Cruel by Jacob Stone

Cruel
A Morris Brick Thriller #4
by Jacob Stone
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
 
Rarely is an author so skilled at portraying such unremitting evil and the
poignant, human side of his characters in a single tale.”
Jeffery Deaver
Jacob Stone is equal parts Thomas Harris, Michael Connelly, Jo Nesbo,
and Stephen King. CRUEL will leave you shaking . . . with fear,
excitement, and the uncontrollable compulsion to keep on
reading.” 
Lee Goldberg, #1 New York Times bestselling
author of 
True Fiction 
17.”
L.A. detective Morris Brick knows the number all too well. It was the
gruesome signature the Nightmare Man left next to his victims’
bodies. Brick’s father was the first to investigate the killings.
Five women were butchered before the perpetrator vanished. Seventeen
years later he resurfaced—to kill again in the same depraved ways.
Now another seventeen years have passed. Brick knows in his gut that
it’s time for the Nightmare Man to reawaken. But even Brick can’t
imagine the madman’s true agenda. Or just how terrifying the
sleepless nights are going to get in the City of Angels . . .
 

Prologue

Downtown Los Angeles alley, 2:18 a.m.

The rat grew frantic in its efforts to escape the trap, its front claws a blur as they scratched against the wire mesh. This one was older than the juveniles already collected, and showed the scars of a lifetime spent  skulking through Los Angeles alleyways and sewers. Half of one ear had been torn off, its grayish-black fur matted, and a dozen wounds scabbed over. While the rat was larger than the others, it was still emaciated enough to be able to squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. Rats like this one were crucial for what was coming.

The newspaper stories from 2001 didn’t mention rats, and neither did the ones from 1984. That had to be because the reporters hadn’t been told about them, or really about any of the specifics. In 1984, the newspaper and TV reporters described the murders only as depraved and sickening.

A police officer must’ve given them that description, and someone with a touch of poetry in his soul named the killer the Nightmare Man. That name stuck—both in 1984 and in 2001—but it didn’t fully do the killer justice. While horrific, monstrous things were done to the victims, they were things that could only have come from the nightmares of a lunatic.

Just as some species of cicadas awaken only every seventeen years, the same was true of the Nightmare Man. October second would mark the seventeen-year anniversary of the start of the last killing spree, and new victims had already been chosen. They were both the least and most fortunate people alive. They would be dying the worst deaths imaginable, but they would have a kind of immortality, their fates forever entwined with the Nightmare Man. Because of that, they would never be forgotten.

The cage was picked up, and the rat inside backed up and got on its hind legs, its small black eyes shining with malevolence as it bared its teeth. It was an ugly thing and would do nicely for what was needed.

A homeless woman lay curled in a fetal position as she slept beside a dumpster. She stirred as the cage holding the rat was carried past her. Her red-rimmed eyes cracked open, her round, craggy face turning toward the soft padding of footsteps. In a raspy croak that sounded as if her throat had been scraped raw with sandpaper, she asked for money. Even from several feet away, the sour smell of cheap gin on her breath assaulted the senses. A decision now had to be made: whether to kill the old woman or ignore her. A moment of reflection revealed a third option—simply hand

the homeless woman a twenty-dollar bill, and that was what was done. The woman mumbled something unintelligible as she accepted the money. She turned away as she hid the bill within her layers of clothing, and then she presumably fell back to sleep.

That was how it needed to be. It wasn’t time yet for the Nightmare Man to awaken from his slumber. October second was still a full ten days away. That was when the killings would start again. Besides, snuffing out the life of this old woman wasn’t necessary. Her alcohol-addled mind wouldn’t later connect this late-night intrusion of her makeshift home with the Nightmare Man’s return.

But the Nightmare Man was coming.

And Los Angeles would soon be weeping tears of blood.

 
Jacob Stone is the pseudonym for award-winning author Dave Zeltserman.
Dave’s crime and horror novels have been picked by NPR, the
Washington Post, American Library Association, Booklist, and WBUR as
best novels of the year, and his short mystery fiction has won a
Shamus, Derringer and two Ellery Queen Readers Choice awards. 
Dave’s crime noir novel, SMALL CRIMES, has been made into a major motion
picture starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Molly Parker, Gary Cole,
Robert Forster, and Jacki Weaver, and will be premiering April 28th
on Netflix. Several of his other books are currently in film
development.
Morris Brick thriller novels written as Jacob Stone: DERANGED, CRAZED,
MALICIOUS, TWISTED.
 
 
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for exclusive content and a giveaway!
 
 
 
 

 

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What I Really Think Of A World Other Than Her Own

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A World Other Than Her Own

Pamela Harju

Genre:  Women’s Fiction/Mystery

What if your only way out was a dead end?

When Claire finds herself in an unfamiliar country mansion with no idea how she got there, she just wants to find a way home. Unfortunately for her, the house has other ideas. Doors slam to cut off her escape, and forces of nature seem to be keeping her hostage. With no way to communicate with the outside world, will she ever find a way back to her loved ones?  If you like captivating, spine-chilling mysteries, step inside this creepy country house…

What I Really Think

Let me start by saying I had no idea what this novel’s plot really was. Big house. No way out. I’m good to go, but this novel is like none I’ve read before. If you know me, you know I like a good horror novel. Scare the pants off me and I will love you as much as I hate you for giving me something new to be paranoid about. This is not that kind of book and yet it sits on my shelf to be read a second time. The story starts off with Clair waking up in a luxurious four poster bed. The attached bathroom has a large clawed bathtub. There’s clean clothing provided for her. All of her personal belongings are gone. She dresses and comes downstairs. There is no one in the house which by the way is fabulous. The house is not creepy at all for the most part. (Well, maybe sometimes. It does like to play tricks.) She can’t leave because the front door is locked but mostly because the outside weather is detrimental at this time. She goes to the kitchen and there is food. There is also a library and eventually Clair makes herself comfortable while she plots a way to get home. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot as I don’t want to give spoilers.

Calming or Terrifying?

As a woman who can’t move without bumping into someone or something, the concept of having a whole house to myself is pure heaven (especially since I’m not responsible for cleaning.) The author has managed to create a mystery without creating anxiety. I suppose if you hate the thought of being alone, this book would be terrifying.

As I continued to read, eventually my mind would be jumping ahead and asking what is really happening here. There are several possibilities. But then the author ups the pace and my mind is running with the story again.

What I liked most about the ending is that I understood everything instead of asking the question what the heck did I just read. Check out the preview below.

Pamela.jpg

Author Bio:

Pamela Harju is the author of The Truth about Tomorrow, which won WriteIntoPrint’s Captivating Opening Contest in 2017. She spends her spare time with her dogs and traveling to see rock bands most people have never heard of. She loves tea, big old houses and tattooed men and is happily unmarried to her partner of many years. A native Finn, Pamela lives in the Irish countryside in an old cottage that’s always threatening to fall apart. She has a full-size dog agility arena in her back garden.

To find out more about Pamela Harju you can visit her at:

 Amazon  Facebook

Website: https://www.pamelaharju.com/

 Goodreads  Twitter

 

Southern Discomfort Caroline Fardig Review

southern discomfortSouthern hospitality meets deadly deception in the start of a charming new mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of the Java Jive novels.

Quinn Bellandini loves her life in Savannah, Georgia, where she runs her grandfather’s B&B with her sister, Delilah. From baking fresh scones and serving up grits every morning to ensuring the guests see the best of their historic city, Quinn can’t imagine doing anything else—even if it means dealing with nuisances like the occasional malfunctioning commode. But when Quinn drops by the local restaurant owned by her friend Drew Green, and stumbles upon a murder, her whole world comes crashing down.

Drew’s brother was always a little surly, but Quinn can’t imagine that someone disliked the prickly chef enough to kill him. The police, on the other hand, don’t believe that Quinn was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Before her guests can even digest the next morning’s gourmet breakfast, Quinn learns that she and Drew are suspects.

Drew thinks they should do some investigating of their own. Quinn is pretty sure she’s better suited to playing hostess than amateur sleuth. But with Delilah as her cynical sidekick, Quinn starts looking for the real killer—before she gets put away faster than you can say “sugar.”

Available at Amazon

What I Really Think

Southern Comfort is a mystery cozy featuring Quinn Bellandini who runs a family owned B&B. The story consists of a wide array of characters and suspects.

I enjoyed it at first, but got a little frustrated when it came to the portrayal of the police. I don’t enjoy a story that makes the cops bumbling idiots. In this case, I couldn’t see why Quinn would be a suspect in a murder where the blood on her clothing was on her back. If she was the murderer, it would be on her front. But hold up. I was wrong. The author explains why she is a suspect. More layers to this story than I expected. The victim was a bit of an ungrateful, entitled cad. He was not beyond getting physical. And more than once, he had been on the receiving end. Still the police have enough evidence to charge Quinn’s friend leaving it up to her to find the true murderer. 

What I liked about it was the various locations Quinn went to and how she went about getting the information she needed. The romance subplot is not overwhelming, although, it felt high school to me. My first impression was that a woman of her age should have her act together by now. And yet, I also know that when thrust in certain situations, you do tend to revert to who you were. She still had unresolved issues.

I wish there could have been more time spent in the B&B with some quirky guests and their stories. Maybe in the next novel.

All in all, it’s a good who done it.

The Gathering Bernadette Giacomazzo

The Gathering
Bernadette Giacomazzo
(The Uprising, #1)
Publication date: March 31st 2018
Genres: Adult, Dystopian

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

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EXCERPT:

Jamie

I saw Emperor – looking like a hot air balloon, sounding as ridiculous as ever – blathering on about his personal Reichstag fire, and laying the blame of the explosion squarely at the feet of myself and my brothers-in-arms.

“…and it’s these traitors of the state – the threat to the security of my Empire of the United States of America – the defectors of the Cabal who go by Jamie Ryanand Basile Perrinault and, my greatest betrayal, Supreme Allied Commander Kanoa Shinomura…” he hollered into the microphone, which seemed to reverberate throughout the city.

At the sound of Kanoa’s name, the Cabal members below the balcony slammed the butts of their guns on the floor in rhythm. I knew that rhythm all too well – it was meant to be a war cry for those of us in the rank-and-file of the Cabal – but, to the untrained ear, it sounded like a machine gun going off…which was exactly the point.

But I couldn’t help but sneer at the accusation that the blast that nearly killed Evanora and Tommy was somehow our fault. He’d spent decades trying to catch us and failing miserably, yet in the same breath, believed we were inept enough to set off a blast that took no lives and could be cleaned up during a balmy New York evening. And he managed to sell this ridiculous belief to the crowd, no less.

“Let’s make something clear, asshole,” I muttered, “if it had been me and the boys that lit your shit up, you wouldn’t be standing here today.”

Despite the absurdity of the accusation – and despite the obvious absurdity of the accusation – the victims of psi just grunted along, agreeing with everything and anything that came out of Emperor’s mouth, in part because they didn’t know any better (they were psi victims, after all), and in part because any disagreement with what Emperor had to say was met with a fierce, painful punishment.

“His Word, Before All and Above All,” I muttered. “With liberty and justice for no one, so kiss my peasant Old New York ass and take a breath mint afterward, unless you like that funky aftertaste…”

My voice trailed off as my eyes focused on a strange woman on the balcony.

At first, I couldn’t discern who she was – she looked like someone I’d seen before, yet someone I’d never seen before.

Her hair was a garish white-blonde, stringy and lifeless, and pinned tightly behind her head with a set of black ceramic chopsticks. Her makeup was almost cartoonish – cat-like black eyeliner and matte black lipstick sat atop a ghostly white foundation. Even her outfit was a hideously hilarious cultural appropriation – a black silk kimono paired with a set of black stiletto heels. I’d seen Old New York 42nd Street prostitutes, with terrible heroin problems, sell the “Asian coquette” look better than what I’d seen before me now.

“Who the actual…” I began, hesitantly, unable to process who I was seeing before me.

And then it hit me, all at once, who she was.

For the first time in a long time, I was literally speechless.

When I could finally find my voice again, it barely came out in a whisper. “Rosie,” I squeaked.

I walked into the Ludlow Street apartment I shared with Angelique and was instantly greeted with the smell of a meat dish that, I would later learn, was calledcarne asada.

“Angelique!” I called out over the loud sizzling of steak as I kicked off my black Frye boots and set my matching acoustic guitar down. “Where are you, my love?”

“In here!” she called, out of sight, from the kitchen, where more clanging and banging sounds echoed over her voice.

I began walking through the apartment, shedding layers as I went along until I reached the kitchen wearing nothing but my black leather pants and a mischievous smile. I was hoping to have a little appetizer of crème d’Angelique before dinner, but when I reached the kitchen, I realized – much to my chagrin – that we weren’t alone.

Angelique, her hair tied back into a messy ponytail, was wearing a tight, white, see-through shorts jumper and a matching white apron. She was standing next to an unfamiliar-looking woman with a matching messy ponytail, but whose thick chocolate brown hair stood in sharp contrast to Angelique’s thin flaxen locks. The rest of her, too, was in stark contrast to Angelique, but not in a bad way – she was olive-skinned, in contrast to Angelique’s pale white skin; she was curvy, in contrast to Angelique’s ectomorphic figure; she was fiery, in contrast to Angelique’s ethereal nature.

They were standing side by side, working on something that smelled simply delicious. Angelique was mixing flour, sugar, and garlic powder, and her friend was adding melted butter and salted water to the resultant powder, then kneading it until it formed a dough.

“Am I interrupting something?” I asked as I walked behind Angelique, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck, breathing in her scent of lilacs as I did so.

She smiled, then took her index finger and bopped the tip of my nose with the flour mixture. “Hey handsome,” she said, beatifically. “We’re making something special for you for dinner. We’ve got carne asada in the pan over there – we’ve got some arroz con gandules in the rice cooker – and we’re making…wait, girl, what’s this called?”

Arepas,” her friend said, smiling as she continued to knead the dough between her hands, her silver thumb ring glistening in the light of the dusk as she did so.

“Right, arepas,” Angelique repeated. “Ramira here is teaching me all her magic ways – she says this is the exact dinner I need to make if I want my man to marry me.” She giggled, then elbowed Ramira, who giggled along with Angelique.

I couldn’t help but giggle, as well, as I unentwined myself from Angelique and walked over to Ramira to properly introduce myself. “I’m going to be stuffed fordays with all this delicious food, so it’s only right that we become friends,” I began, extending my hand. “Hi there. I’m James Randall Ryan IV, I somehow lucked out enough to convince this lovely lady Angelique to be my girlfriend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you. You can call me Jamie.”

Ramira smiled, then shook my hand with two of her fingers, taking care not to smear the wet dough across my palm. “Well, my name is Ramira Diaz, Angelique is my best friend, and it’s a pleasure to meet you too. You can call me Rosie, though. Everyone else does.”

I sat under a wilting star magnolia tree and stared, intently, through the open window of a room that had to be Rosie’s dressing room. She peeled her black silk kimono off and turned her back to the frameless window, exposing her prominent ribs and shoulder blades as she did so. The sight of her suddenly-bare, emaciated frame shocked me, especially given how pronounced her curves were in our younger years, and tears welled up in my eyes yet again.

In the decades since Angelique and my son had died, I could count the number of times I’d cried on one hand. In the past 72 hours, though – as I realized that my best friend’s kid, and my best friend’s girlfriend, were alive and well, and that the Uprising was bigger than I’d ever imagined – the tears came quickly and flowed easily, and I couldn’t decide if this was a sign of strength or weakness on my part.

Rosie slipped a shimmering white camisole over her emaciated frame, which she then tucked into a pair of white linen slacks. I couldn’t get over how thin she’d gotten, then wondered if this was by her own design, or if she was under orders from that evil husband of hers. No way would Jordan be cool with this, I thought to myself. On his fucking grave would this go on. On his fucking grave. And wouldn’t you know it – here we are, on his fucking grave.

I saw Rosie leave the room and begin to head down a flight of stairs, and I took that as an opportunity to get her alone, away from the rabid Cabal and out of sight of the vainglorious Emperor. She’d taken a few steps away from her building, and into Emperor’s Park, before passing by the wilting star magnolia tree that I was hiding behind. It was only when I saw the back of her slicked back, perfect ponytail – what a difference from the one she was wearing when we first met, I thought – that I saw the opportunity to get her alone and began walking behind her.

“You’ve come a long way from making arepas on Ludlow Street,” I said, tapping her on the shoulder when I finally caught up with her.

She spun around, her face scrunched up in fear, and for a split second, I thought she was going to hit me. But just as quickly, she relaxed as her eyes registered who owned the disembodied voice. “Jamie,” she whispered tearfully. “You’re here. You’re alive. I didn’t realize…”

“How the hell did you not?” I asked, furrowing my eyebrows and side-eyeing her. “Your damned husband has been hunting me for decades.”

“I knew that,” she said, taking ragged breaths. “But just the fact that he was never able to take you alive led me to believe that you were…you know…” Her voice trailed off.

I wasn’t convinced, and I continued to stare at her intently as I scratched my left cheek, which was now beginning to show the first signs of salt-and-pepper beard stubble. “First of all, why the hell are you talking like you’re Queen Elizabeth? Second, let me just state it for the record: you give your asshole husbandway too much credit if you think he can take me down.”

Rosie bit her lower lip, then shifted her eyes down. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her face up, forcing her eyes to meet mine as I tried, desperately, to search for a sign of the Rosie I once knew. “Rosie,” I whispered intently. “It’s me. You don’t have to hide from me.”

Her face was a blank slate. “My name is Rose. Rose Cunningham,” she said with flat affect.

“Oh, bullshit,” I whispered, even more intently. “Whatever happened to ‘call me Rosie, everyone else does’? What happened to that woman who was makingarepas in the kitchen with my Angelique?”

That got her attention, and her deep brown eyes flashed with fire as she balled up her fists and began swinging at me. “You shit! You bastard! You did it! You almost killed my baby!”

I ducked, bobbed and weaved, avoiding each blow as I carefully tried to talk her down from the ledge. “Rosie! What the hell are you talking about? I didn’t do that shit! I swear!”

She continued to swing at me. “Yes! Yes, you did!” she squealed tearfully, repeating the same “yes, yes” with each swing, her voice getting louder each time.

“Do you want to knock it off before the fuckin’ Cabal finds us, Rosie? The fuck is wrong with you? Jesus Christ!” I was shouting despite myself and began scanning the landscape frantically for Cabal soldiers that would have undoubtedly heard us, all while bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter to avoid getting punched in the face.

She swung even harder and squealed even louder. “You tried to kill my baby! Just like you killed yours!”

That line finally got me to react, and I had to steady my breathing to stop from clocking her in the mouth. Even in the throes of the worst of my Faustian behavior, I never hit a woman, and neither did any of my bandmates – the thought of violence against a woman, let alone a woman we’d loved, didn’t even cross our drug-addled minds.

Instead, I grabbed her wrists and forced them down to her sides, holding them in place at hip level as she struggled, trying to hit me, until she finally began whimpering in defeat.

“Now you listen to me, Ramira Diaz, and you listen well,” I began, angrily. “You may have forgotten everything you were and are, but I sure as fuck haven’t forgotten a goddamn thing, and let me rest assure you, I never fuckin’ will.”

Her lower lip was trembling, her eyes were watering, and it became evident that she was on the verge of tears. Still, I continued. “So, let me get a few things out of the way now, so we’re not confused. Number one: that blast? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t anyone tied to me. It wasn’t anyone whose name I can even spell. Because let me assure you, again, that if it were me, or anyone tied to me, we’d have burned down the entire fuckin’ city, even if it meant killing ourselves in the process, and wouldn’t have left a survivor anywhere on this God-forsaken island.

“Number two: you know goddamn well I didn’t kill Angelique or our baby. Now I wear their death on my heart every. Fucking. Day. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in twenty fucking years, from the day they were killed, because I can’t get their murders out of my mind. There are times I wish I was dead, just so that I don’t have to live with the guilt of their murders, but no, here I am, and ain’t that a fuckin’ bitch from Hell. I’d give all the money in the world to have my Angelique back. I’d trade my life for Jordan’s any day of the week. And my son – my only legacy – never had a chance at life, and you think that’s all fair?

“Number three – and this is the most important part, Rosie, goddamnit, you’d better fuckin’ listen to this if you listen to nothing else: remember that promise I made to you in the hospital room? All those years ago? Because I fuckin’ do. And that’s why when Evanora and Tommy came down the Bowery after the blast, and I realized who she was, I made sure she was safe and clean and warm…”

Rosie looked shocked. “Wait. She came to you?”

I searched her face, trying to see if I could register where her loyalties lie before I continued to answer the question. For some reason, however, I couldn’t make it out. I even tried to read Rosie’s mind using a gentle form of psi, but I still couldn’t read her mind at all. It was like trying to probe a brick wall. So, to protect Evanora – and the rest of us – I chose to cover my tracks. “Yeah,” I said airily, “she mentioned something about listening to Uprising Radio.”

The name of Uprising Radio registered some type of recognition with Rosie, and her eyes lit up slightly. “My baby has heard Uprising Radio?”

“I don’t know for sure,” I continued, still adopting an airy affect, “but I’m pretty sure that’s what she said.” Using my Cabal training, I put a mental wall between my thoughts and Rosie, mostly because I didn’t know how much training she’d had in the psi arts, and I wasn’t sure if she, too, could read my mind. And if, God forbid, her loyalties lied with that pathetic excuse of her husband, I could at least protect, if not myself, then the whole Uprising movement.

I made sure the wall was firmly in place before I continued. “I think I’ve heard Uprising Radio a few times, but I don’t know much about it, who does it, or anything of the sort.”

“Yeah,” Rosie said, hesitantly, behind a mental brick wall of her own, “I have no idea, either.”

We were calmer, now – our breath was steady, our thoughts were collected, and Rosie’s fists were limp. I finally felt confident that she wasn’t going to try to hit me again, so I loosened my grip on her wrists.

But I suddenly found myself unable to let her go, so I slid my hands from her wrists to her hands and grabbed her fingers lightly. I was overcome with emotion.

“What is it, Jamie?” Her voice was cracking.

I exhaled loudly, then drew in a ragged breath. “Do you think about him, Rosie? Do you think about Jordan at all?”

She closed her eyes and allowed the tears to fall as she exhaled shakily. “Every day of my life,” she said softly. “There’s not a day that goes by that Jordan doesn’t cross my mind. Every time I look at Evanora – every time I hear her laugh – he comes to my mind. Sometimes, she gives me this look – you remember, Jamie? You remember when Jordan would hear something that was just too stupid for words, and he would get this look on his face, like, ‘were you dropped on your head as a child?’” – and to this, I gave a half-smile and a nod – “and now, she gets that look. And that one eyebrow” – she took her finger and drew on her left eyebrow – “it would just go up like…like…”

She dropped her hand as her voice trailed off, her eyes filling with tears.

I nodded my head, closed my eyes, and sighed. “Fuckin’ guy,” I said, opening my eyes and looking at Rosie. “So. You didn’t see me, right?”

Rosie smiled and winked at me. “Ivan Sapphire? Please. Get over yourself, rock star.” She squeezed my hands one last time for good measure. “I’m going to leave now. I’m not going to look back because I don’t want to see where you’re going. This way, if someone with bad intentions against you asks me if I know where you are, I can answer honestly when I say I don’t know. But just because I don’t look back, doesn’t mean I want to see you go. I need you to understand that, Jamie Ryan. I don’t need you to over-analyze things that don’t need over-analyzing. I need you to let me go, Jamie Ryan, and I need you to know that I love you, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

She finally let go of my hands, gave me a slight nod, then turned and walked back to her home. I watched her, silently, keeping the promise I made so long ago to Jordan Barker and didn’t leave what was once known as Central Park until I saw, for sure, that she was safe inside.

 

Author Bio:

With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

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A Pilgrimage to Death Alexa Padgett

A Pilgrimage to Death
Alexa Padgett
Publication date: August 14th 2018
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller

They murdered her sister. They threatened her church. But their day of reckoning will cost her everything…

When Cici Gurule finds the dead body of a parishioner in the nearby Santa Fe National Forest, she’s horrified to realize the victim bears the same stab wounds that ended her twin sister’s life one year earlier.

Now, as a freewheeling, progressive reverend who’ll stop at nothing to protect her flock, she’ll need to join forces with her detective friend and loyal pair of Great Pyrenees to hunt down the killer before she’s forced to officiate another funeral.

Soon, however, Cici discovers her sister was on the trail of a deep-rooted criminal operation, and her death was no random act of violence. With the criminals out for Cici’s blood, she needs to catch the wolf by the tail…before it goes in for the kill.

Fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Stacy Claflin will love Alexa’s Padgett’s new edge-of-your-seat novel! Scroll up and click to start this fast-paced, high-octane mystery thriller!

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Request a review copy here!

EXCERPT:

Sam brought his chair down with a soft thump as it hit the patio paver but he didn’t say anything for another long moment.

“Anna Carmen was my best friend. She helped me through a hard time—she helped me see what I couldn’t then.”

Cici’s lip trembled as she lifted her teacup. “I miss her, too. So much. Yesterday . . . it all came bubbling back up.”

Sam’s hand settled on Cici’s shoulder in that gesture of comfort she’d come to depend on.

“I know you do. And, yeah, I figured it would.”

Jaycee sidled up to their table and settled Sam’s large glass of iced tea on the table. Condensation formed on the glass, dripping down to wet the white napkin beneath it.

“I thought of something,” the girl said.

Both Cici and Sam turned their faces up to the teenager.

“Mr. Johnson told me one time he was meeting someone about a case.” Her brow wrinkled for a moment before she shrugged. “Does that help?”

Sam tugged at his short ponytail. “Maybe. Thanks, Jaycee.”

“Sure.” The girl skittered off to greet some new patrons.

“You think you know what the case is, don’t you?” Cici asked, pouring more tea into her cup.


Author Bio:

With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.

Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.

She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.

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What I Really Think of Restricted Fantasies by Kevin Kneupper

Restricted Fantasies is an anthology of eleven science fiction stories that take virtual reality to a whole new dimension. I did not want to put this book down and yet each story is satisfying so that it’s the perfect book for reading a story during your lunch hour or work break. I found the stories to be a fun read and I could see the possibilities of this fiction becoming reality. What person who has ever played the simple games on their phone who didn’t say “just one more level” or “just five more minutes”? And it’s never one more level. Those five minutes easily turn into two hours. How long would you stay in the game when it’s as real as real can get and the world is exactly all you dream it to be? These stories also show the pitfalls. Be careful what you ask for. You just may get it.

Kevin Dneupper, the author, also did a fine job creating these worlds. Not all of them are dreams. This book stays on my “read again” list.

Restricted Fantasrestricted fantasiesies

by Kevin Kneupper

A Black Mirror-style sci-fi short story collection about the perils of our virtual reality future – and whether we’re already living in it.

It’s a future where you can simulate any fantasy you want. But some people want some very dark things. You can plug into your own private world. Your dreams are indistinguishable from reality. Do what you want, dream what you want, be what you want.

It sounds like a paradise. But paradise has its price. And some people’s idea of paradise is everyone else’s idea of hell. 

Restricted Fantasies is a Black Mirror-style collection of short stories about lives lived inside and outside of virtual reality. The advent of simulated realities raises questions of philosophy and technology that drive at the core of our nature as humans—and in the tradition of classic sci-fi, the stories in this collection wrestle with these questions and with the shape of things to come.

You’ll meet a child protective services agent tasked with rescuing children being raised by Neo-Nazis in an illegal simulation of their own darkest fantasies.

You’ll meet a man who discovers the cheat code to our reality—and watch as it all goes horribly wrong.

You’ll go on a futuristic Rumspringa with an Amish woman who lives it up in virtual reality for a few years before deciding whether to go home to the last unplugged community on Earth.

You’ll peek into the lives of virtual reality addicts, aliens, and mad billionaires.

And you’ll journey into Sim-Sing, a simulated prison with a very unpleasant jailer.

Whether you’re a fan of classic sci-fi or not, if you’ve ever wondered whether the things around you are real, whether The Matrix was just a movie, and where the line is between reality and fantasy, you’ll love this glimpse into a future that may yet come—and that may already be here.

Available at Amazon

kevin kneupper

Author Kevin Kneupper is an attorney and writer of various books, screenplays, andwebcomics, including the bestselling They Who Fell series and Argonauts.

Follow on Twitter, Facebook , GoodReads and Amazon.

 

 

 

Kalin Gow Vampires Series Pulse Review

PULSE Vampire Series Omnibus Vol. 1 Books 1 – 4
Kailin Gow
Publication date: March 1st 2018
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

This Omnibus contains 4 Full-length Novels in the PULSE Vampire Series, now in development as a Film starting with its Prequel, Mysterious Teacher.

Loved it! Very exciting storyline, can’t wait for the next one…. – Ariana, early 20s.

Pulse is fast paced and intriguing, the story has twists at every turn and the ending leaves you open mouthed and wanting more. Kailin did a wonderful job in creating this vampire world. – Melissa Silva, The Bookshelf

Ever since I was little, I’ve loved vampire books, and this one does not disappoint. – Amy (Books, College, and Other Random Things)

I know that I seem to say the same thing everytime that I review a Kailin book but man can she write, no matter whatever she writes I can never seem to put the book down whenever I pick one up. This has become another one of my favourite Kailin series and I highly recommend it. – Head Stuck in a Book Blog

Hurray for Gow, she made up a powerful character. I recommended this, you are not going to regret. – Astrid A.

DESCRIPTION

17 year-old Kalina didn’t know her boyfriend was a vampire until the night he died of a freak accident. She didn t know he came from a long line of vampires until the night she was visited by his half-brothers Jaegar and Stuart Greystone. There were a lot of secrets her boyfriend didn t tell her. Now she must discover them in order to keep alive. But having two half-brothers vampires around had just gotten interesting….

Kailin Gow is a multiple Award-winning author, film and tv director/producer, and speaker. You can learn more about her at: KailinGow.com.



Author Bio:

Kailin Gow loves things that are edgy, cool, bright, exciting, hopeful, glittery, and jaw-droppingly awe-inspiring. She loves writing, reading, and filming stories about people whose journeys take them beyond their boundaries – physically, psychologically, intellectually, and emotionally to arrive a point and a place of inspiration and hope. Her works have been recognized by the leaders in the industry in book publishing and entertainment to be “innovative” and “disruptive”, earning her awards from ALA, The IBPA, and festivals.

 

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What I Really Think

It’s a serious love / hate opinion of Pulse. If you liked reading Twilight (teenage angst) or watching Buffy (super fit, kickass), you will probably enjoy this book.

What I liked: The triangle relationship that is developed between the two brother vampires and Kalina was fun to read. Older brother always taking the younger brother’s girl and she’s attracted to both as they are different as day and night. Then there is the deceased third brother who died three months prior who she cared for deeply, but it was just a high school thing.

The mystery of how the younger brother died was intriguing. Did he die as a result of driving while drunk or was there more to it? What exactly is this vampire wine?  The problem is that you have the answers in the first part of the book.  After that, a few vampire attacks, sibling rivalry, chaste lust, and jealousy.

What I didn’t like: I’d like to know who the editor was because it’s someone I would never use.

In the story, there is a priest whose name is secret. He has a special ability to change wine to blood. He must remain hidden. Shortly after this is known, Father Botticelli location is utmost secret. Umm. So they just told the most important secret name to a mere mortal who is being hunted by the other vampires because really it’s just the location that’s the big secret ??? (That should have been cut out and the wording changed.)

I found some character traits to be implausible. She describes a cheerleader of a regional winning team as being meek and shy before having been bitten. Really? Meek and shy. Have you ever known a highly competitive cheerleader to be meek? There was never any meekness shown in the dialogue or scenes.

To be honest, I didn’t choose this book because of the romance. It looked as if it would have a good mystery as well. The mystery turned out to be … Eh. It’s more telling than showing and it’s mostly revealed early on.

The last chapter of Book 1 is titled Epilogue. It is not an epilogue. (Hello Editor??) It’s nothing more than the last chapter which ends with a cliffhanger. Normally, this type of ending would piss me off. However, in this case you’re getting the four book set, and so I won’t bitch about it.

Summary: Pulse has good bones.  Unlike Twilight, I did not have a desire to throw the book across the room and the author was not overly repetitive with the same phrases. I wish the author had taken a little more time to flesh out the mystery.