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Review Request: Warriors of the Edge: The Search for Stone by Katie Bridges

Oh, I think we have an exciting one up for review today! Read the blurb, and if you feel like stepping into the world of Tarek, then feel free to leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Katie can contact you right away for your review copy. Happy Reading!


When Tarek Ortzen's nightmarish teacher, Mr. Sordell, punishes him with a massive assignment, Tarek devises a way to pad out his work with a virtual reality wit game (uploaded directly to a player's brain through a computer tablet or gaming booth). In this way, he signs up for the futuristic multidimensional universe of Interspersia's hottest new game, Warriors of the Edge. Warriors, however, it more than just a game; it's part of an elaborate scheme meant to reveal the identity of Interspersia's chosen one, known in the game as Stone. To accomplish this, the game's programming matches each new player with a doppelganger until the right person is assigned to play as Stone--Tarek is that person. When elements from the game bleed into real life, Tarek is forced to flee his family and home world for an adventure that leads him into the middle of an interdimensional war.

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Review Request: Isadora DayStar by P.I. Barrington

I'm quite curious about the novel we have for the Review Request today. Read the blurb and leave your name and email address in the comments section if you're interested in reviewing this book. Happy Reading!


When drug addled assassin Isadora DayStar finally snags a major interplanetary killing job, she thinks it will both support her habit and revise her status as the laughingstock of her profession. Instead, she embarks on a journey that brings her face to face with her tortured past.

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In Leah’s Wake Excerpt

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour—WooHoo!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake Kindle edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including a Kindle, 5 autographed copies of the book, and multiple Amazon gift cards (1 for $100, 3 for $25, 5 for $10, and 10 for $5 – 19 in all)! Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, August 26th, so you don’t miss out.


To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the form on the author’s site to enter for prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book!
And I can win $100 too if you vote for my blog over on the author’s website. The blog host that gets the most votes in this traffic-breaker polls wins, so please cast yours right after purchasing In Leah’s Wake and entering the contests!


The featured events include:

Monday, Blogaganza on Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We’ll ask the writer 5 fun and random questions to get everyone talking. Leave a comment or question in response to the post, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Tuesday, Twitter chat with the author! Tweet with us between 4 and 5 PM Eastern Time, using the hashtag #emlyn. We’ll be talking with the author about her favorite books and best writing advice. Bring your questions about In Leah’s Wake and don’t forget to use #emlyn or to follow Terri @tglong. By joining in the tweet chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Wednesday, Google+ video chat with the author! Join our hangout between 12 and 3 PM Eastern Time to talk with the author and us via video chat. We’ll be gabbing about great books including In Leah’s Wake and about writing. Did you know that Terri is a creative writing instructor at Boston College? She’s got tons of good advice for aspiring writers. By joining in the Google+ video chat at the designated time, you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to visit the author’s blog to enter for the other prizes!

Thursday, Facebook interview with the author! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and ask Terri questions. She’s chosen three of her favorite topics to talk about: writing, parenting, and gourmet cooking. Of course, you’re welcome to ask about In Leah’s Wake too. Leave a comment or question as part of the thread, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget tolike Terri’s Facebook page or to visit her blog to enter for the other prizes!

Friday, Fun & games based on the book! We want to close this whirlwind social media tour with a gigantic bang, which is why we've set-up two interactive book-themed features on the author’s blog. You can take the official Facebook quiz to find out which In Leah's Wake character is most like you and learn how that character ties into the story. Then try out our crossroads story game. Throughout the course of the narrative, you'll have several decisions to make. What you choose will affect the outcome of the story. Play as either rebellious teenager Leah or the trampled peacemaker and mother Zoe. Leave a comment or question on any of Terri’s blog entries, and you may win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to check out the other give-away contests while you’re on Terri’s blog!

About In Leah’s Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While Zoe and Will fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough? Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel.







An excerpt from In Leah's Wake

The prologue and first chapter



". . . little heart of mine, believe me, everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything. I don't know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even. And how is it we went on living, getting angry and not knowing?"
Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Grand Inquisitor
Prologue

March

Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror hanging on her closet door. Chin up, hands by her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear. . .” she begins, and stops mid-sentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong. She’s too—Too stiff. Too grownup. Toosomething.

She rakes her fingers over her short dark hair, sweeping the bangs out of her eyes, tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. She’s scheduled to deliver the candidates’ address at her Confirmation Mass this afternoon. When she learned, six months ago, that she had been selected speaker, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation, telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people how she’s learned from her own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.

She has no choice. She made a commitment.

She folds her hands primly, setting them at chest height on her imaginary podium, glances at her cheat sheet, rolls her lower face into a smile, and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time. Justine crumples the paper, tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty, instead of thirteen.

She screws up her face. “I can’t do this,” she says, wagging a finger at the girl watching her from the mirror. She would feel like a hypocrite.



Justine plods to the bathroom, pees, pads back to her bedroom. The forecasters are predicting snow, starting later today. A dismal gray stratus hangs over her skylight. Her room is dark, the air raw. Her sister’s blue and gold Cortland High sweatshirt lies in a heap at the foot of her bed. Justine pulls the sweatshirt over her head, retrieves the balled-up paper. With the back of her hand, she flattens it out, and returns to the mirror to practice.

As always, on first glance, the girl in the mirror takes Justine by surprise. She’s grown two inches since Christmas, isn’t chubby anymore, her belly flat, the clavicle bones visible now at the base of her throat. She pushes her bangs out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes. With her fingertips, she touches her cheeks. Her features have matured, her nose long and straight, like her mother’s, her cheekbones defined. She curls and uncurls her toes. She wears a size six shoe, a size and a half smaller than Leah. Her toes are long and slim, the nails painted blue.

Justine crushes the sheet of paper, tosses it in the trash, strolls to her window, raises the honeycomb shade. Spring feels a long way away, the yard empty, the trees bare. A rush of cold air streams in, under the sash. The air smells of snow. Justine presses her hand against the cool glass, the way she and her sister used to do on the windshield of their father’s car, when they were small. Stop, their father would scold. Youre making a mess. She smiles, remembering how Leah loved egging him on. She pulls her hand away from the glass, watches her prints disappear.

Justine wishes, sometimes, that she could disappear, too. Poof, just like the handprint.

Poof, just like her sister.



Chapter One: Just Do It



September

Zoe and Will Tyler sat at the dining room table, playing poker. The table, a nineteenth-century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of port positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player in the family room, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.

Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a ratty pink baby blanket, under the window.

Zoe plucked the Queen of Hearts from the outside of her hand, and tucked it center. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down, she would win the hand, third in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.

The moon was full tonight, its light casting a ghostly shadow across the yard. The full moon made Zoe anxious. For one of her internships in grad school, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital, in Boston. On nights when the moon was full, the floor erupted, the patients noisy, agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality, superstition. But Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and found the effect impossible to deny—and nearly all the nurses concurred.

“Full moon,” she said. “I hadn’t noticed. No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”

Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”

“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, tweaking her African violets.

“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.

She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.

“You’re laughing at me.”

“Don’t be silly. Why would I be laughing at you?”

He peered at his reflection in the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, pale, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.

“Nice do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean-spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. The poor guy was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California, on business, had flown into Logan this morning, on the red-eye. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious to her that his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She fanned out her cards, hesitated for an instant, and laid down the straight.

“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”

“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”

“I’m getting water,” he said, tamping his hair. “Want some?”

Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door, yawned, and settled back down.

Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfall moving in the direction of the family room. The music stopped abruptly, and the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe loved Robbie Robertson, “Showdown at Big Sky” one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean that the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.

“Will,” she said, gesturing from the kitchen. “Turn it down. You’ll wake Justine.”

She waited a few seconds, caught his eye, gestured again. The third time was the charm.

Exasperated, she returned to the dining room, bundled the cards, put them away in the sideboard, and gathered the dishes. The toilet flushed in the half-bath off the back hall. Seconds later, she heard her husband rattling around the kitchen, slamming the cabinet doors. Last spring, Will had won a major contract for his company, North American Construction. Since then, he’d been back and forth nonstop to the West Coast, spending two weeks a month in San Francisco, servicing the client. Zoe hadn’t minded his traveling, at first. Over the past two years, with the glut of office and manufacturing space in the northeast, construction starts had dropped, and his sales had taken a serious hit, his commissions steadily dwindling. To compensate, initially they’d relied on their savings. In January, they’d remortgaged the house. When the California job arose, Will had jumped on the opportunity. He had no choice, especially with Leah headed to college next year. But the situation, lately, was brutal. Will hated traveling, hated flying, hated living out of a suitcase. And he resented missing Leah’s soccer games. Last November, as a sophomore, their daughter had been named Player of the Year on theBoston Globe All-Scholastic team. A week later, in his year-end summary, the sports reporter from the Cortland Gazette had called Leah the “best soccer player in the state.” The head coaches from the top colleges in the area—Harvard, Dartmouth, Boston College, BU—had sent congratulatory letters, expressing their interest. Will wanted to be home to guide her, meet the prospective coaches, help her sort through her options. Zoe didn’t blame her husband a bit. But it didn’t seem to occur to Will that his traveling disrupted her life, too. Last year, she’d developed a motivational seminar, called “Success Skills for Women on the Move.” Now that the girls were practically grown, the workshops were her babies. The extra workload at home, added to the demands of her fulltime job at the counseling center, left her with no time for marketing or promotion, and the workshops had stagnated. Zoe understood her husband’s frustration. It irked her when he minimized hers.

Will appeared in the doorway, a few minutes later, empty-handed. Will was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and, at forty-five, still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really: after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose, qualities Zoe had recognized from the start but that only now, as he was aging, showed on his face.

After work, he’d changed into a pair of stonewashed jeans and a gray sweatshirt, worn soft, the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” screened in maroon lettering across the chest. Absently, he pushed up his sleeves, and peered around the room as though looking for something. “Zoe—” Normally, he called her Honey or Zo.

“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”

“Do you have any idea what time it is?”

She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the far wall. “Ten past eleven. So?”

“Where’s Leah?”

At the football game, with Cissy. “They’ve been going every week. Did you forget?”

“She ought to be home by now.”

“She’s only ten minutes late.” Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed, before school started this year, to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. “She’ll be here soon.”

Will stalked to the window, grumbling. Dog rose, and pressed her nose to the glass.

Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, arced around the lawn, and straightened, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view. Now that most of the leaves had fallen, the headlights were visible as vehicles entered the circle.

“She has a game in the morning.” Will stretched his neck . His upper back had been bothering him lately, residual pain from an old football injury he’d suffered in college.

Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot, and squeezed his shoulders. “You’re tight.”

He dropped his chin. “From sleeping on the plane. Got to get one of those donut pillows.”

“You know Leah. She has no sense of time. I’ll bet they stopped for something to eat.”

“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. Every other coach has one.”

“Relax, Will. It’s not that late. You’re blowing this out of proportion. Don’t you think?”

A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac, rounded the circle, its lights sweeping over the drive and across their lawn, and headed down the street.

Bending, Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming tomorrow, specifically to watch her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”

The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark, fully aware of the comeback her words would elicit, “she’ll go someplace else.”

“There is no place else.”

No place that would give her the opportunities, the connections… blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter had the slightest aspiration of going to Harvard, Zoe would do everything in her power to support her. As far as she could tell, the name Harvard had never graced Leah’s wish-list. It was a moot point, anyway. For the last two terms, Leah’s grades had been dropping. If she did apply for admission, she would probably be denied.

“Reardon has pull,” he offered, a weak rebuttal in Zoe’s opinion. “He’s been talking to Hillary about her. She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”

Opportunity? What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”

“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”

Zoe opened her mouth, ready to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State, and dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? A college drop-out in a couple years? Noticing the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham, for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

The look he returned implied that she’d lost it. “You think I could sleep?”

“For all we know, they had a flat.”

“She would have called.”

“So call her.” Duh.

“I did. I got voice mail.”

Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen years old. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?



Leah had totally lost track of time. She and Todd had been hanging out at the water tower for hours, perched on the hood of Todd’s Jeep, drinking Vodka and OJ, admiring the beautiful night. This place was perfect, the most perfect place in the universe, maybe. Big sky, lots of trees. From here, they could see the whole town, just about—the river, the railroad tracks. An orchard. In the valley, lights began to blink out. Leaning back on her elbows, she gazed up at the heavens. “Look,” she said, mesmerized by the inky black sky, the billions and billions of stars. “The Big Dipper.” As she stared into space, time fell away, the past merging seamlessly with the future, this moment, up here, with Todd, the only reality there ever was or ever could be.

Todd took her hand, drawing her close, so close she could smell the spicy deodorant under his armpits. Just being with Todd Corbett made her feel dizzy all over. Todd was, by far, the most beautiful boy she had ever laid eyes on. His hair was long on top, short on the sides. He had full lips, and the most fabulous blue eyes, like, like crystals or something. A Romanesque nose, the exact nose she’d once told Cissy she’d die for, only now that she’d seen it on Todd, she realized that that particular nose was meant for a boy. Best of all, he had this incredible aura, all purple and blue, like James Dean or Curt Cobain.

She curled her legs under her, laid her head on Todd’s chest.



They met at a party, the Friday before school started. Todd had been on tour for the past two years, working as a roadie for a heavy metal band called “Cobra.” Leah knew he was back—that was all anybody was talking about—had recognized him instantly, from all the descriptions.

She couldn’t believe her luck. Todd Corbett! And alone! She’d heard he was hot. He was even better looking in person. Looking back, she couldn’t believe she’d been so brazen. She left Cissy in the lurch, sashayed right over to him, took a seat beside him, on the living room floor.

The movie he was watching was stupid. People clopping across a field like zombies, their arms outstretched. They reminded her of herself and Justine when they were little, playing blind. Even the makeup looked phony.

“What are you watching?” she asked.

Night of the Living Dead. Flick’s a classic. Hey, haven’t I seen you someplace before?”

Maybe, though she couldn’t imagine where. Todd couldn’t possibly have remembered her from high school. She was only a freshman when he dropped out.

“Leah Tyler, right? You’re that soccer chick.”



The wind swished through the trees. Leah shivered and Todd shrugged out of his worn leather bomber, draped his jacket over her shoulders. He reached into the pocket of his jeans, retrieved a small plastic bag half-full of weed, began rolling a joint. He licked the edge of the paper, lit the joint, inhaling deeply, and handed it to her, the smell rich and exotic and sweet.

Leah had never smoked marijuana until she met Todd. She used to be scared, which was dumb: weed was totally harmless. (The first few times she smoked, she had to admit, she’d been disappointed.) She pulled, her chest searing, struggled to hold the ice-hot smoke in her lungs.

Suddenly, she was coughing, waving her arms.

“You OK, babe?” Todd rescued the joint. With the other hand, he patted her back.

Once she was breathing easily again, he laughed, a sweet laugh that left her feeling dignified, rather than cheesy or stupid. He pinched the joint between his index finger and thumb, took a hit to demonstrate, and brought it to her lips, holding it for her. “That’s it, babe. Good.”

They smoked the joint to its stub, and he showed her how to fashion a roach clip from twigs. Afterward, he offered to drive her home. “Don’t want you getting in trouble or nothing.”

“That’s OK,” Leah said dreamily. “I don’t have to go yet.”

Todd hopped off the hood of the Jeep, pulled a flannel blanket from the back of the truck, and spread the blanket on the grass, under a giant oak tree. Leah watched him smooth it out, his hands dancing, the whole world intensely colored, brilliantly alive. She heard the lonely trill of a cricket, calling from deep in the valley, smelled the damp autumn earth, felt the cool blue breeze on her face. Todd was gliding toward her now, floating on air. He scooped her into his arms, lifting her from the hood of his Jeep, and laid her on the blanket. And kissed her.



At eleven thirty, Zoe dialed Leah’s cell phone again. When Leah didn’t pick up, she tried Cissy, both times reaching voice mail. “I don’t believe those two,” Zoe said, infuriated. “I’ll bet they changed their ringers. The little devils probably know it’s us.”

“That’s your daughter for you,” Will huffed.

“She’s my daughter now?”

By eleven forty-five, Zoe was chewing her cuticles. And Will was pacing.

“This is it,” Will announced. “I’m calling the cops.”

“You can’t be serious. What do you plan to tell them?”

He opened his cell phone. “I can’t sit here, doing nothing.” He glared at the screen.

“You can’t call the cops. She’s forty-five minutes late. They’ll think we’re crazy.”

He clicked his cell shut, dug his keys out of his pocket. “Fine. I’ll find her myself.”

Find her? Where on earth did he plan to look?

“I’ll start at the high school.”

“The game was over hours ago.”

“I’ll drive by the Hanson’s.” He headed for the garage, Dog at his heels.

“And do what?” Cissy’s mom, a nurse, worked the early shift at St. John’s. Judi was probably in bed by now. He would frighten her if he knocked on the door. “Will? Answer me.”

He swiveled to face her. “Look for the car,” he snapped, and ushered Dog out the door.

Zoe stood in the mudroom, at a loss, staring blankly at the door her husband had closed. The house, she realized when she came to, was an icebox. She rooted through the hall closet, found a fleece jacket of Will’s, and pulled it on, kicked off her shoes, the ceramic tile cool under her bare feet, went to the bathroom, crossed the hall to the laundry, tossed a load of clean clothes into the dryer, and wandered back to the kitchen. She poured a glass of water, gathered the dishes they’d left on the dining room table, and emptied the uneaten chips into the compactor. She loaded the dishwasher. After she finished washing the counter, she flung the rag into the sink, and grabbed the cordless phone, so she would have a phone handy if Will or Leah tried to call.

A family portrait, commissioned last year, hung over the stone fireplace in the family room. For the photograph, the four of them had dressed in blue; their blue period, they’d joked when the photographer showed them the proofs. In the photo, Zoe is sitting on a stool, leaning toward the camera, Will standing behind her, flanked by the girls. Looking at the portrait, you’d never guess how hard it had been for the photographer to capture the shot, the kids squabbling, Will impatient, Zoe frustrated, both parents clenching their teeth. Restless, Zoe stepped down into the family room, sank into the oversized chair next to the fireplace, and curled her legs under her, clutching the phone.

Waiting, she tried to think positive thoughts. Leah’s responsible. She can handle herself. If the girls had been in a car accident, the police would have contacted them by now. As usual, her effort to avoid negative thoughts conjured them up. Something wasn’t right. Leah had been late a few times before, never like this. A half hour was one thing. Zoe often lost track of time herself. She would be at her office, transcribing her notes, look up, notice the clock, and realize she was supposed to have picked up one of the girls—at school, at the mall, at a friend’s—fifteen, twenty minutes before. She would rush around her office in a tizzy, collecting her folders and purse, cursing herself for being a neglectful mother, and drive like a madwoman to her destination. But an hour? She checked her watch. And fifteen minutes? This wasn’t like Leah.

She wondered if she had missed something. A signal. A hint. This morning, Leah, out of bed by seven, had moseyed into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes. Spotting the sauce pan on the front burner, she’d whined about having to eat oatmeal again. But she always whined when Zoe made oatmeal, which on certain days she found “revolting,” on others “disgusting” or “gross.” Zoe set the bowl in front of her. “Quit bellyaching,” she said. “Oatmeal is good for you.”

They were running late. So the girls wouldn’t have to rush to catch the bus, Zoe offered to drive them to school. Justine rode shotgun, while Leah dozed in the backseat. At two, Leah called Zoe at work to remind her that she and Cissy planned to go to the game. She was headed directly home after practice, Leah had said; she would fix dinner. At six thirty, when Zoe opened the back door, she smelled Leah’s spicy, cumin-laced chili. On the island counter, Zoe found place settings for her, for Will, for Justine, three glasses filled with ice water and lemon. Justine was upstairs in her room, doing her geometry homework. Leah had already left for the game.

Zoe closed her eyes, breathing deeply, attempting to center herself, and, counting backward from ten. . . eight, seven, six. . . summoned an image of her daughter. Leah’s face materialized, and her body slowly came into focus. Directing her energy outward, Zoe enclosed her daughter in a protective circle of light. Be safe, baby, she whispered. Be safe.



Will drove along country roads canopied by the boughs of towering oak trees, the winding streets bordered by stone walls erected in the late 1700’s, by the farmers who’d settled the town. In those days, the stone walls served as boundary markers, the average farm occupying fifty acres of land, most of it orchards. It was a hard life, Will thought, working eighteen hours a day, building walls, cultivating the land. He reached for Dog, on the passenger seat, ruffled her ears. “What do you say, Girl?” Dog cocked her head. “Was life harder then? Or harder today?”

The Hansons lived a mile outside the center, on a corner lot in a modest sub-division, built in the late-eighties, a neighborhood of center-entry colonials, garrisons, expanded Capes, set on cramped one-acre lots. Will slowed as they approached the Hanson’s newly remodeled Salt Box, he and Dog rubber-necking together. Onion lamps flanked the entrance and the garage doors; matching pole lights lined the drive. The house was dark, the driveway empty. Will turned left, onto the adjacent street, hoping to find a light on in the back of the house, in which case he would knock on the door. Nothing, not even a porch lamp. Frustrated, he rounded the block, passed by the front of the property again, in case he had somehow managed to miss Cissy’s car the first time, and headed for the high school, on the off-chance that the girls were still there.

The parking lot was dark when Will pulled in, the lights extinguished hours ago. He pulled down the sloping driveway behind the school, passing the rubberized track, where the soccer players practiced their sprints. He swung by the service entrance, then by the gym, doubled back, and circled the deserted lot, scanning the playing fields. At the ticket booth by football stadium, he parked, and just sat, thinking, Dog curled beside him on the passenger seat.

They’d had no idea, he and Zoe, how easy they’d had it when the girls were young. In their eyes, every little thing seemed like a crisis. They would glance at the window, catch three- year-old Leah zooming down the drive on her Big-Wheel, her legs outstretched, little hands reaching for the sky. In a panic, they would tear out of the house, always an instant too late, too far from their daughter to do anything except cross their fingers and watch. “Leah—” Will would holler, his stomach churning, “hold on.” And Zoe would cover her eyes, both parents envisioning the worst, the Big-Wheel rocketing off course, crashing into a tree. Later, the rope swing he’d hung by their deck replaced the Big-Wheel as the most obvious threat. They’d worried about random accidents, obsessed over tragedies they watched on News Center 5 or read about in the Globe: that the girls would fall into the hidden shaft of a well or drown in a neighbor’s backyard pool, that a stranger would kidnap one of their daughters when she was outside playing or taking a walk. It was tough being a parent, the welfare of their children utterly dependent on them, yet as long as they were vigilant, as long as they did their job, kept a trained eye on their daughters, their children would be safe. Now that she was older, they had no way of keeping tabs on their daughter. Once the car she was riding in rolled out of the drive, her fate was out of their hands. She could be anywhere, doing anything, with anyone. They had no way to protect her.

“What do you say, girl?” he said finally. “Doesn’t look like she’s here, does it?”

In a last ditch effort, he took another run by the Hanson’s place.



Zoe had fallen asleep clutching the portable phone, her head resting on the wing of her chair. He brushed a curl out of her face, touched her shoulder gently, so he wouldn’t startle her.

His wife blinked up at him. “Did you find her?”

He shook his head, dejected.

Dog nuzzled Zoe’s leg. Yawning, she scratched the dog’s head. “What time is it?”

“Close to one.”

“My God.” She pulled herself to an upright position. “What do you think is going on?”

Hard to say at this point, he told her. “She didn’t call, did she?”

Zoe shook her head in alarm. “You don’t think anything’s happened, do you?”

“We’d have heard by now.”

“I’m worried, Will. This isn’t like her.”

Will rubbed his neck, squeezing the trapezius muscles, hoping to release some of the tension. “I don’t know where else to look. Figured it’d be stupid to keep driving in circles.”

His wife attempted to stifle a yawn.

“You look beat,” he said. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”

“You’re as tired as I am.”

“Go. I can sleep in. You’ve got to get up in the morning.”

“Maybe I should,” she said, shifting position. “Have to be up at six. Had to—” She paused, her glazed eyes fixed on the palladium window at the far end of the room. “Sorry.” She blinked. “I had to shift my schedule around. Workshop Sunday. Wake me when she comes in? You won’t forget?”

“I won’t forget.”

Will helped his wife out of her chair, walked her to the front staircase, kissed her, and told her to sleep well. From the foot of the staircase, he watched her climb the stairs and wander down the hall to their bedroom. When she closed the door, he went to the kitchen, filled a glass with spring water, brought the glass to the living room, sat on his leather recliner by the window, adjusted the back, and put up his feet. Dog lay on the floor, next to his chair. In ten minutes, she was snoring. He plucked an old issue of Sports Illustrated out of the pleated leather pocket on the side of his chair, flipped through. Unable to focus, he tossed it on the floor.

On the windowsill, in front of an eight-by-ten studio portrait of the girls, taken when Justine was a toddler, sat a framed snapshot of Leah. He picked up the photo. They’d been in Cortland for about a year when he snapped the shot. Leah was not quite seven, the youngest child on the under-ten team. Her uniform was two sizes too big, her baggie blue T-shirt skimming the hem of her shorts. The team was in the midst of a game, Leah racing to the net, blond ponytail flying, the ball jouncing in front of her, her tiny face focused, intense.

His daughter was an exceptional player, fast, agile, fiercely competitive, the best player from Massachusetts ever, some coaches said. Since she was a child, Will had been grooming her, encouraging her, fostering her talent. Youth soccer, traveling teams. Scholarship to Harvard—that was their plan. They’d practiced, strategized, prepared. Through the rain, the snow, he’d been right there with her. All in service to the crimson uniform she would one day wear. That was her dream, wasn’t it? She hoped to play pro. But Harvard first. Time and again, they’d discussed the importance of a good education, the one thing in life that can never be taken away.

Will pushed her, he knew. He wanted the best for his kids. He would do whatever it took to help them succeed, prevent them from repeating the mistakes he’d made. In the spring of his junior year, he’d left Penn State, surrendering a full scholarship, trading his education for a long shot at a music career. In one hour, the time it took to inform his dean he was quitting, walk to the registrar’s office and sign a couple of forms, he’d managed to screw up his life. Look at him: forty-five-years-old, stuck in a dead-end job, kissing the asses of people who ought to be working for him. He refused to sit back, watch Leah throw her life away. Kids needed guidance, a motivational coach to push them, keep them focused, drive them when they didn’t feel like practicing, pump them up when they lost confidence, spur them on when they wanted to quit.

Will closed his eyes. God help him. Tell him he hadn’t pushed her away.

Review Request: Imprint by Annie Frame

An intriguing horror this time around, folks. This might even be nightmare inducing. Read the blurb, and if you're interested, leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Annie can contact you right away.


This spine chilling book takes the reader into the realms of horror all the more believable because it seems reality not fantasy. The Imprints enter the soul of the narrator with determined power and describe each of their emotions in vivid detail. It is impossible not to be deeply involved, revolted and yet entranced at the same time as the linking of the personalities becomes apparent. Desperation, self destruction and fear are superimposed on the beauty of the rose with its blood red petals. Each bloom shows the astral image of the various characters as their lives have been lived, giving some hope for the future and the lessons offered to the soul as it evolves to enlightenment and bewitching knowledge.

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Romantic Interlude

I know you want more Review Requests, but I would like to take this moment to writing something important. See picture below:


To the readers of Reads, Reviews, Recommends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making the Review Request series a success. Without you, authors that need your reviews would not have them. Thank you for taking the time to visit this little piece of the web to leave your name and email address in the comments section of the books that tickled your interest.

Rest assured, there will be more Review Requests to come. I'm just taking this time to profess my undying love to all of you, and to thank you on behalf of the authors that you have already helped and for the authors whose requests haven't been posted yet.

Please make sure to stay tuned. Your regularly scheduled programming will commence shortly.

And as always: Happy Reading!

Review Request: The Hour of Tiamat by Lisa M. Taylor

I think today's book is an interesting one and Lisa (the author) is asking for reviews, so the more the merrier! Read the blurb and if you're interested, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Lisa can contact you as soon as possible about your review copy. Happy Reading!


We've all heard of the Mayan predictions of a vast change coming in the year 2012; but it turns out the ancient Sumerian people had a very similar prophecy…

The dreaded Necronomicon, a book of fable said to contain all the ancient knowledge of the Sumerian civilization has surfaced and fallen into the hands of four teenagers in a small Texas town. Tonight, after years of studying its dark teachings in secret, they gather to call back to Earth those Gods that tried to enslave humanity over ten thousand years ago, and in turn become rulers themselves.

Under threat of his life, Tristan helps them complete the ritual; but does that mean it is too late to stop this apocalypse? With Evelyn, whose past and future seem inextricably linked to Tristan, their friend Hunter and a host of surprising paranormal helpers, Tristan will race against murderers, monsters, and time itself to shut the ancient gate before our evil creators are upon us again.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


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Review Request: The Sparrow Conundrum by Bill Kirton

I think Bill promises a page turner here with The Sparrow Conundrum. Read the blurb. If you're interested in reviewing this book, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Bill can send you a copy. Happy Reading!


Chris Machin may think he’s just a teacher but the bottom feeders in Aberdeen squabbling over North Sea oil and gas contracts prefer to use his code-name – The Sparrow. When his garden explodes, he takes flight, unleashing various forms of Scottish mayhem.

More complications are added by his ex girl friend and a sociopathic policeman whose hobbies are violence, making arrests and, best of all, combining the two. Several murders later, two wrestlers, a road trip to Inverness, a fishing trawler, a Russian factory ship, and some fragments of a postman complete the enigma of…

… The Sparrow Conundrum.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


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Be a Host!


Hi blogger friends,

I have a unique blog-hosting opportunity for you today. It requires no reading or writing on your part and gives you the chance to win a $100 traffic-breaker prize and to drive up your blog traffic – that’s right. Easy peasy.

Read below to see why the new event is called the Social Media Whirlwind tour—we’ll be all over the web!

The promotion simply involves lending Novel Publicity space on your blog for a day and directing traffic to the event. The author and Novel Publicity have compiled three guest posts –one is the graphic transcript of the twitterview conducted with the author, another is a fun interview, the third is an excerpt from the novel.

If you’d like to take a sneak peek at the three guest posts you can choose from, please visit the following links (each post will also include the promotional text listed at the bottom of this message):
Each includes the text listed below describing the promotion. Pay especially close attention to the part that describes how you can win $100 as a host for this event. You will also be eligible for one of the other 25 prizes if you purchase an eBook copy of the book for 99 cents – this includes a Kindle, 5 autographed copies of the book, and 19 Amazon gift certificates of varying amounts.

Novel Publicity would like as many bloggers as they can possibly get to participate involved. Reads, Reviews, Recommends (my blog) is actually a part of the event. So, come be a part of the party too! The dates of the promotion are Monday, August 22nd through Friday, August 26th.

If you would like to be involved, please email contact@novelpublicity.com with the following info:      
  1. ·         Your Name
  2. ·         The name of your blog
  3. ·         The link to your blog
  4. ·         Preferred date(s) – Monday, August 22 through Friday, August 26
  5. ·         Preferred feature(s) – Excerpt, Twitterview, Interview (examples of each are listed at the link above)
  6. ·         KATE EVANGELISTA (my name, so that Emlyn, the contact, knows that I referred you.) 
Then, Emlyn will provide you with the HTML of the post you will need to put up, add your blog’s name and link to all of the promotional activities, and include you in the traffic-breaker poll so that you can compete for the $100 host prize. Novel Publicity also has a couple of custom-designed badges for the event if you’d like to put them up on your blog.

That's it! Come join the fun and stand a chance to win a $100. 

Sincerely,
Kate

The Pineville Heist Trailer



Above is the trailer for Pineville Heist. If you want to review this book, you can click on this link and leave your name and email address in the comments section of that post.

And for those who've reviewed this novel, please feel free to leave the link of the review in the comments section of this post.

Happy Reading!

Review Request: Ursula's Quest by Tracey Alley

I first met Tracey through the interview we did a while back. She's come to me once again to request a review of her next book. I think this one will tickle your fantasy. Read the blurb and leave your name and email in the comments section if you want a copy. Happy Reading!


Locked in his dank, underground cell King Erich is feverish and dying. Running out of time and running out of hope he sends his daughter, the beautiful Princess Ursula, on a seemingly impossible quest. She must find the lost and ruined Temple of Life and secure the key that may mean the difference between freedom and slavery for the Kingdoms of Kaynos.

Meanwhile his son, the young druid Slade, continues his own quest to find his beloved father and stop the evil witch Shallendara in her plans for conquest. Betrayed by those they thought were friends and hunted from all directions Slade's quest seems as impossible as Ursula's. With more questions than answers Slade and his companions seek out the great Dragon Clans to the north for assistance.

Yet Shallendara's quest for ultimate power will not be stopped so easily. Already her forces are gathering and war, once hoped to be avoided, is now imminent. Her allies the Oz'ke'lati and their psychic warriors seem almost unstoppable and the Kingdoms fate hangs in the balance.

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Author Interview: Judith Marshall

About the Author:

Judith Marshall is a third generation native Californian, born in St. Helena and raised in Concord. After leaving a successful career in corporate America as a human resources executive, her lifelong dream of writing fiction was realized with the release of Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever, winner of the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writers Club. The book was recently optioned for the big screen.

Judith is an active member of the California Writers Club and a regular participant in writing classes and workshops. She is currently working on her second novel, Staying Afloat, the story of a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother who morphs into a sex-starved adulteress. She lives in Northern California with her husband.

For more information, go to www.judithmarshall.net

About the Book:


ELIZABETH (“LIZ”) REILLY-HAYDEN has a safe and predictable life planned out -- a long-term significant other, a hard-earned executive position at a hi-tech firm, and her friends, a quintet of women whose high school friendship has carried them through decades of multiple marriages, divorces, teenagers and menopause. About to turn sixty, Liz has become almost too good at taking care of herself, holding tight to her reins of control. But beneath her tough exterior lies a tender soul that longs to let go.

Set in the spring of 2000, at the height of the dot-com boom in Northern California, the story begins on the day that Liz, Vice President of Human Resources for Tekflex Corporation, is orchestrating a massive downsizing at her company. Over time, she has become desensitized to the distasteful parts of her job. As the only child of warring parents, she learned early to retreat into herself for protection. That night at dinner, when her sweetheart, Sam Steuart, reveals that he’s accepted a promotion and is moving to New York, her neat orderly world turns upside down. Little does she know that his leaving is only the harbinger of greater changes to come.

The next day, Liz finds herself a victim of the same downsizing. Unwilling to pack it in and call it a career, she draws on a kind of “sticktuitiveness” she learned from her beloved Aunt Vi to find another position. But it doesn’t take many visits to the outplacement center thronged with people half her age to crumple her hopes. Faced with the prospect of an unplanned retirement without Sam, Liz retreats into herself. At that most painful point, she learns that Karen Christensen, her best friend and confidant, has been killed in a motorcycle accident at Lake Tahoe that sounds suspicious to Liz, and to the other long-term pals who have loved Karen from their high school days. The group decides to drive up to Karen’s vacation home at Lake Tahoe, where they have spent dozens of memorable vacations and weekends over a period of forty years. Here, they will bury their friend.

As the time for the service approaches, compelled by the need to learn more about the accident that claimed her friend’s life, Liz slips away from the group and confronts Greg Ronelli, Karen’s long-time friend and off-and-on lover who was driving the motorcycle when the accident occurred. She is stunned to hear him say that there was no accident, that one minute Karen had her arms locked securely around his waist, and the next minute she simply let go. When Liz shares this startling news with the others, everything from a planned suicide to murder is considered a possibility.

Before embarking on the final step of scattering Karen’s ashes, the group discovers a letter addressed to them in which Karen reveals her breast cancer diagnosis, and her decision not to have a radical mastectomy. Instead, she’ll wait and see what happens.

In the end, with the help of her trusted friends, Liz discovers that only by releasing the pain of the past can she let go and fall headlong into the life that is waiting for her.

The Interview:

1. When did you decide to start writing?

I always knew I wanted to write a novel about enduring female friendship, but life kept getting in the way. It wasn’t until 1997, when I read “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” that I decided to quit my corporate job and write.

2. What is your genre and why did you decide to write a novel in it?

I write women’s fiction. I chose that genre because that’s what I like to read.

3. Were you worried about the word count of your work?

No. I knew nothing about word count guidelines when I started writing.

4. Do you have any writing quirks and what are they?

I keep a running list of “leftovers;” words, phrases and sentences that I edit out of various drafts. It’s over 100 pages long at the moment.

5. If you can describe your novel in one word, what would it be and why?

Compelling

6. How did you decide on the title and what does it mean?

It was an actual toast made by one of my girlfriends after one of our divorces.

7. What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your novel?

Don’t let life’s disappointments harden you. And when you need help, reach out. That’s what friends are for.

8. Tell us a little about your road to publication.

In 2004, my novel won the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writer’s Club. It thought I was on my way to publication. But after more than 200 rejections, I decided to independently publish my book. Within three months of publication, a movie producer contacted me, and the book has now been optioned for the big screen.

9. What advice can you give other aspiring authors out there?

If you have a book inside you, get it out. Sit down and start writing and don’t stop until you’ve finished a first draft. There will be plenty of time to learn the craft later. The main thing is to keep at it. Tenacity is 90% of being a successful author.

Blogger's Note:

Thank you so much to Judith for her patience. Took me a long while to post this interview. And readers, if you're interested in reviewing the book featured in this interview, please leave your name and email address in the comments section so that Judith can contact you.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


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Review Request: The Dark Age by Jeff W. Horton

Our Review Request today is courtesy of Jeff Horton. He emailed me about the opportunity of featuring his novels here, first of which is The Dark Age. If you're interested in reviewing this novel, please leave your name and email in the comments section so that Jeff can send you a copy. Happy reading!


Suppose you learned that an ancient prophecy about an artifact, said to be powerful enough to dramatically change the world, was true. Would you risk everything to find it?

It has been five-hundred years since the Pulse caused the Great Collapse, ending the Golden Age, and civilization on planet Earth. Humanity has waited ever since for a long-anticipated sign from God, which has finally appeared in the night sky. The time has come for Ferrell Young, the Warrior Clan, and the Church to risk everything in an effort to restore civilization, and bring hope to a world full of despair.

Alex Montgomery is an archaeologist who has spent many years looking for a mysterious book on behalf of the Holy Christian Church. The book is said to contain the location of the Great Oracle which, according to legend, can endow the one who finds it with great power and wealth. Of much greater importance to the Clan and the Church however, is the fact that it may also enable the world to emerge from five centuries of darkness and suffering.

When a powerful, intelligent, but sadistic barbarian leader named Kraken learns of the Oracle, he plans to destroy the Warrior Clan and the Church, take the Oracle for himself, and enslave the rest of humanity.

Join Ferrell and his companions as they set out on a desperate journey to find the Great Oracle, and rescue humanity from The Dark Age.

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Be still my beating...


I just had to share this picture because it KILLS! Seriously. My heart skipped the moment I saw it. That smirk. Seriously. It KILLS!

Review Request: Perception by Heather Cashman

The Review Requests just keep on coming, folks. And I'm always happy to play matchmaker between readers and authors. Today, we have an interesting one. This one's a tiger book, which I always find infinitely fascinating. I hope you do too. So, read the blurb, and if you're interested, you know the drill: name and email in the comments section, so Heather can contact you for a review copy.



Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.

More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.

Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn’t as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.

Want more books to review? Just check back here at Reads, Reviews, Recommends.


There's no limit to the books you can get from the authors willing to offer them up for review.


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Guest Post: Delectable Delights by Shelley Workinger

Another lovely Guest Post for all of you. I've always wondered about food in books. Haven't you? Well, today, Reads, Reviews, Recommends has the pleasure to unleashing Shelley Working on all of you. Find out more about Shelly by clicking on her name. The link will take you directly to her website.

Delectable Delights
by Shelley Workinger


You may have seen the commercial with John Besh (chef of August, Besh Steak, and Luke, among others) where he says, “In New Orleans, at breakfast we talk about what we'll have for lunch; at lunch, we talk about dinner.”

Well, I moved to NOLA at 17 and stayed until I was 25. I planned to stay there forever, but we all know how the universe enjoys having its way with us little humans and life took me to the Northeast. Even though I’ve learned to love me some Jersey, I still constantly crave the Southern food culture and mouth-watering dialogue. Theirs is a satisfying – if not addictive – way of life, so one of the ways I found to deal with my withdrawal from it was to get my food fix vicariously through books. Yes, I now read with my taste buds, pausing to ingest everything the characters are eating. Sadly, I haven’t come across any fictional food that can compare to the Crawfish Maque Choux at Commander’s or a juicy Port-of-Call burger (you know what I’m talking about – seriously undercooked, but after an inch or two of monsoon that cold red center starts to look appealing)…still, I haven’t given up the search!

But I digest…I mean digress; Foodian slip. The funny thing is, once I started putting my FoodFic thoughts together in a blog, a lot of other hungry readers started pulling their chairs up to my virtual table. Everybody knows that readers like to talk about characters – what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with – but I found that they’re also interested in the bigger question: But What Are They Eating?

Now, even if you’re not a “foodie,” once you start noticing who’s eating what and when, it can add a whole ‘nother level to a book. Recently, in “Marcelo in the Real World,” I noticed that – albeit subtly placed – there was seafood present at every shall we say “fishy” moment. Seriously! At particularly poignant or pivotal points in the story (say that 5 times fast), the characters just “happened” to be lunching on salmon, or tuna sandwiches, or freshly-caught trout.

Coincidence, you say? Added Sensory Dimension, I counter.

Whether I’ve convinced you or not, I hope I’ve given you a little “food for thought” and I bet you’ll find new flavors in your fiction from now on :)
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