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Didi Oviatt

Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection.

Category

suspense

#excerpt #blogtour The Phoenix Cycle, by Bob Collopy @shanannigans81 @BobCollopy

phoenixcyclefrontcover.pngThe Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

Publication Date: June 23, 2017

Published By: The Department of Smoke

Genre: Dystopian/ YA/ Sci-Fi

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

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Excerpt

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Every wrist in the stadium beeped. Every boy and girl glanced down at the face of their watch. “00:10” then “:09” then “:08.” Everyone turned their heads to the west. There it was. Right on time, as always. The nightly storm. A wall of blackness had lurched up into the sky, swallowing the setting sun. The hairs on Steve’s neck stood up, urging him to get the hell out

of there.

Instead he grabbed Leslie’s hand, who sat quietly quivering next to him, instinctively pressing her bow into her head for comfort. Steve knew her shaking wasn’t coming from Line’s yelling, the storm, or even the tank pointing at them. Her quivers never came from the barrel of a gun, no, the ragging agony she held within her was the very same thing that pushed him back into the sheets when the sun finally rose—are we going to lose each other?

Leslie’s mind pushed the feeling away for at least another moment. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered. Her brown eyes guided him to the dozens of mortar tubes pointing upward and outward on the vibrant green field and then to the perfect line of churning ash that approached the stands.

“Unity can only be achieved and be maintained when it is the STRONG who come together and fly under one flag! We, like no other in the world, have created a unity that has never broken, has never FLINCHED! When the rest of the world saw THAT—” Line’s long arm pointed at the coming avalanche of black— “They all fell to pieces!”

The earth began to quake as the wall rose over them. Someone screamed. The mortars on the field fired as one at the roiling sky. The blackness spilled over the stadium, then slid over the perimeter of the frizzing wall of static that had encapsulated the field. No Phoenix Cycler had seen—only heard rumors from past Cycle Pref parties—this blackness that was sliding over and them whispering their deaths.

– The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise

About the Author

Author Pic

Bob is pretty dope. Firstly, his name is Bob, so…yea. Second, have you seen him rock that suit while in a maximum security prison? Epic.

Yea. That’s Bob. No psychological scarring with that author. Nope. Totally fine.

Gosh he looks good in suits.

Hey Have you read The Phoenix Cycle? He wrote that.

One suggestion before you read it and become one of those fans that leaves him roses by his doormat. Read her slowly. This book is not Twilight. She’s deeper than that. Take your time with her. Show the book you care. Cradle it and make it feel loved. If you do, she’ll be good to you. Go too fast and you’ll have no idea why she’s acting so crazy.

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Giveaway!!!

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The author is giving away 10 print copies (That’s right 10) and 5 Digital copies of his book so make sure you enter as the odds are definitely in your favor! (Runs from May 21st to May 30th)

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Blog Tour Schedule

May 21st

Reads & Reels (Kick-Off Promo)

Just for My Books (Excerpt)

The Lit Cottage (Review)

Adventures Thu Wonderland (Review)

The Midwest Ladies Who Lit (Excerpt)

May 22nd

IAMAGEEKINGGINGER (Review)

Tranquil Dreams (Review)

On the Shelf Reviews (Excerpt)

May 23rd

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt)

The Genre Minx (Excerpt)

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt)

Valerie’s Musings (Excerpt)

The YA Book Divas (Interview)

May 24th

J Bronder Reviews (Review)

Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Interview)

Bri’s Book Nook (Review)

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt)

Wicked Good Reads (Review)

May 25th

Afire Pages (Excerpt)

Port Jerricho (Excerpt)

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review)

Life at 17 (Review)

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Search For Maylee, #free (May 15 – 18)

I love everything about this time of year! The colors, the smells, the warmth. There is just something about new life and growth that comes with spring. I light of the spirit of spring, as well as a (somewhat belated) Mothers Day celebration, I’ve decided to do a spur of the moment spring promotion!

I’m so excited to offer my latest book Search For Maylee as my gift to you! From today May 15th through Friday May 18th the kindle version is downloadable for free on Amazon!  Click this link to claim your gift! Happy spring, and happy reading!

Description:

Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her. It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead. She moves across the country to find him. Will Autumn be able to pry Maylee’s case back open? More importantly, what will Autumn uncover in the process of searching for Maylee? It’s a cold dark world we live in, and she is about to find out just how cruel it can be. Strength and determination are on Autumn’s side and she will do what ever it takes.

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Happy spring everyone, and happy reading!!

Remember sharing is caring, and reviewing is LOVE!

Screams You Hear, by James Morris #booktour #review #excerpt @shanannigans81 @JMorrisWriter

Screams You Hear Cover 2D.jpg

Screams You Hear

Genre: Horror/ YA

Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Book Blurb:

Murder and madness infect a small town.

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone?

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Excerpt

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Chapter 1

I wake to pain, pain beyond comprehension, my skin on fire, only to find myself in a hospital bed, my arms bandaged, and wires snaking into machines. The burns are covered in white gauze and every motion, no matter how small, sends my nerves screaming. The air is heavy against my skin. And that smell. I can still smell the bitterness of my singed hair. I feel my head, expecting strands of hair, thick and wavy, but it’s gone. There are only splotches of emptiness, a topography of touch that alarms me. I wonder if it will ever grow back.

Tendrils of anxiety course through me, pulsing steadily. I need to wake up from whatever this is.

In spite of the pain, I caress my face and I have no eyebrows. Only stubble. No matter where I touch, my skin isn’t soft; it’s leather, a mask that rests too tightly against my skull. It’s like my skin is both expanding and contracting, pushing and pulling.

In the cyclone of terror, I remember. I remember everything.

I wish I didn’t. I wish it all away.

Around the room, there are no mirrors, and I know it’s no accident. It’s small comfort. I don’t want to see myself. I may never look in a mirror again. It’s only me and a bed, and colorful murals of elephants and giraffes on the wall, their cartoon smiles mocking me. I must be in the children’s wing, even though I’m sixteen. Next to me, an IV recedes into my vein. To my left is a button. It could be to call for assistance. Or to adjust the bed. But I think it’s something else. I think it’s for pain.

I could press it and disappear into numbness.

I could press it and just drift.

But there is something about pain. It’s the price of being alive.

The button is my litmus test.

I am stronger than my pain. I need to focus on something—anything. I need to distract myself.

I am not my pain.

I am Ruthie Stroud. I live at— wait—not anymore. I have a brother—no, not anymore.

I shut my eyes. I can’t shut them hard enough. Through the darkness, I still see fire. My world engulfed with flickering orange and reds. And the all-encompassing heat, heat beyond boiling, bordering on oblivion. Melting.

My last memory is coming ashore on the mainland, alone and fiercely tired. I didn’t walk, didn’t run. I moved, floating, held aloft by the most invisible of strings, my eyes on the horizon, people on the edges of my vision. Adults. I felt their gaze. The air was cool and moist and my skin so hot. Moving and moving; people staring. I hear them, words like police and 911 and oh my God. They surround me, a horde. They’re feral creatures, circling, their faces distorted. They are coming for me. I have no escape.

I scream and my world goes dark.

“Ruthie?”

I open my eyes. A woman stands in the hospital room doorway. Her skin is the color of teak, her black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and without a uniform, she’s clearly no nurse. I look down her button-down shirt and a badge is attached to her belt, a gun holstered at her side.

She says, not unkindly, “I’m Detective Perez from the Washington State Police.”

I knew the cops would get involved, even though they’re late. Far too late.

She waits for me to invite her in. “May I?”

I nod and my skin crinkles and cracks. She enters, pulling a chair beside my bed and sits down. Her brown eyes rest on me and then dart away. She can’t bear to look. I must seem a monster. She asks, “How are you feeling?”

I don’t know how to answer that question.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

Down the hall, I hear a child scream. From surgery or fear, I don’t know. I think fight the pain, fight the pain.

She speaks to me in soothing tones. “I need to ask you a few questions. About what happened. Can you talk?”

My mouth is dry, my throat sore, my vocal chords thrashed. I’d forgotten how much I screamed. I feel my skin wrinkle into deep crevices as I move my jaw, and it’s an effort to form words. Even my tongue feels burned; this strange muscle in my mouth. “Is my dad coming?”

“He’s on his way.” We share a bit of silence and I stare at the woman she is, the beautiful woman I will never be, and she says, “I’d like to start at the beginning. And if there’s ever a point where you need to stop, just let me know, okay?”

“There’s just one thing,” and I clear my throat. I force her to find my eyes. To see. To look. To understand.

“What’s that?”

“Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “I did what I had to.”

Are you jonesing for more? Well for a limited time, Screams You Hear is available for review!

Request Copy!

Available on Amazon and it’s an absolute MUST read!

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

James Morris | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Giveaway Time! The author is giving away a print copy of Screams You Hear to one lucky winner so don’t forget to enter!

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My Review: 5 STARS

Hold onto your seats with this one. The pace is fast and the twists WILL dump you on your rear, and quick!!! Every single page of this book is splattered with jaw dropping content. It’s the kind of horrifying scenario that every teen/kid (or anyone really) who lives on a secluded island should have nightmares about.
It starts out with Ruthie waking up in the burn unit of a hospital. The island she’s from has literally been completely wiped out in population… all except for her. She’s the sole survivor of an insanely morbid series of events. She’s being questioned by the law enforcement who’s trying to figure out what exactly took place. Her recollection is detailed, overflowing with adrenaline, and just flat out bloody terrifying!
So, the story bounced in time, back and forth between the now and the previous few days as the odd events play out. I loved this approach here, and I usually don’t. Most books that bounce around leave me a little confused and irritated, but with Screams You Hear it worked out perfectly. The character development was perfect. I especially loved Max her best friend, and Theo her brother. They each bring about their own story and personality dynamics, that in my opinion polish the story over, making it well rounded and actually realistic.
It’s hard to explain any details without throwing any spoilers in the mix. So, I’ll just give a short and very broad outlook. Basically, the adults in the community snap. Ruthie has her suspicions on what’s causing it, which makes total sense. No matter the scientific backdrop, it’s murderous, its nasty, its ruthless, and utterly heartless what they do to the kids here. It has a feel of a survival story, more so than anything else, as its coming from Ruthie’s point of view.
I debated between 4 and 5 stars for some time. The writing is exquisite, and the story is definitely one of a kind horrifying… But at the same time, because the kids aren’t mentally sick the way that the adults are… a few of the scenes were a little too hard for me to stomach.
All in all I enjoyed the read, and will most definitely be reading more from this author!

#excerpt #coldcase #justataste Search For Maylee

Paranoia was common for Autumn. A constant nagging fear weighed in her chest at all times, she was forever burdened by this. It had taken a full year to convince herself to sell all of her belongings and take this giant leap. She had to be strong, and she had to leave California, for Maylee. With caution in each step, Autumn slowly made her way up to the condo. She peeked into each window, then tilted an ever listening ear toward the crack in the door.

“Oh, for hell’s sake Autumn, you’re such a weirdo! You’re going to pack up all of your shit and take off on some ‘save the world trek’, and you can’t even walk into your own house without panicking!”

The voice was shrill and mocking. It belonged to Candace, Maylee’s mother. Autumn exhaled and walked inside. The sight of her sister leaning against the bar that connected the kitchen to the dining room was a lot to take in. Candace was tall and skinny. Too skinny, Autumn noted. One bony leg was crossed over the other and a thick string of smoke lifted into the air from the cigarette burning between her fingertips. She rolled her eyes at Autumn dramatically, and then flicked a long ash onto the floor.

“Candace, do you really need to do that? You know I don’t let anyone smoke in my house. You think it’s okay to just ash all over the place?”

“Who cares, you sold it anyway.”

Candace walked over and ran what was left of her smoldering cigarette under water and dropped it into an otherwise spotless ceramic sink. The condo was empty, making it seem even bigger than usual. Autumn looked around her home, holding back the tears that were soon to inevitably flow — it was only a matter of time. The floors transformed from a dark marbled tile to white carpet in the living room. The ceilings were vaulted and the countertops were black with marbled gray granite.

Autumn had married at a young age and lost her husband in a car accident shortly after. She had only known Keith for seventeen months total. A vow was made to herself when he died, she would never love another and that was final. It’d been eighteen years since the accident, and so far she’d stuck to her promise. Autumn went back to her maiden name, Brown, in an effort to help herself move on from the trauma of his death. Keith had come from money and left Autumn a rich young woman at the time.

Initially, she bought the condo along with a dependable used car. Then she placed what was left of the settlement into a steady monthly income that was meant to last 20 years. Since then, the car had been traded in for a newer model, an end of this cash flow was rapidly approaching, and the condo sold. Autumn was trudging unfamiliar ground as her entire life was growing foreign, and that didn’t even include her job.

After the loss of her young love, the years passed and the cost of living grew. Her fixed monthly income was barely enough to pay the bills and keep her fed. Enjoying nights out with her girlfriends, or buying new outfits were rare. A few years after Keith passed, Autumn picked up a job working as a waitress in a small crab shack just down the road from her condo. Surprisingly she absolutely adored it. It didn’t bring in much money, but it was enough for the little extras, and it kept her busy.

As Autumn stood across from Candace in her freshly emptied kitchen, her mind wandered to the saddened look of shock on her boss’s face when she’d quit. Autumn walked away from the steady job she loved, just over a week before. Candace cleared the tar blockage from her throat, pulling Autumn back to reality.

“How did you get in here?” Autumn asked. “And did you get me that address? I’m leaving soon. I only have a few more things to pack, so I need it. You promised.”

“You always leave that window in the back unlocked,” Candace said with another roll of her glassed over eyes. “And yes, I have your damn address.”

Candace dug a small wrinkled piece of damp paper from her pocket, along with a chunk of dirty pocket lint and a couple of pennies. The goods were slapped onto the empty countertop. Candace then shifted restlessly on her feet, her eyes darting from one side of her head to the other. The look of a wild animal had taken over her face, as if assessing the possibility of an unexpected dash for the door. Unpredictable and permanently on edge, she finally continued in her scratchy smoker’s voice.

“I still don’t think you should do this. Craig’s not a bad guy, he just gets a bad rep because of his record. Maylee’s gone because she never paid attention to anything going on around her. It’s probably her own fault she was taken, I’m sure Craig had nothing to do with it.”

Aside from the obvious itch to leave, Candace was without emotion, utterly careless about Maylee. She spoke as if Maylee wasn’t her daughter at all, but some strange girl she’d met on the street. It made Autumn’s stomach wrench hearing her sister talk this way about her own child, her flesh and blood. How could she?

The thought of the opened back window was intentionally brushed aside. Autumn didn’t even want to know exactly how her sister was privy to that information. The place would be deserted in a few hours, left for the new owners to deal with. The only thing that mattered now was how clearly strung-out and coldblooded Candace was. A surge of anger flowed through Autumn.

Autumn couldn’t stand Candace for the evil woman she’d grown into. The fact that Candace cared more about herself and getting her next fix than she did about her own daughter was sickening. Autumn stormed over to the bar and snatched up the piece of paper. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if Candace were to change her mind, steal back the address, and make a crazy dash for the door. Frankly, it came as quite a shock to Autumn that her junkie sister had actually followed through on her promise to retrieve it in the first place. Once the address was safely in hand, Autumn finally spoke her mind.

“Maylee hated that man, and the rest of your friends. She was scared of him! She ended up here ninety percent of the time because you were a shitty mom, and your shitty friends are all terrible people. Open your eyes Candace, when are you going to understand that he was the only real lead the cops ever had? Now get the hell out of my house!”

Candace took a step back, shocked at Autumn’s outburst. Her head tilted forward allowing her eyes to be shaded by the lowering of her brows. The shifty feet that struggled to hold up her stick-like legs for the first time held still. They had gotten in several fights about Maylee over the years. They brawled more since Maylee’s disappearance than ever before. Candace knew she hadn’t been the best mom to Maylee, but she would never admit it out loud, and she didn’t much care either way. Excuses were constantly shelled out for her behavior as she never even wanted a child in the first place. Candace justified her actions to herself in any way she could.

DESCRIPTION:

Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her. It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead. She moves across the country to find him. Will Autumn be able to pry Maylee’s case back open? More importantly, what will Autumn uncover in the process of searching for Maylee? It’s a cold dark world we live in, and she is about to find out just how cruel it can be. Strength and determination are on Autumn’s side and she will do what ever it takes.

Birthday Blitz!

Happy book birthday to Deity’s Soulmate! I’m thrilled to celebrate the first year of this whimsical fantasy!

Review: Deity’s Soulmate, by Angelina Kerner 4 of 5 stars

34802584.jpgDeity’s Soulmate

Publication Date: April 3rd, 2017

Genre: Fantasy/ Mythology/ Young Adult

From author Angelina Kerner (Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted) comes an all-new fantasy series about Gardenia, a daughter of Athena, and her 100 years of coursework on how to create whole new worlds and subjects of her own.

A sheltered school child in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.

Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.

Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!

Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…

Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?

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Giveaway!!!

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To celebrate the anniversary of Deity’s Soulmate, the author is giving away 3 digital copies of her latest book Follow the Snowflakes!

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About the Author

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ANGELINA KERNER is a self-published author of paranormal and lighthearted romance. She’s the wife of a photographer/physicist, and the mother of a cute little toddler, but she’s also been a dancer, a psychologist, an anthropologist, a geographer, a dreamer, and an adventurer. She does her best writing while being bothered by her cats, taking care of her son, in dressing rooms while waiting for family to try on clothing, and at home in sunny California. Angelina loves to play goddess-dragon matchmaker, transporting readers to a place where young goddesses have lovable flaws, the Fates plan to dethrone, the universe is endless and untamed, and dragons roam free! She also loves to write carefree romance where one can finish reading with a smile.

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Review: Antony, by Bethany-Kris 3 stars (Filthy Marcellos, book #0.5)

MY REVIEW:

I picked this book up after a friend of mine was ranting and raving about how amazing the entire series is. I was super excited, because usually all of my recommendations come from blogging, Netgalley, or whatever other virtual group that I’m a part of. So, to have an in person discussion about some in your face juicy romance novels, of course got me all excited about reading it.

Unfortunately, I think my expectations based on her rec was a little too high. I’m not even sure if I’ll finish the series. It’s still up in the air for me, and if I do then it won’t be any time soon. The OCD in me wants to keep on going, because ‘how could you’ not actually finish something you’ve started. Yet, the ‘I’m too busy to dick around with something that I don’t feel invested in’ side of me says to just put it away… for now.

Antony (Tony) is a no-nonsense, vicious, sexy, and powerful man. The Italian mafia runs his life, or in a way he runs it… either way is a fit. I like him, and I like his wife too! Cecelia is one of two of daughters of the big boss. The main man. It only makes sense that they end up together, as she is limited on whom she’s allowed to date. Yet, they are actually a great couple. They work well together. Their love is real. The sex is great. They have a beautiful family together, with the perfect home. Their hardships are devastating, and their good times are glorious.

So, you’d think with this premise, backed by a bunch of bloody mobster lawlessness it would be a great read. For me, it came up lacking.  I felt like it left out too many important things. It was missing the sharp edged suspense I was hoping for.  Granted, it’s hard to cover such a long length of time and still insert important details… but I feel like too much was left out. It bounced around in weird places, and came up short where it was important. I felt detached from the characters, and had a hard time forcing myself to take the time to read it.

Ultimately, I’ll probably finish reading the whole series, but it will be a while before I get to it.

DESCRIPTION:

Filthy Marcellos: La Cosa Nostra is not just a choice of regime and routine, it’s a culture. Born as mafia royalty, the Marcello brothers were raised ingrained with the beliefs and rules of what it meant to be a Mafioso prince. It is for life. Their status is considered a given right. They will always be these people. They will always be Marcellos.

Family first. God second.

From bosses and sons, to husbands and lovers. Made men, fathers, and killers. Life is a chess board in Cosa Nostra and these men are the kings.

You can’t be a Marcello if you’re not filthy.

 

The Complete Collection features the short novel Antony, and the three full length novels Lucian, Giovanni, and Dante. It also includes the 20k prequel to the Legacy series, featuring the Filthy Marcellos next generation.

#review #booktour #5stars Mask Beneath Her Face, by Rafael Chandler @shanannigans81

Release Date: October 14, 2017mask-beneath-her-face-cover.jpg
Genre: Horror/ Thriller
Blurb:

During the 1980s, slashers terrorized America. With machetes and masks, these unstoppable killers stalked college campuses, quiet suburbs, and lakeside cabins.

Thirty years ago, Bobbi Metzger survived a massacre at her 16th birthday party. She spent decades putting her life back together.

Tonight, Bobbi will face a new killer: a high-tech slasher hell-bent on opening the doorway to an abyss of unimaginable horror.

How long can Bobbi survive this nightmare? What will she do to protect the people she loves? How much blood is she willing to spill?

For fans of 80’s slasher flicks like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp!

Warning: This book contains graphic violence and gore. Not for the faint of heart!

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Excerpt

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Bobbi Metzger wrenched the hatchet from her boyfriend’s skull. In a few minutes, Bobbi thought, I will kill her, or she will kill me. Either way, this is going to be over soon.

She lurched across the room. Blood-soaked carpet squished under her feet. Red droplets slid down and dripped from the handmade banner over the doorway: Happy Birthday, Bobbi!

July 1st, 1987, was supposed to be the greatest night of her life. With their parents out of town, Bobbi and her sister had invited everybody to the lake house, and they’d more or less trashed the place.

Bobbi stepped over a dead body: a girl in acid-washed jeans and a Noid t-shirt. Bobbi didn’t recognize her. One of Megan’s friends.

The TV was still on. There was a video on MTV, some new band called Guns N’ Roses. Bobbi’s sister, Megan, had switched loyalty from Def Leppard to these guys, because she thought their singer was hot. “I’d feel his serpentine, anytime.”

“Those guys are all gross,” Bobbi had said. “Rob Lowe’s cute, though.”

Megan had pretended to gag.

Thick drops of blood dotted the red icing on Bobbi’s cake. A birthday card was propped up next to the cake, and the message was scrawled in Megan’s loopy handwriting: POP THAT CHERRY, BOBBI!

If Bobbi turned her head just a little bit, she would see Megan pinned to the wall with a fireplace poker through her mouth, blood dripping from the band of her polka-dotted Swatch. Bobbi didn’t look. She took another tentative step.

You can do it. You have to. If you don’t, you’re dead, like everyone else. No choice.

She stepped around the table in the middle of the room.

Heart pounding, Bobbi peeked into the kitchen. Nothing. She looked behind her.

On the couch, Bobbi’s boyfriend Kevin stared at her blankly, the hatchet wound like a vertical grin in his forehead. He wore a CONTRA t-shirt. Kevin spent most of his money down at Galaxy, the arcade at the mall, plugging quarters into games like Contra and Rastan.

Last night, Kevin had tried to protect Bobbi, throwing himself at the woman in black; but she had plucked the hatchet from his hand and buried it in his skull, so quickly that Bobbi wasn’t sure it had happened at all.

Then the killer had grinned at Bobbi while Kevin slumped backwards onto the couch, the axe handle sticking out of his skull. Bobbi tried to scream, but couldn’t make a sound.

About the Author

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Rafael Chandler writes novels (Hexcommunicated, The Astounding Antagonists), video games (SOCOM 4, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, MAG), and tabletop role-playing games (Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae). He’s a metalhead, a kaijuphile, and a gorehound.

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MY REVIEW:

Oh my hell, this horror book is an IN YOUR FACE THRILL RIDE! Hands down the best slasher book I’ve read. The gore is nasty, the supernatural is terrifying, and the entire premise of the story is like a whirlwind of the worst of the worst killers combine. I usually do my reading at night while trying to either fall asleep or put my kids to sleep. After one night’s attempt at Mask Beneath Her Face, I had to switch up my entire routine.

I didn’t get a wink of sleep, I was scared out of my damn mind. I got up to use the bathroom a dozen times through out the night because I was so antsy all I could do is drink wine in bed and toss around stewing. I even flipped the body mirror in my bedroom around to face the wall so I couldn’t scare myself with an accidental glance at it. And, I closed my eyes when I was washing my hands to avoid looking in the bathroom mirror! A little extreme I know, but I was freaked the f*ck out!

The main characters are perfect, especially Cris, so I’ll get to her last. First lets start with Bobbi, Jesse, and Sam. They are like a misfit little makeshift family, tied together by the similarities of their past. Each one had a run in while they were young with their own unique slasher. The deadly events changed each of their lives and left them cursed. They lost loved ones in the goriest way, and are now forced to live out their lives with nothing but anxiety, paranoia, booze, and the hope that maybe someday they stop their tormentors from coming back for good.

My favorite of these three slashers is Jesse’s mirror terror. As I mentioned above my refusal to look in a mirror. I’ll possibly be haunted by the image Rafael Chandler created forever, I was scared out of my damn mind while reading this particular slasher! The picture painted of this creepy creepy was flawless and disgusting. Not at all for the weak of stomach or the faint of heart. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out from holding my breath for too long.

Now lets get to Cris. I don’t want to tell you too much, because I don’t want to give away any surprises. So I’ll just stick to the basics. Cris has a dicey past of her own, but it’s different from the other three. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment is practically all she’s known, up until the point where she met up with Sam. Despite the run in with his own slasher Sam’s managed to keep his life fairly in order and he’s a councilor at Cris’ school. He set her up with a job working for Jesse, helping him around the house, and typing his manuscripts. In turn, she met Bobbi through the other two.

Cris is like the adopted child the three survivors never had. She’s a teen, just about ready to graduate Highschool and aside from her looks there’s much about her that’s very impressive. She’s athletic, down to earth, and extremely intelligent. BUT, there’s so much more to Cris than what meets the eye. She has a very dark bloody secret of her own, and it’s huge. She’s like the key to the entire story, and what she brings to the table is insane!

I love the pace of this book, it’s very quick and intense. From cover to cover it’s never dull or slow. I’m actually surprised by how sucked in and attached I ultimately got! Based on the cover, a few reviews I’d read, and the description I figured I’d like it. But, I never in a million years would have guess at how blown away I’d actually be. This book is bloody epic. A story I’ll likely never forget!

A Suspenseful Chunk

Her alert ears listened carefully, but she heard nothing close. There were weeds to her waist and no space to move around. The rowdy men still playing cards and drinking beer was a faint sound in the distance. She strained her ears as hard as she could, but was unable to make out what they were saying. With a stomach sucked in tightly, and breath held, Autumn inched her way around the side of *****’s house and to the tiny dirt yard behind it.

The first filthy window she snuck by was hard to see through. Nothing was visible except an abundance of garbage that covered an old battered couch and coffee table. Finally, she made it to the back door and ever so slowly she reached for its handle. Her eyes were wide and searched in every direction. She prayed that the house was empty. The metal was warm in her hand, a scorching reminder that she was in fact trespassing in a very dangerous place. Several deep breaths filled Autumn’s lungs as she mentally pep-talked herself into twisting her wrist to open the door.

The hinges creaked allowing the door to open, and for some inexplicable reason she pictured Chance. A clear image of his piercing eyes and the angry words of caution he’d be spitting in her direction right now, barged into her thoughts. Had he known what she was about to do, he’d likely have a heart attack.

They’d grown close over the last three weeks. That first call with a professional hello and very personal goodbye had been the beginning of something more — much more. Since then, every single day without fail he’d called. Which reminded Autumn that she hadn’t silenced her phone. The last thing she needed was Chance or even Jeremy ringing in to check up on her, only to alert Mr. Cop-Of-The-Year. She most definitely didn’t need a tattling ringtone.

Autumn reached into her pocket and quickly pressed the silence button. Then she gagged down her fears and stepped inside Craig’s dark and deserted house. With each quite tip-toe she thought of Chance and his endless words of caution. A tear rolled down her cheek and she whispered to herself.

“God please help me make it out of this house alive.”

Autumn pulled her pistol out of its holster, jacked a bullet into the chamber, and clicked off the safety. The movements came natural. All that practice Jeremy and his crew of overbearing misfits insisted on was paying off. The house smelt like old cat pee and body odor. It stuck to the inside of her nostrils and dried up there like super glue.

It was a scent that she’d become acquainted with years before. The very smell had been on Maylee’s clothes several times when she was a baby, and although Autumn was very well aware of Candace’s hygiene problem, there was just something about it that had rang different. This wasn’t merely a smell of uncleanliness, there was something more to it.

The sad memories of this familiar scent broke Autumn’s heart. At the time, Autumn had asked her mother about the smell, and she only shook her head in disgust, refusing to give an explanation. It wasn’t until Maylee was years older that Hannah Brown finally broke down and told Autumn that the smell could’ve only come from the smoke of hard core drugs settling into everything it touches like a plague. This scent was overwhelming in Craig’s house, or at least she still assumed this was his house. She had yet to find reason to believe otherwise. The smell made Autumn sick to her stomach as she gently continued to move her hesitant feet.

The door she entered through placed her directly in the kitchen. It was dark but her eyes were starting to adjust and she could at least see shapes and shadows. She knew that if she were to flip on a light then the men outside would see it, so that was clearly not an option. The room was empty aside from a few spray paint cans on the dusty counter tops and some stacked up and broken old dirty dishes.

Autumn squinted and strained to get a closer look at one of the plates. It was apart from the rest, setting on the edge of the counter, and it appeared to be somewhat clean. A half eaten sandwich was placed perfectly in its center. There was no mold or discolor to be seen with such little light, so she assumed it to be fresh. Reluctantly, Autumn reached over. A rock of a lump formed in her throat, and she struggled to swallow it down. With a clammy nervous hand she felt the bread to see if it was hard or squishy. Sure enough, just as she suspected, her finger sunk into the soft piece of bread. The lump came right back up and she gagged on it, struggling to keep herself from losing her dinner.

Autumn hadn’t seen any movement coming from inside the house when she ran in the mornings, so whoever was permeating the air with this putrid stench, and eating sandwiches, must have been doing it later in the day. Her ribs fought hard to keep her racing heart in place. She debated on turning around and making an escape now while she still could, but changed her hesitant mind. If there was anyone there now then there would’ve been lights on, and there wasn’t. This opportunity to get inside would likely never present itself again so she continued, racing heart and all, and snuck through a narrow doorway into the next room.

It led into a living space with one old couch, a busted coffee table, and a cracked fireplace. Dried up mud chunks were strewn across the cracked floorboards, and illegible writing was spray painted all over the walls. It was hard to make out details without a light, but a swastika stood out promptly amongst the rest of the vandalism. Typical, she thought. This was the room she’d seen from the window, therefore the only one she knew what to expect in. Everything beyond this point was a gut wrenching mystery.

A main door that led out the front of the house was barely hanging on its hinges. There were several locks securing it in place, and a rickety old wooden staircase sat directly before the door. Beneath the tallest part of the stairwell there was a second set of stairs going down. Autumn decided to check the upstairs first and save the creepiest part of this small town house for last. She slowly walked up the creaking steps. Each one she took was louder than the next, so she placed her feet on the very edges against the wall to try and hit the most silent parts possible.

The second story was fairly open and seemingly empty. There were only two rooms and neither of them had a door. Autumn squinted her eyes as she still struggled to see. The shade of night was consuming Denver and darkening the inside of the house along with the out. There were few windows that weren’t boarded up and the light they offered was slim.

Autumn still had to make it back to her car when she left here and the thought caused a chill to dash up her spine. Again she forced her breath to steady and continued to move through the house. The first door-less room she entered was a disgusting bathroom. The smell was horrendous. It had a toilet and a shower, no sink. For the first time since Autumn broke into this house she was actually grateful for the lack of lighting. She could only imagine how much more disgusting this room would be if she could see it in full.

She quickly turned her attention to the next doorway. It led her into a far from ordinary bedroom. There was a mattress on the floor with something dark streaked all over it. There were also chains hanging from the ceiling with cuffs on the edges. Canes and whips leaned casually against the wall, along with a seemingly expensive camera on a tripod.

Autumn couldn’t tell in the dark what the streaks were on the bed but she could only imagine it was blood. She shivered at the thought. Her mind wandered to Maylee and a haunting image of her being chained up above a disgusting mattress in a repulsive old crack house. Autumn involuntarily conjured up the picture of her niece being whipped and beaten. The disgusting false image caused a cold sensation to take over her bloodstream, and her head to grow light.

She could taste the bile as it rose in her stomach and stopped at the base of her throat. Being here now seemed to cause every negative ‘what if’ thought she’d ever had about Maylee’s disappearance to resurface. It was all so real, front and center in a house that was supposed to belong to the lead suspect in Maylee’s case. With jittery fingers Autumn pulled out her phone and snapped a few pictures.

In the corner of this obvious torture room there was a small old plastic table with what looked like a shoe box sitting on top of it. Tip-toeing, Autumn slowly crept to a box and looked inside. There were a stack of photographs with a large rubber band holding them together. It was too dark to make out what they were pictures of, but it didn’t take much to imagine their contents.

Autumn tucked the stack against the skin of her chest, underneath her gun’s holster that was secured around her waist. She fastened them in tightly so they wouldn’t fall out. Giving them a thorough examination would have to wait until later, when she was safe in her own apartment.

The floor continued to creak as Autumn cautiously made her way back down the steps and to the basement door. A steady finger was held on the cold metal of her gun, as close as she could get it to the trigger without actually touching it. Jeremy taught her well, there’d be no accidental discharge of her weapon, not tonight. So far Autumn had lucked out. The crack house seemed empty of people, but the basement called to her next.

Securely in front of her Autumn held her gun, as she closed the distance between herself and the daunting basement door. She prayed that the culprit of the half eaten sandwich wouldn’t show up while she was down there, or worse, already be down there himself. The basement stairway was significantly darker than the rest of the house. She could hardly make out the last step.

When she reached the bottom she could see a small light shining from underneath a doorway at the end of an apparent hall. Autumn held her breath and very slowly walked toward it. The door was metal and locked from the outside, she gently placed an ear against it. There was a faint noise coming from inside, and Autumn strained to make out what it was. It sounded much like a wheezy breath, then a cough, followed by the soft moan of a girl in pain. Autumn’s heart sunk in her chest. Oh my God could it be her?

The cracked concrete floor threatened to swallow Autumn whole. Her nervous fingers reached for the lock, but she paused before flipping its latch. Who was behind this locked door, she wondered, what if the pained cougher wasn’t alone? Autumn waited for a few more moments with her ear pressed firmly against the cold metal. Then a quiet woman’s voice sounded from inside. It was raspy, pained, and dry… But not Mayle. A tear rolled down Autumn’s cheek, and her closing throat finally sucked in a lungful of the rancid smelling air.

DESCRIPTION:

Since Maylee was abducted from her high school the very month of graduation, her Aunt Autumn has never lost hope in finding her. It’s been three years. Autumn has finally reached inside herself and found the courage to track down an old lead. She moves across the country to find him. Will Autumn be able to pry Maylee’s case back open? More importantly, what will Autumn uncover in the process of searching for Maylee? It’s a cold dark world we live in, and she is about to find out just how cruel it can be. Strength and determination are on Autumn’s side and she will do what ever it takes.

#promo My Sweet Friend, by H. A. Leuschel @shanannigans81 @HALeuschel

MSF 2D High ResPublication Date: December 6, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

A stand-alone novella from the author of Manipulated Lives

A perfect friend … or a perfect impostor?

Alexa is an energetic and charismatic professional and the new member of a Parisian PR company where she quickly befriends her colleagues Rosie and Jack. She brings a much-needed breath of fresh air into the office and ambitiously throws herself into her new job and friendships.

But is Alexa all she claims to be?

As her life intertwines with Rosie and Jack’s, they must all decide what separates truth from fiction. Will the stories that unfold unite or divide them? Can first impressions ever be trusted?

In this original novella, H.A. Leuschel evokes the powerful hold of appearances and what a person is prepared to do to keep up the facade. If you like thought-provoking and compelling reads with intriguing characters, My Sweet Friend is for you.

Goodreads

Lying is a symptom shared by the most convincing, cunning and ruthless individuals such as psychopaths and narcissistic manipulators. They have an invincible sense of self-importance and an addictive urge to project an image of power and perfection at all cost which are fuelled by the rewarding tools of charm, diversion and … clever deception.

Like anything in life, whether the skill is morally laudable or not, skills require training, effort and hard work. The danger lies in the brain progressively adapting to the dishonest behaviour and the longer the lies, the harder it would seem to be able to change the conditioning of one’s sensitivity to telling the truth. The truth and nothing but the truth or at the very least the intention to do so most of the time therefore appears to be a basic requirement for any interpersonal trust.

In my new stand-alone novella, I explore the idea that when crossing the line between truth or lie too often, it becomes a curse the person is eventually unable to shed … (H.A. Leuschel)

Excerpt

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I was brushing my teeth the next morning when Alexa called, crying over another nasty phone call from her ex. I was running late as it was but was unable to stop her barrage of insults against a man I didn’t even know the name of.

‘He’s driving me absolutely insane. I’ve really had enough,’ I heard her shout, the heels of her shoes clicking on the pavement. She was clearly on her way to work while I was only slipping my feet into my shoes. It had been her second frantic call that morning.

‘Listen. Alexa, calm down. I understand you’re upset but I’ll be late if you don’t stop.’

‘I’m there for you when you need me but when I’m the one in need for once, you fob me off. Great, really nice, thanks.’ She hung up, leaving me in an angry sweat. I was her polar opposite – organized and calm – but lately I felt out of kilter myself. I’d missed out on seeing my mum because, for one reason or another, Alexa managed to ambush my attention.

When I eventually rushed through the office door, Alexa was looking up at me indifferently, in deep conversation with Jack, who tapped his watch with pursed lips and raised eyebrows. I lowered my eyes, my stomach heaving with repressed fury. Alexa had crawled under my skin yet I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why and how it had all come about.

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About the Author

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Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches yoga.

Helene Leuschel | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Blog Tour Schedule

Feb. 19th

Reads & Reels (Feature Promo) http://www.readsandreels.com

Brizzle Lass Books (Excerpt) https://brizzlelassbooks.com

The Repeat Mom (Review) http://Thethreepeatmom.blogspot.com

Sinfully Wicked Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.wordpress.com

Nesie’s Place (Review) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Jill’s Book Blog (Review) https://jilljemmett.com

Feb. 20th

Books and Belle (Excerpt) https://booksandbelleblog.wordpress.com

Beware the Reader (Excerpt) http://bewareofthereader.com

Jenacidebybibliophile (Review) https://jenacidebybibliophile.com

Darque Dreamer Reads (Review) https://darquedreamerreads.wordpress.com

Cover to Cover (Excerpt) http://www.liisthinks.wordpress.com

Feb. 21st

Girl Masked (Review) http://girlmasked.wordpress.com

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Book Reviews by Shalini (Excerpt) www.bookreviewsbyshalini.wordpress.com

The Starving Book Worm (Review) http://thestarvingbookworm.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Feb. 22nd

Splashes Into Books (Review) http://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com

Kristin’s Novel Café (Review) https://knovelcafe.wordpress.com

The Bookworm Chronicles (Excerpt) https://www.muretbookworm.wordpress.com

Feb. 23rd

The Orangutan Librarian (Review) https://theorangutanlibrarian.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Love Books Group (Review) http://lovebooksgroup.blog

Just 4 My Books (Review) https://just4mybooks.wordpress.com

 

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