Friday, November 20, 2015

Michael J. Bowler - Warrior Kids - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

The future looks bleak unless eighteen year-old Lance and his New Camelot Earth Warriors can save the planet from catastrophic climate change. 
Spurred by twelve year-olds Billy, Enya, Itzamna, and his ten-year-old brother, Chris, Lance creates a branch of Earth Warriors, a youth-led movement designed to save the earth from its greatest enemy – greed. His involvement leads to Earth Warrior crews springing up all across America. Millions of kids leap into action, paralyzing the country and alarming the rich and powerful. Having adopted his father’s philosophy of doing what’s right, rather than what’s easy, Lance makes serious enemies when he calls out New Camelot donors who represent fossil fuel or other polluting industries, and then barely escapes a series of "accidents” designed to kill him. When he challenges the United States Congress to step up and act immediately on the climate crisis, the attacks on him escalate. With the majority of America's kids on his side, Lance and his young Earth Warriors prepare for the United Nations Conference of the Parties in Paris, where they will call upon world leaders to stop talking about sustainability and start acting on it. But whoever wants him dead isn't giving up. Will Lance and his crew live long enough to even get to Paris? Warrior Kids is a standalone tale set within the Children of the Knight universe.



My Review

What if it were illegal to abuse nature?

That's the question Michael J. Bowler poses in his rollicking middle grade adventure tale, WARRIOR KIDS.

He makes a valid case that environmental damage continues to be tolerated as long as it generates a profit. Everyone from governments to international organizations are willing to turn a blind eye if they're persuaded to believe that increased pollution, overflowing landfills and the destruction of natural ecosystems can somehow benefit the bottom line.

When it comes down to it, jobs are considered more valuable than the future viability of the planet. Consume more, think less. That's the message. The endless cycle of production needs to go on, for if it stops, the consequences of wide scale unemployment will be catastrophic.

"You'll be dead by the time the damage you created falls on us."

That in a nutshell is Bowler's counter-argument. Do we really want to leave the problem for our kids and grandkids to solve? It's not something most adults want to ponder, but it's a reality the young people of today are going to have to face.

"Selfish people who had no intention of changing their lifestyle so the next generation would have a sustainable planet on which to live."

The theme of Bowler's novels centers around the message, "Strive always to do what's right, rather than what's easy." He's well aware that where things stand now, a solution is probably beyond reach. But he doesn't think sitting back and doing nothing is a justifiable alternative. He offers a multitude of ideas that readers can incorporate into their lives, everything from using the cold water setting on a washing machine to giving away useable items to those in need instead of throwing them in the trash. It can be as simple as turning off a light switch when leaving a room.

"Most people weren't willing to sacrifice their personal ambitions for the greater good."

It's an uphill climb when preservation isn't the priority of many. Yet Bowler feels strongly that the kids of today are "a generation on the rise" and that they "intend to rise to the challenge." His characters don't want to be treated like their generation doesn't matter. They want their voices to be heard.

It's only a matter of time before it becomes apparent if kids like Billy, Itz and Enya will succumb to the same pitfalls as their parents or if they will in fact rise above them and change things for the better. Putting books like WARRIOR KIDS into their hands may very well be a critical first step in a new direction.

***

Warrior Kids can be purchased at:
Amazon

Formats: ebook, paperback
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 211
Release: October 6, 2015
Publisher: self-published
ISBN: 9780990871149
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Special message from the author:

THE eBOOK OF WARRIOR KIDS IS FREE FOR EDUCATORS. It is available in the following formats: PDF, Kindle (mobi), and ePub (Nook and iBooks). In addition, teachers can purchase the paperbacks at the per unit cost of $3.08 (plus shipping and applicable tax.) Educators can contact the author via the Warrior Kids Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1505241449796357/) or directly by email – stuntshark2.0@gmail.com. For paperback orders, the author will generate an invoice from Createspace (the physical publisher of the book) and payment can be made through PayPal. There is no profit motive and he will earn nothing off the paperbacks sold to teachers. Per unit cost and shipping rates are exactly as Createspace charges him – no markup. As an educator, he has always sought supplemental reading material that would engage his students on important issues. Having found very little, he decided to write one and make it readily available.


About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of nine novels—A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place (Bronze Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America; Spinner (Winner Hollywood Book Festival; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Bronze Medal from Reader’s Favorite; Literary Classics Seal of Approval), and Warrior Kids.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.

He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook. He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.

He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Tumblr
Pinterest
Instagram
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, November 6, 2015

Leta Serafim - When the Devil's Idle - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

In the Book of Revelation, written by St. John on the Greek island of Patmos, it was said a pale horse would appear whose rider was death, others would cry out for vengeance, and the stars of heaven would fall to the earth. Death does indeed come to Patmos when a German tourist is found murdered in the garden of one of the island’s fabled estates. Yiannis Patronas, Chief Officer of the Chios police, is called in to investigate. He summons his top detective, Giorgos Tembelos, and his friend and amateur sleuth, Papa Michalis, to assist him. What the policemen discover will disturb them long after the conclusion of the case. Only six people were at the house at the time of the murder—the gardener and housekeeper, the victim’s son and his wife and their two children, a boy of seven and a teenage girl of sixteen. All appear to be innocent. But access to the isolated estate is severely restricted. Surrounded by high walls, it has only one entrance: a metal gate that was bolted at the time of the crime. Patronas can only conclude that one of the six is a killer. He continues to probe, uncovering the family’s many secrets. Some are very old, others more recent. All are horrifying. But which of these secrets led to murder?

Book 2 of the Greek Islands Mystery series, which began with The Devil Takes Half.



My Review

"An old enemy cannot become a friend."- Greek proverb

So begins a mystery novel where a ninety-year-old man is found murdered, a swastika carved into his forehead.

Not many people are killed in such an idyllic setting—in a garden on a Greek isle in the Aegean Sea. His death raises the question: Why would someone brutally kill a man who only had a few years left to live?

His identity turns out to be a key component. Living under an alias in Germany, he's been in Greece before. Namely, during World War II.

"Evil was indeed an entity and certain human beings embodied it, wore it like skin."

It's only when the police begin to look at the villa's housekeeper that a possible motive begins to emerge. As a child, the woman's entire village was massacred by the Nazis, and she's one of the last remaining survivors. When the police ask her if she had ever encountered the victim before, her response changes the scope of the entire investigation.

"Maybe that's how they grieve in Germany. They cry themselves out and return to their computers."

The cultural divide between the victim's family and the local community is a chasm that isn't easily breached. The man's son is a UN humanitarian worker in Africa. His daughter-in-law is a Heidi Klum knockout, who's devoted to her children. They swallow their grief without making an outward display of it. This confuses the Greeks in their midst who are more accustomed to a show of theatrics when it comes to the ritual of mourning. They expect to see wailing and gnashing of teeth, not a stiff upper lip.

Does this lack of remorse implicate the family in some way? Or are these two cultures still trying to come to terms with each other? One, mired in guilt. The other, bearing the burden of memory. Yet both seeking a way forward, beyond death, beyond grief.

***

When the Devil's Idle can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Formats: $6.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Mystery Suspense Thriller
Pages: 192
Release: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Coffeetown Press
ISBN: 9781603819985
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


Excerpt

The police cruiser arrived later that day and Giorgos Tembelos and Papa Michalis disembarked, the priest inching down the ramp like a tortoise.

“I think the identity of the old man is the key,” Papa Michalis announced when they’d all gathered in a taverna to review the case. “I analyzed it and that is my conclusion. It simply cannot be anything else. It has elements of an Agatha Christie story, one of her locked-room mysteries like And Then There Was None. Nobody else had access; ergo, one of the people inside the estate, a family member or a servant, must be the guilty party.”

“Anyone could have gained access,” Patronas pointed out. “The Bechtels were careless. They didn’t keep the door locked and there were keys lying around everywhere.”

“No matter. It’s got to be one of them. We can interview other people forever, but it will eventually come back to them. Them and them alone.”

“I think Father is right,” Tembelos said. “The identity of the victim is the important thing here. There was nothing about him in any of the European databases I checked. I called our counterparts in Germany and asked them to run him through their system, but I doubt they’ll find anything. It’s like he never existed. We need to establish who he was. Could be he changed his name.”

“Why would he change his name?” Patronas wondered.

“I don’t know.“

The four of them were sitting outside by the water, it being too hot to venture inside. A haze hung over the sea, and the air was very still. Suddenly, a soft breeze rose up and stirred the tamarisk trees that lined the shore, setting their feathery branches in motion. Patronas liked the rustling sound the trees made, the relief the wind brought. It was almost as if he could hear the earth breathe.

I’ll go swimming tonight, he told himself, looking out at the harbor. Float on my back and look up at the stars. Frolic like a dolphin.

Maybe he’d ask Antigone Balis to join him. He pictured her dripping wet, that long hair of hers hanging down over one shoulder like Botticelli’s Venus. Adrift in his vision, he subsequently lost track of the conversation.

“Hey, boss, you with us?” Tembelos nudged him with his elbow.

Patronas made a show of straightening his back, stretching. “Sorry, it’s the heat. Always makes me sleepy.”

“You were grinning.”

“So what if I was? A man’s allowed to grin.”

“I don’t know, Yiannis,” the priest said. “I think when one is discussing a homicide, it might be better if one dispensed with grinning. At such a time, such behavior is unseemly. It makes one appear insensitive at the very least.”

“Thank you for that, Father. In the future, I will dispense with grinning.” He tapped his pencil on his notebook. “So, to sum up, we have nothing concrete in the case, no witnesses or physical evidence, nothing that will lead us to the killer.”

“Gardener’s clean,” Tembelos reported. “I ran his fingerprints and there was nothing. There was a match on the shoes, too, exactly like he told us.”

“What about the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou?”

“Same thing. The case is heating up. If we don’t catch the killer, it could get ugly. Ministry’s already clamoring for action.”

“We need to turn the housekeeper, Maria Georgiou, inside out, also the members of the family,” Patronas said. “Check their history. Something’s going on here, but as of yet, I haven’t established what it is.”

“You can’t rule out a random act of violence,” the priest said, “directed at them because of their nationality.”

“Worse would be if it were a case of mistaken identity,” Patronas said, “the killer targeting the owners—the Bauers—and killing one of their guests by mistake.”

He was thinking of Charlie Manson, who along with his disciples had wiped out six people without blinking an eye, not realizing his intended victim was a subletter. “Personally, I think someone targeted the family for reasons we don’t know. The cat, the old man. It stands to reason.”

“I’d start with the housekeeper,” Tembelos said. “What she said doesn’t add up. That bit about coming to Patmos on holiday and staying on as a maid.”

“Unlikely, Giorgos. She’s in her seventies.”

Papa Michalis continued to promote the locked room concept. Citing a case in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, he described how the killer had released a cobra through a fake vent and activated its poisonous energy by whistling. “ ‘Oh, my God, it was the band,’ the victim shouted, ‘the speckled band.’”

“Fiction, Father, fiction,” Patronas said impatiently. “Remember? We discussed it.”

“My point is if you are determined to kill someone, a lock is no deterrent. Sometimes murderers are ingenious. Using a cobra as a murder weapon is brilliant when you think about it. Absolutely brilliant. No fingerprints involved, no way to trace it back to you. The snake does all the work.”

“I repeat, Father, there is no snake involved here. A stone maybe, but no snake.”

“A stone? What makes you think that?”

And around they went again, weighing the possibilities. The victim had been hit on the head, but with what? A hammer or a rock? A shovel or pickax? Rock, scissors, paper.

Forget swimming, Patronas told himself. I might as well drown myself.



About the Author

Leta Serafim is the author of the Greek Islands Mystery series, published by the Coffeetown Press, as well as the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece.

Links to connect with Leta:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, October 30, 2015

Scott A. Lerner - The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

Samuel Roberts, a lawyer in Champaign, Illinois, has just moved to a new home to escape the memories of his old place—the stray body parts left by evil entities as well as traces of his relationship with Susan, who left him because he couldn’t stop risking both their lives trying to save the world. That leaves Sam free to fall in love again. Sam falls hard, suspiciously hard, for Bridget Gillis, a beautiful fortune teller who also happens to be a witch and a member of a coven. The village that encompasses the coven was founded by Bridget’s great-great aunt, also named Bridget and a dead ringer for her descendant. The new relationship quickly gets complicated. It is two days before Halloween, and Bridget is about to be tried by her fellow witches for the crime of practicing dark magic involving the blood of children. The punishment is to be burned at the stake. Bridget needs an advocate, and Sam is the perfect man for the job.

Sam brings in Bob, who is suspicious of his best buddy’s sudden passion. The two of them have until the Witching Hour on Halloween to clear Bridget’s name and find out who is killing the local children. As they comb the area for clues, quiz the locals, and take a crash course in witchcraft and Wiccan customs, Sam and Bob can’t shake the question: is Bridget a good witch or a bad witch?

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest is the fourth book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons and The Fraternity of the Soul Eater.


My Review

"Witchcraft is like the Indian idea of Karma. Bad magic will come back to harm its maker."

That's the premise behind Scott A. Lerner's latest paranormal thriller as he explores the guilt still hovering over the American consciousness when it comes to the Salem Witch Trials. In the seventeenth century, innocent women were put to death because of mass hysteria. Mob rule took over when fear, not justice, became the driving force in a community that was struggling to hold on at the edge of the wilderness. The idea that evil could take human form wasn't so hard to believe—be it a mother, a sister, an aunt, a neighbor. Evil was a very real concept to them, with the threat of Indian attack ever present and the deep, dark woods casting a formidable shadow upon their fledgling attempt at building a civilization. It's their close ties to nature that many believed gave the Salem witches their power.

"Some Wiccans think of nature itself as a deity and that everything around us holds magic within it. Kind of like The Force in STAR WARS."

That's how Lerner explains the Wiccan religion to the casual reader. He's not looking to provide a history lesson instead he shares some interesting nuggets of information about why women who consider themselves witches have been feared for generations. He debunks the pointy hats and riding on broomsticks, even while giving a nod to pop culture references like the TV show CHARMED and Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman," but his tone doesn't trivialize what many consider to be a way of life. Instead, he shines a light on Wiccan practices and traditions, illuminating them for the reader through the context of his story.

"To open a hole in the world that separated the living from the dead, blood was always required."

Samhain, otherwise known as Halloween, is one of the most important dates on the Wiccan calendar. It's when communication with the dead becomes most likely. And Lerner delves into that concept using the idea of Blood Thorns, a plant with a Venus flytrap mentality. But instead of flies, it eats young, helpless children. Surviving on their blood, it produces a type of fruit that resembles the shape of a baby in the fetal position, a fruit that can only be harvested on Halloween.

"At this time of year, the veil between the living and the dead would be at its thinnest."

In Lerner's tale, cultivating Blood Thorns is strictly forbidden within the Wiccan community. The penalty for growing them is death. It's not until a woman "with long black hair that fell to her waist and intense blue eyes like a Siamese cat's," is accused of seeking to reap its rewards, that another trial is conducted, this time pitting witch against witch. Why would anyone take such a risk in growing Blood Thorns? What could the benefit possibly be?

Immortality.

It turns out Bridget Gillis, the witch in question, is a direct descendent of one of the village's founding members, Bridget Bishop, a name synonymous with the Salem Witch Trials as the first woman executed. While Lerner's Bishop doesn't claim any direct ties to Salem, he does have her fleeing London for America in order to establish a utopia of sorts for those seeking to practice their craft. She chooses a spot smack dab in the middle of Illinois farm country, where for over a hundred years its residents have coexisted peacefully beside their Amish neighbors—until now. The bones beneath the Blood Thorns are believed to be from missing Amish children, the young victims of an abhorrent sacrifice.

Lerner skillfully employs the misconceptions that surround the occult to aid his plot. He introduces Cotton Mather, one of the Salem elders who allowed the witch trials to get out of hand. He appears in a dream-like state, talking to the book's main character and advising him to play on the emotions of the audience–just like he did. Lerner has Mather express remorse for what happened in Salem, but refuses to pass judgement on a time and place so very different from his own.

Lerner is not an advocate of the death penalty, and he makes his position clear in the story. Being a lawyer, he's well aware of the mistakes that can occur through forced confessions and of the acquittals that have been handed down thanks to DNA testing. He writes the novel from that viewpoint and never deviates from it. Lerner also argues that cases where a child victim is involved are often impossible to defend against, since the sympathies of the jury usually end up swaying in favor of the prosecution.

Everyone wants to see the bad guys punished. Even if the bad guys are women. Even if the bad guys are innocent.

The point Lerner is trying to make is that the Salem of the 1600s is not so very far removed from the America of today. The ingredients for this particular spell are one and the same. Add a dash of prejudice to a cauldron of ignorance. Skim the surface for any remaining trace of logic or reasoning. Stir until simmering, and serve with a side of fear.

***

The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Formats/Prices: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 230
Release: October 31, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812917
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

Links to connect with Scott:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Scott A. Lerner - The Fraternity of the Soul Eater - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.

Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons.


My Review

Sam Roberts is suffering from a case of post traumatic stress disorder.

But he didn't fight in a war zone.

He didn't survive a natural disaster.

He battled the supernatural—and won.

But for him, the battle is far from over.

With multiple encounters under his belt, Sam truly feels that he's one of the only people on earth aware of the evil forces lurking at the periphery of everyday life. That knowledge has left him tired and severely depressed, and he doesn't know what to do about it. He doesn't want to see a doctor and just pop a pill in order to make himself feel better because he knows it won't do any good.

"I was depressed because I realized the world was filled with evil and indifference toward suffering. I was depressed because I knew that the forces of darkness would rise again. The problem is not that I fail to perceive the world as it is. The problem is that I see the world exactly as it is. So the question was not why I was depressed, but why wasn't everyone else?"

He feels alone in his struggle, and utterly conflicted. He's not sure if he has the strength to defeat these negative entities if they attack him again, and yet he finds returning to ordinary life impossible now that he knows what it's like living so close to the edge. Sitting behind a desk and working as a small time attorney just isn't going to cut it for him anymore.

Now in his late thirties, he's going through a type of midlife crisis. He feels old, even though he's still relatively young. He's falling out of love with his girlfriend, and nothing seems fresh and exciting to him anymore. Life has lost its flavor for him without the exhilaration of fighting the unknown. He's giving up on making the most of things, allowing himself to drown in a sea of self-pity and despair.

"It is a true eye-opener when you first realize you can't be whatever or whoever you want to be. The worst part of adulthood is the shocking discovery that love can be as tiring and stale as any other emotion, given enough time."

Sam no longer enjoys much of anything, and he turns inward, saying:

"I understood even then that I did not play well with others." 

He lets his relationship with his girlfriend fall to wayside, and starts obsessively chasing after anything that has to do with the paranormal. His personality changes as he goes from a self-confessed introvert to a danger junkie, recklessly seeking out danger.

His risk-taking even has a suicidal bent.

"I didn't have the guts to kill myself any other way, so why not let someone else do the job?"

He indulges in some pretty self destructive behavior, contemplating cheating on his girlfriend with a much younger girl, and taking on a client who claims he witnessed a ritual sacrifice during a fraternity hazing event. In fact, Sam inadvertently starts reverting back to his college days, spending a lot of time on campus, interacting more with the students than with the adults.

He throws himself headlong into the thick of the hazing investigation, actively seeking the adrenaline rush he only feels when he's involved with the occult. It quickly becomes an obsession that starts to ruin his life. He takes on the frat case without even the guarantee of receiving a two thousand dollar retainer. His girlfriend demands that he leave his fixation behind or else he's going to lose her. And it's sad because he's actually leaning toward choosing the supernatural over her.

His best friend, Bob, even tells him when they start working the case together:

"You like it. You are addicted to this. You are happier than you have been in months."

But it's a false high that's corrupting his soul. Sam doesn't care what he has to do to stay alive, even if it means killing other people in the process. He was never a cold-blooded killer before, and now he is.

Are these dark tendencies a part of Sam's essential nature? Lying dormant under the surface, waiting to be exposed?

Regardless, Sam doesn't feel worthy of life's blessings, not anymore.

"This destiny did not include being with the woman I loved, but something darker. Perhaps happiness was too great a gift to expect. I had killed people. Perhaps happiness was more than I deserved."

As Sam continues to sink even deeper into depravity, it'll be interesting to see just how far Scott A. Lerner takes him in the next installment of the series.

***

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords

Formats/Prices: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genre: Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 218
Release: June 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603812894
Click to add to your Goodreads list.


About the Author

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

Links to connect with Scott:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog Tour Site


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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lesley A. Diehl - A Sporting Murder - Review & Giveaway



About the Book

It's smooth sailing for Eve Appel and her friend Madeleine, owners of Second to None Consignment Shop in rural Florida's Sabal Bay, land of swamps, cowboys, and lots and lots of 'gators. Eve and her detective boyfriend Alex have joined Madeleine and her new beau David Wilson for a pleasure cruise on his boat. But cloudy, dangerous waters lie ahead. A near fatal encounter with Blake Reed, David's supremely nasty neighbor, is soon followed by a shooting death on the dividing line between David and Blake's land. Both men run sport-hunting reserves, but Blake imports "exotics" from Africa and promotes gator killing, while David stays within the law, pointing clients toward the abundant quail and turkey as well as the wild pigs that ravage the landscape. Nevertheless, when a mutual client is killed, it is David who is arrested and charged with murder.

Blake's nastiness is only exceeded by that of his wife, Elvira, who forces Eve and Madeleine out of their shop, intending to replace it with a consignment shop of her own. It seems that bad luck looms over them all, even Eve's brawny and hard-to-resist Miccosukee Indian friend Sammy, whose nephew has disappeared. As the case against David grows stronger and his friends' misfortunes multiply, Eve and her strange and diverse group of friends, including her ex, a mobster, her grandma, and Sammy's extended family, band together to take on the bad guys. But the waters are getting muddier and more troubled, and Eve and Madeleine may end up inundated in every sense of the word.


My Review

Cozy mysteries aren't just fluffy whodunits anymore. There's a noticeable trend emerging in those written by women for women. They're no longer shying away from the ugliness of everyday life in order to provide an escape from reality. There may be feel good tidbits thrown in like a fashion conscious wardrobe or a simmering romance, but now they're also venturing into new territory, using what's in the news and transferring it to the page.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the current headlines concerning race and law enforcement. People of color being subjected to police brutality—as well as receiving a substandard means of protection for their families and their property—is an hot button issue that author Lesley A. Diehl explores in A SPORTING MURDER. Sure, her heroine is known as "the fashionista of the Florida swamps" who readily admits that all she seems to think about is sexy men, but Eve Appel is a sleuth out to right as many injustices as she can, especially when the longstanding prejudice and ignorance in rural Florida threatens to harm her Native American friends in the Miccosukee Indian tribe.

When a college student's car turns up on the side of the road with traces of blood inside, the cops basically do nothing about it since it turns out they're not all that interested in looking for an Indian boy. They're already aware that a great number of Guatemalan farm workers have gone missing over the last few months, and they automatically lump him in the same category as those unsolvable missing person cases. As one tribesman so tellingly reveals, "If he were white, they'd be all over the place. Get real. Anglos can't tell an illegal alien from a Mexican farm worker from a Miccosukee college kid."

But the case takes an interesting twist when the prime suspect turns out to be a blue-eyed, blonde-haired man with freckles. His innocent-looking appearance gives him "the perfect cover for a psychopath," a guy with a long history of getting into bar fights with his favorite target being the resident Indian population. On the job, he's known as El Diablo, the devil, for how he treats his workers like slaves. His prior stint in the military is no better since he was found "equally irresponsible in dealing with the Afghanis."

And the authorities get it dead wrong when the missing college student winds up meeting a terrible end, one that could've been prevented if they had acted sooner. The anger in the native community quickly bubbles over when another one of their own is later abducted. No one in charge is willing to connect the dots except for Eve and her private investigating team. Based on the amount of anger over the police department's ineptitude, Eve ponders the long history of mistrust between the two groups, "The Florida tribes have never signed a peace treaty and [they] looked as if they [were] about to take up the battle once more."

When Eve uncovers that one of the higher ups in the police department is involved in the kidnappings, she doesn't know where to turn for help. So she takes it upon herself to make things right, only to end up in the very same predicament—hunted down and taken against her will. By the end of the book, she's left fighting for her life against an enemy who places no value on a human life whatsoever whether it's "a blonde bitch" like her or "just some brown Indians," "no smartass" is going to outwit him.

But he never anticipated coming across someone like Eve Appel.

Because in the face of all his threats, she has one thing to say.

"I'm a diversity magnet."

And proud of it.

***

A Sporting Murder can be purchased at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Formats/Prices: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Genres: Cozy Murder Mystery
Pages: 250
Release: July 15, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
ISBN: 9781603819398
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About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. A Sporting Murder follows the first two books in the Eve Appel mystery series, A Secondhand Murder and Dead in the Water.

Links to connect with Lesley:
Web Site
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Blog
Blog Tour Site


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