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Archive for September, 2019

Kult

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Kult by Stefan Malmstrom

THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO…

When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.

But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.

When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.

And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.

Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?

Fans of The Killing, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jo Nesbø and Will Dean will love this dark and gripping début thriller.

NOTE: KULT is inspired by shocking and tragic real events.

Amazon UK     Amazon US     Barnes and Noble     Goodreads

Author Bio

Stefan Malmström is a former news journalist who has worked for Sveriges Radio and Swedish TV4. Today he works as a consultant, lecturer and author. At a young age, Stefan was manipulated into the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, a small town in southern Sweden. KULT, his first book, is based on his experiences in the cult. Stefan lives in Karlskrona in Sweden with his family.

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My Review

5 Stars

This story starts off with Luke Bergmann discovering that his best friend Victor and his four year old daughter are dead. Everyone thinks it’s a murder suicide but Luke knows there has to be anther explanation. With other bodies start showing up Luke can see a connection and decides to find the killer. But secrets from the past are resurrected and Luke is going to have to face his own dark past.

This book is one heck of a ride from the dramatic beginning to the surprising end. Luke ahs a dark past that he rose above but with the death of Victor he teeters on the edge. But as he starts looking in to Victor’s life he discovers a cult. What follows is an insane trip through a hellish wonderland of nightmare.

But the part that really got me about this book was that it based on Stephan’s own experience with a cult. To know that he went through this and so much more just put more of an edge to this story. I admit that I have though why would people join a cult and go to the lengths that a normal person deems ridiculous. Here is a great story that will shed a little more light on cults.

This is an amazing and dark read. If you like thrillers you will enjoy this book. I can’t wait to read more from Stephan Malmstrom.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Sarah at Book on the Bright Side for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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One Night Gone

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

 

 

One Night Gone

by Tara Laskowski

on Tour September 23 – October 4, 2019

Synopsis:

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

“A subtly but relentlessly unsettling novel.” —TANA FRENCH, author of The Witch Elm

It was the perfect place to disappear…

One sultry summer, Maureen Haddaway arrives in the wealthy town of Opal Beach to start her life anew—to achieve her destiny. There, she finds herself lured by the promise of friendship, love, starry skies, and wild parties. But Maureen’s new life just might be too good to be true, and before the summer is up, she vanishes.

Decades later, when Allison Simpson is offered the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach during the off-season, it seems like the perfect chance to begin fresh after a messy divorce. But when she becomes drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a girl thirty years before, Allison realizes the gorgeous homes of Opal Beach hide dark secrets. And the truth of that long-ago summer is not even the most shocking part of all…

“A heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel of betrayal and revenge. Stunning!” —Carol Goodman, award-winning author of The Night Visitors

“Featuring a brilliantly executed dual timeline with two unforgettable narrators, One Night Gone is a timely and timeless mystery that will keep you obsessively reading well past your bedtime.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery,Suspense Published by: Graydon House Books (Harlequin) Publication Date: October 1, 2019 Number of Pages: 352 ISBN: 1525832190 (ISBN13: 9781525832192) Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Opal Beach was about a two-hour drive without traffic from downtown Philadelphia. It was somewhere halfway between Ocean City and Atlantic City and way less touristy. The beach always reminded me of vacations as a kid, running barefoot on hot sand, creating lopsided sand castles with plastic buckets, breaking crab legs and sucking out the meat. But there was also a sense of slowing down, of taking it all in, and I needed that now. I could feel the air change, the way it clung, coated, opened everything up. Through the car windows, the Oc¬tober air was shockingly cold but also reviving. The salty air had always bothered my mother and sister, who complained it was too humid and their tongues felt strange, but I loved the way it worked its fingers into my hair and curled around the tendrils. It made me feel a little wild, a little different. Untamed. Like anything could happen. Was I really doing this? Was I really pressing on this pedal, steering, guiding these four wheels to a stranger’s beach house, where I would live for the next three months alone? It had all happened so fast. A blur, really. Annie’s friend Sharon, with that same nurse-like efficiency that Annie had, set it all up so quickly that I’d barely had time to adjust to the idea before it was actually happening. But I was used to life messing with me now, used to tripping over a curb or forgetting to eat breakfast or chipping a nail, waking up only to discover that everything I’d known to be true was suddenly different. So in some ways this journey, the picking up and leaving behind, felt like an emerging. Like Rockefeller, the hermit crab I’d bought on our family vacation one year at a boardwalk shack, I was crawling out of a dingy shell and moving into a shinier, larger home. (Unlike Rockefeller, though, I hoped I wouldn’t die from the soap residue that was left inside the new shell when someone tried to clean it too vigorously before setting him inside the cage.) I drove down a two-lane road just off the ocean, the main drag for all the beachfront houses. I could imagine that on a weekend in July it looked like a parking lot as families navigated in or out of town, canoes and coolers tied up on their roof racks. But now it was eerily vacant, and I had the sense I was the last woman on earth, that in my quiet drive alone the rest of humanity had vanished. I was trying to decide if that was a good thing or not when a giant orange Hummer zoomed into view behind me and passed without slowing down. “Well, so much for that. Asshole,” I said. The houses were dramatically large and looming, blocking what otherwise would’ve been a magnificent view. You could tell which ones were just rentals—the monstrosities with thirteen bedrooms and a six-car garage that five families could rent out at once. But further down the road, the houses had more style and character. The kind of places—lots of windows, big porches, nice landscaping—that would make your mouth water even without the lush ocean backdrop as icing on the cake. I slowed as my GPS indicated I was getting close, but even so I almost missed the tiny driveway and its faded, weather-beaten road sign declaring my new mailing address: Piper Sand Road. I had made it. The long gravel drive split off halfway up, with one side leading to the Worthington house and the other side to their neighbor’s. When I’d first met the Worthingtons for my “job interview” just a few weeks before, I’d been so nervous about the whole thing that I’d taken the wrong driveway and parked in the neighbor’s lot and stared at it for a good minute before realizing the house number was wrong. But now, pulling into the correct driveway slowly, it felt like an adventure movie soundtrack should be swelling. And our heroine finds her destiny. I could imagine Annie’s reaction when she finally saw the house in person. It was stunning. The surrounding homes were propped up on beams, like old ladies hitching up their skirts so they wouldn’t get wet in the surf, but that just gave the Worthingtons’ house an understated effect. It stood confident and modest between them, a beach gingerbread house right out of a fairy tale, with light blue curtains and sweeping eaves. I parked right at the porch steps and got out, wrapping my cardigan around me to stave off the whipping wind. The front porch was small but quaint, with two wooden rocking chairs and a small white table with flaking paint. I ran my palm along the back of one of the tall chairs, and it creaked from my touch. The chairs seemed to be more for decoration than sitting. Dolores, Sharon’s sister who lived in town, was supposed to be meeting me to hand over the keys. Yet it seemed I’d arrived first. I’d had to come one week sooner than planned, as Patty and John had been whisked away to her mysterious assignment in Eastern Europe a little earlier than expected. Patty had called me from the airport with the news. I’d pictured her in her white visor and tennis sneakers rushing through the terminals, bags bouncing off her lower back as she breathlessly gave me instructions. Still, I half expected Patty to appear in the window as I squatted down and peered inside the house. It was hard to see with the bright sun glaring at my back, but I could make out the shadowy silhouette of the large island counter in the middle of the kitchen. Beyond that room, I remembered, was the living room, with doors and stairs leading to all the many nooks of the house. All empty now, waiting for me. A shiver curled from my spine up to my neck, unwinding inside me. Calm down, you idiot, I told myself. Not everything is a trap. Think positively, and positive things will come. *** Excerpt from One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski. Copyright © 2019 by Tara Laskowski. Reproduced with permission from Graydon House Books (Harlequin). All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

TARA LASKOWSKI TARA LASKOWSKI is the award-winning author of two short story collections, Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons and Bystanders, which was named a best book of 2017 by Jennifer Egan in The Guardian. She has had stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Mid-American Review, and the Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, among others. Her Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story, “States of Matter,” was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, and her short story “The Case of the Vanishing Professor” is a finalist for the 2019 Agatha Award. Tara was the winner of the 2010 Santa Fe Writers Project’s Literary Awards Prize, has been the editor of the popular online flash fiction journal SmokeLong Quarterly since 2010, and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She earned a BA in English with a minor in writing from Susquehanna University and an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University. Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and lives in Virginia. One Night Gone is her first novel.

Visit Tara at: Website, Goodreads, BookBub, @TaraLWrites, Instagram, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

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Enter To Win!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Harlequin and Tara Laskowski. There will be 1 winner of one (1) copy of One Night Gone (print). The giveaway begins on September 23, 2019 and runs through October 6, 2019. Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Road to Nowhere

Road To Nowhere by Cy Wyss Banner

Road To Nowhere

by Cy Wyss

on Tour September 1-30, 2019

 

Road To Nowhere by Cy Wyss

 

Synopsis:

 

PJ Taylor, the feline shapeshifter, is back! Someone is kidnapping people’s pet cats and holding them for ransom. When PJ’s beloved niece is catnapped, the trail leads PJ to Nowhere, a tiny hamlet north of her hometown of Mayhap. What intrigues will PJ find among the inhabitants of this minuscule community? You can bet it involves at least one person up to no good and flushing this person out could be…murder!

 

 

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: Nighttime Dog Press, LLC Publication Date: September 1, 2019 Number of Pages: 222 ASIN: B07WCHL75J Series: Eyeshine, 2 Purchase Links: Amazon, Goodreads  

Read an excerpt:

Robert Taylor entered the brownstone via the back door, closing it quietly behind himself. He was in a landing of pale green and gray with tan carpet and stairs leading upward and a sandwich board on the wall with office numbers. The woman he was looking for was in 303, two stories above him. He ascended the two flights, his heart leaden with reluctance. He considered himself a unicorn – someone special and rare. Not only was he smart and successful (head of his own one-man FBI office in Mayhap, Indiana), the women in his family had the unusual proclivity to turn into cats when the sun set. This made them particularly effective operatives, although in fearing for their safety he often restricted their usefulness. His sister, PJ, had been his most important informant up until her recent death. He couldn’t believe she was gone. It didn’t seem real. Didn’t cats have nine lives? He somehow expected PJ to rise from her grave and come back to him. Instead, here he was, about to attempt to convince a psychotherapist of his sanity in the face of his recent tragedies. All he wanted was to get back to work. They wouldn’t let him back without the sign-off from this woman, Ms. Julia Herzenberg. Her name conjured images of some ancient Freudian presence, maybe someone who looked like Dear Abby or Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, with copious wrinkles and a severe bun. He shivered at the idea of exposing his inner life to this person. On the third floor, the stairwell opened into a larger space of muted pastels that smelled of rose and mint. Three doors greeted him, and he pushed through the one whose frosted glass proclaimed it 303. Inside, soft new age music played, and the floral scent was stronger. The culprit was an incense burner on a small table near the door. Thin smoke wafted from a glazed, bulbous pot in gray ombre. The walls of the suite were a soothing blue and the furniture worn leather in earthy browns. Striped pillows and throw blankets abounded, and health magazines lined the coffee table. Robert perched on the edge of a fat armchair and crossed his legs, interlacing his fingers around his knee. He waited, with the demeanor of a man about to face something dire and unwanted. His first impression of Julia Herzenberg when she opened the inner door was that she looked nothing like an old psychiatrist or supreme court judge. Her hair flowed around her head in generous curls, spilling from her shoulders in waves of auburn silk. Her eyes were a crystalline green the likes of which he had only seen previously on actresses or fashion models. She was tall and thin, with slender, manicured fingers and long legs beneath a plaid wool skirt. She reminded him of a willow – inscrutable and eternal, with Nature’s grace and strength. “Robert Taylor?” she asked. It took him a moment to shut his flapping mouth and recover his aplomb. “Yes,” he finally said, extending his hand. She shook it firmly, her hand warm and dry. She led him into a brown hallway, and to an office at one end. The room contained the same homey furniture as the waiting area, in neutral shades of soft leather with woven and plush accompaniments. “Have a seat,” she said. He stared at the wide couch before him. “Do I need to lie down?” he asked. “Only if you want to,” she said. She sat in an armchair across from the couch with her knees pressed together and her hands folded in her lap. She studied him, an entirely unassuming expression on her porcelain face. Awkwardly, he perched on the edge of the couch and rested his weight on his elbows on his thighs. He let his hands dangle. She remained still and silent as he took in his surroundings. The paintings on the walls were interesting but not distracting and consisted of abstractions that reminded him of natural surroundings. The lights were incandescent, and the shades partially drawn, rendering the space as comforting as a forest nook where sunlight filtered through the branches above. Dr. Herzenberg even had a small fountain on one side table and the faint sound of running water complemented the illusion. Robert could feel his tension recede, despite his natural wariness and dark mood. Still, she said nothing. Robert felt her watching him and found he couldn’t meet her gaze directly. Rather, his eyes roved over their environment, never settling for more than a few seconds. Behind and beside her was a narrow bookcase with glass panels and something about it bothered him. He kept returning to it, until he realized why. On the very top of the bookcase was an old-fashioned globe and a statue that looked like a very realistic black cat. It could have been PJ. He stared at the cat, and almost jumped out of his seat when the statue blinked. “God, that’s a cat!” he said. Dr. Herzenberg smiled. “That’s Bella.” “Wow,” Robert said. “I thought she was a statue.” “She likes to sit up there,” Dr. Herzenberg said. “Many of my patients don’t ever notice her.” “I’m amazed. You bring your cat with you to the office?” Dr. Herzenberg shrugged. “She doesn’t like to be alone.” “You could get her a companion.” “She doesn’t like other cats.” Robert chuckled. “Typical difficult feline.” “Tell me,” Dr. Herzenberg said. “Are you a cat person?” He remembered his sister, and the fact he’d never see her again. His eyes burned, though he willed himself not to tear up. “You could say that,” he said. PJ had turned into a cat every night since shortly after she had hit puberty. He still remembered the first time she’d shapeshifted. He was a rookie cop at the time and looking after her since their parents had died, as her much older brother and legal guardian. They’d been playing video games on the couch when she howled and writhed in pain. He had thought she was dying and called 911. Imagine his chagrin when they arrived and found no sign of the girl that he’d insisted needed an ambulance. Instead, a black tabby cat watched him explain that he’d had a nightmare and called emergency services by mistake. His colleagues ribbed him for weeks afterward. Robert was so traumatized, he confined PJ to her room after sundown from that time forward, and he somehow managed to convince himself her transition hadn’t happened. It was only recently, with his own daughter, Nancy, entering puberty, that he’d finally opened up to PJ about her wonderous ability. He had been terrified that Nancy would become a shapeshifter as well. Be the status of that as it may, at least one outcome had been that he had become significantly closer to PJ, a relationship long overdue. His memories of PJ ran through his mind, and guilt stabbed his heart. If only he hadn’t been so pigheaded, he could have showed his love for her sooner. He could have had years of closeness instead of mere months. They could even, perhaps, have– No. He wouldn’t let himself think about that. Regret was a demon that ate you alive. It was what it was. He couldn’t change the past any more than he could draw castles in the sky. “What are you thinking about?” Dr. Herzenberg asked. Robert blinked several times, his reverie broken. “Nothing,” he said. She stared at him. His gaze dropped to the coffee table between them. “I was thinking of my sister,” he said. “Tell me about her.” Robert took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He crossed his arms over his chest and studied the carpet under their feet, a confetti-patterned collage of woodland hues. He found himself telling Dr. Herzenberg the truth – something he hadn’t done in decades. “She’s not actually my sister,” he said. “Oh?” She raised a delicate eyebrow. “Well, she wasn’t, I mean,” he said. “My father was her mother’s cousin.” Dr. Herzenberg appeared lost in thought for a moment. “So, your ‘sister’ was actually your second cousin?” “Yes,” Robert said. “Why do you call her your sister?” “Our parents married,” Robert said. “Legally, PJ was my sister.” “I see,” she said. Another wave of regret washed over Robert. He clasped his hands together and hung his head so she wouldn’t see the sheen of tears in his eyes. “I did read your employment record,” Dr. Herzenberg said. “You’ve had quite the last couple of weeks.” Robert snorted. “Yeah. You could say that.” “You failed the bureau’s lie detector test, separated from your wife, shot and killed a man, and your sister – your second-cousin, I mean – died. I’d say all of that qualifies you for a little paid leave.” Then there was the business with his daughter, which he couldn’t talk about, as well as the thing concerning his infidelity, which he likewise couldn’t bring himself to talk about. His shoulders drooped. “I don’t want paid leave,” he said. “I want to get back to work. All I do is sit around and mope. If I can work, I’ll feel better.” He looked up, into her concerned face. “What can I do to convince you I’m fit for returning to work – that, in fact, it’ll help me recover?” She tilted her head and scrutinized him. He fidgeted under the weight of those amazing green eyes. “You can’t run from your grief, Robert. Turning your attention elsewhere will only cause it to fester and grow into something uncontrolled.” He sighed. “I was afraid you’d say that.” On top of the bookcase, the cat stood and stretched elegantly, her back a deeply curved S. She sat on her haunches and used her paw to clean her snout. Robert watched, fascinated. “Tell me more about your sister,” Dr. Herzenberg said. Another wave of regret reminded Robert of his failures, and, with it, a twinge of fear piqued his soul. He’d already said too much. “You were close, I take it,” the psychiatrist said. “Yeah,” Robert said. Dr. Herzenberg waited. Robert looked around the room again, his gaze settling on the quarter-height of window, through which a gray fall sky was visible. “What bothers you most about her death?” she asked. Robert’s eyes lost their focus as his attention turned inward. Guilt weighed heavy in his heart as he remembered the past two weeks and his role in the whole mess. “I never…” He couldn’t bring himself to say it. Dr. Herzenberg perked up. “You never what?” He stared at the cat, who stared back unblinkingly. The odd sense of unreality overtook him again and he found himself speaking the truth once more. “I never told her how much I loved her,” he said. “I’m sure she knew,” Dr. Herzenberg said. Robert shook his head. “No. She didn’t.” “What makes you think that?” “I pushed her away. She wanted more from me. I should have given it to her.” Dr. Herzenberg’s brow furrowed and her eyes darkened. “What are we talking about, Robert? You’ve told me she wasn’t your blood sister. How did you see her? As your little sister? Or, as something more than that?” Robert ground his teeth. How did they get onto this topic? He was here to get back to work, not to get himself fired for inappropriate feelings toward PJ. “I shouldn’t have said it that way,” he said. “Of course, I meant it platonically.” She studied him. “You know that everything you tell me is confidential.” He frowned. “I know you have to report what I say to my superiors,” he said. “No,” she said. “I have to report my overall opinions. Your disclosures are entirely between us alone.” Robert stared up at Bella, whose golden gaze had never seemed to leave him. He was pretty sure the cat saw right through him, and he wondered how much of that ability Dr. Herzenberg had. He said nothing. *** Excerpt from Road To Nowhere by Cy Wyss. Copyright 2019 by Cy Wyss. Reproduced with permission from Cy Wyss. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Cy Wyss Cy Wyss is a writer based in Indianapolis, Indiana. They have a Ph.D. in computer science and their day job involves wrangling and analyzing genetic data. Cy is the author of three full-length novels as well as a collection of short stories and the owner and chief editor of Nighttime Dog Press, LLC. Before studying computer science, Cy obtained their undergraduate degree in mathematics and English literature as well as masters-level degrees in philosophy and artificial intelligence. They studied overseas for three years in the UK, although they never managed to develop a British accent. Cy currently resides in Indianapolis with their spouse, daughter, and two obstreperous but lovable felines. In addition to writing, they enjoy reading, cooking, and walking 5k races to benefit charity.

Catch Up With Cy Wyss On: Website, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!

My Review

4 stars

PJ Taylor is a journalist that shape shifts into a cat at night. Several people have had their cats catnapped lately and the police are not excited about solving the mystery. PJ steps up and uses her abilities to help solve the crime.

I have not read the first book in this series, Eyeshine, but I had no problem jumping in and getting sucked into the story. That first page just had me asking so many questions that I was hooked from the start. I felt for PJ, she can’t control her ability to shift into a cat which is its own set of problems. But she uses it to find the catnapper.

There is a lot of that in this story, finding your true self. But I will say that the whole attraction with men thing seemed to be a bit much at times. There were some behaviors and reveals that had me wondering about the resolution.

Overall this is a great mystery. I had no problem hopping into book two but I really want to go back and read book one to find out what I missed. This is a quick mystery and one I recommend checking out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=293814

Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cy Wyss. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on September 1, 2019 and runs through October 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Strands of Truth

Strands of Truth

by Colleen Coble

on Tour September 9 – October 4, 2019

Synopsis:

Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble

Strands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her . . . or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Book Details:

Genre: Romantic Supsense Published by: Thomas Nelson Publication Date: September 10th 2019 Number of Pages: 336 ISBN: 0718085906 (ISBN13: 9780718085902) Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Prologue January 1990 St. Petersburg, Florida Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him. She’d been on edge ever since yesterday. Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road. She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone. Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights. The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ”playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes. She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her. Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time. “We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else. Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive. Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced. Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry. *** Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

 

 

Author Bio:

Colleen Coble Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at: Website     Goodreads     BookBub     Twitter Instagram     Facebook!

 

My Review

5 Stars

Harper Taylor has been almost by herself her whole life. But this has not stopped her from becoming a marine biologist and her great advancements. She does take a DNA test to see if there may be a match and is surprised to learn of a half-sister, Annabelle. It is odd to learn that both of their mothers were killed before revealing who their father is.

Harper starts working more with her mentor’s son, Ridge and finds herself attracted to him. But then things start getting downright dangerous when people are clearing trying to kidnap or kill both Harper and Annabelle. Harper and Ridge are going to work together to find out what connects the past to the present and stop the killers.

This is the first book I have read from Collen Coble but it won’t be my last. I was instantly drawn into the story and wanted to know about Harper’s past almost as much as her. I was delighted in learning about Annabelle yet so on edge when someone is clearly after both women. I enjoyed the romance with Ridge and was so glad for Harper to find another person to share her life with.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out who the killer was. I loved how everything was so connected. This is a great mystery thriller that I recommend checking out.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Enlightened Cow by Columbkill Noonan

Rama, the Hindu god who maintains dharma, or the balance of all things, is in terrible trouble, and only Barnabas and Wilfred can save him!

Private detectives to the gods, Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby, believed they’d discovered the secret to taking charge of their destinies. Unfortunately, they’re about to be taught a hard lesson: nothing is as it seems and taking control is easier said than done.

Fresh off their most challenging case to date, the two detectives step into a cenote: an otherworldly portal that connects worlds and can take them anywhere if they how to use it.  Each is hoping to be reunited with someone he left behind, but they soon realize that something has gone terribly, disastrously wrong. Instead of being reunited with their lady-loves, they find themselves in a Hindu temple, together with Kamadeva, the Hindu god of desire.

Kamadeva asks them to save his friend Rama, who is in grave danger. It seems an innocent enough request, but Barnabas and Wilfred have learned that not everything is at it seems, and the right thing to do is not always so obvious. It doesn’t take long to discover that not all the gods want Rama saved, leaving the two detectives to make a terrible choice.

The detectives have faced dangerous deities before, but the Hindu gods are different. Otherworldly, wise, and full of shadowy motivations, they all seek to manipulate the hapless detectives to suit their purposes.

Can Barnabas and Wilfred see through the illusions and the lies to uncover the truth of the matter? Or will they fail, and choose the wrong side?

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Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan is the author of the bestselling “Barnabas Tew” series, which features the bumbling-yet-lovable Victorian detective Barnabas and his trusty sidekick, Wilfred. Columbkill combines her love of mythology and her affinity for period fiction to craft unique cozy mysteries that will leave you guessing (and chuckling!) till the very end.

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My Review

5 Stars

After finishing Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Cursed Serpent, I was excited to read the next book in the series. The reward for solving their last case was that Barnabas Tew and Wilfred Colby can travel between worlds. Unfortunately they have a bit of miscommunication and both find themselves at a Hindu temple. They are giving the task of saving Rama who is in great danger.

When the two get themselves turned into fish it puts a bit of a damper on the investigation. First they are going to have to find the Enlightened Cow before being turned back into humans. With Barnabas’ bumbling and a lot of dumb luck the two find themselves back in the right form. But when they find Rama they learn that Rama doesn’t want to be saved. Now what are they to do?

These two have a great, brokering partnership. I loved how Barnabas has learned that Wilfred means a lot to him and promotes him. I really enjoyed the romp through Hindu mythology. I loved learning about the different gods and how little slights can get you in big trouble.

I really like this series. Both Barnabas and Wilfred remind me of an old married couple with their bickering. But they grow on you as you read. I also enjoy reading about the different mythology. My appetite has been wetted and now I want to reach out for more stories. This is a great mystery series and one that I recommend checking out. I can’t wait to catch up on the first two books and see what these two trouble makers get up to next.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

I would like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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Meet the Author:

Steven Wolhandler, JD, MA, LPC is a psychotherapist, mediator, arbitrator, custody evaluator, national consultant and retired attorney. He has decades of experience dealing with, and learning from, difficult and manipulative people, and helping their victims with penetrating insight, effective solutions, warmth and humor. He lives in Colorado, consults
with people internationally through website.


Connect with the author: WebsiteFacebook

GUEST POST

Self-victimizing Beliefs that Leave You Vulnerable to Emotional Predators

                Sometimes the stories you tell yourself about who you are and who you must be in order to be a “good” person can trap you and leave you undefended.  Usually without noticing, we all inhabit stories about who we have to be in order to be lovable, valued and safe with others.  When these stories put us in a one-down or vulnerable position in relation to others, I call them our “self-victimizing beliefs.” Self-victimizing beliefs make a person low hanging fruit for Emotional Predators.  Chapter 4 (Step 2 of protecting yourself) of my book introduces some of these stories, and Chapter 5 (Step 3 of protecting yourself) revisits some in detail to look at protective alternatives.

One self-victimizing belief many of us are familiar with is the belief that “I’m not good enough.”  This mistaken belief is an expression of perfectionism.  A perfectionist believes that if she isn’t perfect, everything is her fault.  Like focusing on bad things or on good things that are missing, instead of being grateful for good things that are present, perfectionism depends on the perspective you choose.  Put another way, the perfectionist hasn’t learned that “good enough” is good enough.  She mistakenly sees herself as a slacker for whom “good enough” is not good enough.  It isn’t hard to see how an Emotional Predator could use your beliefs about not being good enough or needing to be perfect to induce guilt and shame to get you to comply with her agenda.  He would let you know that you could be good enough (he may even say “perfect”) if only you would do what he wants, dangling the carrot of approval just out of reach.  But you’re good enough without him; you don’t need his unattainable approval.  If you’re a perfectionist, let yourself off the hook of perfectionism and know that “good enough” is actually good enough.

Another self-victimizing belief is a martyr complex in which we believe we have to suffer in order to feel worthy of love (or anything else we want).  A martyr type finds it easier to focus on other people than on himself – and an Emotional Predator seeks out targets who’ll focus on her at the expense of themselves.  A martyr type believes that he’ll be appreciated and valued for his sacrifices and that the person he sacrifices for will naturally want to reciprocate; he gives in the hope of getting back what he’s giving.  This makes him an ideal target for Emotional Predators (who are takers).  If you recognize martyr tendencies in yourself, work to replace them with appreciation of your intrinsic and inherent worthiness, a worthiness that exists without needing to make sacrifices.  Then choose to make sacrifices only when you know it’ll be a two-way street and the other person gives as much as you do and doesn’t just take.

Closely related to martyrdom, confusing enabling with helping is another belief that leaves us vulnerable to Emotional Predators.  Enabling is taking responsibility for something another person is responsible for.  It allows the other person to avoid the negative consequences of their poor choices.  An enabler makes excuses for another person’s bad behavior and believes the fiction that these excuses “help” the other person.  Twelve step addiction recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous advise that, in order to help someone let them suffer the consequences of their own choices and find their own bottom, and to do otherwise is dangerous to them and you.  Standing firm and not making excuses for others or taking up the slack when they slack off doesn’t mean being harsh or unkind.  Being kind doesn’t mean tolerating abuse.  Being a good person doesn’t require being a sucker.  But an Emotional Predator will work hard to convince you otherwise, playing on your conscience and guilt to get you to enable them.  Try to help only people who take responsibility and have already done all they can for themselves.

People-pleasers are a type of enabler.  They live by self-victimizing stories that put them in the role of making everything all right for everyone else.  Roberta, a client of mine told me, with a mixture of pride and embarrassment, “I’m really good at figuring out what other people want and giving it to them.  That’s how I get everyone to like me.”  This sounds like what an Emotional Predator will do.  The difference is she did this at great cost to herself, not to her own benefit, putting everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.  In therapy, Roberta worked hard to change this story about what it takes for people to like her.  And she wrote herself a new story that it’s okay for her to pay attention to the cost to her of the things she does for others.  Her new story didn’t make her selfish, far from it.  When self-sacrificing people first move a bit away from self-sacrifice and toward self-care, they often feel like they’ve become a selfish monster.  But it only feels that way in comparison to their prior overly self-sacrificing ways.  If you’re a self-sacrificing people-pleaser, shift your focus away others and give your own feelings and needs more priority.

One sign of people-pleasing is feeling like you have to explain or justify your boundaries and needs.  Another is easily yielding to social pressure.  Another is always playing the clown or entertainer, or always diffusing tensions.  People-pleasers relentlessly avoid conflict.  Conflict avoiders believe a story that conflict between people is always bad and they’ll always back down and accommodate, and if necessary, take blame, regardless of the cost to them.  All these things make people-pleasers easy targets for Emotional Predators.

A few other commonly held beliefs – myths of our culture – that can be self-victimizing bear mentioning.  It’s widely believed that we can cause other people to feel the emotions they feel.  This belief is embedded in our language.  We regularly say, “You make me feel” this or that.  But this isn’t true.  The emotions a person feels are generated by that person out of the assumptions and interpretations he makes about the meaning of events.  Two people faced with the same circumstance can have opposite emotional reactions: one laughs while the other cries.

For example, a stranger yells at two people standing at a bus stop minding their own business.  One of them bursts into tears because he interprets the yelling to indicate something bad about himself.  He believes that people don’t yell at others without good reason, so when he’s yelled at he concludes that he must’ve done something wrong or there must be something wrong with him.  He assumes he must be at fault because a stranger is yelling at him.  But the other person bursts into laughter, not tears, because she interprets the yelling to indicate something bad about the yeller.  She assumes there’s something wrong with a person who yells at a stranger.  Each person’s feelings are generated by how they choose to interpret events; they aren’t caused by someone else.  Emotional Predators will use guilt to manipulate you by telling you that you’re “making” them feel bad.  Don’t believe it.  Act responsibly and let others take responsibility for their feelings.

Another culturally popular self-victimizing belief is that altruism toward all is always a good thing.  An altruist meets someone else’s needs without regard for her own; she selflessly puts the other person first.  Altruism is one of the most noble and valuable capacities of human beings.  But it’s a disaster to be altruistic toward an Emotional Predator.  An Emotional Predator will take advantage of an altruist in every imaginable way, and will present false needs and plays for sympathy to keep the altruist giving, giving and giving, while getting nothing back.  I’ve never met anyone with an inexhaustible capacity to give without getting anything back (although martyrs try).  Exhausting your altruistic instincts on an Emotional Predator means you have less resources left to altruistically give to genuinely deserving people.

Another self-victimizing cultural myth that opens the door to Emotional Predator abuse is the belief that good things happen to good people who work hard.  This is a very commonly held belief, with roots in the protestant work ethic and capitalism.  This meritocracy myth burdens its believers with unnecessary guilt and shame from its unspoken inverse; if we believe that good things happen to good people who work hard, then bad things must happen to bad people who are lazy.  When we believe the meritocracy myth and a bad thing happens to us, we assume it’s because we were bad or lazy or both.  Buying into this myth leaves you open to Emotional Predator manipulation through guilt and shame.  She’ll create problems for you, then blame them on your supposed inadequacy.

In fact, life is much more random than we want to believe.  Sometimes, bad things happen to good people who work hard and good things happen to bad people who are lazy.  This doesn’t mean life is completely random and beyond control.  You can increase probabilities of good outcomes by working hard and being good, but you can’t guarantee them.  And being a good person with a work ethic yields internal rewards apart from external outcomes.  But when bad things happen to you, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or you deserved it.  And as I explain in my book, if the bad thing that’s happened to you is being targeted by an Emotional Predator, it means you are an exceptionally good person because that’s who Emotional Predator’s target.

Freeing yourself from self-victimizing beliefs insulates you from Emotional Predator abuse.  When you’re more insulated a few things happen: it becomes easier to conceal the emotional reactions you do have and to respond strategically, and your inner resources are less drained – all of which makes you a less inviting target.

You have much more power over your emotional reactions than you might believe.  One person’s disaster is another person’s learning opportunity.  Natural disposition, temperament and personal history no doubt play a part, but your choices of interpretation, perception and attention play the decisive role in determining whether you’ll cry or laugh at the same thing.  Let go of your self-victimizing beliefs and more control over your emotions will follow.

To spot our self-victimizing stories, notice that what we believe others require of us is usually a projection of what we require of ourselves.  When you believe you have to be perfect before someone else will love you, you’re really expressing that you believe you have to be perfect before you will love yourself.  If you believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, you’re really expressing that you want to give yourself the benefit of the doubt.  If you believe you should try to see the good in everyone, then you’re really expressing that you want to see the good in yourself.  If you make excuses for others, then you’re really expressing that you want to excuse yourself.  If you make exceptions for others, then you’re really expressing that you want to give yourself a break.  The defense against all kinds of self-victimizing beliefs – the way to re-write self-defeating stories – is to deliver to yourself the things you believe others require from you and that you mistakenly seek from others.  That isn’t selfish.  That’s balanced and mature.  If you deliver to yourself the things you mistakenly seek from others, then Emotional Predators can’t manipulate you by pretending to offer those things to you.

So if you recognize any self-victimizing stories in yourself, or negative self-talk or other unpleasant things, don’t attack yourself for them.  Smile at them, thank them for getting you through earlier struggles and let them go.  When you treat yourself poorly, you signal to others to do the same.  Instead, try turning the Golden Rule inward and treat every aspect of yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly – the way you’d like to be treated, and certainly treat yourself as well as you treat anyone else

Please freely copy and distribute this post, but be sure to include that it was written by Steven Wolhandler, author of Protecting Yourself from Emotional Predators.  (It’s copyright, Steven Wolhandler, 2019) Thanks!

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Sept 9 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – book spotlight / giveaway
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Sept 11 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
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Good Morning, Bellingham

By Marina Raydun

Genre: Literary Fiction

When Peta goes missing, a two-decade old secret threatens to rip at the seams and come out in the open. Relationships are tested as one dysfunctional family comes together in search of their daughter, sister, and wife. What they find instead will change each one of them forever.

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About the Author

Marina Raydun’s published works of fiction include a compilation of novellas One Year in Berlin/Foreign Bride, a suspense novel entitled Joe After Maya, and a two-part series, Effortless. Born in the former Soviet Union, Marina grew up in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a J.D. from New York Law School and a B.A. in history from Pace University. She is an avid music fan, a cat lover, and an enthusiastic learner of American Sign Language. Whenever she is not writing, Marina enjoys spending time with her family, catching up on Netflix, and baking.

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Good Morning, Bellingham excerpt:

Peta’s Journal Entry

I want to fall asleep. Rather, to fall asleep and not wake up. Ever. I just want the wheel to stop turning. Correction— it should feel free to continue turning, but I want off it.

It’s ungrateful of me. I don’t need you to remind me of that, Dr. Burgos. I know all about second chances and how precious they are, and how my daughter needs me despite her full-time nanny. I know, I know. And yet, here I am at half past midnight, eyes open and on the monitor showing a grainy black and white image of Gwenny sleeping with her arms thrown up in the surrender position, wishing to just fall asleep and call it a day. Kind of permanently. Peter, I feel for but don’t dare look, is on the other side of the bed, curled up in the fetal position. I don’t need to look to know this. I’m half expecting to see him sucking his thumb if I actually turn in his direction. And I sit up and write this all down, instead. I’m beginning to resent you, Doc—you really could be helping me with this. Sometimes a crutch is necessary; I’d give it back when I’m good and ready, I promise. I’m fully aware of how happy I should be. I should at least be happier than I am, right? Something tragic happened, but, hey, look, something good is here, instead. Take it! Let’s make the best of it, no? I’m trying, I’ll tell you that much. I am trying. Some pharmaceutical magic would surely go a long way here, but I can’t be expected to beg. I’m just saying, my mind would be quieter, and a quiet mind is a mind I’d kill for at the moment.

It wasn’t easy bringing Gwenny into this world. Harry took a couple of enthusiastic fifteen-minute amorous nights, whereas Gwenny took almost three exhausting years. They’d become mechanical, our attempts. There was some light, some humor to it when it was just us trying to become three, but, after Harry, we no longer bothered to even look at each as we did it, there were no big productions made, no words (loving, dirty, or otherwise) uttered. Forget that, I’m not sure if we even knew why we kept going. There was a goal and we were set on accomplishing it like the professionals that we are. So, every other night, like clockwork, we each did the bare minimum we knew would get the other off before curling up on our respective sides, our backs barely touching to get our requisite six hours of sleep before having to wake up at 3:30am to make it to the studio on time and wake up the rest of Bellingham Bay. Once there, makeup would be stippled on and everyone would proceed to pretend to forget that we were the couple who’d buried their son not a year ago, not two years ago, and so on. Obviously, eventually the right sperm found the right egg and ta da— Gwenny. No, not Gwen! Never Gwen! Gwenny. This pink and translucent newborn lay in my shaking arms and all I could do was blink. She looked like Harry, but blonder. Something in my throat constricted and the rest became route. I think I’d stopped looking at Peter some time around then, too. But I can’t help but wonder—what if having to fight for something this hard means you weren’t meant to have it to begin with? When does determination become arrogance?

I’m so tired, Doctor. I am not making sense. I want to fall asleep. And not wake up. Ever. Do you have anything for that? Oh, that’s right—you’d rather not medicate and mask the symptoms because you would much rather heal. Well, good luck with that. If not medication, can you at least give me a distraction? Anything to make the wheel stop.

I would like to thank Sage Adderley-Knox for the opportunity to share this book.

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