THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South), Giacomo Giammatteo {$4.99}

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Description of A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South):

Detective Connie Giannelli’s life has been torn apart several times. First when her mother died and then years later when she found out her Uncle Dominic was in the mob. Her life is about to be shredded again, and this time it could destroy her.

Connie’s love of family and her badge are both threatened when an undercover drug bust leaves two cops dead and the drugs missing. Internal Affairs is looking for any excuse to take her badge, but she’s not worried about them finding the missing drugs—her secrets could prove to be far worse.

Now Connie’s racing against the clock to figure out who killed her partners and took the drugs—dirty cops or Uncle Dominic’s friends. And she has to do it before IA pins the whole damn thing on her.

 

Accolades:

Giammatteo starts this new series with a blast. The characters are alive and full of very human flaws. They develop smoothly with the bumps that happen to all humans.

In a climax of supreme intensity, Connie comes face-to-face with a serial murderer that is more vicious than even she can imagine. Chris Phillips~ Bestsellers World

Giammatteo has crafted a masterful piece of work. The plot is convoluted; filled with tenacity, adventure, violence, love and family tradition. ~ Amazon reviewer

Once again, I find myself in awe of Giammatteo’s talent. All of his novels are so descriptive and imaginative. This is a crime novel of the highest caliber and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I thought Connie was a great protagonist. She’s strong, smart, capable, and able to keep up with the boys. Best of all, she’s not Superwoman and has flaws.~Amazon reviewer


Reviews:

A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South)  currently has a customer review rating of 4.8 stars from 43 reviews. Read the reviews here.


A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $4.99

 

An excerpt from A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South):

A Bullet for Carlos
BLOOD FLOWS SOUTH: BOOK I
a novel by
Giacomo Giammatteo

Chapter 1
A Present for Maria

Brooklyn, New York—Winter 1982

Zeppe Mangini paced the busy sidewalk while nursing a cappuccino. He felt it was a sure sign that the world was falling apart when people sold cappuccino in paper cups, but he sipped the drink to draw warmth and to make himself appear busy. Every few steps he glanced across the street to the apartment at 1255. Tommy Nunzio had lived there since he was a kid. Tonight he would die there.

Zeppe finished his cappuccino, waited for a break in traffic, then half-walked, half-jogged across the street. The horn from a souped-up Camaro blared as he reached the sidewalk. He tugged on his cap, covering a full head of coal-black hair, then nodded to his brother, Dominic, standing by the front steps. 

“Dom, you sure there’s no other way to do this?”

“This is the cleanest. He’ll buzz you in.”

Zeppe paused, scrunched his face up a little. “Yeah, but that ain’t right. I’m—”

“Do it.”

Zeppe hit the buzzer, fidgeting as he waited for Tommy to answer. The last time his finger hit this button it was to ask Tommy out for a beer. Now…

“Who is it?”

“Tommy, it’s Zep. Open up.”

They walked into the building and climbed the stairs to the third floor. Zeppe cringed with each groan of the old wood, bringing back images of him and Tommy as little kids, and Mrs. Nunzio hollering at them, warning them about playing on steps. Zeppe took a few seconds to catch his breath, and to calm the rotten feeling he had in his gut, but he couldn’t chase away the image of Mrs. Nunzio. As he reached the top of the third floor, he half expected to be greeted by the sweet aroma of garlic coming from her kitchen.

His face scrunched again, a nervous tic he had since he was kid. “Dom, can’t we buy him a little time?” 

“Not on this one,” Dominic said, and stood to the side.

Zeppe knocked on the door, hands shaking more than his stomach ached. After a few seconds the door opened. Dominic moved fast, pushing Zeppe aside while he shoved his gun into Tommy’s stomach. “Keep your voice down.”

Tommy backed up, hands in the air. “What’s going on? What—” His look shifted from Dominic to Zeppe, then back again. He froze, his eyes growing large. “Zeppe, what’s this about?”

Zeppe closed the door with the heel of his foot, never taking his eyes from Tommy. “You shouldn’t have crossed Vito.”

“That’s enough,” Dominic said.

Tommy cocked his head toward Zeppe, lifting his eyes in a pleading gesture. “Zep, can you help me out?” His voice cracked when he asked.

Dominic raised the gun to Tommy’s head and pulled the trigger. Twice. The small caliber bullets bounced around inside his skull, dropping him to the floor. There was little pain. Even less blood. 

Dominic knelt beside him, checked his neck and pulse. The two in the head had done the trick.

“Let’s go,” Zeppe said, but as he reached for the doorknob a noise from the bedroom alerted him. “You hear that?” 

Zeppe and Dominic stopped. Listened. A fan hummed in the bathroom and the ever-present noise of the fridge came from the kitchen, but something different from the bedroom. “Turn off the lights,” Dominic said, then crept toward the back room, gun drawn. “I’ll go in low. Hit the light once I’m in.”

Dominic crouched, pushed open the bedroom door and crept forward, his gun leading the way. 

Zeppe waited for him to get in, then hit the light. “Mother of God! A goddamn baby.”

Dominic glanced about the room, barely big enough to hold the crib, a rocker, and a small chest of drawers. The baby fussed, tiny hands covering its eyes. Dominic picked the baby up, pried open the diaper, then lay the baby on his shoulder. “It’s a girl. Can’t be more than a few months old.” 

Zeppe still had his gun out. “I’ll check the rest of the place.” 

He returned in a few minutes, gun tucked into his pants. “Place is clean,” he said. “So what do we do?”

“Call Vito, but use the phone booth. I’ll wait here.”

Zeppe thought about the baby all the way down the stairs. Vito would be pissed; they should have known beforehand. He exited the building, crossed the street and called Vito. 

“Hello.”

“Yeah, it’s me. We got a problem.”

“What kind of problem?”

A long pause, then, “We delivered the message, but we found something unexpected.”

“Don’t make me guess.”

“A baby.”

“How did we not know about a baby?” 

“I don’t know. I never heard of no baby, but sure as shit it’s his. Got pictures everywhere, baby clothes, baby food in the fridge and cabinets. A room fixed up.”

Zeppe waited through more silence. 

“Leave it.”

“Leave it? Christ’s sake, boss. It could die.”

“Leave it.” 

“Okay, you got it,” Zeppe said, and put the phone back on the receiver. Ain’t no way Dominic is leaving that baby.

Head hung low, Zeppe walked back across the street, up the steps, and into the apartment where Dominic waited with the girl.

“Vito said leave it.”

Dominic was a small man, but intensity always surrounded him, an aura of danger that even Zeppe wasn’t immune to. He had seen men far bigger than his brother back down after meeting his glare. 

“I’m not leaving her,” Dominic said, and he held the girl a little tighter. “Do you know Tommy’s wife? Where is she?”

“I don’t know, Dom. I heard she left him a few months ago, but I didn’t know about the baby. I swear. I wouldn’t have done this if I knew.” Shouldn’t have done it anyway. Goddamnit.

“Did Tommy have family? Brothers or sisters?”

“His brother died last year. Remember?” Zeppe paused. “There might be relatives, but none I know of.” There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of Dominic leaving that baby alone, or with child services. Regardless, Zeppe felt he had to try. “Child services would—”

“I wouldn’t leave a dog with them.”

“Dom, I know how you feel, but—”

“Take her with us.” 

“Are you nuts?”

“We shouldn’t be in this situation, Zeppe. It was your job to check this out.” Dominic shook his head then handed the girl to Zeppe.

“It’s cold outside. Make sure she’s warm.” 

“Okay,” Zeppe said, “whatever you want.” He took the baby from Dominic, and held her close.

“I’ll wipe everything clean.” Dominic looked around, checked where they’d been, then went to the bedroom and got extra clothes, a blanket, diapers, bottles. When he returned, he handed everything to Zeppe, cracked the door and looked down the hall. “Wrap her tight. I don’t want that baby catching cold.”

Zeppe wrapped the blanket around her, making sure to cover her head. “What the hell are we going to do with a baby?” He said it to himself, but Dominic answered.

“Taking her to Maria.”

Zeppe’s head was shaking as soon as Dominic finished. “Dom, you’re my older brother, but you’re as nuts as Maria.”

Dominic turned to face Zeppe. “If you ever say that about Maria again, I’ll kill you.”

They walked to the car in silence. Zeppe handed the baby to Dominic then got behind the wheel to drive. “Where to?”

“First the warehouse, then to Maria’s.”

 

A Bullet For Carlos (Blood Flows South) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $4.99


Connect with Giacomo Giammatteo:

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The), Noel Hynd {$2.99}

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Description of Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The):

From bestselling ABA author Noel Hynd comes this new series set against the backdrop of Havana, an explosive capital city of faded charm locked in the past and torn by political intrigue. U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca leaves her Manhattan home on an illegal mission to Cuba that could cost her everything. Accompanying her is the attractive but dangerous Paul Guarneri, a Cuban-born exile who lives in the gray areas of the law. Together, they plunge into subterfuge and danger. Without the support of the United States, Alex must navigate Cuban police, saboteurs, pro-Castro security forces, and an assassin who follows her from New York. Bullets fly as allies become traitors and enemies become unexpected friends. Alex, recovering from the tragic loss of her fiance a year before, reexamines faith and new love while taking readers on a fast-paced adventure. Readers of general market thrillers, such as John le Carre, David Baldacci, and Joel Rosenberg, will eagerly anticipate this first installment.

Noel Hynd has sold more than four million copies of his books throughout the world, including The Enemy Within and Flowers From Berlin. His most recent novel, Hostage in Havana, is the first book in the Cuban Trilogy starring Alexandria LaDuca. Hynd lives in Culver City, California.

Accolades:

Classic, inventive, well-written novel by Noel Hynd. This novel uses the same heroine as the Russian Trilogy and a few other characters from the Trilogy as well. As always, his novel is well-plotted and well written. The pages just keep flying by as you are led to the ironic climax. – 5 Stars


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars from 22 reviews. Read the reviews here!

Hostage in Havana (Cuban Trilogy, The) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

Also note that ALL of  of Noel Hynd’s individual titles for HarperCollins are on sale for $2.99 this week!

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The Hot Shots (Scotland Yard Exchange Program), Stephanie Queen 
~ Free!

Romantic Comedy Suspense

The Snap on the Story:

Would you jump off the USS Constitution into Boston Harbor with a perfect stranger? You would if that stranger was hot shot Scotland Yard detective Chauncey Miller, the usual tall-dark-handsome type, especially since he has an assassin with a score to settle who just caught up with him…

Decorator Sophia Alano’s career gets side-tracked from the moment she meets hot shot Chauncey. He’s on the run from a madman terrorist out for revenge when Sophia ends up targeted too. Now he must protect this spitfire while they’re hunted wherever they go. They escape to London to outwit the madman. But once Chauncey catches their would-be killer, how do they go back to the lives they had before?

{4.3 Stars, 10 Reviews}

Where She Belongs (Destiny Falls), Cindy Procter-King  ~ FREE

She never wants to go home again.

For Jess Morgan, Destiny Falls holds too many painful memories. Nine years ago, a logging accident near the remote timber town killed her dad and her high school sweetheart. To make matters worse, her mother quickly sought comfort with another man. That choice tore Jess apart and drove her to seek a life far away. But now fate steps in, and family obligations force her return home. Before long, she’s convinced that persuading her mom to live with her in Toronto will repair their shattered bond. However, she doesn’t count on a long-ago friend re-entering her life and challenging her convictions.

Rugged forester Adam Wright believes in family, roots, and not running from heartache. Now, all he wants is to help Jess break down the walls of the lonely sanctuary she’s built for herself and heal her past hurts. It’s not until she rejects his plans for their future that he realizes his persistence has pushed her away—not at all what he intended.

Has he lost his chance? Or can he convince Jess that where she truly belongs is with him…forever?

{4.4 Stars, 5 Reviews}


Beyond the Sand Creek Bridge, Scott Wyatt 
~ Free!

1882. Northern Pacific Railroad Camp, Idaho Territory.

The body of Sheriff Roger Langston is found beneath the Sand Creek Bridge. Chinese railroad worker Wong Hok-Ling is charged with murder days after the unexpected arrival of his fiancée, Mei-Yin, who has escaped her unscrupulous father and stowed away aboard a ship bound for America. Jason McQuade, the territory’s newest lawyer, must defend the accused, but after encountering the beautiful Mei-Yin, how far is he willing to go–what sacrifices will he make–to save his client’s life

{4.8 stars, 29 reviews}

 

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery), Jenny Hilborne {$3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery):

HIDE AND SEEK is the 2nd in the Mac Jackson mystery/thriller series, and can be read as a stand alone. These novels are NOT meant for children. They include adult themes, some violence and strong language, and probe into the dark, twisted corners of a killer’s mind. Here are reviewers comments about the first novel in the Mac Jackson series, MADNESS AND MURDER:

4 stars: “Madness and Murder is a taut crime mystery, with a terrific underlying narrative of character interaction and a theme of second chances. There is a splendid interweaving of subplots, overlaid with a chilling murder spree.” ~ A.F. Stewart.

5 stars: A puzzle solvers dream: “Hilborne does a masterful job of getting her readers connected with the emotions of her main characters, which adds a nice counterbalance to the cognitive aspects of puzzle solving. The action is suspenseful, and the backstory of key players is parsed in need-to-know doses that continually propel the plot forward.” ~ R.J. McDonnell

5 stars: Great Murder Mystery: “I would really recommend this book if you like Murder Mysteries that are slightly different and not your usual run of the mill. Can’t wait for the next one.” ~ Carrie

 

Accolades:

Hilborne does a masterful job of getting her readers connected with the emotions of her main characters, which adds a nice counterbalance to the cognitive aspects of puzzle solving. The action is suspenseful, and the backstory of key players is parsed in need-to-know doses that continually propel the plot forward.

I’ve just finished Hide And Seek, and enjoyed every second of it! I can’t wait to read the other books in the Mac Jackson series. The author brought the characters to life and made me truly care about them. Just when I thought I’d figured it all out, she surprised me with a great twist! A thoroughly satisfying read!

 

Reviews:

Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery) currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars from 15 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

An excerpt from Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery):


Zach Cashmore appeared calm and comfortable, but no one knew for sure. No one knew what went on inside his bandaged head or what functioned in his brain, if anything at all. He breathed unassisted, yet responded to nothing. Fluids entered and left his body by a tube. The team of medical staff moved his limbs to rotate the pressure and prevent bed sores, while his unseeing eyes seemed to gaze out of the window, prisoners of the dark.

For seven months he hadn’t moved a muscle, not a finger or a toe. Not since the savage assault that left him paralyzed, blind, and caused massive trauma to his brain. His battered body had been dumped in an alley and left for dead. A twenty-seven year old investment banker, with a bright future ahead of him. Some thought he deserved what he got by the very nature of his profession. Theories flourished and so did the sick humor. What other occupation could you expect with a name like Cashmore? Greedy, egotistical scum. Most believed he’d screwed someone over one way or another, yet no evidence came to light and such speculation remained a fallacy.

While the police appealed for witnesses, his parents stroked his soft blond hair and struggled to comprehend the awful truth: their only child might not survive.

Zach Cashmore spent two months in the TICU. A cardiac monitor assessed his rhythm and condition and intravenous lines were inserted for administering drugs to fight off infection. He required constant attention from the specially trained professionals, of all whom expected him to die, but Zach accomplished the unlikely and gave them all hope. This marvel put him back in the news and one person in particular paid attention.

No witnesses materialized and, five months on, hopes for a break in the case diminished, along with the media interest and Zach’s prognosis. Doctors warned his parents he’d likely never progress further than his vegetative state, yet his parents still held out hope, believed he would come back to them in some way.

While Zach lived in his hospital bed, his athletic build atrophied and his skin sagged. He looked small inside his six foot frame, captive inside his shattered body and dependant on others. Too exhausted to do more than worry and pray, his family placed their trust in the police and the justice system.

With no information on who dumped him in the alley, the fickle public soon grew bored of the story and turned their attention to other news and someone else’s misery.

Somewhere else in San Francisco, an antisocial delinquent remained cool, self-assured, and buoyant in the relief of getting away with murder. Almost. Cashmore still might die, and if he didn’t, who cared? He’d never tell anyone what happened. He’d never talk again. Only two others knew anything about the night of his attack and neither of them would say anything about it.

Chapter 2

The Presidio, San Francisco
Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fear made her drink. Always had. Abby McCabe focused her attention on the vintage champagne bottle on the table and tried to push the menace behind the threat out of her mind.
I can get to you any time I want.

She licked her cracked lips and pulled her sleeves down over her hands. Maybe one more tiny glass, just enough to take off the edge. Seated next to her, Kirby Ellis moved first and put the bottle out of her reach. “I think you’ve had enough.” He didn’t lower his voice and her face burned with shame. How dare he make her decisions for her?

Abby blinked, her lashes already wet. Kirby never paid her such close attention and she resented it now. She risked a glance across the table at the guests seated opposite, saw their dark eyes glitter behind masks, their identities concealed beneath costumes. Halloween. Tonight, Abby hated it more than ever. Stupid idea to come. She sucked in a lungful of air, held it in and staunched the flow of tears.

Without another word to her, Kirby Ellis stood, tapped a spoon against his glass and called for a toast. His friends switched their attention from Abby and she let out her breath. She suffered through a chorus of the birthday song followed by a round of applause, watched Coen Drake blow out his candles and cut into his cake. She stared down the length of the table and locked eyes with the redhead. Her heart leaped as though it had received an overdose of caffeine.

Memories flooded back. Time had changed nothing. She hadn’t set eyes on the redhead for six months. Not since…

Abby refused to think about it. She looked away and rubbed the scar on her throat. She thought she might throw up. Why did Ellis not tell her and why did he invite both of them to the same party? Too busy avoiding the guests, she hadn’t noticed the redhead before now and nobody warned her of the woman’s presence. Well, why would they? She knew the answer to her own question.
Abby didn’t have many close friends or encourage anyone to try. She preferred not to tell anyone much about her private life, so no one thought much about her feelings. No one cared.
Slices of birthday cake made their way down the table. Abby declined, touched her fingers to her temple at the sudden flash of pain. Another stress headache. After the cake came the game, where she’d be the most at risk, out in the open in the dark.

Last week she’d found the little yellow sticky notes posted all over her windows, each with the same message: I can get in here. I can get in here. I can get in here. He’d been to her home.
The second letter she received carried a threat more ominous and explicit than the first. He promised to come for her and she never doubted his sincerity. Halloween. He’d be looking for her tonight. She remembered both letters were penned by a left-slanted writer in the same style as the post-it notes left on her windows. The sharp downward strokes reminded her of knife slashes, brutal and angry, almost scoring the paper. The menace in his words left no doubt in her mind. If he found her, he would kill her.

Abby shivered and rubbed her hand across her mouth. She longed for another drink.

The author of the letters signed them H. A man, she felt certain. She doubted his real name began with H. Who was he? All Abby knew was what he claimed he witnessed six months ago, which he described in detail in the first note he sent. He made no demands and gave her no chance to negotiate or pay for his silence.

She’d destroyed the first letter and tried to forget it, told only one person because he would find out anyway and not telling him would be worse.

Sean Stroud promised to intervene, vowed to find H and sort out the problem. Then the second note arrived and Abby knew Stroud had failed. She chose never to tell him about the second letter and hid it away somewhere safe
If H really saw what he described in his letter, why didn’t he go to the police? Abby thought she knew. The police weren’t an option for him either. She wanted to scream at the injustices of her life, the disappointments and setbacks, the lost opportunities, her inadequacies and her dependence on those who controlled her.

Sean Stroud had been glad to take her under his wing, point out her failures and exploit them, develop her addiction and bind her to him. He knew she had nowhere to go and he took advantage of her youth and her loveliness. In return he gave her a decent discount and extra cash, most of which came back to him as she fed the habit he created.

Some day, when she gained the financial and emotional strength, she hoped to break free of his hold, move away and get clean, try to make her life matter. She had a second chance and she would not let it go, nor allow anyone to take it from her. Stroud would never let her leave. She was an important part of his empire, his “best girl,” the one with whom most of his clients wanted to do business when they came into town.

Abby would rather kill Sean Stroud than report him to the police. She did not trust the police. In her twenty-five years, they never gave her any reason to trust them, and if they found out what happened six months ago she’d spend the rest of her life in prison. Stroud would make sure of it.

Too much alcohol, not enough food, and a severe lack of sleep. Abby’s eyes ached and her stomach rolled. Voices around her sounded louder than they should. She slid out of her seat, found a downstairs bathroom and locked the door behind her. If she stayed in here until they got back from the game, she might be okay.

 

Hide and Seek (Jackson mystery) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Jenny Hilborne:

Author Website: jfhilborne.com

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/jenny.hilborne.5

Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/JFHilborne

The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series), Sarah Renee {$0.99}

Ten years ago, a devastating fire took the lives of Queen Karenisha and King Makero, leaving a young Princess Saderia orphaned. Nobody knows how the fire was started, but it ignited quickly. Too quickly.

In ten years, the truth has never been discovered…

Saderia is a curious 10 year old tiger Princess. Her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash have taken over the duties of Queen and King and raising Saderia since her parents disappeared in a mysterious fire. Her aunt and uncle don’t understand Saderia, which she resents.

But Saderia starts having dreams about the past; dark, disturbing dreams. She has to know the truth. Could her parents have been murdered? Soon she finds herself surrounded by more secrets when she discovers a dangerous, ancient royal secret regarding her oldest ancestors.

At the same time, strange things start happening in the usually peaceful forest. Hard times and disappearances create fear and desperation. Out of the shadows comes a dark, mysterious lion named Dastarius to offer his services and play the hero. But his past is just as shadowed and uncertain as the King and Queen’s sudden fiery death.

Saderia doesn’t know who or what to trust, but she is desperate to find the truth about the past. She’s willing to do anything to get it.

 

What readers are saying:

“The Tiger Princess”, the debut title from Sarah Renee, is the first in a series of stories geared towards middle grade readers starring a courageous young princess named Saderia. Children can easily relate to the engrossing saga of Saderia, while learning worthwhile life lessons, and enriching their imaginations. – Amazon Reviewer

Author Sarah Renee captures the voice and thoughts of a strong-willed, independent and curious ten-year-old girl so perfectly that it is easy to forget that she herself was only 12 when she wrote the book! – Amazon Reviewer

This book is full of twists and turns, hate and love, filled to the brim with emotions that reflect in my own life! I cannot put this down! Anyone who loves ANY animal should be in love with this series – Amazon Reviewer

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.8 stars, with 16 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series)  for $0.99 at Amazon 

THE FRUGAL FIND{S} OF THE DAY: 16 eBooks on Sale for $0.99 Each! {Don’t miss this sale!}

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THE FRUGAL FINDS OF THE DAY!:

 

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Don’t miss the Post-Holiday Genre Potpourri Event!

Starting on 1/24/13, 14 authors will offer their eBooks for 99 cents.

That’s 16 eBooks, each for only 99 cents.

Choose from Literary Fiction, Fantasy, Women’s Fiction, Romance and Young Adult.

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All the Lonely People 

Deeds of a Master Archer

Me Again

Falling Under

Storykeeper

How to Cook Up A Disaster

Sweetwater American

The Thief Who Stole Midnight

Stella and Dane: A Honky Tonk Romance

Family Deceptions

The Family Angel

As Crazy As You

Rumpel, A Cursed Tales Novel

The Color of Water in July: A Novel

In the Jungle of Black and Yellow

It Started With A Whisper

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: daylight, Megan Thomason {FREE!}

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Description of daynight:

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story” —Kirkus Reviews

“Gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters; Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”—BlueInk Review (starred review)

Meet The Second Chance Institute (SCI): Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Life(TM). Reality: the SCI subjects Second Chancers to strict controls and politically motivated science experiments like Cleaving—forced lifetime union between two people who have sex. Punishment for disobeying SCI edicts? Immediate Exile or death.

Meet Kira Donovan. Fiercely loyal, overly optimistic, and ensnared by the promise of a full-ride college scholarship, Kira signs the SCI Recruit contract to escape memories of a tragedy that left her boyfriend and friends dead.

Meet Blake Sundry. Bitter about being raised in Exile and his mother’s death, Blake’s been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. Current barrier to success? His Recruit partner—Miss Goody Two Shoes Kira Donovan.

Meet Ethan Darcton. Born with a defective heart and resulting inferiority complex, Ethan’s forced to do his SCI elite family’s bidding. Cleave-worthy Kira Donovan catches his eye, but the presiding powers give defect-free Blake Sundry first dibs.

Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is Megan Thomason’s debut young adult dystopian novel and first in the daynight series.

 

Accolades:

BlueInk Review Starred Review: “gripping young adult dystopian novel; compelling conflicts; high stakes; powerful narrative; surprises keep coming; strong writing; page-turner; engaging characters; Readers will be hungry for the sequels.”

“Sure to win over YA readers looking for a dangerous, dystopian adventure story… A sci-fi adventure with a sweet YA love story at its center… richly imagined alternate world… distinctive voices and conflicting motivations” —Kirkus Reviews

“Well written and with excellent character development, this book grips you from the first page and keeps you wanting more. ” C. Church, Amazon reviewer

“This is not a book to breeze through or skim – you will want to enjoy every minute.” Eagereader, Amazon reviewer

 

Reviews:

daylight currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars from 56 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

daynight is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for FREE

 

An excerpt from daynight:


PROLOGUE

The moment the perfectly styled, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl awakens to the sight of her own dead body, she swears and slaps her corpse across the face. The gesture makes no impact. She checks her hands. Not a lick of vomit, despite the fact Dead Her’s covered with it.

“Stupid,” she yells at her dead-self. “If we were going to go, it should have been in grand fashion. A high speed car chase or skydiving or getting blown to bits by a terrorist. Not by some fluke. Not at my own party!” Someone will find us and fix this, she thinks.

She catches a glimpse of her animated self in the mirror. No longer dressed in her tailored Dolce & Gabbana dress or to-die for Prada jeweled satin 5 1/2 inch heel pumps, a simple and quite ugly grey shift hangs loosely from her body. An ear piercing scream leaves her lips. No, no, no. This can’t be real. Has to be a nightmare. There’s no way she’d ever wear such an insult to the fashion gods. She attempts to remove the shoes from her corpse as they’d easily make her top 100 pairs, but they won’t budge. Nor will the Tiffany necklace adorned with a most sentimental ring. Frustrated, she pummels Dead Her with well-placed kicks, but the stiff doesn’t flinch an inch.

“This isn’t a dream and we generally advise against beating oneself up,” a voice booms behind her. A tall man with white hair has appeared next to the girl in her locked parent’s master bathroom. His somber tone and white, pristinely pressed suit signal ‘all business.’ “Sit down,” he invites, gesturing to a small metal table and chairs that weren’t there a minute ago. The girl’s mother would fall down and die right next to the girl if she saw warehouse quality furniture adorning the special-ordered Italian floor and Louis XVI-era commode.

“Tell me what happened,” the man instructs.
“Am I really dead?” the girl asks, ignoring his request and pointing to the lifeless figure on the floor.

“I think that’s quite self-explanatory,” he says. “Determining the how and why will help me place you.”

She rolls her eyes. “Place me? As in Heaven vs. Hell? Let’s see. I don’t pray or worship anyone other than my personal shopper and tailor. I haven’t been to church in more than a decade. So, I’m thinking I’m headed downward. And if that doesn’t seal the deal, drinking myself to death at my own party should do it. But maybe you take pity on entitled kids left to their own devices by jet-setting parents?”

He opens a notebook and jots down a few notes, before asking, “You took some pain killers earlier this evening?”

“Yeah. I had some pain,” she snorts.

“From the tattoo you got after partying with your friends last night? A single black rose between your shoulder blades?”

“Uh, yeah. How’d you know about that?” she says, wondering if it is still present. The nagging itch and twinge of discomfort that were there yesterday have disappeared.

“Did you know your tattoo was infected?” he asks, not even looking up.

“Serious? No,” she gasps, knowing she shouldn’t have trusted that grimy Mission Beach tattoo parlor.

“You had fourteen drinks over the past six hours? Six shots, three vodka-tonics, and five glasses of punch?” he says, as he pushes his reading glasses farther up the bridge of his nose.

“Something like that,” she sneers. “As I said, it was a party. My party.”

“Did you know some of your male house guests supplemented the punch with an additive meant to loosen inhibitions?” he asks.

“Nope. Sounds like something the idiots would do though.”

“Were you depressed at all? Did you have a desire to die?” he says.

“It was a mistake,” she says. “It wasn’t about depression. It was about fun. Ever heard of it? It’s ridiculous I had to die over it. Everyone else seems to get a second chance. Why not me?” The man takes his time reviewing his notes and seems to make some sort of decision as he closes his notebook.
“I know just the place for you,” he says. “Follow me.”

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
Genesis 1:3-5
If light is good, what does the dark bring?

CHAPTER ONE
Kira

Escape, I remind myself. That’s why I’m here. On a speedboat. With a creepy escort who looks like the human incarnation of Mr. Potatohead. Heading into the open ocean towards an unknown destination. I’d eagerly signed the dotted line of The Second Chance Institute Recruit year-long contract, agreeing to leave all my earthly possessions in San Diego. It seemed easier to run than face my demons. I do regret abandoning my brother, Jared. He’s a year younger and it’s always been us versus them, and by them I mean the judgmental, self-centered beings who gave us life. My parents couldn’t shove me out the door fast enough, as my distress infringed upon their illusion of a perfect, carefree existence.

Just the thought of escaping reminds me of the events that led to my decision. I close my eyes and let fragments in, fighting the tears away. The ‘incident’ happened two months ago. My SCI Recruit Test preceded my senior year Winter Formal and after-party, which I attended with my boyfriend, Tristan and best friend, Briella. At the party, they ditched me after having tormented me all evening for considering a ‘do-gooder stint’ with the SCI. I figured they’d drink it off and get over it. In their absence, I met the perfect(ly unattainable) guy, Ethan. Who had me fantasizing about marriage, babies and growing old together. But, we were both ‘taken’ and, regrettably, parted ways.

The turning point of the fateful evening and reason I’m still alive: catching my boyfriend and best friend groping each other in a steamy make-out session. Refusing to discuss or forgive, I’d fled the posh Rancho Santa Fe estate and out into the darkness. Eerie silence was followed by ear-splitting, bomb-like thunder. Whatever the source, it leveled the house in seconds, raining fire and debris in every direction. I remember being hit by shrapnel and the resulting blood and pain. Being dragged from the wreckage. And then, medical personnel, police and the press all hounding me to know how I escaped the tragedy that left 110 of my classmates—including my boyfriend and all my close friends—dead.

I push the memories aside and lean back on the vinyl cushions of the boat. Listen to the whir of the motor. The spray of the boat’s wake cools the effects of the glorious Southern California sun and dampens my long, more-strawberry-than-blonde curls. Cutting through the waves at high speed rocks me into a trance. My SCI Recruiter, Ted Rosenberg—the Mr. Potatohead clone, who I’ve nicknamed ‘Spud’—encourages me to ‘enjoy the nice weather while it lasts,’ but I don’t respond. He yaps about Unit 27, my final destination, warning of ‘extreme temperature variations.’ Dump me at the North Pole, I think, if it puts distance between me and my memories.

According to their brochure, The Second Chance Institute places Recruits worldwide, with many prime locations throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Unfortunately, Recruits don’t get to choose where they serve and you can’t take anything with you other than the clothes on your back. The SCI provides ‘everything needed’ to adapt to one’s assignment. I sincerely doubt they can anticipate my every need, but don’t really care. I just want to get there and learn the where/what/whys about this mysterious Unit 27.

My blood apparently contains some random marker called DNT that made me an ‘excellent candidate’ for one of SCI’s more ‘remote’ and quite classified locations. So other than knowing that 50,000 residents make their home in Unit 27, I’m going in blind. I’ll help ‘those in need of a second chance at life,’ but in what capacity I’m clueless. Does it matter what I do? In return for my year of service, the SCI will grant me a full-ride scholarship to the college of my choice. Given I’m shooting for Ivy League or equivalent, I could use the help. My parents firmly believe in ‘supporting one’s self once one turns 18’ or in other words, not depleting my mother’s jewelry and vacation fund.

The boat slows and my stomach pitches up and down with the waves. I sit up and scan the horizon. What the—? Impossible. A dilapidated warehouse-like building, no larger than a two-car garage sits atop the ocean water. Other than squawking seagulls lining the roof, there’s no other sign of life. Spud easily maneuvers the boat up alongside the building and ties it down.

“Where are we?” I ask Spud. “Are we transferring to a larger boat here or something?” I’d spent the morning badgering him about our method of transportation to Unit 27. An airplane, I’d understand. A speedboat, not so much. No land mass off San Diego could house 50,000 people.

Spud bobbles his head and in a harsh tone says, “Ms. Donovan, please follow me. There is no time to waste if you are to adjust properly and start your training on time. We’re the last to arrive.” He offers me a hand, and helps me to my feet. We both leave the boat, though that does nothing to make me feel like I’m back on solid ground. The building sways with the waves. All directions offer no view of land or ships. Not good. We may be stuck here a while. Perhaps they’ll have a comfortable couch and food for the wait. I trail Spud into the dark and musty building. Disappointment strikes. The space we enter has a single, dim lightbulb which illuminates the small room enough to see peeling drywall and dark patches that look and smell like mold. A single arched doorway mirrors the door we entered on the opposite side of the room.

“OK,” Spud continues, “Ms. Donovan, go straight ahead to the end of the long corridor and into the large room. I will follow you.”

My brain won’t accept the thought of the small building containing a long corridor, much less a large room, but I’m eager to exit. I stumble forward through the dark, tunnel-like hallway for the equivalent of a city block before seeing a light ahead. My skin itches from small pinprick-like sensations from head to toe and I am parched beyond comprehension. I feel dizzy and ill, and have to stop to catch my breath as I enter the lighted room, an immense domed space as wide as a school cafeteria with pebbled walls and slate floor. Spud enters the room after me and vomits into a receptacle so violently his body convulses. He motions a small group across the room to join us before collapsing on the floor.
I notice that the wave-like motions have ceased. As I canvass the cavern-like room with my eyes, I’m positive that I am farther than the hundred feet from the boat I should be.

“Mr. Rosenberg, where on God’s green earth have you brought me?” I gasp.

“Technically, Ms. Donovan,” Spud grunts between spasms, “we are no longer on God’s green earth.”

“Say what?” I demand. I could have sworn I heard something to the effect of ‘not on’ and ‘earth’ in the same sentence, which isn’t possible.

 

daynight is available for purchase at:

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Connect with Megan Thomason:

Author Website: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6578897.Megan_Thomason

Author Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/daynight.series

Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/megan_thomason

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Playing Along, Rory Samantha Green {$2.99}

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Rory Samantha Green‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Playing Along:

Two Lives. Two Continents. One Song…

Then: George Bryce was an awkward, English schoolboy fantasizing about being in a band.

Now: George is frontman of Thesis, an overnight indie scene sensation. Intense, creative and self-deprecating, his childhood dreams have all been fulfilled – so why does George still feel so lost?

Then: Lexi Jacobs was a confident Californian high school cheerleader, planning her future marriage and a meaningful career.

Now: Lexi is searching for substance in a life full of mishaps. Cautious, bemused and rapidly losing the control she used to rely on, none of her teenage dreams have delivered and she’s left wondering, “What next?”

Follow George and Lexi as they navigate their days thousands of miles apart. Fly with them from London to LA and back again, as George copes with the dynamics of his tight knit band and loose knit family, while Lexi juggles her eccentric new boss, bored best friend and smother mother.

Even though there’s an ocean between them and their worlds couldn’t be further apart, George and Lexi are pulled together through music, and their paths appear determined to cross.

The question is – when?

At the end of this delightfully quirky, irresistible story, you too will be left wondering which of your fantasies are destined to come true…

 

Accolades:

“You’ll fall in love with George and Lexi…All the characters are so clearly defined. ””Green is an amazing writer, can’t wait to read more from her.”

“Love the references to music and the time it takes place. It’s hard to find books that will pull you in like PLAYING ALONG.”

 

Reviews:

Playing Along  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars from 6 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Playing Along  is available for purchase at:

 

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

 

An excerpt from Playing Along :

PLAYING ALONG

by Rory Samantha Green

THEN

GEORGE, 1st November, 1994, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire

“Your brother’s grown up a bit, hasn’t he?”

George holds his breath when he hears these words swoop past his bedroom door. He’s thirteen, but his sister is two years older and her friends are an enigma. They smell like grapefruit and cigarettes and layer mascara on their lashes until they look like pandas. Most of them have boobs. Big ones. He’s fascinated by the divide. George’s sister, Polly, has maybe said one word to him in the last two weeks and that was muttered in disdain when he had mistakenly knocked her make-up brush off the counter and into the toilet. It had floated forlornly in the bowl like a drowned rodent.

“Arsehole!”

But now there’s a chance of redemption. Despite his skinny legs and spotty rounded face, it seems as if one of the awesome grapefruit girls has noticed something in him. Something unique. He reckons it will take a very special woman to appreciate his nuances. His love of Grover from Sesame Street (so underrated – why did Kermit get all the limelight?) and his adoration of the most amazing music the universe has to offer – Bowie, U2, Portishead, Dylan, New Order. The woman who takes his heart must take his record collection as well.

“My brother?” replies Polly in dramatic shock. ”Yeah, you could say he’s grown up – into a first rate troll.”

The grapefruit girls giggle and their laughter snakes under his door and rings painfully in his ears. George bites his bottom lip, scraping his teeth against peeling skin. Another nervous habit.

“And listen to this… he claims one day he’s going to be in a famous band and be on the cover of NME and have groupies. What a joke!”

George, prepared for the inevitable cackle of mockery, grabs his headphones and his CD player and presses play with an urgency. “Fools Gold” by the Stone Roses floods his brain. He turns up the volume as loud as it will go and hurls his notebook across the room where it ricochets off the wall and slides under his bed. The notebook is filled with songs. George has been unpacking heartache from his sensitive soul since the age of ten.

His sister’s harsh words are never as brutal as the words he calls himself.

He knows what he wants, but he’s pretty damn certain that a boy like him is never going to get it.

LEXI, November 1st, 1994, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California

“I’m psyched about the game tomorrow!” Andrew enthusiastically polishes off his second burrito, gazing longingly at Lexi across the table. She smiles at him mischievously knowing that she drives him crazy with her Juicy Fruit breath, her shiny brown hair, and her legs which have conveniently slimmed out and toned up since she started diligently attending an after school kickboxing class.

“I’m excited too,” she replies, playfully nudging his size twelve basketball shoes under the table. “I hope you win, so we can celebrate.”

Lexi and Andrew are the couple at Pali High. Just embarking on their senior year, they have been an item since the eleventh grade. Andrew first kissed Lexi on Zuma beach with the waves lapping at their bare feet two nights after passing his driving test. His parents had given him a convertible Mustang for his sixteenth birthday and when he drove her home, one hand on the wheel, the other holding hers, Lexi had a sweet taste lingering in her mouth and salty wind in her hair.

“So unfair,” her best friend, Meg, had complained the following morning. “It’s not supposed to happen like that. He’s supposed to drool, or run out of gas, or step on your toe or something. Why is your life like an Audrey Hepburn movie and mine like a bad TV sitcom?”

And Lexi certainly didn’t want to be smug, but there was some truth in Meg’s observation. Things just seemed to go her way. Her parents had raised her to believe in herself and face life with a positive outlook. Not that she was syrupy or self-obsessed. She worked hard at her studies and had an excellent Grade Point Average. She volunteered at a local homeless shelter, fingerpainting with vulnerable kids after school. She’d started up a current events debate club in her junior year and persuaded many of her friends to join. They now competed nationally. Oh and of course, she kickboxed and played on the girls’ volleyball team, and thankfully had the sort of hair that didn’t frizz on damp mornings when the fog rolled in off the coast.

Lexi had lost her virginity to Andrew on the floor in his bedroom on a Sunday afternoon while his parents shopped at Target. He had lit a scented candle stolen from his mother’s bathroom, and the smell of orange mimosa flooded the room. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40 was playing on his CD player.

When it was over (slightly painful, but not nearly as uncomfortable as she had imagined), he leaned on his elbows beside her and whispered in her ear, “I can’t help falling in love with you…” One year later, sitting opposite him watching him wipe guacamole from the side of his lips, Lexi feels in her heart that she loves him too. In fact she is sure, along with almost everyone else at Pali High who either knows them or admires them from afar, that they will most likely end up getting married. Lexi’s mother has saved her own wedding dress for the occasion, wrapped in delicate layers of archival tissue in an ivory box on the top shelf of her cupboard. “It’s just waiting, my beauty,” her mother has promised.

Lexi can picture their home now (a cozy New England style house, a few blocks from her parents, with whitewashed floors and shabby chic couches), two or maybe three kids (she really doesn’t have a preference for boys or girls) and most definitely a dog, a black Labrador called George. She imagines a fulfilling and creative part time job as well, maybe a teacher or an art therapist, something that leaves her with the freedom to be a hands-on mom. So what if she is only seventeen? It’s just a dream, but life has already proven to Lexi that dreams do find a way of coming true.

NOW

GEORGE, 1st November, 2009, Greenwich, England

“George… I love you!” On certain nights this professed love is yelled out a hundred times from men and women alike. Most nights it disappears into the roar of the crowd, but at some gigs a single voice will miraculously separate out and hover above the throng of faceless fans and George hears it and needs it to be true.

George is at the piano finishing the final chords of “Beyond Being,” a poignant ballad based on his teenage existential musings and a lyric which popped into his head one day as he polished off a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The audience sways in time and cell phones punctuate the blackness like rechargeable flames. George hangs his head as the song comes to a quiet end, his voice wavering with a sad clarity.

Thousands of fans cheer and whoop in adoration and George looks up shyly with his trademark grin. ”Thank you very much for coming. We appreciate you might have better things to do with your Saturday nights, like watching X Factor, and the boys and I really enjoyed playing to you tonight…” This, as intended, whips up the crowd into an even louder frenzy as George and his band mates lope off the stage with a schoolboy charm that has captivated fans across the world from Denmark to Chile, and every destination in between.

George has come a long way from the corner of his brown bedroom. His band, Thesis, stormed onto the music scene with an unstoppable force after his best mate and guitarist, Simon Ogden-Smith, persuaded George to start up a Myspace page and stream some of their music. George, Simon, Simon’s cousin Mark, and Mark’s sister’s friend Duncan from Australia, had been playing local pubs in Islington and had been slowly building up a loyal fan base. But the Myspace page catapulted them into a whole new stratosphere, and with a swiftness which at times found George’s throat closing with unprecedented anxiety, they burst onto the alternative music scene and made their mark. Three months after being signed by a record company they were flown to Los Angeles to record their first album,Twelve Thousand Words. George Bryce, still a sweaty lonely teenager at heart, found himself surrounded by attractive, fawning women called Claudia and Agnes and Nell. They willingly offered their breasts to him without any pleading involved and he indulged in a whole new adolescence at twenty-two.

The band’s first big hit was a rocking anthem called “Grapefruit Girls,” an opportunity for George to get his revenge on those elusive females who had inducted him into the hall of shame. George became an unlikely heartthrob, a self-deprecating lad who wore T-shirts with Grover on them and gave interviews about obscure comic books and rare vinyl. His boyish looks, lopsided smile and thick shaggy black hair, once his greatest insecurity, suddenly became irresistible. Even America, notoriously hard to break for an unheard-of alternative band, lapped up the accents and the awkwardness. Critics either loved or hated Thesis and George made a point of reading every review, because no matter how famous they became, he never stopped caring about what people thought of him.

 

Playing Along is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Therapy for Ghosts, Eric Praschan {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Eric Praschan‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Therapy for Ghosts:

Some memories will find you no matter where you hide…

Cindy James is a cognitive behavioral therapist in a quiet Missouri town, but her precisely patterned life spins into chaos when she is besieged by panic attacks. Forced to undergo counseling with a new, peculiar therapist in town, Tony Prost, Cindy defiantly resists both his unnerving charm and the truth behind the haunting images that are unleashing her anxiety.

As Cindy’s memory flashes increase in frequency, she is jolted by the terrible deed her beloved mother committed to gain their freedom from her father. That memory is one clue to the mystery behind her compulsive behaviors: carrying a headless Raggedy Ann doll throughout the five-story mansion in which she lives alone, spot cleaning the mansion’s thirty-one rooms, and crying herself to sleep in an empty red room. Cindy slowly recalls her grandmother’s dominating, divisive presence and a violent history shrouded by years of silence, binding three generations. She soon realizes that the key to her future is buried in her past, but finding the truth means embarking on a harrowing journey back into the heart of her darkest fears.

 

Accolades:

“Eric Praschan’s book comes with an amusing premise, charting the meltdown of Cindy James, a cognitive behavioral therapist, who is in critical need of…cognitive behavioral therapy. The story quickly turns serious, as Praschan explores her tortured psyche, leading us to the unimaginable trauma that keeps her imprisoned, like a ghost, in a house already haunted by her childhood tormentors. Judging from the crackling dialogue between Cindy and Tony, the therapist who loves and helps her, Praschan is well versed in the challenges of the doctor-patient duet. This is a fine and well-written psychological thriller. And I am partial to any male author who seeks – and succeeds – to create a full-dimensioned woman narrator.”
-By Sarah Kernochan, 2-time Academy Award winning screenwriter of “What Lies Beneath” and author of paranormal suspense novel, Jane Was Here

“Rich with imagery and wonderfully paced, Therapy for Ghosts is a deft tale of pain and redemption, smartly told via a struggling protagonist and an old house that, like all of us, has more history than we care to admit! Eric’s debut novel marks the launch of a brave new talent. Highly recommended!”
-By Ray Blackston, award-winning author of Flabbergasted

“Cindy James has some dark secrets. Her problem is she doesn’t remember them without great effort and sometimes trauma. Eric Praschan’s first venture into the novel format is a fast-paced psychological thriller. One in which the reader is immediately sucked into the underworld of a troubled psyche. Cindy’s efforts to recall and learn more about her past will keep you turning pages and wanting more from this writer.”
-Amazon review

“Deep family secrets. Classic Suspense. The quality of writing is original, engaging and seamlessly flawless. This is a hidden gem, that when discovered will gain many reviews and accolades. I was folded into the complex web of the story till the end. Bravo Eric, your talents run deep and it will be exciting to read your next book!”
-Amazon review

 

Reviews:

Therapy for Ghosts currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.2 stars from 27 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Therapy for Ghosts is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

An excerpt from Therapy for Ghosts:

Chapter One

Mama, I’ve been remembering you, and that scares me to death. These static days and sleepless nights have brought her back to me, the young girl covering her ears and cowering beneath her bed in terror. Our unspoken pact to forget is at risk. I wish you were here to guide me through the darkness, to remind me how to rid ourselves of what she has seen and what she knows, yet I am glad you are gone, because you will not have to face her again. She is coming for me, and I have run out of places to hide.

I stir awake, feeling sweat burning my body. My foggy eyes stare at the ceiling, waiting for the shadows amid the candlelight to shift. All stays still in the room, reminding me that there is no one else with whom to share the nightmares. I peel back the freshly ironed bed sheets and slide my feet into cushioning slippers. After slipping on my robe, I tiptoe to the bedroom door, undo the two deadbolt locks, and step into the drafty hallway, all the while seeking to purge the vivid mental image of the little girl hiding beneath her bed and covering her ears in dread.

In the darkness of the interior, the house features are not clearly visible, but I have walked these halls enough at night to know them blindly. The middle section of varnished wood down each hall has a faint, grooved indention from my countless footsteps traversing back and forth during post-nightmare purging sessions. A gaping space sits at the center of the house’s five levels, forming an atrium around which the rectangular levels of each hallway are built. At the four corners of each level is a wooden staircase. Every night I walk up and down the levels, glancing through the open doorways of the rooms to see the shadow-pressed presence of candlelight burning with tiny vigor only inches away from closed window curtains.

When I return to my starting point, if the mental image still has not vanished—like tonight—I make my way to the cherry wood door which stands alone on the far wall of the third level. Upon prying open the only door besides my own which remains closed at night, I enter an empty fifteen-foot by fifteen-foot room. Tonight the windowless, candle-less space appears darker than usual, forcing my eyes to squint in an effort to detect the color consuming the room. The walls, ceiling, and floor are a distinct, rich red, a shade which has only seemed to darken since the day I painted it liberally with a brush that was just one inch wide. For the life of me, however, I still cannot remember why I painted the room red.

While moving to the center of the room, I find the only occupant lying in one of her sleeping spots. Kneeling down, I pick up the headless Raggedy Ann doll and hold her reverently. The image of the girl hiding beneath the bed in terror creeps into my mind, but I dismiss it abruptly, choosing instead to clutch the doll tightly to my chest. Then I pry her away from me and gently lower her back onto the floor. I stretch out, lie beside her, and press my face against the cold, spotless hardwood. Tears fall from my eyes to puddle on the comfortless floor. The memory flash bursts like a reckless spark, igniting my kindled thoughts with the urge to remember.
I open my eyes and the foggy features of my office come into focus. I see blonde-haired Samantha Jackson standing stiffly in the doorway with mascara smudges gleaming beneath her eyes. “What if he doesn’t think I’m worth the effort it will take to change his behavior?”

I smile knowingly. “Samantha, if you won’t breach this subject with him, then you’re going to keep pacifying the very thing that damages you. I wouldn’t be a good friend if I were any less honest.”

She gathers herself with a reassuring breath. “Thanks, Cindy. Talking with you helps give me the courage I’ll need to face him.Sometimes it feels like I’m still coming to you for therapy instead of just being a friend catching up. Well, I’ve got to get home and cook dinner. Hope he comes home sober tonight.” She expels a weighty sigh and then smiles grimly. “See you soon, Cindy.”

“See you, Samantha.”

After she disappears down the hallway, I move to the door and close it quietly. Then I slump down in the office chair, hoping the heaviness in my limbs will subside. Three stacks of paper sit in evenly distributed piles on the far right corner of the finely polished cherry wood desk. A “Time” magazine lies just below the paper piles, marked with today’s date, April 1, 1995. An ornate desk lamp rests beside a brass square holder filled with uniform pens. A single picture surrounded by a simple glass frame occupies the space on the far left corner of the desk, a wrinkled three by five photo of Mama and me in my pink walled bedroom when I was thirteen years old. I find myself staring at the picture far longer than I intended, beginning to travel back in memory, dazed in emotional fog.
Brushing off the sensation, I slip on my coat and grab my purse on the way out of the room, seeing Samantha’s jacket—which she always used to leave behind in my house when she was a patient ten years ago—still draped around the coat stand. As I lock the office door, an odd tingling pricks my thigh and calf muscles. My vision becomes blurry, almost double. I stagger to the outer door, open it, and scarcely step outside before my fingers fumble and release the keys. The sound of clinking metal rattles from the concrete below. I attempt to reach down and retrieve the keys, but my arm feels as if it is struggling against a wave of water. A bizarre, unbalanced sensation swarms over my joints. Each muscle feels plunged into molasses, wobbling in painful slow motion, as if weighed down by lead. I attempt to scream for help, but my mouth remains closed and unresponsive. My eyes grow wide with alarm. Both weightless and immensely heavy, my body teeters, m y knees buckle, and I ungracefully careen backward onto the concrete sidewalk. I lie motionless, sensing terror quicken my heartbeat and restrict my breathing.

Breathe, Cindy, keep breathing. You’re having a panic attack, nothing more. Focus on breathing.

A full minute passes and my limbs lay limp without response.

Just breathe, keep breathing.

Another minute passes. Still nothing.

Someone, please come. Keep breathing, Cindy. Someone has to come.

My consciousness ebbs and I surrender to the mental void.

The memory flash continues propelling me forward, pricking my thoughts with the pull of remembrance.

My eyelids quiver, trying to open themselves. The throbbing in my backside informs me I am lying on a bed of some kind. The joints in my arms and legs pulse with dulling pain. A disturbing calm blankets each nerve. The desire to rest and remain unmoving beckons strongly, but I do not want to sleep for fear I may not awaken again.

“While I was driving home, I realized I had forgotten my jacket, so I turned around to go back to her office.” Samantha’s excitable voice echoes throughout the room. “When I got there, she was on the ground, not moving or speaking.”

“I’m just glad you found her,” Jody Simon’s voice replies with an even higher pitch. I picture Jody’s sparkling blue eyes and fiery red hair, her pretty face frazzled with concern.

Authoritative footsteps enter the room, precise in their cadence and deliberate in their direction.

“Ms. James, can you hear me?” A man’s deep, commanding voice bludgeons my ears. “If you can hear me, open your eyes.”

My brain gives the signal, but my eyelids are defiant.

Concentrate, Cindy. The sooner you open your eyes, the sooner you can leave.

I open my eyelids shakily, overwhelmed by the blinding fluorescent light above. My eyes rove in his direction and detect a tall, bearded black man in an angel-white jacket.

“My name is Dr. Shipper. I’m the neurologist on duty in the hospital right now. Can you follow my finger?”

His slender finger appears in front of my face and he waves it from side to side while my eyes try to track it.

“Good, Ms. James. Can you speak to me?”

My eyes stare at him, desperate to communicate something, anything.

He smiles knowingly. “That’s all right. We’ll get there. The MRI, the CT scan, the spinal tap, and the blood work came back negative. The only logical conclusion we can reach is that you experienced some type of stress disorder reaction. It appears that either the unprocessed accumulation of stress or some unresolved trauma in your mind has caused your body to mimic symptoms of health conditions you do not have. The body is reacting in a physical manner to something psychological. I want you to see a cognitive behavioral therapist.”

The ladies stand speechless. My eyes search his helplessly.

Jody smirks. “She is a cognitive behavioral therapist.”

He smiles supremely, eyeing me with a knowing gleam. “Then I suppose it will be quite an interesting experience for you. I want you to see a friend of mine, Tony Prost. He’s new in town. I’ll schedule an appointment for you and write down his address and phone number on your discharge papers. I don’t want you working for at least a week. Your body should regain strength soon. Once you’re able to speak and walk, you are free to go. I’ll be back to check on you in a little while.”

Without another word, he nods and makes his way out of the room, leaving us bewildered.

The mental flash returns me to the red room floor. I close my eyes and continue grappling with images of the young girl hiding beneath her bed and covering her ears to block out the horrid sounds coming from somewhere else in her house. I reach out and pull Raggedy Ann tightly to myself. I don’t have the heart to tell her that the real agony is about to begin. Something is stirring deep within my memory, and I don’t know how to keep it a secret from myself any longer; this time, it will consume me.

 

Therapy for Ghosts is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Eric Praschan:

Author Website: www.ericpraschan.com

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Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/EricPraschan

AN UNQUIET AMERICAN, AFN CLARKE {$3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

“An Unquiet American” is a literary political thriller drawn from bestselling author AFN Clarke’s own experiences in the military and as the son of a low-level British MI6 operative living in different countries, cultures and political systems around the world. Rufus Reed is a former British Special Forces officer turned controversial author. In the dead of night he is drugged, kidnapped and “disappeared” to a secret CIA ‘Black Site’ prison outside the United States. Falsely accused of terrorism he is relentlessly questioned and tortured.

But Rufus is no ordinary prisoner, and has some surprises of his own. He engages in psychological “warfare”, surprising his interrogators with his ability to resist torture, his quick wit, intelligence and even-tempered logic. As he plants seeds of doubt, a dramatic turn of events sets off alarm bells in their minds – with growing horror they realize they may simply be pawns in a larger more insidious game being played out at the highest levels of the US government. A game where not just Reed, but all of them are expendable. Dare they take a life and death decision to step out of the game? And if so, how?

Unbeknown to them, on a larger world stage related events are racing with unnerving twists and turns from Hong Kong, Jordan, Italy, USA, and Latvia to the highest levels of the CIA, the Knesset and the Vatican. Just as you think you know what’s going to happen, another intriguing play is revealed!

As the action races towards an unexpected climax the question screaming for an answer is – who are the puppets and who the puppeteers? Who is just power hungry and who the good that tips the scales of evil?

A fast paced, politically provocative thriller. Chilling in how easily democracy and freedom can be abused. Shocking in its revelations about how historical actions from the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 to the present are at the root of many world problems today. An exciting yet thought-provoking book, it reveals both the power of corruption and the power of the human spirit to rise above it.

ANF Clarke is bestselling author of “Contact” and 5 books of fiction. Please visit www.afnclarke.com.

What readers are saying:

AFN Clarke’s book is terrific. In the vein of Arthur Hiller’s “Catch 22″, “An Unquiet American” not only conveys the horrors of imprisonment and its brutal tortures, but also the wry comedic wit of Rufus Reed, the protagonist. Not only does he – through his vast historic knowledge – change the minds of his captors, but he eventually saves them as well. The story has all of the intrigue of a “Bond” novel, villains taken from “today’s headlines,” and an insight into the political world that we are all suffering the repercussions from. I’d highly recommend it.

This masterpiece of psychological warfare exemplifies what happens when the tenets of Democracy are subjugated to the whims of those who bend the meaning of the Constitution to fit their twisted views of America’s place in the world. While suffering the brutality of mental and physical torture at a CIA black ops site, Rufus Reed is able to turn the tables on his captors with superior intellect and an understanding of world affairs that forces his torturers to reevaluate the values and ethics of the “so-called” civilized world. AFN Clarke’s superior storytelling encapsulates the horrors of the dark side of our Democracy with real world events that few authors could hope to capture. This is a must read!

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.5 stars, with 6 reviews.

Click here to read more about and purchase AN UNQUIET AMERICAN  for $3.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime at Amazon 

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