Monday, November 24, 2014

The Red Book of Primrose House Blog Tour and Review







The Red Book of Primrose House
by Marty Wingate
Publisher: Alibi (November 4, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest reveiw

In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.
Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.
But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

“Marty Wingate plants clever clues with a dash of romantic spice to satisfy any hungry mystery reader.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of The Alpine Yeoman
“Classy, clever, and utterly charming . . . Brew a pot of tea and settle in with this immensely enjoyable mystery.”—Rosemary Harris, author of Pushing Up Daisies and The Bitches of Brooklyn, on The Garden Plot
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My Take:
The Red Book of Primrose House is the second book in the Potting Shed Mystery series, but it works quite well as a stand alone book. This is definitely one of those books that go really with a big cup of tea and a rainy afternoon. 

Although I am not much of a gardener - I tend to kill plants rather too easily - I did enjoy reading about Pru's work on the gardens of Primrose House and all her plans. What starts off as seemingly simple vandalism, possibly motivated by jealousy over Pru's being hired instead of some other local candidates for the job, soon turns into murder with very real threats to Pru. Despite the very real danger, Pru continues to work toward the ever encroaching deadlines of her employers. I found Pru's down to earth personality to be very refreshing. I got a few chuckles from her attempts to talk herself out of some of her suspicions, even though the reader is pretty sure her suspicions are well founded. 

There are some other really great characters in the book that I enjoyed following. I found the nosy neighbor to be particularly funny and sympathetic. I also liked the brothers, Fergal and Liam, although they are also quite a mystery at first. 

I enjoyed the subplot of Pru searching for her family in England and the way this is gradually revealed along with the garden mystery. I found Pru's boyfriend Christopher to be charming and funny and also enjoyed the subplot about him and his son. I found the resolution to all the mysteries and subplots to be satisfying and I am looking forward to reading more about Pru and Christopher. The Red Book of Primrose House is a fun, cozy mystery that I can easily recommend. It is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. 


About Marty Wingate

-1Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed mysteries are planned.

Marty Wingate’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, November 3rd: Bibliotica
Tuesday, November 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, November 6th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, November 6th: Luxury Reading
Friday, November 7th: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, November 10th: Reading Reality
Monday, November 10th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, November 11th: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, November 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, November 13th: Under a Gray Sky
Friday, November 14th: Back Porchervations
Monday, November 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, November 18th: Omnimystery News - guest post
Tuesday, November 18th: Dwell in Possibility
Wednesday, November 19th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, November 20th: Open Book Society
Friday, November 21st: 2 Kids and Tired Books
Monday, November 24th:  A Book Geek
Tuesday, November 25th: Brooke Blogs




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Deadly Odds - Author Interview

Deadly Odds by Allen Wyler
Publication Date: September, 2014 by Astor + Blue
Description:


Astor + Blue Editions is proud to present Deadly Odds (ISBN: 978-1-941286-02-9; Fiction, Thriller, Suspense & Crime, Technological Fiction; Espionage; September, 2014), a new breakout suspense thriller with a “techno edge” by bestselling author Allen Wyler. What happens when a shy and awkward young computer hacker has a run-in with terrorists?   

Twenty-three year old Arnold Gold is a local computer genius in his native Seattle, described as a “part-time hacker and full-time virgin” by his friends. When the awkward young shut-in decides to take matters in his own hands, and venture to Vegas “to get lucky,” little does he know that his hacking skill will make him  a bull’s-eye target for terrorists and the FBI.

A major terrorist group wants Arnold’s “Dark Net Hacking” system to help hatch their latest plot, and they’ll stop at nothing to claim it—even killing Arnold’s friends. Now, with murderous terrorists, the FBI, and the local cops on his tail, Arnold finds himself trapped in a high-stakes game with the odds of survival slim to none. It will take every last bit of his genius intellect and legendary hacking skill to stay one step ahead of the deadly game, and foil the plot that will turn Sin City into the scene of the deadliest terror attacks since 9/11.

Written in Allen Wyler’s break neck style and attention to expert detail, Deadly Odds is as terrifyingly plausible as it is darkly humorous and enjoyable. The riveting story of a young man who lives life through his computer and discovers its dark side is sure to win him legions of new fans. Filled with suspenseful twists and enough technological detail to keep both techno-thriller and classic suspense fans on the edge of their seats, Deadly Odds is the ultimate thrill ride for the emerging tech-savvy generation.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allen Wyler is a renowned neurosurgeon who earned an international reputation for pioneering surgical techniques to record brain activity.  He has served on the faculties of both the University of Washington and the University of Tennessee, and in 1992 was recruited by the prestigious Swedish Medical Center to develop a neuroscience institute.
In 2002, he left active practice to become Medical Director for a startup med-tech company (that went public in 2006) and he now chairs the Institutional Review Board of a major medical center in the Pacific Northwest.
Leveraging a love for thrillers since the early 70’s, Wyler devoted himself to fiction writing in earnest, eventually serving as Vice President of the International Thriller Writers organization for several years. After publishing his first two medical thrillers Deadly Errors (2005) and Dead Head (2007), he officially retired from medicine to devote himself to writing full time.
He and his wife, Lily, divide their time between Seattle and the San Juan Islands.


Purchase Links:

·         Amazon
·         B&N:

·         Astor+Blue

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




DEADLY ODDS
 Guest Blog by Allen Wyler


Q:  How did you come up with the idea of the story?
A:  The first novel I ever wrote was based on this story’s kernel: a geek who develops a strategy to successfully gamble draws unwanted attention to himself. But that novel turned out to be disaster and was rejected by every agent I queried. However, the idea of being able to beat the odds remained intriguing yet elusive. Then one day I read about Nate Silver and his uncannily ability to accurately predict various phenomenon based on statistics. After all, this was what the 2011 Brad Pitt movie Moneyball was based on. Once I read about Silver, I knew the plot was much more believable.
        
Q: What influenced you to create a computer hacker protagonist than the usual medical professional?
A: There are several reasons. First, I don’t like being pigeonholed into the subgenre of “medical thriller.” In addition, it’s unbelievable to believe that a healthcare professional would have the computer expertise—or time—to pull off something like Arnold Gold does. More importantly, in doing my research for this story, I became fascinated with the Darknet and Internet security. I really wanted a way to weave this interesting information into a compelling story. So... a likeable computer hacker seemed to be a much more interesting character to develop than another neurosurgeons. I love Arnold Gold’s character and am really glad I settled on him.

Q:  Why Vegas? Have you always wanted to write a book with Sin City as the setting?
A:  When first developing the story I didn’t have any city in mind other than I knew Arnold lived in Seattle. (I love the city as a backdrop to stories.) I also knew Arnold wanted to get laid but was so uneasy about seeing an “escort” for this purpose, that it made sense for him to go someplace far from home where he’d be unlikely to run into anyone he knew. Given the reputation of Sin City, it just felt right to send him there.

Q:  Do you plan on writing more thriller books outside of the medical thriller genre?
A:  You bet. I like exploring topics dealing with computers and the Internet. I’m especially intrigued with hacking and the Darknet. My next book, Cutter’s Trial, however, is not a thriller and lands me right back in the medical arena because it explores the issue of physician assisted suicide. Having been involved in a couple start-up companies, I’m also toying with using that subject as a basis for a book, but I have nothing in development along these lines at the present time. We’ll see what happens.

Q:  Would you ever consider a sequel to this book?
A:  Glad you asked the question. Both Arnold Gold and Palmer Davidson are such wonderfully rich characters that Robert Astle (my agent) and I agree they are well-suited for a sequel. At the moment I’m busy writing Deadly Odds 2.0.

Q:  Do you think this book could be a movie? Who could you picture playing Arnold?
A:  Of all my prior thrillers, I think this one has the most cinematic potential. I’m lousy at casting, so if it were ever made into a movie (my wildest dream), I’d leave that choice to the producers.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Last Words Blog Tour - Book Excerpt






Last Words by Rich Zahradnik
Publication date: October 1, 2014 by Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812078

Description:
In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor roams police precincts and ERs. He is looking for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul.

A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean, and he's wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official.

Taylor's efforts to protect Voichek put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler. Time is not on his side. If he doesn't wrap this story up soon, he'll be back on the obits page--as a headline, not a byline. Last Words is the first book in the Coleridge Taylor mystery series.







~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Excerpt from
LAST WORDS
By Rich Zahradnik

The orderly rolled the gurney onto an elevator. Taylor stepped on, too. The orderly read his press pass. It expired in three months, and if Taylor couldn’t get back on the police beat by then, he’d lose it and all the access it gave him. Doors all over the city would slam shut. The thought chilled him.

“Coleridge Samuel Taylor.”

“Just Taylor.” He hated the literary ornamentation of his name.

“Name’s Jackson.”

The autopsy room looked like any operating theater with its silver-domed lights, trolleys of medical instruments and glass- fronted metal cabinets. The acrid smell of disinfectant was even stronger here.

A second orderly came in and helped Jackson shift the wrapped body onto a table, both of them grunting.

“Jesus, this body is frozen stiff,” Jackson said.

The second orderly shrugged and left, as if moving bodies was his only job.

“You said he died of exposure, right?” Taylor leaned in.

“Yeah, but he feels like ….” The orderly frowned. “The last time a body came in frozen solid like this was when a jumper went into the Hudson back in January.” He pulled the sheets open near the neck. The corpse was still dressed and the orderly fingered the material of the outer clothing. “The coat and sweater are cold but not frozen.” He slid his hand inside the sweater. “The undershirt feels like it’s iced right to him. The skin is frozen.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” Taylor looked from the orderly to the body on the slab. “It’s like he froze from the inside out. Or his outer clothes were put on after he froze.” He made a note of this. “Be interesting to hear what the pathologist makes of it.”

“Not much if he thinks he’s cutting a homeless boy. How are you going to do a story on a dead nobody?” The orderly sighed and turned away.

I’ll find out what makes him a somebody. Getting frozen in your underwear and dressed by another person might do the trick.

“You gotta be a big somebody to get your death notice in the papers here.”

This victim’s story already bothered him. The boy was going to disappear. Taylor was watching it happen. No last words for the family. No notice taken anywhere by anyone. It had happened before, with Billy. This was going on now in Taylor’s city. There was no excuse for it.

“When did the body come in?”

“Night watch. Three, four in the morning.”

“You’re just now rolling him in?”

“No room at the inn. Kept the body outside in the ambulance.”

“What if they got another call?”

“Couldn’t. No one to replace the driver’s going off shift. Poor bastards had to take a cab back to their house. These budget cuts are just crazy. So we kept him cold out there. The guys just came back to get their wagon.”

“Where’d they pick him up?”

“The Meatpacking District.” Jackson looked at the body again. “I’ll tell you one thing. I doubt they’ll be cutting today. It’s going to take a whole shift to defrost him. Very strange. Or plain bad luck.”

Only the facts interested Taylor. They’d explain how this boy froze from the inside out, the cause and effect. Nothing unlucky. Nothing strange.

Jackson pulled off the sheet. The dead boy wore an army field jacket similar to Taylor’s. Threads hung at the edges of the rectangle above the left breast pocket where a name patch should have been.

“Whatever the name tag said, it wasn’t this kid’s,” Taylor said. “He’s too young for the military.” Could be the father’s, Taylor thought. Or maybe the boy bought it at the Army-Navy. Taylor would check all that out. The jacket had seen a lot of wear and tear. Some of that might be from life on the street.

“Now that I think of it,” Jackson said, “it looks like the one I got when I fought in Europe. You don’t see these as much. Thing never was warm enough.”

Jackson was right. The boy’s jacket featured lapels instead of a circular collar and the fabric looked thinner. The kid wore dungarees, patched the length of both legs, more patches than jean material really. The “V” of a blue sweater, probably wool, showed under the jacket.

Jackson nodded at Taylor’s jacket. “You a vet?”

“No.”

“Just like the look?”

“No.” The implication stung, as if his was a fashion statement. His brother, trained to fight somewhere cold in Europe, was ordered to Vietnam. Billy didn’t need the heavy jacket, or didn’t want to pack it, or had wanted to leave something behind with his older brother. Taylor wasn’t sure which. He gave it to Taylor and never came back. Maybe because of the question, the teenager became his brother Billy for a moment. Another kid forever lost to his family. The boy was the same height, though slighter and younger. What was younger when you were dead?

The orderly was saying something, forcing Billy’s face to fade, replaced by that of the dead boy. This face was smooth, without lines, and the nose straight. His lips were full, almost pouting, and his gray eyes looked directly into the bright overhead lights, unblinded and blind. His hair was thick, long and clean, which was odd. If this kid was homeless, it should have been matted and dirty.

“Look at this.” Jackson pointed to the jacket’s right sleeve.

More than twenty national flags were sewn down the outside of the right arm of the field jacket, from the shoulder to the cuff. France, Italy, USA, East Germany, Canada, the USSR, West Germany, Red China, and countries some Taylor couldn’t identify.

Taylor walked around the table. “Same on this side. No unit or rank. Those were cut away a long time ago. Just more flags. It’s like the UN.”

Thousands of army field jackets hung in the closets of New York vets, the families of the dead and even ex-hippies, but none would look like this one. Taylor knew people would remember it. This was starting to look like a story he could follow.

Jackson left the room. Taylor checked the boy’s left hand, leaned in to get closer and used his Bic pen to lift the fingers. They were smooth, almost feminine, with telltale signs of civilized living—clean, well-trimmed fingernails. Not a speck of dirt under any of them. The fingers on the right hand were the same. This kid wasn’t homeless, or hadn’t been for long. The field jacket would lead to someone who knew him, who could tell his story. He listed the countries of the flags he could ID and descriptions of those he couldn’t.

“I thought we were rid of you, Taylor.” Dr. R. Martin Quirk, the assistant coroner, stood inside the door. Taylor looked from Quirk’s long face to the stubby fingers that seemed imperfect instruments for prodding inside bodies, even dead ones.

“This kid wasn’t homeless,” Taylor said.

“What do you know? Don’t turn this John Doe into another of your page one specials. I’ve got six homicides in the cooler, bodies piling up in the emergency room—high priority, cops shooting civilians—and five accidentals, old people who froze to death in their apartments. I’ve got to cut them all anyway. They won’t let me put ‘unpaid Con Ed bill’ as cause on the death certificate.”

“Will you at least check the ‘missing’ list?”

Quirk always claimed to be overworked, but he was just plain lazy.

“That’s a cop’s job.”

“They won’t.”

“I’m not their master, thank Christ. Why don’t you do it? You’re the reporter.”

Taylor decided not to disabuse him of that notion. From his jacket’s right pocket, he pulled out and opened the collapsible Polaroid he carried for capturing a scene when a click was faster than taking notes. A snap-flash and Taylor held the instant photo, a black square until it developed. In two minutes, chemicals and metals would resolve into a color picture of the dead boy’s face. He needed it to track down who the kid was.

“I’ll call you to get cause of death.” He put the developing picture in his coat pocket next to his wallet and went straight through the double doors without glancing back.

Why didn’t the boy show the wear and tear of rough living? He might have been a recent arrival on the street, a runaway who didn’t bargain on the freezing weather and died almost as soon as he ran. A sad story. Newspaper readers loved sad stories, even if they said they didn’t.



Excerpted from the book LAST WORDS by Rich Zahradnik.  Copyright © 2014 by Rich Zahradnik.  Reprinted with permission of Camel Press.  All rights reserved.







Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Global Predator blog tour - Book Excerpt








Global Predator by Jack MacLean
Publication date: September 19, 2014 by Legend Publishing
ISBN: 978-1783014859
Description:

High above the mountains of the North West Frontier, a Global Predator circles waiting to unleash its Hellfire missiles. The trail of Osama Bin Laden’s deputy, the elusive Egyptian terror master, Ayman al-Zawahiri has gone cold until a chance recording identified by a translator at the National Security Agency offers new clues. A special intelligence team assembles and plots to catch at him at a meeting with other high ranking al Qaeda leaders. In Pakistan’s beautiful Swat Valley, the local Taliban have been stepping up their attacks on anyone educating girls. English aid worker Sally is taken hostage while visiting one of her schools. When Wilkins, escaping his reckless trading mistakes at his London bank, is forced to rescue her, he finds himself trapped in a world of blind fear and terror. Only one person can now make sense of what is happening and stop a massacre of innocent schoolgirls.




About the Author:

Jack MacLean is the pen name of a prize-winning former foreign correspondent for a British newspaper with firsthand experience of Asia. He is the author of eight non-fiction works.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Excerpt from
GLOBAL PREDATOR
By Jack MacLean

A convoy of three dented and mud-spattered SUVs roared up the forest track and jerked to a halt at a clearing overlooking the valley they had just left. A thickset, clumsy man in his late fifties climbed out of the middle vehicle breathing heavily. He peered through the thick pebble glasses perched on a large bulbous nose, scouring the track along which they had just travelled. He grunted in approval. No one was following. Meanwhile, the three vehicles edged forward until they were hidden from sight under a clump of pine trees. One of the drivers emerged with a pair of large army binoculars and handed them deferentially to the older man. He held them in front of his glasses before awkwardly removing them and then adjusted both lenses of the binoculars. First, he raised them to search the clear blue skies above and then lowered the binoculars to examine a village set in the valley below among a patchwork of irrigated fields. Families were out in the fields scything the autumn wheat harvest and bundling the stalks ready for threshing. Then he turned the binoculars to examine a large compound dominated by a domed white mosque. It lay a few miles to the west of the village and was surrounded by a high wall which formed a rough rectangle. At the corners were small guard platforms.

It was still mid-morning and a stiff breeze was pushing a bank of clouds from the west. The group of watchers waited in expectant silence. After twenty minutes, the wind brought the wailing sound of a call to prayers. Then almost a minute later, they heard a faint sound of a small motor engine and the watchers tilted their heads upwards, searching the sky for the source of the sound. There was nothing visible. Then, as the call to prayers ended, they saw streaks from two small silver missiles targeting the compound. Seconds later, the sound of two blasts echoed across the valley. The explosions created a cloud of dust and debris as the mud brick buildings shattered. The cloud swiftly rose into the air and then the debris fell as quickly. The mosqu4e seemed to have survived intact. Then they could hear a new sound, a steady whop-whop from helicopters. A group of six Cobra attack helicopters appeared and within minutes they could hear the intermittent sound of the machine-gun fire.

‘Pakistani soldiers,’ whispered one of the men watching. The older man nodded.

‘Allah has shown his mercy to you. Blessed is the name of the Prophet,’ the younger man said sounding excited. ‘They were coming for you but they failed again.’

Al-Zawahiri shook his head slowly. He did not share his followers’ enthusiasm. Instead he felt a familiar intense anger begin to burn inside. The Americans had somehow been tracking him and only a messenger carrying an urgent warning to flee had saved them. He had no known whether to trust the Pakistani or not. The Pakistanis had helped him escape their own attack but next time he might not escape in time. Another hour and the messenger would have arrived too late.

From the compound there was a hesitant and sporadic return of fire. Three of the helicopters lying low over the fields began strafing the walls of the compound. In the fields the farmers and their families stood and stared. A few figures began running back to their houses, while out of the compound, youths dressed in white robes and skull caps ran out and fled towards the village. In the seminary, another scattered group of men armed with a collection of guns and old rifles began firing wildly.

Within minutes, soldiers in dark olive and khaki combat gear were climbing down ladders and dropped from the three helicopters as they hovered above the fields outside the seminary. Soon the troops began running towards the mosque. A pick-up truck and a minibus which tore out of the gates on to the road leading to the village were strafed by gunfire from other helicopters hovering just above the compound. Men piled out of the jeep moments before it exploded. The watchers could see more soldiers rappelling down from the helicopters into the compound. Three minutes later, the rhythmic bursts of gunfire suddenly stopped. The helicopter’s wings stopped rotating. It seemed that resistance within the compound had ceased.

Al-Zawahiri slowly lifted the binoculars away from his eyes. Tears blinded his eyes and he let them trickle into his thick white beard. He murmured some instructions to the driver beside him. He went to the SUV hidden under the trees and returned carrying carpets which he laid down. The other members of the convoy joined the older man and the driver in kneeling down on the carpets prostrating themselves towards Mecca. The elderly Egyptian then sat up and began addressing the group. They listened in reverential silence awaiting his guidance. He spoke clearly and slowly. First he offered thanks for their deliverance and then he spoke of revenge.

‘If we get martyrdom, so we achieve that we were looking for, for the flag of Jihad will never fall down until the Day of Judgment as we were informed by the prophet of Allah (peach and blessings be upon him). Oh brothers, if we die, we meet with our beloved ones, because the gardens of my Lord are prepared for us, and its birds flap their wings around us. So they await us in the eternal residence. Verily, Allah has chosen us for his call. Brothers, go ahead and don’t look back, your path has been covered in blood. By the divine mercy of Allah, I call on the prophet thrice blessed be his name, to recognize the sacrifice of these martyrs. They are enjoying their reward in paradise but we here who have been saved must now prepare their revenge. By this hand, I swear that Satan’s attack against a school, a place of holy learning will be avenged. These invaders will regret what they have done and will curse themselves for the use of these drones. We will turn them against our enemies and see them weep over the destruction wrought on the children they claim to be protecting. Before the next Eid we will see them weep tears of blood at their folly. We will find a school and turn the sword of our enemies against their own bodies.’ Then he stopped and raised his hand and brought it down in a savage chop.



Excerpted from the book GLOBAL PREDATOR by Jack MacLean.  Copyright © 2014 by Jack MacLean.  Reprinted with permission of Legend Publishing.  All rights reserved.



Monday, November 17, 2014

The Heart Does Not Grow Back Blog Tour and Review

The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini
Publication date: November 4, 2014 by Picador
Source: Publisher via NetGalley and TLC Book Tours for an honest review
Description:

EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE...

Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.

When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini. 




My Take:

I'm just going to start with: The Heart Does Not Grow Back is not an easy book. That is definitely not to say that is isn't good --- because it IS very good! However, if you are looking for an easy, feel-good book, this probably isn't it.  

The writing is very good, but very stark and real. This is not a fairy tale despite the premise of the book. Dale Sampson is a smart, quiet, misfit who doesn't quite fit in with any group. He becomes best friends with one of the popular guys in his class in one of my favorite scenes of the book. The depictions of the kids in school and the horrible ways they treat each other feel very real and even the "good guys" are not heroes - they are just normal people with their own weaknesses. 

After an extremely violent encounter with another classmate, Dales discovers a power that most would consider to be super-human. But, somehow even this doesn't make his life better. He still has some emotional baggage to deal with  and seems to attract violent and manipulative people. 

There are so many awful people in this book. As I was reading it, I kept wondering if there were any truly good people in the book - or was the book an  more accurate depiction of people than we usually see in books? That's the funny thing about The Heart Does Not Grow Back - I spent a lot of time while reading it and after reading it thinking about the book, Dale, his new "gift", how he chose to use it, the people who used him, and his final decision about his life. I also had to contemplate many things about humanity and whether Dale was a loser or just honest with himself. This is definitely not a book to be easily forgotten.

I think that it is most definitely a worthy read and would recommend The Heart Does Not Grow Back  to anyone who likes a thought provoking book that takes a stark, darkly-humorous/ironic look at life.




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RKP_6216_WEBAbout Fred Venturini

Fred Venturini grew up in Patoka, Illinois. His short fiction has been published in the Booked Anthology, Noir at the Bar 2, and Surreal South ’13. In 2014, his story “Gasoline” will be featured in Chuck Palahniuk’s Burnt Tongues collection. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and daughter.
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 Connect with Fred

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Fred Venturini’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, October 13th: Benni’s Bookbiters
Tuesday, October 14th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, October 15th: Read a Latte
Thursday, October 16th: Benni’s Bookbiters - an unofficial soundtrack
Monday, October 20th: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, October 22nd:  My Shelf Confessions – Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon Giveaway
Thursday, October 23rd: Saints and Sinners
Monday, October 27th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, October 29th: In Bed with Books
Tuesday, November 4th: Read-Love-Blog
Thursday, November 6th: Sweet Southern Home
Friday, November 7th: The Steadfast Reader
Monday, November 10th: Fourth Street Review
Monday, November 10th: Guiltless Reading
Tuesday, November 11th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, November 12th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, November 13th: More Than Just Magic
Friday, November 14th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Monday, November 17th: A Book Geek
Thursday, November 20th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, November 24th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf

TBD: Book Marks the Spot





Thursday, November 13, 2014

John Chase Mystery Series by S.K. Rizzolo - Book Blast

Please join S.K. Rizzolo as she tours the blogosphere for the John Chase Regency Mystery Series Book Blast, from November 3-16, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

01_The Rose Wheel The Rose in the Wheel (Book One)


Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book One)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.
Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse’s one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?
Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase’s first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim’s last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation.
As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

02_Blood for Blood Blood for Blood (Book Two)


Publication Date: April 15, 2003
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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In the spring of 1812, the Luddites are on the march, Lord Byron is taking London drawing rooms by storm, and Penelope Wolfe has become a lady’s companion. When one of the footmen turns up dead with a knife to the heart, Penelope and Bow Street Runner John Chase are entangled in a web of family secrets and political conspiracy that stretches far beyond luxurious St. James’s Square.
With the help of barrister Edward Buckler, Chase follows the trail of a mysterious mad woman caught peeping in the window at the corpse. Penelope struggles to fit into the fashionable world, encountering people who hide resentment and deceit under smooth smiles.
Set against a backdrop of millennial fervor with thousands awaiting the end of the world, BLOOD FOR BLOOD explores the simple truth that every drop of blood spilled will be avenged.

Die I Will Not Die I Will Not (Book Three)


Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback
Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Three)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
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Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?
Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.

Buy the Books

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

SK RizzoloS.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

John Chase Mystery Series Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 3
Bookish
Unshelfish
Back Porchervations
Tuesday, November 4
Reading Lark
Rainy Day Reviews
Wednesday, November 5
CelticLady’s Reviews
A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, November 6
The Lit Bitch
Historical Tapestry
Friday, November 7
Passages to the Past
Caroline Wilson Writes
Saturday, November 8
The Maiden’s Court
The True Book Addict
Sunday, November 9
Brooke Blogs
Let Them Read Books
Monday, November 10
Layered Pages
With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Tuesday, November 11
To Read or Not to Read
Wednesday, November 12
Just One More Chapter
Thursday, November 13
A Book Geek
100 Pages a Day
Friday, November 14
Peeking Between the Pages
Saturday, November 15
Mel’s Shelves
Historical Fiction Connection
Sunday, November 16
Book Nerd

Giveaway

To win all three books in S.K. Rizzolo’s John Chase Regency Mystery Series please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 17th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger
Publisher: Alibi (November 18, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review

Move over, Miss Marple—Mark Reutlinger’s charming cozy debut introduces readers to the unforgettable amateur sleuth Rose Kaplan and her loyal sidekick, Ida.

Everyone knows that Rose Kaplan makes the best matzoh ball soup around—she’s a regular matzoh ball maven—so it’s no surprise at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors when, once again, Mrs. K wins the honor of preparing the beloved dish for the Home’s seder on the first night of Passover.

But when Bertha Finkelstein is discovered facedown in her bowl of soup, her death puts a bit of a pall on the rest of the seder. And things go really meshugge when it comes out that Bertha choked on a diamond earring earlier stolen from resident Daisy Goldfarb. Suddenly Mrs. K is the prime suspect in the police investigation of both theft and murder. Oy vey—it’s a recipe for disaster, unless Rose and her dear friend Ida can summon up the chutzpah to face down the police and solve the mystery themselves.


Advance praise for Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

“Is there kosher food in jail? These two heroines have gotten themselves in quite a pickle! Well, it’s a matzoh ball mess, really. Too deliciously funny!”—Rita Mae Brown, bestselling author of Nine Lives to Die




My Take:

I found Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death to be a fast-paced, funny, and charming book. I read the book in one thoroughly pleasant evening of senior citizen mystery solving.

Rose Kaplan once again wins the honor of making the matzoh ball soup for the seder at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors. It is quite an honor because it means her matzoh balls are the best - again. No one expected one of the residents to die with her face in her bowl of soup - kind of makes a person leery of eating. What killed poor Bertha? Unfortunately for Rose, the first place everyone looks for cause of death is her soup. Well, I'm sure we can see where this is leading.

I thought Rose and Ida were so much fun! What a detective team. Rose knows she isn't a killer and she didn't take the diamond earring either -- but she is determined to find out who did. She and Ida have quite an adventure and Rose gets to use all the stuff she learned from reading all those Sherlock Holmes stories over and over again.

This was just a delightful and very fast-paced read. This is the perfect book to just relax and have a few chuckles over. The mystery was fun as well, but I would have read it just for Rose and Ida. I do hope there will be more books with this crime fighting duo. I am happily recommending Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death to anyone who likes a fun, light mystery.


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Mark Reutlinger_Author PhotoAbout Mark Reutlinger

Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novel Made in China and a professor of law emeritus at Seattle University. Born in San Francisco, Mark graduated from UC Berkeley and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington.

Mark Reutlinger’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, November 10th: From the TBR Pile
Monday, November 10th: Vic’s Media Room
Tuesday, November 11th: 2 Kids and Tired Books
Wednesday, November 12th: A Book Geek
Thursday, November 13th: Rhodes Review
Friday, November 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, November 17th: Brooke Blogs
Monday, November 17th: Omnimystery News – author guest post
Tuesday, November 18th: Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows
Tuesday, November 18th: Open Book Society
Wednesday, November 19th: Back Porchervations
Thursday, November 20th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, November 21st: Bell, Book & Candle
Monday, November 24th: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, November 24th: Melina’s Book Blog
Tuesday, November 25th: Read Love Blog
Tuesday, November 25th: Words by Webb
Monday, December 1st: Buried Under Books

Thursday, December 4th: I’d Rather Be at the Beach



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Tudor Vendetta blog tour and review

Please join C.W. Gortner as he tours the blogosphere for the release of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta, from October 20 - November 28, and enter to win a complete set of the trilogy!

The Tudor Vendetta

The Tudor Vendetta by C.W. Gortner
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
St. Martin's Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Series: Spymaster Chronicles
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

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Winter, 1558: Elizabeth I has ascended the throne but the first days of her reign are already fraught with turmoil, the kingdom weakened by strife and her ability to rule uncertain.

Summoned from exile abroad at the new queen's behest, Brendan Prescott arrives in London to face his shattered past. He soon finds himself pitted in deadly rivalry with his life-long foe, Robert Dudley, but when a poison attempt overshadows the queen’s coronation, Elizabeth privately dispatches Brendan on a far more dangerous assignation: to find her favored lady-in-waiting, Lady Parry, who has vanished in Yorkshire.

Upon his arrival at the crumbling sea-side manor that may hold the key to Lady Parry's disappearance, he encounters a strange, impoverished family beset by grief, as well as mounting evidence that they hide a secret from him. The mystery surrounding Lady Parry deepens as Brendan begins to realize there is far more going on at the manor than meets the eye, but the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he becomes the quarry of an elusive stranger with a vendetta— one that could expose both his own buried identity and a long-hidden revelation that will bring about Elizabeth's doom.

From the intrigue-laden passages of Whitehall to a foreboding Catholic manor and the prisons of the Tower, Brendan must risk everything to unravel a vendetta that strikes at the very core of his world, including his loyalty to his queen.

The Tudor Vendetta is the third book in Gortner's Elizabeth I Spymaster Trilogy.

My Take:

Once again, C.W. Gortner managed to capture my interest and imagination within the first paragraph of the third book in his Spymaster Chronicles Series, The Tudor Vendetta. I was again caught up in Brendan's dangerous and exciting adventures as he attempts to protect the queen and uncover the threats to both himself and Elizabeth.

The Tudor Vendetta is full of intrigue, and threats of scandal and death, politics and, naturally, spies. I had a feeling that a particular villain would be returning and I wasn't wrong. The mutual hatred between Brendan and Dudley is also further explored  and I found their story line to be interesting - especially pertaining to the mission given to Brendan by Elizabeth.

I thought the secrets that Brendan uncovered at Whitehall and all the intrigue and danger that went with it to be a great story arc - it deals with some historical rumors about Elizabeth that are intriguing. and, of course, scandalous. I thought Gortner did a wonderful job of intertwining his story with the historical records - and it was so much fun to read.

At the end of the book, I found myself hoping that this isn't the last of the Spymaster series with Brendan - I'd love to read more of his story. I also have to believe that there are many more spy stories to be told -- Elizabeth is pretty well know for her network of spies, and I keep thinking --Marlowe. That particular person may be wishful thinking on my part, but still. I love this series and would love to read many more. As with each of the books by Gortner that I have read, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Tudor Vendetta.


Praise for The Tudor Vendetta


“Fast paced and exciting, with a most engaging hero . . . So vivid, you feel are there!” - Diana Gabaldon, bestselling author of the Outlander series

“C.W. Gortner has done it again! Full of breathtaking action, dark twists and unexpected revelations, this is an unputdownable read.” - Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Madame Tussaud

“Suspense, intrigue, betrayal and deadly rivalry: What more can you ask for? A swashbuckling, perilous adventure.” - M.J. Rose, bestselling author of The Reincarnationist

Buy the Book


Amazon
Barnes & Noble
IndieBound

03_CW GortnerAbout the Author


C.W. GORTNER holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California, as well as an AA from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco.

After an eleven year-long career in fashion, during which he worked as a vintage retail buyer, freelance publicist, and fashion show coordinator, C.W. devoted the next twelve years to the public health sector. In 2012, he became a full-time writer following the international success of his novels.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard at Hampton Court, learned about organic gardening at Chenoceaux, and spent a chilly night in a ruined Spanish castle. His books have garnered widespread acclaim and been translated into twenty-one languages to date, with over 400,000 copies sold. A sought-after public speaker. C.W. has given keynote addresses at writer conferences in the US and abroad. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights, in particular companion animal rescue to reduce shelter overcrowding.

C.W. recently completed his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about Lucrezia Borgia; the third novel in his Tudor Spymaster series for St Martin's Press; and a new novel about the dramatic, glamorous life of Coco Chanel, scheduled for lead title publication by William Morrow, Harper Collins, in the spring of 2015.

Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, C.W. now lives in Northern California with his partner and two very spoiled rescue cats.

For more information please visit C.W. Gortner's website and blog. You can also connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and YouTube.

The Tudor Vendetta Blog Tour Schedule


Monday, October 20
Review at The Maiden's Court
Guest Post at Mina's Bookshelf

Tuesday, October 21
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 22
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at Always With a Books

Thursday, October 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews

Friday, October 24
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Interview at Back Porchervations

Monday, October 27
Review at JulzReads
Review at Queen of All She Reads

Tuesday, October 28
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Wednesday, October 29
Review at Making My Mark
Review at Writing the Renaissance
Guest Post at Bookish

Thursday, October 30
Review & Guest Post at Drey's Library
Review & Interview at The Copperfield Review & From Meredith Allard
Interview at Writing the Renaissance

Friday, October 31
Review at Book by Book

Monday, November 3
Review at Mari Reads
Review & Gues Post at JM Ledwell Writes

Tuesday, November 4
Review at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, November 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 6
Review at Booktalk & More

Friday, November 7
Review at Build a Bookshelf

Monday, November 10
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Tuesday, November 11
Review at A Book Geek
Review at The Lit Bitch

Wednesday, November 12
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, November 14
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Paranormal Book Club

Monday, November 17
Review at Broken Teepee
Review at The Never-Ending Book

Tuesday, November 18
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Guest Post at What is That Book About

Wednesday, November 19
Review at Kate Forsyth's Blog

Thursday, November 20
Review & Interview at The Tudor Enthusiast

Friday, November 21
Review at Griperang's Bookmarks

Monday, November 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The True Book Addict

Tuesday, November 25
Review at Historical Tapestry
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, November 28
Review at Books in the Burbs
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Giveaway


To win a complete set of CW Gortner's Spymaster Chronicles Trilogy (The Tudor Secret, The Tudor Conspiracy, and The Tudor Vendetta) please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US residents only.
Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 28th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 29th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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