Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, October 31, 2016

2016 Book 382: NEWS OF THE WORLD by Paulette Jiles

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062409201 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062409225 (ebook)
ASIN: B01122BZNK (Kindle edition)
Publication date: October 4, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow 

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Finalist for the National Book Award–Fiction

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna's parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act "civilized." Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. 


In the late 1800s, Captain Jefferson Kidd makes a small living riding from town to town reading the news from around the world. Captain Kidd is well known to others that travel from town to town and is for this reason that he asked to escort a German orphan that was abducted by the Kiowa tribe back to her surviving family in San Antonio in Paulette Jiles latest historical fiction novel, News of the World.

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is in his early seventies. He has fought in wars, worked as a printer, and considered himself a devoted husband and father. His wife has died and both daughters are residing in Georgia. The eldest is married with a son and the youngest is a widow living with her sister. A lifelong devotee to the printed word and possessing a great speaking voice, after the Civil War and the loss of his printing business Captain Kidd turns to the only thing he can think of...work as a traveling news reader. His travels take him from town to town and he gathers national and international newspapers as well as stories from the newswires to keep his audience informed of the happenings around the country and the world. Captain Kidd is initially somewhat reluctant to escort Johanna to her family simply because of the differences in their respective ages, but he needs the money and accepts the job. Along the 400 mile trek, Captain Kidd and Johanna learn a lot from each other and bond as they battle the elements, bad guys, crazy guys, political fights, and more. Upon arriving in San Antonio, Captain Kidd will need to make the toughest decision of his life.

I found News of the World to be a fast-paced and riveting read. I enjoyed learning about Captain Kidd's early life especially his military careers. Johanna initially comes across as uncivilized and stoic, but we quickly learn that she may be stoic but is far from uncivilized. She is a smart and highly inventive girl and the perfect companion to Captain Kidd despite their ages. I enjoyed the characters (good and bad), the major and minor storylines, the action, and the settings. Ms. Jiles has crafted an immensely enjoyable story where everything works quite well together to the point where it is hard to imagine anything being omitted. This is the first book I've read by Ms. Jiles, but it will not be the last. I've already checked out one of her previous books from my local library system and am on the waitlist for two others. If you enjoy realistic historical fiction or just want to read something with a gripping storyline, then I highly recommend you grab a copy of News of the World. I'm looking forward to reading more from Ms. Jiles in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes Edelweiss. 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."


Meet the author:

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, TX.


Find out more about Paulette at her website.





Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Showcase: A LIFE FOR A LIFE by Lynda McDaniel

A Life for a Life Tour BannerA


A Life for a Life

A Mystery Novel

by Lynda McDaniel

on Tour October 15 - December 15, 2016





Synopsis:


A Life for a Life by Lynda McDaniel
When a young woman is found dead in the North Carolina mountains, the county sheriff says suicide. Della Kincaid disagrees. A former reporter in Washington, D.C., she knows how to hunt down the real story. But she's now living in Laurel Falls, N.C., creating a new life for herself. Without her usual sources, she turns to an unlikely cast of characters—friends, customers, ex-husband, and forger. With their help, she uncovers how unbridled greed has spawned a series of crimes and sorrows. Along the way, Kincaid discovers what the Appalachian landscape and people mean to her.



Book Details:


Genre: Mystery
Published by: Lynda McDaniel Books
Publication Date: 09/2016
Number of Pages: 337
ISBN: 978-0-9977808-0-2
Series: This is the 1st Book in a new series.

Purchase Links: Amazon or Goodreads



Read an excerpt:



PROLOGUE
SEPTEMBER 2004

My life was saved by a murder. At the time, of course, I didn't understand that. I just knew I was having the best year of my life. Given all the terrible things that happened, I should be ashamed to say it, but that year was a blessing for me.
I'd just turned fifteen when Della Kincaid bought Daddy's store. At first nothing much changed. Daddy was still round a lot, getting odd jobs as a handyman and farming enough to sell what Mama couldn't put by. And we still lived in the house next door, though Mama banned me from going inside the store. She said she didn't want me to be a nuisance, but I think she was jealous of "that woman from Washington, D.C."
So I just sat out front like I always did when Daddy owned it, killing time, chatting with a few friendly customers or other bench-sitters like me. I never wanted to go inside while Daddy had the store, not because he might have asked me to help, but because he thought I couldn't help. Oh sure, I'd go in for a Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper, but, for the most part, I just sat there, reared back with my chair resting against the outside wall, my legs dangling. Just like my life.
I've never forgotten how crazy it all played out. I had forgotten about the two diaries I'd kept that year. I discovered them while cleaning out our home after Mama died in April. (Daddy had passed two year earlier, to the day.) They weren't like a girl’s diary (at least that's what I told myself, when I worried about such things). They were notes I'd imagined a reporter like Della or her ex-husband would make, capturing the times.
I'd already cleaned out most of the house, saving my room for last. I boxed up my hubcaps, picking out my favorites from the ones still hanging on my bedroom walls. (We'd long ago sold the collection in the barn.) I tackled the shelves with all my odd keepsakes: a deer jaw, two dusty geodes, other rocks I'd found that caught my eye, like the heart-shaped reddish one—too good not to keep. When I gathered a shelf-full of books in my arms, I saw the battered shoebox where I'd stashed those diaries tucked behind the books. I sat on my old bed, the plaid spread dusty and faded, untouched in a couple of decades, and started to read. The pages had yellowed, but they stirred up fresh memories, all the same. That's when I called Della (I still looked for any excuse to talk with her), and we arranged a couple of afternoons to go over the diaries together.
We sat at her kitchen table, where she'd placed a pot of tea and a plate of homemade cookies, and talked. And talked. After a time or two recollecting over the diaries, I told Della I wanted to write a book about that year. She agreed. We were both a little surprised that, even after all these years, we didn't have any trouble recalling that spring.
APRIL 1985
CHAPTER 1 ABIT
Four cop cars blocked our driveway.
I thought I might've dreamed it, since I'd fallen asleep on the couch, watching TV. But after I rubbed my eyes, all four cars were still there. Seeing four black-and-whites in a town with only one could throw you.
All I could think was what did I do wrong? I ran through my day real quick-like, and I couldn't come up with anything that would get me more than a backhand from Daddy.
I watched a cop walking in front of the store next door, which we shared a driveway with. As long as I could remember, that store hadn't never had four cars out front at the same time, let alone four cop cars. I stepped outside, quietly closing our front door. The sun was getting low, and I hoped Mama wadnt about to call me to supper.
I headed down our stone steps to see for myself. Our house sat on a hill above the store, which made it close enough that Daddy, when he still owned the store, could run down the steps (twenty of 'em, mossy and slick after a rain) if, say, a customer drove up while he was home having his midday dinner. But of an evening, those same steps seemed to keep people from pestering him to open up, as Daddy put it, "to sell some fool thing they could live without 'til the next morning."
I was just about halfway down when the cop looked my way. "Don't trouble yourself over this, Abit. Nothing to see here." That was Lonnie Parker, the county's deputy sheriff.
"What do you mean nothing to see here? I ain't seen four cop cars all in one place in my whole life."
"You don't need to worry about this."
"I'm not worried," I said. "I'm curious."
"You're curious all right." He turned and spat something dark onto the dirt drive, a mix of tobacco and hate.
That's how it always went. People talked to me like I was an idiot. Okay, I knew that I wadnt as smart as others. Something happened when Mama had me (she was pretty old by then), and I had trouble making my words just right sometimes. But inside, I worked better than most people thought. I used to go to school, but I had trouble keeping up, and that made Daddy feel bad. I wadnt sure if he felt bad for me or him. Anyway, they took me out of school when I was twelve, which meant I spent my days watching TV and hanging out. And being bored. I could read, but it took me a while. The bookmobile swung by every few weeks, and I'd get a new book each time. And I watched the news and stuff like that to try to learn.
I was named after Daddy – Vester Bradshaw Jr. – but everyone called me Abit. I heard the name Abbott mentioned on the TV and asked Mama if that was the same as mine. She said it were different but pronounced about the same. She wouldn't call me that, but Daddy was fine with it. A few year ago, I overheard him explaining how I got that name.
"I didn't want him called the same as me," Daddy told a group of men killing time outside the store. He was a good storyteller, and he was enjoying the attention. "He's a retard. When he come home from the hospital, and people asked how he was doing, I'd tell 'em,'he's a bit slow.' I wanted to just say it outright to cut out all the gossip. I told that story enough that someone started calling him Abit, and it stuck."
Some jerk then asked if my middle name were "Slow," and everybody laughed. That hurt me at the time, but with the choice between Abit and Vester, I reckoned my name weren't so bad, after all. Daddy could have his stupid name.
Anyway, I wadnt going to have Lonnie Parker run me off my own property (or near abouts my property), so I folded my arms and leaned against the rock wall.
I grabbed a long blade of grass and chewed. While I waited, I checked out the hubcaps on the cars—nothing exciting, just the routine sort of government caps. Too bad, 'cause a black-and-white would've looked really cool with Mercury chrome hubcaps. I had one in my collection in the barn back of the house, so I knew what I was talking about.
I heard some loud voices coming from upstairs, the apartment above the store, where Della lived with Jake, some kind of mixed hound who came to live with her when she lived in Washington, D.C. I couldn't imagine what Della had done wrong. She was about the nicest person I'd ever met. I loved Mama, but Della was easier to be round. She just let me be.
Ever since Daddy sold the store, Mama wouldn't let me go inside it anymore. I knew she was jealous of Della. To be honest, I thought a lot of people were jealous a lot of the time and that was why they did so many stupid things. I saw it all the time. Sitting out front of the store most days, I'd hear them gossiping or even making stuff up about people. I bet they said things about me, too, when I wadnt there, off having my dinner or taking a nap.
But lately, something else was going on with Mama. Oncet I turned fifteen year old, she started snooping and worrying. I'd seen something about that on TV, so I knew it was true: People thought that any guy who was kinda slow was a sex maniac. They figured since we weren't one-hundred percent "normal," we walked round with boners all the time and couldn't control ourselves. I couldn't speak for others, but that just weren't true for me. I remembered the first one I got, and it sure surprised me. But I'd done my experimenting, and I knew it wouldn't lead to no harm. Mama had nothin' to worry about, but still, she kept a close eye on me.
Of course, it was true that Della was real nice looking—tall and not skinny or fat. She had a way about her—smart but not stuck up. And her hair was real pretty—kinda curly and reddish gold, cut just below her ears. But she coulda been my mother, for heaven's sake.
After a while, Gregg and the sheriff, along with some other cops, started making their way down Della's steps to their cars.
"Abit, you get on home, son." Sheriff Brower said. "Don't go bothering Ms. Kincaid right now."
"Go to hell, Brower. I don't need your stupid advice." Okay, that was just what I wanted to say; what I really said was, "I don't plan on bothering Della." I used her first name to piss him off; young people were supposed to use grownups' last names. Besides, she'd asked me to call her Della. Then I added, "And I don't bother her. She likes me."
But he was already churning dust in the driveway, speeding onto the road.
CHAPTER 2 DELLA
I heard Jake whimpering as I sank into the couch. I'd closed him in the bedroom while the sheriff and his gang of four were here. Jake kept bringing toys over for them to throw, and I could see how irritated they were getting. I didn't want to give them reason to be more unpleasant than they already were.
"Hi there, boy," I said as I opened the door. "Sorry about that, buddy." He sprang from the room and grabbed his stuffed rabbit. I scratched his ears and threw the toy, then reclaimed the couch. "Why didn't we stay in today, like I wanted?"
Earlier, I'd thought about skipping our usual hike. It was my only day off, and I wanted to read last Sunday's Washington Post. (I was always a week behind since I had to have the papers mailed to me.) But Jake sat by the door and whined softly, and I sensed how cooped up he'd been with all the early spring rains.
Besides, those walks did me more good than Jake. When I first moved to Laurel Falls, the natural world frightened me. Growing up in Washington, D.C., hadn't prepared me for that kind of wild. But gradually, I got more comfortable and started to recognize some of the birds and trees and especially the wildflowers. Something about their delicate beauty made the woods more welcoming. Trilliums, pink lady's slippers, and fringed phacelia beckoned me to, encouraging me to venture deeper.
Of course, it didn't help that my neighbors and customers carried on about the perils of taking long hikes by myself. "You could be murdered," they cried. "At the very least you could be raped," warned Abit's mother, Mildred Bradshaw, normally a quiet, prim woman. "And what about perverts?" she'd add, exasperated that I wasn't listening to her.
Sometimes Mildred's chant "You're so alone out there" nagged at me in a reactive loop as Jake and I walked in the woods. But that was one of the reasons I moved here. I wanted to be alone. I longed to get away from deadlines and noise and people. And memories. Besides, I argued with myself, hadn't I lived safely in D.C. for years? I'd walked dark streets, sat face-to-face with felons, been robbed at gunpoint, but I still went out whenever I wanted, at least before midnight. You couldn't live there and worry too much about crime, be it violent, white-collar, or political; that city would grind to a halt if people thought that way.
As Jake and I wound our way, the bright green tree buds and wildflowers soothed my dark thoughts. I breathed in that intoxicating smell of spring: not one thing in particular, but rather a mix of fragrances floating on soft breezes, signaling winter's retreat. The birds were louder too, chittering and chattering in the warmer temperatures. I was lost in my reverie when Jake stopped so fast I almost tripped over him. He stood still, ears alert.
"What is it, boy?" He looked up at me, then resumed his exploration of rotten squirrels and decaying stumps.
I didn't just love that dog, I admired him. He was unafraid of his surroundings, plowing through tall fields of hay or dense forests without any idea where he was headed, not the least bit perturbed by bugs flying into his eyes or seeds up his nose. He'd just sneeze and keep going.
We walked a while longer and came to a favorite lunch spot. I nestled against a broad beech tree, its smooth bark gentler against my back than the alligator bark of red oak or locust. Jake fixated on a line of ants carrying off remnants from a picnic earlier that day, rooting under leaves and exploring new smells since his last visit. But mostly he slept. In a sunspot, he made a nest thick with leaves, turning round and round until everything was just right.
Jake came to live with me a year and a half ago when a neighbor committed suicide, a few months before I moved south. We both struggled at first, but when we settled here, the past for him seemed forgotten. Sure, he still ran in circles when I brushed against his old leash hanging in the coat closet, but otherwise he was officially a mountain dog. I was the one still working on leaving the past behind.
I'd bought the store on a whim after a week's stay in a log cabin in the Black Mountains. To prolong the trip, I took backroads home. As I drove through Laurel Falls, I spotted the boarded-up store sporting a For Sale sign. I stopped, jotted down the listed phone number, and called. Within a week, I owned it. The store was in shambles, both physically and financially, but something about its bones had appealed to me. And I could afford the extensive remodeling it needed because the asking price was so low.
Back in my D.C. condo, I realized how much I wanted a change in my life. I had no family to miss. I was an only child, and my parents had died in an alcoholic daze when their car wrapped around a tree, not long after I left for college. And all those editors and deadlines, big city hassles, and a failed marriage? I was eager to trade them in for a tiny town and a dilapidated store called Coburn's General Store. (Nobody knew who Coburn was—that was just what it had always been called, though most of the time it was simply Coburn's. Even if I'd renamed it, no one would have used the new name.)
In addition to the store, the deal included an apartment upstairs that, during its ninety-year history, had likely housed more critters than humans, plus a vintage 1950 Ford pickup truck with wraparound rear windows. And a bonus I didn't know about when I signed the papers: a living, breathing griffon to guard me and the store—Abit.
I'd lived there almost a year, and I treasured my days away from the store, especially once it was spring again. Some folks complained that I wasn't open Sundays (blue laws a distant memory, even though they were repealed only a few years earlier), but I couldn't work every day, and I couldn't afford to hire help, except now and again.
While Jake and I sat under that tree, the sun broke through the canopy and warmed my face and shoulders. I watched Jake's muzzle twitch (he was already lost in a dream), and chuckled when he sprang to life at the first crinkle of wax paper. I shooed him away as I unwrapped my lunch. On his way back to his nest, he stopped and stared down the dell, his back hairs spiking into a Mohawk.
"Get over it, boy. I don't need you scaring me as bad as Mildred. Settle down now," I gently scolded as I laid out a chunk of Gruyere I'd whittled the hard edges off, an almost-out-of-date salami, and a sourdough roll I'd rescued from the store. I'd been called a food snob, but these sad leftovers from a struggling store sure couldn't support that claim. Besides, out here the food didn't matter so much. It was all about the pileated woodpecker trumpeting its jungle call or the tiny golden-crowned kinglet flitting from branch to branch. And the falls in the distance, playing its soothing continuo, day and night. These walks kept me sane. The giant trees reminded me I was just a player in a much bigger game, a willing refugee from a crowded, over-planned life.
I crumpled the lunch wrappings, threw Jake a piece of roll, and found a better sunspot. I hadn't closed my eyes for a minute when Jake gave another low growl. He was sitting upright, nose twitching, looking at me for advice.
"Sorry, pal; you started it. I don't hear anything," I told him. He gave another face-saving low growl and put his head back down.
"You crazy old hound." I patted his warm, golden fur. Early on, I wondered what kind of mix he was—maybe some retriever and beagle, bringing his size down to medium. I'd asked the vet to hazard a guess. He wouldn't. Or couldn't. It didn't matter.
I poured myself a cup of hot coffee, white with steamed milk, appreciating the magic of a thermos, even if the contents always tasted vaguely of vegetable soup. That aroma took me back to the woods of my childhood, just two vacant lots really, a few blocks from my home in D.C.'s Cleveland Park. I played there for hours, stocked with sandwiches and a thermos of hot chocolate. I guess that's where I first thought of becoming a reporter; I sat in the cold and wrote up everything that passed by—from birds and salamanders to postmen and high schoolers sneaking out for a smoke.
A deeper growl from Jake pulled me back. As I turned to share his view, I saw a man running toward us. "Dammit, Mildred," I swore, as though the intruder were her fault. The man looked angry, pushing branches out of his way as he came toward us. Jake barked furiously, but I grabbed his collar and held tight.
Even though the scene was unfolding just as my neighbor had warned, I wasn't afraid. Maybe it was the Madras sport shirt, so out of place on a man with a bushy beard and long ponytail. For God's sake, I thought, how could anyone set out in the morning dressed like that and plan to do harm? A hint of a tattoo—a Celtic cross?—peeked below his shirt sleeve, adding to his unlikely appearance.
As he neared, I could see his face wasn't so much angry as pained, drained of color.
"There's some … one," his voice cracked. He put his hands on his thighs and tried to catch his breath. As he did, his graying ponytail fell across his chest.
"What? Who?"
"A body. Somebody over there," he said, pointing toward the creek. "Not far, it's …" he stopped again to breathe.
"Where?"
"I don't know. Cross … creek." He started to run.
"Wait! Don't go!" I shouted, but all I could see was the back of his shirt as he ran away from us. "Hey! At least call for help. There's an emergency call box down that road, at the car park. Call Gregg O'Donnell at the Forest Service. I'll go see if there's anything I can do."
He shouted, "There nothing you can do," as he ran away.
Jake led the way as we crashed through the forest, branches whipping our faces. I felt the creek's icy chill, in defiance of the day's warmth, as I missed the smaller stepping stones and soaked my feet. Why didn't I ask the stranger more details, or have him show me where to find the person? And what did "across the creek" mean in an eleven thousand-acre wilderness area? When I stopped to get my bearings, I began to shiver, my feet numb. Jake stopped with me, sensing the seriousness of our romp in the woods; he even ignored a squirrel.
We were a pack of two, running together, the forest silent except for our heavy breathing and the rustle we made crossing the decaying carpet beneath our feet. Jake barked at something, startling me, but it was just the crack of a branch I'd broken to clear the way. We were both spooked.
I stopped to rest on a fallen tree as Jake ran ahead, then back and to the right. Confused, he stopped and looked at me.
"I don't know which way either, boy." We were just responding to a deep, instinctual urge to help. "You go on, Jake. You'll find it before I will."
And he did.


Author Bio:


Lynda McDaniel
My writing career began more than 30 years ago. Over the years, I've written more than 1,200 articles for major magazines, hundreds of newsletters, and dozens of blogs. I'm proudest of the 15 books I've written, including A Life for a Life. The way I see it, books are to writers what pentathlons are to athletes: Endurance. And I've got it!

My other books include Words at Work, which I wrote straight from my heart, a much-needed response to all the questions and concerns people have about writing today. (It won top honors from the National Best Books Awards.) That same year, I wrote Contemporary Hawai'i Woodworkers: the Wood, the Art, the Aloha, a coffee-table art book featuring 35 artists; it won several awards, too, and sold out quickly. Since then, I've written two Amazon Bestselling Books: How Not to Sound Stupid When You Write and Write Your Book Now! (with Virginia McCullough). In 2015, I wrote Aloha Expressionism by Contemporary Hawai'i Artists featuring 50 more artists living on those beautiful islands.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, but I've lived all over this country—from the Midwest to the Deep South to Appalachia to the Mid-Atlantic to the Pacific Northwest. Whew! I finally settled in Sebastopol, California, a place that reflects the values I learned while living in the mountains of North Carolina, all those years ago.

What's next? I'm busy with the sequel to A Life for a Life so I get to enjoy Abit's, er, I mean V.J.'s company again.


Catch Up with Lynda McDaniel on her 's Website, Twitter, or Facebook.




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Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Showcase: THE TROUTBECK TESTIMONY by Rebecca Tope


The Troutbeck Testimony

by Rebecca Tope

on Tour October 24 - November 23, 2016





Synopsis:



The Troutbeck Testimony by Rebecca Tope


A huge funeral for Windermere's popular resident, Barbara Dodge, is taking place and florist Persimmon 'Simmy' Brown and her new assistant, Bonnie Lawson are busy compiling wreaths in preparation. There's word of a series of sinister dognappings occurring in nearby Troutbeck and whilst taking a walk up Wansfell Pike, Simmy and her father, Russell, stumble on a dog, strangled to death – it's not long before Simmy reluctantly finds herself caught up in a murder investigation…





Book Details:


Genre: Mystery & Detective, Cozy
Published by: Morrow/Witness Impulse
Publication Date: October 2016
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062567468
Series: Persimmon Brown #4

Grab a copy of The Troutbeck Testimony on Amazon ๐Ÿ”—, Barnes & Noble ๐Ÿ”—, & Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads ๐Ÿ”—!




Read an excerpt:



The first anniversary of Persimmon Brown's opening of her florist shop in the Lake District had almost coincided with Easter and an explosion of spring flowers and blossom. Wordsworth's daffodils performed to their greatest strength and pussy willow attracted hosts of honey bees who had failed to notice that they were meant to be in terminal decline. A month later, on the first long weekend in May, walking along a sheltered footpath to the west of Troutbeck, Simmy – officially Ms. Persimmon Brown – could hear an energetic buzzing and murmured 'something something something in the bee-loud glade' to herself. Not Wordsworth, she was sure, but somebody like Yeats or Hardy. She would ask her young friend Ben, who knew everything.
The sun was warm on her shoulders; the light so clear that she could pick out numerous fast-growing lambs on the fells far above the village. Every weekend throughout the coming summer, she promised herself, she would get up at first light and go for an early walk. The anniversary had been a time for resolutions and one of them was to make much better use of the natural delights that surrounded her.
She felt an almost pagan euphoria at the burgeoning landscape, vibrant with flora and fauna at the start of another cycle of life. Her mother would say it was a mark in Christianity's favour that it had been clever enough to superimpose all its biggest rituals onto far more ancient moments in the natural year, with Easter an obvious example.
There was now a bonus Spring Bank Holiday that Simmy was savouring with complete abandonment.
The late morning, with a sunny afternoon still ahead of her, brought feelings of richness and privilege that were almost shameful. But she had earned it, she reminded herself. The winter had been grey and protracted, interspersed with a number of unpleasant adventures. She had been repeatedly drawn into events that demonstrated the darker side of human behaviour, forced to confront far too much reality.
Now that spring had arrived with such a colourful crash, she was determined to shake all that off and concentrate on her flowers.
The plan for the day was to meet her father, Russell Straw, for a long-promised fellside walk after a modest lunch at the Mortal Man. The full walk, along Nanny Lane and up to the summit of Wansfell Pike – and back – was easily four miles in total, with some steep sections of stony path. 'By rights, we should go across to the Troutbeck Tongue at the same time, but that's rather ambitious,' Russell conceded.
'I shall want some fortification first,' Simmy had warned him. 'And if there's the slightest risk of rain, I'm cancelling the whole idea. Neither of us is fit enough to do anything rash.'
There was no suggestion of rain, the sky a uniform blue in every direction. It was, in fact, the most perfect day for very many months and Simmy was duly thankful for it. Her father would bring water, map, and dog. She would provide a camera, mobile phone and two slabs of Kendal mint cake.
The fells above Troutbeck were stark, dramatic and uncaring. There were barely any flowers or trees adorning them, other than the tiny resilient blooms that crouched underfoot. More than happy to accommodate her father's wishes, Simmy nonetheless preferred the softer and more moderated lower levels.
This explained her morning stroll, taking a zigzag route from her house to the hostelry along lanes that had been colonised by humanity, with gardens and houses taking their place in the picture. The bees at least agreed with her. Azaleas and rhododendrons were in bud, reminding her of her startled surprise at the vibrant colours, the year before. Not just the natural purples and pinks, but  brilliant orange, deepest crimson and a wide array of other hues shouted from gardens all over the relatively balmy area around Windermere and Ambleside. Even the wilder reaches of Coniston boasted spectacular displays. Aware that it might be foolish to expend energy on this pre-walk stroll, she nonetheless felt the need to exploit the sunshine and the flamboyant floral displays. It was semi-professional, too – she ought to be apprised of the full range of seasonal blossoms in gardens, in order to echo and embellish them in the offerings she stocked at the shop. Flowers were her business, and any lateral information she could acquire would always come in useful.
Her father was waiting for her at the pub, sitting at an outside table on a lower level, with his dog. She kissed the man and patted the animal. 'Is he going to cope with such a long walk?' she wondered. It was a rather ancient Lakeland terrier, officially named Bertie, but mostly just called 'the dog'. His forebears had failed a purity test, it seemed, and poor Bertie had found himself rejected as breeding stock and consigned to a rescue centre until eventually rescued by kindly Russell Straw.
'Oh yes. And if he doesn't we'll have to carry him.'
'When did you last take him on a jaunt like this?'
'About eighteen months ago. We've been waiting all this time for you.'
'Dad! That's ridiculous.' In spite of herself, she laughed. 'Poor old chap. He won't know what's hit him. His feet will be sore for weeks.'
'Not a bit of it. He spends all his time digging up stones. His feet are as tough as iron. He could easily outwalk both of us. Now let's get on with it. I want to set off by one at the latest.'
That gave them forty-five minutes to eat a hearty pub lunch with beer to wash it down. 'We shouldn’t walk on full stomachs,' Simmy remarked. 'We'll get a stitch.'
'Better than trying to do it empty. We need the food to give us stamina.'
'At least we've got the weather for it. And listen to those birds!' A pair of collared doves cooed at them from an overhead wire, the gentle three-note song a backdrop that Simmy always loved, despite the blatant lack of musical variety. Her habit of feeding garden birds had attracted another pair of doves to her own little patch, a few hundred yards from the pub, and she had grown used to waking to their call, imagining that they were deliberately asking her for some breakfast.
Russell cocked his head. 'They're not native, you know. They're quite recent immigrants. I mean recent. I was about ten years old when the first ones settled here. The BBC put them in a medieval radio play by mistake not long ago. Lots of people wrote in about it.'
'Well, they're very welcome as far as I'm concerned.'
'I agree with you. I also like grey squirrels, even if I get lynched for saying so.'
She laughed again, after a wary glance around. In Troutbeck, the red squirrel was verging on the sacred and the grey accordingly considered devilish. Anyone overhearing Russell was liable to take exception to his views. But nobody at the neighbouring tables was reacting. Nothing could sully her delight at the carefree afternoon ahead with the best of all possible fathers. It took a lot to disturb Russell Straw – but then a lot had happened in recent times, and his daughter had certainly caused him some worry over the winter. His wife was the powerful half in the marriage, leaving him to contented pottering and sporadic researches into local history. They ran a somewhat eccentric bed-and-breakfast business in Windermere, in which Angie Straw broke a lot of rules and earned a lot of profound gratitude in the process. Her reviews on TripAdvisor veered from the horrified to the euphoric, depending on how much individuality her guests could stomach. She was a capricious mixture of old fashioned and hippy, refusing to use guests' first names unless they insisted, and cheerfully producing full breakfasts at ten-thirty, if that's what people wanted.
'Let me just pop to the lav and then we can be off,' Russell said. 'Mind the dog, will you?'
She took the lead attached to Bertie and nodded.
The sun was as high as it was going to get, and the afternoon stretched ahead of them with no sense of urgency. The sky remained an unbroken blue.
The views from the summit of Wansfell Pike would be spectacular. At least two lakes would be visible, and any number of fells on all sides. Russell knew the names of most of the main landmarks, and had a map with which to identify others. Simmy had only a rudimentary and theoretical knowledge of any of it.
Bertie whined and pulled annoyingly. 'He'll be back in a minute,' Simmy told him. 'Don't be silly.' Dogs were generally annoying, to her way of thinking. So dreadfully dependent and needy all the time.  It had come as a surprise when her parents rescued this little specimen, and even more so when Russell developed such a fondness for it. To Simmy's eyes, the animal lacked character, which Russell insisted was a consequence of his harsh life, full of betrayal and confusion. 'He just wants  everything nice and peaceful from here on,' he said.
Which was generally what he got, apart from a never-ending procession of B&B guests, who mostly patted his head and then left him alone.
'You were a long time,' she told him, when her father eventually returned.
'I know.' He was frowning distractedly. 'I overheard something, outside the gents, and I have no idea what to make of it. I kept out of sight for a minute, just in case they didn't like the idea of anyone hearing them.'
'Oh?'
'Two men talking. It sounds a bit wild, I know, but I think they were planning a burglary.'




Author Bio:


Rebecca Tope
Rebecca Tope is the author of four murder mystery series, featuring Den Cooper, Devon police detective, Drew Slocombe, Undertaker; Thea Osborne, house sitter in the Cotswolds and now Persimmon Brown, Lake District florist. She is also a "ghost writer" of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme.



Catch Up with Ms. Tope on rebeccatope.com ๐Ÿ”— or on twitter at @RebeccaTope ๐Ÿ”—.




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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Book Showcase: SKIN OF TATTOOS by Christina Hoag

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Skin of Tattoos

by Christina Hoag

on Tour October 17 - November 24, 2016




Synopsis:


Skin of Tattoos by Christina Hoag
Los Angeles homeboy Magdaleno is paroled from prison after serving time on a gun possession frameup by a rival, Rico, who takes over as gang shotcaller in Mags's absence. Mags promises himself and his Salvadoran immigrant family a fresh start, but he can't find either the decent job or the respect he craves from his parents and his firefighter brother, who look at him as a disappointment. Moreover, Rico, under pressure to earn money to free the Cyco Lokos' jailed top leader and eager to exert his authority over his rival-turned-underling, isn't about to let Mags get out of his reach. Ultimately, Mags's desire for revenge and respect pushes him to make a decision that ensnares him in a world seeded with deceit and betrayal, where the only escape from rules that carry a heavy price for transgression is sacrifice.



Kirkus Review:



Hoag tells the story of a gang member's attempts to flee his life of crime in this debut novel.

After 26 months in prison, 20-year-old Magdaleno "Mags" Argueta knows he can't go back to his previous life as a member of the Cyco Lokos, one of Los Angeles' most notorious Salvadoran street gangs. He's hoping his time served will earn him veteran status, allowing him to walk away without repercussions. Unfortunately, his crew is now under the command of his chief rival, Rico, who's less than sympathetic to his aspirations to go straight. What's more, the only jobs available to a tatted-up ex-con like Mags are demeaning, such as passing out fliers on the sidewalk while dressed as a clown. At home, his family relationships remain strained: his mother sees him as a disappointment, his father as a source of shame, and his fireman brother makes him look irresponsible by comparison. His sister, Lissy, still treats him with affection, but he's heard rumors that she's hooked up with a member of a rival gang. Despite his pledges to stay out of trouble, Mags finds that no one believes he's up to the task. His parole officer tells him, "The life's not going to let you go so easy." As hard as that is to hear, Mags knows that it might be the truth. Hoag is a talented writer, summoning Mags' world on the page with remarkable empathy and detail: "The sidewalks were crammed like a giant flea market—people selling jeans, pots and pans, plastic bags of mango slices….Everything looked familiar and strange at the same time, old and new, I belonged and I didn't." Despite a story that feels a bit well-trod, none of the characters seem hastily constructed or come off as clichรฉs. Their pressures and motivations are clearly stated and genuinely felt, and readers will quickly become invested in Mags and his confrontation with an uncertain future. A sense of melodrama flares toward the end as events start to feel less realistic and a little more heightened and Hollywood-ish. But the overall experience is surprisingly nuanced and wholly enjoyable.

A well-crafted, engaging novel about an ex-con trying to break free.



Book Details:


Genre: Literary Crime
Published by: Martin Brown Publishing
Publication Date: September 2016
Number of Pages: 267
ISBN: 9871937070663

Get Your Copy of Skin of Tattoos on Amazon ⇗,  Barnes & Noble ⇗, & add it to your Goodreads ⇗ list.




Read an excerpt:

[Profane language alert]


"Ay yo, homes!" A familiar voice sliced through the bustle. "Mags!"
I twirled faster than a ballet dancer, my stomach clenching. Fuck. It was him. Rico. Slashing across the street aiming the shopping bag in his hand at me. His baggy shorts slung so low the waistband of his boxers showed. Socks, white as fluorescent light, pulled neatly to his knees. Ink flowing out of the arms and neck of his plaid shirt. Exactly how he looked the last time I saw him.
The memory of that day bore down on me. We were kicking it at a street corner, and Rico was bragging about how he shot a trey-eight into the ceiling of a liquor store he was jacking, and the storeowner pissed his pants. As he was talking, he took the .38 out of his waistband in a live re-enactment, and I just had to take the piece, feeling its cold weight in my hand for just a second or two before handing it back to Rico. That second or two cost me twenty-six months of my freedom.
When Tweety yelled "five-o," Rico took off like an Olympic sprinter. I never even saw him throw down the cuete. I had no reason to run. As Morales was giving me his routine hassle, he kicked the edge of a bush behind me. Then he crouched down. When he straightened, he was dangling the piece with a pen hooked through its trigger guard. He busted me on possession of a firearm. It got worse. They matched the cuete to the robbery, and my fucking prints were the only clear ones on it. I had no alibi. The fact was, I was doing a drop with Chivas to the big jefe that night.
Lissy signed a statement saying I was watching TV with her at home that night, but nobody believed her, seeing as she had said that before when I got busted. I couldn't drop Rico's name or I'd have a green light on me as a snitch. My P.D. told me to take the D.A.'s deal even though the storeowner couldn't positively identify me in a lineup. I took the hit for possession, and they dropped the robbery, as well as the ADW charge, which they tacked on since "I" waved the piece around and shot it during the robbery. Like I would ever pull such a dumbass move.
Rico threw his arm around me. A thick gold chain shone around his neck. I had a cord with an orange arrow slung around mine.
"Ese." My voice had as much life as a three-day-old soda.
I never knew if he dropped that thirty-eight by accident, as he said, or if he saw his chance to set me up. I kinda figured the latter. Someday, somehow, I'd get him to admit the truth to me.
"I thought that was you. But I said to myself, 'Mags, in that fuckin pendejada? Couldn't be.' But I looked again and *simรณn,* it was. Whatup with this shit?" He flicked the red nose ball. I caught his wrist in midair and stared him down in his swamp eyes. "Easy, fool," he said.
I dropped his wrist. "Just making a few bones."
"I heard you was back. We been waiting for you at the garaje, but you ain't showed up." Rico drilled my eyes. "You avoiding your homies or what?"
The ball was itching my nose like an oversized mosquito bite. "I got parole and all that. I just wanted to get set up first."
"I figured you needed a couple days to get readjusted, get some pussy." He shook his head. "But damn, this shit?" He shook his head. "You ready to get crazy again?"
"Keeping it lo pro, Rico."
Rico studied me. I suddenly glimpsed myself in his eyes—I had become a small brown man.




Author Bio:


Christina Hoag
Christina Hoag is a novelist in Los Angeles. She is the author of Girl on the Brink (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016,) a YA romantic thriller about an abusive relationship, and Skin of Tattoos (Martin Brown Publishing, August 2016), a literary thriller about the gang world.

She also co-authored Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014).

A former staff writer for The Miami Herald and The Associated Press in Los Angeles, she was also a correspondent in Latin America, where she reported from 14 countries on issues such as the rise of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Colombian guerrillas, Guatemalan human rights, Salvadoran gangs, Nicaraguan landmine victims, and Mexican protests, for Time, Business Week, Financial Times, Houston Chronicle, the New York Times, and other publications.

She has had numerous short stories, poems and creative nonfiction published in literary magazines and journals, Her short story "My Mother's Knives" was included in a horror story anthology, And Now the Nightmare Begins (Bear Manor Media, 2009) and her literary short story "Life Stories" is forthcoming in the anthology 100 Voices (Centum Press, 2016).

Catch up with Christina on her Website ⇗, Twitter ⇗, or on Christina Hoag's Facebook ⇗.




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Giveaway:


This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Christina Hoag. There will  1 winner of a $15 Amazon.com gift card & 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Skin of Tattoos by Christina Hoag. The giveaway begins on October 15th and runs through November 27th, 2016.

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Book Showcase: SAMANTHA by Andrea Kane

Samantha by Andrea Kane Tour Banner

Samantha

by Andrea Kane
on Tour October 2016


Samantha by Andrea Kane
Book Details

Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Number of Pages: ~418
Series: Book 2 in "Barrett Family Series" (You won't want to miss Book 1, My Heart's Desire, either!)


Don't Miss Your Chance to Read Samantha! You can purchase your own copy at Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, AND add it to your reading list on Goodreads!





Synopsis:


Lady Samantha Barrett wondered if her imaginary hero would ever become real. Of course, he must be devastatingly handsome and just a bit dangerous. Now, her coach is filled with a collection of Gothic novels and her head with romantic notions as she eagerly leaves her brother’s country estate for her first London season. Still unsophisticated and too innocent by far, Samantha is ill-prepared for the hypocrisy of the ton or for the formidable stranger who crosses her path—a stranger she is sure must be the man of her dreams…
Remington Worth, the Earl of Gresham, is reputed to be anything but a hero. He is, however, intrigued by the fresh, young Lady Samantha. At sea, Remington had been a brilliant captain. To help save his country, he has accepted the Crown's commission to become the most deadly and loyal covert agent, posing as a notorious womanizer and blackmailer. His latest mission is to investigate the mysterious disappearances of England's prized merchant vessels. With an iron will, he will allow no one to get in his way or touch his heart—until Samantha.


Read an excerpt:



In walked the man of her dreams.
Samantha stared, transfixed, as the vision stepped directly from the pages of her latest gothic romance into the noisy, smoke-filled tavern.
He had arrived... her long-awaited hero.
It mattered not that he was a total stranger to her... nor that he patronized so seedy an establishment as this... nor that he pointedly displayed an ominous-looking knife handle from the top of one muddied Hessian boot. All that mattered was his towering height, his thick black hair, his uncompromising jaw, his piercing gray eyes. And that dimple... it was just where she'd always known it would be; in his left cheek. It flashed briefly as he nodded a greeting to someone, then vanished into the taut lines of his face.
Yes, it was irrefutably he... the hero of all her fantasies.
Breathless and eager, Samantha watched as he carelessly swung off his great coat, shaking rivulets of rain from it with swift, purposeful strokes. Simultaneously, he surveyed the room, his cool gaze taking in the shoddy furnishings and seedy occupants in one enveloping glance.
He moved forward, commanding and sure, coming closer to where Sammy sat... close enough so she could see the drops of water glistening in his raven-black hair, causing the ends to curl a bit at the nape. He seemed to be looking for someone.
Instead, he found her.
Dark brows raised, not with instantaneous, adoring surrender, but with decided, disapproving surprise.
Without hesitating, Sammy flashed him a smile, drinking in his splendid, chiseled features and exciting, leashed power. He was just as she had imagined him... no, better.
Her heart tightened in her chest as he approached her.
"What despicable cad deserted you here, little one?"
"Pardon me?" Sammy blinked in confusion.
With apparent disgust, her hero scanned the room. "You needn't feel ashamed. Just tell me what unscrupulous blackguard accompanied you to such a place, then abandoned you."
"Oh, nothing like that, sir." Sammy assured him brightly. "Actually, it was I who spotted this establishment from my carriage window and chose to stop here. Given the circumstances, it seemed the best place..."
"The best place... to what?" He looked censuring now, his gray eyes chilling, stormier than the skies that heralded tonight's downpour. "Is this your idea of an evening adventure? If so, you've either lost your way or your mind! Tell me, have you looked about you? I seriously doubt that you have, else you would have bolted. And, thankfully, it seems that these low-lifes have yet to spot you as prey. Had they done so, I assure you that your elegant gown would have long since been tossed up over your foolish, beautiful head!"
Sammy sucked in her breath. This wasn't at all the way she'd envisioned their first meeting.
Following her hero's icy, pointed gaze, she surveyed the dimly lit tavern, trying to see what was upsetting him so. True, the tables were a bit shabby, even broken in spots, and the pungent smell of gin... mixed with some other, unrecognizable foul odor... permeated the room. And, she had to admit, the occupants of the tavern did need to shave... as well as to bathe. Still, they'd shown no signs of harming or even approaching her; so why was her hero hinting at violence?

"I don't know what you mean, sir," she confessed, bewildered. "Despite their rather coarse attire and unpolished manners, the gentlemen here have made no improper advances toward me. They are merely enjoying their spirits and each other's company."
The stranger gaped in utter disbelief.
"Gentlemen?" he managed. Leaning forward, he lowered his voice to a muffled hiss. "Sheltered innocent, what you see are pickpockets, highwaymen and drunks... and an occasional murderer or two." He straightened, emphatic and fierce. "This is Boydry's... as unsavory a pub as they come... not the bloody Clarendon Hotel!"
"Really?" Samantha was finding it very difficult to share the intensity of his tirade. She was too busy drowning in the hypnotic spell of his towering presence. And, after all, he was only trying to protect her... the foremost duty of a true hero.
"If such is the case, then why are you here?" she asked, half-tempted to stroke the hard, uncompromising line of his jaw. "You don't appear unsavory to me."
His dimple flickered in response. "Don't I? That is only because you don't know me."
"No... but I'd like to."
He blinked. "You'd like to..."
"Oh yes. Don't you see?" Sammy leaned forward, making an animated sweep with her hands. "It's as if Mrs. Radcliffe had penned it; a young woman alone... darkness... danger." A pause. "Of course I would have preferred a castle turret to a tavern..." she gave a philosophical shrug, "... nevertheless, you've arrived... and you're exactly as I pictured you."
"You have lost your mind," he muttered.




Author Bio:


Andrea KaneAndrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including thirteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles.

With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane's beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart's Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She's an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she's either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Connect With Ms. Kane on Facebook, Twitter, & her website.





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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Andrea Kane and Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) eBook copy of Samantha by Andrea Kane. The giveaway begins on September 28th and runs through November 3rd, 2016.

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