Jul 182019
 

American Red

by David Marlett

on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019

 

Synopsis:

American Red by David Marlett

In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.

In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.

The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.

 

Book Details

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: July 2nd 2019
Number of Pages: 535
ISBN: 1611881781 (ISBN13: 9781611881783)
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

David Marlett

David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.
 

Find Our Author Online:

davidmarlett.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook
 

Q&A with David Marlett

Which of your characters do you like the most and why?

Oh my…well, AMERICAN RED has a host of characters, each with unique traits, strengths, quirks, weaknesses. So, I would be hard pressed to say which one I liked the most. But if you’re asking which one I most enjoyed writing, then that would be Pinkerton Chief Detective James McParland. He was one of AMERICAN RED’s many actual characters from history…a true-to-life man, bold and brazen man—a bit stuck in the late 1800s Wild West, clearly an advocate of “the ends justifying the means”—seeing his career coming to an end—attempting to do what he thinks is right—while all the same being willing to do some quite nefarious acts in the name of the law. I love his single-minded focus in the face of obvious conflicts of loyalty and duty.

Which of your characters do you dislike the most and why?

Clearly that would have to be the two horrific mass murderers: Orchard and Adams. One might think I disliked Haywood—and sure, he was a nasty soul, ordering the death of hundreds. But he was also true to his convictions and was a principle catalyst and advocate for desperately needed improvement of conditions and wages for laborers.

Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?

Perhaps it was Neva. She was a real person, and the things she went through were actual events, circumstances. She was complex and full of conflict, just like the male counterparts. But sadly there is almost nothing about her in the historical record, so it was a challenge to bring her to life with the best estimation of her personality. Getting her right was central to the success of the whole book, so I would say she was the greatest challenge. I hope I did her justice.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through writing?

To trust myself. To allow myself to write what I feel and edit later. To let go and let the story and narrative drive the work.

What has been your biggest challenge to your writing career?

Well, that would be much the same as the “biggest lesson”: to trust my research and work and let go—to disappear into the past and write what I discover there.

What was your biggest challenge writing this book?

Developing and getting to know Neva and the other female characters. The men are documented in history, but not the women. In fact, for that reason, I had this book on development hiatus for over a year or more while I tried to find the story I wanted to tell that was beyond just the masculine plot lines.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope they enjoy AMERICAN RED—that is first and foremost. And in that enjoyment, I would like to challenge them to consider the battling conflicts within the story—as reflected in why I chose and designed the cardinals on the cover—the entanglement we all have with ourselves, not just between right and wrong, but in our perceptions of ourselves and our place and purpose in the world—and our willingness to make a difference in the lives of others. Most will read AMERICAN RED for the story that it is, and that is terrific. But perhaps a few will dig deeper into book—beginning with the Overture—and find themselves within the complexities of the tapestry of humanity and challenge themselves as to what they would do in the position of these characters.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

I see a terrific ensemble cast for the many characters of AMERICAN RED. As it is currently in discussions for series adaptation, I’ll refrain from weighing in on specific actors/actresses.

Give us an interesting fun fact, or a few, about your book or series.

AMERICAN RED is the first of a series of historical legal thrillers carrying some real and some fictional characters through actual events in the first half of the twentieth century. My next (what I am researching/writing currently), ANGELES LOS, tells the true story at the intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous, 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of American” kingdom. It brings forward a number of characters from AMERICAN RED, most notably Clarence Darrow, Jack Garrett, and Carla Capone.

Favorite foods?

A great prime rib steak.

Favorite activities?

Time spent with my kids. Hiking with my dog. Participating in live storytelling events.

 

Read an excerpt:

The lawyer lobbed a verbal spear across the courtroom, piercing the young man, pinning him to the creaky witness chair and tilting the twelve jurymen forward. Their brows rose in anticipation of a gore-laden response from the witness as he clutched his bowler, his face vacant toward the wood floor beyond his shoddy boots. When the judge cleared his throat, the plaintiff’s attorney, Clarence Darrow, repeated the question. “Mr. Bullock, I know this is a strain upon you to recount that tragic day when fifteen of your brothers perished at the hands of the Stratton-”

“Your Honor! Point in question,” barked the flint-faced defense attorney representing the Stratton Independence Mine, a non-union gold operation near Cripple Creek, Colorado. On this warm summer afternoon in Denver, he and Darrow were the best dressed there, each wearing a three-button, vested suit over a white shirt and dull tie.

The robed judge gave a long blink, then peered at Darrow. With a chin waggle, his ruling on the objection was clear.

“Yes, certainly. My apologies, Your Honor,” feigned Darrow, glancing toward the plaintiff’s table where two widows sat in somber regard. Though his wheat-blonde hair and sharp, pale eyes defied his age of forty-nine, his reputation for cunning brilliance and oratory sorcery mitigated the power of his youthful appearance: it was no longer the disarming weapon it had once been. No attorney in the United States would ever presume nascence upon Clarence Darrow. Certainly not in this, his twenty-sixth trial. He continued at the witness. “Though as just a mere man, one among all …” He turned to the jury. “The emotion of this event strains even the most resolute of procedural decorum. I am, as are we all, hard-pressed to-”

“Whole strides, shall we, Mr. Darrow?” grumbled the judge.

“Yes,” Darrow said, turning once again to James Bullock who seemed locked in the block ice of tragedy, having not moved a fraction since first taking the witness seat. “Mr. Bullock, we must rally ourselves, muster our strength, and for the memory of your brothers, share with these jurymen the events of that dark day. You said the ride up from the stope, the mine floor, was a swift one, and there were the sixteen of you in the cage made to hold no more than nine-is that correct?”

“Yes, Sir,” Bullock replied, his voice a faint warble.

“Please continue,” Darrow urged.

Bullock looked up. “We kept going, right along, but it kept slipping. We’d go a ways and slip again.”

“Slipping? It was dropping?”

“Yes, Sir. Dropping down sudden like, then stopping. Cappy was yelling at us to get to the center, but there was no room. We was in tight.”

“By Cappy you mean Mr. Capone, the foreman?”

“Yes, Sir. Our shift boss that day.” The witness sucked his bottom lip. “He was in the cage ‘long with us.” He sniffed in a breath then added, “And his boy, Tony. Friend of mine. No better fella.”

“My condolences,” said Darrow. “What do you think was the aid in getting the men to the middle of the cage?”

“Keep it centered in the shaft, I reckon. We was all yelling.” Bullock took a slow breath before continuing, “Cappy was trying to keep the men quiet, but it wasn’t making much a difference. Had his arms around Tony.”

A muscle in Darrow’s cheek shuddered. “Please continue.”

“So we was slipping, going up. Then the operator, he took us up about six feet above the collar of the shaft, then back down again.”

“Which is not the usual-”

“Not rightly. No, Sir. We should’ve stopped at the collar and no more. But later they said the brakes failed on the control wheel.”

“Mr. Bullock, let’s return to what you experienced. You were near the top of the shaft, the vertical shaft that we’ve established was 1,631 feet deep, containing, at that time, about twenty feet of water in its base, below the lowest stope, correct?”

“Yes, Sir. Before they pumped that water to get to em.”

“By ‘them’ you mean the bodies of your dead companions?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Ok, you were being hoisted at over 900 feet per minute by an operator working alone on the surface-near the top of the shaft, when the platform began to slip and jump. Is that your testimony?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“That must have been terrifying.”

“Yes, Sir, it was. We’d come off a tenner too.”

“A ten-hour shift?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Darrow rounded on the jury, throwing the next question over his shoulder. “Oh, but Sir, how could it have been a ten-hour work day when the eight-hour day is now the law of this state?”

The defense lawyer’s chair squeaked as he stood. “Objection, Your Honor.”

“I’ll allow it,” barked the judge, adding, “But gentlemen …”

The witness shook his head. “The Stratton is a non-union, gold ore mine. Supposed to be non-union anyway. Superintendent said owners weren’t obliged to that socialist law.”

“Hearsay, Your-”

“Keep your seat, Counsel. You’re going to wear this jury thin.” Darrow stepped closer to the witness.

“Mr. Bullock, as I said, let’s steer clear from what you heard others say. The facts speak for themselves: you and your friends were compelled to work an illegal ten-hour shift. Let’s continue. You were near the top, but unable to get off the contraption, and it began to-”

“Yes. We’d gone shooting up, then he stopped it for a second.”

“”By ‘he,’ you mean the lift operator?”

“Yes, Sir. He stopped it but then it must have gotten beyond his control, cause we dropped sixty, seventy feet all the sudden. We were going quick. We said to each other we’re all gone. Then he raised us about ten feet and stopped us. But then, it started again, and this time it was going fast up and we went into the sheave wheel as fast as we could go.”

“To be sure we all follow, Mr. Bullock, the lift is the sole apparatus that hoisted you from the Stratton Mine, where you work?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And the sheave wheel is the giant wheel above the surface, driven by a large, thirty-year-old steam engine, run by an operator. That sheave wheel coils in the cable”he pantomimed the motion-“pulling up the 1,500-pound-load platform, or lift, carrying its limit of nine men. And it coils out the cable when the lift is lowered. But that day the lift carried sixteen men-you and fifteen others. Probably over 3,000 pounds. Twice its load limit. Correct?”

“Yes, Sir. But, to be clear, I ain’t at the Stratton no more.”

“No?” asked Darrow, pleased the man had bit the lure.

“No. Seeing how I was one of Cappy’s men. Federation. And, now ’cause this.” His voice faded.

Darrow frowned, walked a few paces toward the jury, clapped once and rubbed his hands together. “The mine owners, a thousand miles away, won’t let you work because you’re here-a member of the Western Federation of Miners, a union man giving his honest testimony. Is that right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Again, the defense counsel came to his feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Darrow knows Mr. Bullock’s discharge wasn’t-”

The judge raised a hand, took a deep breath and cocked his head toward the seasoned attorney before him. “Swift to your point, Mr. Darrow.”

“Yes, Your Honor.” Darrow’s blue eyes returned to the witness. “Mr. Bullock, you were telling us about the sheave wheel.”

“Yes. It’s a big thing up there, out over the top of the shaft. You see it on your way up. We all think on it-if we was to not stop and slam right up into it-which we did that day. We all knew it’d happen. I crouched to save myself from the hard blow I knew was coming. I seen a piece of timber about one foot wide there underside the sheave, and soon as we rammed, I grabbed hold and held myself up there, and pretty soon the cage dropped from below me, and I began to holler for a ladder to get down.”

“Must have been distressing, up there, holding fast to a timber, dangling 1,631 feet over an open shaft, watching your fifteen brothers fall.”

Bullock choked back tears. “Yes, Sir. That’s what I saw.” He paused. When he resumed, his tone was empty, as if the voice of his shadow. “I heard em. Heard em go. They was screaming. They knew their end had come. I heard em till I heard em no more.”

Excerpt from American Red by David Marlett. Copyright 2019 by David Marlett. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

 

 

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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!


Sep 042018
 

THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER by Peter Murphy
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Number of Pages: 224
ISBN: 1611882575 (ISBN13: 9781611882575)
Review Copy from: The Story Plant
Edition: eBook
My Rating: 5

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.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW

5 stars

Gloria, the 82 year old matriarch, has invited her entire family to her cottage, her son Jake, former daughter-in-law, how has been divorced from Jake for 25 years, their 3 children with significant others and 4 great-grandchildren. The family believes this get together is for Gloria to announce that she may be dying. Someone is dying, but who?

The entire family have secrets and resentments of years past. Can this weekend bring closure? Can those with so much hurt and bitterness forgive not only the other in the family but also take stock of their own shortcomings?

This was such a compelling and impassioned read with a message! The characters believable and fully developed. The writing style allowed this reader to feel that I was a bystander. Will tug on your heart strings!

One quote that I thought was poignant was:
It is so easy to rationalize our own mistakes and just as easy to make too big a deal of the mistakes of others.

Not only do I recommend this as a summer read, I highly recommend it for the message.

Definitely 5 stars!

**Stop by Thursday for an interview with Peter Murphy**

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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.
  • 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.
  • I do not have any affiliation with Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. I am providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasin
  • 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 182018
     

    THE SUPER LADIES by Susan Petrone
    Genre: Women’s Fiction
    Published by: The Story Plant
    Publication Date: August 14th 2018 by Story Plant
    Number of Pages: 320
    ISBN: 1611882583
    ISBN13: 9781611882582Review Copy from: The Story Plant
    Edition: Kindle
    My Rating: 5

    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.

    My Thoughts

    Margie, Katherine, and Abra, three 47 year old friends, living a relatively normal life, until Margie’s daughter’s science project goes wrong, and changing their lives in a dramatic way when they realize they now have super powers. After many discussions between them, they agree to use these abilities for positive situations.

    This is the first book that I have read by this author, but seeing that I read this book in one sitting, it surely won’t be the last.

    At times, a fun read but also thought provoking. How many times, does one wish they actually did have a super power? I know I have.

    The characters relatable, the descriptions elicited vivid imagery and the writing fluid. A delightful and entertaining book with an amusing storyline. Thoroughly enjoyed this read in it’s entirety!! Highly endorse picking up a copy!

    Without giving away any spoilers, if I had the choice to choose one of the ladies’ powers, it would be Katherine’s, aka Indestruca. but to find out what that power is, you will need to read this book.

    **Stop by tomorrow for Q&A with Susan Petrone**

    Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

    Giveaway:

    This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for The Story Plant. There will be 5 winners of one (1) PB copy of THROW LIKE A WOMAN by Susan Petrone. The giveaway begins on August 13, 2018 and runs through October 13, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

    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 providing link(s) solely for visitors that may be interested in purchasing this Book/EBook.