Broken Pieces

Eileen Maksym's Debut #Novel "Haunted" + #Giveaway @EileenMaksym #Paranormal

The real estate office was bright and cheerful, with large potted plants in each corner and flowers on the counter.  The young receptionist was happy to buzz the agent for him, and a minute later, a woman with dark, perfectly coiffed hair and a red business suit strode out from the back.
“Mr. Trent?”
Steven stood and offered his hand, which the woman shook firmly.  “Ms. Smithe,” he said.  “Thank you so much for taking the time.”
“Not that much time, Mr. Trent.”  She held out a single key on a ring.  “This will open the front door.”
Steven took the key from her.  “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.  The electricity and water are still on, and the heat's set warm enough so the pipes won’t freeze when the temperature drops.  It is a little chilly in there, though, so if you’re spending the night, I’d recommend dressing warmly and bringing a good sleeping bag.”
“Will do.” He debated briefly, then decided that he had nothing to lose (he had the key in hand, after all).  “Ms. Smithe, have you experienced anything in the house?  Anything supernatural?”
The young woman behind the desk looked up.
Ms. Smithe glanced at her, then back at Steven, her eyes narrowed.  She stepped closer and smiled tightly.  “Mr. Trent,” she said in a low voice, “It is a house.  It is a property that I am trying to sell.  And that is all.  Mr. Lacey has requested that you be granted access, and that’s his right.  But I would appreciate it if you left me out of it – and didn’t go blabbing your mouth and making my job harder.”
Steven tilted his head.  “You did see something, didn’t you?”
Her smile vanished, and she turned around.  “Slide the key into the mail slot tomorrow morning.”  Then she walked back to her office.  “Good day, Mr. Trent.”
Steven heard a door slam.
The woman behind the desk watched her go, then looked back at Steven.  “This is about the Lacey place, huh?”
Steven shifted his eyes to her.  “Yes, it is.  Why?”
The woman nodded.  “I figured.  She doesn’t like that house.  She’s supposed to show the house and everything, but every time someone wants to see it, she has some excuse why she can’t show it, and has one of our trainees do it.”
“Has she said why?”
“Not as such.  I do remember her saying something about a baby…but I’m pretty sure the Laceys don’t have any kids.”
Steven nodded, pressing his lips together.  “Well.  Thank you for telling me this.”
“No problem.  Only…”  She craned her neck to look down the hallway, then turned back to Steven.  “Just don’t tell her I told you, okay?”
Steven smiled.  “You got it.  Have a great day.”
She sighed.  “I’ll try, but I’m guessing she’s in a foul mood now; she’s a total bitch when she’s in a bad mood.”  She again glanced quickly down the hall.  “Don’t tell her I told you that, either.”
Tara Martin – exceptionally accomplished neurobiology major with a troubled past. Steven Trent – confident political science major with an irresistible attraction to Tara. Paul Stratton – history major who is able to hear spirits. Together, they make up the Society for Paranormal Researchers at their prestigious New England University. When they’re not in class or writing papers, the three friends are chasing their passion….ghosts.
When the group learns of a local retired couple trying to sell a house they claim is haunted, they decide to investigate. As the clues unfold, a familiar spirit interrupts their investigation and Tara finds her life in danger. Can her friends save her before it’s too late?
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Genre – YA paranormal, NA paranormal
Rating – PG-13
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Generation (A Medical #Thriller) by @_William_Knight #BookClub #AmReading #Crime

Out of breath, Dr Sarah Wallace, senior lecturer in forensic entomology, burst into Ridley lecture room exactly thirteen minutes late and stood before her students taking deep gasps with her right palm to her chest. Her shoulder-length brown hair, clipped at the back, swayed on the collar of a beige sleeveless cardigan worn over a white blouse.
She noted the usual set of final year students. “I got held up,” she said, swinging her crumpled corduroy bag from her shoulder onto the floor, then dropping a folder of papers on the table in front of a large white-board. “Thank you for waiting.
“It will be worth it,” she added, to a murmur of laughter. “Watch you don’t catch flies in that mouth, Simon. You never know what’s buzzing around in this lecture room.”
Simon closed his mouth promptly and blushed. He usually sat at the front and always looked surprised when she entered the room. Even though he was fifteen years her junior she recognised he was a good-looking lad. Athletic, with dark brown eyes the colour of mahogany. Not the best student, but competent when he tried – she suspected he spent most of his time playing guitar. She smiled and turned to the bag.
“Anybody care to tell me what these are?” She pulled out a transparent perspex box and held it up. Small brown flies clung to the sides and lid.
She walked around the table and handed the box to Simon. “Pass them round.”
“No takers?” She waited while the box was moved hand-to-hand around the room. “Come on, some of you must have seen these at A level.
“What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is Drosophila,” she said returning to the board, and writing the word across its length with a sweeping hand movement. “More formally known as Drosophila melanogaster, it also goes by the humble name of ‘fruit fly’. But its importance to science is immeasurable. In 1910 Thomas Hunt Morgan first spotted genetic mutants – flies with large white eyes – among his collection at Columbia University, and since then fruit fly research has fuelled a revolution of biological understanding. The most important aspect of which was the discovery that the fundamental genetic mechanisms of growth and development are comparable in all living things.”
She let the words sink in and smiled to herself as Simon made notes. “I repeat. All living things. At a genetic level we are as similar to Drosophila as we are to Gryphea, Arenicola, Mesonychoteuthis the colossal squid, certainly all the other animals, and we have much in common with plants.”
She sat on the front of the desk. “Now we’re not going to go into the depths of the fly’s genome, I’ll leave that to more eminent lecturers, but the reason Drosophila is so good for genetics, and not forgetting forensics, is because it breeds fast. We can study several generations in a week.” She paused and checked the under-grads were paying attention.
“Now if you’ve read your Byrd and Castner, you’ll know that a wide variety of insect species are attracted to human remains and play an active role in the decay process. Yet Diptera and Coleoptera are the most important. Fly larvae are the first insects to colonise decomposing remains. They can thrive in the fluid as the corpse liquefies and are mostly responsible for the dramatic consumption of the tissues. It’s only much later, when the corpse begins to desiccate, that other insect groups, notably beetles, move in for their turn at the feast. So for the rest of the term we are going to be eating and sleeping Drosophila – not literally Simon, I’m sure you understand.

A man emerges from the sodden undergrowth, lost, lonely and starving he is mown down by a speeding car on the edge of a remote forest.
Rumours of ghostly apparitions haunt a rural Northumberland community.
A renowned forensic research establishment is troubled by impossible results and unprecedented interference from an influential drug company.

Hendrix 'Aitch' Harrison is a tech-phobic journalist who must link these events together.

Normally side-lined to investigate UFOs and big-beast myths, but thrust into world of cynical corporate motivations, Hendrix is aided by a determined and ambitious entomologist. Together they delve into a grisly world of clinical trials and a viral treatment beyond imagining.
In a chase of escalating dangers, Aitch must battle more than his fear of technology to expose the macabre fate of the drugged victims donated to scientific research.
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Genre – Crime, Thriller, Horror
Rating – R-16
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Will Shakespeare & the Ships of Solomon by Christopher Grey @GreyAuthor #Action #Excerpt #TBR

Not even minutes before, the chapel had fallen silent as the occupants heard rounds of gunfire crack outside. Stunned, the men looked at each other, and in a moment of calamity, leapt to their feet. A few took guns from their jackets and found cover behind pews.
Dorothy’s breath left her. Dizziness crept into her consciousness as she heard what must have been a full-on battle outside.
With each weapon that appeared in the hands of these mysterious men, the dizziness escalated. Bracing herself at last on a nearby pew, she looked up toward Mr. Jackson for some sort of direction. He stared absently ahead as if completely at a loss for what to do. The very real danger of the gunfire outside entering the church caused terror to grip her body. Looking around became even more difficult, and paralysis all but took over.
A couple of the older gentlemen stepped into the aisle next to her. One had a pistol drawn. The only weapon she’d seen of that kind was her father’s hunting rifle, but she’d never even touched it, despite many offers from her father to do so. Being so close to the horrifying events escalating outside, she fell backward into a stumble as they came near. The only thing she could imagine was that the police were intercepting them. These men had to be criminals.
One overweight balding man gently took Dorothy by the arm. His gesture was in no way threatening, but his touch burned her cold skin. She reeled backward into another stumble, and he let go without a fight. A round pink face softened into compassion, eyebrows relaxing and brown eyes softening.
“We should find a safe place for you,” he said.
“What in the bloody hell is going on here?” she barked.
“It isn’t safe here.”
The freeze was over. Now that terror clutched her, the will to survive took control. Sweat jumped out from her brow as her lungs clenched. Rushing energy broke through her body, splashing heat back into her skin. She clenched her mouth so tightly that she found herself biting her tongue. With the stance of a cornered beast, she glared at the man in front of her.
“Who are you people? What is going on here?” her tone was calm but carried a clear warning.
“Please, Miss Wilkinson,” Mr. Jackson said from the pulpit, apparently having observed the conversation. “You must get out of here.”
“I demand to know what is going on, or I will call the police.” The calmness was leaving her voice. Inflamed eyes darted around, looking for anything she could use to protect herself. She saw only hymnals, prayer books, and candles.
“Miss Wilkinson, you must go to the temple,” said Mr. Jackson. “The Grand Lodge of Quebec. Sinclair’s letters are there.”
“There is no time, go, now!” The large man said, losing his patience after she didn’t respond to Jackson.
He reached to grab her, but she wouldn’t have it. Survival instincts completely overcoming her motor controls, she opened her hand and laid a flat slap on the approaching man’s face. The strike echoed through the air, and although she felt a shimmering thud in her wrist, it was quickly shoved aside by adrenaline. She twirled on her heel to run but was too fast and not stable enough. The heel snapped beneath her, and she fell tumbling to the floor.
At that moment the doors were broken open and hell poured through.
In the fall of 1947, Will Shakespeare saw the world collapse around him. Shakespeare, a secret soldier for the Knights Templar, barely escapes the slaughter of his entire knighthood at the hands of a rogue militant arm of the Vatican in a small Montreal church. With orders to escort Templar business associate Dorothy Wilkinson back to her home in Bermuda, Will must locate and rescue the most important secret treasure in human history before it is devoured by a hurricane in the watery caves beneath her father's property. The spiraling quest sends Will and Dorothy into uncovering dark secrets that make up the origins of the knighthood as they confront the traps and puzzles that masterfully protect the world's most coveted treasure.
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Genre – Action, Adventure
Rating – PG
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Holderby’s Landing by J. D. Ferguson #Excerpt #Historical #Fiction

The banks of the Ohio River lay back like a great step from the sweeping green-brown water. Flat for a hundred yards, the rise forms a field that during winter rains is three feet under brown flood, but in this warm spring supports a field of fresh corn stalks almost as high as the water had been but a short time before. On the eastern edge of corn and atop yet another bank, River Road meanders between huge trees and in perfect sync with the twists and turns of the mighty water. Beyond the elevated road the field broadens to half a mile and separates two bald narrow hillocks that stand like guideposts. Atop the southernmost hill, and the taller of the two, a white two-story clapboard house faces the river. A collection of out-buildings, all white and of various sizes, run the ridgeline behind and culminate in the larger body of a huge barn, drab weather-beaten grey against the deep blue morning sky. The hill, with so steep a drop on the river side, gradually declines to the rear. The drive to the house runs from River Road along the base of the hill to the rear of the formation, there it crosses a mountain stream fed by hillside runoff during wetter periods, and always by the spring at its head which originally gave it birth.
Primus Rose notes it all from his open carriage. He muses silently, as he most always does upon entering these grounds, how the location of the Cross home so typifies the owner. Commanding the river and flat land surround, the house proper can be approached only from the rear, through the defensive positions of out-buildings, fences, corrals, and dogs. The front of the house stares with dark glassy eyes into the Ohio Territory across the expanse of roiling river, and speaks to all who view it from the river or the road, there is little welcome here, but what there may be is through the back door.
The carriage, a kindness provided by his flock, albeit at his own manipulation, crosses the sturdy wooden bridge with a rattle of planking, and proceeds up the grade with a fresh persistence from the two-horse team. Primus enjoys the ride to the Cross house. Always has. It suits him for some odd reason. The fact that the trip ends by sitting in the same room with Philby Cross would dampen the enjoyment from most outings, and most people, but it has little impact on Right Reverend Primus Rose nor on his delight in the ride.
From beneath the wide, flat brim of his black beaver hat – an affectation of his own design similar to the Boss-of-the-Plains but with higher and sharper crown – deep violet eyes stare at the passing trees with a fixed attention. As the calash exits the trees, bright sunlight flashes, exaggerating in the milk white face the almost permanent squint held by his eyes. His sensual, full and feminine lips crease into a wan smile at the sight of Cross’s guard dogs growling in menace at the approaching buggy. He knows from experience that the dogs will growl and snarl, and upon his alighting from the carriage, will plant themselves immediately at his heels, but will not bite without threat being evident. If you pay them no mind, and move as if you belong here, they will warily allow your movement to the back door. With a jerk the coach stops, and Primus does just that.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. 
One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Message of the Pendant by Thomas Thorpe #BookClub #MustRead #Thriller

The room was not completely dark. High above the floor, five window slits provided flickering bursts of light whenever distant lightning struck. Beneath dark wooden beams, flashes created menacing shadows that quickly disappeared until the next glimmer.
Huddled in a corner with her sister, Emily, the wait became excruciating for Elizabeth. Where was the stalker now?
A large stone fireplace under an antlered head of a stag stood at the far side of the room. She decided to edge over to the hearth and look for a tool or piece of wood which could be used against the blackguard.
On hands and knees, she carefully advanced along the room’s perimeter trying not to make any noise. Fifteen feet, ten feet, five.., she felt the bricks. She reached out for a poker, but had to settle for a two-foot log, three inches in diameter. Clutching her prize, she turned to start back. A new creak punctured the air in the middle of the room.
She froze.
Several English chairs and Queen Anne upholstered seats rested between game tables, turned at various angles to her sight. The sound had come from there. She stared at the outlines.
Lightning flashed again. To her terror, a dark figure rose behinda seat turned away from the chimney. Light disappeared before she could see anything more.
Elizabeth's mind raced, wondering if she had been heard.
Another flash. The figure had moved toward Emily’s corner.
“Emily! Emily!” she screamed. “Wake up. Someone’s coming toward you!”
She could hear Emily stirring, muttering words that made it clear she did not understanding their plight.  She had to help her sister! Her legs felt weak and a rush of panic welled up inside her. She could not move.
Glint came again. The figure had stopped.
William Darmon and wife Elizabeth were powerful figures who in 1818 set society's pace from expansive grounds known as Mayfair Hall. When a family member is murdered, a mysterious pendant is found containing a long lost request by Napoleon Bonaparte for an American mission to burn down Parliament buildings. The couple sets out on an action filled pursuit of the killer. While interviewing Henry Clay in post-war Maryland about the failed mission, they uncover evidence of a conspiracy to free the Emperor from exile. The Darmons infiltrate the cadre, but a shipwreck off the coast of Scotland, a firestorm at the Darmon's Manor and a harrowing assault on the Island of St. Helena loom before the mystery can be unraveled.
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Genre – Mystery, Historical, Thriller
Rating – PG
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Flash Bang by Kellen Burden @KellenBurden #Mystery #Thriller #Excerpt

The next day is one of those days you don’t remember waking up to. Suddenly you look up and you’re pouring yourself another cup of coffee in your underwear, and you don’t know how you got there. The TV’s on, too. Some Saturday morning kid show at half volume. I don’t know what the fuck is going on in it, so I turn it up. The guy in the giant purple dick-shaped suit is telling the black dude with the orange afro that he can’t find his apples, and then they spell the word apple and dance until I turn the channel. Parents wonder why kids are so crazy: dick guy can’t find his apples. I start to ease off the couch, wheeze once and fall back down onto it. My legs are sunbaked rubber bands. My chest feels like a fat kid’s trampoline. I claw my way back up to standing with a grunt, try to stretch it out, but all my limbs feel like they were made without joints. I’m like Gumby in a dehydrator. Shuffle into the kitchen and toast a bagel, heat up a pan for eggs, quietly admit that it feels good to be sore from rebuilding my body instead of destroying it one beer at a time. When the pan’s hot enough I melt some butter into it, crack an egg in there, and shuffle into the bathroom to turn on the shower. 
My knuckles are soft and red from rolling on the hard pack, and I have little scratches on my forearms, bruises all over. In the kitchen the yolk is starting to get hard and I slide the egg out of the pan onto one of my multitude of randomly assorted Goodwill plates. A rainbow coalition of bachelorhood. The bagel jumps out of the toaster and I slather it in cream cheese, slide the halves in around the egg, carry it to the couch and shove it in my face while the news rolls. No more stabbings. No more talk of them, anyway. Cold front is easing off, temperature rising steadily into midweek. As the weatherman motions enthusiastically at an amorphous blob whipping up off the Denver Metro area like a brush fire, I finish off my breakfast and grunt my way back into the bathroom, wondering what the fuck they put in the weather guy’s hair to get it to stick straight up like that, and whether he’s seen the film Something About Mary. Steam’s fogged the mirror, and the water is too hot to stand under right at first, so I twist the cold on a little, breathe the humidity and stare into my soft-focus reflection.
After the shower I throw some jeans on that I’ve been wearing for so many days straight that they could probably stand up on their own. T-shirt, thermal, wool socks, work boots. My phone says it’s 55 outside; too warm for the Carhartt, and I can’t conceal the SIG under this thermal. In the closet closest to the bathroom there’s a safe in a hole in the wall. It’s about four feet tall, three feet wide, and deep enough to house some documents, a few thousand in cash, and a treasure trove of boom boom. I pull my compact Glock 23 from the soft rack inside the door, stuff it into a concealment holster in the back of my pants, and check it in the mirror. Looks good. The gun; I look like a hobo, but that’s kind of my deal, so we’re good.
Outside on the stoop I look up the street, down the street. Civic on the corner, waiting for a break in the pounding Colfax traffic; homeless-looking guy wandering around with a paper bag of what I can only assume is apple juice; Denver gray, touch of heat. I finished off all three of my detective novels since I bought them, and the Kerouac was just a bit too heavy for this kind of winter. Maybe too heavy for my kind of dysfunction. Bits and pieces of my dreams lying like shards of broken glass in a dark room for me to step on. A noise, an image, and some fucked-up flashback scrambles from the back of my brain like a startled creature. Yesterday on my way to the park, a helicopter came in low to film something going on downtown, and I almost bit through my lip before I knew I was anxious. The night before, I woke up at 1:00 a.m., standing in the middle of the living room, naked, sweat running off my face and down into my chest, shivering. I don’t know why.
Sebastian Parks is drowning in a flood of his own creation. Dishonorably discharged from the Army, he's wracked with night terrors and an anger that he can't abate. Unemployable and uninterested in anything resembling a normal job, Parks makes his living in fugitive apprehension, finding wanted felons on Facebook and thumping them into custody with his ex-military buddies John Harkin and Eric "Etch" Echevarria. When the body of a teenage Muslim boy is found in front of a downtown Denver nightclub Parks, Harkin and Etch are called on to do what they do best: Find bad men and make them pay. 
First-time author Kellen Burden serves up edgy humor, brutal action and characters you can't get enough of. Flash Bang will keep you turning pages until the end.
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Genre – Thriller, Mystery
Rating – R
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.@arthurjgonzalez #reviewshare #ya #scifi The Photo Traveler by Arthur J. Gonzalez

The Photo TravelerThe Photo Traveler by Arthur J. Gonzalez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Photo Traveler by Arthur J. Gonzalez explores family relationships and how it affects a person's past, present and future. This theme was executed well and Gonzalez even brings in the grandparents and uses Gavin's abilities to meet with his parents again.

I liked the writing but I found the pacing to be jerky and inconsistent. Gavin's mood swings do not help the pacing and I found his behavioural patterns work against the story. I also liked the overall concept that you can see a picture, travel to the moment but you cannot change the chain of events. Many scenes, characters and incidences were well thought out but the ending was too abrupt.

My favourite characters were Gavin's grandparents and his parents. Unknown to Gavin they each sacrificed as much as they could so he would not be harmed, very Harry Potter but okay, it suited the story. For a debut novel it was okay, not a favourite but if you're in the mood for a quick time travel book which is well-written, why not?

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Man from the Sky by Danny Wynn #Excerpt #AmReading #Literary

“In a way,” Jaime said, “reading books and watching films are the blessing and curse of the modern age, when a fair number of people have escaped at least the complete tyranny of fundamental necessities. It might have been better when people didn’t have the luxury of looking for meaning in their lives.”
- from Man from the Sky
How far would you go to add excitement to a life you felt was boring and meaningless?
For seventy-three-year-old Jaime, the answer takes him by surprise. Accustomed to a lonely life high up in the mountains on the western coast of Mallorca, his dull routine is suddenly shattered when a man parachutes from a plane and lands nearby. The plane crashes; the man lives.
It’s a drug smuggling operation gone bad. But Stefan, the man from the sky, has escaped with eight kilos of cocaine in a gym bag. Jaime brings Stefan home and is soon entangled in Stefan’s attempts to sell the cocaine and start a new life.
As they dodge Parisian drug dealers and corrupt Mallorcan police, Jaime’s search for excitement and Stefan’s resolve to find stability lead them both down dangerous paths.
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Genre - Literary Fiction, Adventure
Rating – PG-13
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