Book Review: Runaway Train by Lee Matthew Goldberg @LeeMatthewG @WiseWolfBooks @YABoundToursPR

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Book Tour! 

Runaway Train
(Runaway Train #1)
by: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Release Date: April 29, 2021
Genre: YA

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // The Book Depository // Amazon
Books-A-Million // Alibris // Indiebound

At turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and
laugh out loud funny, Runaway Train is a wild journey of a bygone era and a
portrait of a one-of-a-kind teenage girl trying to find herself again the only
way she knows how.

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Runaway Train
Runaway Train #1
Lee Matthew Goldberg
Wise Wolf Books, April 2021
ISBN 978-1953944030
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

They told me I was an out-of-control train about to crash…

Everything changed when the police officer knocked on the door to tell me – a 16-year-old – that my older sister Kristen had died of a brain aneurysm. Cue the start of my parents neglecting me and my whole life spiraling out of control.

I decided now was the perfect time to skip town. It’s the early 90’s, Kurt Cobain runs the grunge music scene and I just experienced some serious trauma. What’s a girl supposed to do? I didn’t want to end up like Kristen, so I grabbed my bucket list, turned up my mixtape of the greatest 90’s hits and fled L.A.. The goal was to end up at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, but I never could have guessed what would happen along the way.

The 90’s are not my era, not by a long shot, but I think every teen at one time or another, has wanted to take that magic road trip that lets us escape from the hard days of life. Do you remember? My low point came in the 60’s when my best friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor but, being raised during the Leave It to Beaver generation, such was not really an option for the likes of me. A girl heading out alone like that would have garnered heavy frowns at the very least. All of which is to say I kind of envy Nico and her “throw caution to the winds” attitude.

What I don’t envy is the way Nico is treated by her own parents after Kristen’s sudden death. We’ve seen it before, the parents who are obsessed with the golden child who’s gone and who seem to forget that there’s another child (or more), one who is hurting just as badly as they are. No wonder she runs.

Nico’s journey does satisfy some of her most pressing needs but it’s no joyful lark and we’re given a raw look into this girl’s mental and emotional pain, not to mention how it all can be so exacerbated by substance abuse and the latter is even more poignant considering what eventually happened to her idol, Kurt Cobain. This story is tragic and filled with grief but there’s also a sense of redemption and, although I found it difficult to read at times, It’s a worthwhile coming of age tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2021.

About the Author

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway! 

Grand Prize: Signed paperback copy
of Runaway Train! (US only)

Enter here.

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Waiting On Wednesday (157) @darcyauthor @PPPress

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that
spotlights upcoming releases that I’m really
looking forward to. Waiting On Wednesday
is the creation of Jill at Breaking the Spine.
This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Whispering Dead
Gravekeeper #1
Darcy Coates
Poisoned Pen Press, May 2021
Mystery, Horror, Supernatural

From the publisher—

Homeless, hunted, and desperate to escape a bitter storm, Keira takes refuge in an abandoned groundskeeper’s cottage. Her new home is tucked away at the edge of a cemetery, surrounded on all sides by gravestones: some recent, some hundreds of years old, all suffering from neglect.

And in the darkness, she can hear the unquiet dead whispering.

The cemetery is alive with faint, spectral shapes, led by a woman who died before her time…and Keira, the only person who can see her, has become her new target. Determined to help put the ghost to rest, Keira digs into the spirit’s past life with the help of unlikely new friends, and discovers a history of deception, ill-fated love, and murder.

But the past is not as simple as it seems, and Keira’s time is running out. Tangled in a dangerous web, she has to find a way to free the spirit…even if it means offering her own life in return.

Why am I waiting so eagerly? Well, for one thing, I’m curious to see how this book plays out because I’m not accustomed to seeing mysteries this creepy (apparently) from Poisoned Pen Press, a favorite publisher for many years. I don’t often seek out supernatural crime fiction but something about this description is calling my name and, besides, I’m in the mood for something a little different from my usual fare. Also, I love the title 😄

Book Review: Blood of the Dragonfly by Hawk MacKinney @iReadBookTours

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Title: Blood of the Dragonfly
Series: The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series, Book V
Author: Hawk MacKinney
Publisher: Sage Words Publishing
Publication Date: February 17, 2021

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Purchase Links:
Books-A-Million // Amazon
The Book Depository // Indiebound

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Blood of the Dragonfly
The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series, Book V
Hawk MacKinney
Sage Words Publishing, February 2021
ISBN 978-1732918269
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

While dangling a fishing hook from his flat bottom skiff before dawn, former SEAL-turned-PI Craige Ingram spots grey-black smoke coiling above the treetops across the river in the direction of the Georgia bayous and Corpsewood Manor. Bayou or bogs, fire in the uncut cypress and pines bodes a sense that the river is no barrier to the fire that threatens his ancestral home, Moccasin Hollow. Neither are the bodies later found in the burned mansion of Corpsewood Manor. Craige wastes no time in helping his ex-SEAL buddy Lt. Graysen MacGerald who is now Head of Buckingham Homicide Investigations by unofficially investigating the bodies and an exquisite dragonfly brooch found in the mansion with a reputation for evil, hauntings, and mystery.

The combination of a private investigator with a police detective has appealed to me for a long time and I’m always happy to find a new duo. Craige Ingram and Lt. Graysen MacGerald aren’t really new since this is the fifth series novel but they’re new to me and, going into this story, I was even more pleased to see that these two men were former SEALs. There’s something about SEALs that appeals to me, probably the thought that their extensive training and self discipline make them uniquely qualified for their chosen post-Navy careers (and I think the same can be said of their counterparts in other military branches like Rangers and Green Berets).

To my delight, Craige and Gray turned out to be just as compelling as I anticipated and it’s clear that Mr. MacKinney knows how to craft and develop strong, intelligent characters who, whatever their advantages, are also very normal; they’re people who certainly have more than a bit of baggage but have learned to cope and move on. I liked them a lot and wouldn’t mind having them on my side. Craige is the actual star of the show but I hope the sense of equal status that I got from them in this book holds true in other volumes because they’re so well-tuned and have such trust in each other.

They need those qualities as they work, in tandem and each in his own arena, to find the answers to a lot of questions in this case, a case that’s full of twists and turns that kept me guessing almost to the very end. At first, the threads are seemingly unrelated but, before long, they’re so interwoven only thoughtful instincts and intuitive detecting can bring it all together. To say I was well satisfied is putting it mildly and I’m looking forward to reading the four previous books.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2021.

About the Author

Hawk MacKinney began writing mysteries for his school newspaper, served in the US Navy for over 20 years, earned two postgraduate degrees with studies in languages and history, taught postgraduate courses in the United States and Jerusalem, authored professional articles and chordate embryology texts on fetal and adult anatomy, and is well known for his works of fiction. Moccasin Trace, a historical novel, was nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award. Both his CAIRNS OF SANCTUARIE science fiction series and the MOCCASIN HOLLOW MYSTERY series have received worldwide recognition.

Connect with the Author:   Website  

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Win a $25 Amazon gift card courtesy
of Hawk MacKinney, author of
Blood of the Dragonfly

Enter here.

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Book Review: The Kommandant’s Girl by Pam Jenoff @PamJenoff @parkrowbooks

The Kommandant’s Girl
Pam Jenoff
Park Row Books, December 2018
ISBN 978-0-7783-0879-9
Trade Paperback

Pam Jenoff is a wonderful writer. Here she tackles a serious, emotionally dangerous deep penetration into relationships that occurred during world events which continue to haunt and influence our lives.

Three weeks after her marriage to Jacob, Emma Bau, nineteen, watches German tanks and troop carriers roll into her Polish town. Through a series of circumstances she goes to live in Krakow with a Catholic woman and must conceal her Jewish roots. Soon, the Polish resistance pressures her to take advantage of her circumstances to work for the local Gestapo office, headed by a handsome, young Nazi. They become a couple.

The questions raised thus get to some of the fundamental beliefs and attitudes we have about that period. Were there good Germans in that service who tried their best to mitigate the policies of the German occupying forces? Did anyone on the other side ever show compassion or should they all have been irrevocably condemned? Was every member of the Polish resistance a “good guy—or woman”?

The author plumbs some of these questions while offering a thoughtful, careful and in-depth novel. Its scenes move rapidly through the countryside, the characters are deeply and well-conceived, the rollercoaster of danger ridden by the characters is often mesmerizing. Read this satisfying novel and if you enjoy it as much as I suspect you will, find other excellent novels from this author.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: He Started It by Samantha Downing @smariedowning @BerkleyPub

He Started It
Samantha Downing
Berkley, April 2021
ISBN 978-0-451-49176-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

From the twisted mind behind mega hit My Lovely Wife comes the story of a family—not unlike your own—just with a few more violent tendencies thrown in….

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

Road trip! Those two words have differing connotations to many people but, to most of us, road trips from our past bring good memories, memories we like to savor. For me, they represent family vacations and occasional outings with college friends. There were also a few day trips with my best friend, sort of a high school Thelma and Louise kind of a thing…but without the cliff 😂

Such pleasant meanings don’t hold true for Beth, Portia and Eddie, though, as they’ve been coerced to take this particular road trip by greed and a demand from their deceased grandfather that they recreate a trek from years before. Trouble is, that long-ago journey wasn’t the nicest thing that ever happened to those kids and dear old Grandpa was the guy behind some very creepy pit stops. Now, if they want his millions, they have to recreate it and scatter his ashes but there are rules that have to be followed.

And then the REAL creepiness begins.

There are stories full of dark family secrets but Ms. Downing takes He Started It to a new level and I couldn’t help feeling truly sorry for the two spouses who had no idea what they were about to find out about the siblings and, of course, none of them could have expected the new craziness that was coming. I found myself enthralled with characters that I didn’t even like and had to keep reading to see what levels of awfulness they’d reach next. “Entertaining” is almost too mild a word to be used for this and, yet, it kind of fits if you’re entertained, as I am, by weirdly harrowing tales. If I have any quibbles at all, it’s because there’s more telling than showing here and that lessens the effect a bit, but I still recommend He Started It.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2021.

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“Wholly original. Scarily clever. Completely mesmerizing. You
will never look at family road trips the same way again.”
—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

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Credit Jacqueline Dallimore

Samantha Downing currently lives in New Orleans, where
she is furiously typing away on her next thrilling book.
Website // Facebook // Goodreads

Book Review: Complicit by Amy Rivers

Complicit
A Legacy of Silence Novel #1
Amy Rivers
Compathy Press, April 2021
ISBN 978-1-7345160-4-3
Trade Paperback

I had heard about this book and I was looking forward to reading it and expected to like it.  In Complicit we meet Kate Medina, a former prison forensic psychologist, who was doing work she loved until she was brutally attacked by a prisoner.  Battered and bruised she returned to her hometown of Alamogordo, NM and has been there for the past five years.  Those five years have been difficult – her mother died, her father is gravely ill, and she is estranged from her only sibling, a sister who moved to another state, does not stay in touch, and refuses to return to Alamogordo.  Kate is now a school psychologist – an ok job but not what she trained for and loved doing.  Add to that she has had to face Roman, her best friend when they were both teenagers.  The last time they saw each other before Kate left, they found a burned car on the beach with a body in it.  Unfortunately, Roman has never gotten over the fact that Kate went away to college without even a goodbye and never returned until five years ago and they have barely seen each other since her return.

Fast forward to present day and Kate is trying to work with a high school student who is hesitant to talk with her but who is clearly very troubled.  Shortly after trying to talk with that student, another student disappears and Roman who is now a detective with the town’s police force, visits Kate’s office to talk with her about the missing student.  Needless to say, it’s an awkward conversation both due to their history and Kate’s concern about her students’ confidentiality.

From there we begin to learn that something very frightening is happening to women and girls in this relatively small town and that a lot of people seem to know about it including, Kate eventually finds out, someone very close to her and it soon becomes clear to her that she is not safe in this town when she receives anonymous notes demanding she leave.

As I said, I was prepared to like this novel based on others’ opinions.  I wish I could say I liked it, but I didn’t.  I found it very uneven.  On the one hand, parts of it are interesting and move very quickly but other parts are drearily plodding.  The main characters are not fully realized and are two dimensional; the demeanor of each is generally angry and rigid with occasional glimpses of less hostile behavior.  I should also warn you that the story includes dialogue about brutal sexual assaults and abuse of girls and women.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, March 2021.

Book Blitz: CODE by Mary Ting @MaryTing @VesuvianMedia @XpressoTours

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Title: CODE
Series: International Sensory Assassin Network #4
Author: Mary Ting
Publisher: Vesuvian Books
Publication Date: April 20, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon

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About the Book

Behind enemy lines, new soldiers will emerge, and unexpected heroes will rise.

Ava is a prisoner. And she is not the only rebel held hostage at ISAN’s secret
compound. As she plans an escape, the lives of the rebel prisoners are
in her hands, along with those she thought were dead.

Rhett and his team desperately search for Ava while one of the Remnant Council
joins forces with another network looking for the creator of the Helix serum. And
time is running out. Mr. Novak has been secretly creating an army called CODE,
and what he plans for Ava will mean a permanent end to the rebels–and her.

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An Excerpt from CODE

I should have landed on him, but instead I dropped to the floor on my hands and knees like a wounded deer. An electrical sensation zapped through my middle and wrapped around me like invisible arms, holding me in place. Hundreds of needles pricked me all at once.

Excruciating pain seared from head to toe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even blink. I had been wounded many times on missions, but nothing I’d felt in ISAN compared to what had just hit me.

Immobile, a foot from my monster of a brother, I’d never felt so vulnerable. My muscles simply shut down. A whimper escaped me, but it could have been only in my head. Worse, a tear slid down my cheek. I felt humiliated beyond measure.

“Aw, sis. Are you crying? Does it hurt?” Gene took his hand out of his pocket and showed me a metal trinket, a circle about the size of his thumb.

“I thought it was best to have it handy in case you lost control.” He came dangerously closer and lowered, his warm breath brushing the shell of my ear. “Now you know, sis. I can contain you. You might want to show me some respect if you don’t want to be on the ground, helpless and weak. I might accidentally hurt you. We don’t want that do we?”

Oh, the pain. Every tiny movement—every blink—hurt so much.

He ran a knuckle down my cheek to wipe away another teardrop, and then grazed his index finger slowly across my neck, savoring my weakness.

“Next time it won’t be so soft,” he said. “You should get some rest. You look like hell.”

I screamed in my head. Peering up under my eyelashes, I watched him walk toward the sliding door. I wanted to rip out his throat, stomp on his heart, but I couldn’t move. Even a fraction of movement felt like a knife slitting deeper into my spine.

I couldn’t win. At least not this time. But I would find a way. There had to be a way.

Gene’s back to me, he held up that metal circle trinket and clicked. Just as the door blended into the wall, he released me. I thumped my head on the tile floor and wept for Brooke and the rebels who had died because of my stupid mistake.

Groaning, I crawled like a worm, my knees and elbows digging across to get to the rug, each movement agony. I refused to lie on the cold ground like I was nothing.

I’d never felt so small. No—I had, when my foster father beat me. Where was he now? Locked up. That would be Gene’s fate, too.

Just you wait, big brother. Just you wait. Karma is a bitch.

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About the Author

International Bestselling, Award-Winning Author Mary Ting writes soulful, spellbinding stories that excite the imagination and captivate readers all over the world. Her books run a wide range of genres: science fiction, fantasy, and swoon worthy stories. Her storytelling talents have won her a devoted legion of fans and garnered critical praise.

Mary was born in Seoul Korea and resides in Southern California with her husband, two children, and two dogs—Mochi and Mocha. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Becoming an author was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, she retired from teaching after twenty years.

Website / Facebook Page / Facebook Group / Twitter
Instagram / Newsletter / Bookbub

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