Friday, April 27, 2012

If you love The Mentalist and Criminal Minds--check out this Thriller!

Review from Big Al's Books and Pals! "Bet you can't ... FIND ME" contains mystery layered upon mystery. There are the obvious questions about the main story thread, the identity of the serial killer that is murdering people close to the protagonist, Catherine, and making it look like she is involved. For the first part of the book, Catherine is also mysterious, as her secret past slowly comes into focus to the reader, other characters, and in some ways, even to Catherine. Last, some of the major players among the supporting cast have their own little mysteries, with questions of motivation and allegiance to unravel. Catherine is the kind of character who is easy to like. As her past is revealed, she becomes more so, as the reader gains sympathy and respect for her resilience. It appears this will be the first of a series. The other supporting characters who are obvious choices to continue in the series are complex and should enhance the story, as they did here. Sometimes the first installment of a series devotes too much time to establishing the characters and not enough on the current story. "Bet you can't ..." has a different problem, setting the storytelling bar so high that it will be a challenge to beat it next time out. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two great mysteries


Please don’t leave me here.

Catherine Mans heard the whisper over the rustle of the leaves. He was here. She knew it, but her time to find him was running out. A heavy mist had begun to develop over the river, drifting up the ravine into the creek where she knelt beside the water. Her search for twenty-one-year-old Timothy Bond had led her to many ravines in the past two weeks. Her visions were confusing, pieces of jigsaw puzzles that seemed to fit—and not fit—every creek area surrounding the Kentucky River.
Letting the cool water flow over her hand, Catherine closed her eyes. She paid attention to the gentle force as it pressed against the barrier, allowing herself to connect with the emotions it contained. He’d been here. Walked this bank. Trudged through this water. And he’d never left.


She heard Cody’s unasked question and rose. “He’s here, Cody. I can feel it.”

“The fog is rising fast. I’m going to call off the search and bring everyone in.”
His voice held an edge of defeat bordering on disappointment. He’d followed her over snake-ridden banks, through shallow pools, and even into the river twice. She knew he ignored the ridicule of his fellow officers, but he couldn’t ignore the rising wind, misty rain, and fog swirling into ghostly clouds. Failure to call off the search would put everyone in danger.

Catherine turned back to the pool of water and stared into its murky depths. A vision of Mr. and Mrs. Bond appeared, arms wound around each other, eyes swollen and red, beseeching her. We know he’s dead, Ms. Mans, but we can’t sleep at night. Not until our boy comes home.

The not knowing was what aged you overnight, placing dark shadows beneath your eyes, deep-etched lines upon your face. The sorrow emanating from Mrs. Bond’s eyes had touched her in a way she hadn’t expected, opened the door to memories of things she’d worked hard to forget. Catherine touched the scar just above her right breast and wondered if her own mother had looked that way when Catherine had run away.
Catherine shook off the thoughts. Now wasn’t the time to think about her mother. Or the past. Nor was it the time to allow the frustration in Cody’s voice to discourage her. She knew he respected her abilities and believed in her. A smile played around her lips. A lot had changed in the six years since he’d knocked on her door and asked for her help in finding three-year-old Danny Wells. Cody had worked hard to become the head of the homicide division, and through his efforts, a special fund had been established to pay for Catherine’s consulting fees. She also knew his efforts were the reason that other departments had begun to call upon her for help. But the non-believers, the ridiculers, would always persist. Her ninety-eight percent success rate didn’t matter. The two percent failure was what everyone remembered.

A steady rain began to fall as the whisper reached her ears again. Please don’t leave me here.

“I won’t, Timmy,” she murmured, kneeling by the creek and closing her eyes again. Reaching out with her mind, she searched for the small thread of energy she knew was there somewhere.

“Catherine, we’ve got to go.”

“Go ahead and call off the search, Cody,” she answered in a matter-of-fact tone. “I’m staying.”

A strange throbbing started deep inside her head, drowning out the words she knew Cody was saying. The scar on her chest burned, as if someone had suddenly poured gasoline on it and set her on fire. She stood up slowly, catching her breath against the fiery pain as her feet moved involuntarily, trudging into the cool water that swirled around her ankles. The pool deepened, reaching her waist. The swift current pushed her downstream on unsteady feet that no longer seemed to belong to her. A thick layer of fog surrounded her, until she could no longer see the opposite bank.

“Catherine, where the hell are you going?”

Cody’s voice sounded distant. She heard his radio crackle as he called out to the search team and his muffled oath as he splashed through the water, following her across the creek.

The throbbing subsided to a dull ache in the center of her forehead, but the scar continued to burn with fiery insistence, and her feet still moved against her will. The water became shallower, and her feet sank into mushy sand as she climbed the bank of the creek into an open field that led to a cliff overlooking the river.
The fog had dissipated here, and Catherine could see the edge of the cliff. A single oak tree stood outlined against the black clouds rolling across the sky. The jigsaw puzzle came together. The pieces started to fit. The pain subsided, but her feet continued to move, carrying her closer to the edge. She wanted to stop, but an unseen force kept her going until strong arms closed around her, jerking her backwards just as her feet slipped over the edge.

“Jesus, Catherine. What the hell are you doing?” Cody gasped between labored breaths.

“I don’t know. I was… I didn’t…” Catherine tried to clear the fog from her mind, grasping to explain what she didn’t understand herself. “Cody, the tree. It’s the same tree in my vision. He’s here. I know he’s here.”

“Okay. Okay. Give me a second.” Some of her excitement registered in his voice. The tree had been the one clue missing from all the other ravines.

The two crept slowly toward the edge of the cliff. A blanket of fog covered the earth thirty feet below, but they didn’t need to see through the fog. Less than five feet down, on a jutted outcropping, lay the remains of Timothy Bond.

Catherine stood near the edge, listening as Cody gave directions to the search team. A feeling of peace settled over her. She’d found him. “It’s time to go home, Timmy,” she whispered.

“Don’t get too close to the edge, Catherine.”

She didn’t bother to answer, as the wind chose that moment to switch direction and force her back from the edge. Catherine shivered as icy fingers raced down her spine. The sound of laughter echoed on the wind, followed by a whispered challenge: Find me.


Moonlight glinted off the scalpel.

Lydia moistened her lips and swallowed, flinching at the pain. Her throat was dry, raw from her screams.

“Please. . .” she whispered.

Thud, clink, thud, clink, thud, clink. The shovel dug in rhythm to the voice. The singsong rhyme.

“Dig the hole, dig it deep, give the worms something to eat. I like the livers and the hearts, the worms can have the other parts.”

Thud, clink, thud.

Tossing the shovel he knelt beside her, gently brushing the long blonde hair from her face. “Shh. . .,” he whispered.

Insane giggles filled the night as the scalpel slashed through bone and sinew.
The sapphire-blue eyes dimmed, fading as her body jerked and her lips parted.

“Please. . .,” she whispered.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Featured Author - Barbara Silkstone - You'll love her fairy tales!

Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters ~ Wendy and the Lost Boys ~ London Broil ~ The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men and One Woman.

Silkstone's writing has been described as "perfectly paced and pitched - shades of Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen without seeming remotely derivative. Fast moving action that shoots from the hip with bullet-proof characterization." She has attended writing workshops with Stephen King, Robert B. Parker, P.D.James, and James Michener.

Wendy and the Lost Boys topped the charts in comedy, climbing over Tina Fey, Sophie Kinsella and Ellen DeGeneres. The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters has been a consistent best seller in comedy. Both Wendy and Alice have been in the top 20 Amazon comedies at the same time.

"I enjoy doing playful things with language, blending two distinct words to create a new word. If I'm laughing out loud when I'm writing, then I know I've hit the mark. I laugh so loud while I'm writing that the neighbors think I'm having wild parties. I'm not. I live in South Florida where I survive on buttered popcorn and Kentucky Fried Chicken... extra crispy."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Featured Author - Nancy Lee Parish - Amulet - Free Today 4/13/12

Nancy Lee Parish, former matriarch of a tenting community, was appointed "Supreme Ruler" of all Canada Geese. Fiercely protected by her loyal followers, she was often heard asking the perplexing question, "Are we out of bread again?" Now her endeavors include granting life or death at whim to the likes of dragons, bossy dachshunds and the occasional annoying bad guy. Although the geese play a lesser role these days, they remain in the wings, so to speak, ready to protect their Supreme Ruler if need be.

When Tristan finds an amulet, he has no idea how much his life is about to change. When his amulet awakens the evil of another amulet, long thought lost, it is all of Ranaria that hangs on the brink. The black crystal has stirred.

There are those who seek its power and there are those who seek its destruction.

There are also those who know its secrets.

Even with dragons on his side, is there enough time for Tristan and his companions to stop that which has been unleashed?

With many twists and turns, a story unfolds that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Expect the unexpected.

Reviewers say:

"Amulet," book one of the DragonBlade Series by Nancy Lee Parish sated both the little child and the adult in me with its intriguing characters and adventurous spirit. The author's pacing of this story is superb. She always leaves the reader wanting more, giving you just enough pieces of the puzzle to stimulate your curiosity and keep you reading until the very last page.

Fantasy books can be difficult for some readers because of the author's need to invent places, things, philosophies, and a way of life totally unfamiliar to the reader. In Amulet, Parish settles into a comfortable balance between the story and the fictional world.

There are many conflicts going on in Amulet. The most obvious and long-lasting is the one which pits the Ecli, the dark wizards who rule all of Ranaria and live in the city of Dardanos, against the Volanari insurgents. Beyond this is the conflict among the four wizards known as the Ecli. Each has their own agenda. Among the Ranarians there are those who are linked to the Ecli and to other wizards of old. Among this group, there is a desperate desire to survive the Ecli and regain their freedom, but it means taking risks unlike any they have ever considered in the past. It means believing in the reality of things thought only to be fairy tales. It means trusting those once thought to be their enemies to fight the creations and the pull of the dark crystal.

I don't know that there is one main character in this book. It is more like an ensemble, which is in harmony with the theme of the story. Thus, the reader gets a chance to know the characters more through their interactions with each other rather than through the author's unveiling of their internal psychology.

Parish keeps you on your toes trying to second guess where the story is taking you. One of her characters perhaps explains it best: "Sometimes things happen for a reason, and it ain't always apparent what that reason is when it's happenin'." [Thoral]

Amulet is part of the DragonBlade Series, and I look forward to seeing where the dark crystal leads us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Featured Author - Seb Kirby and Take No More Free Book 4/11/12

Free 4/11/12 - Grab a Copy Now

Reviewer says: Since my day job is an art teacher, I really enjoyed the inclusion and the art angle in this novel. The novel is based in Europe and the whole thing gave me the feeling of being whisked away on a mysterious trip - a great escape. There were also enough twists and turns to keep me reading and thoroughly engaged. I usually read books quickly, but read this one faster than usual as I had to learn the final outcome.

The writing is solid and I would rate this a darn good mystery. I would read another book by this author and hope he is working on something new.

I was raised with books - my grandfather ran a mobile library in Birmingham and my parents inherited a random selection of the books. They weren't much interested in them; the books were piled up in a box room, gathering dust. I would disappear in there and resurrect much used classics - Zane Gray 'Riders of the Purple Sage', H G Wells 'The Invisible Man', Charles Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities' and more obscure stuff that I don't now recall. I was hooked.

There was gap, a long gap, until I was lucky enough to find an inspirational school teacher. He donated his own books to make a lending library in a stock cupboard off the classroom. Kids queued to borrow the books. Except these were the classics - Franz Kafka 'Metamorphosis' and 'The Trial', George Orwell '1984' and 'Animal Farm', Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 'One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich', Ray Bradbury 'Fahrenheit 451', Boris Pasternak 'Dr Zhivago', Arthur Koestler 'Darkness At Noon', Vladimir Nabokov 'Pale Fire', Ken Kesey 'One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest', Aldous Huxley 'Brave New World'.............

I've been an avid reader ever since.


Writing. Jazz (Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, their modern day musical descendents). Writing about jazz. Science. Travel. Favorite places (in no particular order): Venice, Florence, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, New York, London, The English Lake District, Lisbon, Crete.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Twitter Star - @rjmcdonnell7

Another great guy who's always there with a #SO, RT or just a friendly smile. And--he's a darn good writer too.

Available in print, and if you're a prime member - you can read it free.

Check this out - see him in action!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Twitter Star - @spittoonssaloon - Did you know?

An all around great guy--and he has a book of his sad, witty, and wonderful prose he shares with twitter followers daily. Many mornings he has brought a smile to my face on an otherwise dreary day.

Call him Spit; everyone does, except his mother who still calls him Salvatore. Salvatore Spittell Toon, D.M.D., is a dentist who wants to stop swimming upstream in saliva and to get out of the mouth and into the world. His dreams take him to a special place. Located in a nondescript neighborhood on the other side of town, it gives no signs of warmth or welcome. Peeling paint creates the illusion of a pockmarked exterior, and the unlit neon sign in the window pushes you away, rather than drawing you in. It is the kind of place you discover serendipitously, stumble upon, or happen to be in front of when a sudden deluge of rain forces you through the door. It was on just such a night that he found himself looking through that window and then placing his hand on the doorknob that led him into Spit Toon's Saloon. The saloon is a playground where he recreates the past, embellishes the present, and dreams the future. A quirky, humorous, and poignant picture of a man and his life is revealed through sad songs and funny tales which, as fusion fiction, provides a novel reading experience.

Did you know?

In the late 19th century United States and Australia spittoons became a very common feature of pubs, brothels, saloons, hotels, stores, banks, railway carriages, and other places where people (especially adult men) gathered.

early 20th century toleware spittoonBrass was the most common material for spitoons. Other materials used for mass production of spittoons ranged from basic functional iron to elaborately crafted cut glass and fine porcelain. At higher class places like expensive hotels, spittoons could be elaborately decorated.

Spittoons are flat-bottomed, often weighted to minimize tipping over, and often with an interior "lip" to make spilling less likely if they tip. Some have lids, but most have not. Some have holes, sometimes with a plug, to aid in draining and cleaning.

Use of spittoons was considered an advance of public manners and health, intended to replace previously common spitting on floors, streets, and sidewalks. Many places passed laws against spitting in public other than into a spittoon.

Janitors at the United States Capitol with stack of spittoons, 1914Boy Scout troops organized campaigns to paint "Do not Spit on the Sidewalk" notices on city sidewalks. In 1909 in Cincinnati, Ohio, scout troupes together with members of the Anti-Tuberculosis League painted thousands of such messages in a single night.[1] A mass produced sign seen in saloons read:

If you expect to rate as a gentleman
Do not expectorate on the floor
Spittoons were also useful for people suffering from tuberculosis who would cough up phlegm. Public spittoons would sometimes contain a solution of an antiseptic such as carbolic acid with the aim of limiting transmission of disease. With the start of the 20th century medical doctors urged tuberculosis sufferers to use personal pocket spittoons instead of public ones; these were jars with tight lids which people could carry with them to spit into. Similar devices are still used by some with tuberculosis.

After the 1918 flu epidemic, both hygiene and etiquette advocates began to disparage public use of the spittoon, and use began to decline. Chewing gum replaced tobacco as the favorite chew of the younger generation. Cigarettes were considered more hygienic than spit-inducing chewing tobacco. While it was still not unusual to see spittoons in some public places in parts of the US as late as the 1930s, vast numbers of old brass spittoons met their ends in the scrap drives of World War II.

A large public collection of spittoons can be found at Duke Homestead State Historic Site, Durham, North Carolina. In 2008, the site's tobacco museum added 282 spittoons—claimed to be the world's largest collection—to its holdings of over 100.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Kindle Authors - Let's hear it for the girls!

To some fantastic twitter friends and fellow authors--thank you for the mentions, RT's, and support! More to come soon--after all we can't forget the guys.