Death & Taxes by Mark Zaslove


168847FA-E652-4038-8542-646D239AD36EEmmy Award-Winning Writer Mark Zaslove Turns Up The Heat in His Debut Novel, DEATH AND TAXES, A Crime Thriller Featuring Badass IRS Agent, Mark Douglas, and His Indiosyncratic Band of Revenuers…

The first in a series, Death and Taxes takes readers on a roller coaster ride of gripping suspense combined with hilarious moments of camaraderie and deep caring.
Mix one badass IRS agent with a gang of murderous drug traffickers. Add an assortment of quirky but lovable characters, and you’ve got the makings of a gripping thriller.  This debut novel features Mark Douglas, an ex-Marine turned IRS agent, who, along with auditing the weird and the profane, also spearheads weekend raids with his gang of government-sanctioned revenuers, merrily gathering back taxes in the form of cash, money order, or more often than not, the debtor’s most prized possessions.

Things turn ugly when Mark’s much-loved boss and dear friend Lila is killed over what she finds in a routine set of 1040 forms. Mark follows a trail dotted with plutonium-enriched cows; a Saudi sheik with jewel-encrusted body parts; a doddering, drug sniffing, gun-swallowing dog named The Cabbage; a billionaire Texan with a fetish for spicy barbecue sauce and even spicier women; and an FBI field agent whose nickname is “Tightass.” All of this leads to more and bloodier murders – and greater danger for Mark.

With the help of his IRS pals – Harry Salt, a 30-year vet with a quantum physical ability to drink more than humanly possible; Wooly Bob, who’s egg-bald on top with shaved eyebrows to match; and Miguel, an inexperienced newbie with a company-issued bullhorn and a penchant for getting kicked in the crotch – Mark hunts down the eunuch hit man Juju Klondike and the cunning Mongolian mob smuggling weapons-grade plutonium into the United States. Under the watchful eye of the FBI, Mark and his scruffy gang enlist the power of the IRS data bank to track the criminals and lure them to a perilous rendezvous where everyone’s life is on the line. In the world of DEATH AND TAXES, only the honest and brave can survive.

This crazy stew of the A-Team meets the Expendables meets Archer will surely appeal to readers who like their murder mysteries on steroids.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Zaslove, author of DEATH AND TAXES, is a writer/director/producer of both live-action and animated movies and television. He creates content for all major studios, including Disney, Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. A two-time Emmy Award winner for writing/producing, and a recipient of the Humanities Prize (for writing about uplifting human values in television and movies), he also writes short fiction and has served as a senior editor on various magazines. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, he lives with his teenage son in Los Angeles.

July Micro-Reviews


9DC3B5DD-077C-4400-8F8A-6105B5419731
Hocus Pocus: the Sequel by A.W. Jantha
Hocus Pocus (the movie) is a cult classic, and continues to be a family favorite in my house. This sequel does a smashing job of bringing the Sanderson Sisters, along with Max, Alison, and Dani, into the 21st century. The storyline is appealing, with Max and Alison now “Mr. and Mrs. Dennison” and their daughter Poppy taking center stage. The Sisters are as ghastly and hilarious as ever, and Salem just as colorful.

As a fan of the movie, I found the re-telling of the original story (the first half of the book) unnecessary and repetitive. I confess, I skipped much of the original story and went right to the present day. The new story is fun, quirky, and has just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek scariness. Total fun for Hocus Pocus fans.

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Published by: Disney
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

E5E6DF37-8155-4137-8A03-458DA31ADCB1Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
Another in the “Rick Riordan Presents” series, this explores Mayan mythology. I really love that Riordan is helping authors explore world mythology, but I wish there was a little more originality in this story. There are so many similarities to both the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books that I stopped keeping track. There’s nothing really wrong with the story – it’s fun and fast and very engaging – but it’s been told before. That’s my “adult” review.

That said, this is aimed at kids, and many of them may not have read the older books. They will find this a wild ride, with a cool new character who is pretty relatable even as he discovers his powers. Other characters will definitely appeal to kids – Hondo, the pro-wrestler fanatical uncle; the pretty, mysterious girl who can turn ito a hawk; and the laid-back, surfer-dude troll are just a few of the fun characters here. The plot is well-developed, everything gets tied up at the end, and the good guys win. Recommended.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Published by: Penguin/Random House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

2EBF5C32-434F-440D-899C-95FD15C72652Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan
The Raggedy Witches are my absolute new favorites! I love how they glitter, and I adore Mup and her love of color. Stories about witches and goblins and other fantastical creatures abound in juvenile (and adult) literature these days. Celine Kiernan, who has been described as “Ireland’s J.K. Rowling”) has succeeded in creating a new type of witch and a new world that is reminiscent of some magical lands (I was actually most reminded of The Hazelwood), but full of lovely, imaginative details all her own. I adored the dance and vocal magic concepts, and even the “curse” of speaking in rhyme. The absolute best thing about this book, though, is Mup. She is a character to remember, and one who I hope to see in future stories. Mam is also a character to watch. She seems to waver between the “good” of The Duchess and the “bad” of The Queen, so her development in future stories could be quite entertaining. Recommended for middle grade fantasy readers.

Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Published by: Penguin/Random House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Beneath the Lighthouse by Julianne Lynch

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Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch banner

Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch

SOME SECRETS ARE MADE TO BE UNCOVERED.

Sixteen-year-old Jamie McGuiness’s sister is dead. Sinking into a deep depression, he frequents the lighthouse where her body was discovered, unaware of the sinister forces surrounding him.

When an angry spirit latches onto Jamie, he’s led down a dark and twisted path, one that uncovers old family secrets, destroying everything Jamie ever believed in.

Caught between the world of the living and the vengeful dead, Jamie fights the pull of the other side. It’s up to Jamie to settle old scores or no one will rest in peace—but, first, he has to survive.

It’s hard to find a really well-told ghost story today – most are rip-offs of tales that have been told before, or they rely on shock and gore to carry the story.

Beneath the Lighthouse is a very well-told tale that blends an interesting, sometimes shocking family backstory with a truly creepy, scary spirit that targets an appealing protagonist. Jamie carries the story because the author makes you care about him. He’s not a wimp, but he is also not an annoying hero-type. He’s just a regular kid who finds himself in a bad situation after his sister’s death.

The Irish-centric dialog and characters also added to my enjoyment of this book. I found myself learning some new slang and phrases, and appreciated the look into the life of Irish teens. I’ll be checking out other books by this author. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: YA Supernatural Horror, Mystery

Published by: Vesuvian Books

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Number of Pages: 334

ISBN: 978-1-944109-59-2

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

 

Read an excerpt:

Jamie sat on the edge of his bed crying. Unable to stem the flow, he pounded his fist against the bed. The guilt-laden emotions swelled until they crushed him from the inside out, battered by the past.

If he had told his parents sooner about the things his sister Emer had been doing, she’d still be alive. Every time he thought of her, all the things he should have done to save her flooded through his mind. But he still ended up facing the harsh reality—he had failed her. It was his fault. A void like no other existed, leaving him in a limbo worse than death.

Jamie took off his school shirt and walked to the dresser. He grabbed a T-shirt from one of its drawers. He looked hard at his reflection in the mirror. How would it feel to not exist? The mirror showed the Jamie everyone knew and loved, yet his blue eyes were empty.

The young lad with dreams of playing for his favorite football team no longer existed. In his place stood a shadow, a living, breathing shell of the person he used to be. The ugliness of his home had become a constant reminder of the person he no longer was, and he hated himself even more. There was no escape or a happy ever after. Desolation and depression lurked in his future, and it hurt almost as bad as Emer’s death.

Jamie closed his eyes for a moment.

A chill, the same kind he’d felt in the library, pricked at his skin. The air grew thick and icy. Each labored breath became sharp. Every nerve in his body stood on edge, his senses on overdrive. He opened his eyes.

A shadow loomed behind him in the mirror’s reflection, its presence dominating him. He stood still, his heart pounding hard.

The shadow flowed, a discordant and uncoordinated swirling mesh of movement.

Jamie’s gaze remained locked on the mirror, unable to break free. The apparition descended upon him, shrouding him in its dark, wet residue. It moved through him.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

His heart was in a vise, compressed by whatever moved through his core. His eyes bulged, and he gasped for breath. Cool air washed over him.

Water lapped around his ankles. A strange odor assailed his nostrils. Unsure of where he was, or why he was there, Jamie scrambled to make sense of it. One minute, he stood in his room. The next, he was confined in a pit.

Scream after scream ripped through his throat. Jamie struggled to find a way out. He caught sight of his hands … only they weren’t his. The shock silenced his screams.

He wasn’t in his body.

He saw things through someone else’s eyes. Darkness crowded the edges of his vision.

Back in his room, he stood in front of the mirror, trembling and soaking wet. Jamie searched the room, trying to figure out what had just happened. Nothing was out of place. He shivered. Nothing would ever explain what had just occurred.

Jamie took a few deep breaths and dried off, while sweat trickled down his brow. He put on a fresh change of clothes, doing his best not to think. Taking a step towards the door, he glanced around the room. Unease swarmed within him. He grabbed the door handle and swallowed the tight ball, which had formed in the back of his throat.

He closed the door tight behind him and whispered, “It’s all in your head.”

***

Excerpt from Beneath the Lighthouse by Julieanne Lynch. Copyright © 2018 by Julieanne Lynch. Reproduced with permission from Julieanne Lynch. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Julieanne Lynch

Julieanne Lynch is an author of YA and Adult genre urban fantasy books. Julieanne was born in Northern Ireland, but spent much of her early life in London, United Kingdom, until her family relocated back to their roots.

Julieanne lives in Northern Ireland, with her husband and five children, where she is a full-time author. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at The Open University, and considered journalism as a career path. Julieanne has several projects optioned for film.

Catch Up With Julieanne Lynch On:
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Giveaway:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Julieanne Lynch. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on June 25, 2018 and runs through September 2, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Body in the Ballroom by RJ Koreto

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The Body In The Ballroom by R.J. Koreto Banner

President Teddy Roosevelt’s daring daughter, Alice, leaps into action to exonerate a friend accused of poisoning a man just about everyone hated.

Alice Roosevelt, the brilliant, danger-loving daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, has already risked an assassin’s bullet to solve one murder. She never expected to have to sleuth another, but she’d never pass up the opportunity, either. Anything to stave off boredom.

And such an opportunity presents itself when Alice is invited to a lavish ball. The high-society guests are in high spirits as they imbibe the finest wines. But one man, detested by nearly all the partygoers, quaffs a decidedly deadlier cocktail. An African-American mechanic, who also happens to be a good friend of former Rough Rider-turned-Secret Service Agent Joseph St. Clair, is suspected of the murder-by-poison, but Alice is sure he’s innocent and is back on the scene to clear his name.

From downtown betting parlors to uptown mansions, Alice and Agent St. Clair uncover forbidden romances and a financial deal that just might change the world. But neither Alice nor her would-be protector may survive the case at hand in The Body in the Ballroom, R. J. Koreto’s gripping second Alice Roosevelt mystery.

Alice Roosevelt and Joseph St. Clair are back in another romp of a mystery through the high society of New York in the early 20th century. Alice is as mischievous as ever and St. Clair his irascible self. This is shaping up to be a fun series. Recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery

Published by: Crooked Lane Books

Publication Date: June 12th 2018

Number of Pages: 304

ISBN: 1683315774 (ISBN13: 9781683315773)

Series: Alice Roosevelt Mystery #2

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

President Roosevelt and I were just finishing out talk when A moment later, the office door opened, and Mr. Wilkie, the Secret Service director, walked in. I stood to greet him.

“St. Clair. Glad to see you’re back. Very pleased with the way it went in St. Louis.” He turned to the president. “Have you spoken to him yet, sir?”

“Yes, and he’s agreed.” Wilkie looked relieved, too.

“Very good then. If you’re done, sir, I’ll take St. Clair to her. My understanding is that arrangements have been made for Miss Roosevelt to leave tomorrow afternoon.”

“Exactly. We’re all done then. St. Clair, thanks again. And I’ll be up in the near future, so I expect to see you again soon.” We shook hands, and I followed Mr. Wilkie out the door.

“Is she smoking on the roof again, sir?” I asked. That’s what happened the first time I met Alice in the White House.

He grimaced. “No. My understanding is that she is in the basement indulging a new hobby of hers. But you’ll see.” He led me downstairs, and that’s when I heard the unmistakable sounds of gunfire. Mr. Wilkie didn’t seem worried, however. “Miss Roosevelt somehow got hold of a pistol and has set up her own private firing range in a storage room. We launched an investigation to figure out how Miss Roosevelt obtained such a weapon but were unable to reach a formal conclusion, I’m sorry to say.”

No wonder they wanted me back.

And just as when Mr. Wilkie had sent me to get Alice off the roof, he once again cleaned his glasses on his handkerchief, shook my hand, wished me luck, and departed.

I heard one more shot, and that was it. She was probably reloading. The sound came from behind a double door at the end of the hallway. I carefully opened it, and she didn’t notice at first.

I watched her concentrating on the pistol, her tongue firmly between her teeth as she carefully focused on reloading. It was an old Smith & Wesson single-action, and she was damn lucky she hadn’t blown her own foot off. She was shooting at a mattress propped against the far wall, and from the wide scattering of holes, it was clear her marksmanship needed a lot of practice.

“A little more patience, Miss Alice. You’re jerking the trigger; that’s why you keep shooting wild. And that gun’s too big for you.”

It was a pleasure to see the look of shock and joy on her face. She just dropped the gun onto a box and practically skipped to me, giving me a girlish hug. “Mr. St. Clair, I have missed you.” She looked up. “And I know you have missed me. They say you’re back on duty with me. We’re heading to New York tomorrow, and we’ll have breakfast together like we used to and walk to the East Side through Central Park and visit your sister Mariah.”

I couldn’t do anything but laugh. “We’ll do all that, Miss Alice. But I’m on probation from your aunt, so we have to behave ourselves. You have to behave yourself.”

“I always behave.” She waved her hand to show that the discussion had ended. “Now there must be a trick to loading revolvers because it takes me forever.”

“I’ll teach you. Someday.” I made sure the revolver was unloaded and stuck it in my belt. Then I scooped up the cartridges and dumped them in my pocket.

“Hey, that’s my revolver,” said Alice. “It took me a lot of work to get it.”

“You’re not bringing it to New York, that’s for sure, Miss Alice.”

She pouted. “I thought you’d relax a little after being in St. Louis.”

“And I thought you’d grow up a little being in Washington. You want to walk into the Caledonia like a Wild West showgirl? Anyway, don’t you have some parties to go to up there?”

“Oh, very well. But promise me you’ll take me to a proper shooting range in New York and teach me how to load and fire your New Service revolver.”

“We’ll see. Meanwhile, if you don’t upset your family or Mr. Wilkie between now and our departure tomorrow, I’ll buy you a beer on the train.” That made her happy.

We walked upstairs as she filled me in on White House gossip.

“Oh, and I heard you were in a fast draw in St. Louis and gunned down four men.” She looked up at me curiously.

“A little exaggeration,” I said. I hadn’t killed anyone in St. Louis, hadn’t even fired my revolver, except for target practice.

“You didn’t kill anyone?” she asked, a little disappointed.

“No. No one.”

But then her face lit up. “Because your reputation proceeded you, and they knew there was no chance of outdrawing you.”

“That must be it,” I said.

“But look on the bright side,” she said, still full of cheer. “New York is a much bigger city. Maybe you’ll get a chance to shoot someone there.”

***

Excerpt from The Body in the Ballroom by R.J. Koreto. Copyright © 2018 by R.J. Koreto. Reproduced with permission from R.J. Koreto. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

R.J. Koreto

R.J. Koreto has been fascinated by turn-of-the-century New York ever since listening to his grandfather’s stories as a boy.

In his day job, he works as a business and financial journalist. Over the years, he’s been a magazine writer and editor, website manager, PR consultant, book author, and seaman in the U.S. Merchant Marine. He’s a graduate of Vassar College, and like Alice Roosevelt, he was born and raised in New York.

He is the author of the Lady Frances Ffolkes and Alice Roosevelt mysteries. He has been published in both Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. He also published a book on practice management for financial professionals.

With his wife and daughters, he divides his time between Rockland County, N.Y., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Catch Up With R.J. Koreto On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

Tour Participants:

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

ENTER TO WIN:

 

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.J. Koreto. There will be 3 winners of three (3) Amazon.com Gift Cards. The giveaway begins on July 1, 2018 and runs through August 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Americans Are Reading Less

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0595C70A-75E1-4F76-A2F2-5D1643404AB3This article in the New Yorker came through my news feed this morning. Apparently according to the U.S. Department of Labor, fewer than 20% of Americans read. That number is surprisingly low, in my opinion. So can we say 1 in 5 people is a reader? I suppose I’m disqualified from that type of comparison considering I work in a library and am surrounded by readers, but let’s consider my family.

I have 6 living siblings ranging in age from 72 to 54. Out of those 7, four of us are readers (me, Betsy, Mary & Margaret). So, 4 out of 7 is much higher than 20%. This is obviously not a scientific examination of data, but does make me question the results shared in the article.

Another piece of interesting information shared by the author is that, while fewer Americans are reading, the ones who do read are reading slightly more.

What would be interesting is a follow up to this article that looks at *what* people read. I recently conducted some job interviews, and one of the questions asked was “What are you reading?” More than one person shared that they don’t read books much, but they are voracious readers of news and online content. To me, that qualifies as reading. I have to wonder how the Department of Labor phrased their question(s) about reading? Did they ask if people had read a book, or if they read for pleasure? If it was the former, I can understand the 20% (maybe); if it was the latter, I’m calling BS on these results.

What do you say, readers?

 

In the Grip of It by Sheena Kamal

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In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal

On a surveillance assignment for a child custody case, PI-in-training Nora Watts finds herself ensconced in a small farming community on a beautiful hippie island in the Pacific Northwest, a place with a reputation for being welcoming to outsiders. But when she arrives there, she discovers her welcome quickly wears thin. Perhaps too quickly.

Salt Spring Island, with a history as a refuge for African Americans fleeing the bonds of slavery, is not a place of refuge for her—and, she suspects, may not be for the people who live there, either.

As she investigates, nothing about this remote community seems to add up. It gets personal as Nora confronts her own complicated feelings toward her estranged daughter and becomes increasingly concerned about the child she’s been tasked to surveil. She discovers that small, idyllic communities can hide very big secrets.

More of a novella than a full-length novel, In the Grip of It touches on a number of interesting and tension-bearing plot devices. There’s the custody angle, where one parent has made choices that affect the other parent’s ability to see his child; this one is blended with the cult angle, where the custodial parent has joined a “community” that is causing the visitation issues. Kamal also touches on integrated “haven” communities, alternative drug therapy, and even veganism. Everything, however, comes back to relationships, and Kamal does a good job of introducing a number of those throughout the mere 90 pages of this story.  The primary characters here, Nora and Leo, are smart and likable, but the story isn’t long enough to really get to know them. While I enjoyed In the Grip of It, I was left wanting more and really hoping the author will produce a full-length novel featuring Nora Watts.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: May 15th 2018

Number of Pages: 96

ISBN: 0062879324 (ISBN13: 9780062879325)

Series: Nora Watts #1.5

Grab Your Copy of In the Grip Of It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Last week a man came into our PI office, looked around the shabby interior, frowned, and said, “I must have gotten the address wrong.”

“Depends,” I replied. “What are you looking for?”

“An investigator.”

“Nope, you’re in the right place,” I said, looking at his nice suit, shiny shoes, and expensive watch.

“Are you sure? Maybe I should come back later.”

He was clearly trying to make a graceful exit. Before the man could leave, I got up from behind my desk and opened the door to Leo Krushnik’s office. “Leo, there’s someone here to see you.”

“Well,” said the man, who was hesitating behind me, “I’m not really sure that this is the right fit for me.” He was trying to be diplomatic about the condition of our office and what it might say about his own level of desperation that he was here, but we weren’t about to let a potential client go without a fight. His level of desperation was no match for ours.

Leo Krushnik, the head of our little operation, walked around his desk and beamed at the man. “We’re the right fit for anybody,” he said, grasping the man’s hand and giving it a firm shake. “We prefer to keep our overhead low so that we can offer competitive rates to people who need our services, regardless of their personal incomes. Please, have a seat.”

The man sat, a little overwhelmed by Leo’s charm, which is considerable. That day Leo was dressed in linen pants and a simple cotton shirt, as a nod to the heat wave the city was experiencing. He could pull off this look as easily as he pulled off the lie about our rates. We keep our overhead low because this dump on Hastings Street, in the derelict Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, is all we can afford, but clients didn’t need to know that. And even I could admit that the “competitive rates” line sounded good—even true—coming from Leo.

“How can I help you?” Leo asked.

“My name is Ken Barnes, and I’m concerned about my son, Trevor. My ex-wife Cheyenne moved to Salt Spring last year with Trevor and I think she’s gotten into some kind of trouble there. She won’t bring him back to Vancouver and visitation has been difficult.”

Leo frowned. “Because they’re on an island?” Salt Spring wouldn’t be easy to ferry to and from on a regular basis.

“Yes, but that’s not the only reason. She keeps putting off my visits and it’s been difficult to arrange for Trevor to come into Vancouver. I think . . . I think she’s in some kind of cult, to be honest. They call it a commune, but you know those stories about Bountiful?”

“Yes,” said Leo. Everyone knew the stories about Bountiful, British Columbia, where fundamentalist polygamous communities live and proliferate seemingly freely.

“Well, I think it’s something like that. Cheyenne wants to be in some kind of crazy sex cult, sure. She’s not my wife anymore and I really don’t care what she does. But I’m fighting for custody of Trevor. I want him out of there.”

“And you need some ammo.” Leo looks up from his pad, where he’s been taking notes. “You’ve come to the right place, Ken. We’ve done surveillance work for many child-custody cases.” Another lie, but Ken didn’t notice. We’d only done a handful of those, but “many” is relative. “You understand that this won’t be cheap? We’ll have to get out to the island and spend some time gathering information.”

“That’s fine. There’s nothing I won’t pay to get my son out of there. Cheyenne, she . . . well, she struggled with depression and anxiety for years and she let a lot of toxic people into her life who fed on her struggles. It was like a sick downward spiral. When she started doing yoga and got certified as a teacher, I thought she’d changed. But I’m not sure anymore. I know this sounds terrible—I know it does—but I don’t trust her judgment about the people she lets into her life. Especially men.”

“She married you,” Leo said.

“I know, but this is the thing: it’s not about me and her anymore. We’re done. This is about Trevor—and me doing my part as a father, making sure he’s safe. That he has a good life. I just want results.”

“We can’t guarantee results.” This is the first time I’d spoken since the initial exchange. Ken Barnes’s startled gaze meets mine. He’d clearly forgotten I was there, which was not unusual. “Maybe it is a sex cult, maybe it isn’t. All we can do is take a look and document what we find.”

“I know that nothing is certain, but I know my son deserves a healthy, normal life. Whatever they’re doing on that island is not normal. It just isn’t. It’s one step away from homeschooling, and who’s to say they’re not making him do hard labor?”

What is normal, anyway? I didn’t ask Barnes for clarification. I just kept silent as Leo agreed to take his money in exchange for the work. Before he let Barnes go, he pulled him aside. “Nora’s right, Ken, about any sort of guarantee. But what I can say is that if there’s something to find, chances are we will get a sense of it.”

In the next few days, I started the file on Cheyenne Barnes and looked through the information Ken had provided us. “Cheyenne scrubbed her social-media profiles last year,” he explained to me, over the phone. “I thought she was punishing me by erasing the memories and keeping me away from what’s happening with my son, but now that I think about it, there’s something fishy about this whole thing.” So he kept saying.

Cheyenne is smiling in all the photos, and in every single one there is something wistful about her, a faraway look in her eyes. Something that suggests a romantic nature. She’s an instructor for hot yoga, which I thought was stretching for attractive people but later discovered is actually sweaty stretching. Who knew. She’d gone to Salt Spring Island two years ago to work at a yoga retreat and, according to Ken, never came back. She met a man there, a fellow yoga enthusiast, and rebuffed all of Ken’s attempts at reconciliation.
There is very little to be found on Cheyenne Barnes’s new man. He has no social-media profiles of his own, but I did find a picture of him on the Spring Love website. Some people are so attractive it’s almost surreal, and Vikram Sharma is one of them.

***

Excerpt from In the Grip Of It by Sheena Kamal. Copyright © 2018 by Sheena Kamal. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Sheena Kamal

SHEENA KAMAL holds an HBA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Her debut novel, The Lost Ones was inspired by this and by Kamal’s most recent work as a researcher into crime and investigative journalism for the film and television industry.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
sheenakamal.com, Goodreads, & Facebook!

Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Sheena Kamal and WitnessImpulse. There will be 10 winners of one (1) print copy of Sheena Kamal’s THE LOST ONES. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2018 and runs through July 1, 2018. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.

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Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty


WillaBeatty’s debut, Serafina & the Black Cloak, was at the top of my “Best Of” list for 2015 and I have devoured the two sequels, so picking up Willa of the Wood was a no-brainer for me. I have come to expect lush description, clever plotting, and memorable characters from Beatty, but I was unprepared for the flat-out gorgeousness of Willa of the Wood.

Willa is a wholly original character, a member of a Faeran clan living in the Great Smoky Mountains. She is a girl who thinks for herself despite living in a brutal patriarchy, clinging to and preserving the old ways of wood magic taught to her by her Mamaw. She is curious about the “day-folk” and begins to question the hardline social structure of her clan, led by the god-like padaran. This, of course, leads to a break with the clan and a new beginning for Willa but not without some death and destruction.

To be sure, there is far more violence in this book than in the Serafina series, although there is a lovely nod to Serafina in the form of a gorgeous panther. There is also supreme gentleness and caring for nature and fellow beings – Faeran, human, and animal. One of the most interesting things here is the way in which Willa relates to and communicates with trees. To her, trees are living beings and the day-folk who slaughter them with their axes live in “lairs” made from their carcasses. Willa is saved more than once by calling on the power of trees and plants.

Willa is a complex character who moves between the world of the Faeran and that of humans. She is a bridge between two distinct cultures who inherently mistrust each other. I look forward to more stories about Willa and her clan.

Highly recommended for upper grade readers.

Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

June Micro-Reviews


8B37192E-A543-4504-B64D-0471320DBA07Dark Tide Rising by Anne Perry – Anne Perry has delivered yet another well-plotted mystery featuring Inspector Monk and his band of Thames River Police. If you are a fan of the Monk series, this will not disappoint. If you haven’t read Monk, the nice thing about Perry’s series is that you can pick it up in the middle and stillunderstand what’s happening. Then, you will go back and read them all. Recommended.

Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

 

9BEAF73C-CF38-4127-BDB2-B31BFAF6986CFlorida by Lauren Groff – Lauren Groff has delivered a collection of absolutely gorgeous prose in the form of short stories all tied to Florida. Strung through with common threads of family, women, and children, each story is an exquisite vignette showcasing the often ugly underbelly of life in the Sunshine State. From children abandoned on a deserted island, to a temporarily failed scholar-turned-homeless, to a common character who seems to be Groff herself, these stories resonate and amplify the real possibility that your life, no matter how idyllic, can be fucked up at any time by circumstance and chance.

I met Groff at a literary event shortly after Trump was elected, and boy was she pissed. I sense much of that anger in these stories and have to assume writing these was somewhat of a catharsis for her. We often produce our best work while under stress, and I think that’s happened here. This one should appear on all the “Best of 2018” lists because it’s that good. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Publisher: Penguin
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

7005C9A4-1EA8-4651-AF3F-0E5FF3F73EC0The Deepest Grave by Jeri Westerson – Ellis Peters set the standard for medieval mysteries with the Cadfael series, but Jeri Westerson’s Crispin Guest more than matches up with the intrepid monk. Westerson has delivered a tightly plotted mystery with just enough human drama and a didn’t-see-it-coming plot twist at the end that had me sitting up and taking notice that this is an author to watch. The protagonist, Crispin Guest, a disgraced knight now turned “Tracker” (the medieval version of a PI), is a flawed but dignified, smart, and decent man who uses his deductive powers to solve crimes for money. His relationships are complicated to be sure, but Westerson writes Guest as the Good Guy who will always put the greater good above his own needs and desires. I look forward to more of Crispin Guest. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Publisher: Severn House
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

 

Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner


 

It’s 1919 and thirteen-year-old Cole McCarthy just wants more time with his father, who is a busy railroad executive. But a horrific train accident leaves Cole’s stepmother as his only family. Alone and lost, Cole wanders his family’s estate and runs into an old family friend who gives him a special object that belonged to his father.

Cole just wants to be a kid, not the owner of the most powerful object in the world. The Blue Moon Narthex is made from tangible bits of Karma and gives Cole the power to transport himself and control Karma.

Now, Alsin Gideon, traitor of the Legion of Karma, is on rampage to take Cole’s narthex and add to his body count. For their safety, Cole and two of his prep school friends are pulled into the enormous secret headquarters of the Legion, which operates like an underground 1920s spy organization. While living at the secret location, Cole learns about the secret double life of his father.

With the pressure to find his role within the legion, maintain a strained relationship with his stepmother, and live up to a daunting legacy left by his father Cole, withdraws and makes secret plans to take on his father’s enemies.

Alsin Gideon cleverly taunts Cole, to meet him at a prearranged battle meant for his father. Cole’s anger and determination boil over and he is willing to risk his powerful tool and Karma’s stability for the hope of getting his parents back.

Will Cole, along with his friends, be able to work together to bring back his parents, keep Karma’s in balance, and stay alive?

Book Title: The Blue Moon Narthex by N.J. Donner
Category: Middle-grade Fiction (Ages 8 to 12) 360 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Steele Page Press
Release date: February 7, 2017
Tour dates: June 4 to 29, 2018
Content Rating: PG (Some violence between forces of good and evil, but it’s not bloody or gory)

To follow the tour, please visit N.J. Donner’s page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the trailer:
Meet the Author: 

N.J. Donner is a dad who loves to tell stories and create worlds. He has created 3D models of parts of the Legion’s secret headquarters and drawn extensive maps of the underground world where the Legion operates. He loves to explore and to figure out why and how things work, including Karma.When he’s not writing, N.J. runs a successful steel fabrication business in the Midwest. He loves to travel with his wife, Amanda, and their three children.

Six books are planned for the series taking the three main characters and the Legion of Karma to new continents and new adventures across the world.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Book Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

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Ends July 7, 2018

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Reader Profile – Hannah Ralston


D7EFB933-16A7-45EA-BFC8-4FAF0FBD0738Hannah Ralston is still relatively new to “libraryland,” having just about 5 years of experience under her belt.  She’s worked in both academic and public libraries, and she considers herself to be the “swing” librarian at Webster (NY) Public Library because she’s happy to assist in the Children’s, Teen or Adult departments (even though technically she’s a grown up librarian – read that as you will). When not at the library, she likes to read. Surprise! She also enjoys yoga, swimming, beach and forest bathing, funny TV shows, and hanging out with her shaggy labradoodle.

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.
I read all sorts of things and I read them slowly, taking time to absorb and digest, sometimes getting bored, always following my intuition.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve been reading a lot of poetry this year. Right now, I’m reading The Passages of Joy by Thom Gunn. I usually try to read a mix of fiction and non-fiction at the same time (even though fiction is incredibly difficult for me to stay interested in), so I’m also reading Dubliners by James Joyce.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

  1. The first book I would make sure to have is a Field Guide/Plant Identification book specific to that region.
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich
  4. The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

Nope! Life is too short, and there is too much to read waste time on a book you don’t like. I recently quit two popular books:The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. They just weren’t catching my interest. I’ve heard that you should know by page 45 whether or not a book has grabbed you, but I usually give it 70 pages to be more forgiving. I also struggled, really fought with myself, through Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I love poetry, and I wrote a lot in college, but it’s been really disappointing for me to slog through the poetry of my peers. Most millennial poetry seems like quick summaries of notes, jotted onto a legal pad during a therapy session. It’s whiny and aggressive, shallow and unskilled. I understand that it’s opened doors for many non-readers to get into poetry, so I’ll let that be the end of my rant for now.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Oh, I know that this is such a bad habit… It’s like the one thing that really makes me feel like I’m sinning as a reader. I do have a little bit of “story anxiety,” so every once in a while I’ll peek at the last line. It’s horrible! I wish I didn’t do it. It usually doesn’t help my nerves in any way! It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but I know my weakness.

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

It depends what type of book they are looking for… I don’t have a go-to author for non-fiction, but I have a few go-to books like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Tiny Beautiful Things. For adult fiction, I like to recommend Donna Tartt and Sue Monk Kidd. If a teen or adult is looking to try graphic novels for the first time I’ll recommend Bryan Lee O’Malley. There are just too many great recommendations for kids! It really depends on the request.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

I really felt like Milk and Honey, as mentioned above, was a waste of my time and frustration. I’m also going to go ahead and just say it… I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, and for me that may have been a life mistake.

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

When I was ten years old, my father read the Chronicles of Narnia to me before bed every night. That was a life changing experience for me. I had always been a strong reader, but these books opened up a whole different world to me. It may have been the stories, or it may have been the time with my dad, but something about that ritual made me a life-long reader.

Describe your favorite place to read.

I will forever prefer to read in bed, which, according to The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/reading-in-bed/527388/), is dangerous and “depraved.” What can I say? I like to live on the wild side.

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I love audiobooks! For the first 2 years that I was working at Webster Public Library, I was commuting from Canandaigua. The long daily drive turned me into a huge fan of the audio format. Surprisingly, I’m not listening to anything right now, but I like to have one audio and one printed book going at the same time when they’re available.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

I already have some brainstormed! I’ve wanted a Watchmen tattoo ever since I read it about 5 years ago. It would be an owl, with a stopwatch in its talons, and the following quote, which is too long for tattooing: “For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.” Someday I’ll also have a Sylvia Plath tattoo. I’d like a bell jar, but I haven’t decided what I want in it yet. It will be slightly open, hovering above its base, ambiguous as to whether or not it will stay that way.