Thursday, January 19, 2017

Book Showcase - The Riverman by Alex Gray

The Riverman

by Alex Gray

on Tour January 9 - February 15, 2017

Synopsis:

The Riverman by Alex Gray
Fans of atmospheric police procedurals will love watching Glasgow vividly come to life with the shocking twists and turns that have made Alex Gray an international bestseller
When a dead body is fished out of Glasgow’s River Clyde the morning after an office celebration, it looks like a case of accidental death. But an anonymous telephone call and a forensic toxicology test give Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer reason to think otherwise. Probing deeper into the life and business of the deceased accountant, a seemingly upright member of the community, Lorimer finds only more unanswered questions.
What is the secret his widow seems to be concealing? Was the international accounting firm facing financial difficulties? What has become of the dead man’s protégé who has disappeared in New York? And when another employee is found dead in her riverside flat these questions become much more disturbing. Lorimer must cope not only with deceptions from the firm, but also with suspicions from those far closer to home . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Police Procedurals
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659138 (ISBN13: 9780062659132)
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #4
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

PROLOGUE

April
THE RIVERMAN
The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help. Nowadays that cry came in the form of a klaxon that could waken him from sleep, the mobile phone ringing with information about where and when. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pulled someone from the icy waters with only a hasty oilskin over his pajamas.
This morning, at least, he’d been up and doing when the call came. The body was over by Finnieston, past the weir, so he’d had to drive over the river towing a boat behind him on the trailer. He was always ready. That was what this job was all about: prompt and speedy response in the hope that some poor sod’s life could be saved. And he’d saved hundreds over the years, desperate people who were trying to make up their mind to jump off one of the many bridges that spanned the Clyde or those who had made that leap and been saved before the waters filled their lungs.
George Parsonage had been brought up to respect his river. Once it had been the artery of a great beating heart, traffic thronging its banks, masts thick as brush-wood. The tobacco trade with Virginia had made Glasgow flourish all right, with the preaching of commerce and the praising of a New World that was ripe for plucking. The names of some city streets still recalled those far-off days. Even in his own memory, the Clyde had been a byword for ships. As a wee boy, George had been taken to the launch of some of the finer products of Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry. But even then the river’s grandeur was fading. He’d listened to stories about the grey hulks that grew like monsters from the deep, sliding along the water, destined for battle, and about the cruise liners sporting red funnels that were cheered off their slipways, folk bursting with pride to be part of this city with its great river.
The romance and nostalgia had persisted for decades after the demise of shipbuilding and cross-river ferries. Books written about the Clyde’s heyday still found readers hankering after a time that was long past. The Glasgow Garden Festival in the eighties had prompted some to stage a revival along the river and more recently there had been a flurry of activity as the cranes returned to erect luxury flats and offices on either side of its banks. Still, there was little regular traffic upon its sluggish dark waters: a few oarsmen, a private passenger cruiser and the occasional police launch. Few saw what the river was churning up on a daily basis.
As he pushed the oars against the brown water, the riverman sent up a silent prayer for guidance. He’d seen many victims of despair and violence, and constantly reminded himself that each one was a person like himself with hopes, dreams and duties in different measure. If he could help, he would. That was what the Glasgow Humane Society existed for, after all. The sound of morning traffic roared above him as he made his way downstream. The speed of response was tempered by a need to row slowly and carefully once the body was near. Even the smallest of eddies could tip the body, filling the air pocket with water and sending it down and down to the bottom of the river. So, as George Parsonage approached the spot where the body floated, his oars dipped as lightly as seabirds’ wings, his eyes fixed on the shape that seemed no more than a dirty smudge against the embankment.
The riverman could hear voices above but his eyes never left the half-submerged body as the boat crept nearer and nearer. At last he let the boat drift, oars resting on the rowlocks as he finally drew alongside the river’s latest victim. George stood up slowly and bent over, letting the gunwales of the boat dip towards the water. Resting one foot on the edge, he hauled the body by its shoulders and in one clean movement brought it in. Huge ripples eddied away from the side as the boat rocked upright, its cargo safely aboard.
The victim was a middle-aged man. He’d clearly been in the water for some hours so there was no question of trying to revive him. The riverman turned the head this way and that, but there was no sign of a bullet hole or any wound that might indicate a sudden, violent death. George touched the sodden coat lightly. Its original camel colour was smeared and streaked with the river’s detritus, the velvet collar an oily black. Whoever he had been, his clothes showed signs of wealth. The pale face shone wet against the pearly pink light of morning. For an instant George had the impression that the man would sit up and grasp his hand, expressing his thanks for taking him out of the water, as so many had done before him. But today no words would be spoken.There would be only a silent communion between the two men, one dead and one living, before other hands came to examine the corpse.
George grasped the oars and pulled away from the embankment. Only then did he glance upwards, nodding briefly as he identified the men whose voices had sounded across the water. DCI Lorimer caught his eye and nodded back. Up above the banking a couple of uniformed officers stood looking down. Even as he began rowing away from the shore, the riverman noticed a smaller figure join the others. Dr. Rosie Fergusson had arrived.
‘Meet you at the Finnieston steps, George,’ Lorimer called out.
The riverman nodded briefly, pulling hard on the oars, taking his charge on its final journey down the Clyde.
Excerpt from The Riverman by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins | WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Alex Gray
Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.
Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers' Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.
A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012.

Connect with Alex Gray on her Website  & on Twitter .

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of The Riverman by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through February 23rd, 2017.
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review - Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
E-book, 460 pages
Published July 29th 2014 by Berkley
Source: Own copy

Synopsis:
'Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.'


My Thoughts:
I read this book at such a fitting time in my life. Having a 4 year old son myself who was going through the whole kindergarten orientation thing and about to start his first school year, I really felt like I related to so many parts of this book in a special way, especially Jane and her experiences with the other school mums who all seemed to know what they were doing when I didn't.

I had major trouble putting this book down at times. It is written at a nice, fast pace and in such a real and entertaining way even though it deals with some very serious topics such as domestic violence, marriage and parenting.

One of the main characters, Madeline, seems like the kind of person who would always be fun and exciting to have as a friend. I liked the way she always seemed so put together but still had a vulnerable side as well so she didn't feel too fake as a character. This was the way for most of the characters in this book.

I really enjoyed that there were so many sub-stories within the main story and the way that Moriarty manages to tie everything together in the end. I also can't say enough how much I loved how relatable her characters are and would highly recommend this book to anyone.

I'm pretty sure this book is being made into a movie soon too which is a big exciting and something I will certainly be looking forward to.

I'm definitely going to be checking out more from this author in the future.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Review - Written in Hell by Jason Helford

Written in HellWritten in Hell by Jason Helford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Kindle Edition250 pages
Published January 5th 2014
Source: Author for Review

Synopsis:
'Written in Hell follows writer Nathanial Blovey on his strange and perilous adventures through Hell. Nathaniel’s book, a collection of lewd tales set in the old west, failed miserably, prematurely ending his career; however, unbeknownst to him, his stories had become a huge success in Hell. The Devil decides to send him a one-way invitation to her realm, to write for her, and to keep his damned fans happy. There is only one problem: he has writer’s block. With a firm deadline imposed by the Devil herself, Nate has to find a way to keep the most terrible of bosses happy, and survive his trip through Hell. While there is no fire and brimstone, and a burgeoning civilization is growing, Hell is still a very dangerous place for a soft man like Nathaniel.

Written in Hell is a creepy, fun and thought-provoking journey through Hell, with a guide who can’t help but anger people everywhere he goes. It takes you through a new and creative re-imagining of Hell.'


My Thoughts:
When I first received this book from the author to review I was kind of excited to read it because the description sounded very intriguing and exactly like my type of book.

Unfortunately, once I started reading it I realised that I wasn't going to be a fan of this book. I really did try to like it and keep an open mind throughout but there were just so many issues I had while reading that I couldn't seem to get past.

My biggest issue was with the main character Nate. He was made out to be such a disgusting and pathetic individual and I think the way he was portrayed really gave me a bad taste from the start. I know that in a way it's probably a smart move by the author to have done this because if he was a nice character it would be a bit hard to justify why he was sent to hell, but I like to relate to or at least have some sort of positive or inquisitive feeling about a character I am reading about in a book and I just couldn't get to this point with Nate.

Also, there were many little regular occurences in the book that literally made me feel disgusted in one way or another. I won't mention them because I don't want to spoil it for someone else but every time it was noted I got more and more sick of reading about it until it really did become too much. If you have already read this book you may be able to guess what bits I am referring to, otherwise I'll just have to leave you guessing.

I do have to admit that the storyline was an interesting concept and definitely different to any I have read before so I do have to give the author credit for his originality.

I really did have to force myself to finish reading this book and found myself not in any way interested in what was actually going to happen in the end. When I did finally finish it I felt a huge sense of relief.

I really do wish I could have liked this book more but I guess not every book is for every person. If they were it would probably be a boring world.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Review - The Judas Game by Ethan Cross

The Judas Game

by Ethan Cross

on Tour October 1 - Dec 3, 2016

Synopsis:

The Judas Game by Ethan Cross'When a correctional officer climbs to the top of his watchtower and opens fire on the inmates and guards, federal investigator Marcus Williams and serial killer Francis Ackerman Jr. must join forces again to unearth the truth behind the incident. What they find is a serial killer using the prison as his hunting grounds. But the Judas Killer's ambitions don't end with a few murders. He wants to go down in history and has no reason left to live.
With Ackerman undercover among the inmates and Marcus tracking down the mastermind on the outside, the team must learn the identity of the Judas Killer and stop a full-scale uprising that he's orchestrated. But the more they learn about what's happening at the prison and why the more enemies they must face. From inside the overrun facility, Marcus and Ackerman must save the hostages and stop an elaborate escape attempt while trying to determine how a rival corporation, the leader of one of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations, and an inmate with no identity only known as Demon fit into the Judas Killer's plans.
Launching a bold new cycle of novels featuring The Shepherd Organization, The Judas Game is searing, mesmerizing fiction—it's Ethan Cross at his very best.'

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense
Published by: The Story Plant
Publication Date: October 2016
Number of Pages: 350
ISBN: 1611882346 (ISBN13: 9781611882346)
Series: Shepherd #4

My Thoughts:
The Judas Game was my first ever book by Ethan Cross and therefore my first 'Shepherd' novel. Luckily I didn't feel lost at all and that I'd really missed too much backstory to enjoy this instalment in the series.

This book contained such an interesting concept that had me totally hooked and entertained from the beginning. I was constantly wanting to know how it was going to pan out and I honestly didn't predict who the killer was until it was finally revealed which I guess is a good thing.

I found Ackerman a very interesting character and I have to admit that I have a little bit of a secret crush on his over-confident, protective and naughty personality. I know he was supposed to be portrayed as this very dark and disturbed individual but I actually found him quite amusing most of the time and would love to read a bit more about him and how he came about to be the person he is now.

I must admit that I didn't actually warm to Marcus in the book at all and I'm wondering if it might be because I don't know his whole back story so I don't fully appreciate the person that he is.

I found the high-tech prison portrayed in this book to be a little bit scary as it definitely has the potential to be a reality one day with the way that technology is going. I like it when I read thrillers like this one that could possibly be real one day because it gives them a bigger sense of 'scare' factor because as they say, reality is scarier than fiction.

I am definitely keen to read more novels by Ethan Cross now and I really want to get the background on the whole Shepherd organisation and how it came about.

Grab Your Copy of The Judas Game by Ethan Cross on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and add it to your to read list on Goodreads!

Read an excerpt:

As he climbed the ladder of Tower 3, a strange memory struck Ray Navarro. It was of his son. Ray had been sitting on their front porch after finishing the mowing, and a green blur had come zooming down the road. His little boy, in a bright green T-shirt, running full blast, and tugging along their cocker spaniel puppy, the dog’s legs struggling to keep up with those of his son, Ian. A son he would probably never see again.
As Ray placed one hand in front of the next, his wedding ring kept clanging against the metal of the rungs. The echoes of metal on metal trickled down the concrete walls of Tower 3 like water. Each high-pitched sound sent shockwaves of regret and doubt down through Ray’s soul.
He felt like the world was upside down, and he was actually climbing down into hell instead of ascending Tower 3 at Foxbury Correctional Treatment Facility.
The prison was actually an old work camp and mental hospital, which had recently been recommissioned as part of a pilot program for a private company’s experimental prison. All of the guards, including himself, had been warned about the unique working conditions inside Foxbury. The program was voluntary. He had known the risks, but the money was just too good to pass up. He had bills to pay and mouths to feed.
Ray Navarro pushed open the hatch in the floor of the crow’s nest and pulled himself up into the ten-by-ten space of the tower. The little room smelled like cigarettes, even though no one was supposed to smoke up there. A tiny window air conditioner squeaked and rumbled in the tower’s back wall. He shed his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. The gun case was bolted to the left wall of the crow’s nest. With almost robotic, instinctual movements, he watched himself unlock the case, grab the 30-06 rifle, and insert cartridges loaded with just the right mixture of chemicals and shrapnel, fire and steel, needed to blow a one-inch hole in a person’s flesh. He had always excelled in the use of high-powered, long-range weapons. A pistol and a tactical shotgun also occupied the tower’s gun cabinet. He was rated as an expert in their use as well, but he had taken to the 30-06 like a boy’s hand to a well-oiled baseball glove.
Ray Navarro extended the rifle’s bipod and started searching the prison yard for his first target.
The scope’s line of sight slid effortlessly over each man’s face. He noticed a pair of the prison’s celebrity inmates. Leonard Lash, the infamous gang leader awaiting execution, and Oren Kimble, the madman responsible for a mall shooting five years ago. Then his eye stopped on two of the guards moving along the perimeter of inmates like cowboys watching over the herd. The men seemed to be having an in-depth conversation, a wiser silver-haired mentor teaching a younger pupil. He knew the older black man well. Bill Singer was a war veteran and a former sniper, just like Ray. When Ray returned from his last tour, he had been lost in doubt and fear and hadn’t known where to turn. Until he had met Bill. Now, Ray Navarro was five years sober and had even patched things up with his wife, who had come very close to being an ex-wife before Bill had started counseling him.
Bill wasn’t supposed to be on duty until Sunday, but something must have changed because there was his friend giving what seemed to be a mini-sermon to his younger counterpart.
The younger white man beside Bill, Jerry Dunn, had just come on with them. Jerry walked with a catch in his gait which made it seem like three of his steps were equal to two of a normal man’s, but that wasn’t the only aspect of Jerry Dunn which had earned him the nickname “Gimp” among his fellow correctional officers. Jerry also blinked about four times more than a normal person and often struggled to spit out more than a sentence or two.
Ray had no problem with Jerry and even felt sorry for the way many of the other guards treated him. A minor limp and a few tics didn’t mean that Dunn couldn’t do his job and, by all accounts, the young CO was more than competent.
Ray prayed that the next person up the tower’s ladder after him wouldn’t be Bill Singer or Jerry Dunn. Although, he didn’t really want it to be anyone else either. It was one thing to kill enemy soldiers or even an inmate if there was no other choice. This was different. This was the outright murder of men who were his coworkers, his friends.
Ray threw up all over the floor of Tower 3.
He cursed under his breath and then said, “It’s them or you.”
He re-acquired his target. Slid the crosshairs over the man’s heart and then up to his head. Normally, he would go for the chest, a larger target capable of accomplishing the same task. But since this was quite possibly one of his very last acts on the planet, he figured there was no harm in showing off and going for the true killshot.
“It’s them or you.”
He kept repeating that phrase like a mantra, over and over.
“It’s them or you.”
~~*~~
Bill Singer watched Jerry limp along in front of him. The more he watched, the more he noticed that the limp didn’t seem to slow Jerry down a bit. Bill realized that from Jerry’s perspective each step may have been painful or at the very least require twice as much effort. At his age, Bill realized the importance of pain management and the economy of movement, the debts that needed paying for each step, each incorrect dietary choice, each year with no trips to the gym, each time you tried to do something that you did easily ten years ago.
Knowing the difficulties faced by Jerry having been forced to start his life with inherent setbacks in that arena, Bill felt a soft spot for the kid and had taken the younger guard under his wing. Bill and his wife had neglected to have children, but he considered himself blessed to have some young men he had mentored who had become like sons to him. Jerry Dunn was one of those adopted sons. Another was Ray Navarro, who Bill knew was on overwatch in Tower 3 at that very moment. Then there were several others whom he had met through his volunteer work down at the clinic with his wife, Caroline.
Jerry Dunn actually reminded Bill more of one of those counseling patients than a correctional officer like Ray Navarro. Jerry was a wounded orphan while Ray was a wounded warrior. Both real problems that were no fault of either man, but whose differences were evident in each man’s demeanor.
Jerry had shared his story around a table of hot wings and beers on the first night Bill met him. The kid had blinked ten times and twitched twice before explaining that his parents had been killed in a car accident when he was only eight months old.
Some of the others had sympathized but continued to mock Jerry behind his back. And, of course, there were a few assholes in the group, who referred to Jerry as Gimp even to his face. Bill had gone a different way. He had befriended the young officer quickly and learned that whatever its cause, Jerry lived with a lot of pain in his heart.
Jerry Dunn halted his half-gait mid-stride and turned on his heels to face the yard. Bill shook his head at the younger man’s appearance. Jerry’s shaggy, black, stick-straight hair hung over his ears and looked as if it hadn’t been combed in days. Jerry’s skin was as pale as Bill’s was dark, and it had a certain smell about it. A mix of body odor and a cheap deodorant that acted as a substitute for bathing.
Jerry said, “I’m bored senseless. Let’s make a bet. I bet you two bucks that the two big Aryan brotherhood type guys right there. See them, one benching a million pounds and the other spotting him and looking disinterested. I bet you two bucks that the big guy doesn’t get it up and the smaller guy either makes fun of him about it or he barely even notices that the big guy dropped the thing on his chest.”
Bill followed Jerry’s gaze and shook his head again. This time at the younger man’s assessment of the situation. Bill said, “I’ll take that bet, but let’s make it twenty bucks.”
Jerry seemed worried by this raising of the stakes, but not worried enough to keep from saying, “You’re on.”
Bill let his gaze linger on the ABs and watched the scene play out just as he suspected it would. The bigger man dropped the bar, but his spotter didn’t even let the bar touch the other man’s chest before snatching it up onto the rack.
Bill said, “The spotter wasn’t looking away because he wasn’t paying attention. He was looking away because he was scanning the yard for threats.”
“But they don’t need to do that here. There are no physical threats.”
“Old habits.”
Crestfallen, Jerry continued along the perimeter, and Bill followed in step beside him.
“This group of one hundred,” Bill said, referring to the first wave of prisoners being transferred to the refurbished and repurposed Foxbury prison, “has had to form bonds quickly in order to maintain their dominance when the next wave hits. I know we’ve only been here a few months, but I’m shocked that no one has been killed yet. This new ‘experimental model’ gives these guys way too much freedom.”
As the bigger Aryan rose from the bench and took his place as spotter, the two locked fists, held the embrace for a breath, and released each other with a final squeeze of the shoulder. A strangely intimate public gesture that stretched the limits of the physical contact allowed at Foxbury. They may have even felt the jolt of a warning shock. Maybe that was the point. To bond through a little shared pain.
“It’s in their nature to join together into packs. They’re a group of hungry wolves thrown into a pen. The laws of nature take over. They’re going to gang up and start establishing bonds and hierarchy. I don’t care what they claim about this software and technology and cameras. It’s nature of the beast out here. Always has been, always will be. Someone’s going to get this place’s number. There isn’t a security system in the world that can’t be bypassed. If one guy’s smart enough to design it, then there’s another guy out there hungry enough to bypass it.”
“So far, it seems to be working. I think it’s a glimpse of what the prison of the future could look like.”
“Don’t drink the Kool-Aid just yet. It’s only been six months, kid. Trust me. ‘So far’ doesn’t last that long.”
Bill glanced back at the big Aryan, now standing solemn guard over his comrade like a stone sentinel.
Then Bill watched the big Aryan’s head split down the middle. He saw the blood a heartbeat before he heard the crack of a high-powered rifle.
~~*~~
A millisecond of held breath followed the first man’s death. A fraction of a heartbeat when the fight or flight instincts of every inmate twitched toward fight. After all, these men were all fighters in one way or another. It made time seem frozen somehow.
Then everyone, all at once, realized what had happened. The inmates dropped to the ground, as they had been taught, and the guards struggled to keep their wits.
Bill analyzed the situation, years of training and drills all floating to the surface of his personal sea of memories. The training kicked in and won the battle over his instincts.
An inmate must have been putting the life of a guard in danger. That was the only reason a tower guard would have opened fire. His gaze had just enough time to slide over the yard, searching for what he had missed, when the second shot rang out.
This time one of the inmates with his belly to the ground jerked wildly and then lay still, a spray of blood splattering the man to his left.
Bill tried to work it out. Why would a tower guard shoot an inmate lying on the ground?
Unless this was something more.
An entirely different set of training and drills took over—from before he became a correctional officer, from back when he was a young army recruit—and those military-issued instincts helped Bill immediately recognize what this really was. A sniper attack. They were under assault.
“Everyone up!” Bill screamed. “Get inside the buildings. Get to cover!” The throng of prisoners scattered as they scrambled to find protection. The sound of a third shot spurred their legs to pump harder.
Bill didn’t see the third man fall, but he did see from where the shot had originated. He had looked to the towers and walls first, scanning for the shooter. And up in Tower 3, he saw a man who looked like Ray Navarro, eye to his rifle, lining up another shot.
The yard was, looking down from above, the shape of a giant stop sign. Guard towers topped four of the outer vertexes. The safety of the prison’s main buildings was in the distance to Bill’s left. But Tower 3 and the sniper who had become like a son to Bill was closer on the right.
Safety or friendship.
When Bill had served his tour of duty, he had learned and believed that it was all about the man on your right and on your left, your brothers.
Safety or friendship.
Saving his own ass or trying to keep his friend from being killed. The decision was an easy one for Bill Singer. Not even a choice really. Just another instinct; a natural result of all he’d learned and experienced.
He ran toward Tower 3.
Access to the outer perimeter of the yard and the guard towers was made possible via a barred gate in the old stone wall. The problem was that the gate was actually more modern than its surroundings, and it had no locks or keys. It could only be opened by one of the watchers—the name the guards had bestowed on the computer techs who constantly monitored the prison’s thousands of cameras through some kind of special software. Amid the chaos of the yard, among the disorder of one hundred men running for their lives, one of those watchers would have to notice him and buzz him through the gate.
It was a long shot. Not to mention that he had to put himself squarely in Ray’s crosshairs—if that really was Ray up there—just to reach the gate.
The Ray he knew would never fire on him. But the Ray he knew would never fire on anyone. If it really was Ray, then it wasn’t the Ray he knew, and he had no way of anticipating the actions of this robot that had taken Ray’s place, this creature that seemed to walk in Ray’s skin.
Bill wasn’t really surprised to see a pair of the other guards having the same idea. A pair of energetic thirty-something guards who Bill knew as Trent and Stuart were already pounding their fists on the shiny aluminum gate and shouting up at one of the prison’s legion of cameras.
To his surprise, Bill was still twenty feet from the gate when he heard the buzz and clank of the lock disengaging. Big brother was watching. The other pair of guards pushed through and ran out of his view, but he knew where they were headed. He shot a glance to Tower 3 as he ran toward the now-open gate.
Ray had disappeared from the tower’s window. Whether the shooting was over or Ray was just reloading, Bill couldn’t be sure, but he did know that things would go better for his young friend if he was the first one up that ladder.
Bill shouted at the other guards to wait, to let him go up first, but he was so winded from the sprint across the yard that he couldn’t make the sound come out with as much force as he wanted.
The younger guards didn’t stop their assault. “Wait!” he shouted. The thought of Ray attacking the guards and escalating the situation spurred him forward, pumping his adrenaline to the next level.
Bill caught the gate before it could swing shut and relatch. He rounded the corner of the wall toward Tower 3 and looked up just as the parapet of the tower exploded in a searing ball of glass and fire.
~~*~~
The concussion wave slammed Bill to the ground like a swatted fly. Blackened and flaming chunks of concrete rained down around him. He looked back at Tower 3, and his eyes struggled to regain focus. The midday sun hung in the sky directly behind the watchtower. It looked to Bill as if the sun had simply absorbed the parapet of Tower 3 like some giant fiery PAC-MAN. He held his gaze into the sun just long enough to see that the tip of Tower 3 was gone, as if the crow’s nest was the top of a dandelion blown away and scattered to the wind, there and then not.
He was still disoriented by the blast wave. His vision blurred and then came back into focus. Blurred and focused. Then, through the haze, Bill saw Ray Navarro stumbling toward the opening in the stone wall, heading back to the main building.
It was Ray. Bill was sure of it. Not some impostor or impersonator, but his friend. Had the kid completely snapped?
If something was happening in Ray’s life that could have driven him to this, then Bill had no clue what it could have been. Maybe the kid had some kind of PTSD flashback? He couldn’t have been in his right mind.
Bill’s hearing suddenly returned. One second, it was a high-pitched ringing, a shrill otherworldly sound. Then the sound quickly merged back with the real world. The screams brought Bill back to the moment. He crawled, then stumbled, then ran toward the sound of the screaming. One of the men who had beaten him to the tower was on fire. He didn’t see the other.
The man, or more of a boy to Bill’s old eyes, rolled feebly on the ground to smother the flames. Bill could smell the man’s flesh cooking. It reminded him of sizzling bacon.
Bill shoved his hands through the flames to get to the boy. Just enough contact with the fire to singe off all the hair on Bill’s arms, but also just enough contact with the boy’s torso to shove him into a full roll.
He helped extinguish the last of the flames and then rolled the kid onto his back. His face was charred. He couldn’t stop crying and coughing. And Bill could think of nothing he could do to help.
The sound of boots crushing sand and gravel announced the arrival of more guards. One pushed Bill back and started performing CPR on the burned man.
Bill hadn’t even noticed that the kid had stopped breathing. He felt suddenly disoriented, as if he had just woken up from a bad dream, and his mind was struggling to realign with reality. All he could hear was the ringing, and it seemed to be growing in volume, swelling toward a climax.
He bent over and threw up. What could Ray have been thinking? Had he seen Ray heading back toward the prison? Had that been real? If so, where was Ray going? Had his young friend done this and then was trying to sneak away in the confusion?
Bill ran back toward the gate. The other guards shouted something about needing help, but Bill ignored them. He moved with a singular focus now.
One emotion drove him forward. Anger. One thought fueled his anger. That could have been me.
If Ray had premeditated this—and he obviously had, because he must have brought some kind of explosives with him and had at least some semblance of an escape plan—then that meant that Ray had no way of knowing who would have been the next person through that hatch. It could have been anyone. It could very easily have been Bill.
A few steps closer or a few seconds faster, and it would have been him.
His friend had nearly taken his life; he had nearly taken him away from Caroline.
That didn’t sit right with him and, at the very least, he was going to find out why.
The yard was almost evacuated, and Bill couldn’t miss Ray moving toward the north barracks.
He lowered his head and ran harder, trying to close the gap between them.
Ray didn’t look back, didn’t check over his shoulder once. As if not looking at the destruction he had caused would make it less real, less horrifying. As if guilt and shame wouldn’t catch him if he refused to acknowledge them.
The anger fueled Bill even more—the anger awakened something in him. Something that he hadn’t felt since his army days. He could still smell the young guard’s burning flesh. He could still hear his screams.
He closed the last of the gap in a dive, driving his shoulder into Ray’s back and sending them both sprawling onto the concrete of a basketball court.
Ray was first to his feet. He held a Glock pistol, probably stolen from the gun cabinet of Tower 3.
“Stay back,” Ray said.
“What have you done?”
“I said stay back!”
“Why?”
Bill’s voice cracked as he took a step toward the man he had spent countless hours counseling and guiding back toward sanity.
“Back,” Ray said, retreating toward the barracks.
“You tell me why!”
“I’m sorry. I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Glad I’m okay? I could have been killed. And what about the others you just murdered?”
“I can’t. . .” Ray shook his head and turned to run.
Bill stared at him a moment, dumbfounded.
It looked like the Ray he knew. The voice was the same. The look in his eyes. But the Ray he knew would never have done something like this. Did he have the capability? Sure. Ray was a former soldier. He had killed in combat. This was different. This was the visceral act of an animal with its back to the wall. This was the final attack of a dying predator.
What could have possibly driven Ray to such a desperate, animalistic decision?
Ray had taken three big strides toward the barracks before Bill made up his mind that Ray Navarro wasn’t leaving the yard.
Bill closed the distance between them in two huge strides. He threw all of his weight and momentum into a single blow. He hurled himself at Ray like a locomotive of flesh and bone. He aimed one huge punch directly at the back of Ray’s head. He would hit Ray hard with one sucker punch that would instantly knock him out. The fight would be over before it began.
But Ray ducked the punch at the last second and spun around, the gun still in his hand.
Bill immediately recognized his mistake. An old drill instructor’s words floated back to him from the ether of his memory.
Go for the body. The head is too small a target that can move and shift too easily.
Bill immediately knew the consequence of not heeding that advice.
The gun flashed.
Bill saw the shock and horror in Ray’s eyes.
He felt the warmth of the blood leaving the wound before actually feeling the pain of the puncture. He fell back to the concrete.
The ringing in his ears was fading away but leaving only silence in its place.
He heard the shouts of other guards telling Ray to get down. He closed his eyes. At least he had stopped Ray from escaping and hurting anyone else or himself.
Bill Singer heard the ringing. Then more shouting. Then the ringing again. And then nothing at all.

Author Bio:

Ethan CrossEthan Cross is the award-winning international bestselling author of The Shepherd (described by #1 bestselling author Andrew Gross as “A fast paced, all too real thriller with a villain right out of James Patterson and Criminal Minds.”), The Prophet (described by bestselling author Jon Land as “The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter”), The Cage, Callsign: Knight, Father of Fear, and Blind Justice.
In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, Ethan has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists as lead singer and guitar player in a musical group, and been an active and involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization and Novelists Inc.
He lives and writes in Illinois with his wife, three kids, and two Shih Tzus.

Catch Up online with Ethan Cross on his Website, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Review: Salad in a Jar by Anna Helm Baxter

Salad in a Jar: 68 Recipes for Salads and DressingsSalad in a Jar: 68 Recipes for Salads and Dressings by Anna Helm Baxter
Ebook, 160 pagesExpected publication: January 17th 2017 by Ten Speed Press
Source: Netgalley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Synopsis:
'A collection of more than 60 illustrated recipes for simple-to-prepare salads, dressings, breakfasts, and snacks to take on the go.
The solution to the lunchtime salad rut, Salad in a Jarprovides healthy, easy alternatives to dissatisfying or overpriced grab-and-go meals. These nutritionally balanced recipes are perfect for making ahead. Anna Helm Baxter reveals the keys to layering ingredients to maximize freshness and texture for a hearty and satisfying dish or snack. Tips and tricks include instructions on designing salads in a jar with recipes for raw salads, side salads, meal salads, snacks, and desserts.'


My Thoughts:
I absolutely love this book and am very excited for the fact that my lunches will no longer be so boring and I now have less excuses to be lazy about lunch when going out for work.

I work for myself and have to travel to client sites a lot so having a lunch that is easily transportable, mess-free and also tasty was always a bit of a mission. Something easy that I can just chuck into a jar and go anywhere knowing that I will have lunch waiting for me is just great.

This book is organised into sections containing different salad dressings to make, raw ingredient salads, small salads, larger salads and desserts.

I just love the different variety of dressings as they are all easy to prepare and make the same salad seem different just by switching up the dressing used.

This book also teaches you about the most effective way of layering your ingredients so you get maximum freshness and flavour from your salad.

A great book for anyone stuck in a bit of a lunch rut or those needing a bit of inspiration to liven up a boring salad.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Review - Silent Valley by Malla Nunn

Silent Valley Silent Valley by Malla Nunn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
PaperbackAustralian Edition313 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by PanMacmillan Australia
Source: Publisher for Review

Synopsis:
A remote town. A girl of rare and exquisite beauty. A murder that silences a whole community.

The body of a seventeen-year-old girl has been found covered in wildflowers on a hillside in the Drakensberg Mountains, near Durban. She is the daughter of a Zulu chief, destined to fetch a high bride price. Was Amahle as innocent as her family claims, or is her murder a sign that she lived a secret life?

Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is sent to investigate. He must enter the guarded worlds of a traditional Zulu clan and a white farming community to gather up the clues Amahle left behind and bring her murderer to justice. But the silence in the valley is deafening, and it seems that everyone – from the uncooperative local police officer, to the white farm boy who seems obsessed with the dead girl – has something to hide.

With no cause of death and no motive, Cooper's investigation is blocked at each turn. Can he tough it out, or will the small-town politics that stir up his feelings about the past be more than he can bear?

In this page-turning tale of murder and mystery, Nunn entangles us in a rich and complex web of witchcraft, tribalism, taboo relationships... and plain old-fashioned greed.

My Thoughts:
Silent Valley is a very intriguing novel and explores many different issues. I have to admit though that the underlying politics and uncooperative nature of most of the characters in this book became very frustrating to me. I honestly cannot fathom what it would have been like to live in a world like this one and the segregation issues and corrupt nature of almost everyone really did sadden me after a while.

The main character, Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper is an interesting character and was new to me as I haven't read any of the previous novels that he stars in. I liked the way he is a fair man but also isn't afraid to go against the grain to find out the truth rather than be swayed by the same feelings as everyone else. The equal way he treats his side-kick, the native Constable Samuel Shabalala, was comforting and a good representation of the fact that not everyone is swayed by cultural differences and that a friendship can develop between anyone no matter what your background is.

I found the insights that were given into the native Zulu traditions as well as the eye-opening
Apartheid systems and beliefs was extremely interesting and also very confronting.

Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a bit predictable and not as climaxing as it could have been.

This was my first time reading a novel by Malla Nunn and I am definitely interested in checking out some of her other work in the future.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Blast - A Mighty Fortress by S.D. Thames

A Mighty Fortress

by S.D. Thames

August 2nd, 2016 BOOK BLAST

Synopsis:

A Mighty Fortress by S.D. ThamesIn Tampa, the only thing more crooked than the mob is the police…
Milo Porter leads a happy life in Tampa, Florida. The Iraq war veteran runs routine private investigations by day and coaches powerlifting at night. When Chad Scalzo, the grandson of a rumored mob boss, goes missing, Milo takes the seemingly easy case. After Chad turns up dead, Milo goes from investigator to suspect.
As he seeks to clear his own name, Milo finds himself at the crossroads of two crooked investigations -- one by the mob and the other by the police. With the body count climbing, Milo discovers the key to the case in the last known person to see Chad alive.
But can Milo get to her before someone else does?
A Mighty Fortress is the first book in the Milo Porter mystery series, a set of gritty crime thrillers that will remind you of the characters from Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais. If you like gripping suspense, hardboiled crime-solvers, and heart-stopping action, then you’ll love the powerful series starter from S.D. Thames.

Buy A Mighty Fortress to get caught up in the mystery today!

Book Details:

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller Published by: Independent Publication Date: July 2016 Number of Pages: 458 ASIN: B01FMWET52 Series: Milo Porter Mystery Series, #1 Purchase Links: Amazon Kindle Unlimited Goodreads

Author Bio:

S.D. ThamesS.D. Thames is the author of Foreclosure: A Novel, A Mighty Fortress, and other works of crime fiction exploring the dark side of the Sunshine State. Born in Dayton, Ohio while Jimmy Carter was president, S.D. grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati (with intermittent stints in the bayous of Louisiana and on the riverbanks of Indiana). In 1992, his family relocated to Florida’s gulf coast, about an hour north of Tampa, where he blossomed as a rock guitarist and all around miscreant. While trudging his way through school, he held various odd jobs, including, in no particular order, working as a pizza cook and deliveryman (though never concurrently), dishwasher, newspaper salesman, custodian, carpenter, bookstore clerk, guitar instructor, and manual laborer. After meeting the love of his life in 1995, he matured five years in one semester and eventually enrolled at the University of Florida, where he majored in English and studied about everything from Chaucer to the Twentieth-Century novel, along with a healthy dose of literary theory. After graduating, he spent a school year teaching German in high school. His life would forever change when he returned to the University of Florida to attend law school, the traditional fallback for despondent English majors. After completing his J.D., he went to work as a litigation associate at a Tampa law firm. The ensuing seven years are a bit of a blur, but suffice it to say that, unlike the protagonist of Foreclosure, S.D. made partner the first year he was eligible, and did so without having to lie, cheat or otherwise bend the professional rules of conduct. Most days he enjoys the practice of law. He’s had the pleasure of working for a diverse array of clients, including Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, small business owners, real estate developers, venture capitalists, non-profit organizations, parents in Central America seeking the return of their abducted children, and death-row inmates. He still lives in Tampa, Florida, where he’s married to the love of his life (yes, the same one he met in 1995). They have one daughter, who is 8 years old and a more prolific writer than her dad.

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for S.D. Thames. There will be TWO (2) winners for this tour. Each winner will receive one $10 Amazon.com (US) Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1st and runs through August 5th, 2016.
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