Dec 132018
 

The Winner Maker

by Jeff Bond

on Tour December 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond

Bob Fiske — the 74-year-old dinosaur who’s taught Honors English and coached varsity football for five decades — is missing.

To his Winners, class favorites Fiske designated over the years for their potential to “Live Big,” it’s heartbreaking. Fiske did more than inspire with soaring oratory; he supported their ambitions into adulthood. Four of his brightest former stars reunite to find him, putting high-octane careers on hold, slipping police barricades, racing into the wilds of Northern Michigan for clues about the fate of their legendary mentor.

Others don’t see a legend. They see an elitist whose time has passed.

When a current student — female — disappears just hours into the Winners’ search amid rumors of inappropriate meetings, the Great Man’s reputation is a shambles.

Feints, betrayal, explosive secrets from their own pasts: as facts emerge, each Winner must decide how far they’ll go for Fiske. Can the truth redeem him? Or has this cult of hyper-achievement spawned a thing so vile none of their lives will survive intact?

“An exhilarating and emotionally astute mystery.” ~ Kirkus

Book Details:

Genre: Upmarket Mystery, Thriller
Published by: Indie
Publication Date: December 1st 2018
Number of Pages: 332
ISBN: 1732255202 (ISBN13: 9781732255203)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Jeff Bond

Author Bio:

Jeff Bond is a Kansas native and graduate of Yale University. He lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters, and belongs to the International Thriller Writers association.

 

 

Q&A with Jeff Bond

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

I do, from both. I keep a running document of story ideas – categorized into “short,” “novella,” and “novel” – and try to add at least one per day. Generally it’ll be something inspired by my day, an interesting person I crossed paths with or situation I or one of my kids faced; or by a news story.

I subscribe to The New York Times on Kindle and live in constant regret for not reading it cover-to-cover, because every time I do, I find a great germ of a story.

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

It varies. I’m a big upfront plotter, and before I sit down to write any scene at the level of dialog or physical description, I’ll know all the major plot points. (Which is not to say they can’t change later, either based on my own or early readers’ thoughts.) Sometimes the climax comes to me first—if you have a well-defined protagonist and antagonist, you can often imagine how they ought to collide for maximum effect.

Other times, particularly if the element driving a story is character or setting/milieu rather than situation or episode, I’ll just start brainstorming complications and possible twists, sprinkling them throughout an outline, and the plot emerges sort of all at once.

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

While I certainly steal certain traits or mannerisms, I don’t have any characters – at least in The Winner Maker – that’re very close to real people. It can be tempting to do with minor characters. For example, if you want to quickly characterize a setting and know a person who typifies that place, you feel like just rolling them out with a different name. I try not to.

With major characters, in my experience, it can’t really work. You’re always going to need something different to support your plot or maximize conflict – even if it’s just a stray hobby or expertise.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I keep it pretty simple. Coffee and laptop. A café, library, or botanical gardens in good weather. I used to write in the early morning hours before going to a regular nine-to-five job, which conditioned me to write anywhere and make use of small windows of time.

Tell us why we should read this book.

The Winner Maker is unique in that it delivers high-octane thrills and reversals in the style of Harlan Coben or James Patterson, but does it using complex, likable characters you’ll recognize from real life.

I thought Kirkus Reviews captured this well: “Bond collapses two distinct literary genres into one seamless novelistic whole: a mystery and an emotional drama…The novel’s central mystery is thrilling, but the true spine of the tale is the fragile connections between the past Winners, who must not only investigate Fiske’s disappearance, but also the authenticity of their lives and friendships.”

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Jonathan Franzen, Nick Hornby, Harlan Coben

What are you reading now?

For me, Beartown by Fredrik Backman. To my kids, Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary.

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

My follow-up is called Blackquest 40. It’s more of a go-go thriller than Winner, a fresh take on the Die Hard formula about San Francisco tech workers whose office is locked down for a forty-hour corporate training exercise—or so they’re told as the story begins.

I’m just finishing final edits and plan a mid-May release.

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

I’m afraid parenting duties have eroded my knowledge of current movie actors who might play my Winners–in their late twenties—but for the title role of Bob Fiske, the missing teacher, I’ll take Ian McKellen.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Basketball when I can find the time, and listening to audiobooks every morning while walking the dog.

Favorite meal?

Pozole, a pork and hominy Mexican stew.

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

 

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On:
Website
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook!

 

Read an excerpt:

Bob Fiske stalked out onto a glass-bottomed observation box of the Sears Tower, appearing to join the sky. His hair, wild and white, whorled with the passing clouds. His strides were at once rickety—owing to seventy-four-year-old joints—and resolute, each footfall seeming to make gravity, to seize its own plane of air.

He planted the portable lectern before his students with a leathered fist. “Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning brightly, poetry is just the ash.”

The entire honors English class, and more than one passing tourist, considered this in reverential silence. The students’ faces glowed with a mishmash of excitements. They were out of school on a field trip! They had to recite a poem by heart; would they remember?

Being here with Fiske—Coach Fiske, Fiske the Great, Fiske the Feared—made them feel the way all high-school seniors should at least once during this final, never-to-be-forgotten year: special. Sure that every important thing in life was happening right here, right now, to them uniquely.

Marna Jacobs (left side, midway back) felt all this too, but more pressing was the weight of dual backpacks on her shoulders. What had Jesse put in this thing, lead? She shifted to resettle the load more comfortably over her five-one frame.

A voice behind her said, “Ooh, Marna, carrying your boyfriend’s bag for him? How old-fashioned. Part of the new vintage motif?”

It was Caitlyn of the perfect cheekbones and 4.5 GPA, a surefire Winner when Fiske’s list came out.

“Jesse’s not my boyfriend.” Marna crossed her ankles, suddenly less psyched about her thrift-store oxfords.

“Didn’t you two go to homecoming together?”

“We, um, broke up.”

“And you’ve accepted the demotion to pack mule?” Caitlyn said with a grin of ice.

Marna and Jesse were outsiders here, AP English being their only honors class. While the others elbowed for brownie points, Marna tried to fly under the radar—a strategy that had worked until last month when Mr. Fiske had praised her Brave New World essay as “refreshing, primitively honest.” Now Caitlyn ridiculed her at every turn.

Still, the question was legit. Marna had been standing around waiting to board one of the tower’s shockingly fast elevators when Jesse nudged her, asking if she’d leave his backpack on the glass bottom for him. Without waiting for an answer, he’d heaved the pack onto her shoulder. When she’d complained it was heavy, he had said all she had to do was leave it on the glass—then he slipped away as every ligament in Marna’s neck and upper back croaked under the burden.

“We’re friends,” Marna said now. “Friends do each other favors.”

Caitlyn sneered around the observation deck. The first student was approaching the podium, stealing a last peek at her crinkled notes. “What’s inside, a bomb? You two always were quiet. Maybe too quiet.”

Marna squirmed underneath the pack. It couldn’t be a bomb. Right? Everyone had gone through security. Jesse’s pack had been X-rayed.

She thought. Was pretty sure.

“Marna brought a bomb?” Todd Bruckmueller said, overhearing.

Caitlyn opened her shoulders to a larger audience. “Maybe.”

“This is really mean, you guys, I—”

“Let’s see!”

Todd, right tackle for the football team, reached for the pack. Marna hunched like a threatened armadillo but couldn’t keep Todd from dislodging one arm. They struggled. Marna dug an elbow into the oaf’s ribs. He lost his grip, and the pack crashed to the glass floor.

Driven less by loyalty to Jesse than rage, Marna grabbed one strap. Todd grabbed the other. Security personnel moved dimly in the periphery.

“Enough.”

The word boomed forth, sucking all air from the fight. Marna first thought Todd had said it—so loud, his meat-pie face right here—before spotting the pair of Illinois State 6A Championship rings against his neck. The rings belonged to Fiske. The septuagenarian had his 230-pound lineman in a half nelson.

“Poor form, Mr. Bruckmueller.” Fiske unhanded Todd, then turned to Marna with a wink. “I cordially invite you to Wildkit Stadium this afternoon, four o’clock sharp, to witness your tormentor ascending and descending the east stairs in rapid succession. Two hundred flights or heatstroke, whichever comes first.”

Before Marna could respond—was she supposed to respond? could Fiske get busted for laying hands on a student like that?—a metallic clunk sounded nearby. Jesse’s pack began sliding in the direction of the noise.

“Hey, what—what’s happening?” Todd said, scurrying back.

Marna instinctively raised her hands. Three guards were beelining her way, fingers pressed to earpieces. Students and tourists alike scattered. The backpack moved seven inches across the glass floor before locking into place with a small, intense shimmy.

Directly below, on the underside of the glass and suspended 103 stories above Wacker Drive, a hook protruded from a squat black cylinder.

A magnet.

That’s why the backpack was so heavy. There’s a gigantic magnet inside.

The hook was closed, and now a hand—a hand?—emerged from the void to clip what looked like a fat red ribbon onto it. The backpack’s fabric strained about the glass in a circle, the magnet inside perfectly mirroring the magnet below.

Marna squinted to make sure this wasn’t allergies messing with her eyes. Also, the day was overcast; up here, they were literally in the clouds.

“Oh. My. God.”

Jesse.

Suspended upside down, staring at her with that wobbly grin. The diamond-check soles of his shoes visible through the glass, he held on by a short length of the ribbon—which Marna saw was a bungee cord. The rest of the cord dangled far below, lilting now back against the skyscraper, now out over the Chicago River, twisting and kinking, rippling, the greatest part shrouded in fog.

Marna staggered into a row with the security guards. How did he get up there? Are those magnets seriously gonna hold? Will the guards shoot him, or Tase him? Can you Tase through glass?

The guards barked into walkie-talkies. When one stepped toward the pack, Jesse felt for something behind his waist and gave the bungee two sharp tugs.

“No!” Marna screamed. “You stupid jerk, no! Whatever you’re thinking!”

But she recognized the sequence he was rushing through: the harness buckling, the strap cinching, his rawboned fingers jittery but unhesitating. Technical rock climbing was Jesse’s thing—he actually taught yuppies at a downtown bouldering gym. He could do it in his sleep.

Marna flattened her whole body to the glass floor, fingers splayed, nose squished. “Why? What is the point, J? Stop!”

Into the misty chasm, her words were weak and scrabbling and basically nothing.

Jesse glanced past her. As his wild pupils settled on Fiske, his face took on a dreamy, near-euphoric blush.

The venerable teacher stood with arms folded. Impassive. Like Marna, Jesse had been encouraged by Fiske—had won kudos for his “exuberant prose style,” even been assigned an extracurricular joint project with one of Fiske’s pet students. In recent weeks, Jesse had even talked about making Winner.

“Respect your life!” Fiske called down. “Cherish it. Be the keeper of its sanctity.”

He knelt beside Marna and, placing both hands on the glass, glared down. She had a fleeting notion that the Great Man could grab Jesse, that those gnarled fingers were capable of parting glass—or transmuting through, or willing matter around, something—and rescuing him.

The blush heightened in Jesse’s face. His eyes pulsed. The sinews of his neck became taut and grotesque.

He plunged. Leading with his forehead, Adam’s apple slicing the clouds. He was a falling, twisting, shrinking blur.

Smaller, smaller…very small.

Marna had almost lost the dot when an enormous white tarp exploded upward through the fog. A block-print message snapped into view across its expanse:

LIVE BIG.

***

Excerpt from The Winner Maker by Jeff Bond. Copyright © 2018 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


 

Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on December 1, 2018 and runs through January 1, 2019. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Nov 282018
 

The Devil’s Son

by Charles Kowalski

on Tour November 19 – December 21, 2018

Synopsis:

The Devil's Son by Charles Kowalski

 

 

The son of a notorious Nazi fugitive is running for U.S. President. A Secret Service Agent sworn to protect him meets a beautiful Mossad spy determined to stop him.

 

 

 

 

Book Details:

Genre: Political, Espionage thriller
Published by: Seabridge Press
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 333
ISBN: 1724248731 (ISBN13: 9781724248732)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Charles Kowalski

Charles Kowalski is an active member of International Thriller Writers. His debut thriller, MIND VIRUS, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award, and was a finalist for Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller of 2017. His latest, THE DEVIL’S SON, was shortlisted for the 2018 Adventure Writers’ Competition Grandmaster Award. He divides his time between Japan, where he teaches at a university, and Downeast Maine.

Catch Up With Charles Kowalski On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Q&A with Charles Kowalski

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

I started this book by drawing from current events, but then current events caught up with the book – and overtaken it, in frightening ways that I couldn’t have foreseen. As C.S. Lewis once said, “The trouble with writing satire is that the real world always anticipates you, and things that were meant as exaggerations turn out to be nothing of the sort.”

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

I start with a concept. When I sit down to write, I start from the beginning and have a fair idea where the story will go. I don’t start unless I can see the ending, but invariably, there are twists and turns on the way that take me by surprise.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Any similarity to any actual persons, events, or presidents is purely coincidental.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

I have a full-time job and a family, so I write in stolen moments – on trains, in cafes, in the office after the day’s work is done, or at home after everyone has gone to bed. I often get my best ideas when I’m in motion, either going for a walk or performing some mindless task, so I’ll often have my laptop on the kitchen counter when washing the dishes or hanging the laundry, just in case inspiration strikes.

Tell us why we should read this book.

To make sure it stays in the fiction section.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve been inspired by other writers of thrillers with a religious angle, like Dan Brown and Daniel Silva. I’ve also been encouraged by other Japan-based thriller writers whose scope has expanded worldwide, like Barry Eisler and Barry Lancet; I hope I can do the same, even though my name isn’t Barry!

What are you reading now?

I’m eagerly looking forward to starting the Detective Hiroshi series by a fellow Japan-based author, Michael Pronko.

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

After two highly charged, research-intensive thrillers, MIND VIRUS and THE DEVIL’S SON, I’m working on something lighter and hopefully non-controversial: a middle-grade historical fantasy set in 17th century Japan, featuring Simon Grey, an English boy who runs away to sea to escape from his “gift” of seeing ghosts.

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

Gal Gadot as Rachel. As for Henry Hale, Aaron Eckhart says he doesn’t want to play any more villains, but I hope he’d make an exception.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

Besides writing? Or did you mean “favorite means of procrastination”? I confess before the assembly of the faithful that I’m more easily distracted by the siren song of social media (that counts as writing, right?) and Netflix (that counts as research, right?) than I would like to be.

Favorite meal?

My default lunch on a busy writing day is spaghetti pepperoncino made with habanero-infused olive oil. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

 

Read an excerpt:

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
1960

Azriel “Azi” Horowitz grimaced as his partner’s Zippo flared in the darkness beside him. He had never been a smoker, and in the confines of the Ford Mainline – a clunker, but the best rental they could find, and not out of place in the working-class Olivos neighborhood in Partido Vicente Lopez – the fumes from the Lucky Strikes nauseated him.

“Yaki, you know I have a little problem with noxious gases in closed spaces.”

Yaakov Lavan shrugged, with his usual easygoing grin. “We’re just two old friends having a chat, right, Azi? And we have to do it in the car, because my wife won’t let me smoke near the baby.”

Horowitz had to concede the point, although he still thought it was a rather thin cover story. One small mercy of operating in Argentina was that the sight of two men conversing in a parked car at night was not altogether uncommon, but every little extra touch of realism they could add was vital. If anyone accosted them, they would have a lot more explaining to do than either of them could manage in Spanish.

Lavan took a deep drag from his cigarette, held it for a moment, and slowly exhaled a white cloud with a look of supreme contentment. As much as Horowitz hated the smell of tobacco, he felt a touch of envy for his partner, and wished he had some similarly portable means of calming his own nerves. His mind continually flitted over the long journey that had brought them to this moment – the years of detective work that had traced their targets to Argentina, the months of secretly stalking and planning in their theater of operations – and all the hundreds of things that could still go wrong.

In addition to the unease in his mind, Horowitz felt another kind in his body: he desperately needed a bathroom break. Thanks to one of the men they were waiting for, his kidneys had stopped growing at the age of seven.

Their targets called themselves Carlos Vasquez and José Mendoza, and had the identity cards to prove it, but Horowitz had first made their acquaintance under different names. One was SS Hauptsturmführer Karl Weiss, #7278, the sadistic Lagerführer – deputy commandant – of Auschwitz. The other, holding the same SS rank, was Josef Mengele, #317885, a living desecration of the title of “doctor.” Anyone who had ever passed through the gates of Auschwitz knew him by yet another name: der Totesengel, the Angel of Death.

If all goes well, Horowitz thought, tonight will be a night for the history books. With luck and the blessing of the Almighty, they would soon have their targets in hand and be on their way to the safe house code-named Tira – “castle” in Hebrew – where Mengele and Weiss would go straight into an improvised holding cell, to join the worst of the worst: SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, “the Master,” architect of the Holocaust, personally responsible for the murder of millions.

The Israeli government naturally regarded Eichmann as the grand prize, but Horowitz had a personal score to settle with Mengele and Weiss. As soon as the cattle car arrived in Auschwitz, Weiss had sent Horowitz’s mother and father directly to the gas chambers, but knowing Mengele’s notorious fascination with twins, kept Azriel and his sister Rachel alive as subjects for his experiments. Mengele had tried to change Rachel’s eye color by injecting her eyeballs with a substance that left her blind, and then infected her with typhus, keeping a careful record of her wasting away. When her end was near, rather than let the disease claim her, Mengele passed her on to Weiss, who used her in one final experiment to see how long it would take to die from a new type of lethal injection.

It had taken twelve minutes and nineteen seconds before she stopped screaming.

“Look,” came Lavan’s voice, bringing Horowitz sharply back to the present. “Is that them?”

Horowitz gazed through the windshield and saw two figures staggering tipsily along the route from the Hofbräuhaus, the German restaurant Mengele and Weiss were known to frequent, towards the guest house where they lived. At first, the darkness and distance made it impossible to make out their features. Then they stepped into the light of a street lamp, and Horowitz risked a quick glance through his binoculars. At the sight of their faces, he felt a sudden burning pain in his left forearm.

Fifteen years had passed since Horowitz last saw those faces, but there could be no mistaking the granite jaw and ice-blue eyes of Weiss. Nor was there any doubt about the gap-toothed smile that gave Mengele the appearance of a little boy – one who delighted in torturing anything smaller and weaker than himself. Many children in Auschwitz had seen that smile on the face of their self-proclaimed “Uncle Josef” as he sat them on his knee, gave them sweets, stroked their hair – and in a soft, soothing voice, ordered an aide to inject them with poison.

“It’s them,” Horowitz said.

“You’re sure?”

“Positive.”

Lavan stubbed out his cigarette. He turned around in the driver’s seat, pointed a hooded flashlight at the car behind them, and gave it two quick on-off bursts. The crew in the second car would relay the signal to Tabor and Rosen, who were waiting around the corner.

Right on cue, they appeared a moment later, Tabor in a suit and fedora, Rosen in a coat that would allow her ample freedom of movement. They sauntered toward Mengele and Weiss, with the same relaxed, unsteady gait as their targets, pretending to be absorbed in conversation, occasionally leaning on each other for support. To all appearances, they were a couple coming home from a party with a few too many drinks under their belts, too wrapped up in each other to take much notice of their surroundings.

They would maintain this masquerade until they passed their targets, right between the two cars. Then they would turn and grab them from behind, as the driver of the rear car switched on the high beams to blind them. Horowitz, and the other strongman in the rear car, would jump out and help Tabor and Rosen subdue their targets and bundle one of them into each car. They would apply an ether mask to knock them out, and the two cars would take off on separate routes to Tira, where they and their captives would stay until the plane was ready to take them all back to Israel.

And then, Horowitz thought, all the stories you thought would lie buried with your victims will be told to the world, from a courtroom in Jerusalem. The world will know what we mean when we say, “Never forget.”

He pulled on a pair of gloves. The May night was chill enough to warrant them, but more than that, he might have to use his hand to muffle Weiss’s screams. It revolted him to think of his bare hands touching the mouth that had ordered his parents gassed and his sister tortured to death.

Tabor and Rosen were fifty paces away from their targets and closing.

Forty paces.

Thirty.

Horowitz heard the roar of a motorcycle approaching from behind. He tensed, and took an anxious glance in the rear-view mirror. The last thing they needed at this moment was for the police to pass by. The upcoming celebrations for Argentina’s hundred-fiftieth anniversary, which had all of Buenos Aires in a festive mood, had proven to be a double-edged sword for Horowitz and his team. The diplomatic entourage from Israel, one of many visiting from all over the world, had provided the perfect cover, but the influx of high-level international visitors also meant the constant menace of police patrols and checkpoints. The Mossad team was conducting this operation without the knowledge or approval of the Argentine government, and if they were found out, they might well go to jail. And, far worse, their targets might well go free.

The motorcycle passed by the lead car. Horowitz took a sidelong glance and saw no police insignia, just a single rider driving rather unsteadily. He breathed a little easier, but his heart was still pounding.

Twenty paces.

Ten.

“Get ready to meet the real Angel of Death, you sons of bitches,” Horowitz muttered aloud.

***

Excerpt from The Devil’s Son by Charles Kowalski. Copyright © 2018 by Charles Kowalski. Reproduced with permission from Charles Kowalski. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


 

Enter to win!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Charles Kowalski. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on November 19, 2018 and runs through December 22, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Sep 062018
 

The Last Weekend Of The Summer
by Peter Murphy
on Tour September 1 – October 31, 2018

The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy cover

Synopsis:

They have been coming to their grandmother Gloria’s lake cottage since they were babies. Now Johnnie and Buddy have families of their own and C.C. has a life full of adult drama and adventure. And this trip – the only stated purpose of which is to bring the family together for the last weekend of the summer – seems full of portent. Gloria has been hinting that there’s more on the agenda than grilling and swimming, and when the three siblings learn that their estranged father will also be in attendance, it becomes clear that this weekend will have implications that last far beyond the final days of the season.

A touching, incisive view into the dynamics of a family on the verge of change and filled with characters both distinctive and utterly relatable, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is a rich, lyrical reading experience that will resonate in your heart.

Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway!!

 

Book Details

Genre: Literary Fiction

Published by: The Story Plant

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Number of Pages: 224

ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)

Purchase Links: The Last Weekend Of The Summer on Amazon The Last Weekend Of The Summer on  on Barnes & Noble The Last Weekend Of The Summer on  on Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy author
Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family had to move to Dublin. Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for “The Wine and Gold.” He also played football (soccer) in secret! After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff, Paddy, Tommy and Sean. Murphy financed his education by working summers on the buildings sites of London. He also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world.

But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while and ended up living there for more than thirty years. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to university, Murphy answered the long-ignored internal voice and began to write. He has published five novels so far and has begun work on a new one. Nowadays, he lives in beautiful Lisbon with his wife Eduarda and their well-read dog, Baxter.

 

Connect with Peter at:
peterdmurphy.com
Twitter – PeterD_Murphy
Facebook – PeterDMurphyAuthor

Q&A with Peter Murphy

Welcome!
Writing and Reading:

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

Both! In my first novel, LAGAN LOVE, history and mythology were the backdrop and Ireland’s economic boom was a force of conflict and juxtaposition. Much of the story happened in places I frequented and people I knew showed up in the book.

The times I have lived through can be found in BORN & BRED, WANDERING IN EXILE, and ALL ROADS. These books—THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY—spanned a period of sixty years, and global events became a part of the different characters as they followed their own paths.

Now while most writers insist that their books are not about themselves, that might not be the whole truth. Every writer has been formed by experiences that shape perspective and reaction. Writers should write about what they know and, in my case, by virtue of all that happened me along the way, I know a little about my life.

In my most recent novel, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER, I focused entirely on family dynamics and made little reference to time and place. Family is timeless, fascinating, good and bad, and a very fertile place for a writer to work in.

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

It really depends on the story. LAGAN LOVE was my homage to my home town of Dublin. I wanted to record a way of living that was being altered by progress. The ideas started to form back in the mid nineteen-seventies but the story was not written for another thirty years.

You can read more about that here: http://peterdamienmurphy.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-behind-lagan-love.html

As it was my first effort at writing a novel, I tried following the swirling story line and got hopeless lost. I would still be there if it were not for the intervention of my editor and publisher, the great and wonderful Lou Aronica, who could see far more clearly than I. Under his guidance I found my way to the end.

THE LIFE & TIMES TRILOGY happened by accident. I had the idea in mind but when I began to write it, it didn’t work—something I had to accept one hundred pages in. So, I started again, wrote almost another hundred pages and arrived at the same conclusion. Then, after a few weeks of despair and despondency, I realized that it had to be three books. I was, however, able to recycle much and now one of the original first chapters can be found near the end of the last book.

Like many things in life, wisdom and knowledge comes after the doing and each book I write teaches me a little more about writing. THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER was planned and plotted before I wrote anything.

That said, the closing scene was written very early on because it came to me one evening and I loved it. It still causes me to get a little choked up.

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

Notwithstanding that: Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination etc, the answer is yes.

This was a cause for concern when I first published, but most people enjoyed seeing themselves in the pages and it became a joke amongst a small circle of friends back in Dublin.

I had one negative reaction from a person in Toronto who was very upset to be “used as a character in a novel,” but he hasn’t read it. If he did he might like the character he helped to form.

I see no point in taking a real person and applying a thin disguise. Also, people should be able to see a part of themselves in written characters. They may not like what they see but that is how we relate to each other—real or fictious, for good and bad.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

Each book has been a different experience and has changed the way I write. While writing my first, I would walk with my dog when I was trying to resolve some issue. Often the solution would form in my mind so I would phone home and leave myself a message. I also discussed plot issues with my dog and, depending on her level of disinterest, I would know what had to be done next.

Other times I stared out the window not seeing what was there. Instead I saw my imaginary creatures resolving their issues. Writers are, by many definitions, mad as hatters and the more I write the madder I become.

Tell us why we should read this book.

This is a very difficult question for me to answer as I was raised to believe that self-praise was no praise. So, in an attempt to brag modestly, I believe THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER is the written version of a weekend by the lake with family—something most of us can relate to, to invest in, and thoroughly enjoy without having to spend hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to get there. It is the story of people most readers already know and will recognize. Some readers may even find themselves by the lake. And while the world around us seems to be going through one of its “confused” phases, it is a story of how we find our way through difficult times.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

The great Canadian writer, Guy Vanderhague, who produced work of such quality that he has quietly won three Governor General Awards.

Irishman Brian O’ Nolan (aka Flann O’ Brien, etc.) who made absurdity funny and normal.

J.K. Rowling who wrote books that inspired my children to read.

Gabriel García Márquez whose big books caught the world’s imagination and whose final works were masterly in their brevity, style and form.

What are you reading now?

JAMES JOYCE, by Edna O’ Brien.

THE HISTORY OF THE SIEGE OF LISBON by José Saramago.

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

Yes. It began as one thing but after submitting the first draft to my editor, it is about to become the story of a simple-minded girl falling in love with a man with a dark secret. Set on the West Coast of Ireland in the early nineteen forties when neutral Ireland was trying navigate its way through the waves caused by the Second World War.

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

Maggie Smith as Gloria.

Kathy Bates as Mary.

Zoe Perry as Buddy.

Jason Bateman as Norm.

Rachel Mcadams as Carol.

Viggo Mortensen as Johnny.

Mariana Mourato as C.C.

Ian McKellan as Jake.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

People watching while sipping coffee in the Praça Luís de Camões in the middle of Lisbon.

Favorite meal?

Fettuccine carbonara (or puttanesca.)

Thank you for the opportunity to drop by and “chat” with your readers and for you interest in my book,

Peter

 

Read an excerpt:

As the truck slithered to a halt on the gravel road, Susie and Joey took off. It was one of their cottage rituals, running to Gloria who stood waving from the veranda. For the last few years, Joey had let Susie win but had always made it look like he was running as fast as he could. Johnnie and Carol sat back and watched. They always gave the kids a few moments with Gloria before they joined them.

“So, what’s really going on?” Carol asked without looking over at him.

“What do you mean?”

“There’s a little dark cloud hovering over your head.”

“Damn. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it.”

“Come on, out with it.”

“Dad’s coming too. He’s coming sometime Saturday morning.”

“Does your mother know?”

“I don’t think so. Gloria wanted to break the news to everyone at the same time.”

“Oh dear, so Buddy doesn’t know yet?”

“No, and there’s more.”

There always was with his family, but Carol didn’t say that. Instead, she just sat for a moment taking it all in. And when he was finished, she squeezed his hand and leaned across to kiss his cheek. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be okay?”

“Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. And we’re all going to have a great time, no matter what.” He smiled and winked at her. “Ready?”

“Showtime,” she smiled back, and she got out and walked towards the veranda. She knew what he was doing; he was getting himself ready for another weekend of enabling his sisters and his mother. She wished he wouldn’t, but there was no point in saying that. Instead, she’d be as loving and supportive as he needed her to be. It was how they dealt with life—along with having a laugh at themselves. “And stop checking out my ass,” she called over her shoulder as she went.

“Better yours than someone else’s,” Gloria laughed as she slowly descended the stairs from the veranda and kissed Carol’s cheek. She still had the most remarkable hearing. “That was something my Harry always used to say.”

“Really, Gloria, I wouldn’t have thought stuff like that would have been a problem for you guys.”

“He was blind, Carol, but he was still a man.”

Carol pretended to look shocked, but Gloria carried on as if she didn’t notice. “But you have nothing to worry about. Johnnie’s still madly in love with you, isn’t he, dear?” Gloria had a twinkle in her eye.

“Of course he is. And I’m still crazy about him—just don’t tell him.”

“I hope so, dear, because I put you two in the east room. I know it’s your favorite.”

“Thanks,” Carol took the old, brittle woman into her arms. “And are you okay, Gloria?”

“Of course I am. Why would you ask such a thing?” But she stayed in Carol’s arms for a little while longer.

“What are you two plotting?” Johnnie asked as he struggled up with their bags. “And don’t worry about me—I’ll just lug everybody’s stuff by myself.”

“And, well, you should,” Gloria reached up and kissed him, and hugged him as tight as her frail old arms would allow. “Your poor wife and children are here for a rest, so don’t be selfish and go around spoiling everything.

“So,” Gloria asked after Carol had gone to settle the kids into the new rooms over the boathouse. “Have you talked with your father?” She waited at the bottom step for Johnnie to take her by the elbow. She could have made it on her own, but she knew he liked to behave like a gentleman.

“Yes, and I hope he knows what he’s doing. It might be asking a bit too much.”

“Not of you, dear, surely?”

“No, I’m okay with it all, and I really want this to work out—for everyone. I was a bit torn up when I first heard, but it’s settled in now and, well, you know . . .”

“Yes, Johnnie, I do.” She smiled up at him and reached up to stroke his cheek. It always reminded her of Harry’s—at least his good side. “Being family means having to go through things like this, and we will all get to play our parts. Hopefully C.C.’s new love interest will provide enough distraction for your mother.”

She paused when they got to the top step and looked up at him for a moment as if she was about to say something else but changed her mind.

“What is it, Gloria? What other secrets are you keeping from me?”

“Far too many for what little time we have left. Now let’s go inside. I have some nice cold beer in the fridge. You might need some fortification before your mother gets here.”

Excerpt from The Last Weekend Of The Summer by Peter Murphy. Copyright © 2018 by The Story Plant. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

 

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


Aug 192018
 

The Super Ladies

by Susan Petrone

August 13 – October 13, 2018 Tour

 

The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone

Synopsis:

For three middle-aged women in the suburbs of Cleveland, the issues seemed compelling but relatively conventional: sending a child off to college, dealing with a marriage gone stale, feeling “invisible.” But changes were coming . . . and not the predictable ones. Because Margie, Katherine, and Abra are feeling a new kind of power inside of them – literally. Of all the things they thought they might have to contend with as they got older, not one of them considered they’d be exploding a few gender roles by becoming superheroes.

At once a delightful and surprising adventure and a thoughtful examination of a woman’s changing role through life’s passages, THE SUPER LADIES is larger-than-life fiction at its very best.

 

**Read my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

PRAISE FOR SUSAN PETRONE’S THROW LIKE A WOMAN:

“While, on the surface, this is a novel about a woman battling to make her way in the man’s world of professional baseball, debut author Petrone presents a stirring and humorous story of a woman doing considerably more than that–trying to rediscover herself, provide for her family, and perhaps find a little love along the way.” – Booklist

“Throw Like a Woman is that rare baseball novel, both a paean to the game and a deeper exploration of character. Susan Petrone has a fan’s heart and a scout’s eye. Read it now. Don’t wait for the movie.” – Stewart O’Nan, co-author of Faithful and A Face in the Crowd

“For baseball fans who yearn for a female Jackie Robinson, reading Susan Petrone’s fun and absorbing novel Throw Like a Woman becomes a kind of prayer. ‘Please, Lord! Give talent a chance. Let this dream come true!'” – Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow

“Someday there will be a woman who plays Major League Baseball. And when it happens, I suspect it will be an awful lot like Susan Petrone’s fun Throw Like a Woman. Susan knows baseball and so the novel – and her hero Brenda Haversham – crackles with authenticity. You can hear the pop of the ball hitting the catcher’s mitt.” – Joe Posnanski, author of The Soul of Baseball, NBC Sports National Columnist

“Petrone’s storytelling is first-rate, and she weaves a credible baseball tale with well-defined characters throughout.” – The Wave

 

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published by: The Story Plant

Publication Date: August 14th 2018 by Story Plant

Number of Pages: 320

ISBN: 1611882583 (ISBN13: 9781611882582)

Purchase Links:   The Super Ladies on Amazon The Super Ladies on Barnes & Noble The Super Ladies on Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Susan Petrone

Susan Petrone lives with one husband, one child, and two dogs in Cleveland, Ohio. Her superpower has yet to be uncovered.
Catch Up with Susan Petrone Online:

  • Website: susanpetrone.com
  • Twitter: @SusanPetrone
  • Facebook: @susan.petrone.54
  • Goodreads: @Susan Petrone
  •  

     

    **Q&A with Susan Petrone**

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

    A little of both. Typically I will get the germ of an idea and then start building the plot. Along the way, I might pull in inspiration for a character from someone I know or a real-life event that relates to the story. I try not to draw too much from current events because it’s very easy to date a story. I hope that my novels can be read far in the future and still feel relevant.

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

    I start from the beginning. However, by the first third/middle of the book, I try to have a general idea of where the story is going. It’s kind of like driving from Cleveland to Akron. Just because you know where you want to end up doesn’t mean that you can’t still have adventures and unexpected events along the way. And I almost always write in the order in which the book will be written—I don’t skip around, writing a section here or a section there.

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

    Yes to both parts of that question. With Throw Like a Woman (my first novel for The Story Plant), I was asked often if Brenda, the protagonist, was my alter ego. That character and I had a few key things in common (baseball, Indian food, and the Smiths), but I wouldn’t say she is based on me. Actually, her physical appearance was inspired by a woman I used to see at the daycare where my daughter went to preschool. The Super Ladies has three main characters, one of whom is loosely inspired by a dear friend. I’m curious as to whether people will assume that one of them is my alter ego or which one is the most like me.

    Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

    I don’t have a specific routine. I write when I have the free time, which is generally at night, after my family has gone to bed. My day job is half-time, so I’m off one day a week. That’s also my writing/household chores day (in that order—you have to pay yourself first).

    Tell us why we should read this book.

    The superhero world is slowly expanding to include more than young, super-muscular white guys. The Super Ladies expands that world a little more.

    Who are some of your favorite authors?

    Kurt Vonnegut and Jane Austen are my all-time favorites. They both had a wicked sense of humor and were talented at satirizing the social mores of their day; I think that’s why I’m so drawn to both of them, even though they appear to be very different.

    What are you reading now?

    I just finished Summerland by Michael Chabon, am halfway through The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan, and I just picked up Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

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

    My next book is tentatively titled The Heebie-Jeebie Girl. It’s about a seven-year-old girl who can pick the daily lottery number and her great-uncle as they try to find who robbed her grandmother. The city of Youngstown is one of the narrators, along with the little girl, her great uncle, and one of the guys who robbed the grandmother. I keep telling people it’s a bit like Crime & Punishment set in 1977 Youngstown only with jokes.

    Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

    Besides writing and reading? Cycling, running, hiking, gardening, and hanging out and being silly with my daughter.

    Favorite meal?

    I am a sucker for vegetarian tacos or a good Indian buffet.

    Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.

     

    Read an excerpt:

    On the way home, Katherine called shotgun, so Abra had to sit in the back of Margie’s minivan amid soccer shin guards, baseballs, stray sneakers, swim goggles, granola bar wrappers, a rubber-banded stack of Pokemon cards, and a book on playing Minecraft. “How was this shoe not on the seat when we left?” Abra asked.

    “I really couldn’t tell you,” Margie replied over her shoulder. “Things back there just seem to migrate around on their own. Hold it up.” Abra did so, and Margie took a quick look at it in the rearview mirror as they pulled out of the parking lot and onto Superior Avenue. “I don’t even think that belongs to one of mine.”

    “Now you know why I called shotgun. The backseat scares me,” Katherine said. “I sometimes get overwhelmed with one kid. How do you manage three?”

    “I have no life. Duh,” Margie replied.

    Margie cut south onto East 12th Street and then turned east onto Chester Avenue, which would take them through Midtown, up Cedar Hill, and back home. As they drove by Cleveland State University, she asked Katherine, “Do we still have to flip the bird to CSU for denying Hal tenure?”

    “Nah, the statute of limitations has expired on that one, I think.”

    “I like the new housing they’re building down here,” Abra said. “If I ever move downtown, would you two come and visit me?”

    “Hell yes,” said Katherine.

    “Sure,” Margie added. “Are you seriously thinking of moving or just toying with it?”

    “Toying. If I can unload the house to the bank, I’ll have to rent somewhere. And I’d be closer to work.”

    “If you move, who will I run with every morning?” “I don’t know. Get another dog?”

    Chester was a wide, three-lanes-in-each-direction boulevard that took them past the university neighborhood and through the dead zone in between downtown, where most of the office buildings and entertainment areas were, and University Circle, where most of the city’s museums and cultural gems were ensconced. Economic development hadn’t hit this middle area, and much of it was taken up by vacant buildings, empty lots, and boarded-up houses.

    Nine fifteen on a Thursday night in mid-May isn’t late and isn’t scary. Still, Margie got a bad feeling when she saw a young woman on the sidewalk walking fast, hands folded across her chest, not looking at the man who walked next to her. The girl was a stranger—not her age, not her race, not her neighborhood, but still, the girl was someone, some mother’s daughter.

    Margie pulled over to the curb, leaving the engine running.

    “Why are you stopping?” Katherine asked.

    The few other cars on the wide road passed by without slowing. No cars were parked on the street; Margie’s van was the only stopped vehicle for blocks. Katherine and Abra followed Margie’s gaze to the scene unfolding on the sidewalk. The man was yelling at the woman now. They couldn’t make out exactly what he was yelling but heard the words “bitch” and “money” a few times. And they could see his flailing arms, his face leering up against hers. She stopped walking and said something to him, and he hit her. She lost her balance and fell against the chain-link fence that ran along the sidewalk. They were in front of an empty lot, where once there might have been a house but now was only a square of crabgrass and crumbling concrete and stray garbage. For a moment, there were no other cars on the road. There was no one else on the street, no inhabited buildings for a couple blocks either way. If not for them, the woman was on her own.

    “Call nine-one-one,” Abra said as the man hit the woman again. The woman tried to get away, but he grabbed her shoulders and shoved her hard against the fence.

    “There’s no time,” Katherine said. In a heartbeat, she was out of the car.

    “Darn it, come on…” Abra muttered as she fumbled with the sliding side door and jumped out. “Keep the engine running,” she said as she followed Katherine.

    “I’ll go with you…” Margie started to say. No, Abra was right. Someone had to stay with the van, keep the engine running, stay behind the wheel in case they needed to make a quick getaway. Glancing behind her, she backed up alongside the people on the sidewalk. It felt proactive. She could hear Katherine’s strong teacher voice saying loudly but calmly, “Leave her alone” and the woman yelling, “Call the police!” It suddenly occurred to Margie that she had a phone. She could call the police. Hands trembling and heart racing, Margie frantically fumbled through her bag for her phone.

    She told the 911 dispatcher where she was and what was happening, the whole time watching Katherine and Abra and the couple on the sidewalk. Suddenly, there was a glint of something shiny in the streetlight as the man rushed toward Katherine. She heard a scream, and then she couldn’t see Abra anymore.

    Katherine got out of the car purely through instinct. There was someone in trouble—helping is what you were supposed to do, right? It wasn’t until she was on the sidewalk, walking toward the man and woman, saying loudly, “Leave her alone” and watching the man turn to face her that she realized she had absolutely no idea what to do next. None. It was then that her heart started pounding and a hot wave of fear tingled through her arms and legs.

    Up close, she could see the guy was taller and more muscular than he appeared from the safety of the van. He was maybe white, maybe light-skinned African American with a shaved head. An indecipherable neck tattoo peeked out from under his close-fitting, long-sleeved black T-shirt. She tried to burn a police description into her brain. The woman yelled, “Call the police!” at the same time the guy said, “This is none of your damn business, lady” to Katherine. The utter disdain in his voice cleared everything out of her brain except one thought: This was such a mistake. This was such a stupid mistake. There was no way this could end well. For a split second, she imagined Hal and Anna without her, wondered if they would think her foolish for getting herself killed in this way. She heard Abra say softly, “Just let her go, man.”

    Katherine could just see Abra off to her right. Margie had backed up, and the open doors of the van were only a few yards away. She could faintly hear Margie’s voice, talking to 911 maybe? Knowing they were both nearby gave her a tiny bit more courage. Katherine took a tentative step toward the woman, who was kneeling by the fence. Her face was bloodied, the sleeve of her shirt ripped. “Miss?” she asked. She looked about nineteen or twenty. Not a woman. A girl. “Why don’t you come with us? We’ll give you a ride.”

    “She don’t need a ride,” the man said.

    The rest of the street seemed eerily quiet. Couldn’t someone else stop and help? Someone big? Someone male maybe? Katherine wasn’t that big, but she was big enough, strong enough. She could help. Slowly she extended her left arm. If the woman wanted to take her hand, she could. Katherine held the woman’s gaze, hoping she could silently convince her that leaving with some strangers was preferable to getting beaten up by her boyfriend. Katherine was so focused that she didn’t see the knife until it was against her arm, in her arm. The man cut so fast that she hardly saw the blade, only the flash of metal against her pale white skin. It occurred to her that she needed to get out in the sun. Why am I worried about how pale I am? I just got cut. She felt the sensation of the blade slicing through flesh, felt a momentary spark of pain, and then the pain was gone. It happened faster than a flu shot—a quick prick, then nothing.

    The man only made one swipe, then stopped, triumphant, staring at her arm, expecting blood, expecting her to scream, to fall. There wasn’t any blood on her arm or the knife. No blood, just Katherine staring at him wide-eyed and unharmed.

    Then the man was on the ground, hit from the side by…something, something Katherine couldn’t see. The knife dropped from his hands and landed near her foot. She kicked it away at the same time she heard Abra’s voice yell, “Run!” But where the hell was Abra? She must be in the van. Katherine couldn’t see her.

    Katherine said, “Come on” to the woman, who was now up and moving toward her. The woman needed no more convincing and was in the car before Katherine, even before Abra. Where had Abra been? How could she be the last one to pile into the minivan, yelling, “Go! Go!” to Margie, who was slamming on the gas before the door was even closed.

    Nobody said anything for a moment. The only sound in the car was that of four women catching their breath, being glad they had breath left in their bodies. Then all of them simultaneously erupted into words of relief and fear, asking each other “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

    “Oh sweet mother, I can’t believe you all just did that,” Margie said. “I thought—Katherine, I honestly thought he was going to kill you.”

    “So did I,” Abra said. “How the hell did he not cut you? How did he miss you?”

    “He didn’t miss me,” Katherine replied quietly. Feeling fine seemed intrinsically wrong, but there it was. Unreal sense of calm? Yes. Pain and blood? No.

    Before Margie or Abra could respond, the woman exclaimed, “Oh my God, thank you! Sean would’ve done me in this time, I know it. Y’all were like superheroes or something. You saved my life.”

    The three women were quiet for a heartbeat. For the moment, the hyperbole of the phrase “You saved my life” was gone. It was arguably true. This was a new sensation. Frightening and humbling. Then Margie said, “Shoot, I dropped the phone.” With one hand on the wheel, she felt around in the great vortex of tissues, empty cups, and scraps of paper in the molded plastic section in between the two front seats.

    “I got it,” Katherine said, coming up with the phone. The 911 dispatcher was still on the line, wondering what was going on. “Hello?” Katherine said. “We’re okay. We got away, the woman is safe. We’re going—where are we going?”

    “Anywhere away from Sean,” the woman in the back said.

    “There’s a police station right down the street at one hundred and fifth,” Abra said.

    “Right, I know where that is,” Margie said.

    A police car with the siren off but lights flashing came roaring down Chester Avenue in the opposite direction.

    “Was that for us?” Margie asked.

    “I think so,” Abra said.

    Katherine hardly had time to explain what had happened to the dispatcher before they were at the station. There was a long hour-plus of giving witness statements to a jaded-looking police officer who told them several times how lucky they were to have gotten out of the situation with no harm done. “What you three ladies did was very brave and very stupid,” he said in closing.

    “We know,” Abra replied.

    They were told they might be called as witnesses if the woman, Janelle, decided to press charges against her boyfriend. Then they were free to go. The three of them walked out of the police station and to the waiting minivan. It was nearing midnight, and the spring evening had moved from cool to downright chilly. Even so, none of them moved to get into the van. Margie unlocked it and opened the driver’s door, then just stood looking at the ground, one hand on the door, the other on the side of the van, breathing slowly. Abra paced in a slow oval near the back of the van, while Katherine leaned against it and gazed up at the few faint stars that could be seen against the city lights. She suddenly wanted to be somewhere quiet, away from the city, away from people. Margie’s voice brought her back: “I’m sorry I didn’t do anything to help.”

    What are you talking about?” Katherine said. “If it weren’t for you, we never would have gotten out of there.”

    Abra walked around the van to Margie. “You were the only smart one. I’m sorry I got out of the car. That was stupid.” As Abra said this, she shivered, her lips trembled, and she started to shake. “That was so stupid.” “I got out first,” Katherine said. “I’m the stupid one.” Katherine almost never saw Margie cry. Even when her eldest child was going through hell, Katherine had been amazed and admiring of her friend’s resilience. But now Margie seemed overwhelmed by heaving sobs. “I’m just so glad the two of you are okay,” Margie stammered. Crying people generally made her nervous, but Katherine joined Margie and Abra on the other side of the van.

    When your friends need you, they need you.

    ***

    Excerpt from The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone. Copyright © 2017 by Susan Petrone. Reproduced with permission from Susan Petrone. All rights reserved.

     

    Tour Host Participants:

    Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!


     

    Find Your Next Great Read at Providence Book Promotions!

    Aug 102018
     

    The Chairman’s Toys

    by Graham Reed

    on Tour August 1-31, 2018

    Synopsis:

    The Chairman's Toys by Graham Reed

    Vancouver, British Columbia – land of psychotically expensive real estate, high-grade cannabis, and Jake Constable. A man adrift.

    After Jake quits the drug business, his realtor/ex-wife, Nina, gets him a job as a house sitter for her wealthy clients. Jake celebrates by throwing a party in the mansion he was hired to look after. Unfortunately, the guest list gets out of hand, leaving Jake to contend with a hallucinogenic-vitamin-dispensing yogi, a dead guy in the bathroom, and The Norwegian – a criminal force of nature with a grudge against Jake.

    When the owner of the multimillion-dollar crime scene returns home prematurely, only Jake’s inadvertent discovery of the man’s politically incorrect business history saves him from having to clean up after the party. But he still has to come clean with his ex-wife. The situation threatens to turn into an international incident when Nina’s power broker uncle and a pair of secret agents from China show up to turn the screws on Jake. Soon after that his friends start disappearing. With the Chinese government leaning on him and The Norwegian out to settle an old score, Jake comes up with a desperate plan to dupe the secret agents, save his friends, and (why not?) solve the murder.

     

    Editorial Reviews:

    “…takes the reader on a fast, furious, and often hilarious tour. Watching him zigzag through the twisting plot is pure pleasure.” – Publisher’s Weekly

    “Reed’s lively mystery debut may be overloaded with colorful characters and tricky subplots, but too much of a good thing is still a good thing.” – Kirkus Reviews

    “…definitely belongs on your short list of amiable stoner sleuths, along with Bart Schneider’s Augie Boyer and Hal Ackerman’s Harry Stein. The dark-comedy aspect of this debut will also appeal to fans of Chris Knopf, David Freed, and Tim Cockey.” – Booklist

     

    **Check out my review HERE and enter the giveaway**

     

    Book Details:

    Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Humor
    Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
    Publication Date: July 3, 2018
    Number of Pages: 238
    ISBN: 1464210055 (ISBN13: 9781464210051)
    Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

     

    Graham Reed

    Author Bio:

    Graham Reed is an award-winning author of crime fiction who lives on a small island in the Salish Sea with is wife and two children.

     

    Catch Up With Graham Reed On:
    grahamreed.info &
    Goodreads

     

    **Q&A with Graham Reed**

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

    Absolutely. I honestly don’t know how an author can avoid doing so (unless maybe he or she is writing a period piece or space opera). Writing in the first person, I couldn’t help but draw from my own experiences, like the time I was at this rave and someone offered in Vegas three days later a troupe of Belgian mimes and a (semi) tame cheetah. The charges were ultimately dropped for lack of evidence but I promise you I will never do that again. As for current events, The Chairman’s Toys is set in present-day Vancouver so some of the conflicts that arise in the story are inspired by what’s going on here these days. That being said, all characters and events are, of course, pure fiction.

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

    Much to my surprise, it has turned out to be the latter. The genesis of The Chairman’s Toys was a situation that occurred to me while walking past some waterfront mansions in Vancouver one day. By the time I got home I thought I knew how the story would end, but that actually turned out to be the middle. Once I started writing and discovered that the characters had minds of their own, I surrendered and the story took off on its own merry way.

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

    Not remotely, but try telling that to the people I know.

    Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?

    I wrote The Chairman’s Toys shortly after the birth of our second child so a routine was not an option. Mostly I would snatch whatever quiet hours he deigned to allow. A few times when he wasn’t feeling magnanimous in that department, I ended up writing while sitting on a lawn chair on our micro-balcony overlooking the collection of derelict vehicles (Scooby Doo van, RV, electric bike) in the backyard of the bellicose skateboarding entrepreneur who lived across the alley. Does that count as an idiosyncrasy?

    Tell us why we should read this book.

    According to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, “This trip to Vancouver is fraught with uniquely individual characters, an appealingly lowbrow sleuth, and a black humor zigzag of a plot.” If you want to join a gut-churning, blood-curdling hunt for a sadistic serial killer, you must’ve clicked the wrong link.

    Who are some of your favorite authors?

    Carl Hiaasen, Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Lethem, Raymond Chandler, Kinky Friedman, Donald Westlake, Patrick DeWitt, Haruki Murakami, Neal Stephenson, Maurice Sendak.

    What are you reading now?

    Marry, Bang, Kill by Andrew Battershill. His first novel, Pillow, was a mindblowing fusion of crime fiction and surrealism executed with tremendous literary skill and creative freedom. Battershill is an inspired and inspiring author.

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

    Did my publisher ask you to ask me that? I promise I am! My next book is a sequel of sorts, featuring the return of Jake Constable and a few of the other characters (some the worse for wear), as well as a few new faces. Jake is forced to reckon with the personal, professional, and societal impacts of the impending legalization of marijuana, as well as another spiritually seismic movement (some might even describe it as a cult, though they might be wrong).

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

    Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool 2; Van Wilder: Party Liaison) was born to play Jake Constable (or maybe Jake Constable was born to be played by Ryan Reynolds). If he’s unavailable, I would also be willing to take lunches with Ryan Gosling and/or Joaquim Phoenix to discuss their respective visions for the role.
    Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (Game of Thrones). Despite being Icelandic, Björnsson did beat a 1000-year-old record set by Orm Storolfsson at the World’s Strongest Viking competition in Norway. He’s got the ‘can do’ attitude that defines The Norwegian’s character.
    Lucy Liu as Nina. No question about it.
    For Richard I’m seeing Orlando Bloom, and Oscar Isaac would be fascinating as Dante.

    Favorite leisure activity/hobby?

    Settling back on the couch with a good book and immediately falling asleep.

    Favorite meal?

    The Salsiccia Piccante from Pizzeria Prima Strada

     

    Read an excerpt:

    I was just starting to enjoy the party when The Norwegian came out of the bathroom and ruined everything.

    At the time, I was dancing with a hyperkinetic yoga enthusiast named Windy. Or possibly Mindy. All attempts at verbal communication were being swallowed up by the blizzard of techno coming out of the forty thousand dollar stereo system. Which was fine by me since I didn’t imagine Windy-Mindy and I had all that much to talk about anyway.

    She looked about a decade younger than me — clocking in somewhere south of thirty — and it was manifestly evident that her lifestyle choices were largely antagonistic to my own. Shrink-wrapped in Lululemon, Windy-Mindy radiated health and vigor as she bounced around in fuchsia Nikes performing an ode to the benefits of healthy living expressed through the medium of interpretive dance.

    Exhausted by the spectacle, I took a breather and another belt of Woodford Reserve. In an attempt to bridge the cultural divide I waggled the bottle at Windy-Mindy, inquiring with my eyebrows. Her brow furrowed but the corners of her mouth did curl up slightly — one patronizing, the other amused. Or so the bourbon whispered to me.

    It may have been correct because she countered by proffering her own bottle — the blue-tinted plastic kind that hikers and college students liked to clip to their backpacks. In her other hand were two small white tablets, which I lip-read to be Vitamin C.

    I shrugged and swallowed.

    The contents of the bottle turned out to be wheatgrass and champagne, a combination that tasted even worse than it sounded. I forgave Windy-Mindy when the vitamins started coming on about twenty minutes later. Every cell in my body began sending my brain a jubilant message of thanks and goodwill, as well as suggesting, by the way, that they wouldn’t mind getting to know every cell in Windy-Mindy’s body if the opportunity should arise.

    This wasn’t my usual kind of trip and it made me suspect two things: (1) The tablets probably weren’t Vitamin C and (2) if Windy-Mindy was on the same ride, it might explain her unlikely but undeniable interest in me.

    Another possibility was that she had heard I was Jake Constable, a.k.a. the host of the party. From there she might have leapt to the not-unreasonable conclusion that the twenty million dollar mansion in which the festivities were taking place was also mine. Which was true, in a very temporary but excruciatingly legal sense.

    The actual owner of the house, Mickey Wu, had hired me to look after it while he was out of town. For most of the evening, my flagrant abuse of this responsibility had precluded me from enjoying the party. Which was too bad since it was turning into a real killer.

    The place was mobbed with people, an undeniable relief in those early evening “will it happen?” moments, but now a source of concern. I took it as a matter of faith that the front door was still on its hinges as I hadn’t seen it close in hours. On the mezzanine, a velour-clad DJ was hunched over a laptop and two turntables, conjuring up humongous bass beats and mixing them with everything from sirens to symphonies. The crowd was loving it, up and moving on every available horizontal surface including the dining room table, much to the annoyance of the people clustered around it hoovering up lines of white powder.

    When an albino wearing a lime green speedo and an impish grin threaded his way through the crowd on a Vespa I found myself on the verge of questioning whether the party had been such a brilliant idea after all. He was travelling at a reasonable speed and using his horn judiciously but I still couldn’t shake that harbinger-of-ill-fate feeling.

    At least until I discovered Windy-Mindy and her narcotic vitamins. After that, I was blissfully surfing the moment, my worries gone and my eyes inexorably drawn to her endless curves as they took on a cotton candy glow. I frowned and shook my head, but the effect persisted.

    I spent long, increasingly paranoid moments pondering whether an admixture of wheatgrass and champagne could give bourbon hallucinogenic properties until I noticed the sun winking at me from behind the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver through the window behind her. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to banish this unwelcome party crasher. When I opened them, the sun was eclipsed by another — The Norwegian.

    My first impulse was to go over and hug him, but I knew that was only Windy-Mindy’s vitamins messing with my amygdala. My second impulse was to run.

    It had been almost three years since I had seen my former business partner, and he hadn’t changed a bit. The ornate black leather trench coat and vaguely Druidic hairstyle would have been comical on a smaller man less prone to violence. As he loomed over the crowd I tried to disappear within it. We hadn’t parted on the best of terms.

    I had brought him in on a deal that had started as a hobby for me, a way to use the inheritance I received from my grandfather — a couple acres of land on Hornby Island and a green thumb. Granddad grew prize-winning heirloom tomatoes there. People loved his tomatoes. I preferred marijuana. As did my friends, and their friends, and so on.

    When I terminated our partnership, The Norwegian kept three hundred thousand dollars of my money and I kept my kneecaps, which seemed like a fair distribution of assets at the time. Deprived of “Granddad’s Ganja”, The Norwegian moved into harder drugs and I moved into a converted loft in a post-industrial neighbourhood in East Vancouver. I spent money, threw parties, started dating my real estate agent, wrote a screenplay, shredded a screenplay, married my real estate agent, spent the last of my money, got divorced by my real estate agent, became mildly depressed, and began perusing community college course catalogs. I was a phone call away from signing up for a denturist training program when my ex-wife/realtor lined me up with house sitting gigs for her wealthy clients.

    Clients like Mickey Wu, in whose house The Norwegian was now standing. He was nonplussed when he spotted me. Then his face lit up with the expression of affected innocence that always accompanied his most heinous acts.

    My pocket vibrated. I dug out my phone to find a text from Richard.

    there’s a dead guy in the bathroom 🙁

    I stared at the phone. Then I stared across the room at the bathroom door. The Norwegian was no longer standing in front of it. He had been replaced by Richard, who was staring back at me with an expression of genuine innocence and barely controlled panic.

    ***

    Excerpt from The Chairman’s Toys by Graham Reed. Copyright © 2018 by Graham Reed. Reproduced with permission from Graham Reed. All rights reserved.

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