Monday, October 6, 2014

Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

Extraordinary Rendition
Author: Paul Batista
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions LLC
ISBN: 9781938231261
Paperback: 380 pages

My thoughts about the book:

Please note -  Before sitting down with Extraordinary Rendition, make sure you find a comfortable spot along with your favorite beverage, because once you start, you are going to have a hard time putting book aside!

As you might have guessed, this was a total page turner that certainly captures one's attention. Centered around a lawyer, Byron Carlos Johnson, who decided to do something different and defend a terrorist, this novel will keep you wondering what is going to happen next. Byron is not a seasoned criminal lawyer, but a cooperate lawyer with no real experience in criminal law. Sounds crazy and with this type of case, you know it can't have a great outcome, or can it?

I love Batista's style of writing. With his background, he gives quite a realistic view of what happens in court and what can go on when mixing in terrorists and the government. When you mix that realism with the main character, Byron, you come out with a top-notched legal thriller that I gobbled up in a matter of hours.

If you love legal thrillers or are just looking for a great story, you should enjoy Extraordinary Rendition.

May be purchased at the following:
· Amazon: http://amzn.to/XdbrYp
· B&N: http://bit.ly/1ns9goE
· Astor+Blue: http://bit.ly/1kwDo7K



Extraordinary Rendition
Novel Based on Constitutional Controversy Delivers Complex Thrills


“Batista does it again when international intrigue collides with murder in Extraordinary Rendition! A high -priced Wall Street lawyer gets the shock of a lifetime...  law school never prepared him for this!  It's a fast ride--buckle up!"

--Nancy Grace, Attorney, TV Personality and New York Times Bestselling Author of Death on the D-List


When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him.  On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells.  This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other.  And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.
###


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TVCNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don't Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.

A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.

Batista's debut novel, Death's Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel,Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.

Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Looking for Jack Kerouac by Barbara Shoup #LookingForKerouac




Looking for Jack Kerouac
Author: Barbara Shoup
Publisher: Lacewing Books
Release date: Aug. 12, 2014
ISBN: 978-1938126475
Genre: Young Adult
Paperback, $14.95, 184 pages

About the Book:
When Paul Carpetti discovers “On the Road” in Greenwich Village while on a class trip to New York City, the world suddenly cracks open and he sees that life could be more than the college degree his mother is determined for him to achieve, a good job and, eventually, marriage to his girlfriend, Kathy. But upon his return, his mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer and his world falls apart.

Set in 1964, “Looking for Jack Kerouac” tells the story of how Paul’s dreams of a different life and his grief at the loss of his mother set him on a road trip with his rowdy friend, Duke, that includes a wild night on Music Row in Nashville, an all-too-real glimpse of glimpse of racism; and an encounter with a voluptuous mermaid named Lorelei – landing him in St. Petersburg, where he finds real friendship and, in time, Jack Kerouac. By then a ruined man, living with his mother, Kerouac is nothing like the person Paul has traveled so far to meet.

Yet, in the end, it is Kerouac who gives him the key that opens up the next phase of his life.

My Thoughts

When Paul comes face to face with a family tragedy, he starts looking at the world differently and what life means. He decides to pick up and leave with his close friend, Duke, to find the author of his favorite book. What he discovers is not at all what he expected - he finds out what really matters.

This coming of age story was wonderfully captivating. Paul is a character that seems aloof and not caring, but I found myself drawn to him. As he grows and learns about himself and his relationship with his best friend, Paul's view changes. I loved seeing him grown and how he found what things in life were really important. I loved watching him grow and his discovery of how things aren't always as the seem or how we think they are.

Although marketed for the young adult audience, this story will be welcomed by the adult audience as well - possibly taking them back and spurring memories of their own ideals and how things really turned out. I know I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone that understands what it's like being young.

About the Author:

To say Barbara Shoup is passionate about writing would be an understatement. The award-winning author has been recognized with multiple honors for her work, and in August, she will release her eighth novel “Looking for Jack Kerouac” with Lacewing Books, the young adult imprint of Engine Books.

Shoup is the author of seven other novels, including “Night Watch” (1982), “Wish You Were Here” (1994/2008), “Stranded in Harmony” (1997/2001), “Faithful Women” (1999), “Vermeer’s Daughter” (2003/2014), “Everything You Want” (2008) and “An American Tune” (2012). She is the executive director of the Indiana Writers Center and the co-author of “Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process” (2000) and “Story Matters: Contemporary Short Story Writers Share the Creative Process (2006).”

Shoup graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in secondary education. She taught creative writing to high school students for more than twenty years.

Shoup’s short fiction, poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in numerous small magazines, as well as in The Writer and The New York Times travel section. Her young adult novels, “Wish You Were Here” and “Stranded in Harmony” were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. “Vermeer’s Daughter” was a School Library Journal Best Adult Book for Young Adults.

Shoup is the recipient of numerous grants from the Indiana Arts Council, two creative renewal grants from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the 2006 PEN Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Working Writer Fellowship and the 2012 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Regional Indiana Author Award.

Shoup has lived in Indiana all her life. She is married with two daughters and two grandchildren.

If you would like to learn more about Barbara, you can find her at:



 I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss courtesy of the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Healing Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Healing Quilt
Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club - Book #3
Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
ISBN: 9781616260873
Paperback: 320 pages

About the Book:
Retired Amish newlyweds Emma and Lamar Miller have decided to buy a winter place in Sarasota, Florida. But it wouldn't feel like home if Emma didn't take her quilting materials and offer classes. Wounded and hurting people have a knack for finding their way to her classes for some quilting therapy: Jennifer, a pregnant new mom; Mike, a charter boat owner; Erika, a wheelchair-bound teen; Kim, a waitress; Noreen, a newly-retired widow; and BJ, an artist facing illness. And when Jan visits from Indiana, romance is also added to the class discussions.

My Thoughts:

This fun series is about an older Amish woman who opens her home to 6 people who want to take quilting lessons. In each book, the quilters are a mixture of people from all walks of life - both male and female - and each brings their own problems with them. Some are obvious, some are not. With that said, The Healing Quilt can be read as a stand alone, however, since some people from past books are either referenced or have a part in this book, I would encourage the series be read from the beginning.

In The Healing Quilt, Emma and Lamar Miller are staying at the Pinecroft community in Sarasota, Florida. Emma misses home but knows Lamar needs to be there in the wintertime, so she decides she'd like to teach classes to keep her occupied. She, again, ends up with an interesting group with another set of problems, and this time she's not sure she can help.

With her patience and understanding, Emma guides the group through both quilting and life lessons and shares her Biblical understanding and God's love with the group. She is an endearing woman who will win the heart of the reader as well as impart some strong faith and belief that will reflect God's will and love for all.

This is an interesting series that is sure to delight lovers of Amish fiction as well as those that enjoy a story with a positive Christian message.

About the Author:

A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has sold more than seven million copies of her fiction and nonfiction books. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts.

If you'd like to learn more about Wanda or the books she's written, please visit her page at: http://www.wandabrunstetter.com/





 I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Featured Book - Second Chance Cafe by Brandy Bruce

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book! You never know when I might play a wild card on you!




Today's Wild Card author is:
 
 
and the book:
 
Heartsong Presents/Love Inspired (July 2014)



bookcover


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Visit the author's website. Brandy Bruce was scribbling stories in spiral notebooks by the age of 12. Her love for books never left her. She graduated from Liberty University, married the one person she could never get enough of, then started working as a book editor for a publishing house. Brandy and her husband, Jeff, live in Colorado with their two children. She can be reached through her blog at http://www.brandybruce.blogspot.com.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

ISABELLA ROMANO HAS GIVEN UP ON LOVE Between her demanding work as a nurse and her father's poor health, Isabella has no time for distractions. So when a handsome firefighter practically falls at her feet, she keeps him at arm's length. But Ethan Carter is determined to win her over.Orphaned at a young age, Ethan longs for a family of his own—and he's sure Isabella is his match. But when he opens a cafĂ© near his firehouse, Isabella is less than thrilled. She knows firsthand the strain of being a restaurant owner, and she wants no part of that life. Can Ethan convince the busy nurse they can overcome any obstacle and have their happily ever after together?

Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Publisher: Heartsong Presents/ Love Inspired 
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-48719-6

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One 

“Okay, people. We’ve got a firefighter with possible fractures and trauma to the spine. ETA is five minutes.”
Nurse Isabella Romano’s ears perked up and her pulse quickened. The mood in the emergency room shifted to one of controlled urgency. Isabella slipped on gloves and followed the attending physician, Dr. Nichols, to the Denver Health Medical Center’s ER entrance. Sirens rang out in the distance, and within minutes, the familiar sight of flashing lights sped toward them.
The back doors of the ambulance flew open and the paramedics jumped out. “Male, late twenties, fell from second-story landing to first floor and landed on his back. Multiple burns on his arms and a laceration on his right thigh. Hypotensive. Tachycardic. We administered one liter of saline through an 18 gauge IV in his left AC. Patient has maintained a pulse ox of 96 percent on 10L of oxygen via facemask.”
Isabella grabbed the left side of the stretcher, helping push the gurney to trauma room 1. At the sound of a low moan, she looked down at the firefighter strapped to the backboard. A neck collar kept him immobile and an oxygen mask covered his mouth.
“What’s his name?” Isabella called out to the EMT across from her.
“Ethan Carter. Company 51. Those guys will be filling up the waiting room as soon as they clear the scene.”
“Ethan, I’m Isabella. Can you hear me?”
His gaze met hers and Isabella could see his intense pain.
“Ethan, you’re going to be okay. We’re going to take good care of you.”
“Okay, everyone, on three,” Dr. Nichols ordered.
Everyone stopped what they were doing at Dr. Nichols’s instruction and lifted the backboard with Ethan on it, transferring him and the backboard to the hospital bed. He moaned. “We’re going to need 50 mcg of fentanyl,” Dr. Nichols called out. Maggie, one of Isabella’s colleagues, began cutting off Ethan’s burned clothing.
“Let’s get some X-rays, Isa,” Dr. Nichols stated. “I want a CT scan. His thigh obviously needs stitches.”
“I’m on it,” Maggie said as she inspected the burns on Ethan’s arms. Isabella moved to order the X-rays but Ethan reached out for her. She stepped back toward him, preparing to explain to him that she’d be back and he was going to be all right. But the look in his blue eyes stopped her. He tried to reach for his oxygen mask, but Isabella shook her head.
“No, don’t move,” she said; then pulled away his mask for a moment.
“Don’t leave me,” he said, his voice dry and raspy. Isabella was pretty sure that even covered in dust and blood, with a brace around his neck, he was the most attractive man she’d ever seen. Her heart tugged. In that moment, he just seemed so alone.
She replaced his oxygen. “I have to go for a minute, Ethan, but I’ll be coming right back. And we’ll get through this together. I know you’re scared and I know you’re hurting. But it’s going to be okay.”
He just stared at her, his eyes pleading for her to stay. Isabella couldn’t help it; she reached down and brushed his brown hair from his forehead.
“I promise I’ll be back,” she told him.Ethan Carter’s eyes fluttered open and then shut again quickly.
Who in the world turned on that blinding light?
He could hear a voice, someone saying his name. He turned his head to the side.
What happened?
He heard that voice again, saying his name. Then it came back to him, playing through his mind like a movie reel. The house fire. The roaring sound of the blaze. The sensation that he was falling. The impact of the ground floor. The rush into the ER.
“Ethan?”
He opened his eyes and blinked, trying to focus on the woman’s face in front of him.
“Hi there,” she said. “It’s nice to see you again.”
He blinked again. “Nurse . . .”
“Isabella. We met under rather tragic circumstances, I know.”
She was teasing. He could hear it in her voice. Now that he could focus on her clearly, he remembered seeing her in the ER.
“Isabella,” he repeated. Dressed in blue scrubs, she stood next to the bed, her brown hair tied back in a knot. She smiled down at him and Ethan felt better at the sight of her smile. She checked the monitors, her eyes darting toward the door of the hospital room.
“Did they get the family out of the house?” Ethan asked. Isabella nodded.
“Yes. One of the other firefighters—I think his name was Blake—told me to let you know that everyone made it out safely.”
“Except me, I guess,” Ethan said grimly. But Isabella’s smile didn’t fade.
“C’mon, tough guy. You’ve got this.”
Ethan studied her warm smile and playful tone. “You’re right,” he conceded. “God was watching over me in that burning house. He won’t abandon me now.”
She blinked in surprise at his statement. “I suppose He was,” she agreed.
“When can I go home?” Ethan asked.
“I’m not sure,” Isabella answered. “Dr. Nichols will be here any minute to talk to you,” she said.
“Can you stay?” Ethan asked immediately. Her face softened.
“Sure, if you want me to. Is there anyone you want me to call for you? The guys from the firehouse were here all night, off and on, in the waiting room. There are a few guys out there now. They can come in as soon as Dr. Nichols speaks to you.”
Ethan nodded. “Thanks. But there’s no one else for you to call.”
Isabella frowned. “Your family?”
Ethan just shook his head, turning his attention to the gauze covering his forearms. “There’s no one. Just the guys.” He hoped she’d drop the topic. He hated the pitiful looks he got whenever he explained to people that other than a few distant relatives out in California, he had no one. It was part of why he’d joined Company 51. A whole firehouse with the brothers he’d never had. He wondered if the chief was in the waiting room.
The door slid open and a doctor wearing black rimmed glasses and holding a clipboard walked in. He looked to be in his mid-forties.
“Good morning, Ethan. How are we feeling today?”
We? I have a feeling you’re doing a lot better than I am, doc.
“I’m hurting, but I’m guessing that medication is dulling the real pain.”
Dr. Nichols nodded. “You had a bad fall, Ethan. You know that. There were second degree burns on your arms, and a gash on your thigh that took about twenty stitches. You lost some blood, but we’ve given you IV fluids and you’re vitals have stabilized. You’re pretty banged up and bruised all over, but unfortunately, your back took the impact of the fall.”
Ethan’s chest constricted with fear.
“How bad is it?”
Isabella stepped closer to his bedside.
“It could have been worse. You have a lumbar—lower back—spinal fracture. The X-ray showed an L4 compression fracture. The positive aspect of this is that you still have good movement and feeling. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any neurological damage.”
“Do I need surgery?” Ethan asked.
“I don’t think so. The X-rays indicate a clean fracture. I’m going to recommend we move forward with outpatient treatment. But you’ve got a long, arduous healing journey ahead of you.”
“How long until I can be back on active duty?”
Dr. Nichol’s eyebrows furrowed. “The spine is a tricky thing, Ethan. And everyone heals at a different pace. You’re going to need rest, pain medication, lots of therapy, a back brace—”
“How long?” Ethan insisted.
“We’re talking months, Ethan. And that’s assuming that everything heals as it should. While in a few weeks you’ll be able to continue with most day-to-day activities, I don’t see you going back to active duty for probably six months. It could be less; it could be more. Perhaps they can transfer you to a desk job until you’re ready. After a few weeks of therapy we could reevaluate and consider light duty. But as of right now, your life is going to look different. You need to understand and accept that. Your priority needs to be healing properly.”
Months? Desk job? Light duty? Ethan tried to swallow the boulder in his throat.
“But, eventually, I’ll be back to normal. I’ll be able to be on active duty, right?” Ethan pressed. Dr. Nichols folded his arms across his clipboard.
“If all goes as it should, I think you’ll make a full recovery. But as I said, this is going to be a one-day-at-a-time healing process. We’ll start with rest. I want you on complete bed rest for the next few days. No strenuous activity. We’ll fit you for a back brace, which I want you to wear for six to eight weeks. We’ll do an X-ray after six weeks and see if the bone has healed. Then, once the bone has healed, you’ll need to begin physical therapy.”
Ethan took a deep breath. He felt a soft hand squeeze his arm and he looked up at Isabella.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” she said, her voice encouraging. “You’re here, you’re alive, you can walk—those are all good things.” He stared at her, trying to hold on to the sense of calm emanating from her.
She’s right, Father, he prayed. But what am I going to do for months if I’m not fighting fires? And what if ‘the healing process’ doesn’t go as it should and I can’t go back? Company 51 is all I have.
That last thought was too much. Ethan felt tears welling up in his eyes. He blinked fast to keep them at bay, mortified that he might cry in front of this nurse who not only was kind and smart and had a great sense of humor, but also looked stunning in blue scrubs.
I will never leave you.
The words were just a whisper in his heart, but they were enough. He clung to them. It had only been six months since one of his brothers at the firehouse, Caleb, had lead Ethan to Christ. Six months of a changed life. He still struggled to accept that God loved him like a father. That he could turn to God at any time. But it got easier. Accepting Christ as his Savior had filled Ethan with something he’d known was missing since childhood. Now he treasured that faith more than anything else.
Ethan closed his eyes.
I have You, Father. Whatever comes, I have you. Help me through this.Isabella watched as Ethan closed his eyes. His lips moved silently, and she knew without a doubt that he was praying. She looked over at Dr. Nichols who stood waiting without a word. Prayers were common things in the hospital. Sometimes people cried out loudly for help. Sometimes it was a desperate whisper. And sometimes, like now, it was a silent request. She’d seen people blame God. She’d seen them beg for His comfort. She’d even seen them try to barter for what they wanted.
Isabella wondered which one Ethan was doing now.
She also considered the fact that without all the dust and blood, Ethan Carter was even more attractive than she’d found him to be in the ER.
He had no family to call. That’s odd. The firefighters have filled up the waiting room, of course. But no one else. No relatives. No girlfriend. No one.
Isabella stared at the handsome firefighter’s brown hair and dark brown eyebrows. His sturdy jaw and those lips. She watched him pray. She wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to think so or not—but the fact that he was praying made him even more attractive.
I was wrong. He’s not completely alone. He has faith.
Ethan drew a breath and opened his eyes. He looked at Isabella before turning his attention to Dr. Nichols.
“Okay, what’s my next step, doc?”.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber - Review and Kindle Giveaway

Murder Strikes a Pose

by Tracy Weber

on Tour August 2014




Book Details:


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0738739687
Purchase Links:



Synopsis:

When George and Bella—a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd—disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.
One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.


Read an excerpt:

I laid my body on the cool wood floor, covered up with a blanket, and prepared to die.
Metaphorically, that is.
Corpse Pose’s ten-minute rest always soothed my stressed-out nerves, and for once I didn’t feel guilty about the indulgence. My to-do list was blank, Serenity Yoga’s phone was silent, and I had a whole blissful hour between clients to do my favorite activity: practice yoga.
Even my eclectic Greenwood neighborhood seemed uncharacteristically quiet, lulled by Seattle’s rare afternoon sun. The residents of the apartments above the yoga studio were off at their day jobs; the alcohol-addicted patrons of the block’s two dive bars slept off their Jim Beam breakfasts; the soccer moms shopping at next door’s upscale PhinneyWood Market purchased the day’s supplies in unusual silence.
I wiggled my toes under a Mexican blanket, covered my eyes with a blue satin eye pillow, and inhaled deeply. The ooey-gooey smell of Mocha Mia’s chocolate caramel cake wafted from across the street and filled my nostrils with sweet toffee-scented bliss—my all-time favorite aromatherapy.
Paradise. Simply paradise.
I released my weight into the earth and silently coached myself, exactly as I would one of my students. OK, Kate. Feel your body relax. Notice the random fluctuations of your mind and—
A vicious snarl ripped through the silence, startling me out of my catnap. I sat straight up, eye pillow falling to the floor with an undignified thump.
What the heck?
When had a dog fighting ring moved into the neighborhood?
A dog fight was the only plausible explanation for the commotion outside. Bursts of deep, frantic barking were followed by high-pitched yelping, all punctuated by the peace-shattering sounds of angry yelling. The phrases I could make out confirmed my suspicions. This had to be a dog fight, albeit one-sided.
“Control your dog!”
“Get that vicious beast out of here!”
And even a simple, “What the hell?”
I closed the door between the yoga room and the studio’s lobby, hoping to block out the intrusive sounds. Snarls, shouts, and an occasional ear-piercing shriek continued to reverberate right through the wall.
Undaunted, I imagined that the sounds were merely clouds floating across my mental horizon. Most of those clouds were dark and ominous, like the deep thunderclouds preceding a hailstorm. But every so often I heard a soft voice, more like the fluffy clouds of childhood summers. I couldn’t quite make out his words, but I could tell that the speaker was a man. From his tone, I assumed he was trying to calm beasts both human and animal.
It wasn’t working.
Neither, for that matter, was my attempted meditation.
I’d obviously have to shift tactics.
I tried drowning out the clamor with low, soft chanting. Then I increased the volume. But even as I belted out Om Santi, my favorite mantra for peace, I felt my jaw start to tighten. My fingernails bit deeply into my palms. My shoulders crept up to my ears.
An entirely different mantra began pounding through my head: Don’t get me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
A series of yelps and the words “I’m calling the cops!” zapped me like a cattle prod. I leapt from my mat and stormed across the floor, determined to put a stop to that infernal racket. I hurled open the door and came face-to-face, or rather face-to-snout, with the source of the commotion. Not more than five feet away from the studio’s entrance stood a paunchy, dark-haired man and the biggest, skinniest, meanest-looking German shepherd I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong. I like dogs. I love them, in fact. It’s their human counterparts I could sometimes do without. But this frothing breast was no Rin Tin Tin. A long line of drool oozed from its mouth. Its sharp white teeth glinted in the sunlight, and its black wiry topcoat still stood on end from the prior scuffle. The dog was obviously rabid. I didn’t recognize the man standing next to the frightening creature, but I did recognize his activity. He worked as a vendor for Dollars for Change, a well-regarded local newspaper that published articles about homelessness and poverty while employing those same homeless individuals as salespeople. Ordinarily I would have welcomed one of their vendors outside my business. If nothing else, supporting the paper demonstrated yoga’s principles of kindness and compassion. But this was not an ordinary circumstance. I absolutely could not allow that disgusting dog to raise a ruckus outside my studio. The prenatal class would have a fit. Suffice it to say that pregnancy hormones didn’t always leave expecting moms in the best of moods. My moms-to-be liked their yoga practice. They needed their yoga practice. And they needed to be serene while doing it. If a noisy dog fight disturbed their peaceful experience, I’d be the one getting barked at.
Thinking less than yogic thoughts, I marched up to the pair, determined to put a stop to the chaos.
“What in the world’s going on out here?”
The human half of the dastardly duo held a leash in one hand, newspapers in the other. He smiled at me and said, “Sorry about all the noise. I’m George, and this here’s Bella. What’s your name?”
“Kate Davidson, but—”
“Well, nice to meet you, Kate. I’d shake your hand, but mine are full, so Bella will have to do it instead.”
The vicious beast walked up and calmly sniffed my hand. I prayed she wasn’t about to ingest my fingers.
“Bella, say hello!”
Upon hearing her owner’s command, the giant hairy monster-dog immediately went into a perfect sit and sweetly offered me her paw. Maybe she wasn’t rabid after all. Just huge and ill-mannered.
“Don’t mind Bella,” he continued. “She’s very friendly to people. She just doesn’t like other dogs much. She’d be fine if people kept their unruly mutts to themselves, but they think if their rude dog wants to play, Bella has to as well.” He shook his head in disgust. “I don’t understand some people!”
I tried to interrupt, to tell him that his dog was the problem, but he didn’t give me the chance.
“Bella and I are new to this neighborhood, and we’re supposed to sell papers near the market. I tried setting up by the north entrance, but there’s a pet store at that end. Pete’s Pets, I think it’s called? The owner was a nice enough guy and all, but selling there was a disaster with all those dogs going in and out. Bella wasn’t happy at all.” He shrugged. “So I guess we’re going to have to hang out here instead.”
I bit the inside of my lip and considered my options. Up close, George wasn’t exactly the paragon of health I wanted standing outside my business. His friendly smile exposed yellowed teeth in need of significant dental care, and if the sharp, ammonia-like smell was any indication, neither he nor Bella had taken a bath in quite some time. At three-thirty in the afternoon, I could smell whiskey on his breath, and I suspected this most recent drink hadn’t been his first of the day. It would also likely be far from his last. I only knew one thing for certain: if George didn’t frighten my students away, his loud, intimidating, fur-covered companion would.
I needed them to leave, but honestly, I didn’t want to say it out loud. After all, I taught yoga for a living. People expected me to be calm and collected at all times. I wasn’t allowed to be mean, or even irritated, for that matter. I hesitated as I tried to come up with the perfect words to make him want to move, if not out of the neighborhood, then at least across the street.
Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), one of my favorite students picked that very moment to walk up with her five-month-old Lab pup, Coalie. “Hey, Kate!” she said. “I hoped I’d run into you! Do you still have space in your Core Strength class tonight?” Coalie was as rude and friendly as Labs everywhere. She couldn’t stop herself if she tried. She ran up to Bella, wiggling her entire body with glee, and covered Bella’s muzzle in sloppy wet puppy kisses.
Bella wasted no time. Faster than a 747 and stronger than a freight train, Bella pinned Coalie to the ground between her front legs, snarling and air-snapping on either side of Coalie’s neck. I heard the sound of canine teeth chomping together and imagined soft puppy bones shattering between them. My student screamed. Coalie yelped. George grabbed Bella’s collar while I reached in between razor-sharp teeth to pull Coalie from the jaws of death. The three of us wrestled the two dogs apart, but not before my student almost died of heart failure.
“What’s wrong with you?” she yelled. “Keep that vicious monster away from my baby!”
George quickly apologized, but said, “No damage done. Bella was just teaching that pup some manners.” He pointed at Coalie. “See, it’s all good!”
Coalie, oblivious with joy, seemed unscathed and ready to dive in again. Tail wagging and butt wiggling, she pulled with all her might, trying desperately to get back to Bella.
Bella had other plans. She sat next to George, glaring directly at that pup with a patented Clint Eastwood stare. Go ahead, she seemed to say. Make my day. My soon-to-be-former student ran off as quickly as her legs would move, dragging the still-happy puppy behind her.
“See you in class tonight!” I yelled to her rapidly retreating back. I doubted I’d be seeing her any time soon.
Yoga reputation be damned. I had to get rid of this guy.
I put my hands on my hips and stood nice and tall, taking full advantage of my five-foot-three-inch frame. “Look. I can’t let you stay here with the dog. She’s obviously frightening people. You have to leave.” I paused a moment for emphasis, then added, “Now.”
George stood a little taller, too. “Look yourself, lady. The last time I checked, I’m standing on city property. I have every right to be here. You don’t own this sidewalk, and you can’t stop me from making a living on it.” He glared at me, sharp eyes unblinking. “We Dollars for Change vendors are licensed, and no matter how much you don’t like us, the city says we can be here.”
“There’s no ‘us’ I don’t like,” I replied, frustrated. “It’s your dog. And you may have every right to be here, but the dog is another story. What do you think Animal Control will do if I report a vicious dog attacking people outside my store?”
George stepped back, pulling Bella closer. Seattle had the toughest dangerous dog laws in the nation. We both knew what would happen if I made that call. “You wouldn’t do that!” he said. “Bella’s never hurt anyone.”
I planted my feet stubbornly. “Try me.”
George gave me a wounded look and gathered his papers, shoulders slumped in depressed resignation. “OK, we’ll go. But I thought you yoga people were supposed to be kind.” He shuffled away, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. Bella followed close by his side.
“Crap,” I muttered, watching their slow departure. “Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap.” He was right. Like all good yoga teachers, I had extensively studied yoga philosophy and tried to live by it. The teachings were clear: A yogi should respond to suffering with active compassion. And George was clearly suffering, whether he realized that fact or not.
Threatening to call the cops on George’s dog may have been active, but it wasn’t all that compassionate, to him or to Bella. I felt like a cad. My solution probably wasn’t what the teachings had in mind, but it was the best I could come up with on short notice. “Hang on there a minute!” I yelled as I ran to catch up with him. Out of breath, I said, “You’re right. I overreacted, and I’m sorry. How many papers do you have left to sell today?”
George stopped walking. When he turned to look back at me, his eyes sparkled with an unexpected hint of wry humor. “About thirty.”
The calculations weren’t difficult. I wasn’t completely broke—yet—but thirty dollars wasn’t a drop in the bucket. On the other hand, my Monday evening classes were popular, and I had to get this guy away from the front door. Mentally crossing my fingers that the toilet wouldn’t break again, I said, “Wait here. I’ll be right back.” I hurried back to the studio and grabbed thirty dollars from the cash box.
“If I buy all of your papers, will you be done for the day?”
“Yes ma’am, and that would be very kind of you.” He gave me a broad, yellow-toothed smile. “Bella and I appreciate it very much.” He took the money, left the papers, and wandered off, whistling. Bella happily trotted behind him.
“Well, that wasn’t so difficult,” I said, patting myself on the back. “I should follow the teachings more often!” I went back inside and finished my considerably shortened practice. I chose to ignore the quiet voice in my head telling me I’d just made a huge mistake.


My Thoughts:

"Murder Strikes a Pose" is a fun cozy mystery which centers around the death of a homeless man. Was is an accidental death or was it outright murder? The spunky yoga studio owner and instructor, Kate Davidson, has her theories and she's not letting anything stop her from finding out if she's right.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the story line and the characters in this cozy. I sadly must admit that the first time I saw this book, I passed it up because it was centered around a yoga instructor and I wasn't sure how much I would grasp or enjoy it. I'm glad I went back for another look, because the whole story was fun from the main character and her hang-ups to the less than perfect German Shepherd, Bella. I also loved that George was given value in the story and not just looked at as a total nuisance.

"Murder Strikes a Pose" is a great start to a new cozy series called "Downward Dog Mysteries" and one that I will be anxiously awaiting the publication of the next book "A Killer Retreat" in January 2015. I can't wait to see what Kate and Bella get involved in next!

This series would appeal to the yoga student as well as the dog lover as well as anyone who just enjoys a fun, cozy mystery. Make sure to add it to your summer reading list - you'll be glad you did!

Author Bio:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries.

I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.

My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I'm not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

I am a member of Sisters in Crime, The Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Dog Writers Association of America.


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Monday, August 4, 2014

The Jones Men: 40th Anniversary Book Blast

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The Jones Men: 40th Anniversary Edition

by Vern E. Smith

Book Blast on August 4th, 2014








Book Details:


Genre: Crime
Published by: Rosarium Publishing
Publication Date: May 2014
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 978-0989141185
Purchase Links:



Synopsis:

DETROIT, 1974

To become the King, you have to take the crown. It won't be given up lightly. Heroin kingpin, Willis McDaniel, has been wearing that particular piece of jewelry for far too long, and youngblood, Lennie Jack, thinks it would look really good on his head. When a junkie tells Jack about a big delivery, the young Vietnam vet makes his move. Feeling his empire crumble, McDaniel puts the word out to find whoever's responsible. The hunt is on, the battle is engaged, and the streets of Detroit run red with blood.

In 1974 Vern E. Smith took the crime fiction world by storm with his debut novel, The Jones Men. Heralded as "a large accomplishment in the art of fiction" by the New York Times, The Jones Men went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. The art of crime fiction has never been the same since.



Read an excerpt:

For Bennie Lee Sims’ wake, Lennie Jack chose the sky-blue Fleetwood with the chromed-up bumpers and the bar-line running from the trunk to the dash, dispensing six different liquors with chaser.

Joe Red brought the car to a halt in front of Fraser’s Funeral Parlor on Madison Boulevard. He backed it in between a red El Dorado with a diamond-shaped rear window and a pink Lincoln with a leopard-skin roof.

Lennie Jack wore a medium-length Afro and had thick wide sideburns that grew neatly into the ends of a bushy moustache drooping over his top lip. He got out of the passenger seat in a manner that favored his left shoulder. He had on a cream-colored suede coat that stopped just below the knee, and a .38 in his waistband.

Joe Red was shorter and thinner and younger than Lennie Jack. He got his nickname for an extremely light complexion and a thick curly bush of reddish brown hair; it spilled from under the wide-brimmed black hat cocked low over his right ear. He had on the black leather midi with the red-stitched cape; he had a .45 automatic in his waistband.

They came briskly down the sidewalk and went up the six concrete steps to the entrance of Fraser’s.

An attendant in a somber gray suit and dark tie greeted them at the door.

“We’re here for Bennie Sims,” Joe Red said.

“Come this way,” the attendant said.

He guided them down a narrow hallway past a knot of elderly black women waiting to file into one of the viewing rooms flanking the hall on either side. The hallway reeked of death; the women wept.

They passed three more doors before the attendant led them left at the end of the hall and down a short flight of stairs. A single 60-watt bulb illuminated the lower level. The attendant went past the row of ebony- and silver-colored caskets stacked near the staircase and stopped at a door in the back of the room.

“They’re in there,” he said. He turned and headed back up the stairs. Lennie Jack rapped softly at the door. They stood a few feet back from the doorway to be recognizable in the dim light.

The door cracked.

“This Bennie Lee?” Lennie Jack said.

“Yeah, this it,” said a voice behind the crack.

A man with wavy black hair in a white mink jacket and red knicker boots let them in. He relocked the door.

The room smelled of cigarette smoke. A row of silver metal chairs had been stacked in a neat line on one side, but most of the people come to pay their respects were scattered in the back in tight little clusters, talking and laughing.

At the front of the long room, near a small table of champagne bottles, Bennie Lee Sims’ tuxedo-dad body lay in a silver-colored coffin with a bright satin lining.

His face was dusty with a fine white powder.

Lennie Jack walked over to the coffin. He dipped his fingers in the silver tray of cocaine on top and sprinkled it over Bennie Lee.

Joe Red stepped up behind him and tried to find a spot that wasn’t covered. He finally decided on the lips and scattered a handful of the fine white crystalline powder around Bennie Lee’s mouth and chin.

They moved through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting people. Almost everybody had come to see Bennie Lee off.

The Ware brothers were there: Willie, the oldest at twenty-four; Simmy, who was twenty; and June, who often swaggered as if he were the elder of the clan but still had the baby-smooth face and look of wide- eyed adolescence. He was seventeen.

Pretty Boy Sam was standing in one corner with his right foot resting on one of the metal chairs. He had smooth brown skin and almost girlish features, topped off by a pointed Van Dyke beard. His good looks masked a violent temper.

Pretty Boy Sam had worn his full-length brown mink and brought his woman to pay his respects to Bennie Lee Sims, who had two neat bullet holes right between the eyes and underneath all the cocaine on his face.

Slim Williams was there with his woman. He was a tall, thin dark-skinned man whose left eye had been destroyed by an errant shotgun blast. He now wore a variety of gaily colored eye patches the way he had heard Sammy Davis did when he lost his eye. He had on a patch of bright green and red plaid and stood conversing on one side of the room with Hooker, Woody Woods, and Mack Lee.

Willis McDaniel was not there, but then, he never came. He had probably never considered it, but it was a source of irritation to the others.

Joe Red said, “Hey Jack, he the man. He don’t hafta come see nobody off if he don’t wanta come. Ain’t none of these people thinkin’ bout makin’ him come. Who gon make him come?”

“Why he can’t come like the rest of the people?” Lennie Jack said. “Has anybody ever thought of that, you reckon? He too big now to bring his ass out here to see a dude off? He probably had him ripped anyway. I don’t understand how these chumps let an old man like that just get in there and rule.”

“Now we both know how he got it,” Joe Red said. “He took it. He say, ‘Look, I’m gon be the man on this side of town cause I got my thing together and I got plenty big shit behind me. Now what you motherfuckers say?’ Everybody say, ‘You the man, Mister McDaniel.’ That’s the way he did it.”

“That is the way to take it from him, too.” Lennie Jack said. “We gon get lucky pretty soon. I think he can be had and I know just the way to do it. I got some people working on it. The first thing they teach you in the war is to fight fire with fire, you know?”

He took the tiny gold spoon on the chain around his neck and scooped a pinch of cocaine off the tray Joe Red handed him. He brought the spoon up to his right nostril and sniffed deeply.

The crowd was beginning to drift to the corner of the room where Slim Williams was holding court. Slim was thirty-seven, and much older than most of his audience. Lennie Jack was twenty-six, and Joe Red had just turned twenty-one three days ago.

Slim Williams had diamond rings on three fingers of his left hand, and he was waving them around in a dazzling display and talking about Joe the Grind.

“Joe used to walk into a bar with his dudes with him–he always carried these two dudes with him everywhere he went. He’d walk into a place fulla people and say, ‘I’m Joe the Grind, set up the bar! All pimps and players step up to the bar and bring your whores with you.’”

Slim Williams chuckled. “Then Joe would talk about ‘em. He used to say, ‘You ain’t no pimp, nigger. What you doin’ up here? I ain’t buying no drinks for you. Sit down!’”

Slim Williams laughed; so did everybody else.

“Joe used to rayfield a chump bag dude too,” Slim Williams said. “He used to tell ‘em ‘Just cause you got eight or nine hundred dollars worth of business don’t mean you somebody.’ Then Joe would throw a roll down that’d choke a Goddamn mule and tell the chump: ‘Looka here boy, I just had my man sell forty-two thousand dollars worth of heh-rawn, and I got twenty more joints to hear from fore midnight. Gon sit down somewhere, you don’t belong up here with no big dope men.”

They laughed again and somebody passed the coke tray.

June Ware took his pinch and squared his toes in the eighty-dollar calfskin boots from Australia, via Perrin’s Men’s Shoppe on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

“What happened to Joe, Slim?” June Ware said.

“Oh, somebody shot ‘im in the head in an after-hours joint,” Slim Williams said. “And lemme tell you, youall shoulda been there to see Joe’s wake. It put this thing to shame. Compared to Joe’s, this thing ain’t nothing. This light-weight. They say there was coke in the block wrapped in foil and pure heh-rawn set out on silver trays with diamonds in the sides.

“So they partied all night till twelve the next day, then they all went to Joe’s funeral. After the funeral was over, everybody got on the plane with his woman and went to Jamaica for two days.”

“Say what?” June Ware said.

“Yeah, that’s the truth,” Slim Williams said. “And you shoulda seen that funeral too. They say a broad came over from Chicago in a white-on-white El Dorado, and she was dressed in all white with a bad-ass mink round her shoulders. Then when she came out of the hotel the next day for Joe’s funeral, they say she was in all black. She went to the graveyard and threw one hundred roses on Joe. Then she got in her ride and split. Don’t nobody know who she was. When they had Joe’s funeral march, there was one hundred fifty big pieces lined up for blocks down Madison Boulevard. They pulled a brand new Brough-ham behind the hearse, and when the march was over they took the car out to the trash yard and crushed it.”

“Goddamn Slim!” June Ware said.

Mack Lee, who was twenty-two years old and decked out from the top of his big apple hat to the tip of his leather platforms in bright lavender, came their way with his woman on his arm.

The woman looked about nineteen; she wore diamond-studded earrings and a matching bracelet. She carried a tray of glasses and an unopened bottle of champagne.

“We oughta drink a toast to Bennie Lee,” Mack Lee said, “and ask the Lord how come he made him so stupid.”

The laughter rippled through the room; Mack Lee popped the cork in the champagne bottle and poured the rounds.



Trailor:



Author Bio:

A native of Natchez, Miss., Smith is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Long Beach, Calif. Independent Press-Telegram.

From 1979 until 2002, Smith served as the Atlanta Bureau Chief and as a national correspondent for Newsweek.

Vern Smith's work as a journalist, author and screenwriter spans four decades.


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Friday, August 1, 2014

Linda Fairstein & BookGirl TV





BookGirlTV informs, inspires readers with top quality new reads
Newest interviews with BEST-SELLING authors Linda Fairstein, Adam Braun


NEW YORK CITY – Tessa Smith McGovern finds the best new books to read for BookGirlTV so you don’t have to and takes you behind the scenes with today’s top authors.


With BookGirlTV, McGovern cuts through the advertising and hype to find what books you should be reading right now. She aims to save people time and money by only highlighting exceptional books that readers will want to finish and to provide readers with an interactive, entertaining and life-enhancing monthly video book club that fits anyone’s schedule. BookGirlTV also works to shine a light on under-recognized female writers, both emerging and best-selling, and can help new authors learn strategies and wisdom from successful authors.


The most recent edition of BookGirlTV’s author interview show, ‘Just Books with Tessa Smith McGovern’ features an interview with Linda Fairstein about her book “Terminal City,” which reveals the “dark side” of New York City’s Grand Central Station. McGovern’s upcoming interviews include Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise and author of The Promise of a Pencil, and author and journalist Anna Quindlen.


BookGirlTV also produces a series called BookGirlBUZZes, 1-2 minute book reviews that tell you what a book’s about (don’t worry, no spoilers here!) and whether those 5 star Amazon ratings are accurate – think of it as the mobile version of your local bookstore clerk.


BookGirlTV airs Thursdays at 4 p.m. on YouTube and BookGirl.TV and after on Facebook, Twitter, BlipTV, Dailymotion, iTunes, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Roku and all connected TVs. The BookGirlBUZZ mobile app for Android and iOS allows people to stay up-to-date and watch BookGirlTV on their favorite mobile device. The email newsletter also keeps people in the know about new episodes of BookGirlTV and offers the chance to win free books, many of them signed.

About the BookGirl: Tessa Smith McGovern, originally from England, published her first short story in 1996 and has continued to publish work while also founding eChook Digital Publishing and hosting and producing BookGirl.TV. McGovern’s linked short story collection, “London Road: Linked Stories,” has earned high praise, including being the Gold Medal Winner in the 2012 eLit Awards. McGovern also teaches at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, NY.

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