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, November 4, 2019

Book Showcase: THE LOST POWER by Avanti Centrae

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae Banner

VanOps: The Lost Power

by Avanti Centrae

on Tour November 4, 2019 - January 10, 2020



Synopsis:

VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae


Da Vinci Code meets Tomb Raider in this award-winning thriller that #1 NYT's author James Rollins called, "Full of action and suspense."

Spain 1057: During a thunderous battle, the first King of Aragon wrestles Alexander the Great's priceless Egyptian weapon from the Moors, but finds it holds a terrifying and mysterious power.

A thousand years later, on a hushed, fog-shrouded, Napa morning, gunshots and the sound of breaking glass rip through the silence. Maddy Marshall, an app designer and aikido instructor, and her twin brother, Will Argones, an engineer, quickly run toward the sound. Horrified, they discover a sniper's bullet has found its human target.

Before the pool of blood on the living room floor is dry, the twins are sent on an arcane quest to recover Alexander's ancient weapon. Joined by a VanOps covert agent, they soon discover the rifle's sights are now set on them. No place is safe, a wrong move means death, and even a simple phone call is off limits if they are to survive.

From a medieval Spanish castle, they follow a time-worn trail, starting at a secret warren under the streets of Jerusalem. But if the killer finds the weapon first, it will be used to cripple the United States' eye-in-the-sky early warning systems, allowing the Russians to swoop in and prey on the vulnerable nation.

Can Maddy learn to wield the power of the dangerous weapon in time to stop the Russian scheme? Failure means the fragile world peace will be forever shattered…


Critical Praise for VanOps: The Lost Power



"Avanti Centrae's VanOps: The Lost Power opens a tantalizing new series that combines historical mystery and cutting-edge science into a masterwork of international intrigue—with the promise of more to follow. Written with a dynamic, cinematic style and full of action and suspense, here's a book that defines page-turner. Don't miss this riveting debut!"
~ James Rollins, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crucible


"Just a good ole' fashioned rip-roaring adventure from start to finish. Enjoy the ride."
~ Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author


"A high-stakes, daring adventure charged with suspense and mystery!"
~ Ann Charles, USA TODAY bestselling author of the Deadwood Mystery Series


"The writing is superb. Easy to read and captivating. There is a mixture of mystery and action that keeps me turning pages. Readers who like Indiana Jones, or the books by James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn, will enjoy Centrae's first installment in her VanOps series."
~ John Bernstein, Professional Reviewer


Book Details:


Genre: Thriller
Published by: Black Opal Books
Publication Date: November 9th 2019
Number of Pages: 308
ISBN: 1644371960 (ISBN13: 9781644371961)
Series: VanOps #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads



Read an excerpt:




CHAPTER 1



Napa Valley, California, June 25, 8:56 a.m., Present Day

Through the crosshairs of his long-barreled sweetheart, Ivan scanned the wood-casement window of the vineyard's stone-walled residence, and waited for his intended target to walk into view. His movements were slow and meticulous.

Lying in the loft of an old barn, he calculated range, altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and humidity. His skin was irritated by the coarse hay that surrounded him, but he ignored the sensation and focused on his calculations. Click. He made a minor adjustment on his rifle to account for the drop of the round due to air density. And another for windage.

Although misty rivers of fog swirled into gray whirlpools around the winery, the computer-enhanced scope of his Springfield EBR allowed him to visually lock onto the home's large bank of windows. Human movement flickered behind the glass.

He didn't want to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, Ivan waited for the perfect moment, the perfect shot.


CHAPTER 2



8:57 a.m.

As she headed toward her father's vineyard, Maddy drove as fast as she dared down a familiar tree-lined Napa country lane. Today, she didn't recognize the road. It looked eerie and unnatural. The area was draped in sheets of fog from yesterday's unseasonable rain, and the silver half-light gave the trees an ethereal patina.

"Sensei, would you kill someone if you had to?" AJ asked. Surprised, Maddy frowned. "I'm not a sensei yet, remember?" She paused for a moment before she replied to his query.

"Where did that question come from?"

"We were talking about it in the locker room at the dojo after class. We know aikido is about non-violence, but what if you don't have a choice?" His voice dropped to a dramatic whisper. "What if it was kill or be killed?"

Maddy shook her head. The things children thought about. "I would always look for another way."

She glanced over at AJ, glad she'd brought him along today. His ears stuck out and his face was dotted with freckles. She found him adorable.

"Okay. Can martial arts masters light paper on fire with just their hands?"

Maddy halted the car at a stop sign and peered through the swirling patchy-dense fog, trying to get her bearings while she figured out how to answer this question. The mist distorted everything. She turned right.

Without warning, a smothering mass of black rustling feathers flew toward the car. She flinched in her seat and slammed on the car brakes. Her heart pounded. She stopped breathing and scanned the road ahead of her. After a long moment, she realized with chagrin that she had just scared a bunch of ugly, red-faced black turkey vultures into flight by turning onto a new road after a stop sign.

She took a deep breath. It wasn't like her to be so jumpy. She was, after all, shodan, a first-dan black belt. But the sudden movement of wings, obscured through the morning's foggy haze, had pulled her off balance. Maddy gave the car some gas and it inched forward down the road.

Maddy looked over at AJ. "Are you okay?" AJ laughed. "I'm okay. But that scared you!"

"Did not!" Maddy replied, twisting her ponytail.

"Did too—I saw you jump! And you smashed on the brakes."

Maddy grinned for a moment at the childish banter and AJ's creative language. It could be a happy day, in spite of everything. She loved AJ, she and Vincent had even talked about adopting him. Vincent, her former fiancé. Of course, that was before the breakup. Since then, she'd been feeling brittle, and the nightmare last night didn't help. The dream was gut-wrenching. Although the sensation had faded in the dim light of morning, much of it lingered like a bad relationship. That dream was probably why she was on edge and had jumped at the thrashing wings.

She looked at the dash clock—only a few minutes late. Heart still beating faster than normal, she turned down the long shadowy driveway of the once-proud vineyard.


CHAPTER 3


9:02 a.m.

Up in the old barn, Ivan was close to the target, only seventy meters from the glass curtain that separated him from his quarry. Although the misty morning limited his visibility, he felt confident in his ability to execute the task Baron Sokolov had assigned to him.

Ivan recalled much longer-range kills. Two months ago, from a nearby skyscraper, he'd eliminated a traitorous spy during a French soccer match, piercing the man's forehead as directed. His record was just under two thousand meters, one hundred fifty meters shy of the longest recorded sniper kill in history. But he reminded himself to stay vigilant and cautious, traits that had earned him medals as one of Russia's most accurate shooters.

Being watchful was his nature. It was the silver lining of his disorder, congenital analgesia, which made him insensitive to pain. My gift from Mother, he thought.

Ivan wondered where on his body he would mark this job. His left arm was covered in sets of hash marks—scars, where he had marked his kills. He started scarring himself in school to impress the other children, and in time it had become a blood ritual after a task to remind himself to be careful, that he too could die. After this morning, it would be time to add another scar. At one hundred and fifty-five confirmed kills, he had scars on both thighs, both arms, and was running out of room for the marks.

Soon he would catch up to the kills his grandmother had recorded during World War II. After Germany had invaded, she had volunteered for the military and had one hundred and seventy-nine confirmed kills to her credit. Impressive. He remembered how she had taught him to shoot when he was young. She had a fondness for killing rabbits and he could still picture their crimson blood sprayed on the bright Siberian snow. However, patience was her favorite lesson and it had served him well.

A puff of wind tugged at a windmill in the distance, and the melancholy creak of metal scratching metal disturbed the morning silence. He held his breath and listened for any sound to indicate he'd been discovered. There was nothing further, only an unnatural, muted quiet.

Focused on his breathing and the window, he continued to wait for a clean shot.

He was tired of killing, but he had to do his job. This last job. Or his son would die.


CHAPTER 4



9:05 a.m.

Maddy's car hit a pothole on the vineyard's long gravel driveway. It annoyed her that Dad hadn't said what was so urgent, and she'd been too distracted with the breakup to call him back.

As she drew closer to the house, she was irritated to see Will was playing fog-fetch with the dog in the front yard. What is he doing here? Did dad call all the siblings? Bella, too? Will waved, walked toward an obnoxious sky-blue convertible that must be a rental, and opened the trunk.

Maddy parked by Will's car, near the house. She wished Dad would get the place painted. It was overdue and made the house look dilapidated in the gloom. Barking, her dad's middle-aged golden retriever ran up to the car.

"A dog! Can I play with the dog?" AJ asked, true excitement in his voice.

"Sure, just don't head too far into the vineyard," Maddy replied. "His name is Squirrel."

AJ bounded from the car and ran off, chasing the dog through the murky, fog-bound yard.

Will closed the trunk of the Mustang, moved around to the side of the car, and watched AJ and the dog playing. Dressed in his usual style, he wore tan cargo shorts, leather sandals, and a dark-blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt. Ever prepared for disaster, he had a small flashlight hanging from the front of his shorts, and she figured he had a knife in his pocket. He was holding two small travel bags and managed to cradle a book in his hand. Without a doubt, a geeky physics book.

Maddy had avoided prolonged contact with Will since their senior year in high school when he had pulled that awful prank. She had turned her back on him then, and her face flushed with the memory. As she opened her car door, she stood and swung her hair out of her face. Then she shut the door and walked over to him. It was so foggy and quiet, she didn't even hear songbirds.

Maddy tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. "Hello, Will."

After they'd spent time apart, she was always surprised at the strength of their emotional bond. She couldn't believe he was happy to see her—he had no shame! She had felt some connection to her boyfriends, Vincent included—I hate you right now, Vincent—and sometimes to her students at the dojo. But the connection was always strongest with Will, her twin, like it or not. He felt content now. She had almost missed his charm.

Will flashed his irksome, boyish, lopsided grin. "Hey, Maddy, it's good to see you! Did you have a safe drive?"

To meet her, he walked around toward the front of the car. She noted his dark curly hair looked ruffled and a little shorter than the last time she'd seen him. His green eyes looked pinched, as if he were worried about something.

Dad sometimes teased that they all had Spanish olives for eyes, but she enjoyed sharing the feature. She just wished she'd been blessed with Will's long eyelashes, instead of having to create them every day with mascara.

Maddy studied Will's face. She noticed that the scar on his chin was almost hidden by a fashionable new beard that he'd grown since she'd seen him last year at Christmas dinner. The scar was always a painful reminder of the childhood accident that killed their mother.

As he put down the bags, he scratched the beard, casually leaned back against the hood of the Mustang, and crossed his long lanky legs.

She knew protocol called for a hug, and considered it. Rejecting the idea, she also ignored his worrywart question about the safe drive. "Did you leave Maria in Brazil?"

Maddy could tell from his eyes that Will didn't understand her cold shoulder, and she didn't care. He had never made amends for that thoughtless stunt back in high school and she wasn't going to let him off the hook.

"No, I brought her with me," he replied.

Remembering her nightmare, Maddy's gut clenched. She tried to ignore it.

"We've both been working too hard."

Instead, she lashed out, her voice rising more than she intended. "Was that wise? Bringing her? Do you even know what Dad wants?"

Will took a deep breath. "Gee, sis, simmer down. I thought I was the worrier of the family." He met her gaze. "Maria was up for a change of scenery so we planned a romantic wine-country vacation. You know, the train, mud baths, that sort of thing? We might even stop by Safari West. Besides, you brought company." He nodded toward AJ. "Who's the little guy?"

"His name is AJ. He's a foster kid from the dojo and it's his birthday." She watched AJ and the dog play a spontaneous game of tag. "Is that all Dad wants with us? A vacation? He sounded concerned on the message he left me. And didn't mention you'd be here, or Bella. Is she coming? He didn't even say why he wanted me to come, which just seems odd. Did you talk with him?"

"Bella is on her way, but no, we didn't talk before I came up. I hope nothing is wrong. We just got here and haven't had a chance to visit much, but he did mention he had some disconcerting news." He paused. "You feel upset. What are you not telling me? What's the big deal?"

On days like today, Maddy hated that the emotional bond between them worked both ways. She didn't feel like telling him anything, especially about the dream. Irritated, she looked around for a way out of the conversation but didn't see one. The sun was hidden, the vineyard foggy and subdued, like it was holding its breath.

She clenched her teeth and took a deep breath of her own. "I had a dream last night."

Now his tone sharpened a notch. "What kind of dream?"

"A bad one. Maria was in it. I woke up early and it's stuck with me since."

"Tell me," he demanded.

"I don't know…there was blood on her face."

She remembered another dream she had when they were six. The night before their mom died. She knew by the look on his face that he was remembering that dream, too.

"Blood on Maria's face—" he frowned, thinking, questioning.

"Yes, it was horrible. Splattered like a Pollock painting. I don't remember much else. But the feeling is still with me." Her mood picked up a little, having gotten it off her chest. "It's probably nothing. I just wish you hadn't brought her."

"Interesting," he said. "You haven't had one of those dreams in a while, have you? A real one?"

"No," she said. "It's been a few years and the last was about a boyfriend cheating on me. The dream ended that relationship."

Will put his hands on his hips. "How is Vincent?" She grimaced.

Irritated, Maddy turned and headed up the sidewalk toward the house. Will grabbed the bags and his book, and followed her, his feet padding on the concrete.

As they walked, she remembered the lush landscaping that had been here once. It had provided a jumbled, colorful contrast to the acres and acres of straight green vines in the fields. Her father's landscapers, back when he could afford them, had done well in this entry area. She couldn't see it, but she inhaled the light scent of gardenia, and she recognized remnants of some sort of native grass, night-blooming jasmine, pansies, and roses. Vincent had brought her roses only three weeks ago. Bastard.

"I see," Will said. "So…maybe this dream was a reaction to whatever is going on there?"

"Maybe—" she said. "I hope so." Then she added, "Let's go see what Dad wants."


CHAPTER 5



9:15 a.m.

Ivan tugged on the two-stage trigger, testing it. He was used to his Soviet bolt-action SV-98, but in the interest of time and ease of entry into the country, he had purchased a black-market rifle in the  States.  He was pleased with his choice, and glad it had come with a suppressor. The Enhanced Battle Rifle was decent—he tested it out yesterday in an isolated vineyard he found for the purpose. The rifle was a little heavy, but he liked the trigger-shoe modification the prior owner had done, as it gave the pull a more natural feel.

He drew his attention back to the wood-casement window and twice glimpsed the oblivious inhabitant, dancing his way to death. A minute ago, the sound of car tires on gravel had come to him through the fog, so his partner, on lookout, should be reporting in.

On cue, a voice in his head broke the morning stillness, "Green Prius has parked at the front of the house." The sniper appreciated that he could hear his partner's Russian voice clearly through the high-tech device, as he was old enough to remember missions without such advanced technology.

"Driver?" he subvocalized the question, also in Russian, into the tiny molar microphone that had been custom formed to fit his teeth.

"She's female, young, maybe thirty. Slim, with an olive complexion. Has sexy long dark hair in a ponytail, and is tall. Pretty tall for a woman. Rape-bait if you ask me. Dressed in jeans and a snug purple T-shirt," his partner said.

On this job, his partner was here as much to keep an eye on him as to help, Ivan knew. The man's simple mind and cruel nature were evident every time they worked together. The idiot had caused them to run late this morning. This part of the job should have been over an hour ago. Now it was getting complicated.

"That's not what we're here for," Ivan hissed.

"Maybe. If so, you need to take your shot." A few beats later his partner continued, "She was talking to the tall man next to the blue sports car. They look alike. Now they're headed to the front door."

There was a long pause. The sniper adjusted his hold on the rifle, concentrating. He'd read the dossiers on Maddy Marshall and her twin brother, Will Argones. Argones was an engineer, no real threat. But the Marshall woman. A world-class athlete and national ski champion who had been a favorite for Olympic gold, she'd used her lightning-fast reflexes to become a warrior in an unusual martial art. And she was gifted with a keen intelligence. A dangerous combination. In another time and place, he'd have been interested in her as a mate.

He swore. Based on his orders, their arrival meant he had run out of time.

A low whistle pierced his ear.

"Ivan, she's got long legs. You know I like long legs, right? Why don't we stick around and have some fun?"

"You're a pig and the baron was clear in our instructions," the sniper replied, with heat in his tone.

"You're a bore. Oh, she had a kid with her in the car."

"A kid? What kid?" The dossier didn't mention a child! That wasn't part of the deal. I may go down in flames if the baron makes me shoot a kid. This target is one thing but

"How do I know what kid? He looks like he's eight or nine. Red hair, big ears. He's playing with the dog in the vineyard." Ivan hoped the kid and dog were off in a different direction. At home, Ivan's son might be playing with his own dog. But that thought was dangerous. "Just make sure they don't come this way."

His attention back on the window, Ivan finally got a complete look at one of the other inhabitants: a short, dark-skinned woman. She wore a pale pink blouse above a blue skirt and Ivan prayed she would get out of the way. He didn't like killing women. However, he knew that, whether he liked it or not, the latter part of the baron's plan already called for its share of female bloodshed.

The older man, near a black sofa, came into Ivan's sights for a brief moment. It appeared that he and the younger woman were moving into the room with all the windows. Ivan knew it was time.

Ivan was glad now they'd chosen a fast getaway car. "I must focus—go get the car ready."

The older man came completely into view. He was tall, clean-shaven, tan-skinned, with owlish glasses. His receding black hair was streaked with gray, and he wore slacks and a white button-down shirt. Yes, finally.

But the woman was directly behind the target! Move, he willed to her. Please.

This was the best shot he had. Time had run out! He had no choice but to urge her to move at the last minute.

He took a slow, steady breath and tugged again on the two-stage trigger. Only this time, it wasn't a test.


CHAPTER 6



9:20 a.m.

AJ and Squirrel, done with the chase and on to a game of fetch, ran around the side yard, enjoying the grass and the feel of morning in the dense, wet fog. AJ loved all things nature.

Feeling happy today made him miss his parents. He had vague memories of joyful times when they took him to his grandparent's Ukrainian dairy farm. When the Russians came and killed his grandparents, his parents and he had fled to San Francisco. Then, one day, his mom and dad had been caught in the crossfire of a convenience store holdup while stopping for milk. That's what he'd gathered, no one had told him.

Since his parents' death he'd been in foster care, because all of his family back in Ukraine were dead, too. He didn't like his foster family because they ignored him, but he loved Maddy and did whatever his foster creeps asked so that he could go to the dojo. Maddy treated him the way his mom used to, warm and caring.

Today, he was full of pleasure—hanging out with Maddy, getting to chase a dog outside. More than anything, he wanted a real family again. And a dog, just maybe not one named Squirrel. Someday, he'd get a big dog to protect him and name it Rufus, or Damien.

AJ threw a stick and tried out the new name, "Damien, fetch!"

After several minutes of chasing the stick in the side yard, AJ decided they should play a new game in the rows of vines.

"C'mon, Damien," he called as he ran into the shadows, followed by the panting dog.

The morning was blissfully perfect as they ran up and down the rows. Then a loud crack sounded from the direction of the barns, like a tree branch breaking. He called his new canine friend and they headed off to investigate.

***

Excerpt from VanOps: The Lost Power by Avanti Centrae.  Copyright © 2019 by Avanti Centrae. Reproduced with permission from Avanti Centrae. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:


Avanti Centrae

International award-winning author who blends intrigue, history, science, and mystery into nonstop thrillers.

Avanti Centrae is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. An avid world traveler, she's studied aikido, been a river raft guide, and thrives on adventure. Her book, The Lost Power, took home a genre grand prize blue ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. She resides in Northern California with her family and German Shepherds.

Catch Up With Avanti Centrae:



avanticentrae.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!



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Friday, November 1, 2019

2019 Book 325: THE BROMANCE BOOK CLUB by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club, Bromance Book Club #1, by Lyssa Kay Adams 
ISBN: 9781984806093 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781984806109 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593151235 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07NKMZVCT  (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 5, 2019 
Publisher: Berkley Publishing


The first rule of this book club: You don't talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott's marriage is in major-league trouble. He's recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it's the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he's let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville's top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it'll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner-hero and win back the trust of his wife. 





Purchase Links (#CommissionsEarned)  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook 




Gavin and Thea Scott met in college, had a whirlwind romance, got pregnant, and married in less than three months after meeting. They love one another and their twin daughters, but their marriage is floundering and has been for some time. It doesn't help that Gavin was recruited to play professional baseball early in their marriage and was absent during Thea's delivery of the twins, during most of the twin's early development, etc. Now that Gavin has learned that Thea has been "faking" her orgasms for most of their marriage, he does what most red-blooded, alpha-males do, he gets upset with her and leaves the marital bed. When Thea has had enough, she asks for a divorce and for him to leave their home. It is only then that Gavin realizes he's done something monumentally stupid and he's not quite sure how, or even if, he can fix things. Enter his good friends and a few of his teammates, aka the "bromance book club." Their advice to him is read romance fiction and they start him off with a regency romance. Why this particular book? Primarily because the male character is also having difficulties in his marriage and made a monumentally stupid mistake. Gavin must learn how to court his wife, how to flirt with her, how to romance her, and more importantly, what is important to her, how to listen to her, talk to her, and, if necessary, allow her the space she may need and crave. Can Gavin learn the lessons he needs from romantic fiction in time to save his marriage, especially since Thea has only given him six weeks to do so? Can either of them trust their emotions with one another or will they fall back into their bad habits?

Let me start by saying this one thing, grab yourself a copy of The Bromance Book Club ASAP! I loved this book. I read it in one afternoon and only got up when I received a tornado alert on my phone and had to remove some chairs from my mother's front porch (darn you high winds for interfering with my reading!!). I enjoyed the friendship between Gavin and his teammates, not to mention the somewhat antagonistic relationship he has with the "Russian" and Mack (fellow members of the Bromance Book Club). Thea has an important backstory that is gradually revealed throughout the book and no, I'm not going to tell you what it is, read the book. Then there's the antagonistic, mean girl atmosphere between Thea and some of the other team wives. Thea and Gavin have some serious issues and it was interesting to read about how they worked on overcoming them. They are a young couple with small children and seemingly insurmountable problems caused by a lack of communication. Gavin doesn't want to talk about his problems with his male friends or even with Thea. Thea doesn't want to talk about their problems with her sister or with Gavin. They are both receiving kindly advice from friends and family but none of these peole are fully aware of the situation between Thea and Gavin or Thea's backstory. I truly wondered if this couple was ever going to be able to achieve their HEA. If you enjoy reading smart, sassy, steamy romances with a bit of humor and lots of drama then I highly recommend you get a copy of The Bromance Book Club. If you've never read a romance written from the perspective of the male suitor, then again I encourage you to grab a copy of The Bromance Book Club. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series as well as much more from this author in the future.


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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Character Guest Post: BEWARE THE EAST WIND by Barbara Barrett

Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)
by Barbara Barrett


Good day, my fellow book people. I hope you're all enjoying the Fall weather. For those of you in California, I pray that you're safe from the fires. One of the great things about having a book blog, okay one of the many great things about having a book blog, is getting to meet and introduce you to authors and characters straight off the pages from wonderful stories. Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to Marianne Putnam, a retired pharmacist and Mah Jongg enthusiast, as well as the primary character in the Mah Jongg Mysteries by Barbara Barrett including Beware the East Wind. Ladies and gentlemen, I now turn the blog over to Marianne Putnam.




My name is Marianne Putnam. I was a pharmacist until a few years back when I retired and moved to the central Florida town of Serendipity Springs with my husband of over forty years, Beau. We didn't know a soul when we arrived except for our realtor, so I joined a few organizations to meet people, among which was a Mah Jongg group that met weekly at the community center. I'd never played the game in my life, having dismissed it as something little old ladies did. Truth be told, I guess you could call me a "little old lady" too, although I don't see myself like that even though the gray taking over my short red hair gives it the same appearance as that metal they sell in the Black Hills for jewelry, Black Hills Gold? 

Mah Jongg introduced me to many fabulous, interesting women, especially to my three friends—Sydney Bonner, Micki Demetrius and Katrina "Kat" Faulkner. We play weekly, but we also enjoy each other's company shopping, lunching, having coffee, the usual social activities enjoyed by women of a certain age whose retirement status affords them more free time than they ever experienced during their work lives. 

Unlike other women in our same age group—well, anyone else, for that matter—we have also found ourselves in the dubious position of solving a few murders around town. Not that we went looking for cases to investigate. It started with a fellow Mah Jongg player whose husband was killed in the woods near our coffee shop. Fearing she'd be arrested as the most likely suspect, she sought us out to help find her husband's killer before she wound up in jail. None of us had any formal investigative training. But we have developed lots of connections within the community she felt we could tap on the down low to gather intel. 

We were successful in finding the killer that first time but not without help from local law enforcement personnel. Admittedly, it was a thrill for each of us to break out of our day-to-day mold and become amateur sleuths, but that was it, we didn't see it continuing. Then others started to hear about our exploit and began coming to us when they needed similar help. 

Last year, I went through a period when I didn't feel like I was living my senior years to their fullest. Yes, I had Mah Jongg and wonderful friends and numerous social outlets here in town, and Beau and I have two terrific grown sons. Vince, the eldest, is married, has two children and lives in the East. Rob is single and lives on the West Coast. We're proud of all of them but rarely get to see them due to their job constraints. And I also had an occasional murder to solve. But I still wanted something more for me. Something that had nothing to do with pharmaceutical knowledge or dead bodies. 

One day I was flipping through magazines at the library, looking for some new exciting outlet for my imagination and energies, when I ran into a friend who was in need of a last-minute replacement for the table read of her one-act play. No time to rehearse, I read my part cold. Those ten minutes went by in a blur, but when it was over, I was a goner. I signed up for a course immediately and started writing my own one-acts. Since then I've even entered a few in contests around the country. I haven't won any yet, but I've received enough positive feedback to keep creating more. 

With the new focus on one-acts, my life was pretty good. And then one of the other students in my class came to me for help clearing his sister's name. Her partner in their catering service, who was also a hypnotist, one whose act my friends and I had witnessed just days earlier, had been killed, and because his sister had been heard threatening her partner by one of their clients, she feared the sheriff would be arresting her soon. So we took on the case.

This one presented difficult challenges because several key suspects were private hypnosis clients. Our client, who'd been arguing with her partner about breaking out on her own, had taken advantage of her partner's death to break into her computer files to obtain her partner's recipes. In the process, she read through the files of some of her partner's clients, discovering secrets and other information which, if made known, might have been the reason for someone to kill the woman. Sharing this information with us was problematic, but then our challenge was, how did we investigate people we weren't supposed to know about? 

After some difficult confrontations with Beau and Syd's husband Trip, who were concerned for our safety if we continued to investigate, the two of them joined us as we devised plausible ways to go undercover to gather intel with some surprising results. Beau "invented" painful knees in order to speak directly with one of the suspects, an orthopedic surgeon only to discover his knees were truly in need of surgery. The two of us invented this story about wanting to post a crazy video on our so-called blog showing us shampooing a poodle in order to observe another suspect, a dog groomer. That one was memorable, especially since it happened at the same time a hurricane threatened to bear down on central Florida.

You can read about it in the latest tale of our adventures in Barbara Barrett's Beware the East Wind




About Beware the East Wind

Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries)

Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Bowker (August 17, 2019)
Paperback: 254 pages
ISBN-10: 1948532182
ISBN-13: 978-1948532181
Digital ASIN: B07WJ7KYSW



Beware the east wind! It's hurricane season in Florida, and everyone's attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.

Purchase Links

Amazon   B&N


About the Author




Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she'd devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.


Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn't at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, but it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Bamboozled, the second book in her "Mah Jongg Mystery" series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other's lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara's imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.

Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.

Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Author Links

Website – http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-Barrett-Author-1678443865812386/

Twitter – www.twitter.com/bbarrettbooks

Pinterest – pinterest.com/barbarabarrett7

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8181756.Barbara_Barrett

Subscribe Cozy Newsletter   https://www.subscribepage.com/BBCozies


Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) of three (3) digital copies of Beware the East Wind by Barbara Barrett. This giveaway is operated by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and books will be distributed by the tour company at the conclusion of the giveaway period. Void where prohibited by law. All entrants must use the Rafflecopter form below.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

October 24 – I'm All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

October 24 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 25 – I Read What You Write – GUEST POST

October 25 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 26 – Here's How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

October 26 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST

October 27 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

October 27 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews - REVIEW

October 28 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHTS

October 28 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

October 28 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

October 29 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

October 29 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

October 30 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

October 30 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – Island Confidential - SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – The Book Diva's Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 31 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 - A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

November 1 - LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

November 1 - Readeropolis – GUEST POST

November 2 - fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

November 2 - MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT



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Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Showcase: SMOKE SCREEN by Terri Blackstock



Smoke Screen


by Terri Blackstock


on Tour October 28 - November 30, 2019



Synopsis:


Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn't until he's sidelined by an injury that he's forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher's daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate's drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father's conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she's dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he's using lies and his family's money to sway the judge. She's barely hanging on, and she's turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that's threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she'll have to learn to trust him again first.


Book Details:

Genre: Suspense (Christian)
Published by: HarperCollins-Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 0310332591 (ISBN13: 9780310332596)



Read an excerpt:


I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn't bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. "What happened?"

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. "Nate, lie back, man."

"The fire," I said. "Need to get back. My men."

"They're still there. Making progress. But you're not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so."

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. "A month?"

"Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep."

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

"The family. Were they injured?"

"Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you're a hero."
"You know I had no choice. They were in the path—"
"Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don't get that much."
I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn't so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I'd be able to leave the hospital soon. I'd heal.

"I won't need a month," I said.

"Yes, you will. They can't let you go back. Doctor's orders. You're grounded until he releases you."

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn't. "I can't be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don't have enough men as it is."

"Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don't you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy."

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn't know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn't done him any favors.

***


Excerpt taken from Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used with permission by Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.



Terri Blackstock

Author Bio:

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series.


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