Aug 022017
 

Last Breath

by Karin Slaughter

on Tour July 24 – August 4, 2017

Synopsis:

Last Breath by Karin Slaughter

Protecting someone always comes at a cost.

At the age of thirteen, Charlie Quinn’s childhood came to an abrupt and devastating end. Two men, with a grudge against her lawyer father, broke into her home—and after that shocking night, Charlie’s world was never the same.

Now a lawyer herself, Charlie has made it her mission to defend those with no one else to turn to. So when Flora Faulkner, a motherless teen, begs for help, Charlie is reminded of her own past, and is powerless to say no.

But honor-student Flora is in far deeper trouble than Charlie could ever have anticipated. Soon she must ask herself: How far should she go to protect her client? And can she truly believe everything she is being told?

Razor-sharp and lightning-fast, this electrifying story from the #1 international bestselling author will leave you breathless. And be sure to read Karin Slaughter’s extraordinary new novel The Good Daughter—available August 8, 2017.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I am embarrassed to admit that this is the first book that I have read by this author. But it definitely won’t be the last. I am hooked!

The LAST BREATH is the prequel to THE GOOD DAUGHTER coming out on Aug. 8th and I can’t wait. In this book we meet Charlie Quinn, Esq. A fighter for those that can’t.

She meets Flora, a 15 year old, who hints at abuse at the hands of her grandparents and wants help to become emancipated. Charlie starts to investigate and finds that all isn’t as her client states. Who is this 15 year old and who is the manipulator?

The reader also gets a hint of Charlie’s background and earlier life where she witnessed her mother’s murder.

Even though this was a novella, the suspense was constant and leaving me wanting more!! I am trying to wait patiently for THE GOOD DAUGHTER, since this one was a page turner, I can only imagine how much I am going to enjoy the sequel!

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Number of Pages: 48
ISBN: 0062742159 (ISBN13: 9780062742155)
Series: Good Daughter 0.5
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

“Come on now, Miss Charlie.” Dexter Black’s voice was scratchy over the jailhouse payphone. He was fifteen years her senior, but the “miss” was meant to convey respect for their respective positions. “I told you I’m’a take care of your bill soon as you get me outta this mess.”

Charlie Quinn rolled her eyes up so far in her head that she felt dizzy. She was standing outside a packed room of Girl Scouts at the YWCA. She should not have taken the call, but there were few worse things than being surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls. “Dexter, you said the exact same thing the last time I got you out of trouble, and the minute you walked out of rehab, you spent all of your money on lottery tickets.”

“I could’a won, and then I would’a paid you out half. Not just what I owe you, Miss Charlie. Half.”

“That’s very generous, but half of nothing is nothing.” She waited for him to come up with another excuse, but all she heard was the distinct murmur of the North Georgia Men’s Detention Center. Bars being rattled. Expletives being shouted. Grown men crying. Guards telling them all to shut the hell up.

She said, “I’m not wasting my anytime cell-phone minutes on your silence.”

“I got something,” Dexter said. “Something gonna get me paid.”

“I hope it’s not anything you wouldn’t want the police to find out about on a recorded phone conversation from jail.” Charlie wiped sweat from her forehead. The hallway was like an oven. “Dexter, you owe me almost two thousand dollars. I can’t be your lawyer for free. I’ve got a mortgage and school loans and I’d like to be able to eat at a nice restaurant occasionally without worrying my credit card will be declined.”

“Miss Charlie,” Dexter repeated. “I see what you were doing there, reminding me about the phone being recorded, but what I’m saying is that I got something might be worth some money to the police.”

“You should get a good lawyer to represent you in the negotiations, because it’s not going to be me.”

“Wait, wait, don’t hang up,” Dexter pleaded. “I’m just remembering what you told me all them years ago when we first started. You remember that?”

Charlie’s eye roll was not as pronounced this time. Dexter had been her first client when she’d set up shop straight out of law school.

He said, “You told me that you passed up them big jobs in the city ’cause you wanted to help people.” He paused for effect. “Don’t you still wanna help people, Miss Charlie?”

She mumbled a few curses that the phone monitors at the jail would appreciate. “Carter Grail,” she said, offering him the name of another lawyer.

“That old drunk?” Dexter sounded picky for a man wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. “Miss Charlie, please can you—”

“Don’t sign anything that you don’t understand.” Charlie flipped her phone closed and dropped it into her purse. A group of women in bike shorts walked past. The YWCA mid-morning crowd consisted of retirees and young mothers. She could hear a distant thump-thump-thump of heavy bass from an exercise class. The air smelled of chlorine from the indoor pool. Thunks from the tennis courts penetrated the double-paned windows.

Charlie leaned back against the wall. She replayed Dexter’s call in her head. He was in jail again. For meth again. He was probably thinking he could snitch on a fellow meth head, or a dealer, and make the charges go away. If he didn’t have a lawyer looking over the deal from the district attorney’s office, he would be better off holding his nuts and buying more lottery tickets.

She felt bad about his situation, but not as bad as she felt about the prospect of being late on her car payment.

The door to the rec room opened. Belinda Foster looked panicked. She was twenty-eight, the same age as Charlie, but with a toddler at home, a baby on the way and a husband she talked about as if he was another burdensome child. Taking over Girl Scout career day had not been Belinda’s stupidest mistake this summer, but it was in the top three.

“Charlie!” Belinda tugged at the trefoil scarf around her neck. “If you don’t get back in here, I’m gonna throw myself off the roof.”

“You’d only break your neck.”

Belinda pulled open the door and waited.

Charlie nudged around her friend’s very pregnant belly. Nothing had changed in the rec room since her ringing cell phone had given her respite from the crowd. All of the oxygen was being sucked up by twenty fresh-faced, giggling Girl Scouts ranging from the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Charlie tried not to shudder at the sight of them. She had a tiny smidge over a decade on most of the girls, but there was something familiar about each and every one of them.

The math nerds. The future English majors. The cheerleaders. The Plastics. The goths. The dorks. The freaks. The geeks. They all flashed the same smiles at each other, the kind that edged up at the corners of their mouths because, at any time, one of them could pull a proverbial knife: a haircut might look stupid, the wrong color nail polish could be on fingernails, the wrong shoes, the wrong tights, the wrong word and suddenly you were on the outside looking in.

Charlie could still recall what it felt like to be stuck in the purgatory of the outside. There was nothing more torturous, more lonely, than being iced out by a gaggle of teenage girls.

“Cake?” Belinda offered her a paper-thin slice of sheet cake.

“Hm,” was all Charlie could say. Her stomach felt queasy. She couldn’t stop her gaze from traveling around the sparsely furnished rec room. The girls were all young, thin and beautiful in a way that Charlie did not appreciate when she was among them. Short miniskirts. Tight T-shirts and blouses opened one button too many. They seemed so frighteningly confident. They flicked back their long, fake blonde hair as they laughed. They narrowed expertly made-up eyes as they listened to stories. Sashes were askew. Vests were unbuttoned. Some of these girls were in serious violation of the Girl Scout dress code.

Charlie said, “I can’t remember what we talked about when we were that age.”

“That the Culpepper girls were a bunch of bitches.”

Charlie winced at the name of her torturers. She took the plate from Belinda, but only to keep her hands occupied. “Why aren’t any of them asking me questions?”

“We never asked questions,” Belinda said, and Charlie felt instant regret that she had spurned all the career women who had spoken at her Girl Scout meetings. The speakers had all seemed so old. Charlie was not old. She still had her badge-filled sash in a closet somewhere at home. She was a kick-ass lawyer. She was married to an adorable guy. She was in the best shape of her life. These girls should think she was awesome. They should be inundating her with questions about how she got to be so cool instead of snickering in their little cliques, likely discussing how much pig’s blood to put in a bucket over Charlie’s head.

“I can’t believe their make-up,” Belinda said. “My mother almost scrubbed the eyes off my face when I tried to sneak out with mascara on.”

Charlie’s mother had been killed when she was thirteen, but she could recall many a lecture from Lenore, her father’s secretary, about the dangerous message sent by too-tight Jordache jeans.

Not that Lenore had been able to stop her.

Belinda said, “I’m not going to raise Layla like that.” She meant her three-year-old daughter, who had somehow turned out to be a thoughtful, angelic child despite her mother’s lifelong love of beer pong, tequila shooters, and unemployed guys who rode motorcycles. “These girls, they’re sweet, but they have no sense of shame. They think everything they do is okay. And don’t even get me started on the sex. The things they say in meetings.” She snorted, leaving out the best part. “We were never like that.”

Charlie had seen quite the opposite, especially when a Harley was involved. “I guess the point of feminism is that they have choices, not that they do exactly what we think they should do.”

“Well, maybe, but we’re still right and they’re still wrong.”

“Now you sound like a mother.” Charlie used her fork to cut off a section of chocolate frosting from the cake. It landed like paste on her tongue. She handed the plate back to Belinda. “I was terrified of disappointing my mom.”

Belinda finished the cake. “I was terrified of your mom, period.”

Charlie smiled, then she put her hand to her stomach as the frosting roiled around like driftwood in a tsunami.

“You okay?” Belinda asked.

Charlie held up her hand. The sickness came over her so suddenly that she couldn’t even ask where the bathroom was.

Belinda knew the look. “It’s down the hall on the—”

Charlie bolted out of the room. She kept her hand tight to her mouth as she tried doors. A closet. Another closet.

A fresh-faced Girl Scout was coming out of the last door she tried.

“Oh,” the teenager said, flinging up her hands, backing away.

Charlie ran into the closest stall and sloughed the contents of her stomach into the toilet. The force was so much that tears squeezed out of her eyes. She gripped the side of the bowl with both hands. She made grunting noises that she would be ashamed for any human being to hear.

But someone did hear.

“Ma’am?” the teenager asked, which somehow made everything worse, because Charlie was not old enough to be called ma’am. “Ma’am, are you okay?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, thank you. You can go away.” Charlie bit her lip so that she wouldn’t curse the helpful little creature like a dog. She searched for her purse. It was outside the stall. Her wallet had fallen out, her keys, a pack of gum, loose change. The strap dragged across the greasy-looking tile floor like a tail. She started to reach out for it, but gave up when her stomach clenched. All she could do was sit on the filthy bathroom floor, gather her hair up off her neck, and pray that her troubles would be confined to one end of her body.

“Ma’am?” the girl repeated.

Charlie desperately wanted to tell her to get the hell out, but couldn’t risk opening her mouth. She waited, eyes closed, listening to the silence, begging her ears to pick out the sound of the door closing as the girl left.

Instead, the faucet was turned on. Water ran into the sink. Paper towels were pulled from the dispenser.

Charlie opened her eyes. She flushed the toilet. Why on earth was she so ill?

It couldn’t be the cake. Charlie was lactose intolerant, but Belinda would never make anything from scratch. Canned frosting was 99 percent chemicals, usually not enough to send her over the edge. Was it the happy chicken from General Ho’s she’d had for supper last night? The egg roll she’d sneaked out of the fridge before going to bed? The luncheon meat she’d scarfed down before her morning run? The breakfast burrito fiesta she’d gotten at Taco Bell on the way to the Y?

Jesus, she ate like a sixteen-year-old boy.

The faucet turned off.

Charlie should have at least opened the stall door, but a quick survey of the damage changed her mind. Her navy skirt was hiked up. Pantyhose ripped. There were splatters on her white silk blouse that would likely never come out. Worst of all, she had scuffed the toe of her new shoe, a navy high-heel Lenore had helped her pick out for court.

“Ma’am?” the teen said. She was holding a wet paper towel under the stall door.

“Thank you,” Charlie managed. She pressed the cool towel to the back of her neck and closed her eyes again. Was this a stomach bug?

“Ma’am, I can get you something to drink,” the girl offered.

Charlie almost threw up again at the thought of Belinda’s cough-mediciney punch. If the girl was not going to leave, she might as well be put to use. “There’s some change in my wallet. Do you mind getting a ginger ale from the machine?”

The girl knelt down on the floor. Charlie saw the familiar khaki-colored sash with badges sewn all over it. Customer Loyalty. Business Planning. Marketing. Financial Literacy. Top Seller. Apparently, she knew how to move some cookies.

Charlie said, “The bills are in the side.”

The girl opened her wallet. Charlie’s driver’s license was in the clear plastic part. “I thought your last name was Quinn?”

“It is. At work. That’s my married name.”

“How long have you been married?”

“Four and a half years.”

“My gran says it takes five years before you hate them.”

Charlie could not imagine ever hating her husband. She also couldn’t imagine keeping up her end of this under-stall conversation. The urge to puke again was tickling at the back of her throat.

“Your dad is Rusty Quinn,” the girl said, which meant that she has been in town for more than ten minutes. Charlie’s father had a reputation in Pikeville because of the clients he defended—convenience store robbers, drug dealers, murderers and assorted felons. How people in town viewed Rusty generally depended on whether or not they or a family member ever needed his services.

The girl said, “I heard he helps people.”

“He does.” Charlie did not like how the words echoed back to Dexter’s reminder that she had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in the city so that she could work for people who really needed her. If there was one guiding ethos in Charlie’s life, it was that she was not going to be like her father.

“I bet he’s expensive.” The girl asked, “Are you expensive? I mean, when you help people?”

Charlie put her hand to her mouth again. How could she ask this teenager to please get her some ginger ale without screaming at her?

“I enjoyed your speech,” the girl said. “My mom was killed in a car accident when I was little.”

Charlie waited for context, but there was none. The girl slid a dollar bill out of Charlie’s wallet and finally, thankfully, left.

There was nothing to do in the ensuing silence but see if she could stand. Charlie had fortuitously ended up in the handicapped stall. She gripped the metal rails and shakily pulled herself up to standing. She spat into the toilet a few times before flushing it again. When she opened the stall door, the mirror greeted her with a pale, sickly-looking woman in a $120 puke-spotted silk blouse. Her dark hair looked wild. Her lips had a bluish tint.

Charlie lifted her hair, holding it in a ponytail. She turned on the sink and slurped water into her mouth. She caught her reflection again as she leaned down to spit.

Her mother’s eyes looked back at her. Her mother’s arched eyebrow.

What’s going on in that mind of yours, Charlie?

Charlie had heard this question at least three or four times a week back when her mother was alive. She would be sitting in the kitchen doing her homework, or on the floor of her room trying to do some kind of craft project, and her mother would sit opposite her and ask the same question that she always asked.

What is going on in your mind?

It was not contrived to be a conversation starter. Her mother was a scientist and a scholar. She had never been one for idle chitchat. She was genuinely curious about what thoughts filled her thirteen-year-old daughter’s head.

Until Charlie had met her husband, no one else had ever expressed such genuine interest.

The door opened. The girl was back with a ginger ale. She was pretty, though not conventionally so. She did not seem to fit in with her perfectly coifed peers. Her dark hair was long and straight, pinned back with a silver clip on one side. She was young-looking, probably fifteen, but her face was absent of make-up. Her crisp green Girl Scout T-shirt was tucked into her faded jeans, which Charlie felt was unfair because in her day they had been forced to wear scratchy white button-up shirts and khaki skirts with knee socks.

Charlie did not know which felt worse, that she had thrown up or that she had just employed the phrase, “in her day.”

“I’ll put the change in your wallet,” the girl offered.

“Thank you.” Charlie drank some of the ginger ale while the girl neatly repacked the contents of her purse.

The girl said, “Those stains on your blouse will come out with a mixture of a tablespoon of ammonia, a quart of warm water and a half a teaspoon of detergent. You soak it in a bowl.”

“Thank you again.” Charlie wasn’t sure she wanted to soak anything she owned in ammonia, but judging by the badges on the sash, the girl knew what she was talking about. “How long have you been in Girl Scouts?”

“I got my start as a Brownie. My mom signed me up. I thought it was lame, but you learn lots of things, like business skills.”

“My mom signed me up, too.” Charlie had never thought it was lame. She had loved all the projects and the camping trips and especially eating the cookies she had made her parents buy. “What’s your name?”

“Flora Faulkner,” she said. “My mom named me Florabama, because I was born on the state line, but I go by Flora.”

Charlie smiled, but only because she knew that she was going to laugh about this later with her husband. “There are worse things that you could be called.”

Flora looked down at her hands. “A lot of the girls are pretty good at thinking of mean things.”

Clearly, this was some kind of opening, but Charlie was at a loss for words. She combed back through her knowledge of after-school specials. All she could remember was that movie of the week where Ted Danson is married to Glenn Close and she finds out that he’s molesting their teenage daughter but she’s been cold in bed so it’s probably her fault so they all go to therapy and learn to live with it.

“Miss Quinn?” Flora put Charlie’s purse on the counter. “Do you want me to get you some crackers?”

“No, I’m

Excerpt from Last Breath by Karin Slaughter. Copyright © 2017 by Karin Slaughter. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Karin Slaughter

Author Bio:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

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Giveaway:

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Jul 252017
 

CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN Tour Banner

Children of the Fifth Sun

by Gareth Worthington

on Tour July 24 – Sept 25, 2017

Children of the Fifth Sun by Gareth Worthington

Book Details

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller | “Science Faction” science fiction, action, adventure with fact-based science, theories and mythology

Published by: Vesuvian Books

Publication Date: July 25th 2017

Number of Pages: 407

ISBN: 9781944109400

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Read this Free Preview: Amazon 🔗 & Barnes & Noble 🔗

Synopsis:

Thousands of years ago, an ancient species from the sea saved humanity; now a cocky, free-diving photographer tortured by his past is the unlikely hero who must save the last of their kind from a global race between nations to control the creature’s power.

IN ALMOST EVERY BELIEF SYSTEM ON EARTH, there exists a single unifying mythos: thousands of years ago a great flood devastated the Earth’s inhabitants. From the ruins of this cataclysm, a race of beings emerged from the sea bestowing knowledge and culture upon humanity, saving us from our selfish drive toward extinction. Some say this race were “ancient aliens” who came to assist our evolution. But what if they weren’t alien at all? What if they evolved right here on Earth, alongside humans . . . and they are still here? And, what if the World’s governments already know?

Kelly Graham is a narcissistic, self-assured, freelance photographer specializing in underwater assignments. While on a project in the Amazon with his best friend, Chris D’Souza, a mysterious and beautiful government official, Freya Nilsson, enters Kelly’s life and turns it upside down. Her simple request to retrieve a strange object from deep underwater puts him in the middle of an international conspiracy. A conspiracy that threatens to change the course of human history.

Read an excerpt:

Freya elegantly glided in front of Kelly, breaking his train of thought. Her slender body slid through the water with grace and ease. She must have sensed his stare, because she turned her head to face him and gave a huge, regulator-filled grin. Kelly stifled a laugh.

He turned back to his equipment to check their depth—sixty-five feet. They were at the sea floor. It wasn’t very deep, but this was where it was supposed to be. He motioned his right arm to get Freya’s attention. He then signaled for her to look down and keep her eyes open. She gave the okay sign.

As they swam a little further, the structure came into sight just as Alexandro’s information had indicated. A large horseshoe-shaped wall, three-feet thick and six-feet tall, spanned more than two-hundred-fifty feet in diameter. Other than that, it was unimpressive—just an old stone wall. Surely, if a team had already been down here, they would have found an orb? Kelly pulled himself along the bottom, sifting through the sand, picking up each stone he came across. He shook his head and looked across at Freya. She seemed to be having similar poor luck, pointlessly rummaging through silt and mud. He swam across to her and pointed in front, indicating his intent to look on ahead. She nodded and watched as he flicked his fins, disappearing into a haze of ocean and sand particles.

Freya returned to her treasure hunt. All she found were rocks and the odd tin or soft drink can. Ugh, it was disgusting. Even the ocean wasn’t safe from humanity. She reached the outer edge of the stone wall and swam along, keeping close to it. Her gloved fingers prodded into each crack and crevice, not that she could feel anything through the thick material. Her mask was beginning to fill with water. She thought about Kelly’s instruction and began the mask clearing procedure.

Pressing the palm of her right hand against the top of her mask so the bottom released a few millimeters from her face, she exhaled hard through her nose, forcing the water out. A stream of bubbles crashed about her head in a white-water curtain. As it cleared, a small metallic glint protruding from beneath one of the huge stone bricks caught her eye. She clawed her way to it, then started digging in the sand. The fine silt clouded up around her, obscuring her view. Using only her limited sense of touch, Freya kept tunneling under the wall. The familiar shape of a box began to form under her fingers. She dug beneath until she could grip the box with both hands. Tugging hard, she released the cuboid object from its hold in the silt. The billow of sand cleared.

She stared at her treasure. It was a small chest, copper-colored with a green oxidized coating on its surface. She smiled. Could this be it? Could there be an orb inside? The excitement power through her. She raised her head to see if Kelly was nearby, but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. She swam in a circle. The inability to hear or feel anything was unnerving. She only had the power of sight and that was restricted to a straight line in front of her for one hundred fifty feet or so.

The light above her dimmed. Freya frowned and raised her head to investigate. Above her, the huge shadow of a shark glided by. She knew her mask would magnify any object, but still, the thing looked huge. Its blunt snout and thick body looked positively primeval—the perfect predator. Panic set in.

Damn, where was Kelly? Clutching her treasure, Freya lowered her head. She searched for the knife strapped to her right calf. Before she could find it, her gaze was met by the cold stare of reptilian eyes. A sea snake was inches from her face, rippling its body to hold its position. Its eyes were fixed on hers. She froze, holding her breath. Freya shifted her focus from the uncomfortably close predator to the shadow lurking behind it. Oh God. The shark?

It was Kelly. A brief feeling of relief washed over her, but it was snatched away by the searing pain of fangs plunging into her left hand. Freya gargled a scream through her regulator and dropped the box, letting it fall to the sea floor. The snake shot off into murk as Kelly tore through the water toward her. Her breathing slowed and her limbs grew heavy. Her eyelids slid closed. She blinked before her eyes closed one last time.

* * *

Excerpt from Children of the Fifth Sun by Gareth Worthington. Copyright © 2017 by Gareth Worthington. Reproduced with permission from Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary. All rights reserved.

Q&A with Gareth Worthington

Welcome!

Thanks, glad to be here.

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?

Absolutely. Its cliché, but I really feel one should write what one knows. Children of the Fifth Sun is very personal, as the lead character is based on one of my stronger character traits – though somewhat exaggerated. His journey reflects very much my own.

In books 2 and 3, Children of the Fifth Sun: Echelon and Rubicon, respectively, I am drawing very much on my experience as a new father.

In terms of current events, Children of the Fifth Sun plays more on the historical things that have occurred on our planet and tries to tie many of them together. Everything from the unifying myth of the ‘knowledge bringers’ after the great flood, to the alignment of the Giza pyramids to the stars of Orion’s belt – 2000 years before they were supposed to be built – to the creation of the CIA and the NSA.

You can read much of the research at www.childrenofthefifthsun.com

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?

Kind of both. I have a beginning and end in mind. Then I flesh out the chapters into one or two line reminders: this happens here; X character learns this. Then, as I’m writing, I organically change and move things. I do more research and when I find something awesome I want to include, I consider what it does to the end. I usually change the end multiple times – although, for Children of the Fifth Sun, one piece of the end was always fixed. For me, it had to be that way. I personally needed it to happen.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?

Yes and no. Honestly, I pour a lot of myself into the protagonists, as it helps to keep them real. In Children of the Fifth Sun, Kelly Graham represents my fear of human connection only to then lose it. Like me, he uses sarcasm and distancing tactics to keep people at arm’s length. Whereas in It Takes Death to Reach a Star, Demitri Stasevich is based on my self-doubt – the character has a voice in his head that constantly chides him. I can’t speak for Mila in that story, Stu wrote her. But as I know Stu, her character has some of his strong traits (sorry Stu!).

As for other characters, I create them based on what the story needs to balance it out. But I don’t base them on people I know.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I wouldn’t say idiosyncrasies. But I write when I can – literally, any minute I have. My day job is complicated and takes me all over the world. If I combine that with two children under three years old, going to the gym, being a husband, and all other things people have to do, I need to write when I have an hour. Usually on a plane, or late at night when the kids are in bed. I’m not a morning writer, that’s for sure.

Tell us why we should read this book.

Haha, well several reasons I guess.

1. There is no story like it. More than 20 years of research has gone into it and I do believe it to be unique.
2. It has multiple story threads, so even if you hate one character or one plot line, you will hopefully love another (everybody loves the character K’in).
3. You get to learn things as well! It’s full of scientific research, history, and geographical locations. You might be able to apply for credit at an open university!
4. I try to tackle everyday issues as much as anything. It’s a story about what it means to be human.
5. You should always read the book before the movie comes out (you can’t see, but I’m winking).

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman and J.R.R. Martin. Awesome authors. And of course my co-author Stu Jones – we’ve just written a new book together. He’s a great creator and our latest book would literally be half what it is if he weren’t with me.

What are you reading now?

Weirdly, I actually read more non-fiction than anything. It’s where my ideas come from. The best one I’ve read in a while is Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. Fantastic book summarizing human existence to date.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?

I’m working on four! First and foremost, Children of the Fifth Sun: Echelon (book 2). Book three, COTFS: Rubicon is simmering in the back of my head.

Stu Jones and I have written, and are editing, a futuristic thriller duology that extrapolates two hundred years into the future and considers how the war on terror, widening differences between social classes, and anti-bacterial resistance will shape humans.

The interesting piece about this duology, is that we aimed to also explore theistic and scientific explanations for human existence. Stu is a Christian law enforcement officer from Alabama and I’m an atheist scientist from the UK. The book is written in first person present tense from two points of view, with Stu writing one character and me the other. It’s worked perfectly. The first book called It Takes Death to Reach a Star will be published by Vesuvian Books in 2018. We’re also working on the sequel, With the Fourth Comes Hades.

You can read all the research at www.ittakesdeathtoreachastar.com

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?

Oh that’s easy! I wrote Children of the Fifth Sun as if it were a movie playing in my head. Kelly would be played by Gerard Butler – I wrote it for him. I need someone who can play the sarcastic, cheeky, Indiana Jones-type guy but also do hurt and vulnerable too. For Freya, I had Jennifer Connelly in mind. Just the right amount of tough and feminine. And as for K’in? He’d be CGI and I’ve already created him, you can check him out on the website!

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Muay Thai, without a doubt. A proper combat sport that has so much honor and discipline woven in. I love the Thai Fighters and miss my Krus in Singapore.

Favorite meal?

A good old fashioned English Sunday roast. I’ve lived abroad for many years now, and this is one of those meals that just hasn’t spread to many places. It’s all down to the roast potatoes and the gravy made with the juice of the bird. Okay, now I’m hungry.

More about Gareth Worthington:

Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in endocrinology, and currently educates the World’s doctors on new cancer therapies. Gareth has hand tagged sharks in California; won honorable mention at the New York Book Festival 2012 and 2013 for his writing; and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and MMA at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and Phoenix KampfSport Switzerland. Born in Plymouth UK, Worthington currently resides outside of Zurich, Switzerland.

Visit Gareth Online:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Tour Host Participants:

Stop by the other hosts for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Gareth Worthington and GH Literary. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of CHILDREN OF THE FIFTH SUN by Gareth Worthington. The giveaway begins on July 24th and runs through September 27th, 2017.
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Jul 232017
 

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

All Signs Point to Murder

by Connie di Marco

on Tour July 23 – August 23, 2017

Synopsis:

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco

Rob Ramer was the perfect husband until he committed the ultimate family faux pas — he shot his sister-in-law to death. Believing himself under attack by an intruder in his home, he fired back. But when evidence is discovered that Rob’s wife, Brooke, was plotting his murder, Brooke is charged with conspiracy in her sister’s death. Geneva, a third sister, is desperate for answers and seeks the help of her friend, San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Geneva’s lost one sister and now it seems she’ll lose the other. Was this a murder plot or just a terrible accident? Julia vows to find the answer in the stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: August 2017
Number of Pages:336
ISBN: 0738751073 (ISBN13: 9780738751078)
Series: A Zodiac Mystery, 2 | Each is a Stand Alone Mystery
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | IndieBound 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

The building on Guerrero was a once proud Victorian with bow front windows. It had since been broken up into six small units and fallen into disrepair. I drove around the block several times before I managed to find a parking spot a few doors down. The shops on the main street were long closed and the streets deserted. I shivered and let the car heater run another minute to warm up before I left the comfort of my little metal box. There was something about this chore that made my stomach go into knots. Rummaging through a dead woman’s possessions was bad enough, but what if I found something that implicated Moira in a crime? Should I remove it and risk the police finding out?

I climbed out of the car, careful to lock it and approached the long stairway leading to the front door. The wind had died down and now fog danced around the streetlights. It was eerily quiet. No lights shone from any of the windows. I hoped all the residents were safely tucked up in their beds by now. I climbed the cracked granite stairs to the entrance. The weathered door stood ajar, listing slightly on its hinges. I grasped the handle and twisted it, but the lock mechanism was out of commission. Inside, a bare overhead light bulb hung from a chain. It cast a meager glow down the long corridor, cannibalized from a once grand entryway. The hallway smelled of dirty cat litter, moldy vegetables and cigarette smoke. I followed the corridor to the end, and stopped at the last door on the right.

I slipped the key into the lock. It offered no resistance. The door opened immediately. Had it not been locked? I caught a slight scuffling sound and cringed. I hoped no furry long-tailed creatures were waiting inside for me. I reached around the doorway and felt along the wall. My fingers hit the switch. A rusting chandelier with two bulbs missing illuminated the one large room that was both Moira’s living room and bedroom. I tested the key with the door open, locking and then unlocking it. Now I felt the resistance. The door had definitely been unlocked. I stepped inside and shut it behind me, making sure the lock was secure. Was it possible someone had been here before me and left without locking the door? Or had Moira simply been careless?

I had to make sure I was alone in the apartment. There were no hiding places in this sparsely furnished room. I checked under the bed just to be sure and opened the closet, terrified that someone or something might jump out at me. The closet was narrow, filled with a jumble of clothing, half on the floor. I walked into the kitchenette and spotted a doorway that led to the back stairs and the yard. I tested the handle on the door. Locked. I checked the space between the refrigerator and the wall, and then the shower stall in the bathroom. I was alone. I had been holding my breath and finally let it out in a great sigh.

I started with the drawers in the kitchen and checked the counter, looking for any notes with names or phone numbers. There was nothing. The kitchen was surprisingly clean, as if Moira had never used the room. Inside the refrigerator were a few condiments, a half-eaten unwrapped apple and a loaf of whole wheat bread. I quickly rummaged through the drawers and the freezer to make sure there were no bundles of cash disguised as frozen meat.

The main room housed a collection of hand-me-downs and broken furniture, ripped curtains and piles of clothing in various spots around the floor. Had she really lived like this? I heaved up the mattress, first on one side and then the other, making sure nothing was hidden between it and the box spring. Under the bed, I spotted only dust bunnies. I pulled open each of the bureau drawers, checked their contents and pulled them all the way out to make sure nothing was behind them. I opened a small drawer in the bedside stand. Amid a loose pile of clutter was a dark blue velvet box embossed with the letter “R” in cursive gold script. Could this be from Rochecault? I was fairly certain it was. Rochecault is an infamously expensive jeweler on Maiden Lane downtown. How could Moira have shopped there? Was this what Geneva had meant when she said her sister seemed to have a lot of money to spend?

I opened the box and gasped. An amazing bracelet heavy with blue stones in varying colors rested inside. The setting had the slightly matte industrial sheen of platinum. Moira couldn’t possibly have afforded this. Shoving the box into a side pocket of my purse, I decided I was definitely not leaving this for the police to find, and slid the drawer shut.

I scanned the room. Moira hadn’t been much of a housekeeper and it didn’t appear as if there were many hiding spots. I headed for the desk, a rickety affair with two drawers and a monitor on top. I clicked on the hard drive and waited a moment. The monitor came to life and asked for a password. It would take someone much more talented than I to unearth its secrets. Under a jumble of papers and unopened bills, my eye caught a small black notebook. This looked promising. Perhaps it was an address book that would give us all of Moira’s contacts. I dropped my purse on the floor and reached for the book. A searing pain shot through my skull. Blinded, I fell to the floor.

***

Excerpt from All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco. Copyright © 2017 by Connie di Marco. Reproduced with permission from Connie di Marco. All rights reserved.

GUEST POST

Julia Bonatti, my protagonist in the Zodiac Mysteries solves crimes using astrology. And I hear from readers all the time – some love the subject of astrology and want to know more, while others aren’t particularly interested and are happy to skip those parts. That’s fine with me. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Julia just happens to have an unusual occupation. Hopefully, there are enough thrills and chills in her investigations that will keep readers turning the pages.

Mostly, people want to know how Julia figures things out and what she sees in a chart that alerts her to possible danger. She can tell an awful lot about an individual from a chart and can make an educated guess about how that person approaches life. Here’s an example that might help explain a few things:

This is a chart of a man born on July 26 at 7:29 p.m. in Kesswil, Switzerland. I won’t mention the year, not yet. What can we tell from the chart, without knowing the man’s name or his profession?

  • He’s a Leo with a Moon in Taurus and Aquarius rising. All fixed signs – he’s proud, stubborn and not easily swayed. There’s a heavy emphasis in his 6th house. Mercury and Venus are conjunct on the cusp. And the Sun and Uranus are also in the 6th. The focus of his life will be his work (6th house). He’s possibly involved in medicine. But since Mercury and Venus are in Cancer, a sign ruled by the Moon, there’s an element of “feeling” and “emotion.” The Moon/Pluto conjunction tells us he’s an intensely emotional individual. In the 3rd house he’d probably be a writer of some sort.
  • Aquarius rising — he’s eccentric and marches to the beat of his own drum. With Saturn on the Ascendant he would appear cold or clinical, but Uranus (the ruler of his Ascendant) is very close to his 7th house cusp. He’d be radical and eccentric in his relationships.
  • Sagittarius is on the cusp of his 10th house (Midheaven), along with Mars in Sagittarius. In his career, he would pay absolutely no attention to what his mentors or colleagues thought. He’d be fearless and innovative.
  • Neptune is in square (90 degree) aspect to his Sun sign. This would give him a mystical bent, but he could possibly misuse the Neptune energies and be vulnerable to addiction. He might avoid that escape as long as he is dedicated to his work.

Can you guess whose chart this is? I’ll give you a hint. He was born in 1875. He died in 1961 at the age of 86, a nice long life which he dedicated to developing analytical psychiatry (medicine and emotions). The chart belongs to Carl Jung. He was a prolific writer and a protégé of Sigmund Freud until he broke from his mentor to pursue his own path. He was married with five children and maintained an open extra-marital relationship for many years, heedless of what society at the time thought.

He was also an astrologer! (Uranus) He worked with dream states (Neptune) and observed recurring archetypes in his patients’ dreams. He came to believe that the archetypal images in astrology represented experiences and emotions common to all people and theorized that humans share a collective unconscious. He said, “Whatever is born or done at a particular moment of time, has the quality of this moment of time,” i.e., an astrological chart.

CARL G. JUNG
So that’s how Julia does it. How I do it is struggling to find a believable chart for my murderer or his victim. Just in case any astrologers out there are paying attention!

Connie di Marco

Author Bio:

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer, Julia Bonatti. The first in the series, The Madness of Mercury, was released in June 2016 and the second, All Signs Point to Murder, available for pre-order now, will be released on August 8, 2017.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Some of her favorite recipes can be found in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Catch Up With Connie di Marco On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Tour Participants:



Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Connie di Marco. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card AND 2 winners of one (1) eBook copy of All Signs Point to Murder. The giveaway begins on July 21 and runs through August 24, 2017.

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Jul 112017
 

LARRY KILHAM

Larry Kilham has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and an M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and three novels with an AI theme. Currently, he is writing a novel about free will.

Connect with Larry at these sites:

WEBSITE TWITTER

ABOUT THE BOOK

Will digital media sweep us into a new era of prosperity? What new advances in entertainment, culture, education, and knowledge can we expect? Will we get stuck in Cyberland only to be saved by digital detox?

The Digital Rabbit Hole reveals that we are becoming captive in the digital universe. The portals are smartphones and the world is the Internet. We immerse ourselves in social media; we learn through packaged feel-good information; and we will leave the hard work to robots and AI. The book details digital media and discusses smartphone addiction problems. It proposes solutions to stimulate creativity and education and to recapture our humanity.

BOOK DETAILS:

Paperback: 144 Pages
Genre: Social Science/Non Fiction
Publisher: FutureBooks.info; 1 edition (January 1, 2016)
ASIN: B01A3MTVBS

PURCHASE LINKS:

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Monday July 10th @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

Tuesday July 11th @ CMash Reads
Cheryl Masciarelli spotlights Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Kilham and his many published works.
http://cmashlovestoread.com/

Wednesday July 12th @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator, Business Owner, and Mother Cathy Hansen reads and reviews “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham. Read her thoughts today!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Thursday July 13th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Author and Psychotherapist/Addictions Counselor Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her thoughts and insight after reading and reviewing “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham.
http://applemanshapiro.com/category/book-reviews/

Friday July 14th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Avid reader and reviewer (and social media lover) Crystal J. Casavant-Otto reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her thoughts about how social media has changed our lives.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Monday July 17th @ Beverley Baird
Writer, Reader, and Book Enthusiast Beverley A Baird reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her experiences with her readers.
https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

Tuesday July 18th @ Bring on Lemons with Troy Pflum
Midwestern father and avid reader Troy Pflum reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares his ideas and afterthoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons.
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Wednesday July 19th @ Constant Story
Fellow author David Berner reads and reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”.
http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/

Thursday July 20th @ Book Santa Fe
Reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudt reviews Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole” and shares her thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe.
http://www.booksantafe.info/

Friday July 21st @ Eric Trant
Fellow author Eric Trant shares his thoughts after reading and reviewing “The Digital Rabbit Hole” by Larry Kilham.
http://diggingwiththeworms.blogspot.com/

Sunday July 23rd @ Hott Books
Today’s author spotlight at Hott Books is none other than Larry Kilham. Find out more about this accomplished author and “The Digital Rabbit Hole”
http://hottbooks.com

Monday July 24th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews Larry Kilham about “The Digital Rabbit Hole”
http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

Tuesday July 25th Bring on Lemons with Tess Fallier
Tess Fallier is today’s guest blogger with a review and insight into Larry Kilham’s “The Digital Rabbit Hole”. Don’t miss this blog stop!
http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

DISCLAIMER
I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me, in exchange for my honest review. No items that I receive are ever sold…they are kept by me, or given to family and/or friends.
ADDENDUM
I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am an IndieBound affiliate. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.

Jun 292017
 

FEATHER STONE

GUEST POST

Will Forbidden have a sequel?

Possibly. I’m not one to make promises. And, given my senior years are advancing steadily toward that hazy horizon, promises are in short supply for me as well.

If you are one of those folks who like to plan holidays years in advance, we are kindred spirits. The recent death of my husband has switched on an alert beacon and I can vaguely hear a count down. Perhaps I should focus on making the days I have left count for more than something like writing a novel that may never get passed the first draft.

And yet, few things give me as much pleasure as writing. I’m certain you’ve had similar experiences when your heart and soul becomes lifted as you submit to your passions – better than sex, some times. Physical discomforts vanish. Time is no longer linear. While pounding at my keyboard, I swear there are moments when I can feel the presence of my characters, observing and guiding me.

Forbidden’s plots are nicely wrapped up, with perhaps one exception. Without going into detail and spoiling your thrill of reading the ending, there is one character who really needs a thrashing (to put it mildly), but escaped. The problem is this Mr. X is the equivalent of a mafia don – untouchable.

Bart and I have been working on the plot, and baby, it’s dark. Someone must enter the lair of this twisted man and collect evidence of his horrific plans for, ah, hum, can’t tell you anything about that. And, that’s just the first four chapters.

I’ve come up with a tentative plan that will resolve the ‘write a sequel’ dilemma. It’s simple. Forsaken can be a short story, or at least much shorter than Forbidden’s 363 pages. It should be published by spring of 2020, or hopefully before Alzheimer takes root, . I don’t dare reveal more. Unless, of course, you might like to sign up to my quarterly newsletter and get in on more secrets.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary book. I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down!!!!!

Synopsis:

Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone

Gunfire echoes within the walls of a Middle East police compound. Screams of terror are brutally silenced. Police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor. Soon Eliza MacKay will wish she had died with her companions.

The vile act of terrorism is covered-up. Sharif becomes the reluctant keeper of his city’s bloody secret – and the witness, MacKay. His corrupt superiors have a gun rammed against his skull. Disloyalty to the mayor will be rewarded with being buried alive.

Whatever the cost, his government’s honor must be restored. Secretly, Sharif hunts forensic evidence. Who is responsible for the murder of fifteen American volunteers? And, why did MacKay lie about her identity? He can’t trust her. Her mental illness is going to get both of them killed.

When he receives orders to dispose of MacKay, his Muslim faith is tested. Murder an innocent in cold blood? He will suffer Allah’s eternal wrath.

CIA Agent Hutchinson has the lying Sharif in his cross hairs. Sharif dodges the agent’s traps almost as easily as the hit man on his tail. When Sharif discovers the shocking truth, he loses all hope of survival.

What is worth dying for? Perhaps it’s not bringing a madman to justice. Could it be saving the life of a woman who kick-started his numb heart? On the knife edge of risk, Sharif plots an act most forbidden and fatal.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense, Romance, International Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 2016
Number of Pages: 363
ISBN: 0995150907 (ISBN13: 9780995150904)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Author Bio:

On our cattle ranch in Alberta, when an animal was in distress or injured, I was put in charge of nursing it back to health. Never mind that I was just a kid and hated the sight of blood, but I had to muster up the courage to apply home remedies. My survival rate was pretty good. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I would progress to nursing – humans. After one year into nurses training, I bolted. Bed pans and chronic diseases pushed me in different direction; a career of dealing with drug addicts, murder, suicide, fatalities, and biker gangs. In 1983 I graduated with honors as a paramedic and worked in the City of Edmonton’s Emergency Services.

For the next twenty years, I came face to face with scenes most people would rather not think about. I loved it. Having experienced life in the most deadly and gut wrenching events, and work alongside the police service, I gained the fodder for creating intense novels.

My creative DNA shocked me when I was driven to write a dystopian / paranormal / romance novel, The Guardian’s Wildchild. After taking several writing courses, I presented the manuscript to Omnific Publishing who published it in 2011. Just when I thought I could get my life back, another story took me prisoner – Forbidden. I couldn’t believe there was this kind of story within me and desperate to be told. I resisted. It was futile.

Retired and focused on home life, I’m back to being a mom to four pets and one husband. We travel and taste the excitement of other cultures. In between adventures, I’ve dabbled in water color painting, photography, needle work, gardening – the list goes on. In my next life, I plan to explore the cosmos.

I’ve learned a few things in my seventy years. Thoughts are powerful. Intention is everything. Passion is the key to success.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

PREVIOUS POSTS THIS MONTH


June 1st ~ Review and Giveaway

June 8th ~ Interview

June 15th ~ Guest Post

June 22nd ~ Guest Post

Read an excerpt:

An armored truck with a mounted machine gun roared up behind the two police motorcyclists. Something is terribly wrong. She ducked deeper behind the luggage and stared into the darkness. She desperately searched for a rational explanation. A cold knife pierced her core.

After speeding through intersections and red traffic lights, the vehicles came to a sudden halt. Gate hinges squealed in protest. The impulse to leap from the back of the truck fought with her intense need to remain hidden. If it were not for the armed vehicle at the rear, she would have jumped and disappeared into the night. In another moment, the opportunity vanished.

The vehicles lurched forward. Through the flap’s opening, she saw a massive iron gate. High walls extended on either side. The vehicles stopped.

The motorcyclists drove to either side of the truck. The armored vehicle surged forward, nearly crashing into the back of the supply truck (where Eliza is hiding). Eliza scrambled to put more of the luggage between her and the mounted gun. It bore down on her as if it had spied her. She gasped.

Eliza strained to hear a pleasant greeting, an apology for the change of plans, anything that would tell her heart to stop its thundering in her chest.

Someone shouted, “Ikhrog men al Araba,” then in English, “Get out of the bus!”

“Stay together,” Charlie called out. At first the volunteers sounded merely annoyed, but their mood rapidly deteriorated.

“Charlie, there’s a mounted automatic weapon on that truck. Something’s not right here.” The man’s alarm ricocheted through his companions. Quick footsteps reminded Eliza of nervous horses in a corral – wild-eyed, snorting and circling as they searched for an escape.

Charlie attempted to calm his group. “I’m sure this will all make sense. I’ll see why there’s been a change. Who’s in charge here?” he called.

Scattered thoughts fed her fear. The unmistakable sound of large guns being maneuvered sucked the air from Eliza’s lungs. Near the supply truck, she heard the ping, ping of a cell phone, then the trembling voice of a woman crying, “Ralph, pick up the phone. Please. Oh God ….” The woman screamed. With a blast of gunfire, her cries stopped. Bullets pierced the canvas and shattered a suitcase in front of Eliza.

Her body trembled violently. In minutes she would be killed. The luggage offered no protection. Terrified to make any sound, yet frantic to hide, she pressed her backpack to her chest. She gasped as if starved for oxygen. Tears ran down her cheeks as she heard the terrified people and Charlie beg for their lives.
This is only one of my nightmares. I’ll wake up and everything will be fine.

The truck with the mounted machine gun swerved around the supply truck. Deafening sounds of machine gun blasts and screams tore through her chest. She plunged down among the luggage.

A man came into her view as he lunged toward the gate. A police officer ran after him and fired several shots into the man’s back. The American dropped, bloody and lifeless.

Suddenly, an armed man dashed to the rear of the supply truck and saw her. She gasped. Oh my God, he’s going to kill me. I’ve got once chance. Get his gun. Her martial arts training kicked in. She lunged forward. As they grappled, both fell.

Falling on top of him Eliza punched his groin. He cried out in agony. She crab crawled on all fours toward his weapon several feet away. Too late she saw a boot aimed at her head.

She ducked for cover under the supply truck. Too late. The cop stomped on her head, ramming her forehead into the pavement hard. Her momentum pushed her under the truck’s back end.

Dazed, she checked to see if he followed her. He was struggling to free his boot, snared in her scarf. A gun’s muzzle appeared, aimed in her direction. Bullets ripped through her coat’s shoulder. Puffs of down feathers stuck to the sweat and blood on her face.

I’m hit. Get out. Run. Eliza kicked and crawled out from under the truck on the far side of the killers. The deafening gunfire and screams surrounded her. Her mind froze. She pressed her body into the truck’s solid frame.

More bullets smacked the ground near her. More vehicles arrived. Bright headlights blinded her. She turned away to shield her eyes. Desperate, she ran an erratic, aimless course. Silhouettes of shapes, helmets, guns and bloody bodies flashed in front of her. Keep running. Dodge. Find cover. She ran like a wild animal, blind to the teeth that would tear her apart.

When the thunder from the machine gun stopped she glanced back. The man at the machine gun tumbled head first off the truck. His companions continued to fire their weapons, but now toward the gate. More shots came from behind the blinding lights. The men ran toward the front of the supply truck. Riddled with bullets, their bodies twisted and fell.

Silence.

Eliza gazed in bewilderment at the tall form appearing in the light. He raced forward past the open gate, his weapon raised in her direction. More men followed behind him. She ran, searching for cover.

He shouted, “Tawakaf and am, la tatharak Kiff.” Then in English, “Stop where you are. Don’t move! Stop.”

A short burst of gunfire. Bullets struck the ground a few yards in front of her. She skidded to a stop. Breathless, she turned toward the gunman. She could not make out his face below the dark helmet. He wore a police uniform like the killers had – black from head to toe. If not for his vehicle’s headlights, he would have been invisible. He raced toward her, his weapon held steadfast in her direction.

***

Excerpt from Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone. Copyright © 2017 by F. Stone. Reproduced with permission from F. Stone. All rights reserved.

Book Trailer:

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