Friday, February 28, 2014

#Excerpt from Superhuman Nature by Brandon Overall #scifi #amreading

Neil and Bryan spent a couple hours playing games together, gloating when they won, and calling the other a cheap bastard when they lost.  It was about 8 o’clock by the time Alex came home and joined in on the beer drinking.  It was only a Thursday evening, but no one had any classes until at least noon the next day, so Thursdays were officially changed to Thirsty Thursday. The rule was, if you didn’t go to bed without proving that you were drunk, you had to do the dishes for the whole weekend.  No one had broken the rule in about two months.
The three enjoyed several beers and they each partially enjoyed a glass of cheap, pre-made Long Island Iced-tea out of a jug they bought at the store.  As he drank, Neil’s tongue began to loosen. He told Bryan and Alex about the dream and about the weird things that happened to him that day.
“Holy shit Hitchenator, you’re turning into Spider-man!” Neil hated the name Hitchenator, but was too drunk to care.
“No, you idiot.  Spider-man got bit by a radioactive spider.” Exclaimed Alex, as if Bryan’s comment was meant to be taken seriously, “I think Neil would have told us if that happened.  Maybe you’re starting to get schizophrenia and you’re just imagining shit.  You should get yourself checked out.”
“I’m not crazy, seriously.  The shampoo bottle and the water fountain I was alone for, but the clock thing everyone saw.  There’s no way that part was a coincidence.  I almost felt like…like I made it happen.” Even as he said it, Neil realized how ridiculous it sounded.  How could he possibly make something like that happen?
“Haven’t you seen A Beautiful Mind?  It can seem perfectly real and still be a hallucination.  Seriously man, that’s not a good sign.  You should really talk to a doctor if you really think you somehow made all that stuff happen with your mind or something.” Alex said, and Bryan nodded in agreement.
Neil started to feel frustrated.  Of course he wasn’t crazy.  Why wouldn’t they agree with him?  His temper started to rise at the thought of his best friends not believing what he was saying.  If they wouldn’t believe him, who would?  All of that talk, and perhaps all of the alcohol, was starting to give him a headache.  He thought back to that dream again, the one that felt so real…
“I said I’m NOT CRAZY!”  Neil slammed his beer bottle down on the coffee table, and as he did, he was startled by a deafening sound in front of him.  He looked up, and saw the source of the noise.  The screen on the TV in front of him was completely shattered, and smoke rose from the back of the set.
Superhuman Nature is Brandon Overall's first novel. It was written and published during his first deployment to Afghanistan as a 2nd Lieutenant in late 2013.
Neil Hitchens was a senior ROTC Cadet in college. He was just weeks away from graduating and becoming an Officer in the United States Army, until a strange dream set off a chain of events that would twist his life into something he could have never prepared for.
In the days following his dream, several strange happenings occurred that he began to suspect were the result of his own actions. Before long, he discovered that he had the ability to control the world around him with his mind.
What started out as an unpredictable ability quickly evolved into an extraordinary power that had the capacity to change the world. It didn't take long for the government to find out what Neil could do.
They knew having such limitless potential on the side of the US Military could give them limitless political influence, and they would stop at nothing to get Neil to do their bidding. They would find out what happens when you back a dangerous animal into a corner.
Neil spent his whole life believing he would amount to greatness, but he never expected how greatness could corrupt even the most innocent of minds.
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Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fool for Love by Merry Farmer @MerryFarmer20

Chapter Four

The Majestic rose up out of the water in its Liverpool dock with all the glory of its name.  Amelia held one hand to her hat and stared at its iron sides, its two dun-colored funnels and three tall masts.  The ship was a strange thing to her, a mixture of old and new, progress with hints of the past.  It had sails that could be unfurled in a pinch, but with its powerful new engines, the ship could cross the ocean in a week.

Seven days to a new world.  It was an exact description of everything her life had become.  It was every bit as daunting.

“What am I doing?” Amelia whispered, staring at the hopeful monstrosity in front of her.  It was one thing to accept an offer for a new life.  It was another thing entirely to go through with it.

She turned away from the ship, swallowing the nausea that had plagued her since she’d left her mother’s house.  This time it wasn’t morning sickness.  That was long past.  At the moment, the baby was the least of her worries.  Her stomach rolled over the idea that she was about to board a ship heading for a new life at the mercy of a stranger, a man, no less.  The last time she had trusted her life and her future to a man had been a disaster.

She paced, purse clutched to her chest, scanning the busy dock in search of her American savior.  Men, women, and children crowded the gangplanks, eager to start their journeys, excited and hopeful.  Many of the third-class passengers carried bundles that indicated theirs was a one-way trip as much as hers was.  Eric had left her there to go buy her ticket, but there was nothing stopping him from running off and leaving her stranded.  Like her father.  Like Nick.  She was a fool to agree to this.  She pivoted and marched away from the ship.

No, she stopped herself after a handful of steps, this was the best decision she could have made.  She may have felt small and lonely standing by herself, waiting, heart and stomach fluttering, but she was as much a part of the intrepid adventurers seeking a new life in America as any of her fellow passengers.  This was right.


“Well, we got a minor problem on our hands.”

The twang of Eric’s accent shocked Amelia from her worries.  She spun to face him as he approached her with wide strides, scratching his head and looking as guilty as a schoolboy.

“A problem?” she asked, voice fluttering.

“Yeah.  I went to buy you a ticket, but they’re plumb sold out.”

Amelia’s chest tightened and her tender stomach lurched.  “Oh.  Oh dear.  Well I suppose….”

She lowered her eyes, heart aquiver.  As quickly as it started, her chance for a new life was over.  All that worrying for nothing.

She squared her shoulders to face her fate.  “I … I thank you for your efforts on my behalf regardless, Mr. Quinlan.”

Eric’s brow crinkled into a curious frown.  “Regardless?”

“I suppose I could find work here in Liverpool,” she explained.  “Surely there must be a shop somewhere that would look the other way from….”  She lowered her hand to the mound of her stomach.

Eric’s lips twitched.  The morning sunlight caught in his eyes.  “I didn’t want to have to put you in third-class, so I told them you were my wife.”

Amelia blinked.  “You what?”

“I told them we’re newlyweds.  I reserved my stateroom in first class last year when I came over.  Good thing I paid for it then too, ‘cuz after this fiasco of a trip I’ll never ride first-class again.  Anyhow, when they said they didn’t have any more rooms, I told them you were my wife and that we would be staying in the same stateroom.  They sold me a ticket for that.”  He handed her a fresh, clean ticket with her name written as ‘Mrs. Amelia Quinlan’.  “Sorry.”

Amelia held perfectly still on the outside, but on the inside her heart pounded and her stomach rolled with guilt for questioning him.  He wasn’t abandoning her.  He had gone out of his way to help her.  Her heart squeezed as it never had before.  She took the ticket from him with a trembling hand, hardly noticing when her fingers brushed his.  She was rescued after all.

“Thank you, Mr. Quinlan.  You have no idea how much this kindness means to me.”  She had to concentrate on breathing, standing straight, and looking up into his handsome eyes with a smile to keep her tears at bay.

“You don’t mind sharing then?” he asked her.


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Genre – Western Historical Romance

Rating – R

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Bryan Taylor & The Three Sisters Dish Out #Satire #Humor & #Politics

Shakespeare was Theodora’s favorite playwright, and she persisted in requesting that we visit the Folger Shakespeare Library. Eventually, I agreed to go to Washington, D.C. with her. A fellow participant at one of our platonic orgies had suggested that we visit Victor Virga while we were in D.C. because he was looking for people like us who would work at his new place of business. Until then capitalism had failed to recognize my unique talents, and consequently, I had been forced to live a less than luxurious life. I wanted the life of a poor, suffering artist to be a cliché, not a reality.
Victor had just opened up the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts a few months before, and he was having only moderate success. Victor had held numerous jobs with various companies before then, but had rarely stayed with one for more than a few years because he didn’t follow the rules like he should have. Verily, here was a man after my own heart. He had gotten tired of working for others and this time was running his own business. Victor’s forte was in being able to sniff out a market, create a product or service, and provide that famous American managerial know-how to turn a profit.
He knew plenty of people from the upper crusts of society, one happy consequence of going to the right schools, and of getting fired too many times, and he was determined to use this knowledge to his advantage. Victor was corporate handsome, not model handsome, and was slim, both because he kept in shape and because he was constantly, frenetically moving around. He was headstrong with a temper, something I could easily identify with. When he was angry, he could launch into a tolutiloquent tirade that would tax anyone’s tolerance of him. He seemed to edit words out of his sentences so as not to waste time. Like the Russians, he found definite and indefinite articles to be a waste of time and rarely used them, but other than that, this capitalist had little in common with his communistic counterparts.
Some people thought Victor worshipped Mammon as others worshipped Christ, but to Victor money was just a way of keeping score. He thrived on the whole process of competition and the creative destruction that drove it. Victor knew where to build, whom to hire, how to lure the elites in, and what the elites really wanted.
Victor’s inspiration for the Kennedy Center came from one of his visits to the Bohemian Grove in upstate California which he had been invited to through his contacts in the government and in the motion picture industry. His idea was to create a year-round Bohemian Grove, though with women available, where the elites could gather. “Great nations of past had cultured demi-mondes for the rich—Japan, France, Rome. Sign of high cultural achievement. Why shouldn’t we?” Victor asked Theodora and me.
To get ideas for my artistic creations, I asked myself, what did Washingtonians want from life? Why were they in the nation’s capital? What services could we provide that would draw them in like lemmings? A visitor only has to be in Washington for a few minutes and see the marble and stone Cathedrals of Government Power that the politolatrous Bureaucrats built to themselves to realize that most of Washington’s automatons probably think God is just another taxpayer to serve them. It was quite obvious to me why there was no official Patron Saint of Government Workers.
After spending a month in the capital, the answer to my Marketing 101 questions seemed obvious. Washingtonians are a bunch of cultured, egotistical, lumpen-elitist snobs who live in their own dream world completely divorced from the rest of the country. Everything they do had to show that they The Bureaucrats are superior to the poor miserable souls in the rest of the country who only exist to pay for their masters’ existence. To ensure this, the government provides cultural events galore for its workers. One need only visit the city and see all the galleries, theaters, orchestras, ballets, and other centers of artistic creation, happily supported by government grants, to discover how true this is.
What is the essential nature of a Washingtonian? (God, I’m beginning to sound like Aquinas). Whether they are politicians, members of the military, businessmen, foreign diplomats, reporters or lobbyists, Washingtonians want power. They want to be at the center of action where they can control and manipulate their chosen area of political interference
The Kennedy Center as created as a mollitious Mecca for millionaires and politicians where all their dreams could come true. We created an ersatz cultural milieu at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts so visitors could escape their dull bureaucratic lives and the pressures of daily power plays to live in the aristocratic world they knew they deserved. Who in Washington wouldn’t want to bethink themselves a member of royalty served by artists who could provide mental and sexual stimulation? Money created a world of fantasy that had never existed, but which the customers wanted to believe in. Thus the Kennedy Center, which never received any money from the National Endowment for the Arts, took on those inveterate values of good taste, elegance, and culture that were the secrets of its success.
The officials and bureaucrats in Washington wanted to change the world, and I wanted to change them. At last I had the forum I needed to convert Washington to my Weltanshauung. As I saw it, in America, there was a revolving door of power between Washington, Wall Street and the Ivy League academics. Influence one and you influence them all.
Nuns just want to have fun! But when three former Catholic nuns have too much fun and get in trouble with the law, they become nuns on the run.
Driving back to Washington D.C. where they work at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Parts, the three sisters are arrested in Tennessee. After defeating the local deputy in strip poker, they escape from jail, and are pursued by the zealous Detective Schmuck Hole, who has personally offered a $10,000 reward for their capture on The 700 Club. Little do they know that when the three sisters visit the Washington Monument, their lives will change forever.
Set in 1979, The Three Sisters is a sacrilegious satire that skewers not only organized religion, but the government, the media, intellectuals, corporate greed and every other part of the establishment. Maybe not the greatest story ever told, but possibly the funniest.
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Genre – Humor, Satire, Catholicism, Politics
Rating – R
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Alarm bells began to ring ... The Galatia Series by @CDVerhoff #excerpt #fantasy #scifi

In this excerpt from chapter two, in the middle of the night Josie has been shaken awake by a loud rumble. It’s happened before, so she’s only mildly concerned. Unable to get back to sleep, she shuffles has shuffled off to the kitchen for a snack:
As she sat at the kitchen counter, spooning pudding into her mouth, the bowl on the counter started to vibrate. Dishes rattled in the cupboard. Knickknacks fell off the shelf. Another tremor?
There had been dozens of them over the last two years. Sometimes the damage was a big deal, but most of the time everything was back to normal within a few hours. Last week, a tremor had caused the entire facility to go offline for two days. Nobody was allowed to shower. The temperature hovered around fifty degrees. No videos to watch, no computer games to play, no ebooks to read. Horrible. No way did she want to live through that again. The lights blinked on and off again, leaving her suspended in darkness with a chocolate pudding in her hand.
“This is not good.”
Alarm bells began to ring throughout the facility.
The sound of people running down the public corridor made her drop the spoon on the floor. She flung open the front door. The sound of chaos instantly increased tenfold. Dim emergency lights cast everything in an eerie blood red glow. Entire families were running down the hallway, dressed in heavy clothing, carrying their emergency backpacks, fear etched across their features.
“This can’t be for real,” she whispered. Her bladder wanted to faint. Her sister lived in the pod across the hall. Its door swung open and there was her brother-in-law, Dante Armstrong, standing there in his boxer shorts. Dante was of African descent—somewhere near Ghana was all he knew. Until just now, she had never seen him without his shirt. His impressive height and muscular build made him an imposing-looking man. His five-year-old son, Nicholas, stood behind him and peeked around his father’s hip, while Dante held three-year-old Shasta on his hip.
“Do you know what’s going on?” Josie yelled across the hall. “Where’s Jo?”
“She was called to an emergency meeting a few hours ago.”
“Mom was too.”
“Jo just called me,” Dante spoke rapidly. “She said this is the big one. The bunker has split in two and there are hundreds of secondary fissures. It’s total chaos below. The main control room is on fire and the entire city could crumble at any second.” His words were like ghostly punches to the gut, taking her breath away. “They’ve done everything they can, but it’s not going to be enough. She’s going to meet us at the main hatchway.”
The acid taste of bile coated her throat. She took a step back into the pod where things used to make sense.
“We have to evacuate,” Dante said.
“To where?”
“The surface.”
“We’ll die up there,” Josie said.
“We’ll die down here.”
Josie shook her head vigorously, retreating further into the pod.
“Jo made me promise to get you out of here.” Dante’s eyes were sympathetic, but his voice strained with impatience. “I’ll carry you over my shoulder if I have to.”
She’d debate the matter more, but Dante was the kind of man who meant what he said. If she refused to leave, he would stay, putting himself and his children in grave danger.
“Okay,” she said, feeling weak all over. “I’ll go, but let me grab a few things first.”
“I’ll give you three minutes,” he said. “I need to get a few things, too. We’ll go up to the Pringle exit together.”
Short Description:  The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
Extended Description:  After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. 
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

#Author N.S. Wikarski & Her Greatest Strength as a Writer (#amwriting #amreading)

How long have you been writing? In the back of my mind, I’d always intended to write a novel at some point in my life. When I reached the age of 40 without having gotten around to writing that novel, I finally decided to knuckle down and get it done. I’ve been writing, off and on, since then. Nineteen years.
When did you first know you could be a writer? I think it was all the positive feedback from my teachers during my school years. I learned early on that I might be pretty good at this sort of thing.
What inspires you to write and why? I have to be in love with a particular subject or concept in order to write a book about it. Otherwise I’d just as soon not write at all. (There’s that laziness thing again.)
What genre are you most comfortable writing? History because I love the romance of the past. Mystery because I can’t resist a good whodunit.
What inspired you to write your first book? Guilt that I hadn’t gotten it done sooner in my life.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began? I consciously avoided outside influences because I didn’t want to end up sounding like somebody else. I will say that I was quite impressed with Caleb Carr’s The Alienist when it first came out. That was around the time I wrote my first historical mystery. Similarly, I loved the divine feminine aspect of the The Da Vinci Code which may have influenced my archaeology thriller series.
What made you want to be a writer? I didn’t want to be a writer per se. If there’s an idea which I feel an overwhelming need to communicate, I’ll write. For example, my current series is all about the lost women’s history of the world. Things that have been forgotten for millennia are emerging in the archaeological record right now. To me, that’s an intriguing subject which people might want to know about.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The biggest challenge has to do with the specific type of books I write. I use a fictional plot and characters to disclose loads of suppressed historical facts which aren’t generally known. Trying to assimilate the data and then convert it into something that’s entertaining and fits my fictional world can be quite a task.
Have you developed a specific writing style? I try not to be a literary stylist. I think a writer who’s trying to be clever will throw in bits of stylistic fluff so that a reader will admire the verbiage of the book. That can become distracting. In my case, I want the reader to focus on my characters and their stories, not on how well I can describe a sunset. If I have a style at all, it would be “cut and dried.”
What is your greatest strength as a writer? I think I’m fairly good at structuring a plot. Mysteries are tricky to write because the author has to keep the last page in mind from the very start. It takes mental discipline and focus to get the reader to the intended destination.
THE ARKANA SERIES: Where Alternative History Meets Archaeology Adventure
Volume Four - Riddle Of The Diamond Dove
"From Kindle Nation fave N. S. Wikarski comes the long-awaited fourth book in her fascinating seven-part Arkana archaeology thriller series -- with more of the wonderful characters, sly humor, intrigue and mayhem that come together to create the absorbing world of her intricate, fast-paced mysteries." (Kindle Nation Daily)
Global Treasure Hunt
Where do you hide an ancient relic that has the power to change the course of history? As Cassie Forsythe and her Arkana team discover, you scatter clues to its whereabouts across the entire planet. Five artifacts buried among the rubble of lost civilizations point to the hiding place of a mythical object known as the Sage Stone. Thus far psychic Cassie, bodyguard Erik, and librarian Griffin have succeeded in recovering two of those artifacts.
Opposing Forces
Cassie and Company find their lives threatened at every turn by agents of a religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. The cult's leader, Abraham Metcalf, wants to exploit the power of the Sage Stone to unleash a catastrophic plague on the world. The quest for the next piece of the puzzle has led both sides to Africa. They must comb an entire continent--their only lead a riddle carved onto a mysterious dove sculpture. Even as the Arkana team struggles to decipher the clue, new dangers hover over their colleagues at home.
Other Dangers
Metcalf's child-bride Hannah has taken refuge at the home of the Arkana's leader Faye while mercenary Leroy Hunt creeps ever nearer to her hiding place. His search for the girl brings him dangerously close to the secret location of the Arkana's troves--a collection of pre-patriarchal artifacts which confirm an alternative history of the origins of civilization itself. While Hunt closes in on Hannah, Metcalf's son Daniel dogs the footsteps of the Arkana field team in order to claim the next artifact before they do. Daniel recruits a clever ally along the way who might be more than a match for the opposing side.
Collision Course
When the forces of the Arkana and the Nephilim converge on a ruined city in a forgotten corner of the dark continent, the shocking outcome is beyond even Cassie's powers to foresee. The quest for the Sage Stone will veer in an unexpected direction once both sides solve the Riddle Of The Diamond Dove.
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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ever Hopeful by Lori Ryan - #AmReading #Romance #Excerpt

Laura watched the clock on the microwave and willed the phone to ring. Patrick would be home within the hour. If “John Smith” didn’t call soon, she’d… Well, she didn’t know what she’d do. If he called after six o’clock, she’d have to try to convince Patrick it was a wrong number.

He wouldn’t fall for that. Even genuine wrong numbers had gotten her into trouble before.

“Please,” she whispered aloud to the phone. “Just ring, please.”

The numbers on the microwave stared back at her, blank and unfeeling. Twelve minutes past five. The clock apparently didn’t care that time was running out, that she was cutting this much too close.

Forty-eight minutes left. Laura’s heart felt like it would jump out of her chest as she cradled her head in her hands. The phone rang causing Laura to jump a foot in the air at the sound. How was it that a sound she was waiting for—hoping for—sent her into a panic?

“Hello,” she said breathlessly into the phone.

“Mrs. Kensington?” came Smith’s voice on the other end. She had talked to him before, but hadn’t met with him in person. He sounded kind, even though she knew he was a man who spent a lot of time with unsavory people. But, that was to be expected given his profession. Despite that, she’d been told he often worked with women who needed to leave a spouse and who wished not to be found again. Maybe there was an empathetic side to him.

“Yes, speaking.”

“Can you talk now?” he asked and she knew right away what he meant. He had never asked why she was leaving and she certainly hadn’t volunteered the information, but it seemed as if he knew without having to ask. Just the thought that he knew her secret made her uncomfortable.

“Yes, my husband is still at work, but I don’t have long.”

“Did you get the first package?” he asked. He had mailed it to a post office box she’d set up two towns over from her and Patrick’s home in Windsor, Connecticut.

“Yes, the temporary license and birth certificate.”

“Good. You’ll be able to use that for a little while, but I need to get you a real birth certificate and social security card if you want to be able to find a job that doesn’t pay under the table. That’s going to take time.”

“How much time?” Laura asked, wanting the answer to be days, not weeks or months, but she knew that was unlikely.

“Not for another few weeks. It takes time to get a real birth certificate and once that’s in place, it takes a little longer for your social security number to come through,” he said with the tone of a man who had explained this to her all before. He had. She was partly just nervous and partly hoping for a different answer this time. This just had to work. There wasn’t any other option.

Before Laura could answer, he continued with instructions. “Save this phone number. I’ll need you to call me in three weeks and let me know where you are. I’ll need a mailing address.” There was no talk of payment. She’d already paid in full just to get him started on the new identity for her. He also didn’t ask her when she was leaving and she didn’t tell him. He seemed to assume she wouldn’t be in town in three weeks’ time and he was right. Laura would be running next week, as soon as Patrick left on his business trip.

The sound of car tires crunching up the drive sent panic churning through Laura’s stomach. So much so that she thought she’d be sick, but that wasn’t unusual nowadays. She was nauseated for several hours every day and often had to run to the bathroom to be sick.

“I have to go,” Laura whispered and didn’t wait for a response. She tucked the phone in her pocket and turned to the stove, focusing on making her breathing normal, making sure nothing seemed out of place.
Buy Now @ Amazon US | Amazon UK | Print | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads
Genre - Romance
Rating –  R
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Chapter 42

Jez let his mind dwell on the ceiling’s dull paint rather than think about his recent nightmares. But those thoughts wouldn’t stay down: whatever happened, he would achieve justice for Viktor.

Anna came out of the bathroom, hair wrapped in a towel, turban style. “We still have time to travel south,” she said. He sighed. She looked desperate again. “Please think about it. I promise this isn’t a test. No tricks. I’m telling you what’s in my heart, and I think we should run.”

Vertical tracks forged between his eyebrows. “We’ve already been through this, Anna. I do trust you, but I’ve made my decision.”

“But I don’t think you’ve thought it out properly. From what I can see, Mitrokhin has high-ranking contacts everywhere and I don’t think even Petrichova can save you. The captain has the guile of a fox and his cunning outwits us all. Please, Jez,” she implored, “go with me now.”

He got off the bed and embraced her. “I don’t know why you’ve become so worried. I’d never imagined you like this, but whether what you say is true or not, I won’t run. I must win justice for Viktor – and for me, come to that. Viktor has been murdered and I’ve been set up to look like his killer.”

Anna wept against his chest, and he couldn’t figure why. Of what he knew about her, it was totally out of character.

“I want you to remember this,” she sobbed. “And I’m speaking from the heart. No matter what happens, this is what is real and this is the memory I want you to hold onto. I love you, Jez, I love you.”

Baffled, he realized that having a real relationship with a woman was an enigma. Her declaration seemed distressed rather than tender. The only way he could think of handling this was to let it go straight over his head.

“And I love you, Anna, but I must go back.”


Outside the hotel the snow lay thick, and despite the best efforts of a heavy blanket of cloud, the cold had worked its way through.

“I’m glad I packed the ski jacket. Cold or not, this suitcase has me overheating. I know you’ve put my stuff in with yours, but what a weight.”

“Just girl things,” she smiled, and stepped out ahead.

“That’s right, don’t wait for me. Oh…” he said, almost stopping, “I forgot to pay for my lodgings at the hotel.”

She turned and raised an eyebrow. He grinned.

“You’re right, all the troubles I’ve got and I should worry about paying for a room. I’ll let the state sort it out.”

She laughed.

They trudged through the snow until they came to Railway Station Square – part of Stalin’s rebuild of the city. Anna wore the same azure coat with fur trimmings and fur hat as on the second day of their reunion, and he wondered how such a beautiful woman could really be interested in him.

“You look like a film star dressed like that, but aren’t you worried someone might be following?”

She tutted. “You seem to be worrying enough for both of us.”

She was so avant-garde, maybe she hadn’t carried out as many missions as she’d suggested. “Oh well, nearly there,” he said.

She smiled sadly.

He stopped to cross an avenue near a trolley rank. Six or seven people queued closely together, ankle-deep in snow, exhaling frosted breath as they waited for their ride. At last, a lull in the traffic. Anna went ahead. Jez kept a half metre behind, but something jarred his senses. Above the din of the city an explosion rang out. He turned to the direction of the noise and then looked at Anna. A hole had opened and blossomed in the back of her coat. His heart seemed to stop beating. She’d been shot and he couldn’t move. The force of the bullet had arched her back. She spun to face him, stumbled, eyes widened in shock.

The crowd at the trolley rank scattered in panic and shrill screams pierced his ears. But still, he couldn’t move – Anna.

Birth of an Assassin

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Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lethal Journey by Kim Cresswell @kimcresswell

Chapter Three

Detective Eric Brennan sat at his usual table and sipped the night’s beverage of choice—a cola. In Chunkers Bar and Grill loud pointless chatter overpowered the ‘80s rock and roll band on stage.

The last week was a blur. Every waking hour he pounded the streets in search of his father’s killer.

Eric knew every detail of the shooters face, but not the kid’s name. He’d heard from one of his informant’s, the kid was a young tough-guy looking to be made—a “cugine” ready to make his mark into New York’s most influential crime network, the Valdina family. As part of his induction into the mob family, the asshole had already killed a low-life rival family member and Eric and his father were working the homicide case when they got a tip.

That steamy June evening had started like any typical bust. Within minutes after Eric and his father arrived at the warehouse, dozens of DEA agents secured the perimeter. Eric entered the warehouse first, his father followed. Amid the stench of mildew and dust, the first pop of an automatic echoed within the barren walls.

They were ambushed.

His father, a veteran with twenty-three years on the force never saw the shots coming. Eric threw his body against his father in hopes of shielding him. It was too late. Instead Eric witnessed his father’s face, the sickening whitish blue tint that came with death...

While Pete checked in with the precinct, Eric shifted in the chair. His left knee still burned where the bullet had grazed his leg. He rubbed the scar, a permanent reminder of a drug bust gone bad. Very bad.

“Hey, Brennan.” Pete threw a twenty-dollar bill on the table and downed the last swallow of his beer. “Come on. I think we got a lead.”

Outside on West 35th Street, a full moon peeked through the clouds. Jagged streaks of lightning ignited the sky as rain sprinkled against Eric’s leather jacket. He lit a cigarette and leaned against his white pick-up truck parked in front of Chunkers.

Pete smirked. “Man, I thought you quit.”

Lethal Journey333x500

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG-18

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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beyond Neanderthal by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust #Excerpt #Thriller #MustRead

Chapter 12 – Visit to a Blue Amber Mine

As Tara alighted from the vehicle, she found herself facing a ghostly white haze of wispy, low-lying clouds that hung as if suspended in time above the undulating hilltops. The peaks rose from the variegated emerald and olive valley below and stretched into the distance amid a virginal mixture of lush equatorial undergrowth. She drew a deep, involuntary breath.

‘Wow!’ There were no other words to describe the feeling of awe-inspired privilege that washed over her. The vista was about as far removed from Central Park as a New York city skyscraper was from the little pastel coloured huts lining the Carretera Turística.

Aurelio smiled. Intuitively, he seemed to understand that the most appropriate response to this magnificent sight was silence. It was a full two minutes before Tara gathered her thoughts.

‘Let’s get going,’ she said.

They made their way carefully—gingerly climbing over dead logs, negotiating their way around rocky outcrops, and grabbing onto available plant life to steady themselves as they walked and stumbled their way towards the valley below. On either side of the track, a mixture of tall, fronded plants grew in an array of shapes and sizes beside stunted and gnarled old trees with deep green foliage. Tara thought of the trees like friendly bystanders, their leafy branches protectively shading Aurelio and her from much of the glaring sunshine above. They came across a trickling stream, which they followed for a while; Tara ever mindful and vigilant, watching for any sign of wildlife in the undergrowth. Except for the background humming of insects, the occasional noisy squawking of a flock of parrots flying past overhead and, once, the silent imprint of a shoe sole on the muddy banks of the stream, they seemed to be alone.

Then, in a clearing, they came across a group of young men standing seemingly relaxed and chatting. A few feet away, under a lean-to made of branches and palm fronds, one of them squatted while cooking something on a small paraffin or gas stove. Aurelio and Tara had arrived at the mine.
Again, there was a short conversation in Spanish. Again, there was a wrinkling of noses followed by broad smiles of understanding and agreement. There were also some side comments and laughter amongst the men. The word ‘gringa’—foreigner from America—came up a couple of times. Tara thought she also heard the words ‘bonita’, and ‘sexual’, but she couldn’t be sure. She decided to keep a slight distance for the time being. They were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest civilization.

Aurelio walked back towards her. ‘They will be happy to show you around, but we should remember our time limitations. We cannot spend more that half an hour here if we are to return to Santo Domingo before dark.’

‘Are you trying to protect me from these guys?’ she asked with a smile. Aurelio looked embarrassed.

‘What’s he cooking?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘It smells great.’

‘That is called arroz con abichuelas, a mixture of rice and beans. He is probably cooking some small pieces of beef with it, but it could be any meat.’

‘Can one buy that in a restaurant in Santo Domingo?’

‘Of course, but not exactly the same. This is a local dish for locals. To sell food like this to tourists would be like offering leftovers to your guests. It would not be right. In the restaurants it is much more carefully presented and is usually served with salads.’

The word ‘dignity’ popped into Tara’s mind. Aurelio seemed to have it, and that was what she had seen on the faces of the fruit vendor and the amber polisher and, now, even the miners as she approached them. Other than their initial jocularity, they seemed to consider her as their guest and themselves as hosts who happily welcomed visitors into their world. The men were just being men.
As they approached the entrance to the mine, a happy looking miner wearing a backward facing baseball cap sat with a short-handled pick in one hand, a lump of soft rock in the other.

Hola, señorita,’ he said, grinning broadly.

She smiled back at him, lifted her hand in greeting, but continued to follow Aurelio to the mine entrance. It was like standing at the entrance to the burrow of a large animal.

Beyond Neanderthal

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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