#Guest Author: Suzi ‘Queen of Scream’ Albracht and A LOVE HAUNTING

About Suzi Albracht in her own words:

My name is Suzi AlbrachtSuzi_Albracht2. I live just outside of Annapolis, Maryland which is in the Baltimore/Washington corridor. I mention the corridor because that is where all my books in The Devil’s Due collection take place. My book, A Love Haunting, takes place in the OBX, NC where we vacation every year. I prefer to write stories that take place in locations where I have spent time.

I typically write in the dark realm, that means Supernatural Horror Crime Fiction and most recently, Paranormal Romance/Ghosts. The horror
books are Death Most Wicked, The Devil’s Lieutenant, and Scorn Kills.

All three books are part of The Devil’s Due Collection.

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My most recent release is A Love Haunting which is book one of my An OBX Hauntings series. It is a paranormal romance, a ghost story that takes place in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This book is so much fun to write. I am taking local lore and threading it through my story.

And I get to write about love in a way that my other stories haven’t yet allowed me.

I am currently working on three more books – Her Deadly Intentions which is part of The Devil’s Due Collection, Lucifer’s Queen, also part of the collection, and a second book in An OBX Hauntings series. I also have a political thriller in the works.

My books are like my children so of course, they are all my favorites but if I am forced to pick one or two, I would say Death Most Wicked and my new novel, A Love Haunting.

I love Death because it introduces Mikael Ruskoff, my favorite character. It shows his love for his family, his hatred for the father who deserted him, and his devotion to his mother. At the same time, you get to know what a dedicated law enforcement officer he is while he risks his own life to stop a child murderer.

I am equally proud of my new book, A Love Haunting, because it allows me to show a softer side in my writing. I am free to show that silly love couples have in private, the yearning love of innocents. Plus I got to play with the whole ghost concept which pleased me to no end. I’ve always been fascinated with ghosts. It was also my first book with no profanity or violence. It was like a refreshing after-dinner drink.


A Peek into ‘A LOVE HAUNTING’

This short chapter in A Love Haunting begins Jordan’s existence as a Living Dead (LD). It appears a quarter of the way into the novel. It takes place after he feels he has lost his one true love and just before he meets Luke, a skateboarding angel, and the trio of ghosts from the 1800s who become his friend.

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Purchase your copy HERE

      Love… death… forever. That’s the story of my life apparently.
So Emily had left the Banks. In my mind, I knew she had to go, but now I am lonelier than I’ve ever been in my life. Right after the accident, my world was devastated because of my loss of Emily, our baby and… my life.
And then when Emily was in the hospital, I found a way to be near to her again, if only in a small way. Now she is gone and my life is really over. Now I have no one.
Sure I could have hung around Allie, bugging her but it would not have been fair to her. Besides, she was on her way to being a nurse practitioner, and I knew she’d be a damn good one. So while Allie was in school, I was going to leave her be, but I did plan on helping her when she embarked on her new career. Besides, I wanted to convince Allie to shoot bigger and become a doctor. Being a physician was her real calling, she just didn’t know it yet.
In the meantime, I made up my mind I was going to make the best of my new dead life, and that would require some hands-on research. Research had always been one of my strong suits. That and evaluation.
And there was something else I wanted to research but didn’t dare until I figured out all the rules and restrictions of my dead existence. I didn’t want to lose my wife, so I was going to try to… do something.
So since I had loads of free time on my hands, I would start by exploring to see what was what.
      What am I supposed to do about my feelings now that I’m dead? My life can’t end like this. It just can’t.
Wow, I hadn’t allowed myself to admit that I was actually dead until now. Dead and buried and the whole nine yards.
Well, it’s true. I died a few feet off a highway in North Carolina, not far from my favorite vacation paradise – the Outer Banks.

      I am a ghost, and this is my love story.


Character Interview with Luke, the Skateboarding Angel.

I was pleased that Luke agreed to do an interview with me. I had read the book, A Love Haunting, and was anxious to get some insight into Luke’s role. We arranged to meet at the Dune Burger in Nags Head at ten p.m. I had never been there before but felt as if I knew it from reading about it. When I arrived, Luke was nowhere to be seen. I began to worry a bit that he was standing me up.

I decided to take a seat at one of the outdoor tables and go over my list of questions for him. I had just opened my note book and put it on the table. My pen was missing so I rummaged through my purse, looking for another. Suddenly my note book slid about six inches away from my hand. I pulled it back, looking around. I didn’t think it was that windy. Oh well, I thought.

I turned to look for that pen again but now my purse was gone. I immediately jumped to my feet. I fumbled around, thinking I’d call the cops but then I remembered my phone was in my purse. And then right before my eyes, my purse materialized where it had been. I heard a faint giggle. Frowning, I grabbed it. And then it came to me.

“Luke?” I looked around. Before I could even blink, he materialized next to me.

“Dudette,” Luke said with a grin on his face.

“Hi, I am very pleased to meet you.” I held out my hand to shake, hoping Luke would oblige me. He did,but it was a high-five.

I silently appraised Luke’s appearance. Holding a skateboard under one arm, he was wearing surfer shorts, a long sleeve skater tee shirt, black Chuck Taylors, black fingerless gloves, and a silver chain with a medallion. I was dying to see what was on the medallion but felt it was too soon to get that personal.

Luke, however, is very perceptive. In an instant, I realized that he noticed my interest.

“Dudette, you dig my jangles?” Luke asked fingering the medallion. I nodded. “One of my peeps gifted me.” He stepped closer to me holding the medallion so I could see it.

“When you say peeps, are you referring to souls you have transitioned?” I grabbed my note book and pen, preparing to take notes. Luke took one look at them and began to pop-lock dance in front of me. I was taken back. Why would he do that?

I don’t know if Luke saw the look of surprise on my face or not but after a few minutes, Luke sat down at the table and put a serious look on his face. “Allie said you had some questions for me. You’re probably on a deadline… please, ask away, dudette.”

Every time he called me dudette, I wanted to fall down laughing. But I had a mission to complete.

“When you help the newly dead to transition… can you describe the feeling to me that you get when you are able to get them to Heaven?” I asked.

Luke gazed into my eyes with those big eyes of his. He leaned toward me, his face was glowing, his eyes shining. I felt I was about to hear some celestial secret.

Instead, he put his thumb and index fingertip on my nose and tweaked it. I know my mouth was hanging open with surprise.

The next thing I knew, he jumped up and took my hand, placing it on his shoulder. Then he put his arm around my waist and took my other hand in his. We began to waltz around the parking lot.

I have to say the guy has some smooth moves.

Luke turned his attention on me and said, “It makes me feel like this. Like all is right in the world.”

Then all of a sudden hip hop music blared out of a new Chevy Camaro that drove into the parking lot. I glanced at Luke but he was no longer there. I must have looked silly to the driver of the Camaro because he asked me if I was alright. I suppose I did look silly dancing with an imaginary partner. I looked behind his car and there was Luke skateboarding up the street.

I would have called out to him but I suddenly had the feeling that angels don’t like being interviewed.

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My most recent release is A Love Haunting which is book one of my An OBX Hauntings series.

You are welcome to give Suzi Albracht a shout out on Twitter @SuziAlbracht 🙂



 

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#Guest Author: The latest book by ANITA KOVACEVIC ‘The Forest of Trees’

THE.FOREST.3DTHE FOREST OF TREES – the BLURB:

When a family of four faces the brutal reality of their city life, they readily embrace a complete change. Emma and David Stone, with their kids Jeremy and Dot, move to a small town with their big hopes. However, small towns have their own secrets – from urban legends about The Forest of Trees to family skeletons in closets everyone knows about.

Gradually, Jeremy and Dot make some new and unusual friends, whereas Emma and David start working again, and things seem to be going for the better. But evil never rests. The Jacksons, a bigoted and brutal family of pig farmers, however scary, are not the only ones leaning towards malice. The more new friendships grow, the more villains will struggle to retain power. Will the arrival of the newcomers tip the scales in favour of the good or the evil? And how can The Forest of Trees play its part in the solution?

The life between the legendary Forest of Trees and the small town of Tillsworth is separated only by a road. All it takes to reconnect is to take that path.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwnR-_utzJA

REVIEW COMMENTS:The.Forest.review.quote

‘This is not a fairy tale for children, but an adult examination of the way belief in oneself can change the course of lives. It is lovely, frightening, joyous, and painful. Anita Kovacevic can put another notch in her author’s belt with this brilliantly written book.’

By Elizabeth Newton, from Between the Beats (https://elizabethnnewton.com/2017/12/28/the-forest-of-trees-by-anita-kovacevic/)

‘Some of the parts were like the fairytale, happy and carefree, but other parts were nothing but the harsh reality.
The ability of the author to jump from one to another was so easy. I loved the beautiful description of the forest creatures, but I also loved the other side of the coin…’

Irena Cacic, on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36407464-the-forest-of-trees )

SNEAK PEEK:

From the author’s foreword:

Our lives always consist of beauty and ugliness, and if we are lucky, we get to keep the balance of the two. The good and the bad start from within us, and spread all around us. It is what weaves this world, and, I believe, all worlds everywhere and everywhen.

All fairytales consist of magic and horror. Not everyone is always good, and not everyone is always bad. Snow White faced the evil Witch Queen, Cinderella her step-family, the children and parents the Pied Piper…

In a way, this story is also a horror fairytale, but it is not for children. You may feel like reading some parts to your children, but those were the parts told by my own inner child, the one who still hopes and believes in magic. The horror in the story has nothing magical about it – it brings out the harsh reality I hated to write, but had to write out of me.

To paraphrase the words of two fascinating authors, we must write even that which we don’t want to write, because it must be said (S. King). And it is up to us which side we choose – the good or the easy (J. K. Rowling).

For myself, I admit to having both sides, but I intend to always feed the good in me – always.

CHAPTER 11 – READY?

Jeremy felt as if a gigantic troll with spiky teeth and heavy hands was pounding with a rock hammer against the insides of Jeremy’s skull. The noise of his bloodstream, the rhythm of his rage, the tremor of his fear, all were so strong that not even the school bus, hitting every single bump on the road, could shake them off. It was like his heart had been mauled from his chest by a monster claw, as flashes of the ruined canvas blinded his eyes like electricity coming on and off. Unconscious of his own actions, he reached for his chest to check, but there was no blood gushing, although it felt hot and excruciating just the same.

He wasn’t wiping off any tears, for there were none to dry. He wished there had been. He wished he could still cry about it, the way he had with his dad that day in the bathroom, and wash away the feeling of shame, guilt, filth, ruin and fury. But his eyes were as dry as the desert sand, and he stared through the bus window, aimlessly observing the scenery without actually seeing anything. He was almost numb to the outside world and the people around him.

CHAPTER 12 – A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

“I hope nobody is still out there,” Miss Pagiotti said.

The rain shower had turned into a thick curtain, masking most outer events. For a second, Miss Pagiotti thought she could see something or someone still there, so she grabbed Mr Jones by the wrist, and they both rose to their feet and walked even closer to the window.

They froze at the image they saw.

Angel’s family was walking outside in the rain, from the direction of a nearby supermarket to their lorry, parked further down the street. The group was led by the grandpa, his grey jacket drenched, steel-framed boots threading the puddles. His dark hat was tucked on his forehead, hiding his wrinkled face, as his eyes fixated on the lorry; the weather never swaying his stride, despite his limp. He walked as if the storm was merely an annoying fly to swat, and ignoring everybody behind him. Angel’s dad followed, copying his father, almost tripping as he forced his legs to adjust the pace and remain behind the pack leader. His yellow fisherman raincoat protected his body, but raindrops blinded him. His two teenage sons walked each on one side of their dad, trying not to stay behind. The two dark-haired adolescents were shaking from the cold, their hands in their jacket pockets, all wet through, skinny, grim and unhappy, faces freshly scarred from fighting or getting beaten. Angel dragged his baby brother behind the trio, annoyed at being left behind as the designated babysitter, his bald wet head glowing in the street light.

As the Jackson procession passed the restaurant, Ben’s dad opened the door ajar.

“Come inside. Get warm,” he said.

“Mind your own business, you blithering idiot. The Jacksons need no charity,” Old Jackson barked above the noise of the storm, not even looking at the man.

OTHER BOOKS BY ANITA KOVACEVIC:

Adult books: The Threshold – paranormal novella; Average Daydreamer – light romance; Versus Verses – Feel – poetry; Versus Verses – Love – poetry

Children’s books: Winky’s Colours: A Penguin’s Story; The Good Pirate; Mimi Finds Her Magic; Spikes for Hank

Contributions to anthologies:

Teaching Children from the Heart & Inner Giant; Awethology Light & December Awethology Light Volume; Twisted Tales & Crooked Tales; Looking into the Abyss; A Treasure Chest of Children’s Stories

AUTHOR’S BIO:

Anita Kovacevic is multi-genre author of both children’s and adult fiction. Her belief in the power of storytelling has been strengthened through her years of teaching and teacher training.  Anita enjoys writing stories which come to her on her ‘dreamstep’, blending reality and magic, and has a quirky fondness for writing limerick stories. You can read her reviews, book news and author interviews on her WordPress blog Anita’s Haven. She lives with her husband and children in Croatia, where she graduated from university with a degree in English and Spanish Literature.

ALL BOOK LINKS:

Amazon universal link Author.to/AnitaKovacevicAmazon

Barnes & Noble all Nook https://tinyurl.com/ybfpg9gb

Kobo all Rakuten https://tinyurl.com/ycxuds4g

iTunes all Apple https://tinyurl.com/ydfyn8hq
Book Gorilla  http://tinyurl.com/le5h4x2

Lulu http://tinyurl.com/ltbvq54

Goodreads  http://tinyurl.com/jwovbbv

(Find Anita on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as Anita’s Haven; WordPress blog https://anitashaven.wordpress.com/)

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FINE REVIEWS: “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer”

5-Stars!  I recommend “Gosnell” as required reading.

It is the silence of others, despite the grotesque nature of the crimes committed, that continues to bewilder me as I read this startling book. Thankfully, filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer refused to avert41h0mkgijcl their investigative glare from the inhumane travesty conducted in Philadelphia—the mutilated, mass killing of born-alive infants within the seedy walls of the Women’s Medical Society Clinic by a certain Doctor Kermit Gosnell. This ‘Doctor’ eschewed the Hippocratic oath and human decency. Instead, Kermit Gosnell chose a bleak path nearer to that of Josef ‘The Angel of Death’ Mengele. Mengele did not act alone. His grizzly deeds in Auschwitz were government sanctioned.

Nor did Kermit Gosnell act in isolation. The complicit role activist media, social radicals, medical colleagues, and incompetent (politicized) government played in perpetuating his crimes is an indictment of the moral wasteland we’re becoming. This is not about equating Gosnell’s crime to the horrific actions of Mengele, except to illustrate contemporary society’s refusal to learn from the past. If we did care, these blood-curdling crimes against babies would have ended earlier. If we did care, a caring nation would collectively march in the streets demanding answers. Instead, there’s muted silence and politicized obfuscation.

For me, this telling of the Gosnell nightmare is the first salvo in the fight for our very souls, and a diminishing chance to avoid us being judged barbaric. It is not okay to set aside fundamental moral principles (by either omission or commission) in the pursuit of blindly furthering an ideology. And, it’s never acceptable to contrive distorted truths and false claims (rationalized that it’s ‘for the greater good’) as a justification for the darkest of human behavior.

In that sense, this book provoked in me a reaction well beyond the Pro-Choice/Pro-Life debate. It touched the core of what it truly means to be an empathetic, civilized society; and how the reprehensible conduct of some bad actors destroys it for all of us. As such, authors McElhinney and McAleer have my thanks. I regard them as ‘canaries in the coalmine’ alerting us, American society, to the consequences of turning a blind eye to the inhumane deeds of a select few. If we continue to get this wrong and allow enablers to disassemble facts in order to cover up crimes against the feeblest among us, history will judge us all harshly.

“Gosnell” is a tough read, but a civilized society has the responsibility to pursue the truth wherever it may take us. There should be zero tolerance for cover-ups or dubious rationales, no matter where one resides on the ideological spectrum. In that spirit, I recommend “Gosnell” as required reading in all institutions dedicated to social sciences, moral ethics, governance, and medicine.

Available on Amazon

Year End Best Books Ever! And ‘The Zebra Affaire’ Makes the List!

Making the Top 20 list at number eleven is the historical / literary fiction novel, The Zebra Affaire according to the myriad-minded author, Jean Gill. Also, an acclaimed photographer, Jean Gill commented in her article:

He’s black, she’s white, and in 1970s South Africa their love affair is a criminal offence. There are chunks of non-fiction you can read if you want (I loved them) as a love story challenges apartheid. Totally authentic in time and place with a real love of South Africa despite the horrors. Reminded me of ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and feels relevant again today.


At the prompting of readers’ from the THE BOOK CLUB facebook group, Jean Gill prepared her recommendations. Her list contains a compelling and diverse collection of superb reads for the inquisitive reader, that I’m including Jean’s complete article for both your convenience and reading pleasure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Books Ever! What are yours?

by Jean Gill [See the original here.]

I was asked to choose my 20 best books ever for The Book Club, a readers’ group on facebook. Impossible of course! This is the list I came up with. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments! And help yourself to some Christmas goodies while you’re thinking about brain food!

Pink Rheims biscuits

1. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Book 1 in a trilogy showing dystopian survival in a reality TV game where the forced participants can die. Not my type of book, I thought, but I could not put it down. I love the feisty teen heroine who’s a deadshot with bow and arrows and no book better captures the post-truth machinations of current politics. (I’ve been wanting to use the word ‘post-truth’ since I discovered it was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year 2016.)

2. The Gate to Women’s Country – Sheri Tepper
Fantasy novel that turns what-if into a gripping story. What if there were a way to organise society so women can have great sex with unsuitable men AND also ensure that children are protected and nurtured? I read every fantasy book Sheri Tepper writes, for the way she creates amazing worlds, tells a good story and makes me see our own world differently.

Starry starry blinis

3. H is for Hawk – Helen McDonald
Best Autobiography
Autobiography about two interwoven emotional journeys; grief and training a goshawk. A book to savour for the beautiful way its written, for its passion and honesty, for its expertise regarding birds of prey and their training. A bonus for me is the analysis of received wisdom from the past re training hawks, in particular via quotations from the troubled soul T.H.White (another of my favourite writers).

4. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Best Children’s Book
The French Winnie-the-Pooh; a children’s book with observations on life that strike a chord with adults. Full of quotable quotes! ‘People have forgotten this truth,’ the fox said. ‘But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.’
Goodreads has 659 favourite quotes from this book so I think you’ll find one that hits the heart!

French Christmas log

5. Mums Know Best – The Hairy Bikers’ Family Cookbook
Best Cookbook
A recipe book collated from family recipes throughout the U.K. during the Hairy Bikers’  television tour. A tribute to Mums and to home cooking, with recipes that all work and that show the whole multi-cultural range of the British people and our food. When my French neighbours sneer at Britain’s lack of cuisine, I tell them ‘You find world cuisine in Britain’ and nowhere is that more true than in this cookbook. It makes you want to write down all your own family favourites; I still use the splotched, handwritten recipe for Grandma’s Christmas Cake although my mother is dead now and I am the Grandma. The photos are good too and as I’m a food shooter (with a Nikon D750 as weapon of choice 🙂 ) I have hundreds of cookbooks and am very fussy about the photos.

6. The Visual Toolbox:60 lessons for stronger photos – David duChemin
The best photography book. From a master of travel / landscape/ wildlife photos who works with natural light. Offers inspiration and guidance, whatever level of photographer you are. In DuChemin’s company I gain confidence in who I am as a photographer; I learn what I want to improve and how to do it. His own photos are a joy.


7. Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb
Epic fantasy.
Book 1 of the Farseer Trilogy. Illegitimate and unwanted, young Fitz has to fulfil the only role at court which is offered to him – that of assassin. As the kingdom faces invasion, Fitz discovers his own magical powers and has to learn to control them, for his king and country’s sake. The grand, heroic adventure swept me away, I fell in love with the wolf, and I read every Robin Hobb book the moment it’s available. Training in magic has become clichéd but Robin Hobb pits the illegal Wit (bonding completely with an animal) against the court-controlled Skill (telepathic communication and control of humans) and, uniquely, Fitz has to master both kinds. The relationship between Fitz and his Wolf is as deep and convincing as those between the various humans.

8. Chéri – Colette
Very French love story.
First published in 1920, when France was where the British went to be naughty, Colette’s story of a 19 year old boy and his 43 year old female lover is a sensual classic. Worldly-wise courtesans and pretty young things (male and female) play out their relationships against a backdrop of gowns and soirées. I discovered Colette when I was 18 and the whiff of decadence fascinated me as much as her beautiful, poetic style. She taught me about pearls. She also taught me that a woman could break all the rules, as a writer and as a woman. Colette was the first woman to be accepted into the all-male Académie française, and a poster showing her with her cat in St-Tropez is beside my desk. She was my first inspiration as a writer. Chéri is no longer shocking but this slight volume lingers in the imagination like French perfume.

9. The Map of Love – Ahdaf Soueif
The best epic love story. Set in colonial Egypt and present-day, the story of a young English widow who meets the love of her life is revealed through the discoveries of her descendant, who also goes to Egypt. The relationship between Anna and Sharif is a heart-melter for any romantic and the exotic background takes you on a voyage of discovery.

10. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Best BIG 19th C novel. Historical romantic suspense set in the 17th C with the best swordsmen in the whole of France. The historical equivalent of shoot-outs and car chases; sword-fights and breakneck horse rides to save the Queen of France. So many characters to fall in love with but my favourite is Milady. The Best Villain ever!

11. The Zebra Affaire – Mark Fine
Historical / Literary Fiction. He’s black, she’s white, and in 1970s South Africa their love affair is a criminal offence. There are chunks of non-fiction you can read if you want (I loved them) as a love story challenges apartheid. Totally authentic in time and place with a real love of South Africa despite the horrors. Reminded me of ‘Doctor Zhivago’ and feels relevant again today.

12. Shogun – James Clavell
Best block-busting page-turner. The adventures of a 17th century English sea-captain surviving in the violent politics of Japan – and I mean violent. Gut-wrenching (this is the culture of hara-kiri after all!) high adrenalin and romantic. Bushido code, world trade, culture clash and steamy tea ceremonies. The beautiful translator Mariko is wonderful and so much depends on the choices she makes, we agonise on her behalf. An emotional roller-coaster, whether you like historical fiction or not.

13.  The Game of Kings – Dorothy Dunnett
Best historical fiction with fictional heroes in real 16thC events, starting in Scotland. Book 1 in the six-book Lymond series. Francis Crawford of Lymond is, in my eyes, the most desirable fictional hero ever and his complicated adventures are not short of romance. Intelligent, wide-referencing and thrilling, Dorothy Dunnett’s books are the ones I’m most flattered at my historical novels being likened to.

14. Steppenwolf – Hermann Hesse
Modern classic. Appeals to the middle-aged lonely werewolf in all of us, the one who looks in the mirror with distaste and is willing to follow a free spirit into The Magical Theatre and dive into life’s might-have-beens to discover what still could be. Wild psychic adventure!

15. Soul Music –  Sir Terry Pratchett
Best comic fantasy. The Grim Reaper’s grand-daughter has to learn the family business; Death. Stands alone but set in the many-novelled Discworld where Pratchett fans like me have their favourite characters and set of stories. Death is mine, with his grim sense of humour and his kindness; the character of Death in ‘The Book Thief’ derives directly from Pratchett.

16. Sailing to Sarantium – Guy Gavriel Kay
Best historical fantasy. Based on medieval Byzantium but ‘given a quarter turn to the fantastic’ is how G G Kay describes his technique. He captures the grand sweep and scale of history in all his books, with characters who know they are part of something bigger, characters who make me feel in awe of their nobility, their love affairs, their creative work. He makes me feel proud to be human (not easy!) And there’s a heart-pounding chariot race.

17. Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien
The first fantasy novel, ever, and it’s epic. If you’ve read other fantasy novels you’ll recognise the elements: the band of elves, dwarves, men and hobbits, heroes who have to save the land from the forces of evil, with the help of Gandalf the wizard. What keeps it fresh for me is that Tolkien did it all first and there was nothing like this before TLOTR I can feel Sauron’s eye seeking me out and I identify completely with the struggles of small people burdened with the responsibility of the cursed ring.

18. The Distant Sound of Violence – Jason Greensides
Modern urban fiction about British teenagers from different cultures. They have big hearts but the world’s against them. You just want to adopt them all but the adults in their life have no idea what they’re going through – or don’t care 😦 An ending that stays in your mind, powerful and gives hope.

19. I Heard The Owl Call my Name – Margaret Craven
Modern fable. A young vicar, who does not know he is dying, is sent to a native American village where the two religions/ mythologies take the reader on a spiritual journey in two cultures. You don’t have to be religious (I’m a sort of humanist) to respond to the wisdom in this novel, a metaphor for how to live well and accept death, when the owl calls your name. ‘Don’t feel sorry for yourself because you are going to so remote a parish. Feel sorry for the Indians. You know nothing and they must teach you.’

20. The Bees – Laline Paul
Best novel about bee-ing. Suspense and dystopian paranoia drive the story because ‘they’ are out to get the young bee Flora 717. She tries to keep out of trouble while knowing that something is terribly wrong in the hive. Underlying the survival adventure is an accurate knowledge of bees. I’m a registered beekeeper, having followed practical training for three years in Provence, and the micro-view of the world created by Laline Paul is correct in all its facts and possibilities. If bees could speak human, this is the story they would tell and as well as being a page-turner, it’s an important story for the planet.


About Jean Gill

Jean is a Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France (specifically in Montelimar) with a big white dog, a scruffy black one, a Nikon D750 and a man.  Click here to see Jean’s impressive body of literary works.

Readers Review Room & Traci Sanders – interview with the founder

Traci Sanders is an amazing lady I had the pleasure of meeting a while back in an online writers’ group. Apart from being an early educator and caregiver, she is an award-winning multigenre a…

Author Mark Fine said, “Traci is an impeccable example, as are you, Anita, of the wisdom, enterprise, creativity and innovation of the Indie Author. Both of you are making great strides in legitimizing the Indie Author scene. You refelect the fine writerly talent that’s been constantly ignored by ‘snobbish’ media and publishers row in New York, London and elsewhere. Keep up the good work! #IndieCred4Authors.”

Source: Readers Review Room & Traci Sanders – interview with the founder

FiNE REVIEW: “Unsevered” by Traci Sanders. An emotional, yet hopeful Love Story.

This book’s loving message is meaningful: that in the most unexpected way second chances are always possible.

An unconventional tile: “Unsevered”

51lfwjT9lNL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Let me first address the book title, “Unsevered”. An unconventional word that’s both awkward to say and discordant to hear. Why not, for example “Unbroken” or “Unbowed”? Curious, I had to read the book, and in doing so, I’m impressed how with a single word author Traci Sanders was able to capture the complexity of the human condition.

The antonym to “severed” suggests amputation.

Forgive me for being personal here, but I lost my wife to breast cancer, and the emotional tear of feelings was akin to “amputation”–not only the permanent loss of a loved one, but also the knowledge that the future life we had hoped to live together was forever destroyed.

This is what Jewel experienced when she lost her dear husband Harley to the unkindness of war. But Sanders use of “UNsevered” is a clear indication that there is always hope, and that loss need not mean “severed”.

A glimpse into the full life of a woman.

To this reader (taken from my distinctly male perspective) it was a forthright glimpse into a wife, lover, widow, friend, daughter, mother and bride.

In doing so I sensed the quiet of an anti-war song, the pang of a love letter, the grief of a widow, the camaraderie of a friend, the undying gratitude of a daughter, the selfless love of a new mother, and the wisdom and courage to fall in love, again.

Is there an enriching life after grief?

Though it is a universal experience it’s amazing how ill-equipped we are when it comes to grieving; and then moving forward beyond those bleak days. There is no formula. However, many of us are crippled by the notion that we are destined to have only one single “great love” in our lives. This prevents us from moving forward with optimism, and hope. And that, for me, is the significance of this love story; it is author Traci Sanders’ valiant message of hope.

It tells us to keep our hearts open for the unexpected (Yes, that’s another possible title for this book “Unexpected”) because in the cycle of life we do get do-overs.

“Unsevered” is well worth the read. Get it HERE from Amazon 🙂

FINE REVIEW: “Bride Without a Groom” by Amy Lynch ~ Great Fun & Highly Amusing

Bride Without a GroomBride Without a Groom by Amy Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, I loved this book! I chortled and giggled my way through all 300 odd pages. How could I not after floating in the head of one self-absorbed, dilettante named Rebecca on a mission to land herself a husband. As for the target of her ambitions, Barry the lawyer, well, he was simply outgunned. The poor man had to beat a hasty retreat to Bangkok, (or was it Hong Kong, or Taiwan?) in order to muster his defense against Rebecca’s ‘you have to marry me’ onslaught. In Barry’s absence there’s hope that Rebecca would see the light, which she attempts through a veil of self-indulgence, fried-foods and gin & tonics. But Rebecca isn’t alone in her quest as she has the unwavering support of her BFF, the wealthy Emer.

Every dastardly challenge is rewarded with a mani-pedi, spa retreat, body wax, spray-on tan, and another gin & tonic; in other words Rebecca’s world is deliciously superficial. And that’s the brilliance of author Lynch’s writing, because as a reader you still wish for Rebecca to get her man despite her obvious failings.

As for writing style, it’s so successful rendered in the first person, from Rebecca’s perspective, that I could not help but become fully engaged in her trials and tribulations. The dialog was sassy, snappy and spot on in a British/Irish kind of way (which I found thoroughly refreshing). I especially enjoyed it when Amy Lynch lifted the lid on the inner workings of Rebecca’s mind; I so enjoyed the ruminations and rationales made by this hopeful bride in her effort pursue her life’s single purpose–to get herself a husband. Poor Barry never had a chance! There is no doubt I’d be delighted to read Amy Lynch’s next book because of her ability to both charm and amuse me. A fun, fun read.

View all my reviews

A WORD WITH TRACI #AWWTBLOG TOUR: featuring MARK FINE

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Now let’s keep the party going with today’s guest author! MARK FINE

Traci Sanders: “When I joined BooksGoSocial on Facebook (an awesome group of readers and authors), my world of reading and authorship was burst wide open. I met incredibly talented authors, such as today’s featured one.
I was blown away by the reviews I’d seen coming in for his novel, ‘The Zebra Affaire’, (read my 5-star review here), and just had to read it for myself. I was not disappointed!  The love story within is fiction, but many of the other events in this story are, sadly, very real reminders of just how far we’ve come as humankind. The writing is intense, riveting, and beautiful.
It’s my pleasure to welcome…Mark Fine!!!
Mark Fine (300dpi) Print

About The Author

Mark Fine was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has made the United States his home since 1979, living in New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles.

For four decades he has worked alongside world famous recording artists. He eventually launched his own award-winning record label, Hammer & Lace, with a mandate to produce benefit albums in support of such causes as breast cancer awareness, at-risk children, and wildlife conservation.

For these philanthropic initiatives Mark was voted by Variety magazine as the “Music Executive with 20/20 Vision.” He has also contributed articles to entertainment industry publications, and conducted public speaking engagements at multimedia events.

Now he resides in the South Bay, where he lives with his two sons, his “significant other” and Charlie, a neighborhood dog that drops in from time to time. There he wrote the historic romance novel, The Zebra Affaire. Set in apartheid South Africa, Mark brings an insider’s perspective to the gripping account of a bi-racial couple’s forbidden love.

Connect with Mark:

Twitter: @MarkFine_author or https://twitter.com/MarkFine_author

BLOG: https://markfineauthor.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/markfine37/the-zebra-affaire/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markfineauthor

WEBSITE: http://www.markfinebooks.com/


Accomplishments

Launched anti-poaching campaign called “You! Yes you can be a Rhino Protector!” with the #RhinoProtector and this graphic:

rhino

ZEBRAAFFAIRE Cover613

BLURB:

IT’S THE SPRING OF ‘76. For Elsa, her affair with Stanwell may prove lethal, as she’s white and he’s black, and they dared to fall in love in apartheid South Africa. The terrified lovers are the prey in a deadly hunt from the golden city of Johannesburg to the exotic but dangerous wilds of the African bushveld.

The Zebra Affaire is a thrilling fusion of romance and suspense—laced with rich South African history. The tension is palpable as the persecuted couple race against time and bigotry. Reviewers rave about this intimate, yet dangerous love story; that’s set against a canvas that is both vividly authentic and powerfully provocative.

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:

“INTENSELY DAZZLING…NOT A BLACK AND WHITE STORY, A RAINBOW STORY WITH THE RICH COLORS OF LIVES IN TURMOIL.” – Elizabeth Newton, author of ‘View from the Sixth Floor’

“Profound, provocative and powerful — a book EVERYONE must read!” – Michelle Medhat, author ‘Connected: The Call & The Shift’

“I can’t find words to express how deeply reading this book affected me. I would have given it ten stars if I could.” – Gloria Antypowich, author ‘The Second Time Around’

“A book to savor slowly…appreciating each moment. I found myself re-reading sentences and whole paragraphs; such was the quality of the writing. One of the best books I’ve read this year.” – Jean Gill, author of ‘Song at Dawn’

“The story of Stanwell and Elsa really touched me. Racial discrimination was so dehumanizing. This book took me to the days of the liberation struggle, and I experienced the hurt as I read. It was a real privilege to read the history, a period of pain and hope, as seen through Mark Fine’s eyes.” – Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe, Former Freedom Fighter & Senior South African Diplomat

“More than a daring, multiracial romance set in a racist 1976 South Africa, that nation on the turbulent cusp of collapsing due to apartheid; The Zebra Affaire grips your soul and won’t let go. Never mind zebras, think lions, raw and roar.” –  Geoff Nelder, author of ‘ARIA: Left Luggage’

BOOK LINKS:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011PXSEWG

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Zebra-Affaire-Apartheid-Love-Story/dp/1512321028/


BOOK EXCERPT:

EARLY MORNINGS IN MID-JULY on the Highveld were gripped in the bracing chill of a Southern hemisphere winter. White frost dusted the parklands and lawns. These tiny ice crystals were destined to thaw as they faced a warming sun. However, in Pretoria’s corridors of power, matters had heated up considerably. The nation’s administrative capital was at full alert as a consequence of the Soweto upheaval. Though the mob violence had been contained, the threat still simmered.

The Soweto Riots had eroded the certainty of the ruling regime. They feared for their way of life. Despite their apparent insensitivity to the plight of other humans, the Afrikaners were great champions of wildlife conservation—and similar to the white rhino, a victim of senseless poaching, they too felt as if they were an endangered species.

An endangered animal is desperate. A cornered animal is dangerous. The ruling regime was both desperate and dangerous as they felt their grip over the nation loosening. The Soweto Riots invoked a regime dictate of zero tolerance. From on high, directives to the nation’s security apparatus adopted an apocalyptic tone—the end of the volk was imminent, and all threats must be stopped, now. No deviation from the law by anyone would be tolerated.

The Security Branch considered Stanwell and Elsa’s romantic entanglement a matter of national security; what was once considered a tawdry “domestic affair” became a public symbol of rebellion and had to be crushed. The couple had undermined a key principle of apartheid; the white minority’s dominance could not be eroded by the intermingling of the races. Another outrage was Stanwell’s status as a business executive. His authority over white employees signaled to the Bantu that they were the white man’s equal, and that was unacceptable.

The Security Branch’s first act in their campaign against the couple was plagiarism. They lifted the “Zebra Affaire” headline from the newspaper article that publicly exposed them, and made it the operation’s code name.

Their second action was to classify Stanwell as an enemy of the state.

***

Malan Zander was delighted. Finally he had his marching orders. The mixed-race couple was now fair game, and it was time they suffered the consequence of their actions. He felt the buzz of anticipation. Others chose to be doctors, teachers, or builders in order to heal, impart knowledge, or create. Zander never understood that mindset.

As a child he found it more gratifying to demolish things, and as an adult, annihilation was his guiding light. Fortune shone on him when he found an employer that regarded the destruction of people’s lives a virtue.

For Zander restraint was an anathema; he’d much prefer bludgeoning the miscreants into submission. But his orders were clear: the Zebra Affaire must be handled subtly, as the world was watching. No killings, no public trial, no questionable disappearances—just make it go away. But for now just one problematic life required his immediate attention; he would deal with the girl later. As Stanwell’s crimes against the State were twofold, in business and in the bedroom, Zander had fertile grounds to create mischief.

***

Stanwell initially dismissed the disruptions, strange repeated hang-ups or silence on his telephone at work, as a nuisance. But paranoia grew when he heard mysterious clicks and echoes on the company phone. It could only be the State’s Security Branch meddling in his business.

Then the threats started, and Stanwell’s worst fears were confirmed. Vulgar in content and vicious in implication, faceless voices with rasping accents vowed public exposure. All Stanwell’s claims of innocence to his invisible attacker were brushed aside with merciless laughter until he began to plead. At that point he was given a specific warning: Miss Elsa Marais would soon receive something in the mail. After that the calls stopped, but the pressure continued.

Two white men arrived unannounced at the warehouse facility. Their ill-fitting suits were a signal to Stanwell’s staff that they were members of the Security Branch. The visitors were seen speaking with Stanwell through the executive office’s glass wall. The three men leaned toward each other in a conspiratorial fashion. Their body language was clear—they wished not to be overheard.

After the men left, the warehouse swirled with rumors that Stanwell was a snitch working for the apartheid regime. In that cesspool of tribal mistrust, Stanwell’s coworkers happily accepted the allegations as fact. This placed Stanwell’s life in potential danger. A revenge killing by embittered colleagues was now a real threat.

Understandably, Stanwell was terrified.

Mark’s book is available for just $2.99 on Amazon Kindle!


Interview with Mark:

What/who inspired you to become a writer?

My paternal grandmother owned a private book library in a suburb of Johannesburg. Her shop was always busy with clients scrambling dibs for the latest read, as she (a copious reader) gave brief synopsis of new releases–all the while stamping return dates on the front leaf of the book in front of her. And I helped, opening boxes of new releases, or bringing some order to disheveled shelves. Only is such an environment, where the written word was so revered, would my first notion of becoming an author take seed

Where do you get your ideas from?

My unofficial mission is to make history come alive, by been relevant again, as there are lessons to be learned (and repeated mistakes avoided). Strangely the events of recent history seem to be the first forgotten, so I don’t tend to forage beyond 50 years from today, now. I specifically enjoy the African continent; it is so easily misunderstood (or written-off), but it’s a fertile source of inspiration for a writer such as me that delights placing fictional characters in the midst of real events and people from another time.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers (writing, getting published, etc.)?

A topic I do have an opinion or two. When writing, I have two basic rules. First, prepare a three page outline. This is the map that provides direction, keeps you on topic, and defines the universe you are creating. Second, write the closing of the book FIRST. Sounds counter intuitive, but I think of it as the “closing argument” by the prosecutor in a court case. It has to be tight, concise, clear, and dramatic. With that strategy in mind, the writer will have a final destination, a finish to write towards. Without it, the author will inevitably wander down extraneous paths; and this is the biggest obstacle that causes many to never complete their book.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known prior to getting published?

You must create an author platform by the date your book is released. This includes setting up a website or blog, garnering sufficient reviews, preparing your media kit with bio and book synopsis, readying the components for you Amazon Author Page, etc. etc.  Unfortunately, I only began addressing these issues late in the process when “The Zebra Affaire” was going through the final editing process. It has certainly cost me wasted time and some opportunities. I’d suggest (though easier said than done), try wearing both your writer’s hat and entrepreneur hat simultaneously. This way I could have allowed fans to witness the writing process; the research, book jacket design, before and after drafts of the manuscript, and type setting in real time.

What’s next? Are you currently working on anything?

“The Zebra Affaire” remains in part a living document to me. No, not because of mistakes, but my interests have grown since the book’s release. The story’s big showdown takes place during a safari in the African veld. I would like to add an anti-poaching theme as a subset to the main narrative. I believe it would play very well. And fit elegantly in the story with the tragic, sad focus on a rhino, hacked to death for its horn. (More pathetic and pitiful knowing that alleged mystical/medical benefits of a rhino horn are no greater than the cuticles on our hands). Being an independent publisher, I am free to make this adjustment—and insert these passages—without requiring consent from a cast of thousands. As for the page or so added to my novel, I will feel so much better about the cause-driven component it will add to my historical novel, “The Zebra Affaire.”

Do you have a book tour planned? Will you be appearing anywhere?

I am a fan of Book Clubs. Really enjoy the conversation with readers whom are already well acquainted with my work. It makes the nature of our engagement more intimate, as, instead of trying to pitch the book, I’m able to get down to the emotional, political, and societal issues that influenced the actions of my characters. And most of all, relish the personal feedback they kindly provide.

That said, I’ve never attempted a book tour. Frankly, I’m not sure how to go about it–but I’m eager to try. Any suggestions?

What are you currently reading?

Alan Furst “The Spies of Warsaw”


BOOK LINKS:

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B011PXSEWG

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Zebra-Affaire-Apartheid-Love-Story/dp/1512321028/


Connect with Mark:

Twitter: @MarkFine_author or https://twitter.com/MarkFine_author

BLOG: https://markfineauthor.wordpress.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/ZebraAffaire

PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/markfine37/the-zebra-affaire/

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markfineauthor

WEBSITE: http://www.markfinebooks.com/

I would like to thank Mark Fine for joining us today! Go check out ‘The Zebra Affaire’!


PLEASE CHECK OUT “A WORD WITH TRACI” at this link:  http://awordwithtraci.com/day-15-mark-fine/

THE MOST EXCELLENT WORLDWIDE BOOK BLOG TOUR: Trip#1 with SUZI ALBRACHT

 Suzi Albracht header

Introducing author Suzi Albracht


Book Title:  Death Most Wicked

Genre and Sub-Genre: Horror, Thriller

Book Content Rating:  Adult (18+)  Language and Violence


Suzi Albacht

Author Bio: I love to write horror thrillers with intense personal relationships between characters. I started reading earlier in life than most of my friends and spent many hours hidden in closets and under beds, sneaking in just another ten minutes of whatever book I was reading. As soon as I was old enough, my mother would send me to the library to pick up books for her. This delighted me because it opened up a whole new world of books not available in school.

I read everything I could get my hands on but was drawn to sci-fi, horror and thrillers. As I matured, I would say my main influences became Stephen King, Dean Koontz and William Faulkner. My writing definitely reflects those influences.

I can honestly say my twitter bio describes me to a T – Write, scare myself, turn all the lights on, write some more. Take a break, play pool, kick butt/get butt kicked, go write more horror, double lock door.

To reach me regarding my book (s) or to just say hello (please, no spam), email me at SuziAlbracht@aol.com or tweet me on Twitter: @SuziAlbracht.
Send me an email if you want to be alerted of new book releases.


 51P-72nNU1L._UY250_Book Blurb: The thing Evil craves most is innocence. When small children disappear, you can be assured that Evil has crawled out of its dirty corner. And when those children turn up dead, Evil has clawed its mark on humanity.

What if you were a homicide detective and little girls were suddenly being kidnapped and murdered by a devious pedophile? And what if that pedophile left no evidence behind except for the broken bodies? What would you sacrifice to save just one innocent child? Would any sacrifice be too great? What if it cost you someone you loved? What if, by saving that child, you unleash a horrific monster into your own life?

Mikael Ruskoff was living his dream. He was a highly successful, homicide detective working a career he loved. He had a mother who adored him, a son he took skateboarding, and a wife he loved more than words could express. He played a mean drum set every Thursday night with his best friend on guitar. His life was comfortable and pleasurable. Then he caught a case that would change his life forever.

 Review(s):

51P-72nNU1L._UY250_ Death Most Wicked

Wow! By B. Martin on September 7, 2015: This is one creepy novel. First you have a man who wants a little sister so desperately he’s willing to kidnap children, only to kill them when they refuse to live inside his shed. Then you have this hellish substance that turns victims into puddles of bloody liquid. And in the middle of all this is Mikael Ruskoff, a homicide detective who’s charged with solving a seemingly never ending string of murders.

Suzi Albracht has a fantastic imagination, and she does a wonderful job bringing this disturbing tale to life. Twists abound. Characters are connected in ways you least expect. And it’s all presented in a way that will leave you on the edge of your seat. (or in my case, my bed) Definitely a novel horror fans will want to check out.

The Devil’s Lieutenant51byRxkOxXL._UY250_

An Excellent Tale of Horror By Glen Barrera on March 18, 2015: After reading and enjoying Albracht’s Scorn Kills, I knew what was in store when I began reading this novel. I wasn’t let down. In fact, after the first few pages I was convinced the author had taken this tale of horror to an even greater level. Like any good novel, horror or not, it’s the well written characters that drive the story. In this department, Albracht didn’t skimp: Jake Holyfield and his pregnant wife, Caroline; his brother Bobby and friend Max – the good guys – pitted against evil in the form of Carl and Dimitry Ivanovich. Quite simply, the bad guys want the good guys on their team, by whatever means. And they do have interesting means. But this story is also about the frailty of the human condition. What moral price would someone pay for unlimited money, youth, or the woman of their dreams? This is a fast paced read, with unexpected twists and turns, leading to a well-done ending. I definitely want to read Albracht’s next book.

Scorn Kills51xLjuvZydL._UY250_

The first person telling of this breathless tale is delectable! on April 4, 2015: “Scorn Kills” is a wickedly devilish book that reads with the breeziness of a fiery furnace backdraft. It dramatically opens with a claustrophobic setting; a coffin relentlessly heading toward final conflagration, its living occupant desperate to plead his case. Horror it is not, but author Suzi Albracht’s dark humor ensures that “Scorn Kills” is a far more satisfying read. Morality and fidelity are supposedly inscribed in blood, but for our main protagonist, his manly frailty is that well-treaded demon–the temptation of another woman. And for this transgression, alas, there would be no second chances. The first person telling of this breathless tale is delectable, as it is the sinner that narrates his own fate. What I especially enjoyed about Ms. Albracht’s book is that she never burdened me, the reader, with tiresome sermons on the evils of infidelity; instead she expertly grabbed my attention with a vivid story, filled with flawed characters. For me, “Scorn Kills” is well worth the read!


Book Trailers:  The Devil’s Lieutenant


Scorn Kills, Death Most Wicked, and The Devil’s Lieutenant: are all part of The Devil’s Due Collection

Book Links:
myBook.to/DeathMostWicked
getBook.at/SCORN_KILLS
myBook.to/The_Devils_Lieutenant

Author Links: Author.to/SuziAlbracht