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Hello everyone!  It certainly has been a while.  It wasn’t my intention to disappear for so long but you know how it goes, a day turns into a week, a week turns into a fortnight, a fortnight turns into a month and a month turns into two months. 

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year’s break.  I had nearly 5 weeks off from work – lots of stuff to do around the house, a trip to Bali and time to refresh for the year ahead.  And recently I’ve been sorting through my books – oh oh!  It has come to my attention that I have quite a few reviews to produce and also quite a few books already lined up begging to be read and reviewed.  Ah, dilemma – life is also busy at the moment!

So, here’s my intentions – I will not start reading a new review book until I have completed at least two reviews and at this stage I will not be accepting any books for review until I have this thing under control.  I usually like to read and review books as quickly as possible so I can get back to the author ASAP and so, even though other bloggers might hold on to books and reviews for a long time, this does not sit well with me.  So, my friends, bear with me, and hopefully we’ll have this thing back on track in no time 🙂

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THE BLURB

Travel to Exeter, Massachusetts, where old grudges, buried secrets and lifetime regrets haunt the residents of this small town – and sometimes trip up unwary newcomers.

In Bones of the Past, Ellie learns some old secrets lurking underneath the small town peace.

Step back 10 years in Thrown Out as Chris must decide if he’ll let old scars come between him and what he’s building with Dan.

F.X. O’Leary can see something is very wrong with his grandchildren, but he must enlist Riordan’s help for an End Run when his son Joe won’t let him help.

Finally, in the 40 years they’ve known each other, Becca and Riordan have perfected this Intricate Dance between them.

 

WHAT I THOUGHT

Jennie Coughlin has created a town which seems real enough to perhaps be the one next to your own.  This small book spans a few decades with its four short stories.  It’s about everyday life for the people of Exeter, complete with problems, trivial and large.  I felt like I was looking at the town through a window, getting a little glimpse at the goings on and getting to know the characters.  It was like being given a sneak peak at what was to come – which is good because I have heard there are more stories about Exeter in the works.

Can I pick a favourite?  Nope, I can’t.  Even though they are four short stories it still seemed like more of a whole to me than four parts, they interwove and it was great.  It gave me the feeling that I had known the town for more than just the ‘time at the moment’. 

An easy to read pocketsize book with engaging characters and good storylines.

 

I must say thank you to Jennie for providing me with a copy of her book – thanks, Jennie!

Over the last few weeks I have received quite the handful of new arrivals and thought I had better post about them before the list gets even longer.  My most recent additions are below and I shall take this opportunity to say thank you to all for sending them through to me 🙂

Family Pieces – Misa Rush

What do you do when your once charmed life falls to pieces? Karsen Woods’ life seems charmed from her hunkalicious boyfriend to her picture-perfect midwestern roots. Away at college, even the necklace she wears serves as a constant connection home – a family tradition created when her grandfather handmade each immediate relative an interlinking charm. Each piece crafted in the shape of a puzzle piece, each one interlinking perfectly together. But when the unexpected death of her mother turns her world upside down, she discovers there is a missing piece of her treasured family tradition and her life as she once knew it may never be the same.

Addison Reynolds resides in her posh Manhattan condominium and wraps her personal identity around running Urbane, the magazine empire built by her father. In a moment of haste, Addison divulges her deepest secret to her closest friend Emily – a secret she never intended to disclose.

Could one choice, one secret, bond two unlikely women forever?

 

The Slave – Pauline Montagna

Aurelia Rubbini, the only child of a rich merchant in fourteenth century Italy, has been raised to be a dutiful daughter, wife and mother, but she longs for something more than the restricted life intended for her. Then one day, her father brings home from a buying trip an Asian slave boy, Batu, who will reshape Aurelia’s destiny.

Aurelia and Batu are inexorably drawn to each other, but their relationship is forbidden as Aurelia is destined for an arranged marriage to further her father’s political ambitions. When Aurelia marries Lorenzo de Graziano, a nobleman with a dangerous reputation, Batu insists on going with her for her protection. But Batu’s presence arouses violent passions that Aurelia, in her innocence, can never understand.

Goodbye Lullaby – Jan Murray

In September 1971, 181 numbered marbles roll around in a barrel while families all over Australia hold their breath.

Sixteen year-old Caroline ‘Miki’ Patrick confides to her best friend — the outspoken, smart-mouthed Jude — that she’s pregnant. After a failed abortion attempt, Miki finds herself in the iron embrace of St Anthony’s home for wayward girls, with the scheming Sister Angela in her ear. But Jude convinces Miki they can raise the child together, and they take to the road.

But neither of them is prepared for the hardships they face — and after one particularly difficult night, Jude walks out. Alone, poor and scared for her baby’s welfare, Miki struggles on, but a year later, she decides the best solution is to surrender Dominic for adoption.

Years later, Miki is a dangerous woman, and she’s on the run. A vocal anti-war activist who assists draft dodgers, Miki is hiding from the Federal Police and never stays in one place very long. That is, until Dominic’s birthday is drawn in the conscription lottery, and Jude returns.

But neither of the women has forgotten ‘their’ son – and Miki and Jude will stop at nothing to be reunited with him. 

The Last English Village by James Ignizio

On 22 December 1943 the Susan Rae, an American B17 Flying Fortress, is lost. The aircraft is reported to have crashed into the English Channel. There are no survivors and no bodies are recovered. Records of the incident mysteriously go missing. The Susan Rae and its crew vanish, committed to the dustbin of history.

On the day the Susan Rae disappears, the English village of Lower Friththingden is the scene of several remarkable events. Two Rolls-Royces are seen parked near the village church. The entourage has paused to listen to the sound of the village children’s choir. Overhead a German parachute mine floats down, heading directly toward the church. Inside are most of the village inhabitants, including a young girl rumored to be the illegitimate child of Winston Churchill.

More than a half-century later two men, an embittered American and a reclusive Englishman, have their lives altered as a consequence of the disappearance of the Susan Rae. Vince Collesano, ill, depressed, and alone, travels to England to satisfy his wife’s final request. Seconds before her death she had pointed to a painting of an English churchyard and asked to have her ashes buried there – in the country where she had been born and raised.

Unfortunately, Vince has no idea as to just where in England that particular churchyard is located. The promise cannot be kept without the help of his late wife’s cousin, Albert “Bertie” Ambrose, a sad little man who hasn’t ventured outside of London for more than thirty years.

Despite Vince’s intense dislike of Bertie, and all things English, the pair team up for what Vince believes to be a search for his wife’s final resting place. Given an ample supply of Marmite, they just may succeed.

The Spanish Revenge: A Craig Page Thriller by Allan Topol

Craig Page, the bold and daring EU Director of Counterterrorism, becomes the focal point of an effort to stop the feared terrorist Ahmed Sadi, whose goal is to provoke a Muslim uprising in Western Europe. Ahmed, a Muslim fanatic born in Paris to parents who emigrated from Algeria, calls himself Musa Ben Abdil, after a Muslim hero from the Fifteenth Century War with Spain. Page teams up once again the resourceful Elizabeth Crowder, a newspaper reporter who has also become his lover.

Ahmed’s plans become far more menacing when he is joined by Chinese General Zhou, who had been exiled to France for his devious actions in The Spanish Revenge. With Zhou’s assistance, Ahmed’s plan is to launch a horrific attack on the heart of Christianity. At the same time, Ahmed wants to retake militarily for Islam a portion of Southern Spain. He relies upon a medieval parchment he claims to have uncovered, in which Queen Isabella on her death bed in 1504 ceded a portion of Southern Spain to the Muslims in perpetuity. His one main obstacle: Page himself is hot on his trail, determined as ever to save the world from a master criminal. From Spain to Morocco, and beyond to Italy, Page and General Zhou renew their battle, even as Ahmed plots his deadly revenge.

Reverberation The Novel by V.B. Holmes

April 18, 1828. A wealthy farmer, Jacob Hicks, dies. His friend, Squire Richard Holt, testifies that, on his deathbed, the deceased named his only son as his sole beneficiary.  In a naive attempt to invalidate the questionable will, two disgruntled family members fire consecutively at the squire. Only one shot finds its mark, but the lives of the two shooters and those around them are changed forever.

Reverberation is a story of love and friendship, greed and survival set amid the changing social, religious and philosophical mores of antebellum America.

‘one accord’ Volume I One Mind, One Body, One Team by Bridgette Brown

B.L. Brown is the CEO and Founder of Halo-Orangees, LLC and the P-S-T (Parent-Student-Teacher) brand. She is a strong, proud African-American divorcee that is fortunate to parent five amazing children who are unique in every way. The genesis of Halo-Orangees, LLC Brand: Helping Advocate Longevity of Organizations by Obtaining Objectives through Redefining Above-Board New Generational Guidelines for Employer Employee Standards was inspired, developed, and birthed from her reaction to an unethical manager with whom she had the pleasure of working for and whose style of supervision made her stronger. The vision for Halo-Orangees’ Parent-Student-Teacher Brand is to empower all children to be self-defined rather than “people” defined, self-directed, and self-driven. The P-S-T brand embodies the message that all children have a purpose and can rise above any situation and/or circumstance as long as they remain true to themselves.

In a one-on-one meeting with this executive director, he made the statement that another employee, who held the same title as B.L. Brown, was better than she was. In response, B.L. Brown informed him that this employee was not better than her nor was she better than the employee. From that one statement, she instantly realized her true purpose in life. Reckoning her experience with a newfound belief, the foundation of Halo-Orangees, LLC emerged. The first and most important reason for creating Halo-Orangees, LLC is to empower all human beings. This book embodies the message that all human beings have a purpose and can rise above any situation or circumstance as long as they remain ethically true to themselves. Halo-Orangees’ goal is to change the environment of employment for all human beings that fosters a system that demands that they be treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. The mission of the P-S-T brand is to eliminate the ever-growing educational viruses of gang involvement, drugs, bullying, suicide and immobility that our students are facing daily. In addition, this book will challenge humans, who work in complex working conditions to grow mentally and spiritually.

I know it seems like I went on a book buying splurge not that long ago but I really couldn’t resist my latest attendance at a book sale.  It was the weekend, it was pouring down with rain, I was visiting the ‘fix my car’ shop and on my way there I saw a sign by the side of the road saying ‘book sale’ and of course I just had to drive to the address supplied and have a look around.  I am very glad I did.  I didn’t know what to expect and thought if the address looked a little dodgy I would just drive on by.  No need to worry, it was in a little house (I think) behind a small church and there was a fantastic selection of books, most in great condition. I walked away with the following for $31 plus an extra $1 donation:

Just Take My Heart – Mary Higgins Clark (a long time ago I used to read all of her books so I was happy to find this one)
Chasing Harry Winston – Lauren Weisberger
South of Broad – Pat Conroy
A Year in the World – Frances Mayes
Every Day in Tuscany – Frances Mayes
Skinny Legs and All – Tom Robbins
Sex and the City – Candace Bushnell (currently watching the series – didn’t watch it when it was on TV)
Nights in Rodanthe – Nicholas Sparks (loved this movie)
Bad Dogs Have More Fun – John Grogan (loved Marley and Me)
Almost French – Sarah Turnbull (loved, LOVED the cover of this one)
Lord John and the Private Matter – Diana Gabaldon
A Breath of Snow and Ashes – Diana Gabaldon

And I bought The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – which I already have – oops!

I really could have walked away with five times the amount of books but I had to stop myself, you know, practice some self-restraint.  One of the ladies running the sale mentioned they have a few a year and would I like to go on their mailing list – well, I wrote my email address down just as quick as I could because I definitely want to visit when the next sale happens, which should be in February which is also my birthday month – coincidence – I think not!

Now, I know I’ve been a little absent of late and I have a million (okay, I might be slightly exaggerating there!) reviews to post but I have been super busy and haven’t really had any free time.  I am hoping this dies down soon but then I also know it is the festive season so perhaps it won’t be a little more calmer until next year.  Either way, I hope to get to everything just as soon as I can.  Thanks for continuing to read my blog and for your support 🙂

THE BLURB

Kit’s only goal is to stay alive. Right now, that means dodging brutal gangs while peddling fake I.D.s on the back streets of Winnipeg. But things get complicated when Kit sells a license to a girl named Aura—a girl who could almost be her twin. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kit is plunged into an underground society with heart-stopping surprises at every turn. To protect herself, she’s forced to assume Aura’s identity. But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and when Kit learns the truth about Aura, she knows she has to get out before the storm breaks. There’s only one problem: escape isn’t an option.

Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot harder.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Katie Robison’s Downburst was just what I needed.  I was in a bit of a reading slump, reading a few books at the same time but nothing really grabbing my attention.  I wanted to read a book which whispered to me, ‘Go on, read some more, you know you want to, don’t put me to bed yet.’  So the search was on, which book should I pick up next?  I actually thought my odds of choosing the ‘right’ book quite slim so I didn’t have high expectations.  I read a few reviews for a few books waiting on my shelves and after reading some good reviews for Downburst I decided to give it a try.  Boy did I pick the right book!!

Downburst is Katie Robison’s debut YA novel and it is set to be a great series – The Windstorm Series.  I completely agree with many others who have said this series will rival The Hunger Games.  Now, I need to be careful not to give too much away here.  I can say that although the blurb sounds quite exciting enough in itself it most certainly does not even come close to illustrating just what this book is about……..oh, the last line is pretty good!  You will be surprised, just know that.

Katie Robison has obviously given thought to how she was going to present the world in Downburst as the details are such that it makes this make-believe fiction setting seem real.  I certainly could picture in my mind the environment/setting for the story, the descriptions were more than sufficient to open up that creative part of my brain and conjure up a picture that fit.  The characters were an interesting bunch but I know we’ve just scratched the surface with some of them; hopefully there will be more to come in the following books.   I did like seeing snapshots from Kit’s past and of course can’t wait to see an even bigger picture for the future!

The storyline was great, started off with a bang and ended with a………well let’s just say it ended leaving a definite want for more!  Right from the start I didn’t want to put this book down and that continued all the way through and when I did happen upon that last page I still didn’t want to put it down!  Unfortunately, try as I might, I couldn’t conjure up even just another 100 pages, let alone the 300 I really wanted.  I just love when a book leaves you feeling like that!  Well done, Katie Robison!

Fantastic start to the series!  Loved the ending of the first book!  Can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Word of advice – get your hands on this one if you haven’t already 🙂

Many thanks to Katie Robison for providing me with a copy of Downburst – thank you, Katie!

It has been over a month and I still think of the lovely two outings I had back in August.  Here is what I had prepared from last month but unfortunately did not post earlier.  I think it’s still as exciting and reading through the below lists reminds me of all of the wonderful new babies I adopted.

 

TUESDAY, 21 AUGUST 2012

I must share, had the best lunch break today!! Me and a couple of other gals from the office went over to the University of WA as they have their annual Save the Children Book Sale. Today was half price day and tomorrow is the last day; fill a box for $15 – we might have to revisit!  If we don’t make it back I’m still super happy with all of the books I got today – 13 books for $23.50, rounded up to $24!

The new additions to the family:

A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

Babyville – Jane Green
Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

Girl with a Pearl Earring – Travy Chevalier
Jack Maggs – Peter Carey
Kid-wrangling – Kaz Cooke

Small Island – Andrea Levy
Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison
Tears of the Giraffe – Alexander McCall Smith

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson
The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho
Truth & Beauty – Ann Patchett

It’s been soooooooooooooooooo long since I had a splurge and my goodness, IT FEELS SO GOOD!!!

WEDNESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2012

So, of course I couldn’t keep away, we went back today!! I got all of the below, 22 books, for $15!! The first two were for work colleagues and the rest are all for me, yippee!!!!

Gang of Four – Liz Byrski
Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

All the Names – Jose Saramago
David Golder – Irene Nemirovsky
Dexter in the Dark – Jeff Lindsay

Everything Must Go – Elizabeth Flock

Flora’s Lot – Katie Fforde
Imaginary Homelands – Salman Rushdie
Lucky – Alice Sebold

Mapping the Edge – Sarah Dunant

The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
The Attorney – Steve Martini

The Honourable Schoolboy – John le Carre
The Lost Dog – Michelle de Kretser

The Perfect Man – Sheila O’Flanagan

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Submerged Cathedral – Charlotte Wood
The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith

The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
Tuscan Rose – Belinda Alexandra
Wanting – Richard Flanagan

When Will There Be Good News? – Kate Atkinson

Once again, yippee!!!!

As you can see, sometimes it’s just hard to keep me away from buying books when I’m on a role.  Seriously, I have come a long way; I don’t always walk out of a shopping centre having bought a book.  A few years back it was like I was addicted to buying books and nearly every time I was around them I would buy one, two, maybe ten!  The thing is, there are so many great books to be read and a lot of them are sitting on my bookshelves at home screaming at me for some attention.  I made a conscious decision to curb my book buying shenanigans – hence why I was so excited about being let out for a couple of expeditions last month!

And now, oh dear, the South of the River Branch is having its annual book sale commencing this Monday, which just so happens to be a public holiday.  I have plenty of things planned for the weekend so I highly doubt I’ll get along to it but Thursday is half-price day or fill a box for $10 and it is open until 6pm and if I left work on time I could probably spend an hour or so there before they kicked me out. 

Hm, should I or shouldn’t I?  Of course I should but I won’t.  I make this promise now and I make it because I mustn’t get carried away, even though it is for a good cause.  I will look forward to next year’s sale instead! 

For those of you in the area here are the details:

South of the River Branch 2012 Book Sale

At the Cannington Exhibition Centre, Cnr Albany Highway & Station St, Cannington
Monday 1st October……….9.00 am to 9.00 pm
Tuesday 2nd October……..9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Wednesday 3rd October….9.00 am to 6.00 pm
Thursday 4th October……. 9.00 am to 6.00 pm (books half-price or fill a box for $10)
Friday 5th October…………9.00 am to 2.00pm (books half-price or fill a box for $10)

There will be a huge variety of fiction & non-fiction books, as well as CDs, DVDs & sheet music, all at bargain prices

 

Oh wow, what a great few days it has been, new arrivals left, right and centre, I am one lucky gal!  The latest two to arrive at their new home are Heavy Bags of Soul by K.D. Rose and Old Boys by Charles McCarry.  So, once again, two thank yous must go out at the same time – thank you, K.D., for a copy of your work and thank you, Katherine, of Duckworth Publishers for a copy of Charles McCarry’s work – thank you!

Heavy Bags of Soul

It is half past dark and we are in a graveyard orbit.  Travelers have lost their way.  Mankind is hard of hearing.  We have abandoned insight and revelation for commerce and merry-go-rounds of distraction.  But wonder is still in the palm of our hand.  Wisdom is everywhere when we pay attention.  We hold the key to orchards in camouflage and we are charged with the task of taking vision and making it into reality – beyond anything that exists and beyond what others say can be done.  Learning this is an absolute requirement to our survival.

Old Boys

Retired master spy Paul Christopher goes missing a day after a family dinner.

Months later a Chinese official delivers his ashes to the American consulate in Beijing, and a memorial service is held in Washington.  But the Old Boys of the CIA are not convinced that their ex-colleague is dead and embark upon a thrilling search that takes them from Xinjiang to Brazil, from Rome to Moscow and a secret more dangerous than any of them expected.

 

Yippee, it’s here, Playing Havoc by Steve Morris arrived safely and is now waiting for me to pick it up as soon as possible and get started on Steve’s first novel!

Regular readers of this blog would know I am a fan of Steve’s short stories and I was just so excited to receive an email from Steve saying he would like to send me a copy of his first novel.  Of course I said yes!  Of course I was excited!  When reading Steve’s short stories I (and many other readers) wished I could read beyond the end of the short story, get to see how the characters lived outside of the few pages they occupied.  Well, now I get the chance and I can’t wait to begin!

I must thank Steve for sending me a copy of Playing Havoc – thank you, Steve!

BANG! Lights out!

Just how would we cope in an event where every electronic device on our planet was rendered useless in an instant? If all electric power, industry, basic utilities, transport and the very communications that we all take for granted were zapped in a single moment, how would life carry on? What survival skills do we have to help us rebuild life from its very foundations?

Playing Havoc, partly based on fact, partly a black comedy, describes one small British Island’s battle to maintain some normality in the chaos after a coronal mass ejection through the eyes of one man who had only recently moved there with the very intention of getting some peace. A reluctant man with enough problems of his own to deal with finds that the longer the havoc goes on, more and more of the islanders turn to him for help.

I love when I get new books in the mail, it’s exciting to come home and find the package, rip into it and discover which book has made its way to its new home – this time I had double the excitement, two books in one day! 

Thank you to Erin McNichols of Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc for providing me with a copy of The Line Between Here and Gone AND thank you to the team at Europa Editions for providing me with a copy of Three Weeks in December.

The Line Between Here and Gone

The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next.

Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason’s newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin’s best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child.

Or was he?

One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin’s father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs.

Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge.

A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means.

The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all.

Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man Amanda desperately needs to find.

Little do they realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends The Line Between Here and Gone.

Three Weeks in December

In 1899 Jeremy, a young engineer, leaves a small town in Maine to oversee the construction of a railroad across British East Africa. In charge of hundreds of Indian laborers, he becomes the reluctant hunter of two lions that are killing his men in nightly attacks on their camp. Plagued by fear, wracked with malaria, and alienated by a secret he can tell no one, he takes increasing solace in the company of an African man who scouts for him.

In 2000 Max, an American ethnobotonist, travels to Rwanda in search of an obscure vine that could become a lifesaving pharmaceutical. Stationed in the mountains, she shadows a family of gorillas—the last of their group to survive the merciless assault of local poachers. Max bears a striking gift for communicating with the apes. But soon the precarious freedom of both is threatened as a violent rebel group from the nearby Congo draws close.

Told in alternating perspectives that interweave the two characters and their fates, Audrey Schulman’s newest novel deftly confronts the struggle between progress and preservation, idiosyncrasy and acceptance. Evoking both Barbara Kingsolver and Andrea Barrett, this enthralling fiction, wise and generous, explores some of the crucial social and cultural challenges that, over the years, have come to shape our world.

The engaging story and memorable characters make this fine novel an ideal book club selection.

Andrea Kane is on a blog tour to celebrate her book THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE and as part of that tour has taken part in the following Q&A provided by Erin McNichols of Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.  Please enjoy!

Q: What is your daily routine as a writer?

A: My day doesn’t begin until I’ve had my morning cup of coffee. I love my new Keurig.  It lets me brew one cup at a time so I can keep the fresh caffeine stream coming.  Then I check emails and look at social media (Facebook, Twitter) before I start writing. I take frequent breaks to play with my Pomeranian or Google something for research.

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

A: My favorite part is getting fan mail from my readers, letting me know my characters are as real to them as they are to me.  I especially enjoy receiving feedback on my animal characters, since I’m such an animal lover.  With the FI team, I’m thrilled that so many readers are attached to Hero.  I have a feeling he will be center stage in future Forensic Instincts novels.

Q: Is there a specific element in your writing that you find most challenging?

A: Descriptions.  I’m much more audial than visual, so I tend towards writing “she got dressed” rather than detailing her clothing.  Whereas dialog comes naturally to me, so I concentrate hard on being more descriptive.

Q: Which author inspires you most?

A: It depends on when you catch me. There are so many talented authors, each mastering an element. I go back as far as Carolyn Keane, when I first started reading mystery novels as a kid.  I was a big mystery reader, so later it was Agatha Christie and on to Robert Ludlum.  Now I read all genres, and my most memorable ones are the ones that are character based.

Q: What, do you feel, is your biggest success?

A: From a professional standpoint, hitting the NY Times Bestseller list and hearing from my readers about how I’ve impacted their lives. But on a personal note, being a mother is the most rewarding role I fill.

 

Please visit

http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-between-here-and-gone/

to follow the scavenger hunt blog tour where you will find additional links leading to reviews, author Q&As and giveaways!!

Joy Castro’s book HELL OR HIGH WATER (Thomas Dunne Books; Hardcover) is set for release on 17 July 2012 and to celebrate the book hitting the shelves Joy is currently on a blog tour.  As part of the tour Joy has stopped by on Mandythebookworm’s Blog to share the following guest post.

Thank you, Mandy, for having me on your blog!  I thought I’d share with your readers my all-time favorite dessert:  flan.

When I was a little girl, my Cuban grandmother used to make the most incredible flan:  creamy, sweet, and delicious, with a caramel so dark it tasted burnt.  My aunts all learned the recipe, but I didn’t want anything to do with cooking when I was younger.

Later, after I’d had my own child and my grandmother had passed away, I longed to make her delicious dessert.  I tried different recipes out of cookbooks.  But the flan never came out right:  the texture was too heavy, or the caramel tasted wrong.  I gave up.  I shifted my allegiance to bread pudding.

Finally last year, when I visited my Aunt Lou (for Lourdes) in Key West, she gave me the secret family recipe for flan at last.

I’ve made it repeatedly since then, and it’s heavenly every time.  It includes about a billion eggs and way too much of the national fruit of Cuba:  sugar.  To me, it tastes like home, love, and sweet refuge.  I wish I could share the recipe, but since it’s such a great family secret, my aunt said if I ever made it public, she’d hunt me down.

In Hell or High Water, the protagonist Nola Céspedes, who’s also Cuban American, makes flan for her roommate Uri and for her girlfriends when she hosts Girls’ Night.  I loved giving Nola a little bit of my own cultural heritage, and I’m making flan for the book launch party on July 17th at Indigo Bridge Books, so if you’re in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, come have some!

 

Thank you, Joy, for stopping by!  That flan sounds delicious and I have no doubt it will be consumed at a fast rate on 17 July.  All the best for the party!!

 

“A terrific mystery, but HELL OR HIGH WATER is more than just a mystery; it’s a heartfelt examination of a second America—poor but undaunted—that was swept under the rug but refuses to stay there . . . I can’t wait to see what Joy Castro does next.”

—Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River

Nola Céspedes, an ambitious young reporter at the Times-Picayune, catches a break: an assignment to write her first full-length investigative feature. It’s a far cry from the club openings and plantation tours she usually covers and could become a story that will send ripples through New Orleans in the two years since Hurricane Katrina. The piece is about sex offenders who have fallen off the grid since the city was evacuated.

While Nola speaks with survivors, offenders (some still on the registry, others not), and experts, she also becomes fixated on the search for a missing tourist in New Orleans. As Nola’s work leads her into darker corners of the city, she has to hide her work from her friends and ultimately must re-visit her painful past of living in the housing projects as a Latina where there are few people of her ethnicity.

Vividly rendered in razor sharp prose, HELL OR HIGH WATER brings New Orleans to life in a riveting journey of trust betrayed and the courageous struggle toward recovery.

Links: 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hell-High-Water-A-Novel/dp/1250004578

Joy’s website: http://www.joycastro.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com@_joycastro

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com

More about Joy Castro: 

JOY CASTRO teaches literature at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Her 2005 memoir, The Truth Book was elected an ABA Book Sense Notable Book.

Please visit Joy’s website to find out more about her and her books and be sure to continue following the tour at:

http://www.joycastro.com/Blogtour.htm

Dan O’Brien is currently on a tour of the blogosphere and has decided to stop by at Mandythebookworm’s Blog.  Here is a little about Dan to get us started –

Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, Deviance of Time, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, The Twins of Devonshire and the Curse of the Widow, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He also works as an editor at Empirical, a national magazine with a strong West Coast vibe. Find out more about the magazine at www.empiricalmagazine.com.

And now for the main event – a guest post by Dan O’Brien – please enjoy 🙂

A Writing Perspective from the Other Side of the Fence

Life as a writer can be hard sometimes.

Success is elusive; fans shift as often as a summer wind.

Yet, we persevere, writing into the late hours of the night and waking in the early hours of the morning to log the hours and enter, for a time, the worlds we create. When I first started writing, more than a decade ago, it was because I loved the idea of immersing myself in a place where I could construct the narrative; walk through dense forests and to the tops of mountains. Over time the process became more about writing as a tool to move through emotions and languishing memories that required catharsis.

Writing takes on many forms, for many different writers, over the course of our lives.

For me, the process is the reward.

I love to write.

When I ask myself that silly question of what I would do if I had all the money in the world, the answer is always quite simple: write. Now more than a decade later, I have a renewed sense of purpose and have become quite adept at balancing the spinning plates of responsibility.

Recently, between being a full-time graduate student and writer, I joined Empirical magazine as an editor – among other responsibilities. A national magazine similar in spirit to Harper’s or The Atlantic, the magazine is firmly rooted in a West Coast sensibility. There is a little something for everyone, and honestly, the hope is that everyone will take a look. Contributors to the magazine come from around the globe and cover everything from politics to fiction.

Working at a magazine, especially at this point in its maturation, is a wonderful experience. There are so many moving parts that enliven your day. Sometimes I spend the day sorting through fiction and poetry submissions, searching for that piece of prose, or perhaps a stanza, that ensnares my imagination. Other days I am editing, constantly referring to the Chicago Manual of Style to ascertain the correct usage of an archaic sentence structure. As a writer, the prospect of editing and rummaging through the work of others might not sound exciting, but there are some wonderful consequences: 

  1. You learn to become a better editor of your own work
  2. You begin to recognize redundant sentence structures and overused phrases
  3. Your grasp of language grows exponentially

However, the most important component for me is: 

  1. You get to help others bring their work into a public forum

For many writers, and certainly for me early in my writing career, the notion of being picked up by a magazine or a small press was foremost in my mind. It was that distant promise of publication and everything that goes with it that pushed me forward. When I got rejection letters, most of which lacked a personal touch, I would get down on my writing, denigrate my ability.

The years passed, during which thousands of rejection letters amassed, and I realized that the pursuit of writing for a purely extrinsic reward was dooming myself to Vegas-style odds. I became clear to me that I needed to write because I loved it, and then find a way to share it with others – even if it was not through traditional routes. I found that I was more comfortable with my writing when I did it for the pure joy of it.

Now that I am on the other side of the fence, so to speak, I have noticed a few myths about submitting to paying publications that otherwise mystified and frustrated me prior to becoming an editor and being responsible for interacting with first-time and established authors.

I have decided to provide a humorous, but serious, collection of things you should do and things you shouldn’t do when submitting and entering into a discourse with a publication – sprinkled, of course, with some anecdotes. And without further ado (or perhaps slight ado if you count this sentence here): 

Things You Should Do 

  1. Read the publication you are submitting to before sending an email. This one sounds obvious, I know. However, it happens so often that it warrants mentioning. If you have written a brilliant piece of prose that is about zombies, it is quite likely that Popular Mechanics will not be that interested in it. Pick up an issue of the magazine you are interested in submitting to and familiarize yourself with the kinds of stories they publish. The next part is the hardest part: be honest. Does your piece fit with what they publish?
  2. Read and follow the submission instructions. Again, a no-brainer. If you are thinking that you don’t know where to find the submission instructions and you just have an email address, be prepared for disappointment. Your email might go to submission purgatory with a one-liner response about having received your correspondence – if you’re lucky.
  3. Address your submission to the appropriate person. If you are thinking that I am giving you the obvious pointers, then you are quite right. With that in mind, imagine that I still receive hundreds of emails a month that manage to ignore these simple suggestions. If you are writing a stunning expose on corporate greed, the poetry editor is probably not the best destination for your work.
  4. Edit your work. I tell this to students a lot, so I will mention it here as well: spell check in Microsoft Word is not sufficient. I am not saying that you need to be a copyeditor to submit to a magazine, but do yourself a favor and read it out loud. If it something sounds funny when you read it, you can only imagine how it will sound to an editor who is choosing among thousands of articles and stories to determine what goes to print.
  5. Be cognizant of turnarounds. By this I mean, the amount of time between when you sent in the work until you hear back from an editor about the status of your submission. Nothing will send your work to the bottom of a slush pile than to send a follow-up email the day after you submitted, wondering whether or not you are going to be in the magazine. Most publications will post how long it takes to hear back from them about the status of a submission, and an amount of time after which you should contact them if you haven’t heard from them. 

Things You Shouldn’t Do 

  1. Send an email telling an editor that they would be stupid not to publish your work. It always surprises me when I get an email telling me that I need to publish a story, poem, or piece of nonfiction because it is the next best thing. Top this off with letting me know that I would be a fool not to accept it, almost guarantees a trip to the trash can.
  2. Send a photocopy of your story by registered mail.  If you want to have your story in a magazine, start by giving it to editors in a format that they can actually use. By sending a faded and blurry photocopy of your forty-word poem and declaring that it is a soul-searching masterpiece does not inspire as much confidence as you would think.
  3. Contact an editor on a frequent basis about the status of your submission. I have to sort through hundreds of emails a day, edit for the current issue, and work on editing an anthology; not to mention a thousand other intangibles. We posted a time table about getting back to you for a reason: read it.
  4. Be discouraged by a form rejection letter. This is a bitter pill to swallow for many writers. They think the form rejection letter means that the editor didn’t read their work, or simply had things already planned and was stringing writers along. The reality is on any given month I send out hundreds upon hundreds of rejection letters. There is simply not enough time in the day to offer feedback to every single person. This not to say that I do not offer feedback, or that editors do not offer feedback in general, but instead the process is streamlined so writers can be responded to in a reasonable amount of time.
  5. Call the magazine to find out about your submission. This is subsumed by not contacting an editor about the status of your submission before enough time has passed, but I thought it warranted a special mention considering it is really going the extra mile in terms of being an irritation. If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, calling us is not going to suddenly make us more accessible.
  6. Send another email with corrections. Read twice, send once. If you don’t think what you sent is ready for publication, then please don’t send it. You get one chance at a first impression, and nothing speaks to being underprepared and unprofessional than sending a draft and immediately following up with another draft. If your piece needs work, note that in your submission, but don’t send a series of emails chronicling the different stages of the edits for that story. The exception, of course, is if you have already been accepted and you have been asked to make edits.
  7. Contact the magazine to air your frustrations about not being selected. I say this with all seriousness. It is very likely that you got rejected because the piece was not a good fit and not that the magazine has decided to order a hit on your writing career. Please don’t treat it that way. Lashing out at a publication for sending a form rejection letter, or passing on a piece you have written, reeks of a lack of professionalism and could impact your ability to publish elsewhere. Many editors are friends, especially in the digital age, and word spreads fast.
  8. Contact the magazine to ask if you think a story you are working on would be a good fit elsewhere. I can appreciate the sentiment. A lot of editors are writers themselves, and they love talking about the process and the product. I find myself building friendships with writers, those we publish and those we do not, and often I will give them suggestions about their work. However, if you don’t know me personally and have never been published or solicited in any way to use me as a sounding board, then do not contact me and ask if a poem or story would be a good fit at another magazine. If you think it is ready for publication, then submit it here. An obvious exception would be if the writer knew the story would not be a good fit and asked because they were uncertain in venturing into new territory.

I could probably keep listing things you shouldn’t do, but I will wrap it up there. I encourage you to keep trying and keep writing. Things only get better with time, and time is all we really have. I love to hear from other writers and potential readers, so please stop by and say hello.

Thank you for your guest post, Dan, and good luck with the rest of the tour!!!

THE BLURB

Being hardheaded is a common character flaw, but most teenagers can’t crack a concrete curb with their skull. And while a skilled skateboarder appears to defy gravity, he can’t keep water from pouring out of an upturned cup. Unintentionally tapping into latent powers has brought Jayke Wolff to the attention of the Aduro, an ancient society plotting an apocalyptic new world order. He’s now their number one draft pick, and they’ve dispatched their most seductive member to close the deal. It shouldn’t take much convincing a hormonal teenage boy to turn his back on a cryptic covenant for a future of self-indulgence and unchecked power. But if Jayke can’t be tempted by pleasures of the flesh, the flesh can be influenced in less pleasant ways as well. Armageddon can’t wait forever. Killing Jayke will also work.

Not remembering your past and not believing in your future can make it hard to choose who you’re going to be. Jayke has to decide how much of his teenage life he’s willing to sacrifice for a greater good. After all, you’re only young once.

WHAT I THOUGHT

You would think only being able to remember the last 7 years of your life would be enough to try and deal with.  Well, Jayke Wolff has plenty more on his plate.  This is not the typical teenager coming of age story, there is so much more contained in The Buried Covenant and this aspect is what appealed to me.  Keenan managed to give Jayke’s story a feeling of realness, even if super powers are a thing of fiction. 

Jayke is a foster child ready to go out into the real world and go to school after previously being home-schooled and so this story begins.  All of a sudden he’s defying gravity and suffering no cuts when others would.  Jayke is left wondering what is going on?!  He gains some friends at school and feels the little butterflies in his tummy which may be attributed to female infatuation.  It almost seems as if he is learning to live a new way of life, not to mention that being a teenager is hard enough at the best of times.

I really liked the cast of characters who travelled along with Jayke through this story, they seemed very apt and just what the book needed to keep it real.  Having said that the Aduro, a group who want Jayke for his powers, are I guess portraying the unreality of the power side of things but at the same time bringing to the story further struggles teenagers may face in a group situation like this – peer pressure, bullying, violence, et cetera.  It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s Ben and Tina, some of the best friends a guy could have and even Amber, fellow foster child, has her positive traits, just not when she’s using her recruitment skills.  There are quite a few other characters in the book, some of them fairly integral, but I shall comment no further as to do so may give something away.

The Buried Covenant is a book which includes many topics/issues relevant for teenagers including the usual trials and tribulations you go through, making and breaking friendships, infatuation for others, looking for answers, trying to find yourself, dating, power struggles, family life, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  It really is a quite all-encompassing YA novel.

I enjoyed the writing style and felt the humour was well-placed throughout.  It’s definitely set up well for a sequel  and by checking out Shawn’s website I see it could well be a sequel is penned at some stage in the future and I just know there will be a lot of happy teens out there who will look forward to that book hitting the shelves 🙂

I must say thank you to Shawn P Keenan for providing me with a copy of his book – thanks, Shawn!!

After intense, top-secret training with the FBI, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Andrea Kane is back with the next exhilarating installment in the Forensic Instincts series! BookTrib is hosting their next Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour for THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE with such an inspiring woman with a devoted following of ardent fans in 16 countries. Posts will begin on the release date of July 1st, running for the entire month! You can follow along HERE http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-between-here-and-gone/

 

Be sure to stop back here on 17 July when I will be posting a Q&A with Andrea Kane – until then please enjoy the below and follow the tour on the link above 🙂

 

 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Andrea Kane Knows That Disappearances Can Be Deceiving

THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE

The man she loved is gone forever.

The child she lives for could be next.

A special investigations team battles local corruption and government interference in the lastest nerve-racking thriller by New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Andrea Kane, the LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE (Harlequin MIRA; July 1, 2012; $24.95 U.S./$27.95 CAN.). It’s a race against the clock to locate a man everyone presumed dead — all before the infant son he doesn’t know he has dies.

Amanda Gleason was distraught when authorities declared her boyfriend, Southampton real estate developer Paul Everett, a no-body homicide. They discovered signs of a struggle around his abandoned, blood-spattered car but were unable to find a body after days of searching and dredging. Amanda was even more crushed when she realized that she was pregnant with a child that Paul didn’t live to see. When she discovers that their newborn son, Justin, has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and desperately requires a stem cell transplant, Amanda laments the fact that the best chance for Justin’s survival would’ve been Paul, if only he’d been alive.

So when a friend emails her a photo of a man who looks identical to Paul, Amanda is stunned. Angry and confused, she realizes that if Paul is somehow alive, he is Justin’s best hope. That’s when she turns to Forensic Instincts—a specialized team with a reputation for solving cases no one else can.

Comprised of a behaviorist, a techno-wizard, an intuitive, a former navy SEAL, a retired FBI agent and a human-scent-evidence dog, the FI team tackles the case on two fronts—the murder/disappearance of Paul Everett and his apparent resurfacing in Washington, D.C.

However, powerful foes are aligned to make certain Paul Everett stays buried, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the FI members come up empty-handed. When the FI team members find themselves up against civic, underworld, political and government forces, they realize that not only must they be on the right track but that there is a whole lot more to Paul Everett than anyone could have suspected.

FI always gets its man, but will they find him in time to save his infant son?

THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE

By Andrea Kane

MIRA; July 1, 2012

400 pages; $24.95 U.S./$27.95 CAN.

ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-1337-3

ANDREA KANE

Andrea Kane’s psychological thriller The Girl Who Disappeared Twice became an instant New York Times bestseller, the latest in a long string of smash hits. It introduced Forensic Instincts, an eclectic team of maverick investigators, each with different personalities and talents, all with one common bond: a blatant disregard for authority.

The Line Between Here and Gone is the next exhilarating installment in the Forensic Instincts series. Armed with skills and talents honed by years in the FBI and Special Forces, and training in behavioral and forensic psychology, the team solves seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement.

With a worldwide following and novels published in more than twenty languages, Kane is also the author of eight romantic thrillers and fourteen historical romances. She lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is plotting new ways for Forensic Instincts to challenge the status quo. For more information, please check out Andrea’s website at AndreaKane.com.

Ooh la la, there’s a new series out to rival The Hunger Games and it goes by the name of The Windstorm Series.  Katie Robison’s debut Downburst is definitely a hard book to put down once you get started so make sure you don’t have any appointments, housework, obligations, etc, for the day you start book one in this series.  By the end of the book you’ll be wanting to contact Katie and ask when is the next book coming out?! 

I am very happy to introduce you to Katie Robison by way of showcasing Downburst Season

July is Downburst Season, so right now the ebook is on sale for only 2.99 USD (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes)! There are also lots of giveaways and other goodies–including a sneak peek of book two–scheduled throughout the month. Visit Katie Robison’s website for a calendar of events and information on where/ how to enter. Additional information is available on her Facebook and Goodreads page.

And be sure to check out her book trailer!

Kit’s only goal is to stay alive. Right now, that means dodging brutal gangs while peddling fake I.D.s on the back streets of Winnipeg. But things get complicated when Kit sells a license to a girl named Aura—a girl who could almost be her twin. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Kit is plunged into an underground society with heart-stopping surprises at every turn. To protect herself, she’s forced to assume Aura’s identity. But storm clouds are gathering on the horizon, and when Kit learns the truth about Aura, she knows she has to get out before the storm breaks. There’s only one problem: escape isn’t an option. 

Suddenly, staying alive just got a lot harder.

“[Robison’s] debut takes flight, leaving readers eager for the next installment. A thrilling head-rush of an adventure.” -Kirkus Reviews

I hope this post has made you want to read Downburst and I hope you love it just as much as I did!  My review should be up shortly so stay tuned to hear me praise Katie some more 🙂

Now, what are you waiting for, go and purchase the book!!!

I am very happy to be part of this year’s ThrillerFest Blog Tour and even happier to be posting about one of their spotlight authors, and one of my most favourite authors, Lee Child!

I have been reading Lee Child’s work for many years now, thanks to a lady at work introducing me to Mr Child’s wonderful writing, and right from the start I was hooked!  I buy his books as soon as they come out, devour them as fast as I can and then eagerly await for the next installment.  If you haven’t read one of his books then I suggest you get a hold of one as soon as you can – you won’t be disappointed!

 

The following information is from the ThrillerFest website:

Lee Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series. Killing Floorwas an immediate success and launched the series which has grown in sales and impact with every new installment.

To learn more about Lee Child, please visit his website.

And now, please enjoy the following:

Below is an excerpt from Lee Child’s latest book The Affair, who will lend his literary expertise to aspiring writers and industry professionals while at ThrillerFest VII. www.ThrillerFest.com.

 CHAPTER ONE

The Pentagon is the world’s largest office building, six and a half million square feet, thirty thousand people, more than seventeen miles of corridors, but it was built with just three street doors, each of them opening into a guarded pedestrian lobby. I chose the southeast option, the main concourse entrance, the one nearest the Metro and the bus station, because it was the busiest and the most popular with civilian workers, and I wanted plenty of civilian workers around, preferably a whole big unending stream of them, for insurance purposes, mostly against getting shot on sight. Arrests go bad all the time, sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose. So I wanted witnesses. I wanted independent eyeballs on me, at least at the beginning. I remember the date, of course. It was Tuesday, the eleventh of March, 1997, and it was the last day I walked into that place as a legal employee of the people who built it.

A long time ago.

The eleventh of March 1997 was also by chance exactly four and a half years before the world changed, on that other future Tuesday, and so like a lot of things in the old days the security at the main concourse entrance was serious without being hysterical. I was unarmed, wearing my Class A uniform, all of it clean, pressed, polished and spit-shined, all of it covered with thirteen years’ worth of medal ribbons, badges, insignia and citations. I was thirty-six years old, standing tall and walking ramrod straight, a totally squared away U.S. Army Military Police Major in every respect, except that my hair was too long and I hadn’t shaved for eight days.

Back then Pentagon security was run by the Defense Protective Service, and from forty yards I saw ten of their guys in the lobby, which I thought was far too many, which made me wonder whether they were all theirs or whether some of them were actually ours, working undercover, waiting for me. Most of our skilled work is done by Warrant Officers, and they do a lot of it by pretending to be someone else. They impersonate colonels and generals and enlisted ranks and anyone else they need to. All in a day’s work for them to throw on DPS uniforms and wait for their target. From thirty yards I didn’t recognize any of them, but then, the army is a very big institution, and they would have chosen men I had never met before.

I walked on, part of a broad wash of people heading across the concourse to the doors, some men and women in uniform, either Class As like my own or the old woodland-pattern BDUs we had back then, and some men and women obviously military but out of uniform, in suits or work clothes, and some obvious civilians, some of each category carrying bags or briefcases or packages, all of each category slowing and sidestepping and shuffling as the broad wash of people narrowed to a tight arrowhead and then narrowed further still to lonely single file or collegial two-by-two, as folks got ready to stream inside. I lined up with them, on my own, single file, behind a woman with pale unworn hands and ahead of a guy in a suit that had gone shiny at the elbows. Civilians, both of them, desk workers, probably analysts of some kind, which was exactly what I wanted. Independent eyeballs. It was close to noon. There was sun in the sky and the March air had a little warmth in it. Spring, in Virginia. Across the river the cherry trees were about to wake up. The famous blossom was about to break out. All over the innocent nation airline tickets and SLR cameras lay on dressers, ready for sightseeing trips to the capital.

I waited in line. Way ahead of me the DPS guys were doing exactly what security guys do. Four of them were occupied with specific tasks, two manning an inquiry counter and two checking official badge holders and then waving them through an open turnstile. Two were standing directly behind the glass inside the doors, looking out, heads high, eyes front, scanning the approaching crowd. Four were hanging back in the shadows behind the turnstiles, just clumped together, shooting the shit. All ten were armed.

It was the four behind the turnstiles that worried me. No question that back in 1997 the Department of Defense was seriously puffed up and overmanned in relation to the threats we faced then, but even so it was unusual to see four on-duty guys with absolutely nothing to do. Most commands at least made their surplus personnel look busy. But these four had no obvious role. I stretched up tall and peered ahead and tried to get a look at their shoes. You can learn a lot from shoes. Undercover disguises often don’t get that far, especially in a uniformed environment. The DPS was basically a beat cop role, so to the extent that a choice was available, DPS guys would go for cop shoes, big comfortable things appropriate for walking and standing all day. Undercover MP Warrant Officers might use their own shoes, which would be subtly different.

But I couldn’t see their shoes. It was too dark inside, and too far away.

The line shuffled along, at a decent pre-9/11 clip. No sullen impatience, no frustration. Just old-style routine. The woman in front of me was wearing perfume. I could smell it coming off the nape of her neck. I liked it. The two guys behind the glass noticed me about ten yards out. Their gaze moved off the woman and onto me. It rested on me a beat longer than it really needed to, and then it moved on to the guy behind.

Then it came back. Both men looked me over quite openly, up and down, side to side, four or five seconds, and then I shuffled forward and their attention moved behind me again. They didn’t say anything to each other. Didn’t say anything to anyone else, either. No warnings, no alerts. Two possible interpretations. One, best case, I was just a guy they hadn’t seen before. Or maybe I stood out because I was bigger and taller than anyone within a hundred yards. Or because I was wearing a Major’s gold oak leaves and ribbons for some heavy-duty medals including a Silver Star, like a real poster boy, but because of the hair and the beard I also looked like a real caveman, which visual dissonance might have been enough reason for a long second glance, just purely out of interest. Sentry duty can be boring, and unusual sights are always welcome.

Or two, worst case, they were merely confirming to themselves that some expected event had indeed happened, and that all was going according to plan. Like they had prepared and studied photographs and were saying to themselves: OK, he’s here, right on time, so now we just wait two more minutes until he steps inside, and then we take him down.

Because I was expected, and I was right on time. I had a twelve o’clock appointment and matters to discuss with a particular colonel in a third-floor office in the C ring, and I was certain I would never get there. To walk head-on into a hard arrest was a pretty blunt tactic, but sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it.

#

The guy ahead of the woman ahead of me stepped inside the doors and held up a badge that was attached to his neck by a lanyard. He was waved onward. The woman in front of me moved and then stopped short, because right at that moment the two DPS watchers chose to come out from behind the glass. The woman paused in place and let them squeeze out in front of her, against the pressing flow. Then the woman resumed her progress and stepped inside, and the two guys stepped outside and stopped and stood exactly where she had been, three feet in front of me, but facing in the opposite direction, toward me, not away from me.

They were blocking the door. They were looking right at me. I was pretty sure they were genuine DPS personnel. They were wearing cop shoes, and their uniforms had eased and stretched and molded themselves to their individual physiques over a long period of time. These were not disguises, snatched from a locker and put on for the first time that morning. I looked beyond the two guys, inside, at their four partners who were doing nothing, and I tried to judge the fit of their clothes, by way of comparison. It was hard to tell.

In front of me the guy on my right said, “Sir, may we help you?”

I asked, “With what?”

“Where are you headed today?”

“Do I need to tell you that?”

“No sir, absolutely not,” the guy said. “But we could speed you along a little, if you like.”

Probably via an inconspicuous door into a small locked room, I thought. I figured they had civilian witnesses on their mind too, the same way I did. I said, “I’m happy to wait my turn. I’m almost there, anyway.”

The two guys said nothing in reply to that. Stalemate. Amateur hour. To try to start the arrest outside was dumb. I could push and shove and turn and run and be lost in the crowd in the blink of an eye. And they wouldn’t shoot. Not outside. There were too many people on the concourse. Too much collateral damage. This was 1997, remember. March eleventh. Four and a half years before the new rules. Much better to wait until I was inside the lobby. The two stooges could close the doors behind me and form up shoulder to shoulder in front of them while I was getting the bad news at the desk. At that point theoretically I could turn back and fight my way past them again, but it would take me a second or two, and in that second or two the four guys with nothing to do could shoot me in the back about a thousand times.

And if I charged forward they could shoot me in the front. And where would I go anyway? To escape into the Pentagon was no kind of a good idea. The world’s largest office building. Thirty thousand people. Five floors. Two basements. Seventeen miles of corridors. There are ten radial hallways between the rings, and they say a person can make it between any two random points inside a maximum seven minutes, which was presumably calculated with reference to the army’s official quick-march pace of four miles an hour, which meant if I was running hard I could be anywhere within about three minutes. But where? I could find a broom closet and steal bag lunches and hold out a day or two, but that would be all. Or I could take hostages and try to argue my case, but I had never seen that kind of thing succeed.

So I waited.

The DPS guy in front of me on my right said, “Sir, you be sure and have a nice day now,” and then he moved on past me, and his partner moved on past me on my other side, both of them just strolling slow, two guys happy to be out in the air, patrolling, varying their viewpoint. Maybe not so dumb after all. They were doing their jobs and following their plan. They had tried to decoy me into a small locked room, but they had failed, no harm, no foul, so now they were turning the page straight to plan B. They would wait until I was inside and the doors were closed, and then they would jump into crowd control mode, dispersing the incoming people, keeping them safe in case shots had to be fired inside. I assumed the lobby glass was supposed to be bulletproof, but the smart money never bets on the DoD having gotten exactly what it paid for.

The door was right in front of me. It was open. I took a breath and stepped into the lobby. Sometimes if you want to know for sure whether the stove is hot, the only way to find out is to touch it.

© Lee Child

Don’t forget to visit the ThrillerFest website at www.ThrillerFest.com

Be sure to check back here on 25 June when I will be posting about one of my favourite authors – Lee Child!!

 

THRILLS, CHILLS & TERROR

 

ALL IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

 

Anticipation mounts as those who dare to scare plot their return for

 

ThrillerFest VII July 11-14, 2012 

The Big Apple once again sets the scene for the thrills, chills, murder, and mayhem as the International Thriller Writers’ (ITW) ThrillerFest VII—the world’s largest event for fiction’s most popular genre—returns July 11-14, 2012, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

 

“Whether you are a fan, an aspiring writer, a bestselling author, a librarian or an industry professional, we promise to keep you in suspense for four fun-filled days,” says ThrillerFest Executive Director Kimberley Howe.

 

Jack Higgins, the genius behind The Eagle Has Landed, one of the best-selling thrillers of all time, will continue to make fans and industry professionals scream in anticipation as this year’s ThrillerMaster. Higgins’s work has been published in 38-languages worldwide, The White House Connection and Day of Reckoning are just a few titles that have become international sensations.

 

Thrill-seekers can expect a spine-tingling experience while at ThrillerFest. The pulse-pounding event will welcome special guests Lee Child, John Sandford, and Catherine Coulter.

 

  • Lee Child is the author of the Killing Floor, which was an instant success and went onto become a series that has flourished in sales with each added installment.  
  • Catherine Coulter’s first novel was written to pass time, but became the starting point of a booming business of writing suspense thrillers and historical romances. To date, she has written 67 novels, 62 of which have hit the New York Times bestseller list.
  • John Sandford is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of 31 published novels, all of which have appeared, in one format or another, on the New York Times bestseller lists.

 

Legendary Ann Rule, author of the definitive true-crime account, The Stranger Beside Me, is this year’s beneficiary of The True Thriller Award. R.L. Stine, the 2011 ThrillerMaster recipient and creator of Goosebumps, and Karin Slaughter, international bestseller and winner of the Silver Bullet Award, will also return for the 2012 festivities.

 

Students of the art of suspense have the opportunity to hone their skills during CraftFest and “speed-date” with some of the top agents in the business during AgentFest.

 

To cap off an adrenaline-filled week, ThrillerFest culminates with the 2012 ITW Thriller Awards Banquet, during which Richard North Patterson will receive the acclaimed Silver Bullet Award. The awards for best novel, best debut novel and best short story will also be revealed.

 

“ThrillerFest just seems to get better each year,” says CraftFest Director and ITW VP of National Events Dr. D.P. Lyle. “It offers many great panels, networking opportunities, and an incredible awards banquet, all wrapped in a warm and receptive atmosphere.”

 

The International Thriller Writers is an honorary society of over 1,300 authors in twenty-two countries with over three billion books in print. To make a reservation for the fear inspired four-day adventure, please visit www.ThrillerFest.com.

 

Okay, I wasn’t lucky enough to have Mr Postman leave me a package three days in a row but three days within a very short amount of time is nothing to complain about!  I must say thank you to Charlie Clouse for providing me with a copy of Poems that Might or Might Not Change Your Life – thanks, Charlie!

This ground breaking collection of poetry holds nothing back as it grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go. Discover for yourself how poetry can transform your life.

Another present dropped off by the mailman, that’s two days in a row – I must be dreaming!  Nope, not dreaming, I really did receive Crack the Spine Spring 2012, it really is now sitting on my bookshelf with its brothers and sisters.  I must say thank you to the editor, Kerri Farrell Foley for sending me this lovely present – thanks, Kerri!

Crack the Spine. Go ahead, you know you want to. Just bend a fresh book until your hands meet beneath its stressed strings. Feel the weight of words snap free.

This anthology includes the best poems and stories from Crack the Spine Literary Magazine’s weekly publications.

“Forget arsenic, trains and Eros.  Flauberts and Tolstoys dipped their pens in black tongues and railroad tracks.”
– Alessandra Bava

“I am the recipient of a blown kiss from a friend and that is all I’m left with at that particular moment, standing on the sidewalk. There is a light on in the kitchen, one that I imagine will burn until end times.”
– Thomas Mundt

“When we kiss our eyeglasses clink like we’re toasting…”
– Alan Passman

“She collects books with questions of provenance, reads the inscriptions as if she were psychic as much as she reads the text…”
– Tobi Cogswell

Authors: Susan Adams, Suzanne Allen, Rosemary C. Anderson, Alessandra Bava, Rich Boucher, Valentina Cano, Tobi Cogswell, Kyle Hemmings, Steve Klepetar, Zack Nelson Lopiccolo, J.W. Mark, Peter Marra, Joan McNerney, Ben Nardolilli, Amit Parmessur, Alan Passman, Deana Prock, David Spicer, John Stocks, Les Wicks, Laura Bogart, Chris Deal, Lily Dodge, Len Kuntz. D.N.A. Morris, Thomas Mundt, M.Y. Pastorelli, Richard Peabody, Luca Penne, Eric Prochaska, George Sparling, Christi R. Suzanne

 

Oh, joy of joys, the mailman has been!  I just love when he leaves me little packages containing books!  Alison Wonderland travelled far and made it safely to her new home.  I must say thank you to Helen Smith for the new addition to my family – thanks, Helen!

 

‘I need some information. Can you help me get it?’

‘OK.’ I’m opening my post but I have a pen and pad ready.

‘I need some statistics about which part of the country babies are abandoned most often, what time of year, and where to find them – outside hospitals or police stations or under hedges or in phone boxes.’

‘Oh, OK. Yes, of course.’ I move the phone receiver into my left hand and hold it against my left ear so that I can make some notes. Mad cow, I write.

After Alison Temple discovers that her husband is cheating on her, she does what any jilted woman would do: She spray-paints a nasty message for him on her wedding dress and takes a job with the detective firm that found him out. Being a researcher at the all-female Fitzgerald’s Bureau of Investigation in London is certainly a change of pace from her previous life, especially considering the characters Alison meets in the line of duty. There’s her boss, the estimable Mrs Fitzgerald; Taron, Alison’s eccentric best friend, who claims her mother is a witch; Jeff, her love-struck, poetry-writing neighbor; and – last but not least! – her psychic postman. Together, their idiosyncrasies and their demands on Alison threaten to drive her mad…if she didn’t need and love them all so much. Clever, quirky, and infused with just a hint of magic, Alison Wonderland is a literary novel about a memorable heroine coping with the everyday complexities of modern life.