THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: CENTURY’S ENDINGS, Oliver Frances {$5.99}

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Description of CENTURY’S ENDINGS:

The stories in Century’s Endings narrate the social problems of man and his drama with life. Some are set in a political climate of regimes abolished at the end of the last century and others where the rulers are men of narrow thought.

In Century’s Endings, explore the worlds of:

“Faith”…A Soviet peasant finds that an unfortunate event changes his life…twice.

“Jeremy Smith”…Luis, the Peñon, is just a guy whose mind is pestered with images and stories of the lives of the celebrities and people who have succeeded in North America. Though his ambition is to make the American dream come true, he travels mistakenly to the old continent where he sets out his adventure and, eventually, spends his live.

“The Lord”…A young man, after completing post-graduate studies in a developed country, returns to his native land, where his countrymen don’t understand his vision.

“Cautious Man”… Elegábalo was a cautious man. He walked looking over his shoulder and never let his cautiousness slip away until he got what he always wished. Though Elegábalo was cautious man, he never thought of the unexpected, and this changed dramatically his fate and then fortune.

“The Forgotten Ones”…Sometimes promises made by the politicians during their campaign for votes are never carried out.

 

Accolades:

Oliver Frances’ inspirations must be the philosophical novelists of 19th-20th century Europe, and as a fan of such writing by Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I’m grateful for that. Too much of today’s literary fiction involves navel gazing rather than examining humanity’s place in the universe and the moral decisions we should make. While “Cautious Man” is a mere short story compared to his novella “Through Existences,” the tale still will leave you thinking for a long time afterward. The lesson in “Cautious Man”? Don’t always obtain what you want, for doing so is a trap. If that sounds strange, remember that it’s a lesson learned by rock stars like John Lennon and politicians such as Richard Nixon. Frances teaches it by narrating the story of a peasant villager in a Third World country. “Cautious Man” is a strong story and serves as a good introduction to this young writer’s growing body of quality work.


CENTURY’S ENDINGS is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $5.99

 

An excerpt from CENTURY’S ENDINGS:

The Forgotten Ones

Upon fissures of a barren soil, the peasants built up their shack on a God’s forsaken land.
As the sun dipped in the horizon, the old woman sipped black coffee.
“Take your brave face off! It won’t take so long.”
Brushing some black strands off his forehead, he looked at the worn body seated at the furrowed wooden board. “A year gone! And, we ain’t go any letter.”
“Be patient! You’ll get your doggone letter. He hasn’t sent it ’cause he ain’t warmed up his chair at the desk yet. The young believe that can do all in one day, but not even God made the world in a day,” told she, puckering her brow yet more.
Flowing through the holes, yellowish light soaked his bare dark torso. “Out of the horse’s mouth, I heard we’d get the property deed of our land.”
The mulatto’s hot air plagued her.
“Stubborn!” she said.
Hands up as if were taking both lapels, he paraphrased the governor-to-be candidate, “farming is our…”In his short jargon, he chewed the politician’s word, “priority.”
“So?” Asked she, nibbling crispy pastry.
“He lied through his teeth,” he said, in his usual tone.
“What if he didn’t?”
“Don’t let the sleeping dogs lie.”
The old woman hurled the pewter to one side and, then she said. “What is left to the poor is: believing.”
“I no longer hold myself back for his letter.”
“You’re so stubborn as an ass.”
“No… I am realistic! It’s taken one damn year.”
“Surely, he has us in mind,” told she.
And, he burst into a sarcastic laughter. “No matter what is on his mind now.”
“Why?”
“No one care about us, not even the major.”

 

CENTURY’S ENDINGS is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $5.99


Connect with Oliver Frances:

Website: www.oliverfrances.blogspot.com

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/oliver.frances

Twitter: @oliverfrances

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Ain’t No Sunshine, Leslie DuBois {$2.99}

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Description of Ain’t No Sunshine:

Updated Version 8/12/2011
Includes Reading Group Questions

Warning:
This book tackles difficult subjects. The views and decisions of the characters do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the author.

Though it is against the law in 1960s Virginia, Stephen Phillips wants to marry his colored neighbor, Ruthie. Growing up in a physically abusive home, his love for Ruthie was the only thing that helped him survive. Instead of giving in to social and family prejudice, Stephen decides to fight for love. And it’s a fight that could lead to murder. Racism and revenge darken this psychological drama set against the backdrop of the segregated South.

 

Accolades:

-A shocker of a book and a quick read.

-It twists and turns and will leave you surprised at the end!

-Thanks for a great read. I highly recommend this story of young love and what one would do to hold on to it.

-This story wowed me. I was drawn in immediately and the wonderful narration kept me glued. The imagery is strong and the dialogue is believable and engaging. I was moved by the characters and cared about their outcome.

-I loved this book. I just finished reading one book and I opened it up and could not put it down. I read every single word to the end and I really loved the ending. I read the ending twice just to savor it! I downloaded her other title and find it just as enticing.

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

Ain’t No Sunshine currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars, with 151 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Ain’t No Sunshine is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Excerpt from Ain’t No Sunshine:

Prologue

The officer placed a cup of black coffee on the table in front of me.

“I don’t drink coffee,” I said, continuing to stare out the window at the Chicago skyline.

“Well, you might want to start. You’re not going anywhere for a while, son.”

I crossed my arms and slouched in the chair. “I’m not your son,” I said through gritted teeth. I focused on a pale yellow Volkswagen van driving past the window of the police station. I shook my head with frustrated regret. I should have bought a new car before we left. I never thought a broken taillight, of all things, would land us in this police station. Now they were asking me questions. Questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. Not yet, anyway.

The officer didn’t respond at first. The only sound was that of the rotating fan in the corner of the room, blowing out the same hot, stale air.

“Fine,” he said after a few minutes. “Let’s talk about whose son you are then, huh?” He took some pictures out of a file and laid them out on the table. I refused to look; I knew what they would show. “Do you see this, Stephen? Why don’t you look at your father’s mutilated body? Beaten to death with a shovel outside his own home.”
He picked up one of the pictures and waved it in front of my face. I shut my eyes tightly. I was there when it happened. I knew what it looked like. I didn’t want to be reminded of the image; it was already permanently ingrained in my mind.

“Did you do it, Stephen? Did you kill your own father in cold blood?”

I kept my eyes closed and refused to answer. The image of my father’s bloody corpse floated behind my eyelids.

“No, you couldn’t have done it.” I heard the officer’s footsteps as he walked to the other side of the room. “There’s no way a smart, wealthy boy like you could murder the man that took care of you and loved you for eighteen years.”

I opened my eyes and glared at the fat, sweaty man interrogating me. “My father never loved me. Never!”

His eyes expanded. My tone shocked him. He took a step back as if he was actually afraid of me for a second. He quickly recovered his composure, though. “Well, then I guess you did kill him.”

I bit my tongue and turned away. I had already said too much. There was no way he was getting me to talk. Not yet, anyway. I needed a few more minutes to get my thoughts together.

“I guess we’re gonna have to do this the hard way,” he said after a few moments. He sat down in the chair across from me and opened his file again. “Maybe I’ll just have to ask that pretty little colored girlfriend of yours,” he said, staring at Ruthie’s picture and licking his lips.

“You leave her out of this.” My hands clenched into fists.

“I don’t know if I can do that. She seems to be pretty involved.” He kept staring at her picture as he spoke. “Your father is found dead at your home in Virginia and you’re found seven hundred miles away with a nigger whore. I can’t -”

He didn’t get to finish his thought. I leapt across the table and started pounding his face in. Seconds later, I was subdued by several officers. They placed me back in the chair and handcuffed me to the table as everyone stepped outside and decided what to do with me.

This was getting worse and worse by the minute. I’d gladly go to jail for killing that man. He deserved to die. I just didn’t want Ruthie to get dragged into this. After all we’d been through, at least one of us deserved a chance to be happy.

After what felt like hours, another officer entered the room. He placed a bottle of peroxide and some napkins on the table.

“You gonna behave?” he asked, holding up the key to the handcuffs. He was much younger than the other officer. With his dark hair and blue eyes he kind of reminded me of my older brother, Matthew, except with a bushy mustache. For some reason, I felt I could trust him.

I nodded and he unlocked my handcuffs.

“What’s that for?” I asked, indicating the peroxide.

He looked at me strangely. “Stephen, your face is covered in cuts and bruises. The officers who subdued you kind of went a little too far. You have open wounds. You’re bleeding.” He pointed to a couple of places on my face. “Doesn’t it hurt?”

I shrugged and reached for the bottle and paper towels. I didn’t feel pain like most people. It was a coping mechanism I’d developed at an early age.
“I’m Lieutenant Drake,” he said, still staring at me as I cleaned my wounds. “This must have been a hard few days for you.”
I nodded.

“Your father is dead, your mother is missing, and you and Ruthie are on the run.”
I nodded.

“Why are you running? You know running only makes you look guilty, and I don’t really believe you killed your father. I don’t think you’re capable.”
I stared at him. “You have no idea what I’m capable of. You have no idea what that man did to me.”

“You’re right. I don’t,” he said, trying to hide his surprise at my response. He sat down and crossed his arms. “So why don’t you tell me? You obviously have a story and you need someone to listen. So tell me your story. Tell me everything.”

Chapter 1

I don’t remember when I met Ruthie. She was just always there. She was the reason I woke up in the morning, the reason I survived as long as I did in my father’s house, and the reason he deserved to die.

He did everything he could to keep me away from her. One of my earliest memories was of sitting in the front pew of my father’s church and twisting my neck to odd angles in order to get a glimpse of Ruthie in the colored balcony. I remember thinking that whites and coloreds weren’t even allowed to worship God together, how were they supposed to be able to fall in love?

On one occasion, when I was about five years old, I turned around for too long. My older brother, Matthew, grabbed my hand as a silent gesture to let me know that I needed to turn back before my father saw. But it was too late. As the choir began their rendition of Amazing Grace, I knew no amount of grace would save me from what was coming next.

When we got home, my father sent Matthew to the store. I knew that meant trouble. He always sent Matthew away before he went into a violent tirade. He knew Matthew wouldn’t tolerate it. Matthew was sixteen years older than me and proved to be a formidable opponent for my father. Any time my father lifted a hand to me or my mother, Matthew was right there diverting my father’s wrath. It always ended up turning into a fierce knock-down-drag-out brawl between the two of them. I think my father began to fear Matthew, thus the new habit of sending him away.

I knew not to tell Matthew what my father did while he was gone; that would just result in a worse beating. I didn’t mind that much. It was kind of easier this way. The beating was much shorter and I didn’t have to watch my father and brother pound on each other over something that was my fault. I just shouldn’t have turned around in church. I needed to learn to control my desire to see Ruthie. The sooner I learned that, the easier both of our lives would be.

“Remove your shirt and lie on the floor,” he instructed me.

“Yes, Father.” I obeyed, and then watched as he pulled the scourge out of its storage place next to his rifle. It was a special device my father had created that was like a whip with stones in it. He said it was what they used to beat the Christ.

“Do you know what you have done?” he asked, staring at the whip and caressing it like it was an old friend.

“Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley played on the radio. I tried to focus on the music as my father slowly, methodically laid the whip out on the couch. Then his quiet footsteps followed him over to the radio on top of the television. He switched it off. He didn’t like anything covering over the sound of the whip against my skin. I think he enjoyed it.

“Yes, Father,” I answered him.

“Never look at the coloreds,” he said, glaring at me. I turned away so I wouldn’t see the evil gleam in his eye. I buried my face in the shag carpeting, nearly inhaling the fibers. “I’m going to beat those desires out of you.”

Tears stung behind my eyes, but not because of the impending torture. His words hurt more. Ruthie was colored. I wasn’t supposed to want to be with her. My desires were wrong.

The first blow across my back knocked the wind out of me. I gasped and tried to concentrate on making the room stop spinning. It hurt like hell, but I wasn’t allowed to cry. If I cried, he would hit me until I stopped. So I just took it. Even at that young age, I had learned how not to cry or show any emotion at all, for that matter. I was an expert at getting people to see what I wanted them to see.

 

Ain’t No Sunshine is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Leslie DuBois:

Website: www.LeslieDuBois.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Leslie-DuBois/228572820507819

Twitter Page: @sybilnelson

KINDLE DAILY DEAL: What the Heart Knows by Mara Purl is Just $0.99 Today Only!

Is the heart smarter than the head? Artist Miranda Jones begins to trust her heart enough to escape from her life of privilege and start over in Milford-Haven, the small town of undiscovered beauty on California’s Central Coast. She connects with environmentalist Samantha Hugo-a brilliant PhD twenty years her senior who gave up a son years earlier; and with restaurant owner Sally O’Mally who left Arkansas to create her own dream. Each woman wrestles with her own core issues while balancing demanding careers with the attentions of interesting men. None is aware that journalist Christine Christian has just been murdered while investigating a half-built house. Though the book stands alone, it is also Book 1 in the critically acclaimed, popular series, a multi-generational saga. Based on Purl’s BBC Radio drama Milford-Haven U.S.A.

What readers are saying:

Purl presents the first novel in her Milford-Haven series, which features a setting of unadulterated beauty. . .and a cast of successful, sexy, sometimes quirkily independent characters . . .romance. . .scandal, and carefully parsed out mystery. . .the novel is poised to convince readers to continue with the series. – Publishers Weekly

Former Days of Our Lives actress Purl imbues her soap opera finesse into the fictional setting of Milford-Haven, a sleepy California coastal town. This may be Apple Pie, USA, but hearts are on the line, professions are at stake and a possible murder has tainted the landscape. A whirlwind of juicy drama with dangling-carrot closure.– Kirkus Reviews

What the Heart Knows is an upbeat novel . . .the first book of Milford-Haven. The book opens powerfully . . . Purl does not use external paraphernalia to bring her characters to life. Multiple love stories, friendships, crushes, and. . .Purl’s characters are well-traveled, educated, and street smart. ForeWord Reviews

…in Mara Purl’s enchanting novel What  the Heart Knows…the cast of interesting and eccentric characters is what really draws the reader into the book.  Purl skillfully tackles tough environmental issues such as land development and offshore oil drilling through the lives of her characters and the events that unfold.  - RR Bowker’s BookWire

The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4.5 stars {7 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase What the Heart Knows for $0.99* from Amazon

*Price goes back up to $8.79 tomorrow!

 

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Waiting On Hope, T.M. Souders {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Waiting On Hope:

Ten years ago, Lexie Dodson fled her home in rural Ohio, leaving behind a heartbroken brother and abandoning a devastated fiancé. While chasing her desire of a fast-paced life in the city, and the obscurity of urban life, she is shaken to her very core by an act of violence that leaves her betrayed, broken, and pregnant—and with nowhere to go but home.

Seeking refuge and facing gut-wrenching decisions, she is confronted not only with the past she left behind, but also with a love that never died—a love waiting for something to stoke the flames.

Told from the perspective of four characters, Waiting on Hope will stay with you well after the last page has been turned.


Accolade:

From Maria Snell:

I read Waiting on Hope by T.M. Souders in one day; I could not put it down. This is one of those gems that grab you from page one and will not let you go after you finish reading the last word. It is a book about rape and its aftermath – what is left of the woman after the rape that changed her life forever. I knew this book was worth its weight in gold during the first scene of the book, when I could literally feel the cold cement under my toes – and I was not once disappointed – the story is powerful and self-sustaining for the duration.

I have seldom come across such well developed characters – they give you access to their innermost feelings, you find yourself thinking alongside with them as they work out their fears and hopes and problems – you literally feel what they are feeling in any particular scene. Nothing is rushed or avoided, the timing and cadence of every scene is perfectly in tune with the situation and with the rest of the book; nothing seems contrived or far-fetched – this book could be a faithful account of something that is happening to you or your neighbor or your friend.

Waiting on Hope is a book about resilience and healing, about the power of love and the healing power of hope; it is a book about forgiveness and second chances, about lifting yourself from the ashes with the support of the ones that love you unconditionally – all wrapped in a phenomenal plot that is an absolute triumph. It is impossible for me to do it justice in my review – you just have to drop whatever you are doing, buy it and read it, because this is one book you will not want to miss. Seriously.


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Waiting On Hope currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 3.5 stars, with 48 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

Waiting On Hope is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


An excerpt from Waiting On Hope:

She stepped to the ledge of the balcony, welcoming death—and the mercy it offered.

Three more steps and she would be free. One. Two.

The sudden bang on the door made Lexie jump. She stood, her toes curling over the cool, rough, concrete, only inches from the edge of descent.

Gripping the chair next to her, she tried to concentrate. She raised her arms straight out from her sides like an airplane. The morning air, cool on her skin, wrapped around her in a soft caress. She visualized the jump, the slap of wind on her face and in her hair. She didn’t flinch from the thought of the agony of impact, which may come before the blessed numbness. After all, she was no stranger to pain.

Opening her eyes, she glanced down at her feet. Without a railing, the unguarded slab of stone made for easy access to the waiting street below. She straightened her toes, no longer supported by the balcony.

The banging on the door persisted, making it hard for her to think. She tried to ignore the interruption, but the caller’s persistence made blocking out the sound impossible. Behind the pounding she heard a voice—one she recognized.

“Lexie, open up. Let me in. What the hell are you doing out there? You’re going to get yourself killed. Lex?” Sienna continued to call through the door.

Lexie glanced from the inside of her apartment back to the street below. Traffic loomed, along with the occasional pedestrian. She cursed Sienna for interfering. Why did she show up now?

All she needed was one more step, but the insistent banging outside her door thumped in the background of her mind, jarring the still thoughts of death from where they perched. She would have to wait. With Sienna right outside, plunging off the balcony was not an option. Enough agony would be caused to those she left behind, without any of them having to witness her demise. When the time came, however, she would leap at the chance to end the world in which only a fog of pain enveloped her.

She stepped off the balcony, into her apartment. Despite the sound of Sienna’s voice, she peered through the peep hole, confirming her visitor’s identity. She unlocked the chain bolt and three dead bolts she installed after “the incident” two months ago—the effort on her part, a fruitless one. She knew all-too-well you couldn’t lock the devil out. He seldom arrived undisguised.

Sienna didn’t wait for Lexie to open the door. The second the dead bolt snapped, she threw the door open, rocking Lexie on her feet where she stood. She took inventory, looking around Lexie’s apartment, her gaze hovering over the barrage of locks. Raising one golden brow, she narrowed her eyes at Lexie, who remained silent.

“What’s going on Lex? You’re not returning any of my calls. And what’s with the horror movie locks?” Sienna asked. Her forehead wrinkled into a dozen lines.

Lexie shrugged. She hadn’t told Sienna what happened yet, and even when she did, she couldn’t tell her the whole truth. The facts for her would be too devastating. Then again, she probably deserved more credit than Lexie gave her…

Nevertheless, letting Sienna in on the events of the last two months was the right thing to do. After all, Lexie’s affinity for lying was weak, and besides, Sienna had an ability to see straight through a person, to cut through the crap.

Sienna stood, arms crossed in front of her chest, her platinum hair pulled back from her face, waiting for a response, for some enlightenment to explain Lexie’s recent behavior.

“Um. They’re just a precaution,” Lexie said.

“Precaution? Lex, you’re scaring me. I’ve been calling you for two months, without so much as a reply. You’ve skipped out on all our Friday girls’ nights. You stood me up at the photography convention on Sunday, the one you begged me to attend with you. And this morning, I called Pittsburgh Magazine, only to find out that you haven’t been at work in over a month, that you’re taking some time off for personal reasons.”

Sienna continued to talk, following Lexie from the foyer to the couch in her living room.

Lexie tried to make herself comfortable, but found it impossible—a notion inexplicably apparent in her life as of late. She fidgeted on the white sofa, which seemed to signal to her a glaring beacon of purity—suddenly out of place in the room.

Lexie sighed, fanning her hands out in front of her, trying to find the words. “I’m just…I’m going through something right now.”

After a moment’s silence, Sienna said, “And you can’t tell me? Since when do we keep secrets from each other?”

The pain in Sienna’s rich chocolate eyes was palpable, a confirmation of sorts of why her own pain, her own shame, should be kept to herself. How did she find the words? Part of her wanted to say it. She envisioned opening her mouth and letting them flow, forming her lips around the vowels, I was raped. The thought alone, stung like venom on the tip of her tongue.

“I…I….” Lexie tilted her head back. She gazed at the ceiling, the tiny vein-like cracks in the otherwise smooth plaster. Why couldn’t she say it? She willed the words from her mind, but still they would not come.

She looked back at Sienna, the hurt in her eyes latched onto the lacerations of her soul, bringing with them a new burden. Not only did she carry her own shame, but also guilt for the anguish imposed on Sienna by her silence.

Lexie said the only thing she could, a poor substitution for the truth. “Listen, I’m going through something right now that I can’t talk about. I just can’t…” Her voice cracked slightly. She managed to suppress a sob before continuing. “I need a little time. Please.”

“Do you promise me you’re going to be okay? You’re scaring the hell out of me, girl. I mean, blowing me off is one thing, but your job? You haven’t taken so much as a sick day in the ten years since I met you.”

“I swear.”

She couldn’t bring herself to mutter the words, I promise. Promises were for a groom on his wedding day, vowing to be faithful in good times and bad. For mothers who tucked their kids into bed at night, assuring them safety was inexplicably theirs—that no monsters hid beneath the covers. Well, she knew all about monsters—not only did they exist, but they were all around us. She knew all about promises too. By definition, they were impossible to keep. Because among the assurance belies a certainty, which carries with it the measure of impossibility, because a promise is a guarantee. What was the saying her mother always used to say? In life, there are no guarantees.

Sienna sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know what else to do but give you time to sort this thing out, since you won’t talk to me. I’m telling you though,” she said, jabbing a finger at Lexie. “If you don’t snap out of this soon, or tell me what’s going on, I’ll hog tie you, drag you to my place, and hold you hostage until you squeal.”

Lexie . Several things about her statement hit a little too close to home. For her friend’s benefit, however, she tried to smile.

“Finally, something other than a frown. By the way, if this has to do with a man you’ve been secretly seeing behind my back, you owe me ten Pilates classes.”

Lexie groaned. Pilates was the bane of her existence. Every time she turned around, Sienna dragged her to a class. They remained the best incentive, the highest stake, something to chain her with, like an anvil around her leg.

Lexie shook her head. “It’s nothing like that. You know if I were seeing someone, you would be the first I’d tell. Enough about me though,” she said, trying to direct her focus elsewhere. “Since I haven’t seen you in a while, fill me in. What’s new?”

Even asking Sienna about her life was a risk because the question brought with it the good chance she may mention her husband, Brent. Lexie recognized, however, no other way of getting her to leave so soon without her actions seeming suspect.

“I missed you these last two months.” Sienna looked down at her hands; a small tremor ran through her voice. “A few weeks ago, my period was late. My enthusiasm couldn’t be contained. I thought for sure I had finally done it, you know? After three years of trying, I was pregnant. I waited to take a test though. Deep down, I was afraid that I would test negative. I wanted to hold onto the hope that my time had come.”

This is how they always talked with each other. They shared everything, and in the past couple years, Sienna had agonized over her fertility issues. She and Brent had been trying for three years to conceive, to no avail. Doctors said she had an inhospitable womb—whatever that meant. Despite this diagnosis, however, Sienna continued trying. She kept waiting for a miracle.

Normally, Lexie would bend her head towards hers, wrap an arm around Sienna’s shoulders, and whisper words of consolation, reassurance, and encouragement even—but a thick fog surrounded her mind like an impenetrable membrane. She had nothing to give.

The mention of Brent’s name created a physical response. Terror and panic rose inside of her like an awakened beast. She tried to choke her emotions down, but the effort only resulted in a sweeping chill over her entire body.

Sienna continued talking, unaware of the change in Lexie’s demeanor. “I’m done crying over my inability to have a baby. Being a mother is all I ever wanted, but I need to finally accept that I may never be a mother. I’m torturing myself. Brent keeps telling me to let it go, but how do you let go of something so important, so primal? My clock is ticking…”

Brent. His name swirled around Lexie like toxic gas. She closed her eyes and trembled, as she struggled to draw oxygen into her lungs. He shouted at her, his voice calculated, anger and menace flowing from his wine stained lips. Shut the fuck up or I’ll kill you. You’ve wanted this all along. I’m only giving you what you need, what you deserve.

Her breath hitched, and her hands clenched by her side. She was vaguely aware of Sienna’s voice in the background. She grasped for balance, for some way to clear her mind, but the effort was akin to catching dandelion snow. Every time she reached out, grasping at the fuzzy parachutes, the air in the atmosphere around her changed, and they eluded her.

Suddenly, a sharp clatter sliced through her thoughts. She opened her eyes. Able to take a clear breath, she stared straight ahead, trying to orient herself to the sound.

Sienna stood in front of her. She held her open purse, the size of a carpetbag, and after taking one last look inside, chucked it onto the floor next to Lexie.

“I’m done. You can have all of them. No more trying. No more sorrow over failing at something that was near impossible for me in the first place,” Sienna said.

Lexie’s gaze moved to the large oak coffee table, the one her father made for her as a going away present when she left home. On it laid the source of the noise. What looked like half of Wal-Mart’s pregnancy test inventory lay scattered across the silky table top.

“What’s this?” Lexie asked, still disoriented.

Sienna narrowed her eyes at Lexie, concern rimming the brown of her irises. “I just told you. They’re all of the pregnancy tests I had stashed.” She sat down next to Lexie on the sofa. Then lightly brushed the mahogany hair from the side of Lexie’s face.

“Every time I went shopping, if the store had a baby department, or carried pregnancy tests, I was drawn to them like a magnet. I’d torture myself over the tiny blue and pink clothes, the scent of powder and lavender. Then I would go buy a couple more tests to continue the cycle of torture. I’ve been hopeless, Lex.”

She looked Lexie in the eyes. “I’ve been waiting for something that’s never going to happen, killing myself over my obsession with having a baby, and week after week, you were there for me. You were there to lift me up, to dry my tears. You’ve been the best friend in the world. And that’s why I’m going to be here for you now. Well, that and I love you. You say you can’t talk about what’s going on now. I’ll accept that because I have no choice, but sooner or later, you need to tell me what’s going on, and I’ll be there for you. I’ll help you through whatever’s haunting you, just like you helped me.”

 

Waiting On Hope is available for purchase at:

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KINDLE DAILY DEAL: Second Honeymoon: A Novel by Joanna Trollope is Just $1.99 Today Only!

Now that her third and last child has left the nest, Edie Boyd’s life turns suddenly and uncomfortably silent. She begins to yearn for the maternal intimacy that now seems lost to her forever. Be careful what you wish for…Before long, a mother-and-child reunion is in full swing: life away from the nest has proven to be unexpectedly daunting to the children, who one-by-one return home, bringing their troubles. With an unannounced new phase of parenthood suddenly stretching ahead of her, Edie finds her home more crowded than ever. In this touching, artful novel, Joanna Trollope has created a family drama for the ages, a moving story of work, love and eternal parenthood.

What readers are saying:

“Utterly absorbing, constantly surprising, and often extremely funny.” — The Independent

“Accessible but sophisticated.” — The Times

“Playful, unguessable and clever.”  — Sunday Express

The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4 stars {21 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase Second Honeymoon: A Novel for $1.99* from Amazon

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Wings of Hope, Hillary E. Peak {FREE!}

The bond of a father and daughter is special. When Jules’ father asks her to come stay with him because he’s terminally ill, she goes for the remarkable opportunity to really know her father. She never dreamed he had liberated a concentration camp, dealt cards to Bugsy Siegel, or saved the life of a Black Panther. Wings of Hope takes you on a road trip through the memories of a man making peace with his life through his conversations with his daughter. Teaching her that death is sometimes the most heartbreakingly beautiful part of life.

Hope is the last gift of a father to his daughter–the power to reach for her dreams.

What readers are saying:

“I loved this book. My dad died just a few years ago–what I would give to have had that time like Jules to get to know him REALLY. Boy, it’s a little sad, but it’s a lot sweeter and it gave me hope that I should really try to do what I feel I really want to do. I have a talent and I need to go for it.” By Brittany

“This was a delightful read. You journey with a young woman as she spends time with her father during his last days.” By Mimi

The average Amazon reader review is currently 5 stars {6 reviews}.

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Starring in the Movie of My Life – 2011 International Book Award Finalist, Laurel Osterkamp {$0.99}

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Description of Starring in the Movie of My Life:

Thirty-five-year-old Samantha acts without thinking. Her heart is huge while her sense of purpose is small; she’s willing to fight for those she loves, but she’s never learned to fight for herself. Eighteen-year-old Melody is cold and calculating, and she’s driven by the desire to better herself. As these compelling yet deeply flawed women battle for the affections of twenty-five-year-old Nathan, he becomes increasingly confused and torn between them. Nathan is Melody’s English teacher, and after he saves her from being raped, she becomes attached. Melody longs for the affection she’s never felt, so she involves people in her self-invented drama, making sure she is at once the star and the director. Meanwhile, Samantha is newly married to Nathan. But Samantha has hang-ups about motherhood and lingering feelings for her ex. To make sense of the world, Sam relates her life to the themes of her favorite movies, while she independently makes a documentary to jump-start her non-existent film career.

Stylistically influenced by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner, Starring in the Movie of My Life is told alternately from both Samantha’s and Melody’s points-of-view and relates two complete yet combined stories about love, acceptance, and redemption. It speaks to our universal desire to be saved by the ones we love, and the monumental effort required to save ourselves.

 

Accolades:

  • Award Winning Finalist 2011 International Book Awards (Women’s Fiction and Young Adult Literature)
  • Award Winning Finalist 2011 Indie Excellence Awards (Chick Lit)
  • FIVE STARS “A riveting romance and drama. Highly recommended.” -Midwest Book Review
  • “Two stories collide in this novel that deals with acceptance, love and revenge.  This story will stick with you long after it’s come to an end.”  (4-Star RT Rating) – RT Book Reviews

  • FIVE STARS “Starring in the Movie of My Life is fast-paced, engaging, and a recommended read.”  -All Books International
  • FIVE STARS “This is one of those rare reads I come across where I’m so enthralled from the first page that I can’t stop reading and nothing else gets done until the book is finished.” -Ashley Williams MyBookFetish


Reviews:

Starring in the Movie of My Life currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars from 18 reviews! Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Starring in the Movie of My Life:

I never expected Nate to call me after he refused my advances in the bar parking lot. But he did. The first time he called was to ask me to a movie (Casablanca), and the second time was to go snow-shoeing (along the shore of Lake Michigan.) The third time was to ask me to attend the annual Sheboygan Schnee Days Winter Dance Party.

I felt like Marcia Brady, about to have a dreamy date right after my nose got hit by Peter’s football. No courtship of mine had ever been more wholesome, awkward, and thrilling all at once. When Nate, wearing jeans and a green crew-neck sweater, picked me on the night of the dance I was sure I was over-dressed in the black cocktail dress I’ve owned since 1998. But he smiled in appreciation and said, “You look great!”

Once we got to the dance I was even more convinced that I was out of place. There were a lot of families; parents holding the hands of grade school aged children, or middle-school kids pretending they didn’t know their parents, running around in packs. There were a lot of sixtyish-looking participants, enjoying the music of Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper. Nate had told me the evening’s music was a rendition of their concert tour right before that fateful plane crash.

“Won’t that be bad karma, to attend something like that?” I asked.

Nate chuckled. “I don’t believe in bad karma.”

“I do.”

“Does that mean you don’t want to go?” he asked.

“No,” I replied.

So there we were, semi-slow dancing to La Bamba, and I was trying to ignore the chuckles of people around us. Nate didn’t seem bothered by it, but I was sure it was directed towards us. “Are any of your students here tonight?” I asked.

“Nah. They’re way too cool to attend something like this.”

“But we’re not?”

Nate reached down and stroked a lock of my hair. “Sam, are you not having a good time?”

“It’s not that. I’m just not sure what we’re doing.”

“We’re dancing,” he said.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be,” I said as I pushed away from him, finding my way through the crowds of young and old, hoping to find some sanity in a quiet hallway. Nate followed me. The air was suddenly much colder, as we were closer to the outside doors and away from the heat of the pack. I shivered.

“What’s wrong?” he asked me.

I felt like I was about to push off a very pleasant cliff. But I had to know. “How old are you, Nate?”

“I’m twenty-five.”

How could he not be? Standing in front of me, his skin glowing, light bouncing off his hair as if he wore a halo, his looks mirrored his personality. After three dates I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, except for his refusal to kiss me anywhere other than on the cheek or forehead. “I wish I had a script writer that good for my life,” he whispered to me during Casablanca. And he bent his head down and sniffed my hair. I looked up and met his eyes in the darkened theater. Then he didn’t kiss me. “I love fighting with the snow and cold; maybe I was a Viking in a past life”, he said over hot-chocolate after our snowshoeing expedition. His fingers traced my own, and I could feel the heat kicking between our hands. “You have an eyelash on your cheek.” He leaned forward and brushed it away. Then he didn’t kiss me. “Don’t you love to see people dancing in large groups? It makes me believe in the human race, to see people made so happy by something so simple,” he said, as he pulled me onto the dance floor when we arrived earlier that night. He held my body close and my gaze even closer, as he mouthed the words to That Will Be the Day That I Die. Then he didn’t kiss me.

“I’m ten years older than you.” I said, facing him in that hallway, naked in my black dress.

“Okay.”

“And I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life,” I continued. “I’m not a good person like you are. I’m weak. I make decisions without thinking things through, and I have no direction. All your purpose, your drive, your sense of right and wrong, that’s not me. I’m not like you at all.”

Nate shrugged his shoulders. “What’s your point?”

My heart lurched and pressed against my rib cage. I was convinced this was the easiest way, less painful than prolonging it would be, but saying goodbye now would be like returning a beautiful ball gown because I had nowhere fancy enough to wear it. “I just don’t see the point of us spending time together,” I said, blinking back tears of frustration.

Nate stepped in, close to me. He put his hand underneath my chin and tilted it up, so our eyes met. “I see a lot of point.”

“Why?”

“Because,” he said, “You’re real, you’re honest, and you’re beautiful.” Then, finally, he kissed me. Wrapped in his arms, I knew with absolute certainty that this kiss far exceeded any kiss between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, or Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, or even Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. I had been waiting my whole life for my first Hollywood quality kiss, and now that I had it, no way I was giving up my chance for more.

 

Starring in the Movie of My Life is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: When Horses Had Wings, Diana Estill {$2.99}

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Description of When Horses Had Wings:

Pregnant at 16, Renee Goodchild drops out of school and marries. Now she’s trapped in rural Texas with Kenny, her violent, garbage-collecting husband. A bleak future seems assured until she meets self-appointed relationship guru, Pearly.

“That’s why you don’t let ‘em rule the roost. ’Cause you can’t count on ‘em to be there the next mornin’ when it’s time to crow,” the worldly Pearly advises.

Renee narrates this tale of ruin and redemption where the damaged and downtrodden lead each other to unintended, sometimes heartbreaking, and often bittersweet outcomes. When Horses Had Wings examines the lives of broken people competing for the most basic needs: the primal urge for affection and the eternal search for acceptance.

 

Accolade:

5 Stars

Renee is 16 years old when she becomes pregnant, drops out of school, and marries Kenny, her oafish boyfriend who is two years her senior. Predictably, this is not a “happily-ever-after” union. Kenny degenerates from a disagreeable lout into an abusive brute. Renee finally gets up the gumption to take their son and leave Kenny. But there the predictability ends. Unanticipated and surprising events transpire after Renee walks out on Kenny. Yet, what unfolds next still feels genuine and believable, making this story very compelling.

The characters are not one-dimensional stereotypes, but are painted as complex human beings. Renee, who is initially rather aimless, does develop ambitions to have a better life for herself and her son, and gets a job and goes to college. But she never undergoes a Superwoman metamorphosis. She struggles, makes mistakes, has lapses in judgment – she has her flaws (as well as bad luck), but you still totally root for her. Kenny cannot be written off as completely vile and good for nothing, as his love for his son is so strong. There are no clear victors in their battles, and plenty of disappointment and heartache to go around.

Given the circumstances, the book has a satisfying ending. There is also an epilogue, which briefly summarizes what happened to all of the characters in years hence. I appreciated that post script, but I loved this author’s writing style so much that I would have been very happy had the book continued into the future and drawn out all of these events to their conclusion. I simply didn’t want the book to end.

While “When Horses Had Wings” is certainly a poignant tale, it is not a depressing, oppressive book. This is largely due in part, I think, to the wonderful prose found in the story. Ms. Estill is a true wordsmith and not only did I enjoy the actual story itself, it was a separate pleasure just to read the words. The story is narrated by Renee, and her self-deprecating nature ensured that even a good bit of humor found its way into the book. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Estill’s work.


Reviews:

When Horses Had Wings currently has a customer review rating of 5 stars from 13 reviews! Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from When Horses Had Wings:

ONE

 

I’d like to offer some kind of deliberate purpose for this ruinous decision, the one that cheated me of childhood and stripped away the last of my self-confidence. But if there was one, I’ve yet to identify it. Whether by design or choice, my memory isn’t what it used to be. Some things are better forgotten anyhow.

You might think I’d have relished the details of that fateful day well enough to recall them forever. To be honest, my initial offense has, over time, become far less memorable than its penalty.

All I can tell you is that it happened in a stand of live oaks, somewhere off of a deserted county road in North Texas, one sweltering afternoon in August of 1971. There, in the blistering backseat of a Plymouth Fury, I succumbed to a young boy’s attempt to set my body and both our futures ablaze. Like a prairie grassfire, my reasoning followed no particular path. I simply yielded to his pent-up needs and our secluded setting—took advantage of a rural opportunity, if you will. This single stroke of bad luck, or poor judgment, depending on how you choose to look at it, led Kenny Ray Murphy and me straight to the front door of the Second Baptist Church in White Rock, where Daddy was a deacon.

We didn’t exactly live in White Rock proper, the largest town in Limestone County, population 5,090. But how else can I describe that physical location, a flat, treeless twenty acres simply called “unincorporated land?” The parcel that Momma and Daddy owned looked like a child-sized sliver cut from a whole buttermilk pie. For the most part, our neighbors, the Caldwells, with their five-hundred-acre spread, owned the rest of that pastry. Every summer when whirlwinds transformed honey-colored strands into millions of miniature pompoms, the Caldwells graciously, and no doubt jokingly, baled Daddy’s six acres of oats.

Anyone who saw our barbed-wire-enclosed, three-acre black-eyed pea patch would have known that Daddy was only a weekend farmer, not a serious sodbuster; heck, he didn’t even own a horse, much less a tractor. So he improvised by using me and my younger brother Ricky as livestock. It looked something like this: Imagine a horse-drawn plow, the kind used before the Industrial Age, and then substitute two kids where you’d expect to find a work beast. We walked abreast, pushing against a leather strap that crossed our ribs, pulling a giant spade behind us, and praying that nobody we knew or might ever see again would recognize us. Daddy proclaimed the contraption ingenious. We called it humiliating.

The harness was nothing more than a series of interconnected men’s belts. This makeshift device didn’t hurt my midriff half as much as it distorted my thinking. Often when hitched to that plow, to distract myself from the drudgery, I pretended to be a unicorn. I’d envision soaring off to a place where there were no crop dusters swooping low over human life forms, threatening immediate asphyxiation and the deformation of future progeny. Several times a year, we heard the ominous plane engine sounds and rushed to close the house windows. The few times we didn’t move fast enough left the family gasping from pesticide sprays that seeped through the window screens and invaded our lungs. The noxious mist stole our breaths, interrupting normal respiration and thoughts of anything beyond survival for several minutes.

I’ll be the first to admit that Daddy wasn’t fully dedicated to agriculture, but he appeared resolute about his religion and doing what was right—which was why he took Ricky and me out of the big city schools and moved us to a place so remote that even Marijuana couldn’t find us.

Or so he thought.

At least twice, sometimes three times, a week, Daddy drove the eight miles to White Rock so we could witness Brother Sontag’s preaching. However, I seldom listened to the minister because he was always shouting about planning to meet Jesus when I was more interested in learning how to approach boys that I could see and touch.

But on the day Brother Sontag asked, “Do you, Renee Anne Goodchild, take this man, Kenneth Raymond Murphy, to be your lawfully wedded husband?” the reverend had my strict attention. For about a millisecond, I thought I might actually have had a choice, but then I remembered my daddy was standing there with us.

At that instant, I must have been contemplating the outcome of my next response, because I recall holding my breath so tightly and my chest so high that you’d have thought someone had just yelled “AT-TE-EN-TION!” By the time I finally said, “I do,” it came out sounding more like a sigh of exhaustion than an oath of commitment. But I was simply relieved to have said it without splitting a seam.

Momma had made my gown, which was no secret to all ten of my guests, from a Simplicity pattern that she remembered I’d liked. She’d run out of white thread near the end, so she’d made do with beige on one sleeve. She said no one would notice, or recall that she’d used the same pattern to sew my band recital dress the previous year. The fact that Momma was even less of a seamstress than she was a cook never seemed to stop her from trying at either. On her second attempt to master a basic shift, albeit satin, her sewing skills hadn’t improved much, unless you consider the facing, which she’d taken care to tack. This time.

Though I’m sure that dress fit me poorly, other than my memory, there’s no proof of it today. Our wedding photos, shot on Grandma’s Polaroid, failed to develop, so I can truthfully say that our ceremony didn’t contain any Kodak moments. Grandma said the film might have been underexposed—unlike me. I was three months pregnant.

It wasn’t the best of times for a marriage. I’m sure Momma and Daddy would have done more for us, given us some money or something, if Daddy hadn’t lost his job five months earlier during the 1971 recession. Daddy had worked in electronics for the better part of his life, but new technology, something he called “solid state,” had suddenly surpassed his understanding. Kind of like his daughter.

Daddy was the type of guy my schoolmates would have called a “nerd,” a man who read Engineering Today, listened to Hank Snow records, and voted for Nixon—both times. His hairline, which receded all the way back to his crown, and his oval face made his nearly square black-framed glasses an ill-suited choice, sort of like the navy socks he sported with his royal-blue suede athletic shoes. He was the type who could tell you how your radio operated and yet remain dumbfounded when it played the lyrics to Light My Fire. So it came as no surprise that Daddy didn’t wonder how Kenny and I were going to make it after we married.

“Me’un your momma seen plenty o’ lean times,” he said. “You’ll be okay, long as you cling to the Lord.” His own momma had conceived him during the Great Depression, so Daddy might have thought I was merely carrying on a family tradition.

He didn’t know that by the time I’d turned seventeen, I’d already been accepted into the PWT club. At least, that was what I heard others whisper when I cashed in the cola bottles Kenny had found at his job to buy groceries.

“Poor white trash,” women whispered when I passed.

“Look at her belly.”

“Already hatching out another one! You know, that’s how they do.”

“Ignorant little Jezebel.”

They could stare and think whatever they wanted. I didn’t care because I was planning to eat a sumptuous steak, possibly my first taste of meat in a week. Mmm. I imagined the smell of pork fat simmering in red-eye gravy. Yesiree, I could cook those thick pork slices, ones better grocers wouldn’t carry, until they resembled the finest beef cutlets Bonanza Steakhouse ever served. My garage-sale skillet could scald as well as any. I’d dust those strips with flour, salt, and pepper, and then I’d brown the heavily marbled meat in bacon grease that I kept stored in an old mayonnaise jar. We never threw away anything that could be reused.

I reckon bacon grease was about the only thing we had that was plentiful, unless you count the stray dogs sniffing out back for scraps. Pork, our primary source of protein, was cheap, cheaper than cold cuts or yellow-fatted chickens. So every morning, about five-thirty, I’d fry up six pieces of slab bacon, the leanest I could find, for Kenny’s lunch. Two bacon and mayonnaise sandwiches, one to eat, one to exchange with his fellow sanitation workers.

Kenny always said, “You can’t believe what some of them boys’ll trade for a damn B-minus-LT.” That was what he called our version of the traditional sandwich because ours never included any produce. Too expensive. However, lettuce or not, Kenny knew he’d stand a better chance of having some variety in his meals if he could trade up. “Ain’t exactly their favorite,” he’d say of his fellow crewmen, “but a bacon sandwich’s about as close as I intend to get to pigs’ feet.” Sometimes he’d brag that he’d made off with a family-size bag of potato chips or a thermos mug full of hamburger stew, foods he’d have been hard-pressed to find at home.

I couldn’t imagine how Kenny could feel like eating anything, sitting near one of those garbage trucks with trash heaped on their beds and moving parts compressing decayed animal carcasses and unnaturally colored foods, yellow lettuce and blue-green bread, unidentified dark liquids dripping from all sides, flies circling. There could have been a hacked-up human in there somewhere, and I bet no one would have noticed.

The stench from those two-ton rigs leapt onto Kenny’s sludge-colored uniform and followed him all the way home. I could smell him even before he sauntered past the front door, a pungent aroma of rotting fruit mixed with methane gas.

“Where’s dinner?” he’d ask right off.

Cupping one hand over my nose and mouth, stifling a dry heave, I would set a couple of mismatched Melmac plates on top of our gray Formica dining table, the one Kenny had brought home from work one day. He found all sorts of worthwhile items on bulk-trash days. If Kenny had a specialty, this was it: claiming what others didn’t want and putting it to good use.


When Horses Had Wings is available for purchase at:

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KINDLE DAILY DEAL: On Gold Mountain by Lisa See is $1.99 {Price goes up to $8.99 tomorrow!}

Lisa See spent summers in the cool, dark recesses of her family’s antiques store in Los Angeles Chinatown. There, her grandmother and great-aunt told her intriguing, colorful stories about their family’s past- stories of missionaries, concubines, tong wars, glamorous nightclubs, and the determined struggle to triumph over racist laws and discrimination. They spoke of how Lisa’s great-great-grandfather emigrated from his Chinese village to the United States to work on the building of the transcontinental railroad as an herbalist; how his son followed him, married a Caucasian woman, and despite great odds, went on to become one of the most prominent Chinese on “Gold Mountain” (the Chinese name for the United States).The result is a vivid, sweeping family portrait in the tradition of Alex Haley’s Roots that is at once particular and universal, telling the story not only of one family, but of the Chinese people in America itself, a country that both welcomes and reviles immigrants like no other culture in the world.

What readers are saying:

“Astonishing….A comprehensive and exhaustively researched account of a Chinese-American family…that juggles such explosive elements as race, class, tradition, prejudice, poverty, and great wealth in new and relatively unexpected combinations.” –The Los Angeles Times

The average Amazon reader review is currently 4.5 stars {62 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase On Gold Mountain for $1.99 from Amazon

O Little Town: A Novel, Don Reid {FREE!}

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In a small town at Christmas, three families find themselves muddling their way through the challenges of life: marriage, illness, bad decisions, friendship, faith, forgiveness . and a fifty-year-old mystery.

What readers are saying:

“O Little Town is beautifully written and worth your time. I don’t often continue to live in a book once it is finished as I did this particular one. And it’s two surprises near the ending have kept me smiling for several days!”

The average Amazon reader review rating is currently 4.5 stars {30 reviews).

Click here to read more about and purchase O Little Town: A Novel for FREE from Amazon

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