May 102017
 

Crossing the Street

by Molly D. Campbell

on Tour May 9 – July 7, 2017

Crossing the Street by Molly D. Campbell

Book Details

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: May 9, 2017
Number of Pages: 290

Purchase Crossing the Street on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Synopsis:

This wasn’t the way Beck Throckmorton had planned it. She wasn’t expecting to find herself in her thirties writing erotica and making flat whites for a living while she stewed over that fact that her ex had wound up with her sister. She never saw herself living in a small suburban Ohio town with an octogenarian neighbor best friend. And she definitely wouldn’t have imagined the eight-year-old great-granddaughter of that friend turning her world upside down.

As summer comes around, Beck’s life is unsettled in every way. And that’s before the crazy stuff starts: the sister taunting her with her pregnancy, the infuriatingly perfect boyfriend, the multiple trips to the emergency room. The needy, wise-beyond-her-years little girl finding places in her heart that Beck didn’t even know existed.

Beck has found herself at an emotional intersection she never anticipated. And now it’s time to cross the street.

CROSSING THE STREET is a funny, touching novel that brims life’s complexities. Filled with characters both distinctive and welcomingly familiar, it is a story that will entertain and enlighten.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

Rebecca Throckmorton, aka Becca, leads a pretty simple life as a FT erotica author and PT barista. Never wanting children, and a bit of baggage with her father abandoning the family at an early age and her sister marrying her ex-boyfriend, she is content with just her friends including her elderly friend across the street.

Her elderly neighbor’s great granddaughter, a precocious 8 year old, moves in and to Becca’s surprise, not only befriends Bob, aka Roberta, but helps in the care of both the grandmother and the granddaughter. Becca’s life is about to change.

I loved this book! Nothing is better than an author’s descriptive writing that can transport the reader into the story, and this author did just that. Tears, laughter, compassion, anger, are just some of what this reader felt.

A poignant and compelling read. I am hoping, and even hinting to the author, that I hope there is a sequel coming!!!!!!

Read an excerpt:

My life isn’t exactly bright and shiny. My name is Rebecca Throckmorton. I live in a small town, and I muddle along as best I can. Four scenes from my world:

Scene one: I am at the grocery store. Aimlessly wandering down the produce aisle, looking at the grocery list, as usual, in my mother’s elegant hand. What the hell is a rutabaga, and why do we need one? Suddenly, I see my father, who is long gone from our family—divorce. He is wearing a gold golf shirt, his khaki slacks, crisp and unwrinkled. His hair from the back is a bit silvery, as I am sure it would be after being away from our family for all these years. My heart lurches—He’s back! He came back! I abandon my cart and nearly bowl over a woman studying kiwis, knocking the one in her hand to the ground. I don’t even stop to apologize, because my dad. I come up behind him, breathe in his cologne—yup, Eau de Sauvage. I reach out to touch his shoulder, and he turns around. I gasp. The man is definitely not Dexter Throckmorton. Instead of a Roman nose, this guy has a schnozz. There is awful hair growing out of his nostrils. His eyes are not velvety and black, like my father’s—they are a watery gray and clouded with cataracts. He hears me gasp and asks, “Do I know you?” I abandon the rutabaga and rush out of the store, grocery list still crushed between my fingers.

Scene two: My sister’s wedding. I am wearing a sleeveless, misty green satin dress with two small lines of silver sequins along the bodice. The misty green is reflected in my coloring and makes me look slightly vomitous. I feel about to vomit, since my sister Diana is marrying my former boyfriend, Bryan Dallas, who stands at the end of the aisle, beaming, his horn rims polished so highly I worry that he might start a fire with their refractions into the balcony. As D comes down the aisle on my mother’s arm (see divorce, above), my mother looking for all the world like an aging Audrey Hepburn in a slender tube of taupe silk, I look down at my bouquet and stifle the impulse to hurl it in my sister’s smug, highly-made-up-with-false-eyelashes-and-dewy-lip-gloss face.

Scene three: Me and my girlfriend, Ella Bowers. I sit with her in front of the TV. We like to watch really old reruns of Lawrence Welk that I found for her on the Family Network. Ella pats down her soft, fluffy lavender white hair, and every time Myron Floren comes on comments how much her mother “just loved that man and his accordion.” I nod and agree, because I don’t intend to hurt her feelings—Ella is eighty-three, and I don’t want her to get riled up and have a stroke. I notice my cut glass tumbler of iced tea is empty, and I offer to go into the kitchen of her cozy bungalow and get us each some more.

Scene four: My day job and what really pays the bills. I get home from my part-time job at Starbucks at four. I stretch, try to do the downward facing dog, and fail, as usual, about three quarters of the way down. My cat, Simpson, ambles over for a purr, and then I go and pee, change into sweats, and sit down at my computer, where I pound out a scene in which four orgasms occur within the space of twenty minutes between Travis and Crystal, who are extremely talented genitally. My latest book, Boys on the Beach, is under contract and due at my publisher in two months. When I think about this, sweat pools into the cups of my bra, because I am behind schedule, and erotica pays the bills, not venti lattes.

There you have it.

Author Bio:

Molly D. Campbell

Molly D. Campbell is a two-time Erma Bombeck Writing Award winner and the author of one previous novel, Keep the Ends Loose. Molly blogs at http://mollydcampbell.com. Also an artist, Molly’s work can be found at http://www.cafepress.com/notexactlypicasso;. Molly lives in Dayton with her accordionist husband and four cats.

Catch Up With Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Tour Host Participants:



Here’s Your Chance to WIN!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Molly D. Campbell and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of 1 Amazon.com Gift Card AND 3 winners of 1 eBook copy of KEEP THE ENDS LOOSE by Molly D. Campbell. The giveaway begins on May 1st and runs through July 8th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.

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Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!
Apr 212017
 

I Love You Today

by Marcia Gloster

on Tour April 17 – June 17, 2017

I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster

Book Details
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: April 18th 2017
Number of Pages: 402
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Goodreads

Synopsis:

Maddie Samuels is a woman of – and ahead of – her time. She knows she doesn’t belong in the kitchen, and she refuses to become trapped in a secretarial pool. In mid-sixties New York City, she’s not only determined to succeed in a man’s world, but to prove her work is as good – or better – than any man’s.

With “free love” redefining relationships with head-spinning rapidity, Maddie learns how to push the accepted boundaries of established old-boy networks while refusing to accept the all-too-pervasive harassment by men in power. And yet as a woman in love, she discovers that beliefs and actions are often very different things – especially when it comes to a man like the seductive and charismatic Rob MacLeod.

Set in the era of Mad Men, I LOVE YOU TODAY is passionate, sexy, liberating and deeply moving. With a story as relevant today as it was then, this is a novel that readers will take to their hearts and their souls.

MY REVIEW

4 stars

This was the first time I read anything by this author but really enjoyed her descriptive writing style.

Maddie, a strong, career oriented woman of the late sixties meets handsome and charming Rob at her new job as an art director. As the synopsis states, it’s the decade of free love, and even though Rob is married with 2 children, an illicit affair begins. One they can’t stop and it doesn’t. (vague to not include spoiler).

The characters are well developed. The story fluid and kept my interest from the very first page to the last word.

I found myself not liking either character. Rob was, when he couldn’t control his drinking, an emotionally abusive, arrogant, lying, entitled man that continued to give idle promises. I rooted for Maddie, however, even though she was a strong and talented career woman, her love for Rob was so overwhelming that she became complaisant with matters of her heart.

I enjoyed the reminders and norms of that time. The fashion, pay phones, smoking cigarettes in offices/restaurants, the Viet Nam War, the Beatles, the landing of the first astronaut on the moon.

I definitely recommend this compelling novel, however, there is some adult language and content that may be distasteful to some. I didn’t find it offensive because I felt it was true to the time frame that the story takes place in.

An intense and powerful read!!!

Reviewers Are Loving I Love You Today!:

“Love, sex, lies, and advertising in the era of Mad Men. Compelling and provocative.” – James Wiatt, former Chairman and CEO, William Morris Agency

“A romp through the Mad Men era, told from a woman’s point of view.” – Pamela Fiori, author and former editor-in-chief, Town & Country

“Marcia Gloster paints an intimate portrait of life in 1960s Manhattan… Readers looking for a peek into the magazine publishing and advertising world of that era will be intrigued!” – Marilyn Brant, New York Times bestselling author

“I Love You Today pulled me right in, from the wrenching love story that could never have a happy ending, to the ultimate strength shown by the main character. An overall compelling journey.” – Andrea Hurst, author of Always with You

Read an excerpt:

Maddie exited the subway and walked a block to the Status offices, arriving just at three. The stark simplicity of the reception area surprised her: a white leather sofa and a glass coffee table stood on a small beige area rug with two matching Barcelona chairs on either side. The only color came from large fashion photos that covered the walls behind the couch and reception desk. She had expected a bit more glitz.

The receptionist was tapping rapidly on her typewriter while talking equally as rapidly on the phone. Seeing Maddie, she looked up with an impatient expression on her heavily made-up face and whispered that she’d call back. Maddie told her she was there to see Mr. MacLeod. After an appraising glance, the receptionist unwrapped a piece of Juicy Fruit, popped it in her mouth and dialed an extension. Maddie straightened her skirt, suddenly wondering if she should have worn something other than a suit.

Have a seat,” the girl said in a bored voice, indicating the couch. “His secretary will be right out.”

Maddie sat, feeling nervousness creep in and her earlier, all-too-fragile confidence beginning to fade. A few minutes later, a short dark-haired young woman in a miniskirt came in and introduced herself as Tara, Mr. MacLeod’s secretary. Maddie followed her along a corridor lined with several windowed offices on the left and a bright open bullpen area on the right where it looked like some assistants worked in different sized cubicles. On the far side she saw two more large, sun filled offices. In one of the doorways two men stopped talking and glanced at her.

Tara stopped at the second to last office, looked in and grinned. “Rob, this is Miss Samuels, your three o’clock appointment.” There seemed to be an inside joke somewhere in there, but Maddie didn’t get it. Not then.

As she walked in he stood up, buttoned his suit jacket and stepped forward to shake her hand. She caught her breath; not only was he attractive, he had bright emerald green eyes and perhaps the longest eyelashes she had ever seen. Wasted on a man, she thought, trying not to stare. Or, perhaps not. His dark brown hair was cut short with long sideburns that framed his handsome face.

She sat down on one of the metal and leather chairs that faced his desk. A large drawing board, covered in layout sheets, rolls of galleys and photo stats was to his right. On the left, flat files were piled high with books of typefaces and stock photos. The office wasn’t designed for so much furniture; there was little room to move around.

He sat back and asked her to tell him about herself. Interviews generally didn’t faze her, but this time she was unusually flustered. She began by mentioning Today’s Bride, saying that she had liked working there.

“Why did you leave? You weren’t fired were you?”

“No. Not at all. It was just becoming uncomfortable. I’m not sure it’s something I should talk about.”

Her answer seemed to intrigue him. A smile lit up his eyes and he leaned forward, elbows on his desk. “Now you have to tell me, Miss Samuels. I promise I won’t tell anyone. Was it some sort of conspiracy?”

“No,” she stammered, wishing she had never brought it up. “Nothing like that. I was very close to Joan, the art director who hired me. She was a great teacher, actually a mentor for me. I was a kid just out of art school. But after two years her husband was offered a job at Publicis, the big ad agency in Paris and they decided to move there. Before she left she tried to have me named as art director. By then I was doing half the work on the magazine anyway. But the publisher told her he had already decided to bring in a well-known art director from a rival publication.” She stopped, unsure how to proceed.

“So what was the problem?”

“Well,” she took a breath, “not only was he hiring her, but his weekly meetings with his so-called ‘investors’ were really long afternoons at the Biltmore, a few blocks away.”

He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You had to leave because the publisher was screwing…pardon me, sleeping with the new art director?”

She bit her lip, sorry she had mentioned it and realizing she had backed herself into a corner.

“It wasn’t quite so simple. Over the first couple of months she did everything she could to make my life miserable. Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to cover photo shoots and then she didn’t even want me doing layouts. She began quietly bringing in her own team. By the time everyone realized what was going on, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. I spoke to the publisher who I knew liked me, but he said it was now up to her. It was out of his hands. So I resigned.” Taking another big breath, she looked at him, hoping she hadn’t said too much.

He shook his head. “Too bad. It sounds like you were happy there.”

“Yes. I was.”

He asked her to tell him more: what her goals were and did she really want a career or just a job until she found the right man to marry.

His questions didn’t surprise her; she had been asked the same things at every interview.

“Mr. MacLeod. I have no desire to be married. I’m focused on my career. I hope to be an art director one day.”

“And how do you plan to become one?”

She looked back at him wide eyed. It was a question she had never been asked. “I guess I’ll just have to keep on working and learning. I’m very motivated, Mr. MacLeod. If something needs to get done, I’ll make sure it happens.”

He nodded, green eyes flashing. “I’ll bet you will. Let me have a look at your portfolio.”

As she stood up, she noticed him glance at her legs. She wondered if her skirt was too short but not wanting to appear self-conscious she stopped herself from smoothing it down. Standing next to him, she answered his questions as he leafed through the pages.

“Miss Samuels, can you leave the portfolio with me? Unless, of course, you have other interviews today.”

“Yes. I mean, no.” She wanted to kick herself. What is wrong with me? “Yes, I can leave it, and no, I don’t have any more interviews today.”

He smiled, amused at her obvious discomfort. “Good. I’d like to show it to the managing editor. I’ve already seen several potential candidates and I expect to make a decision later today.”

She thanked him and he shook her hand, holding it she thought, a bit longer than necessary.

Excerpt from I Love You Today by Marcia Gloster. Copyright © 2017 by Marcia Gloster. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

Marcia Gloster

Meet Marcia Gloster!

After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design in the 1960s, Marcia Gloster built a career in New York City as an award-winning book designer and art director. A decade later, she founded and ran a boutique ad agency specializing in fashion. Gloster is a member of the National Association of Women Artists and Studio Montclair and exhibits her paintings in the New York area. Her first book, 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION, was published in 2014.

Visit Marcia Gloster on her Website, Twitter, and Facebook pages!

Tour Host Participants:

Visit these tour hosts for great features, interviews, guest posts, reviews, & giveaways of Ms. Gloster’s first novel 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION!


Giveaway

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Propotions for Marcia Gloster and The Story Plant. There will be 1 winner of one (1) $25 Amazon.com Gift Card and 5 winners of 1 eBook copy of 31 DAYS: A MEMOIR OF SEDUCTION by Marcia Gloster. The giveaway begins on April 17th and runs through June 19th, 2017. This giveaway is for US residents only. Void where prohibited by law.
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Visit Providence Book Promotions for more great reads!

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
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.

Apr 012017
 

Giacomo Giammatteo

His name may sound familiar to you since I have reviewed some of his books, and maybe you have too, which I thoroughly enjoyed. MURDER TAKES TIME, A BULLET FOR CARLOS, MURDER HAS CONSEQUENCES and OLD WOUNDS. He is a master story teller, IMO.

After reading his first book, Giacomo and I have kept in contact. I was devastated upon hearing what he had endured, while I was on my LOA, and is still dealing with, the residuals of his heart attacks and strokes. Even with all that, he continues to write and keep his animal sanctuary going. He is an inspiration!!!! So who better to showcase in my Author Of The Month feature!!!!!

When he told me about his plight and the book he wrote, WHISKERS & BEAR, to help with the costs for the animals, I had to help. I ask, even beg, please purchase this book, my review is below. If you are an animal lover, you truly will enjoy this book and if you aren’t, I’m sure you know someone who would enjoy it. I am offering a $20. GC, either Amazon or B&N, whichever the winner prefers. Just a suggestion….if you enter the giveaway, please consider purchasing WHISKERS & BEAR. Thank you.

And a little secret….today his is birthday…if you get a chance stop by any of his sites and wish him a Happy Birthday!

WHISKERS & BEAR will be touring with Providence Book Promotions next month. Follow the tour and you may have a chance to win an eBook copy.

Whiskers and Bear
by Giacomo Giammatteo
on Tour May 1 – 14, 2017

Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo

Book Details

Genre: Non-Fiction, Animals

Published by: Inferno Publishing Company

Publication Date: April 2017

Number of Pages: 150

ISBN:

Purchase Links: Whiskers and Bear on Amazon Whiskers and Bear on Barnes & Noble Whiskers and Bear on Kobo Whiskers and Bear on Goodreads

Synopsis:

Whiskers and Bear were two of the best dogs in the world. They didn’t always listen or even try to listen, but they were loyal to a fault, and they were the best of friends. They hunted all of their food, and they protected our animal sanctuary with no regard for their own safety.

Whiskers and Bear Book Launch

Out of all the books I’ve written (almost thirty), this one is closest to my heart. For twenty-four years, my wife and I have run an animal sanctuary, providing homes for dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even a wild boar. I don’t know how many animals we’ve had through the years in total, but at one time, we had as many as fifty-five.

A Plea For Help


I don’t often ask for help, but this is important. We have run this sanctuary for twenty-four years using our own money—no donations to speak of. The feed bill alone was more than a thousand dollars per month. And there are plenty of other bills, vets, fencing, shelter, medical supplies, and more.
In early 2015, I had two heart attacks followed by two strokes. The result was that it left me disabled. Now it is difficult to continue paying for everything.
I wrote this book in the hopes that it would sell enough to help with the funds, as all sales go to the animals. And I mean that—every penny goes to help support them—nothing for anyone else.

MY REVIEW

5 stars

I think most of us are familiar with domesticated animals and/or are animal lovers. Having had dogs the majority of my life, they become a part of one’s family. But do we really know about these animals?

In WHISKERS & BEAR, the reader will learn the true nature of these 2 dogs. Their intelligence, habits, instincts, friendships, stubbornness, loyalty and love.

WHISKERS & BEAR are 2 loved dogs that are members of a Texan sanctuary that author Giacomo Giammatteo and his wife, Mikki, are the owners of and that care for their over 40+ 4-legged menagerie.

A quick read but so compelling and touching. It will make you laugh, shake your head and even shed a tear.

This book was written to help defray costs of the sanctuary since the author has become disabled due to extensive medical issues. When reading this book, it is evident how this couple love all of their animals. Even though he is slowly progressing, the care of his animals is what he is most concerned about.

Please find it in your heart to purchase a copy. All proceeds will go directly to the upkeep and care of these 40+ members of their family!

Read an excerpt:

Another Grave

I climbed up onto the tractor, a Kubota 4630, with a six-foot bucket on the front. It was a powerful machine, and we’d put it through the hoops more than a few times. What I mean is that my wife Mikki and I had dug a lot of graves.

I tied an old cloth diaper around my forehead and draped the end of it over the top of my bald head. There wasn’t much better than a cotton cloth for keeping sweat out of your eyes, or the sun from burning your head. I turned the key and revved the engine. After letting it idle a moment, I lifted the bucket and drove toward the south side of the property where Mikki was waiting for me. She’d already gotten a few blankets and a clean sheet. For this one, she’d brought a pillow, too.

I reached up and wiped my eyes. I was getting damn tired of burying things.

An old white pickup crept down the gravel driveway, coming to a stop near the fence.

A neighbor leaned out and hollered. “What’s goin’ on?”

I wished he’d have kept going.

“Nothin’,” I said, but not loud enough for him to hear.

The door opened, and he stepped out and walked over to the fence, using his right hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he peered over the top rail.

“What are you doin’?”

I could see there was no getting away from it. I muttered my answer a few times so my voice wouldn’t crack when I yelled.

“Diggin’ a grave,” I hollered back.

“A grave? Which one died?”

Which one? That’s what it had come to for most of the neighbors and relatives and friends. Which one died. As if it didn’t matter. As if having forty-five animals made it easier to deal with when one of them died.

He came in through the side gate and headed in my direction. He walked slowly, which gave me time to compose myself. It’s never easy to bury a friend, but this one…this one was special.

Mikki walked over to me. “He’s just trying to help.”

I nodded.

I don’t need his help, I thought, but the fact of the matter was I could probably use it.

It hadn’t rained in weeks, and the damn Texas ground was as hard as concrete. Even if the tractor did cut through, it could only go so deep; we’d have hand work to do at the bottom.

Our neighbor was about twenty feet away. He took off his hat and swiped at his forehead. It was a scorcher today and had been for a month or so.

“Who was it?” he asked.

I couldn’t say, but I managed to gesture toward Mikki. She lifted the corner of the blanket so he could see.

“Oh shit!” he said. “I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” I said.

He unbuttoned his shirt and grabbed a shovel I had leaning against a small oak tree. “Might as well get this done.”

I nodded again. He was right, of course, but I was in no hurry to put another friend in the ground. I cranked the engine up a little higher, shoved the tractor into low gear, and positioned the bucket for the first scoop of dirt. The bucket hit the ground with a metallic thud. It didn’t do much more than break the surface.

“Whew!” the neighbor said. “Going to be a long day.”

“That’s for sure.”

“How long have they been with you?” he asked.

They. I thought about what he said. I would have laughed if not for the circumstances. Everyone referred to the two of them as one. They or them. Bear and Whiskers. Whiskers and Bear. It was a cold day in July if anyone mentioned one without the other.

I handed him my bottle of water; he looked thirsty.

“They’ve been with us a long time. A damn long time.”

***

Excerpt from Whiskers and Bear by Giacomo Giammatteo. Copyright © 2017 by Giacomo Giammatteo. Reproduced with permission from Giacomo Giammatteo. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Giacomo Giammatteo

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of gritty crime dramas about murder, mystery, and family. He also writes non-fiction books including the No Mistakes Careers series.

When Giacomo isn’t writing, he’s helping his wife take care of the animals on their sanctuary. At last count they had 45 animals—11 dogs, a horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs.

Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

Visit Giacomo on his Website 🔗, Twitter 🔗, Facebook 🔗 and Goodreads 🔗 pages!

So How About Helping Out?


Skip the cup of coffee you were thinking of, or the pack of smokes, or glass of wine, and pick up a copy of Whiskers and Bear. I’d bet you’ll not only love reading about their exploits, but you’ll feel better about yourself for helping out. Even if you don’t read it—give it to someone who will.
And when you’re finished reading, don’t forget to leave a review.

Back to the Sales Pitch


Now, I know you want to hurry up and read it, so here you go. You can buy it now from your favorite retailerAmazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, or Google. And if you want a print version, you can get that from Amazon or B&N, or, you can ask your bookstore to order it.

Giacomo Giammatteo will be back on April 8th….Don’t miss the 2nd installment for Author Of The Month

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This blog was founded on the premise to write honest reviews, to the best of my ability, no matter who from, where from and/or how the book was obtained, and will continue to do so, even if it is through PICT or PBP.
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.

Mar 142017
 

Regeneration
by Stacey Berg
on Tour March 13-April 1, 2017

Book Details
Genre: Sci-Fi
Published by: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Number of Pages: 384
Series: Echo Hunter 367, #2
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

The Church has stood for hundreds of years, preserving the sole surviving city in a desert wasteland. When Echo Hunter 367 is sent out past the Church’s farthest outposts, she’s sure it’s a suicide mission. But just when she’s about to give up hope, she finds the impossible – another thriving community, lush and green, with a counsel of leaders who take her in.

Wary of this new society, with ways so different from the only life she’s ever known, Echo is determined to complete her mission and bring hope back to the Church. She’s unsure who she can trust, and must be strong and not be seduced by their clean, fresh water, and plentiful energy sources. If she plays her cards right, she may even still have a chance to save the woman she loves.

Read an excerpt:

Echo Hunter 367 studied the dying woman in the desert with grudging admiration. The woman had walked long past what might reasonably be expected, if that lurching stagger could be called a walk. When she couldn’t walk any more she had crawled, and after that she had dragged herself along, fingers clawing through sand until they clutched some purchase, body scraping over rocks and debris, heedless of the damage. Now and then she made a noise, a purely animal grunt of effort or pain, but she forced herself onward, all the way until the end.

I smell the water.

Desperate as the woman was, she had still been cautious. Though an incalculable distance from any familiar place, she still recognized danger: the wind-borne sand that scoured exposed skin clean to the bone, the predators that stalked patiently in the shadows for prey too weak to flee. The cliff edge that a careless girl could slip over, body suspended in space for the briefest moment before her hands tore through the thornbush, then the long hard fall.

Echo jerked back from that imagined edge. It was her last purposeful movement. From some great height, she watched herself collapse in the sand. One grasping hand, nails torn, knuckles bloody, landed only a few meters from the spring’s cool water, but she never knew it. For a little while her body twitched in irregular spasms, then those too stilled. Only her lips moved, cracking into a bloody smile. “Lia,” she whispered. “Lia.” Then she fell into the dark.

For a long time there was no sound except water trickling in a death rattle over stones.

Then the high whine of engines scattered the circling predators. Pain returned first, of course. Every inch of skin burned, blistered by sun or rubbed raw by the sand that had worked its way inside the desert-proof clothing. Her muscles ached from too long an effort with no fuel and insufficient water, and her head pounded without mercy. Even the movement of air in and out of her lungs hurt, as if she had inhaled fire. But that pain meant she was breathing, and if she was breathing she still had to fight. With enormous effort she dragged open her eyes, only to meet a blinding brightness. She made a sound, and tasted hot salt as her lips cracked open again. “Shhh,” a soft voice said. “Shhh.” Something cool, smelling of resin and water, settled over her eyes, shielding them from the glare. A cloth dabbed at her mouth, then a finger smoothed ointment over her lips, softening them so they wouldn’t split further when she was finally able to speak. Lia, she thought, letting herself rest in that gentle strength until the pain subsided into manageable inputs. Then she began to take stock.

She lay on something soft, not the rock that had made her bed for so many weeks, although her abused flesh still ached at every pressure point. The air felt cool but still, unlike the probing desert wind, and it carried, beyond the herbal tang, a scent rich and round, unlike the silica sharpness of sand she’d grown so accustomed to. Filtered through the cloth over her eyes, the light seemed diffuse, too dim for the sun. Indoors, then, and not a temporary shelter, but a place with thick walls, and a bed, and someone with sufficient resources to retrieve a dying woman from the desert, and a reason to do so. But what that reason might be eluded her. The Church would never rescue a failure.

Unless the Saint commanded it.

She mustered all her strength and dragged the cloth from her eyes. She blinked away grit until the blurred oval hovering above her took on distinct features, the soft line of the cheek, the gently curving lips. Lia, she thought again, and in her weakness tears washed the vision away. She wiped her eyes with a trembling hand.

And stared into the face of an utter stranger.

Excerpt from Regeneration by Stacey Berg. Copyright © 2017 by Stacey Berg. Reproduced with permission from Harper Voyager. All rights reserved.

Stacey Berg

Author Bio:

Stacey Berg is a medical researcher who writes speculative fiction. Her work as a physician-scientist provides the inspiration for many of her stories. She lives with her wife in Houston and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. When she’s not writing, she practices kung fu and runs half marathons.

Visit Stacey Berg on her Website, Goodreads Page, and on Twitter!

Q&A with Stacey Berg

Writing and Reading:
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
I don’t draw from current events on purpose, but I can certainly tell that I’m influenced by what’s going on in the world around me. Regeneration is full of characters struggling to understand whom to trust and what to believe about the turmoil in their society. As for personal experience, I don’t directly put my own experiences into stories, but when I’m figuring out how a character would feel or act, I try to find analogies in my experience and work from there.

Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I have to know how the story ends—not necessarily the actions, but the emotional arc for the main characters. And I usually know roughly where the story starts. In between—well, I would love to be a more efficient plotter, but most of the time I finish a scene and ask myself what would logically happen next (that would be interesting), how that could steer the story towards the climax, and that’s the way the story goes. In revisions I spend a lot of time making sure that the plot events, character development, and story themes are as tightly integrated as I can make them.

Are any of your characters based on you or people that you know?
Nope  Although I will admit that sometimes I use famous people as a sort of body double for certain characters until I can get a proper hold on them. For example, former President Jimmy Carter stood in for one of the characters in Dissension, the prequel to Regeneration, until that person came to life on his own for me.

Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I get up very early and write before work. I really try to be consistent; otherwise I feel like it takes me too long to get my head back into the story when I’ve been away from it for more than a day or two. I don’t know if this counts as an idiosyncrasy, but when I’m brainstorming I really like to do it with a medium point gel pen in a spiral notebook, while when I’m actually writing, I much prefer to type on my computer.

Tell us why we should read this book.
If you like character-driven science fiction with a fast-moving plot and strong women characters, I hope Regeneration (and Dissension) will appeal to you.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love this question! I could go on for a long time, but I’ll try to keep the list short so it fits in the space. Phillip Pullman. CJ Cherryh. Patricia McKillip. Peter O’Donnell, who wrote the Modesty Blaise books. Alastair MacLean. Not only do I love these authors’ books, but I spend a lot of time dissecting how they do the things I love, so that I can write better myself.

What are you reading now?
I just started a book called The Voices Within, a nonfiction book about our internal narrative and stream of thought. It’s fascinating and I’m very curious to learn more about the stories we’re all constantly telling ourselves.

Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on my next novel. It’s speculative fiction, set in a very different world from the Echo Hunter 367 books, but I think there’s going to be a similar underlying feel. It’s still early days, though, and I’m afraid if I say too much too soon, it will break.

Fun questions:
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Halle Berry! (Lots of Halle Berrys, since there are clones). Actually this is a tough one for me. I know lots of writers “cast” their characters in their heads to make it easier to visualize them, but that doesn’t work for me. In fact, I think the most interesting thing about having a movie made from the books would be to find out how the director envisions the characters. You can never really tell if a reader is seeing what you are.

Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
Walking on the beach is my favorite thing—any beach, anywhere; although the US mid-Atlantic coast is the “real” beach to me.

Favorite meal?
I love food! For sentimental reasons, the tasting meal where my wife and I picked the dishes for our wedding dinner was my favorite meal ever. On any given day, what would I most like to eat? Pizza from Mineo’s in Pittsburgh. There’s nothing like it.

Tour Host Participants:

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


Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Stacey Berg and Harper Voyager. There will be 3 winners of one (1) eBook copy of Dissension by Stacey Berg. The giveaway begins on March 13th and runs through April 4th, 2017.

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Feb 192017
 

Ashes
by Steven Manchester
on Tour February 19 – April 21, 2017

Ashes by Steven Manchester

Book Details
Genre: Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: February 21st 2017
Number of Pages: 260
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

Middle-aged brothers Jason and Tom Prendergast thought they were completely done with each other. Perceived betrayal had burned the bridge between them, tossing them into the icy river of estrangement. But life – and death – has a robust sense of irony, and when they learn that their cruel father has died and made his final request that they travel together across the country to spread his ashes, they have no choice but to spend a long, long car trip in each other’s company. It’s either that or lose out on the contents of the envelope he’s left with his lawyer. The trip will be as gut-wrenching as each expects it to be . . . and revealing in ways neither of them is prepared for.

At turns humorous, biting, poignant, and surprisingly tender, Ashes puts a new spin on family and dysfunction with a story that is at once fresh and timelessly universal.

MY REVIEW

5+ stars

Let me first state that I am a HUGE fan of Steven Manchester, having read all his books TWELVE MONTHS, GOODNIGHT, BRIAN, THE ROCKIN’ CHAIR, GOOSEBERRY ISLAND, PRESSED PENNIES and THE CHANGING SEASON, and now ASHES. And I only have 1 question, HOW DOES HE DO IT? With each book, he raises his own bar and gives the reader an incredible story!!

ASHES, like the synopsis states, is about 2 brothers who haven’t spoken in 15 years and had a very dysfunctional childhood living with their abusive father, are forced to take a cross country trip. They receive word that their father has passed away but realize he is still in control. They are to drive cross country, to spread his ashes, and then they will find out what is in the letter he left with his attorney.

The journey starts with animosity, sibling rivalry and feelings that were never resolved. As the journey continues, the brothers find themselves, maybe even liking each other. (vague due to not wanting to have a spoiler).

Steve Manchester, an astonishing and brilliant author, creates a story where the reader is swept away. His prolific ability to describe the characters, emotions, and settings, allows the reader to vividly imagine and feel all.
His books transport the reader from wherever they are to becoming part of the story. With ASHES, I felt that I was the invisible back seat passenger on the brothers’ journey.

In this book, there was humor, raw emotions, beautiful settings traveling cross country and a bit of mystery. How did the brothers’ trip end? Who did they meet along the way? What was in that envelope? And what became of their brotherly relationship after all these years estranged?

A poignant, passionate, sentimental read! I could not put this book down!!!! A heart warming, intense, and at times, a humorous story.

He really won Gold with this book! Sure to be another award winning novel. The only negative, now I have to try and wait patiently for his next book.

If you haven’t read a book by Steven Manchester, you are truly missing out on an extraordinary writer. Highly recommend, not only ASHES, but all of his books. I guarantee you will become a fan too.

Read an excerpt:

Tom wheeled his late-model, platinum-colored BMW into Attorney Russell Norman’s freshly paved lot and parked between a brand new Lexus—sporting the license plate JUSTIS4U—and a custom pickup truck. Looks like I’m going after the hillbilly, he thought when he spotted the faded Massachusetts Department of Correction sticker in the rear window. His blood turned cold. “It must be Jason,” he thought aloud. I didn’t think he’d come.

Tom took a few deep breaths, not because he was nervous about his father’s death or talking to any lawyer but because he hadn’t seen his Neanderthal brother—for fifteen years, I think. He paused for a moment to give it more thought. Although their relationship had essentially vaporized in their late teens—the result of a fall out that still haunted his dreams—they’d occasionally wound up in each other’s orbits; weddings, funerals, and the like, enough to remain familiar with each other’s career choices, wives, and children. But even that came to an end fifteen years ago, he confirmed in his aching head before opening the door. While his toothache-induced migraine threatened to blind him, he took one step into the oak-paneled waiting room. His and Jason’s eyes met for the briefest moment. As though they were complete strangers, they both looked away. And here he is, Tom thought, disappointed. This is just great.

Through peripheral vision, Tom noticed that his older brother now wore a scar over his right eye, just above a bushy eyebrow that could have easily belonged to a homeless Scotsman. A jagged ear lobe, a piece clearly torn away, pointed to a crooked nose that sat sideways on his face—all of it rearranged since birth. What a big tub of shit he’s turned into, Tom thought, struggling to ignore his throbbing face and head. He’s as fat as a wood tick now, he thought, grinning, and he looks like he’s ready to pop. Jason looked straight at him, as if reading his mind. Tom immediately looked away, his rapid heartbeat starting to pound in his ears, intensifying his physical pain. Unbelievable, he thought. After all the years and all the distance, his elder brother—by only two years—still scared the hell out of him. He’s just a big asshole, that’s all, he told himself, but he still couldn’t bring himself to rejoin his brother’s penetrating gaze.

The secretary answered her phone before calling out, “Mr. Prendergast . . .”

Both brothers stood.

“Attorney Norman will see you now.”

Tom walked in first, letting the door close behind him—right in Jason’s face.

“Still a weasel,” Jason muttered, loud enough for all to hear.

“What was that?” Tom asked just inside the door.

“Don’t even think about playing with me,” Jason warned as he reopened the door and entered the room, “’cause I have no problem throwing you over my knee and spanking you right in front of this guy.”

I’m fifty years old, for God’s sake, Tom thought, and he thinks he’s going to spank me? I’m surprised the prison even let him out.

The attorney—his hand extended for anyone willing to give it a shake—looked mortified by the childish exchange.

Tom shook the man’s hand before settling into a soft leather wing chair. Jason followed suit.

The room was framed in rich mahogany paneling. The desk could have belonged in the oval office. Beneath a green-glassed banker’s lamp, stacks of file folders took up most of the vast desktop. An American flag stood in one corner, while framed diplomas and certificates, bearing witness to the man’s intelligence and vast education, covered the brown walls.

Attorney Norman wore a pinstriped shirt and pleated, charcoal-colored slacks held up by a pair of black suspenders. He had a bow tie, a receding hairline that begged to be shaved bald, and a pair of eyeglasses that John Lennon would have been proud to call his own. There’s no denying it, Tom thought, trying to ignore his brother’s wheezing beside him, he’s either a lawyer or a banker. He couldn’t be anything else.

While Jason squirmed in his seat, visibly uncomfortable to be sitting in a lawyer’s office, his hands squeezed the arms of the chair. What a chicken shit, Tom thought, trying to make himself feel better. Peering sideways, he noticed that his brother’s knuckles were so swollen with scar tissue they could have belonged to a man who made his living as a bare-knuckle brawler. He’s still an animal too, he decided.

Attorney Norman took a seat, grabbed a manila file from atop the deep stack and cleared his throat. “The reason you’re both here . . .”

“. . . is to make sure the old man’s really dead,” Jason interrupted.

In spite of himself and his harsh feelings for his brother, Tom chuckled—drawing looks from both men.

“The reason we’re all here,” Attorney Norman repeated, “is to read Stuart Prendergast’s last will and testament.” He flipped open the folder.

This ought to be good, Tom thought, while Jason took a deep breath and sighed heavily. Both brothers sat erect in their plush chairs, waiting to hear more.

As if he were Stuart Prendergast sitting there in the flesh, the mouthpiece read, “My final wish is that my two sons, Jason and Thomas, bring my final remains to 1165 Milford Road in Seattle, Washington, where they will spread my ashes.”

“Seattle?” Tom blurted, his wagging tongue catching his tooth, making him wince in pain. Quickly concealing his weakness, he slid to the edge of his seat. “Oh, I don’t think so,” he mumbled, careful not to touch the tooth again.

Jason was shaking his head. “Hell no,” he said.

The attorney read on. “I’ve always been afraid to fly, so I’m asking that I not be transported by airplane but driven by car.”

“No way,” Tom instinctively sputtered.

Jason laughed aloud. “This is just great. The old bastard’s dead and he’s still screwing with us.”

The less-than-amused attorney revealed a sealed envelope and continued on. “As my final gift to my sons . . .”

“Only gift,” Tom muttered, feeling a cauldron of bad feelings bubbling in his gut.

“I’m leaving this sealed envelope for them to share, once and only once they’ve taken me to my final resting place.”

“What the fuck!” Jason blurted.

Every cell in Tom’s overloaded brain flashed red. Don’t do it, he thought. You don’t owe that old man a damned thing. But every cell in his body was flooded with curiosity. He looked at Jason, who was no longer shaking his fat head.

“Maybe the bastard finally hit it big at the dog track?” Jason suggested.

Tom nodded in agreement but secretly wondered, Could it be the deed to the land Pop bragged about owning in Maine? He stared at the envelope. For as long as I can remember, he claimed to own forty-plus acres with a brook running straight through it. He stared harder. Could it be? he wondered, wishing he had X-ray vision. A parcel of land in Maine sure would make a nice retirement . . .

“How ’bout we travel separately and meet in Seattle to spread the ashes?” Jason said, interrupting his thoughts.

“Great idea,” Tom said, hoping against all hope that the idea would fly with their father’s lawyer.

Attorney Norman shook his head. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but your father specifically requested that you travel together with his remains to Seattle. Any deviation from this can and will prohibit you from attaining the sealed envelope.”

There was a long pause, the room blanketed in a heavy silence. Son of a bitch, Tom thought, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. He turned to Jason, who was already looking at him. “What do you say?” he asked, already cursing his inability to curb his curiosity.

Jason shook his head in disgust. “The last thing I want to do is to go on some stupid road trip with you.”

“Trust me, that’s a mutual feeling,” Tom shot back.

“But I don’t think we have a choice,” Jason added. “Our fucked-up father wants to play one last game with us, so to hell with it—let’s play.”

This is insane, but he’s right, Tom thought. With a single nod, Tom stood. “Okay, let’s have the ashes then,” he told the lawyer.

The attorney shook his head. “I don’t have them. They’re currently at a funeral home in Salem.”

“Salem?” Tom squeaked, unhappy that his tone betrayed his distress.

“That’s right. You have to take custody of your father’s remains from the Buffington Funeral Home in Salem, Massachusetts.”

“You must be shitting me.” Jason said.

The attorney smirked. “I shit you not,” he said, throwing the letter onto his desk.

Salem? Tom repeated in his head. Just when I thought Pop couldn’t be a bigger prick . . . The migraine knocked even harder from the inside of his skull, making him feel nauseous. Amid the pain, his synapses fired wildly, considering all this would mean: I’ll have to take bereavement leave from school and find someone to cover my classes. I should probably double my treatment with Dr. Baxter tomorrow. And what about Caleb and Caroline? he asked himself, quickly deciding, They’ll be fine without me for a few days. Then he pictured his wife’s face. And Carmen, she’ll be fine without me for a lot longer than that. The nausea increased. Screw her.

“Are we done here?” Jason asked, obviously itching to leave.

The lawyer nodded. “I’ll need proof in the form of a video or a series of photos that you’ve deposited your father’s remains where he wished. Once I have that, the letter’s all yours.”

“How wonderful,” Jason said sarcastically. He stood, turned on his heels, and headed for the door.

Tom also got to his feet. He looked at the lawyer and, trying to ignore his physical discomfort, he smiled. “Don’t mind him,” he said, shrugging. “That imbecile is exactly what our father trained him to be.”

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island as well as the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Find Steven on his Website, on Twitter, & on Facebook!

Tour Host Participants:

Don’t miss your chance to learn more about Steven Manchester & his book, Ashes! Visit the tour stops for interviews, guest posts, and lots of reviews!


Don’t Miss Your Chance to WIN Ashes!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester and The Story Plant. There will be 5 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of Ashes by Steven Manchester. The giveaway begins on February 18th and runs through April 23rd, 2017.

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