Spotlight on Barking Up the Wrong Bakery by Stella St. Claire

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Title: Barking Up the Wrong Bakery
Author: Stella St. Claire
Narrator: Machelle Williams
Publisher: Relay Publishing
Publication Date: January 4, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Cozy

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Synopsis

Some people would kill for coffee….

Olivia Rickard would kill to keep everything just the way it is. She’s got a gorgeous boyfriend who loves her, a supportive sister to lean on, and a dog walking business that’s briskly barking away. But just as she’s getting comfortable, her sister suddenly wants to buy an entire brownstone with her, and her boyfriend looks like he’s going to pop the question at every opportunity. Changing the status quo has always been disastrous for Olivia, and now everything is changing at once….

What Olivia needs is a distraction, and she’s found one in stumbling upon Yvette Dunn dead in her coffee food truck – drowned in a vat of fresh coffee. Olivia starts out as an unlucky bystander to the crime, but she’s forced to dig in deeper when it looks like her sister could be involved in Yvette’s death.

Olivia is running out of time in regards to the mystery, the mortgage, and the marriage. She’s going to have to solve all three problems – and quick – or face a future most foul.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Stella St. Claire
Stella lives and breathes cozy mysteries! With her head always buried inside these books, it’s no wonder that she would put pen to paper to bring her own cozy mysteries to life. The words flew onto the page, and she’s already teeming with ideas for the next cozy mystery series.

With her trusted canine by her side, it seemed only natural to be inspired by her beautiful beagle Doogle and the many hours they spent walking through scenic New England villages. When Stella’s not reading books, she’s off on road trips, exploring every nook and cranny in neighboring towns, seeking inspiration for her next book.

She’s keen to see what her fellow cozy critics think of her new cozy mystery so please leave a review and share your thoughts with Stella.

Website // Facebook // Goodreads

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About the Narrator

Machelle Williams
As an audiobook narrator with 23 years of experience moving audiences with her voice through corporate facilitation and public speaking, Machelle knows how to connect with the intent of the author to bring their vision to life. Her compelling yet casual voice draws the listener close, transporting them deep into the story and keeping them hanging on every word with full attention and anticipation.

Machelle’s voice is nuanced and delivers reads that range from soft and soothing to dramatic and smoky. She specializes in Mysteries & Thrillers, but her Bespoke repertoire also includes Non-Fiction, Religious, Urban and Noire.

Machelle is based in Northern Virginia with her two Boston Terriers, Daphne and Lilah, and her fully equipped studio from which she provides quick turn-around of professional quality recordings.

When you need a narrator to take your listener to the edge of their seat and their breath away – trust the telling to Machelle.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Follow the tour here.

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Spotlight on The Meaning of Blood by Chuck Caruso

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Title: The Meaning of Blood
and Other Tales of Perversity
Author: Chuck Caruso
Publisher: Cloud Lodge Books
Publication Date: November 21, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Horror, Black Humor, Short Stories

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

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Synopsis

Sixteen tales of dark, transgressive fiction for fans of
Chuck Palahniuk, Elmore Leonard, and Edgar Allan Poe

In a near-future Pacific Northwest, a made-to-order sex robot
tests a married couple’s concept of fidelity; in the Tennessee
hills of 19th-century America, an itinerant preacher forces others
to prove their devotion to God — at gunpoint; and in a settlement
town of the Old West, a former outlaw seeking to rescue his
deceased brother’s family from a life of poverty discovers
to his horror the true meaning of blood.

In The Meaning of Blood and Other Tales of Pervesity, Edgar Allan Poe
scholar Chuck Caruso combines his deep roots in the American Gothic
with his own contemporary sense of macabre humor. These sixteen
stories of dark fiction range from crime thrillers to western noir to
grotesque horror. Each twisted tale displays Caruso’s unique blend of wry
prose, feverish storytelling, and tragically-flawed characters discovering
that even the most innocent encounter can lead to death. Or sex. Or both.

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“A lethal cocktail of harboiled noir, gothic horror and more.”
—Paul D. Brazill, author of Last Year’s Man and A Case of Noir

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About the Author

Chuck Caruso is a 19th-century Americanist and Edgar Allan Poe scholar. His crime and horror writing has been published in Cemetery Dance, Shroud, and Dark Discoveries. His first novel, The Lawn Job, won the Independent Publisher Award for Best Regional Fiction. Caruso lives in Seattle, Washington.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

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“The Meaning of Blood screams (and I mean screams!) Edgar Allan Poe.
Caruso is more than a Poe expert. He’s practically Poe reincarnated,
channeling the master’s dark spirit to create stories that feel both
ominously gothic and totally fresh.” ―Steve Hockensmith, author of
the New York Times bestseller Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

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Spotlight on Murder on Millionaires’ Row by Erin Lindsey—and a Giveaway!

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Title: Murder on Millionaires’ Row
Author: Erin Lindsey
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Genre: Mystery, Historical, Traditional

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

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Synopsis

In Gilded Age New York, some secrets are best left in the shadows.
Author Erin Lindsey’s debut historical mystery, MURDER ON
MILLIONAIRES’ ROW is a delightfully charming tale that takes readers
on a chase through 1880’s Manhattan, filled with wonderful period
details, magic, ghosts, romance, and Pinkerton detectives.

Rose Gallagher might dream of bigger things, but she’s content enough
with her life as a housemaid. After all, it’s not every girl from Five Points who
gets to spend her days in a posh Fifth Avenue brownstone, even if only
to sweep its floors. But all that changes on the day her boss, Mr. Thomas
Wiltshire, disappears. Rose is certain Mr. Wiltshire is in trouble, but the
police treat his disappearance as nothing more than the whims of a rich
young man behaving badly. Meanwhile, the friend who reported him
missing is suspiciously unhelpful. With nowhere left to turn,
Rose takes it upon herself to find her handsome young employer.

The investigation takes her from the marble palaces of Fifth Avenue to the
sordid streets of Five Points. When a ghostly apparition accosts her on
the street, Rose begins to realize that the world around her isn’t
at all as it seems—and her place in it is about to change forever.

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An Excerpt from Murder on Millionaires’ Row

Chapter 1

As I tell you this story, I’ll thank you to remember that I was young and in love. That’s not an excuse, but if you’re looking to understand what happened on that day in January 1886—what really happened, mind you, not the version you read in Harper’sWeekly or The New-York Tribune—then you ought to have the whole picture. So yes, I was nineteen years old, and yes, I had a blinding crush on my employer, one Mr. Thomas Wiltshire of 726 Fifth Avenue, and those facts together led me to make certain choices in those early hours, choices that might charitably be called naive. Some of the actions I took I’m not particularly proud of. But I wouldn’t take a one of them back, either—which is saying a lot, considering how near they came to getting me killed.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really ought to start at the beginning, which means I should say a little about where I’m from. If you’re from around here, then you know that in New York, where you come from is everything. It defines your place in the world—your past, present, even your future if you let it. Why, just your name and address tell a stranger pretty much everything he cares to know about you. Not just where you live, but how: what parish you belong to, how much money you’ve got, where your people came from before they were Americans. He can even make a fair guess as to what you do for a living. Your name and address label you a certain type of New Yorker, a creature with particular habits and distinctive plumage, not unlike a species of bird. Black-capped chickadee. Northern mockingbird. Italian fruit vendor. Chinese laundryman. So when I say that my name is Rose Gallagher of 55 Mott Street, well, that’s a whole story right there, and a common one at that. The story of an Irish girl from Five Points.

What do those words conjure in your head? A photograph of some fair-haired, reedy thing leaning out of a tenement window to hang washing on the line while drunks and ragpickers loiter in the alley below? Well, you wouldn’t be far from the mark. But there’s more to me than that slip of a girl, just as there’s more to Five Points than the vice and violence you read about in the papers. Oh, it’s a wretched enough corner of the world, to be sure, but it’s home. And it’s where I learned that if you don’t take care of you and yours, there’s nobody else will do it for you.

Which brings me back to the day Mr. Thomas Wiltshire disappeared, and everything I knew in the world went spinning down the drain.

Funny, isn’t it, how the days that change your life forever start out like any other? I don’t remember much about that morning, except that it was a Sunday and my day off, so I took my mother to church. I’d have spent the afternoon scrubbing Mam’s floors and putting dinner on the stove, though I’ve no recollection of it. My first clear memory of the day is hanging off a strap on the Sixth Avenue el, trying to hold my copy of Harper’s Weekly steady while the train rattled and swayed beneath me. The el, if you haven’t had the pleasure, has all the lumbering grace of a three-legged bull, which makes reading the fine print of Harper’s a bit of a trick, especially when it’s coming on to dark outside. Luckily, I wasn’t trying to read the print; I was too busy poring over the illustration on the cover.

It featured Mother Earth seated on her throne at the heart of the world, attended by her children as she greeted the New Year. She looked like a Roman goddess, serene and beautiful, smiling benevolently down at the cherubic 1886. I’d never seen anything so fantastical, so thoroughly exotic. Children of the world clus- tered around her, African and Indian and Celestial. Skins of lions and tigers beneath her sandaled feet. The volcano looming in the background, the waterfall plunging majestically over a cliff. What wondrous places had the artist traveled that he could capture im- ages like these in such sumptuous detail? I felt a familiar pang of longing, and for a moment I imagined myself standing in a steam- ing jungle, brushing up against leaves the size of an elephant’s ear while I listened to birds shriek and insects sing, the roar of a waterfall in the distance.

Maybe it was longer than a moment, come to think of it, because the next thing I remember it was full dark and I was making my way down the steps of the Fifty-Eighth Street Station in the rain. I must have made a pitiful sight hurrying along the sidewalk with my bonnet pulled low and my precious paper tucked under my arm, because the nighthawks seized on me the moment I turned onto Fifth Avenue, the clipclop of hooves and calls of “Cab, miss?” trailing me down the block.

I burst through the servant’s door at Number 726 with my usual grace, stumbling over the umbrella someone had left open to dry in the entryway. I couldn’t wait to show Clara the illustration on the cover of Harper’s, sure she would appreciate it as much as I did. But as I made my way down the hall, I heard a frightful clamor of pots and pans coming from the kitchen, and I drew up short.

Warily, I peered around the doorframe. “Clara?”

My greeting was met with a crash of the oven door and a string of language as doesn’t bear repeating, the gist of which was this: Clara was having a bad day.

“People starving in this city—starving—but that’s no bother, just fine, I’ll toss away three hours’ worth of cooking!”

I braved a single step into the kitchen. “What’s happened?”

She whirled on me, hand on hip, eyes flared with righteous anger. “Why? I’ll tell you why. Because His Lordship Sir High-and-Mighty can’t be bothered to come home for his dinner! Again.

“Oh.” I tried to think of a reasonable excuse. “Well, I sup- pose he’s very busy with work.”

“I suppose he is. Too busy to send word, even. So important.

“Careful,” I said, throwing a worried glance at the foot of the servants’ staircase. Mrs. Sellers had a way of appearing on those stairs at the most inopportune moments. “She might hear you.” I didn’t need to say who she was.

“Don’t care if she does,” Clara said, but she lowered her voice all the same. She needed her position as much as I, and the housekeeper was always looking for an excuse to get after the both of us, since the only stock of people she cared for less than the Irish were the coloreds. Mrs. Sellers might not have the authority to dismiss us outright, but she could make things difficult with Mr. Wiltshire, and that was cause enough to fear her.

“Did you ask her if we might . . .” I stopped myself short of asking a silly question. Mrs. Sellers never let us keep leftovers. To her way of thinking, that would only encourage Clara to prepare too much food in the hopes of keeping some for herself. It wouldn’t occur to her that Clara was too decent, not to mention too proud, to do any such thing.

“So I can listen to her lecture me about how it’s practically the same as stealing? No, thank you, ma’am.”

“I’m sorry, Clara. It’s an awful shame.” My gaze slid long- ingly to the roast beef and potatoes cooling on the stovetop. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had Sunday roast. Easter, probably, some years past.

“Well.” Clara surveyed the kitchen, her temper cooling along with her cooking. “Some of it’ll keep, and there’s always soup to be made. But the nerve of the man, not sending so much as a hint of warning. Uncivilized, is what it is. You’d think a proper Englishman would know better.”

“I’m sure he had a good reason.”

She gave me a wry look. “You’re sure of no such thing, ex- cept that Thomas Wiltshire can do no wrong.”

I felt my skin warming, so I changed the subject. “Look, I’ve got something to show you.” Drawing her over by the lamp, I smoothed out my copy of Harper’s Weekly. “What do you think of that?”

Clara squinted. “I hardly know. What is it?”

“Why, it’s only the most incredible drawing I’ve ever seen!” “Is it now?” She raised her eyebrows. “More incredible than the hot springs of Iceland?”

“Well, I suppose—”

“More incredible than the jaguar fishing in the Amazon? Or the squad of saluting elephants in India?” She made a trunk of her arm, raising it high.

“You’re making fun of me.”

Looking closer, Clara grunted. “All I see is a white lady with other people’s babies in her lap.”

“Well, I think it’s grand,” I said, snatching the paper off the table.

“Oh, don’t be like that,” she laughed. “I’m only teasing. I think it’s fine how you get all lathered up over your magazines.”

“I’m not lathered up. I’m trying to better myself, is all.”

“Better yourself, or escape to the jungle for a spell?”

Escape. It’s a strong word, when you think about it. A strong word, and exactly the right one. “And where’s the harm in that?” I gestured vaguely at the kitchen. “Is it wrong to want to see more of the world than . . . this?”

“I know, honey.”

That was the thing about Clara. She did know. She under- stood me better than anybody, probably because we had so much in common. Clara came from the Tenderloin, which is just about the only part of New York that can give Five Points a run for its money for sheer infamy. She’d seen her share of wickedness and faced more than her share of bigots. Like me, Clara had an ailing mother to take care of. And like me, she dreamed of bigger things—in her case, marrying her sweetheart, Joseph, and saving enough money to buy a little dairy farm in Westchester.

But if Clara’s dream seemed just out of reach, mine was down- right unattainable. I wanted more than anything to be a Travel and Adventure writer, or maybe an illustrator. But if being a woman wasn’t barrier enough, I was also Irish and poor as a church mouse. The four-story town house at 726 Fifth Avenue was about as close to travel and adventure as I was likely to get in this life.

“I just don’t want to see you set yourself up for disappoint- ment,” Clara said. “You got to be realistic. Dreams is one thing. Goals is another.”

“I know.” I rolled up my Harper’s and stuffed it into the pocket of my overcoat. Forcing a smile, I added, “And right now, my goal is to get some supper in my belly.”

“Now that I can help you with.” Clara went over to the stove and carved off a slice of the roast, crusty and fragrant, steam ris- ing from it like a chorus of angels. Somehow she’d managed to keep it pink in the center, in spite of it having languished in the oven since late afternoon.

My mouth watered as I watched her load up the plate with golden potatoes and thick, greasy gravy. “What about Mrs. Sellers?” “I don’t see her anywhere, do you?” Clara’s smile had just a hint of spite in it. “Now skedaddle. She catches you, we’ll both wind up working in the box factory.”

I didn’t need to be told twice; I grabbed my plate and bounded up the narrow servants’ staircase to my room, a little shoebox in the attic where I spent six nights a week.

I sat cross-legged on my bed, hunched over my food like a savage, licking gravy off my fingers as I paged through Harper’s. I’d like to tell you that I studied the articles carefully, absorbing worldly details about the Irish question and hostilities in the Bal- kans, or that I tutted disapprovingly over the latest spiteful cartoons from Thomas Nasty. But I never did care much for politics, and there were no Travel and Adventure stories in this issue to tempt me. So instead I pored over the illustrations, wondering if my own sketches demonstrated enough skill to impress an editor at Harper’s or Frank Leslie’s. Reaching for my journal, I let it fall open to its most beloved page: a charcoal sketch of a certain gentleman whose like- ness I knew nearly as well as my own. I hope it won’t sound boastful if I say that even Mr. Wiltshire’s own mother would have called the resemblance striking. Every feature had been lovingly rendered: the pale eyes beneath straight dark brows; the high cheekbones and fine nose; the angular jaw framed by a neatly trimmed beard. It was true in every detail but one: I couldn’t seem to capture the soul of him, that thoughtful expression that was at once gentle and sharp, reserved and yet curious. The eyes in my sketch were dull and flat, with nothing to suggest the man behind them had any depth at all.

I put the drawing away, resolving to try my hand at repro- ducing the illustration on the cover of Harper’s. I’d wait until month’s end, and if there was enough money left over after I’d paid Mam’s rent, I’d treat myself to a new journal and maybe even some ribbon to fix my bonnet. “There, you see, Clara?” I murmured to myself. “I know the difference between dreams and goals.”

I brought my plate back down to the kitchen before heading up the main staircase to prepare Mr. Wiltshire’s bedroom for the night. I knocked softly, though I knew he wasn’t there, having learned the hard way that it was best to make sure. (That, my friends, is a story all its own, and may have more than a little to do with the origins of my feelings for my employer. If you should find yourself becoming spoony for a young man, seeing the object of your budding affections in nothing but a pair of half-unbuttoned trousers will surely seal your fate.)

But I digress.

Satisfied the room was empty, I set about my chores, wind- ing the clock and trimming the lamps and so forth. I fussed with his fountain pen and his shirt studs and his griffin cuff links, straightening them all just so. But it wasn’t long until I noticed something out of place. Being meticulously tidy, Mr. Wiltshire was not given to leaving his papers strewn about, so the envelope sitting on his dressing table fairly cried out for my attention. Taking it up, I saw that it was unsealed, so I opened it (yes, I know— you will have many such occasions to exclaim at my behavior) and discovered a pair of tickets to the Metropolitan Opera. Nothing much in that, but two things struck me as unusual. First, the op- era in question was by Richard Wagner, and it so happened that I had heard Mr. Wiltshire express a particular dislike for Wagner not two weeks before, over sherry with his good friend Mr. Burrows. Second, the tickets were for the evening of January 2, 1886—in other words, for a performance that had taken place the night before.

I glanced about the room. Had he even come home last night? The bed didn’t look to have been slept in, but that didn’t tell me much, since Mrs. Sellers would have tidied the room this morning. Taking a quick inventory of his shirt studs, I saw that the mother-of-pearl set was missing. He’d worn those on Saturday, and he never wore the same set two days in a row. No, he definitely hadn’t come home. I wondered what sort of urgent matter had arisen to cause my employer to be so detained.

I didn’t know it at the time, but detained was quite possibly the understatement of the year.

I went to bed feeling troubled. And by the time I woke up, the coppers were already there.

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About the Author

ERIN LINDSEY has lived and worked in dozens of countries around the world, but has only ever called two places home: her native city of Calgary and her adopted hometown of New York. She is the author of the Bloodbound series of fantasy novels from Ace and the Nicolas Lenoir series of paranormal detective novels from Roc. MURDER ON MILLIONAIRES’ ROW is her debut mystery. She divides her time between Calgary and Brooklyn with her husband and a pair of half-domesticated cats.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

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To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Murder on Millionaires’ Row by
Erin Lindsey
, leave a comment below.

The winning name will be drawn
Monday evening, October 8th. Open to
residents of the US and Canada.

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“Sharp, insightful, and more than a little sassy, Rose Gallagher is a heroine
to cheer for. Lovers of historical mysteries and all things supernatural
will devour MURDER ON MILLIONAIRES’ ROW and clamor for more.”
– Tasha Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Death in St. Petersburg

“Promising series debut…Rose’s sparkling perspective and an appealing cast of
characters shine throughout. Lindsey’s quirky mix of supernatural shenanigans and
well-drawn historical detail
augurs well for future installments.”– Publishers Weekly

Spotlight on Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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Title: Not Her Daughter
Author: Rea Frey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Genres: Crime Fiction, Suspense

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

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Synopsis

Emma Grace Townsend. Five years old.
Gray eyes. Brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma Townsend is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless
father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted.
Abandoned by her mother. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a
crowded airport terminal—and when a second-chance encounter with
Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her, far away from home. But if it’s to
rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother.
Unsure she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her
inability to connect with her daughter. And now she’s gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an
unshakeable bond. But her real mother is at home, waiting for
her to return—and the longer the search for Emma continues, Amy
is forced to question if she really wants her back.

Emotionally powerful and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the
question of what it means to be a mother—and how
far someone will go to keep a child safe.

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About the Author

Rea Frey is an award-winning author of four nonfiction books. She lives in Nashville with her husband and daughter. NOT HER DAUGHTER is her debut novel. Read more at:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

Photo credit:  Alex Holguin

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“In her provocative debut thriller, NOT HER DAUGHTER, Rea Frey
takes us on an emotional ride where the line between right and
wrong begins to fade, and all that remains are the tears of a child.
This story pulls you in from the very first page, and unlike most in
its genre, you won’t know how you want it to end until it does.”
– Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night

“NOT HER DAUGHTER is a deft and beautifully written examination of
taboo maternal fantasies: Can a kidnapping ever be justified? Can
motherhood be undone?  Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her
characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question
their own code of ethics.”  —Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

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

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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Spotlight on A Breath After Drowning by Alice Blanchard—and a Giveaway!

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Title: A Breath After Drowning
Author: Alice Blanchard
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller

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

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Synopsis

Child psychiatrist Kate Wolfe’s world comes crashing down
when one of her young patients commits suicide, so when a troubled
girl is left at the hospital ward, she doubts her ability to help.

However the girl knows things about Kate’s past, things she
shouldn’t know, forcing Kate to face the murky evidence
surrounding her own sister’s murder sixteen years before.

A murder for which a man is about to be executed.

Unearthing secrets about her own family, and forced to face
both her difficult relationship with her distant father and the
possibility that her mother might also have met a violent end,
the shocking final twist brings Kate face to face with her deepest fear.

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About the Author

Alice Blanchard is an award-winning author. Her short story collection The Stuntman’s Daughter won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. She has received a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and a New Letters Literary Award.

Her thriller The Breathtaker was the official selection of NBC’s Today Show Book Club, presented by bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard. Her debut novel Darkness Peering was a New York Times’ Notable Book. Film rights to Darkness Peering and The Breathtaker were optioned by Hollywood’s Anonymous Content and John Wells Productions. Her work has been published in 16 countries.

“My goal is to write fiction that marries the sweeping scope of the thriller with the more personal epiphanies of the short story.”

Website // Twitter // Goodreads

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“This riveting thriller from Blanchard … offers three-dimensional,
empathetic characters caught up in twisting events…”
—Publishers Weekly

“A BREATH AFTER DROWNING had me hooked from page one.
A spectacular, gripping, psychological thriller not to be missed.”
—Lisa Lutz, New York Times bestselling author of The Passenger

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To enter the drawing for a paperback
copy of A Breath After Drowning by
Alice Blanchard,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn Sunday
evening, April 29th. This drawing is
open to residents of the US, UK and Canada.

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