Book Review: The Super Ladies by Susan Petrone

The Super Ladies
Susan Petrone
The story Plant, August 2018
ISBN 978-1-61188-258-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

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.

Life for suburban moms Margie, Katherine and Abra is just what you might expect as they hit their late 40’s. Children will be going off to college soon, marital bliss is waning, and bodies are slowing down. One day to the next has become routine over the years and menopause is on the horizon. Life, in other words, has lost the excitement of their earlier years.

Then, in a strange turn of events, the three ladies suddenly find they have acquired certain strengths, superpowers if you will, after an accident involving tofu and a Bunsen burner. Thing is, these are no “normal” superpowers and the ladies have to figure out what to do with them and how to keep it all secret. Still, it’s fun to be able to do special things and helping other people is a blast.

The Super Ladies is a treat and so are the ladies themselves, now living their own special adventure. Humor and the usual superheroes air of fun and action make this a really appealing and unique story. Best of all is Ms. Petrone’s focus on middle-aged women instead of a thirty-something gorgeous woman and I hope we’ll see more of the super ladies.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2018.

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

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An Excerpt from The Super Ladies

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.

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About the Author

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 // Twitter
Facebook // Goodreads

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: I Laughed When I Wrote It by Alan Zoldan

I Laughed When I Wrote It
518 Of My Funniest Tweets
Alan Zoldan
SynergEbooks, April 2018
ISBN: 978-0-744-32379-5
Trade Paperback

If ever there was a more important time to read this book by Alan Zoldan, I don’t know, nor can I imagine, when it was/could be!

I can only speak for myself of course, but if I ever needed the laughs that this book provides, it is now!  At a time when reading the morning newspapers, or watching the news on tv, was more depressing than it is now, I can’t imagine when that time was!  Mr. Zoldan has, in providing us with “518 of [his] Funniest Tweets,” given us just the break from today’s reality that we [although again I can only speak for myself] need desperately!  The author wrote the book after 7 years and 895 tweets, and his selection is excellent!

I guess the only way I can back this up, and illustrate the author’s sense of humor, is to give you a few examples. The sections are headed Laughing at Myself, Cultural Quips, Random Observation, One Liners, and Rated “R” for Raunchy, which starts off with a line from Woody Allen:  “Don’t knock masturbation.  It’s sex with someone you love.”  Some of the other things included in this section:  “My wife and I were happy for 22 years – and then we met;”  “I really don’t believe in meaningless sex.  I mean, at the very least, it means that you’ve had sex;” “Just once I’d like to relapse at a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting;” …Protected sex is way too expensive.  Not everyone can afford a bodyguard you know;” . . .  “I never got into Twitter for the fame, money,or sex – which, as things are turning out, is just as well.”   Among the one-liners:  “After all is said and done, there is usually much more said than done . . . The results of my friend’s IQ test were negative . . . My wife keeps complaining I never listen to her . . . or something like that . . . If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong . . . Change is inevitable – – except from a vending machine .. . The last thing I want to do is hurt you.  But it’s still on my list . . . I think someone stopped the payment on my reality check . . .  Is there another word for synonym?”  I’ll stop the quotes now, because I’m sure you’ve already decided to go out and buy the book – good thinking!

As per the notes that the publisher has included at the end of the book, headed “About the Author,” the latter “believes that this is the book America needs at this time.”  Truer words were never written!  Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2018.

Spotlight on Lone Wolf in Jerusalem by Ehud Diskin—and a Giveaway!

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Title: Lone Wolf in Jerusalem
Author: Ehud Diskin
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction

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

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Synopsis

Set primarily in post-WWII Israel, Lone Wolf in Jerusalem is a
suspenseful, action-packed novel that is a worthy contribution to
Jewish historical fiction. Using drama, adventure, and romance,
Diskin has created a colorful and captivating story that entertains
and educates through the exploits of main protagonist, David Gabinsky.

During the war, after losing his family to Hitler’s ”final solution,” young
David leads a courageous group of Jewish resistance fighters against
the Nazis. When Germany is defeated, he journeys to Jerusalem, to find
a new battle brewing. British occupation forces are entrenched in Israel,
blocking Holocaust survivors from immigrating to their Jewish homeland.

Determined to help his people find freedom, David uses his guerilla skills
to single-handedly wreak havoc on the British. As he begins his dangerous
quest, David meets and falls in love with the beautiful Shoshana, a young
Holocaust survivor whose spirit may have been damaged beyond repair.

Recounting the tragic losses and heroic triumphs of the Jewish people during
this critical stage in their history, Lone Wolf in Jerusalem brings these events to
life in a new and inspirational way, making them accessible to a new generation.
Originally written in Hebrew, this book quickly became a best seller in Israel.

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An Excerpt from Lone Wolf in Jerusalem

Chapter 1

“Kill the one who comes to kill you” (from the Talmud, tractate Sanhedrin, 3rd–5th century)

Sergeant John Perry wrapped Sarah tightly in his arms once more, pressing his body to hers. The last thing he wanted this early in the morning was to relinquish the warmth of her embrace and step into the wintry darkness of Jerusalem. Had he known someone was lurking downstairs, waiting anxiously to snuff out his life, he surely would have stayed in bed.

He reluctantly shrugged off the blanket and fumbled through the dark room for his clothes. After dressing, he put on his coat and then paused to touch the cold Webley .38 revolver heavy in his pocket, loaded and ready.

“John? You’re leaving already?” Sarah whispered in a voice hoarse with sleep.

“I have to report to my post within the hour,” he replied. “I’ll see you again next Tuesday night.”

It was February 1946 in the Land of Israel, or Mandatory Palestine as it was called at the time. The League of Nations 2  had granted Britain control over the historic Jewish homeland in the wake of the First World War. But Jerusalem was hardly a safe place for the British soldiers and police stationed in the ancient city, as their regime was frequently attacked by Jewish underground organizations. The darkness of night brought even more danger, especially in the quiet corners of the city.

I waited downstairs in the exposed stairwell, wincing from the sting of the icy wind blowing in from the street, reminding myself that life isn’t always fair. While Perry was feeling the soft curves of a woman against his body in the apartment above, I stood shivering and alone. But soon he would lie eternally cold, I thought, taking grim comfort in the fact. My plan to send Perry to the gates of Hell did nothing to warm my own body, but it did warm my soul.

Killing has never been my first choice, and I only resorted to it when I didn’t see any other choice. Perry was one of those cases. An agent in the CID, the intelligence unit for the British Mandate, he identified Jewish underground activists for arrest or assassination by the British army. He was in his late twenties, in excellent physical condition, talented, with a sharp mind—a real thorn in the side of the Jewish underground. It was essential to get rid of this guy for good. The rule of survival says, “Kill the one who comes to kill you.”

I planned to strangle him. I’d have preferred to use a gun, as I often had against the German soldiers I once fought as a partisan. But shooting him would wake the neighbors, not to mention leave unmistakable evidence that he’d been assassinated. By strangling him, there would be an outside chance that a British investigator would rule his death a robbery gone wrong.

I heard Perry shut the door on the floor above and then his heavy footfalls on the stairs. I hid in the dark alcove at the entrance to the stairwell, having already knocked out the overhead light to conceal myself. When Perry passed me, I leaped at him from behind, gripping his neck between my two forearms and pulling him back at the same time. He resisted, kicking his legs wildly as he tried to keep his feet on the ground.

I tightened my grip on his neck, using all my strength to drag him backward. Finally, the gasping stopped, and his body fell limp. I let go, and Perry slumped to the floor. Kneeling beside him, I checked his pulse—he was gone.

I quickly rifled through his pockets and was pleased to find his Webley, which I would add to my growing collection of weapons that I accumulated in the last five months, since I came to the Land of Israel. To create the illusion of a botched robbery, I slipped the money from his wallet into my pocket.

I didn’t want to leave any traces around the building, so after checking to make sure the coast was clear, I hoisted Perry’s body onto my shoulders and carried him to a nearby street, where I dumped him in one of the courtyards. With dawn about to break, I hurried back to my place on Zephaniah Street, not far away.

My apartment was a single room at the back of a one-story building. I silently opened the gate to the yard and followed the path to my private entrance in the rear. Before heading inside, I stopped in the backyard, which was enclosed by a fence of large stones. This part of the yard was visible only from my room. Crouching behind an apricot tree, I removed a large, loose stone from the fence to retrieve the locked metal box I kept in the hollow behind it. I placed the Webley inside. My arsenal of weapons and ammunition had become quite impressive.

Back in my apartment, I undressed and headed straight for the bathroom. A hot shower would have been welcome, but that required lighting a fire under the boiler and waiting for the water to heat. Instead, I stepped straight under the flow from the showerhead. It was a true Jerusalem winter, and the water was ice cold, but I had grown used to bathing outdoors in the Belarusian winters as a partisan and wasn’t going to let a little icy water trouble me. All I wanted was to wash away the last traces of that lowlife Brit as quickly as possible.

Afterward, I lay in bed but couldn’t fall asleep. My mind wandered back across the past five years, since the Nazis had invaded my home in Belarus in Eastern Europe. I tried to recall the faces of my mother, my father, my older brother and sister, all dead and gone, like most of the hundred thousand Jews who had lived in our now-destroyed community in Minsk.

As I stared at the ceiling, I tried to remember how I’d been back then—a sentimental seventeen-year-old boy who couldn’t bear the sight of a chicken being slaughtered. How could acts of war come so easily to me now? But necessity can drive men to do unfathomable things. As I witnessed the unspeakable evils the Nazis had unleashed on my people, on my family, it had hardened my spirit. In the face of such devastation against the entire Jewish race, how could I not commit myself to doing everything in my power to create a safe and secure home for the Jewish people and for myself?

Of course, the British were not the Nazis, but they had taken control of our ancestral homeland and enacted policies to explicitly limit Jewish immigration. Their navy was blocking Israeli shores, stopping boats full of Jewish immigrants, most of whom were concentration camp survivors; then they were sending those survivors right back to camps in Cyprus or, even worse, in Germany.

We had no choice but to fight the British for a homeland where we could live free, and I knew I must use the skills I acquired fighting the Nazis in the forests of Belarus to accomplish that. I wouldn’t stop until an independent state for the Jewish people in our ancient homeland became ours again.

Copyright © 2018 Ehud Diskin. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

Ehud Diskin was born in Jerusalem. He served as an officer in combat roles during Israel’s wars, as detailed in his memoir, YES, IT’S POSSIBLE, and ended his military career with the rank of colonel. After attending the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he earned a PhD in business management and became the director of the LIBI fund, collecting contributions from all over the world to provide support for the education of soldiers. Later, he left the public sector and became a businessman, establishing several successful enterprises in the United States. Find out more at lonewolfinjerusalem.com, Twitter and Facebook .

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To enter the drawing for a print
copy of Lone Wolf in Jerusalem by
Ehud Diskin,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn
Monday evening,
August 20th. This
drawing is open
to residents of the US.

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“In addition to the suspense and the romanticism of the story,
Lone Wolf in Jerusalem brings forth the accurate history of the
time period before the state of Israel was established. Readers
will learn about the struggle for a Jewish State.”- Nathan Sharansky, 
human rights activist and author who spent nine years in Soviet prisons

Book Review: Baby’s First Felony by John Straley

Baby’s First Felony
A Cecil Younger Investigation #7
John Straley
Soho Crime, July 2018
ISBN 978-1-61695-878-7
Hardcover

Baby’s First Felony brings back Cecil Younger and the wonderful setting of Sitka, Alaska.  Before even starting the book, I would strongly urge readers to turn to the end and read through the A Guide to Avoiding a Life in Crime. The rules as outlined are referenced frequently, so you might want to keep a book mark there as well.

Cecil is called to the jail to arrange bail for a client who asks that he go pick up a box containing things that will prove her innocence which she left with friends. Two things about this cause Cecil angst. First, the box contains money. Lots of money. And secondly the place she left the box is the house where a friend of Cecil’s daughter’s friend is now living and a place that his daughter Blossom has run off to when her mother gets on her nerves. But that is just the beginning of Cecil’s problems. There are drugs, a kidnapping and a murder to contend with causing Cecil to break nearly every one of his rules as outlined in the book.

Along with the criminal plot is an interesting side story involving the use of humor as therapy for autism leading the book to be packed with jokes as told by Todd, the sort of adopted son of Cecil. Some of these are really pretty funny. There is a very brief note at the end of the book lending credence to this as a real therapy. This also brings in the very real issue of who has a right to post someone’s comments on line.

It has been a very long time since the last of the Cecil Younger book was published so it was especially fun to catch up with Cecil and life in Sitka, Alaska.  Perhaps an odd benefit of the long delay in bringing Cecil back to print is that it gives readers new to the series a chance to jump in as Baby’s First Felony does not rely on past plots and Straley does an excellent job of giving readers what little back story is necessary. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more Cecil very soon.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Caryn St. Clair, July 2018.

Excerpt and Spotlight on Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison—and a Giveaway!

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Title: Tear Me Apart
Author: J.T. Ellison
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-A-Million
Amazon // Indiebound

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Synopsis

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed Lie to Me, J.T. Ellison’s
Tear Me Apart is the powerful story of a mother willing to do
anything to protect her daughter even as their carefully
constructed world unravels around them.

One moment will change their lives forever…

Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until
a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career
but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering
from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her
only hope. But when her parents are tested, a
frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.

Who knows the answers?

The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she
accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister
at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone
is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.

With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the
impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the
secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.

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An Excerpt from Tear Me Apart

Not for the first time, Mindy wishes her mom had ridden up the mountain in the gondola with her. She can imagine her perfectly: starkly beautiful, not speaking, her mouth tight, her blond hair mussed and sticking out from under her red snowflake hat, holding her daughter’s gloved hand tightly. It isn’t allowed, but it would be nice. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t. Mindy sometimes wonders if her mom is more nervous than she is when it comes to the final run. She wouldn’t want that negative energy seeping into her psyche.

Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.

Finally, the official signals. It’s time. She slaps her skis against the ice again. Tight, a little grainy, and she can barely see the track now because the snow is coming down so hard. But she knows it’s there, a long, invisible line flowing out from the tips of her skis downward. Without another thought, she leans forward, into the mountain, feels the hard bar across her shins. Sets her poles again. Takes a deep breath. Her coach’s voice now. Visualize it. Visualize winning.

The beep sounds, three times, and at the last she’s off, bursting out of the gate, poling hard, gaining speed quickly. She slices through the first turn, a hard bank left, her downhill edge rattling against the ice. It feels good, so good, and she tucks her poles against her body and lets the skis take her through the first flat. The skies do clear; she can finally see the blue lanes of the race course. Into the second turn, she starts gaining speed, feels the total thrill when she accelerates to eighty-five, ninety, ninety-five miles per hour. She is a rocket, a cheetah, the fastest girl on earth.

Left, right, left, right, poles stuck to her body, over the jump, airborne, arms windmilling slightly, but she stays tucked perfectly, totally in control. She has it; she has it, she is flying down the slopes. She can hear the screams and cheers as she flies past. She knows with the assurance of years of skiing that she is in the zone, is going faster than she ever has. All the hard work, the ski camps, the weight training, it is all coming together.

Left. Right. Left. Tuck.

The burst of swirling snow comes from nowhere. It catches her full in the face just as she makes the last gate. Her skis slip out of the ruts. The tip of her left ski hits the plastic guard of the flag, and she is in midair, flying for real this time.

Everything is silent. She doesn’t hear the gasps, the screams, just focuses on relaxing, like she’s always been taught. Though she is airborne, if she isn’t too far off, she can still make it if she keeps her tuck, lands correctly, gets the damn right ski down, and makes the next turn… The flag slaps her in the face, and she goes down in a flurry of skis and poles and snow.

She doesn’t know how long she lies there before she registers she has crashed. Her champion’s body resists the idea, continues to make the turns, her torso writhing in the snow.

The snow is cold.

My face hurts.

My leg hurts.

Her eyes are closed. She opens them to whiteness. I’m blind, oh my God, then realizes her face is freezing. She is facedown. She plants her arms in the snow and tries to rise. The pain in her leg is white-hot, and she cries out. Seconds later, she is surrounded. Ski patrols, red jackets, white crosses. The first touch is from a woman, her face deeply tanned, her goggles opaque.

“Your leg’s broken, sweetie, try not to move. I know it’s cold. Hang tight. We’ll get you splinted and get you on the sled.”

“My leg? It’s broken? How do you know? Did I make it all the way down?”

“Tough girl, you didn’t. You tagged that last flag, and it knocked you upside down. You did a backflip, came down hard. You’ve been out for a few minutes. Pretty spectacular crash. And your leg…trust me, honey, it’s broken. No, no, don’t look.”

Mindy ignores the admonition, wishes she hadn’t. There is a large jag of white sticking out of her shin. Her blood looks like rubies against the icy slush. She fights back the urge to scream. “But my time…if I don’t finish, I’m DQd from the event. I have to get down. You’ve gotta let me up.”

The patrol’s voice is sympathetic. “You’re out of it, now, sweetie, I’m sorry. Maybe you have enough points to qualify from your other races. But you can’t go anywhere, this leg’s pretty gnarly. Okay, here’s the splint, hang tight, this is going to hurt like a bitch.”

Mindy grits her teeth as they start pumping up the air cast. Fights back the tears, focuses on the voice that keeps saying, you didn’t make it, you didn’t make it. She stops fighting, tries to relax as they lift her into the sled and start down the remainder of the mountain. She tries to be a good sport about it, as she’s been taught, raises a fist toward the worried faces, and the crowd goes absolutely wild, cheering for their girl, but inside she is wailing.

She wanted this so badly. It’s all she’s ever wanted. And she’s blown it.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J.T. Ellison writes standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series, the latter starring Nashville Homicide Lt. Taylor Jackson and medical examiner Dr. Samantha Owens, and pens the international thriller series “A Brit in the FBI” with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. Cohost of the Emmy Award-winning show, “A Word on Words”, Ellison lives in Nashville with her husband.

Connect with J. T.
Website // Facebook // Twitter

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Follow the tour here.

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To enter the drawing for a print
copy of Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn Friday evening,
August 17th. This drawing is
open
to residents of the US and Canada.

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Exposed in a Good Way

Returning guest blogger Sunny Frazier, whose first novel in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, Fools Rush In, received the Best Novel Award from Public Safety Writers Association, is here today to reminisce about a wonderful TV show, “Northern Exposure”.

The third Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery, A Snitch in Time, is in bookstores now.

sunny69@comcast.net   //  http://www.sunnyfrazier.com

Once upon a time there was a town in Alaska that didn’t exist. People in America wanted to believe it was real, clung every week to the characters who lived there and their quirks, plus a philosophical DJ who was the flawed moral center of the town. We followed the journey of a NYC doctor who wound up in the frozen North, unhappy with conditions and mystified with the mindsets.

Dr. Joel was finally won over, as were the viewing audience of “Northern Exposure”. The show premiered in 1990 as a summer filler and lasted five years. Its pedigree was solid, one of the producer’s past credits was “St. Elsewhere”. The NBC show rated #10 in viewers between 18-49 and won 27 awards. I think it was one of the most intelligent TV offerings we’ve ever been exposed to and nothing on today compares.

    

The premise is a tried and true fish-out-of-water story. Jewish New York doctor is assigned to work in isolated Cicely, Alaska, population 215. He’s sent there as per terms of his scholarship. He’s the only doctor within 500 miles. But there is Maggie, who flies a small airplane and believes she is cursed as each boyfriend dies in strange ways. Ed, an orphan raised by the Tlingit natives, is an auteur filmmaker. Maurice, a former astronaut and multi-millionaire, is determined to bring the town into the modern era. Holling is an old man who owns his bar, the Brick. He’s in love with Shelly, a girl one-third his age. Ruth-Ann owns the only grocery store in town. Holding all this together is DJ Chris-in-the-Morning and KBHR radio station, his weapon of choice. He dishes out philosophy along with tidbits of his life, a wide range of music, advice and local news. Everybody tunes in.

    

The backstory of the town of Cicely is this: over 100 years ago two lesbians wound up in the town when their automobile broke down. Cecily and Rosalyn stayed because it was good for Cecily’s health. They introduced poetry and art to the people. When Cecily died, Rosalyn moved on and left behind a place for creativity and acceptance.

The actors weren’t stars but a few would become known. John Corbett was the break-out as Chris Stevens, recently out of prison. He found enlightenment behind bars. Wanderlust led him to Cicely, where he became the voice of the town. From our TVs we listened to him paraphrase Jung and Nietzsche, praise Whitman and cite philosophers we’d never heard of. The incredible writing and references were never dumbed down for viewers. Corbett went on to “Sex and the City” playing Carrie’s carpenter boyfriend.

In the mid-90’s, my husband and I and my best girlfriend went to Rosalyn, WA, where “Northern Exposure” was filmed. It’s a real town, 80 miles east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. Population 893. Founded in 1886, the town survived on coal mining and timber. It’s now a historical site. They were filming that day, so we saw Joel and Maggie. All of the tourists were herded to an empty lot while Maurice drove his Cadillac repeatedly down the street for take after take. One of the tourists was selected to be an extra because he was wearing a plaid flannel shirt. We ate at Rosalyn’s Café and found a tiny gift shop. I bought a logo t-shirt.

The shirt is too small now. I’m thinking of sending it to my friend’s granddaughter. She won’t know the show but she might find it retro. Seniors my age will look at it and smile. Once upon a time, TV was graced with a smart, funny, philosophical little show that exposed us to so many important things in life.

Book Review: Echoes by Alice Reeds

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Title: Echoes
Author: Alice Reeds
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon
Indiebound // Entangled Publishing

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Echoes
Alice Reed
Entangled Teen, August 2018
ISBN 978-1-64063-247-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.

Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.

Something that won’t let them leave alive.

Well, my goodness. To say I was surprised by this book would be a mild understatement. I thought it sounded like it could be good—otherwise, I wouldn’t have signed on to review it for this blog tour—but this is better than good. This is the Young Adult thriller that might just convert some of those adult readers out there who think YA isn’t interesting enough or able to grab their attention.

The stakes are high from the very first page when Fiona is relating the abject fear setting in on Miles and herself as their plane begins to go down and the tension never really lets up from then till the end. Sure, there are some quiet moments, but here they are on an island, all alone with no idea where they are or if anyone knows the plane crashed. Survival has to come first but little hints here and there pull them hither and yon as to what’s real and what isn’t, all while these two teens who really don’t like each other have to learn to get along. If they don’t, the consequences could be deadly.

Or might the truth be something else entirely? An alternate timeline weaves in and out and we don’t know any more than Fiona and Miles do. That, my friends, is a perfect setup to mess with your minds as well as theirs and I promise you’ll be scratching your head the whole time.

Fiona and Miles are not my favorite characters ever and, truthfully, there are flaws in this story plus I could do without some of the teen angst, but I truly do think this is a tale worth a few hours of a reader’s time. Fair warning, though—you won’t get all the answers you want and I, for one, am certainly hoping a sequel is in the works 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2018.

About the Author

Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let’s plays and figure skating videos.

Author Links:

Website // Goodreads // Twitter

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Giveaway
3 print copies of Echoes (US only)
Enter here.

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