packs a wallop of brilliant lines and inspiring women.

“You think you’re the only one who knows failure? For every three steps we take forward, two are covered in shit. If you can’t handle the unpredictable nature of this work, maybe you don’t need to be in Theo’s agency after all.” – Tesco to Lane

Kimberly Fish broaches upon so many wonderful emotions and topics throughout this book, all while giving us an intricate puzzle of mysteries Lane must enfold. Lane is driven by her guilt, frustration, and dreams she hasn’t fully discovered for herself. The pure and unashamed brilliance of her characters are amazing. I can’t help but think from a writers perspective and how massive this book is. Not all in pages, don’t worry readers. It’s in the mystery, in all of the individual and distinct characters. How their backstory and motivations can shine through in the first bits of dialogue.

The narrator, Sydney Young, helps with this too. Lane’s wit flies off the ‘pages’, especially combined with the narrators exuberant characteristic imagination. She captures each voice with it’s own distinct flavor. Showing us her versatility in the sometimes comically energized characters to the stubborn business men. I have to give her props for bouncing between the twang, the drawl, and the high pitched voice of Minnie all in a span of a few minutes at times.

The skips and breaks moved the story along at an even pace that kept me interested. As both a reader and listener of audiobooks, I connect mainly in the internal struggle of the characters. It’s what has always inspired me to write as well. Lane has plenty of external forces forcing her out of a comfort zone she’s strategically created and putting her in danger a time or two. Inside, she’s a mess. To put it bluntly. It seems like tragedy has become a pervasive shadow that follows her. With the harsh history of her mother, the loss of a husband, and the traumatic events in Paris; Lane is one of the most complicated and interesting characters I’ve read. Her interactions with every character are intriguing and very well written. I’ve mentioned the differences of characters but it really is something I enjoyed. It wasn’t overwhelming to me but simply more and more fascinating to hear from Young’s narration. Suffice to say, I’ve kept this vague as to not spoil the several big and small surprises in this book. I personally couldn’t guess most of them correctly. Which was aggravating because I’m usually very good at that…

The Big Inch had a cinematic quality as well. Lets get going Hulu or Netflix. Chop Chop. I’d like my ‘strong women spy/romance thriller’ yesterday please and thank you.

There’s not many downsides to this book. Especially to a reader that enjoys this genre. While it’s not my first choice, I obviously enjoyed it quite a bit. It had a great sense of balanced writing to keep you entertained. Young also is very talented in narrating and I could hear her potential for improving as well. The only thing that was an issue were the pauses she tended to take. At some points, it was to create tension or the meaning, but others seemed random at times. Still, after a few chapters, it was easy to acclimate to it. This book can be enjoyed in different ways. When I wasn’t able to use headphones, I tended to simply grab the book and start reading. This made it more intriguing as I was able to picture the characters in new ways and also read the action scenes how I like. Young’s narration also brings you steadily through the beginning of the book, which starts a bit slow before picking up. By being able to listen to it, it was easy to remain interested throughout the introductions and buildup.

All in all, this was some well-research and impressive writing. I’d recommend it to those that love mysteries, period dramas, strong women characters, and historical fiction. Or just anyone that likes reading. You know who you are.

Kimberly Fish has been a professional writer in marketing and media for almost 30 years. In the course of research for the Longview Chamber of Commerce 100-year compilation, she stumbled across a 1940s federal works project that was too good, too war-winning, not to be retold to modern audience. In 2017, she released The Big Inch, her first WWII spy thriller detailing the crazy, big pipeline project that fueled the Allies to a win in Europe. The Big Inch has also been released as an audio download on Audible. That eye-opening novel was so consumed by readers, she quickly followed it with a second WWII spy thriller set in Longview, Harmon General. Both of these novels will be helpful to her work with the City of Longview’s 150th birthday celebrations which begin in January of 2020. Comfort Plans, a contemporary novel also set in Texas, continues her love of history by weaving old letters into the renovation of an iconic Hill Country farmhouse. 

Kimberly enjoys speaking on the value of weaving history and nostalgia into our plans as we grow our communities for the future. 

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram║ Goodreads ║

║ Pinterest ║ Amazon Author Page ║  

Sydney Young is a lawyer, award-winning writer and audio book narrator from the Lone Star State. Her next theatrical project will be directing “SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE,” for the Paris Community Theatre stage (Feb. 2019), while her novel “I AM HOUSTON,” is being submitted for publication by the Loiacono Literary Agency. Sydney has long been a reading advocate, including with her readings to an adopted second grade class each year. She loved voicing THE BIG INCH for all of its authentic Texas voices and true characters, all while she learned the history of the East Texas oil effort for World War II.  Visit Sydney’s website for more information on her writings, theatre, and audio books.

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Choice of Audio or Signed Print Copy of The Big Inch
+ $25 Amazon Gift Card + a WWII Themed Surprise Gift!
NOVEMBER 5-12, 2018
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/5/18

Joint Guest Post

Nerd Narration

11/6/18

Audio Book Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

11/7/18

Audio Book Review

Tangled in Text

11/8/18

Narrator Interview

StoreyBook Reviews

11/9/18

Audio Book Review

The Book Review

11/10/18

Audio Book Review

The Page Unbound

11/11/18

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Momma on the Rocks

11/12/18

Audio Book Review

Kelly Well Read

11/12/18

Audio Book Review

Forgotten Winds

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Painless Promo

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Painless
Marty Thornley
Publication date: January 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Horror, Psychological Thriller

 

About the Book

The debut psychological-horror novel from author Marty Thornley is a page-turning ride, a front row seat to a clinical trial gone horribly wrong.

For Greg Owens, this was supposed to be a chance to end years of back pain and escape his reliance on pain pills. If it all worked out, he could maybe even get back the life he left behind as the pills took control.

Instead, as the patients are cured of their physical pain, they encounter a different sort of pain building inside them – obsessive thoughts, depression, self-destruction. The side-effects grow worse, and the suspense ratchets tighter. The patients want answers and violent revenge, setting them on a collision course with a crazed doctor, determined to protect his life’s obsession.

What readers are saying…

“…most definitely a recommended read, though it’s probably not the best choice for those with a weak stomach.”

Gruesome and twisted. Awesome!!!”

“OMG this book. Holy heck the gruesome descriptions of blood and gore and guts was SO RAD. I found myself cringing and fidgeting and yes, even feeling a bit nauseous in some spots – but totally in a GOOD WAY! Painless was exactly what I wanted in a super-unique, creepy, shocking horror-thriller.”

Goodreads / Amazon

Excerpt

Streams of smoke and steam rise into the sky from the burnt underside of a car, wrecked and resting on its roof. The heat of the engine and exhaust distorts the air above, and the metal crackles as it cools in the breeze of early morning.

1965 Cadillac Coupe De Ville. Black. It still has that new-car shine. Even with the wreckage of the crash, it is evident the car was cleaned and cared for. The tires, still spinning, slowly come to a stop.

A small hand reaches from the broken back window. A boy drags himself carefully out of the twisted, broken door. Blood drips from his scalp, down his face and onto his suit—disheveled from the crash but cleaned and ironed just a couple of hours ago.

He stands and, though only seven-years-old, stumbles and braces himself against the car like a drunk who just pulled himself out of his own wreck. For a moment he looks out into the distance.

It is quiet here.

The pine trees lining this lonely stretch of road are swayed by an almost silent wind. Behind the seemingly endless forest, snow-capped mountains stand indifferently.

A woman moans in pain.

The boy moves forward, making his way around the back of the car, bracing himself on the tail light, the license plate, the bumper. He rounds the corner to the driver’s side. A woman’s head and arms hang out of the driver’s window. A pool of blood spreads around her.

“Mama?”

She tries to smile. Blood drips from her lips.

“Does it hurt?”

She reaches for the back of her neck. “I can’t… get it…” Her fingers grasp a shard of metal that has pierced her spine. “Agh!”

The boy moves aside her hair, exposing an angled fragment of chrome window trim—embedded deep in her neck, its bent and twisted length shooting through a ragged and bleeding gash of skin. As his fingers brush against the shiny protrusion, she closes her eyes and clamps her mouth shut—refusing the pain and stifling a scream.

“I… need… you to… pull it…”

The boy tugs. The metal moves.

“AHHHHHHHH!”

The boy hesitates.

“PULL IT!”

He tugs again. The chrome spike slides out of her neck. Blood splashes off the end and splatters his face.

A serene calm washes over Mama’s face.

“Thank you, baby. It doesn’t hurt anymore.”

“It doesn’t?”

Mama smiles. Her hand reaches up, wiping the blood from her son’s face with her thumb.

The boy smiles back.

Mama’s hand goes limp and drops away. Mama’s eyes gloss over.

“Mama?”

Mama is dead.

A drop of crimson pools at the tip of the sharp and twisted chrome, still held tightly in his fingers, finally building the critical mass to drip down into the dirt between his feet.

The boy stares down. Cold and calculating.

About the Author

Marty started writing short stories as a teenager, inspired as much by favorite books and movies as the environment and characters that define the South Shore of Massachusetts. The pull of the movies dragged him first to film school and finally to Los Angeles, where he poked at the outskirts of the industry with screenplays and short films.

As his interest in a film career fizzled, he rebuilt himself bit-by-bit as a programmer. He spent the next decade building websites, finally realizing that something had been lost. His stories were collecting dust in the back of his brain while he sat through conference calls and code reviews.

So he returned to the woods of New England and the calming darkness under the trees. He returned to find the things that crawl in the undergrowth and turn them into words on the page. He dusted off one of his screenplays and turned it into his first novel. In the process, a dormant storyteller was awakened and is now seeking the next blank page to fill.

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