Posted in Spotlight, Thriller on February 18, 2017

Synopsis

Sarah Appleton has been kidnapped from her university campus in Cambridge, England. When she escapes, killing her abductor, she sets in motion a chain of events that has repercussions all across the world. Sarah and her father, Martin Appleton, flee the Russian mafia, from whom Martin stole twenty million dollars in bearer bonds, leaving authorities to unravel the threat of a terrorist plot using biological weapons of mass destruction stolen from a Russian lab and sold to Middle Eastern extremists. As the authorities scramble to unravel the scant clues left by people who make few mistakes, terrorists gear up for an attack that will leave millions of innocent people dead and the governments of several Middle Eastern nations in chaos.

About the Author

At the end of 2016 my first novel, ‘Disciples of Death,’ a terrorist thriller set in the Middle East, is being published by Black Opal Books in America. I’m currently writing my second thriller about the hunt for a British serial killer, called, ‘Soulmates.’ My second book has a main character, Detective Inspector Sarah Machin, who is also the main character in two follow up books I have planned, ‘Bailey’s Land’ and ‘Camden Town.’ I have only been drawn to theatre work recently, having a short play, ‘The Clearing,’ produced by Whoop ‘n’ Wail, at their event at the Waterloo East Theatre, April, 2015.

I’m also working on a few short 10 minute plays to enter in various short play competitions. My longer work consists of a play, ‘Death of the Slasher,’ about a 1950’s serial killer, in prison awaiting execution for his crimes. In his cell he is visited by the ghost of one of his victims. While he awaits the hangman’s noose he contemplates with the ghost his crimes and what made him do what he did.

Being a home carer for my disabled girlfriend, I try to pack in as much writing as I can between care duties, because I find writing, especially for theatre, opens up a whole world of possibility. I’m 52 years old, and my main ambition for my writing is to try and improve and become the best writer I can.

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Posted in excerpt, Thriller, Trailer on February 12, 2017

Synopsis

THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV is a crime thriller/love story, but more importantly it is also a story of loss and the range of human emotions that a person goes through following it. The orphaned niece of a Russian gangster/international spy and arms dealer must solve the mystery of her uncle’s killer. She teams up with the son of a millionaire who has his own set of demons from the past.

* A couple of chapters in the beginning of the book are situated in Russia while most of the other scenes take place in India.

Excerpt

He stood there watching him, smoking a cigarette, silently waiting.

“Where is my money?” he asked. He spoke softly, as if scolding a child for his misbehaviour, trying not to come across as too harsh.

“I swear to you, I didn’t take it. I would never betray you,” the man sitting across from him replied. He was tied to a chair, unable to move, the rope cutting into his wrists.

He took two steps forward, towering over the man in the chair, well within his personal space. He smacked him hard across the face. The man and the chair were both knocked to the floor. He caught hold of his collar and pulled the chair with him still in it back onto its feet. He took two steps back.

“Now, shall we do this again?”

Trailer

About the Author

Shitij Sharma is a nineteen year old budding author from India.He is the author of the book – THE GIRL FROM ROSTOV. He believes that he can successfully explain the world’s current situation in this one paragraph

‘This world was a strange place to live in. It was disorderly and chaotic. Therefore, we had to find our way through this labyrinth of human emotions and actions to arrive at a place where there was some resemblance to order, order in the form of disorderly governments and a moral compass that does not always point north.’

He currently resides in New Delhi, India. He spends most of his time writing his second novel which he hopes to complete before this year is out.

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Posted in excerpt, Spotlight, Thriller on February 10, 2017

Title: Initiated to Kill

Author : Sharlene Almond

Genre: Historical/21st century psychological thriller

Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press and Start Publishing

Synopsis

Two men from different generations, both initiated into a powerful organisation that throughout history has sought control and uses their power for destruction. They leave behind a wake of murder, manipulation and ancient secrets.

The first man stalks women of the night in the Whitechapel district of London, England in the 19th century. While the other stalks his victims in the cosmopolitan city of Seville, Spain in the 21st century; knowing that only he could uncover the true motives of one of the world’s most infamous serial killers – Jack the Ripper.

Annabella Cordova quickly becomes embroiled in the conspiracy involving the university she studies at. When her roommate goes missing, it becomes very personal. Her past gradually unveils, as she is closer to this than she could have possibly imagined.
A childhood accident causing permanent deafness enables Annabella to use her other senses to read facial and body language; detecting lies in people, including suspects.

Andres Valero, the troubled detective, returns from forced leave, only to be faced with horrific crimes that brings his memories to the surface.

The novel continuously takes the reader back in time to the 19th century; creating a psychological profile of the man that wanders the London streets, his paintings depicting crimes only seen by a killer’s eyes. And a boy that’s continuously tormented by his own sadistic tendencies.

With Annabella and Andres combined, they must stop this person at any cost, and reveal a conspiracy hidden for centuries.

Excerpt

Prologue

January, 1888

The solemn lodge hid from unworthy eyes, an unnoticeable forgotten place made of granite. Two Sphinx- like granite lions with women’s heads peered down from the entrance of the lodge. An “ankh” adorned the lion’s neck, entwined with a cobra. An image of a woman embellished the neck and breast of the other lion, speaking of fertility and procreation.

Fervent men slowly make their way up the three levels of narrowing steps, passing under the two Egyptian swords with curved serpentine blades, passing through the two tall bronze doors.

One man glanced up as he ascended the steps, silently mouthing, “the temple of the Supreme Council Freemasons,” made of brass letters and set in stone. His gaze fell to the plaque cut in stone, “Freemasonry Builds Its Temples in the Hearts of Men and Among Nations.”

Stone columns extend high above the entrance and partially conceal an image of an Egyptian god, backed with radiating sun and flanked by six large golden snakes. He stepped past the threshold of the lodge entirely made of marble, exotic wood, and statues carved from gold.

The ofting room decorated with many symbols, especially the serpent, and portraits of famous and influential men, lined the walls. Illuminations flickered above the men, resembling stars in the dark blue sky; the golden serpents silently watching in the blue heavens.

Slowly removing his clothes, wrapping the long black

robe around him, placing a hood over his head to partially conceal his face.

In the recesses of the ancient temple, an ornately decorated room filled with candles, lighted the way for the men filing in. Dressed in long black robes, hands pressed solemnly together, slowly the row of men trudge into the Temple room. Each with their face down, they instinctively form a large circle in the room.

The room fell with a deathly silence; abruptly three knocks reverberated throughout the room. The Worshipful Master spoke, “You will admit him in the name of the Grand Architect of the Universe, and let him be placed in the West.”

Gradually the door creaks open, a young man enters with a black robe and the left knee and breast exposed. The young man’s face is covered by a dark cloth and led around the circle by a rope around his neck. The candidate is led to the oath of secrecy where the Worshipful Master stands. A sword is pricked to the candidate’s left breast.

“As this is a prick to the flesh at this time, so may the remembrance of it be to your conscience hereafter, should you ever attempt improperly to reveal any of the secrets with which you are about to be entrusted.”

The group silently watch as the candidate is instructed to kneel with his left knee bare and bent, his right foot forming a square and the body being erect in that square. The left hand supports the Volume of the Sacred Law, compass and square and right hand placed thereon.

“‘Vouch safe Thine Aid, Almighty Father, Grand Architect of the Universe, to this our present conviction. Grant that this Candidate for Masonry, now kneeling before thee, may dedicate and devote his life to thy Service, and become a true and faithful Brother amongst us. To this end endue him with such a competency of thy Divine Wisdom, that assisted by the secrets of our Royal Masonic Art, he may be better enabled to display the beauties of true godliness to the Honour and glory of Thy Most Holy Name.’ ”

“‘I do most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea at low water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows in twenty- four hours…should I ever knowingly or willingly violate this my solemn oath or obligation as an Entered Apprentice Mason. So help me God.’ ”

The young man is then presented with white gloves and escorted to the pedestal in the East to become an Entered Apprentice.

Throughout the ceremony another waited expectedly. Another man would join them, and this man would be the one. He had done a lot to encourage them to allow this man to be initiated.

But he could never have foretold the events to come.

*** *

A candlelit chamber houses a secret meeting where four men sit around a table, each wearing the long black robes and only talking above a whisper.

“The time has come to make our stand and proclaim to our Brothers that it’s time. It’s our time to cause such a panic, that people will not know whom to turn to. That the reliance on religion and government will pass. It’s our time to take control, and whoever does not stand behind us will

fall.”“Yes, we must give a sign to our Brothers that can only be recognized by them, something that will forever change the world.”

About the Author

I’m an author and student living in Auckland, New Zealand. I’ve studied in a wide range of subjects; however, chose to concentrate on courses designed to learn more about the human psyche.

Having studied in Criminology and Neuro Linguistic programming; in addition to completing a diploma course in body language, enables me to give an authentic feel to my characters, and the crimes committed. Because I’ve always been fascinated with human psychology, especially criminal psychology, I always include that element in every book I write.

I’m also a student studying Naturopathy Nutrition, and Body Language. Although I love writing, I am hoping to eventually start up my own business as a Complementary Health Therapist from home.

I have recently published a New Zealand travel E-book – Journey in Little Paradise, to inform travellers of what to expect when they come to New Zealand.

As an author of historical/21st century psychological, international thrillers, my books challenge readers to think beyond what they believe, as well as taking the reader on a journey throughout Europe and abroad.

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, mystery, Review, Thriller on January 23, 2017

Synopsis

After a murdered partner, a cheating wife and a lost job in Houston, Nick Sibelius sets up a private investigation business in a small Texas town hoping to find some peace and maybe, himself. When two lovers disappear and a fisherman turns up dead, he finds himself drawn into a web of crime and deceit involving MaryLou, a beautiful woman with a mysterious past; Junior, a failed farmer whose best intentions seem to always result in a dead body; and Barry, a sociopathic dentist turned illegal toxic waste entrepreneur with a violent right wing agenda. When the felon who killed Nick’s partner in Houston joins forces with Barry, Nick must not only stop the toxic waste dumping while finding his client’s missing daughter, but keep from being killed in the process. In the end, MaryLou’s dark secret will either save him or kill him — whichever comes first.

Review

Not only is this a crime thriller (I don’t think I can call it a mystery because you know what is going on and there isn’t really anything to solve) but it is quite funny too.  The cast of characters is very quirky but they all meld together nicely to make this a very enjoyable story.

I don’t even know where to start with this cast of characters. Nick is the PI that is searching for a preacher’s daughter that he swears was taken by a man….however, I think the preacher can’t accept his daughter dating!  Nick has his own past that has shaped him to be who he is today and he is pretty gutsy but that might be his former police training kicking in during the various incidents.  Junior is something of a redneck that has gotten into some precarious situations all because of money.  Just shows that if you don’t want to work for a living and make a quick buck it isn’t going to pretty or even legal!  Al/Alice is Nick’s office manager and he/she is quite a hoot.  I say he/she because Al wants to become Alice but not quite sure where in the process he/she is, but Nick is good and refers to Alice as a she.  I never knew what to expect and thought it was funny that he/she hit on Nick.  And then there is a love interest for Nick, MaryLou a journalist from Houston.  It is instant chemistry.

This author has hit on a great combination of action and humor and I’m not sure if I have read anything like this, but he has a fan of his work now!  Definitely pick it up if you are looking for something new to read that will keep you on the edge of your seat and laughing at the same time.

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Richard Hacker has been writing most of his life, and professionally, in support of his work in management consulting, public speaking and training in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. In 2009 he moved, along with his wife, from Austin to Seattle, shifting his professional focus from business consulting to writing fiction full time. Wanted by authorities for smuggling Texas BBQ across state lines, he now writes and lives in Seattle. His writing has been recognized by the Writer’s League of Texas and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. As a judge in literary contests such as PNWA and ChicLit, he enjoys the opportunity to give writers honest critique to move their craft forward. In addition, he is the science fiction and fantasy editor for the Del Sol Review, an online literary magazine.

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Posted in excerpt, suspense, Thriller on January 1, 2017

Synopsis

A man serves on a jury for the trial of a murder that he committed.

Peter Robertson, 33, discovers his wife is cheating on him. Following her suspected boyfriend one night, he erupts into a rage, beats him and leaves him to die – or so he thought. Soon he discovers that he has killed the wrong man – a perfect stranger.

Six months later, impaneled on a jury, he realizes he realizes that the murder being tried is the one he committed. After wrestling with his conscience, he works hard to convince the jury to acquit the accused man. But the prosecution’s case is strong as the accused man had both motive and opportunity to commit the murder. As the pressure builds, Peter begins to slip up and reveal things that only the murderer would know – and Christine, a pretty and intelligent alternate juror, suspects something is amiss.

Meanwhile, Peter’s wife leaves him, his mother suffers a series of debilitating strokes, and his best friend and employee, accused of sexual harassment, needs Peter’s help that he’s too preoccupied to give. As jurors one by one declare their intention to convict, Peter’s conscience eats away at him and he careens toward nervous breakdown, revealing details about the crime that had not been disclosed in court.

“Lying in Judgment” is a 95,000-word story about a good man’s search for redemption for his one unfortunate mistake, pitted against society’s search for justice.

Excerpt

Two hours late.

Peter checked his voice mail. No messages from Marcia.  After eight years of marriage, he should know better, but hell. Hope springs eternal.

So much for surprising her with dinner and flowers tonight.

He rested his elbows on the dining table, careful not to disturb the place settings – his on the end, hers around the corner, close enough so their legs could touch during dinner. For the third time ever, he’d broken out the good Waterford china and hand-polished the silver – even the little salad forks neither of them ever used. The crystal wine glasses and tumblers. Good cloth napkins that matched the tablecloth. A big deal for her, God knows why.

For grins, he leaned his full weight, 190-ish pounds, onto the table. It didn’t wiggle in the slightest. Good, good. While Marcia worked long hours to build her career, he’d spent countless evenings and weekends building this beast – cutting, sanding, gluing, and finishing hundreds of dollars worth of select cherry. As lumber manager at Stark’s Building Supply, he could hand-pick the very best pieces from his suppliers’ stocks, all at wholesale price. That was his second-favorite perk of the job. Number one was taking the occasional afternoon off to turn it into beautiful furniture, cabinets, and picture frames for his wife’s art.

But too often lately he’d been enjoying his creations all alone.

He speed dialed her. Two rings, then voicemail. “Hi, you’ve reached Marcia Robertson, Vice President for Business Development at Metro Dental. I’m sorry I missed your–”

He punched the pound key to bypass the greeting. “It’s me again. Did you have plans I didn’t know about tonight? Oh, wait a sec.” The rays of the September sunset reflected off the hood of her charcoal Ford Explorer easing into the driveway. He hung up, opened a chilled bottle of Pinot Blanc, and lowered the dimmer over the dining table. He lit the tall scented candles and slid them apart so they wouldn’t singe the
arrangement of fresh lilacs and wild African daisies – her favorites.

She entered the front door moments later, cell phone stuck to her ear. Her oversized handbag dangled from her other shoulder. “Sure, I can make the seven a.m. if you can reschedule the finance briefing with Marwick to Friday. (Hi, hon.) What? No, I was talking to my husband. I’m just getting home.” She gave him a quick wave and pointed to the phone. “Sylvia,” she mouthed – her secretary.

“I’ve been waiting–”

She held one finger to her lips and turned away. He tapped her arm. She extended her hand behind her, and he slid a glass of Pinot between her fingers. “Thank you,” she mouthed over her shoulder, and drained the drink in one gulp.

“Sylvia, I gotta go.” She set the empty glass on the coffee table. “I’ll let you know about dinner Friday. See you in the morning.” She sighed, clicked her phone shut and leaned against the back of a recliner. “What a day. How was yours?”

“Oh, fine.” He leaned in for a kiss. She pecked him on the mouth and bent down to remove her two-inch heels. Her black slacks hugged the slender arc of her hips. Nice. “Nobody’s buying lumber today, so I put Frankie in charge and cut out early. Thought I’d surprise you by having dinner ready when you got home.” He pointed at the table. “I expected you two hours ago.”

“Sorry. I thought I told you I had drawing class.”

He frowned. “Drawing’s on Tuesday, isn’t it? Today’s Wednesday.”

For a second, she looked panicked, but her confident smile returned. “Yeah, but we had an extra session. Field work.” She brushed a stray curl away from her face.

About the Author

Gary Corbin is a writer, actor, and playwright in Camas, WA, a suburb of Portland, OR. In addition to his novels, he writes on assignment for private sector, government, individuals, and not-for-profit clients, and his articles have been published in BrainstormNW, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, and Global Envision, among others.

Gary earned his B.A. in Political Science and Economics at Louisiana State University (Geaux Tigers!) and his Ph.D. at Indiana University (Go Hoosiers!), writing his dissertation on the politics of acid rain (1988). After working variously on farms, construction, in restaurants, and in various information technology positions, in 2005 he founded Gary Corbin Writing and Consulting.

Gary is a member of the Willamette Writers Group, the Northwest Editors Guild, the North Bank Writers Workshop, PDX Playwrights, and the Portland Area Theater Alliance, and participates in workshops and conferences in the Portland, Oregon area. A homebrewer as well as a maker of wine, mead, cider, and soft drinks, Gary is a member of the Oregon Brew Crew and a BJCP National Beer Judge. He loves to ski, cook, and garden, and hopes someday to train his dogs to obey. And when that doesn’t work, he escapes to the Oregon coast with his sweetie.

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Posted in excerpt, paranormal, Spotlight, suspense, Thriller on December 19, 2016

Synopsis

Out of darkness and danger

You can’t hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery—he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI’s hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he’s never offered another human being: himself.

Dawns a unique and powerful love

Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death—if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart.

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Trailer

Excerpt

Minds of Madness and Murder. The glossy poster advertising today’s seminar was taped to the closed auditorium door. Someone had drawn tears of blood dripping from each of the M’s.

Lathaniel Montgomery’s gut gnawed at his backbone, but not because of the poster or the bloody tears.

Holy Jesus. How was he going to manage being in an audience surrounded by hundreds of people, with all their smells, all their memories?

Gill touched his arm like he always did to get Lathan’s attention. “Going in?”

“Yeah.” But Lathan’s feet had grown roots into the floor. He hated how nothing in his life was normal. He hated the f*ed-up sequence of genetic code that had enlarged the olfactory regions of his brain. He hated that he smelled everything. And he especially hated the ability to smell the energy imprints of people’s memories. Scent memories. Memories that could overwhelm him and annihilate his reality.

Gill stepped up close and examined Lathan’s left eye—the eye the SMs always invaded first, the eye that would roll around independently of the other one, making him appear in need of an exorcism.

“Quit with the eye exam. I’m all right.” For now. Concentration kept the SMs out of his mind. Vigilance kept them under control.

“Your seat is directly in front of the podium. You won’t have any trouble reading Dr. Jonah’s lips. After the presentation, introduce yourself. He’ll recognize your name.” Gill gave him the don’t-screw-this-up look. “Convince him about the Strategist.”

The Strategist.

Lathan’s freakish ability had generated leads for nearly every cold case he worked. Except for the Strategist’s.

“Explain how each person has a scent signature. Explain that you smell the same signature on thirty-eight unsolved murders. Explain that the FBI won’t do anything unless he confirms there is a connection among the kills.”

“Save the lecture. This whole f*ing thing was my dumbass idea.” Could he maintain control of the SMs long enough to make it to the end of the presentation? “If I—”

“There is no if. You’re not going to lose control.” Gill had read his worries as easily as Lathan read his friend’s lips. “Maybe I should go in with you.”

“I don’t need you holding my hand.” Lathan showed him a raised middle finger—a salute they always used in jest, forced a smile of bravado across his lips, and then pushed through the doors before he made like a chickenshit and bolted from the building. Barely inside, the SMs hit. Millions of memories warred for his attention, tugged at the vision in his left eye. He sucked air through his mouth to diminish the intensity, to maintain control.

Never in his life had he been around so many people at once and been coherent. Maybe he should leave.

No.

He clenched his fists. Knuckles popped, grounding him, giving him an edge over the SMs.

He strode down the steps toward the front of the room. Thank whoever-was-in-charge the presentation hadn’t started yet.

An empty seat in the front row had a pink piece of paper taped to it: RESERVED. Lathan would’ve preferred the anonymity of the back row, but he couldn’t see Dr. Jonah’s face from that far away. He ripped off the sheet and sat in the cramped space.

His shoulders were wider than the damned chair. His arms overflowed the boundary of his seat. The woman on his left angled away from him, the cinnamon scent of her irritation infusing the air. Typical reaction to his size. And with the tattoo on his cheek, she probably assumed he’d served a sentence in the slammer.

The woman on his right reeked. But it wasn’t her fault. The rot of her body dying was a stench he recognized, along with the sharp chemical tang of the drugs that were killing her so she could live. Cancer and chemo. Her emaciated features evidenced the battle she fought. And yet, she was here. At this presentation. She was a warrior. And he was a f*ing pussy for bellyaching about the SMs.

His ears picked up a faint snapping noise. Clapping. Everyone applauded enthusiastically.

Dr. Jonah walked to the podium. His clothes were baggy and ill fitting, his face wrinkled, his head topped with a mass of fluttery gray hair. Even though he looked like he’d just awakened from sleeping under an overpass, he possessed the look of frazzled genius. The look of someone whose work mattered more than living life. The look of the nation’s most respected profiler.

A door on Lathan’s right opened. A young woman lugged a folding chair across the room. Toward him.

He held his breath.

No. She couldn’t be there for him. No one here knew him. Knew about him. Except Gill. And Gill wouldn’t—

She opened her chair and sat facing him. With an overly enthusiastic smile that showed the silver in her back molars, she started to sign.

He looked away. A long bitter whoosh of air escaped his lips.

About the Author

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contests including the Golden Heart. Race the Darkness is the first book in the Fatal Dreams series of dark, gritty romantic suspense with a psychological twist.

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, Thriller on December 17, 2016

 

bullseye breach

 

Synopsis

Ripped from recent headlines, this gripping cyber-attack tale has all the elements of an international thriller, including a floating corpse in the Gulf of Finland. Meet an underground criminal supply chain, its innocent victims, and an unlikely midwestern IT group with an ingenious way to fight back against the theft of millions of credit-card numbers. If data breaches were not routine by now, this story would be unbelievable.

Instead, it’s a snapshot of life in today’s interconnected world, and an unforgettable Internet safety education. IT security has never been so riveting!

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Review

I have to say I’m a bit of a geek and I really liked this book. We hear about companies getting hacked all the time and this story describes what might have happened occurred when the company was breached.

I enjoyed how the author told the story with enough technical detail, but not so much that a non-technical person couldn’t understand or enjoy the story. I may not have understood all the jargon, but a lot of it was familiar.

The characters in this book were very real. One example were the heads of companies (CEO and such) sometimes do not understand the importance of security when it comes to their computer infrastructure. And this doesn’t just mean large companies, but the smaller ones too. As the author put it, you have to guard your front door, back door and several side doors. There there were some IT employees/management that didn’t understand the importance either. And while I’m not wild about outsourcing to other countries, in this book there was actually a group in India that sharing concerns but not being heard.

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was that a minor story about a woman named Regina that was getting her life together and how she was affected by this breach/hack. Her story wasn’t really finished in my book. We can guess what might have happened but it would have been nice to know for sure how her story ended.

Overall this was a really good book and fast paced (I had a hard time putting it down at times). While fiction, the story is very real and it might make you think twice about how you approach technology.

We give this 4 paws up.

 

Trailer

About the Author

Greg Scott is a veteran of the tumultuous IT industry.  After working as a consultant at Digital Equipment Corporation, a large computer company in its day, Scott branched out on his own in 1994 and started Scott Consulting.  A larger firm bought Scott Consulting in 1999, just as the dot com bust devastated the IT Service industry.  Scott went out on his own again in late 1999 and started Infrasupport Corporation, this time with a laser focus on infrastructure and security.  In late summer, 2015, after “Bullseye Breach” was published, he accepted a job offer with an enterprise software company.

He currently lives in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area with wife, daughter, and two grandchildren.  He holds several IT industry certifications, including CISSP number 358671.

Scott graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1979 with a double major of math and speech.  He earned an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis in 1996.

In the 1990s, he wrote a popular column on the back page of IT industry publication ENT Magazine titled, “NT Heartland,” and another column in Enterprise Linux Magazine titled, “Converts Corner.”

Inspired by The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt, a business textbook disguised as a fiction story about the resurgence of a rundown factory, Scott decided to write what would become Bullseye Breach after becoming frustrated from too many sensational headlines about preventable data breaches.

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, Spotlight, Thriller, WW II on December 3, 2016

official-blog-tour-image-for-winter-sky

winter-sky-cover

Synopsis

In a bombed-out Polish village during World War II, a young resistance fighter finds that he is suddenly alone and trapped between two opposing armies. He is one of Poland’s “Devil’s Rebels” fighting desperately to save his homeland, but an injury has erased his memory and his only possession is a torn photograph of a couple he assumes are his parents. The woman appears to be holding the hand of a young child whose image has been ripped off. Could this be him?

Caught in the crosshairs of the retreating German army and the advancing Russian forces, the village holds nothing but destruction and despair until a mysterious young woman offers a small glimmer of hope that may represent his last chance – news of a refugee train departing from a nearby town, headed for American installations at the border.

But complications arise when the resistance fighter is betrayed by his own countryman and hunted by German SS officers who are determined to kill him before they retreat. Desperately searching for a home and family he can’t remember, he is persuaded to rescue two children who are doomed to die without his help. But as time runs out, the former rebel is faced with an impossible choice. Standing at the crossroads of saving himself or risking his life for strangers, what would motivate a young man at the brink of salvation to make one more sacrifice?

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Excerpt

Outside of Gorndask, Poland
December 20, 1944

The train swayed abruptly as it lurched along the poorly repaired tracks. Rail lines were the lifeblood of the war effort, and for six years the line, like every other in the war zone, had fallen under relentless bombing attack. Indeed, the track had been bombed and rebuilt so many times it was a miracle that it could carry any rail traffic at all. So the train engineer kept it slow, knowing that every bridge was an adventure, every crossing a potential derailing point. At one junction he looked briefly for oncoming traffic, though he suspected his was the only train running within two hundred miles. Who else would have the courage, or desperation, or defiance, or whatever combination of such things it might take to put another train upon the track?

The railroad track was a thread of black weaving through a white and green landscape of rolling hills, thick forests, farming cottages, and small towns. Black smoke billowed from the engine and floated back to coat the train in gray soot. The countryside was white with fresh snow. The storm had started out as rain a couple of days before and then turned to heavy snow, thick and wet. The train was surrounded by tall pines, their boughs drooping under the snow’s weight, seeming to reach for the ground. The sky was cloudy still, gray with soft wisps of fog drifting over the hills.  Winter had come, and it might be weeks before the sun would break through the overcast to sparkle on the snow.

The train consisted of five troop transport cars. All the seats had long before been ripped out, leaving the desperate passengers to stand chest-to-chest or back-to-back as they swayed together with each lurch of the train. A few of the weakest among them huddled on the floor, too exhausted, sick, or wounded to stand.

The cars were packed with terrified civilians, mostly women and their scarce belongings: piles of clothing held together with rope, a few bags, an occasional suitcase. One of the women held a small sewing machine, another a wooden cage stuffed with three chickens. In the corner of the compartment, a young mother stood alone. Her long hair framed a beautiful oval face that was so vacant it looked lifeless. In her arms, she held a tiny bundle tightly wrapped from head to toe in a light blue baby blanket. Her child. No longer living. Taking him home. It was a pitiful sight, and the other passengers gave her as much space as they could muster, but no one spoke to her. The death of a child was as common as the falling of the snow, and no one had the ability to offer any comfort anymore.

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About the Author

Chris Stewart is a New York Times bestselling author who has published more than a dozen books, has been selected by the Book of the Month Club, and has released titles in multiple languages in seven countries. He has also been a guest editorial list for the Detroit News, among other publications, commenting on matters of military readiness and national security concerns. He is a world-record-setting Air Force pilot (fastest nonstop flight around the world) and president and CEO of The Shipley Group, a nationally recognized consulting and training company.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight, suspense, Thriller on November 4, 2016

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THE FISHER KING

A JACK McBRIDE MYSTERY

by

Melissa Lenhardt

Genre: Mystery / Suspense / Thriller

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Date of Publication: November 1, 2016

Number of Pages: 380

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synopsis

cover-fisher-kingWhen the dust settles in this Texas town, who will be left standing?

It’s been six weeks since Jack McBride’s life went to hell: the resolution of his first case as chief sparked a countywide drug war, his brother Eddie rode into town with a pocket full of cocaine and trouble on his mind, his estranged wife returned from her one-year sabbatical determined to win him back, and Ellie Martin ended their brief affair.

To the Stillwater natives, the increase in local crime can be traced directly back to the day the outsider McBride took the job, and they’re gunning to get rid of him. One particular group is led by Joe Doyle, a successful local businessman who’s running for city council against Ellie and her plan to revitalize downtown. Now Jack has discovered proof Doyle is the biggest crime lord in the county, and, with murders piling up and the drug war intensifying, Jack suspects the crimes aren’t business, but personal—and he’s the target.

The bitter election and Jack’s investigation spark old rivalries and new jealousies, making Ellie and those who love Stillwater most wonder if it’s even worth saving.

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PRAISE FOR THE FISHER KING

A fast-moving whodunit with compelling subplots and an appealing protagonist who’s likely to keep winning fans.” — Booklist

“The Fisher King is a haunting novel about different people’s claims on a place, and the power struggles, violence, and deception they use to seize it. Dark and ominous, the novel strikes the perfect mood and will be sure to appeal to fans eager for more of McBride’s adventures.” — Foreward Magazine

“[T]his combination of police procedural and romance puts the pedal to the metal and revs up the action.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Melissa Lenhardt’s Jack McBride is a complex and fallible protagonist you will root for. In The Fisher King, McBride takes on small town greed and corruption to his own peril in this sexy, gritty, and gripping thriller. A terrific new series!” —Deborah Crombie, New York Times bestselling author of the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones series

“Lenhardt draws you so deep into Stillwater, Texas, you’ll think you live there and know everyone in town. In-depth characters, finely drawn descriptions, and a sure-fire plot make The Fisher King a very satisfying addition to the Texas crime fiction scene.” —Terry Shames, Macavity Award Winning author of The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake

“Melissa Lenhardt’s second Jack McBride novel, The Fisher King, is a terrific soap opera of an East Texas noir. A riveting tale of disgrace, betrayal, and redemption. . . . Lenhardt writes a hard story with a soft hand. Evocatively descriptive and painfully believable, The Fisher King is Peyton Place meets The Godfather in small-town Texas. Top notch.” —James W. Ziskin, author of the Ellie Stone series”

 

Excerpt

EXCERPT – CHAPTER ONE

The Fisher King

Fred Muldoon needed new shoes.

Leaves and twigs worked their way through the hole in the sole of his right shoe as he walked the woods behind Doyle Industries. He stopped at the chain link fence and stared at the gravel lot, dreading the journey across its uneven surface to his home for the night. He hadn’t drunk enough to ignore the pain those damn rocks would put him through, lodging as they would beneath his big toe. Goddamn gout.

He patted his coat pocket for his bottle of Old Crow. He could sit here, against the fence, drink his whiskey. The night wasn’t too cold, and this was as good a spot as any. He sat down against the sagging fence, unscrewed the cap, and lifted it to his lips. A low roll of thunder interrupted him. He took a quick gulp and replaced the bottle. He hated being wet. It used to be an occupational hazard for the town drunk until Fred stole a pair of wire cutters and used them to cut a hole in a remote corner of Doyle Industries’ fence. Between sleeping in the cabs of Doyle’s trucks and earning whiskey money from telling Jack McBride innocent lies and useless information about the seedier side of Stillwater, Fred Muldoon hadn’t had it this good since 1969.

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about the author

melissa-lenhardtMelissa Lenhardt writes mystery, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Heater Mystery Magazine, The Western Online, andChristmas Nookies, a holiday romance anthology. Her debut novel, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest. She is a member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop and vice president of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas Chapter. Melissa lives in Texas, with her husband and two sons.

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11/1 Promo Texas Book Lover
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Posted in excerpt, Guest Post, Spotlight, Thriller on November 2, 2016

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Title: Friend of the Devil
Author: Mark Spivak
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Pages: 325
Genre: Culinary Thriller

Synopsis

In 1990 some critics believe that America’s most celebrated chef, Joseph Soderini di Avenzano, sold his soul to the Devil to achieve culinary greatness. Whether he is actually Bocuse or Beelzebub, Avenzano is approaching the 25th anniversary of his glittering Palm Beach restaurant, Chateau de la Mer, patterned after the Michelin-starred palaces of Europe.

Journalist David Fox arrives in Palm Beach to interview the chef for a story on the restaurant’s silver jubilee. He quickly becomes involved with Chateau de la Mer’s hostess, unwittingly transforming himself into a romantic rival of Avenzano. The chef invites Fox to winter in Florida and write his authorized biography. David gradually becomes sucked into the restaurant’s vortex: shipments of cocaine coming up from the Caribbean; the Mafia connections and unexplained murder of the chef’s original partner; the chef’s ravenous ex-wives, swirling in the background like a hidden coven. As his lover plots the demise of the chef, Fox tries to sort out hallucination and reality while Avenzano treats him like a feline’s catnip-stuffed toy.

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Guest Post

I want to give a big welcome to Mark today.  His book sound really good (anything that involves food and a mystery already has my attention!) and today he shares whether you can balance life and writing.  Take it away Mark.

Balancing Life and Writing

I was amused when asked to do a blog post on balancing life and writing. In truth, they can’t be balanced.

I’m not sure if writing is an obsessional activity, but I’m pretty certain that only obsessed people do it successfully. It is the type of endeavor that almost inevitably tends to obliterate any idea of balance in your life. I sometimes compare it to a serious disease: you may have periods of remission, you may have spans of years or decades when you pursue another form of endeavor—either to make money or to fulfill family obligations—but sooner or later you’ll relapse and start writing again.

When you do, you’ll find it to be as consuming as a bonfire. Your work will be the first thing you think of when you wake in the morning, and the last thing you think about before you doze off to sleep. It will occupy most of your waking hours. You will appear distant to family and friends until you master the art of pretending to pay attention to what they’re saying, and until you become adept at participating in life events while actually thinking about the project you’re working on. The struggle to succeed will be so difficult and consuming that it will become hard to identify with those who are no similarly obsessed.

So why do people do it? If you’re successful you can leave a legacy, and that’s no small thing. You will experience the exhilaration of feeling (as Allen Ginsberg said) like “the self-contained master of the universe.” When my first novel, Friend of the Devil, was accepted for publication, I felt linked to a chain of storytellers that went all the way back to Beowulf. Actually, it goes back further than that: to the time when cavemen went out to hunt and gather during the day, and sat in their cave at night telling the stories of their day’ adventures. It’s an amazing feeling, and it’s something worth striving for.

Excerpt

Several years after the opening of Chateau de la Mer, the triumvirate of Avenzano, Walsh, and Ross appeared to be one big happy family, although there were rumors of strains in the relationship.

One night, at the height of the Festival of Champagne, there was an incident. Ross, a notorious womanizer, was sipping Cristal with a redhead at the restaurant’s corner table.

His wife slipped through the front door of the mansion, unannounced. Walking slowly through the dining room, past the Medieval memorabilia and dramatic cast-iron griffins, she strolled up to Ross’s table, took a revolver from her evening bag, and calmly shot him through the heart.

The ensuing chaos did more to establish Joseph Soderini di Avenzano in the American imagination than his designer pasta, his Bedouin stuffed poussin, his recipes transposed from Etruscan or Old Genoese, or his library of ten thousand cookbooks.

This was more than a good meal, after all. This was sex and death in Palm Beach. Even more intriguing was the chef’s refusal to comment on Ross after his death, except for informal and effusive eulogies in his famous baritone.

“Watch that Cristal,” David’s friend Bill Grimaldi told him before he left Manhattan to do an assigned story on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Chateau de la Mer. “It’s a killer.”

About the Author

mark-spivakMark Spivak is an award-winning author, specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants, and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and was honored by the Academy of Wine Communications for excellence in wine coverage “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the Food Editor for Palm Beach Illustrated; his running commentary on the world of food, wine and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Men’s Journal, Art & Antiques, the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines, Arizona Highways and Newsmax. From 1999-2011 Spivak hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Spivak is the author of two non-fiction books:  Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation: The Art of Creating Cornbread in a Bottle (Lyons Press, 2014). Friend of the Devil is his first novel. He is currently working on a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq.

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