Still Breathing

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Women’s Fiction
Date Published:  November 17, 2018
Designer: Damonza
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
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Newly widowed and on the threshold of seventy, Lizzie Warton questions the value of her remaining years. Uncharacteristically, she decides for the first time in her life to do what she wants, instead of what everyone expects.
Against the wishes of family and friends, she sets out for Africa to work at a Ugandan middle school. When she lands at night in the Entebbe airport, her hosts are not there to meet her. Near panic, she hires a local taxi. The driver drugs her, steals everything, and dumps her limp body in a slum. Waking in the dark, she feels someone tugging off her shoes.
Without money, a passport, clothes, or medications, Lizzie is forced to start over and find a way to survive.
Soon she learns that nothing in Africa is as it appears. The grind of daily life in the third-world is beyond anything Lizzie imagined. Nevertheless, encouraged by budding friendships in surprising places, and against every sensible instinct she’s ever developed, Lizzie’s own personal search for meaning becomes the grand adventure of a lifetime.

Review

Gene Fournier’s novel, Still Breathing, will have readers captivated by his main character.  Lizzie is such a real interpretation of a woman who has hit a low, and decided to take over her life. This is an inspiring story.

The characters are real and very well developed, they make it easy for you as the reader to be drawn into.

This novel was very easy to follow. There was something wonderful about how simple it was. I didn’t have to overthink things.

I loved being a part of Lizzie’s adventure of finding herself and what matters to her.

 

 

About the Author

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Originally from South Minneapolis, Gene Fournier earned a BA in Philosophy & Literature from St. Louis University followed by a Masters in Film from USC. Gene is a member of the Writers Guild of America West (WGA) and worked as a screenwriter and editor in Hollywood, but sadly, he never got that big break.
Seeking a return to his roots after twelve years in California, he accepted a Director of Media position with a multinational company headquartered in the Midwest. For thirty years he wrote, directed, edited and distributed corporate video programs around the world, managed live presentations, and orchestrated the creative elements for national and international meetings.
Retired now, with his seven children grown, and a dozen grandchildren to distract him, Gene is finally able to write down the stories he’s been carrying in his head all these years.
 
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Christmas in Prague

 

Psychological Romance
Date Published: November 24, 2018
Publisher: Foolishness Press
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Christmas in Prague is the story of Joseph, a divorced American twenty-something living as an expat in Prague. He’s obsessed with Karina, a Czech waitress-turned-supermodel. She’s freshly back from a trip to Italy with her English teacher, and she’s ready to give Joseph the attention for which he’s been longing. Will his Christmas wish come true?
About the Author

Rick Pryll is an award-winning author and poet. His book, “The Chimera of Prague” was selected as the winner of the 2018 New York Book Festival for Romance. A graduate of MIT, Rick wrote a novella as the thesis for his Mechanical Engineering degree. Having grown up in Western New York State, Rick and his wife, ArtPop Charlotte 2018 artist Holly Spruck, live in Charlotte.  They have two children, two cats and a dog.
First published to the web in 1994, his hyperfiction short story “LIES” has garnered praise from the Wall Street Journal, SHIFT magazine, and several other publications in print and online.  It is cited in more than seven books, has been translated into Spanish and Chinese.
From 1996 to 2002 Rick lived in Prague, in the Czech Republic.  While there he published two books including Displaced (Foolishness Press, 1998) and Wallow (Foolishness Press, 1999).  His stories and poems have been featured on the pages of THINK and OPTIMISM.
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Handbooks for Humans

 

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Self-Help
Learn to Manage Your Attitudes in All Your Relationships
Publisher: Graceful Change Press
Published: November 2018
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In the traditions of Life’s Little Instruction Book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and the Messiah’s Handbook, Handbooks for Humans will provide you guidelines to help make you a better person, and learn to manage our attitudes in our relationships with ourselves and others. You probably wish you were given instructions for living at birth. Because, the truth is, being human isn’t easy. Now, by putting in the effort, working with the guidelines in the Handbook for Humans, Volume 1, there is a path forward that makes it easier. You could probably read this book in a matter of minutes, glean some helpful insights, and toss it aside…or pay attention to each guideline, reflect, go more deeply inside, and do some work. As a reward, you can learn to articulate your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and experiences which in turn create your attitudes. Your attitudes affect every interaction you have in this world. As one of the guidelines teaches us, Never stop learning. It’s never too late to be a better human. Handbooks for Humans, Volume 1 provides a platform for personal work and sharing, making it perfect for individuals, couples, and families.
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About the Author

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Grace Anne Stevens is a writer and speaker on living authentically.
After over forty years as an engineer and manager in the tech world, she returned to school and received her M.A. in Counseling Psychology at the age of 62. She has participated in and seen life from many sides.
Each day she looks forward to what the future may bring on her own journey learning how to be a better human.
In 2016 Grace was selected by Amtrak as one of their Writer’s in Residence and named as Person of the Year by New England Pride TV.
Grace lives in Lexington Massachusetts and enjoys biking on her new e-bike, beaching and babysitting for her grandchildren, as she learns something new each day.
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Luris: Memories of Dreams

 

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YA Fantasy
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Published: January 2016
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Luris: Memories of Dreams is a full-color manga which follows the unfortunate life story of M—, a young adult suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Due to amnesia induced by the PTSD, M— cannot remember many details from her past. What remains in her memory are fragments of dreams that must be traversed in order to piece together the reality that traumatized her. Though often strange and ambiguous, her dreams hold the keys that will empower her to face and overcome the terrible events of her past and the deepest fears of her inner self.
Luris: Memories of Dreams is suitable for teens and older.
About the Author

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Rune Marie Nielsen is an author and artist who seeks to provide a glimpse of divine eternity in her work through creative storytelling, unconventional angles, and occasional humor.

 

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The Crucible’s Fire

 

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Christian, Inspirational
Date Published: Nov. 30, 2018
Publisher: Lucid Books
 
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After having several children, parents often feel well-equipped to take on the challenges of another child. When Matt and Tammy Parker decided to add a child to their family, they had little idea of the blessings and struggles God had in store for them. The Crucible’s Fire paints a picture of God’s steadfast love through trials as he holds one family in the loving and protective crucible of his faithfulness. Readers will learn:
·         The raw emotion of unexpected hardship
·         How to rely on God for strength
·         The beauty of God’s faithfulness when it seems all hope is lost
·         How to trust in God through their own dark night of the soul
·         The sanctification that comes only through the refining fire of trials
·        Strengthen your own trust in God’s refining faithfulness as you join this family through the joys and pains of raising a special needs child.

Review

Wow! This is such an eye-opening read. We take so much for granted. This is a huge example of that. It is also an example of the way that some people dealing with harder things that we can ever imagine have a better outlook than we ourselves had. This really reminded me of the “first world problems” type of thing. Things that I am often complaining about or frustrated with are so small in the grand scheme of things. I loved the way that Matt Parker told his story. He does it in a way that does not feel preachy. He’s honest and open and that really helps to understand. Walk in someone else’s shoes for a while. Ask yourself what you would do in a similar situation. Does it change your outlook on other parts of your life?
About the Author

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Matt Parker serves as a high school teacher in rural East Texas and has served as a bi-vocational minister for almost 25 years. He has recently retired from pastoral ministry to develop discipleship materials to encourage the saints and help deepen their walk with the Lord. He is married to Tammy, his high school sweetheart, and together they have four biological children, three adopted children, one granddaughter, and serve as foster parents.
Their youngest daughter, Brynna, was born with severe physical and developmental delays. Over the past decade, Matt has kept friends and family updated on her condition, progress, and their sanctification through email and his ministry blog at The Crucible’s Fire.
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From Frights to Flaws

 

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Middle Grade Fantasy
Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 1
Publisher: S.A. Prasad Publishing
Published: October 2018
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An Adventure of Modern Magic
Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?
Originally published in 2013, the book has been updated to its full potential with edits, while keeping the storyline the same.
Excerpt
 
 1
Rain banged against the window. Alyssa looked up from washing her lunch dishes and stared at it. At least she could daydream while no one else noticed. After all, how else would she spend life without family fun—or even love? Her uncle enforced strict and unfair rules. Alyssa longed for the kind of life she’d lived before her parents had died in a car crash five years ago. She’d only been seven at that time, and now she couldn’t experience things like many children her age. Unless . . . she could find her godfather’s phone number and secretly call him. She hadn’t talked to him ever since she’d also lost her aunt three years ago. But she recalled his kind attitude. Her parents had even designated him as a legal guardian. But something seemed off with the raindrops. They turned grayish blue and darkened into black, looking as if ink fell from the sky. Alyssa leaned closer, squinting to determine the shapes it formed on the window. The rain formed—letters. No. That couldn’t happen. But a message formed as the rain plopped on other parts of the window. Nature couldn’t change its laws, right? Yet, the message finished putting itself together. Alyssa gasped at what it said.
 Your life will never be the same again, Alyssa McCarthy, as magic will interfere.
 What? Alyssa had never believed in magic. She’d been told at a young age that it hadn’t existed. Everyone on Orion Street was ordinary—at least, Alyssa had thought that ever since she’d moved here, right after her parents’ deaths.   Turning around, she saw her babysitter, Mrs. Hutchinson, examine the kitchen floor. Alyssa’s eleven-year-old cousin, Hailey, watched the progress. Hailey had mopped the floor. Would she earn a break now? Ever since her uncle, Bruce, had hired Mrs. Hutchinson, Mrs. Hutchinson had admired the way Hailey had done her chores more than Alyssa.  “Hailey, you can take a break until your next chore,” said Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, get back to work. You’ve been staring at the rain for too long.”  “Okay.” Alyssa turned back—only to see the message gone and the rain back to its normal transparency.   “What did I say?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.  Alyssa sighed. “Fine, I’ll finish washing the dishes.”  She scrubbed her dish and glass with soap under warm running water. Her eyes focused on just those. No way would she want Mrs. Hutchinson to catch her looking out the window again. Mrs. Hutchinson was only in her sixties, but she’d sometimes seem to forget that was 2010 and not 1960 with her guidelines. Yet, it had taken Alyssa a while to realize that she wouldn’t even tolerate the mildest kind of nonsense, such as getting distracted by a windowpane when having to perform chores.  Now that she finished washing her dishes, Alyssa put them to the side and grabbed some paper towels to dry them.  “What do you think you’re doing?” Mrs. Hutchinson asked.  Alyssa stopped. “I’m just—”  “The last few times I was here, you left little bits of food on your dishes.”   “But they were stuck.”
 “Let me inspect them. Also, if something is rubbery, you have to wash it again.”  “Why?”  “Because clean dishes aren’t supposed to be rubbery. And boy, did you do such a sloppy job. Look at that stain on your sweater.”  Alyssa looked down.  “That looks like chocolate.”   Alyssa blushed and arched her eyebrows.  “Hey—it’s just water.” She covered the stain at the bottom of her sweater’s V-neck.  But Mrs. Hutchinson waved her index finger. “Don’t you ‘hey’ me, Alyssa. That’s rude. In my days, kids respected their elders. We never would dare talk to them that way unless we didn’t mind them smacking our bottoms.”  “Things change.”   “Not when I’m here, they don’t. Now let me do my inspection.”  Great—an inspection! How long would Mrs. Hutchinson take? She might spend a couple minutes or maybe twenty. Alyssa crossed her arms and tapped her foot. She wanted her break now. She wished to read, rest, do a small craft, like lanyards—anything but wait for Mrs. Hutchinson to finish her task.  “Mrs. Hutchinson?” Alyssa asked.  “Whatever you need to say, wait till I’m done,” she said.   Alyssa sighed. She continued to watch Mrs. Hutchinson run her finger down the middle of the front of the dish. She then rubbed it back and forth. When she put it down and nodded, Alyssa figured out that the dish had nothing on it.  Mrs. Hutchinson spent a few minutes of running her finger down the glass. She put it down and turned to Alyssa. “You’re good. Now what did you want to tell me?”  “Um . . . if I tell you, can you not give me a hard time?”   “Okay.”  “There was writing on the window.”  Mrs. Hutchinson pursed her lips and tilted her head. “Really?”  “Yeah.”  “Nonsense.”   “No, really, it was there.”   “There was nothing there when I came, and there’s nothing there right now. So don’t tell me stories.”  “But it’s not a story.”  “I don’t want to hear any more. Now it’s time for your next chore.”  “Aw, but I wanted my break.”  “Too bad. You have to go vacuum the living room.”  Alyssa dragged her feet toward the living room and took the vacuum from the corner. She cleaned and thought about that writing as well as how Mrs. Hutchinson wouldn’t believe her. Would a nicer babysitter have believed her? Mrs. Hutchinson had watched her and Hailey for three years, and not once had she smiled or assisted with anything.   After vacuuming the carpet for about five minutes, Alyssa decided that she had tidied the floor enough. So she stopped and put the vacuum away.  “Hailey, you and Alyssa need to go get the mail now!” Mrs. Hutchinson called, facing the staircase.   “Coming!” cried Hailey.
Another rule Uncle Bruce had placed on Alyssa and Hailey was they could only go outside together. He worried about people taking them or something, even though Alyssa would turn thirteen next month. But that rule had been placed because a few months ago, Uncle Bruce had heard about a seventeen-year-old boy who had been shot while skateboarding in his neighborhood. Violence could even happen here in Bursnell, New Jersey.  Hailey and Alyssa headed to the closet and put their raincoats on until Mrs. Hutchinson said, “It stopped raining outside.”  “Already?” asked Alyssa.  “Yes.” Mrs. Hutchinson went to the bathroom.   The girls walked outside toward the mailbox. Alyssa pulled the mail and headed back toward the door. But mud bubbled from the ground near the house. It piled up, looking like horse manure, and grew as more soil emerged. Alyssa dropped her jaw and stared at it.  “Alyssa, what’s going on?” Hailey asked.   “No idea,” said Alyssa.  The dirt stopped piling up, but it continued to bubble, and the effects spread throughout the whole pile. The bubbles stopped popping up and down. Alyssa and Hailey gasped as they expanded. They kept their mouths open as the bubbles merged together, each one attached to another, forming a single bigger shape. Alyssa and Hailey stepped back as the now giant bubble swelled. And it . . . popped! Particles of exploding mud landed on the girls. They shrieked.  The front door opened to reveal a glowering Mrs. Hutchinson. “What the heck have you two been doing?”   “T-the mud . . . it e-exploded,” said Hailey.   “Nonsense!” growled Mrs. Hutchinson. “Get inside!”  The girls returned inside, pulling and wiping the mud out of their hair. Alyssa could spot the mud in her straight pale-blonde tresses, unlike Hailey, who likely needed more patience to search for globs in her elbow-length red locks. But Alyssa’s hair fell a few inches past her hips, so cleaning out the mud would take longer, even with the shorter layers in the front.  “How could dirt explode?” Mrs. Hutchinson stomped.   “I-I think it was magic!” exclaimed Alyssa.  “There’s no such thing as magic!” screamed Mrs. Hutchinson. “Alyssa, you’re twelve years old. You’re too old to say things like that!”  “But nothing else can make mud explode!” Alyssa said.  “Mrs. Hutchinson, we swear it did!” whined Hailey.   “Enough!” snapped Mrs. Hutchinson. “You and Hailey—go upstairs and take showers!”  Alyssa followed Hailey up the stairs and heaved a sigh. How else would the mud have splattered all over them? Mrs. Hutchinson couldn’t have thought they’d play in the mud like small children.  “Alyssa, can I shower first?” asked Hailey.   “Sure,” said Alyssa.  As Hailey strode into the bathroom, Alyssa walked into her room. She scratched more mud off her skinny jeans (the only jeans she’d worn ever since they’d come into style) and the back of her hand. She stood by her bed since she wanted to keep it clean.  She considered the writing on the window and the exploding mud. Someone wanted magic to interfere with her life, but who, and how come?
 Also, why hadn’t she ever seen wizardry before? Why would her parents and others tell her that it hadn’t existed? Did sorcery just start on earth? Had it hidden somewhere? There had to be some reason why no one had ever believed in it.  Alyssa thought about the possibility that maybe magic might only interfere if she stayed here in her uncle’s house. Maybe if her godfather could arrange with his lawyer to let her move in with him, sorcery would hopefully leave her alone. However, unlike science, anything could occur with magic, which meant that it could follow her wherever she went.   The sound produced by the bathroom’s running water ended, which let Alyssa know that Hailey had finished. Now she could have a turn.  After about five minutes showering, Alyssa stepped out and headed back to her room. She put on leggings and a long shirt. But she gasped at something appearing out of nowhere on her bed. Now that had to have come from . . . magic.  Approaching it, she saw that it was a folded piece of paper. She opened it and read it. Hello Alyssa McCarthy, You must be wondering about the writing on your window, the exploding mud, and the note that appeared here. Who was responsible for them? You’ll find out at some point. Anonymous
 Anonymous? How dare someone create incidents and not say his or her name! Alyssa needed to know his or her identity in order to report him or her. She didn’t want strange, magical occurrences to keep happening.  Regardless of that, now she had proof to Mrs. Hutchinson that the writing and exploding mud had occurred. Mrs. Hutchinson had seen her write before, and this looked nothing like hers. She handwrote in a half-print and half-script style. This, however, was pure print. Alyssa jogged down the stairs and carried the note. “Mrs. Hutchinson, I have something to show you.”   “Not right now, Alyssa.” Mrs. Hutchinson left the kitchen. “You and Hailey have to go wash my car.”  “But it’s quick.”  “You can show me after you’re done with my car.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Hailey, who emptied the dishwasher and put dishes away. “Are you almost done?”  “I think so,” said Hailey.  “How many dishes do you have left?” asked Mrs. Hutchinson.  “Uh . . .” Hailey looked at the top rack. “Four.”  “Okay, hurry up.” Mrs. Hutchinson turned to Alyssa. “Why don’t you go put that piece of paper away?”  “But this is what I need to show you.”   “Do I have to repeat what I said before?”   “But—”  “Alyssa, do as you’re told.” Mrs. Hutchinson pointed to the staircase.  Alyssa sighed. This note contained so much crucial information. Only that paper itself had evidence to show that those incidents had occurred.
 After putting the note back in her room, Alyssa headed down the stairs and walked with Hailey toward the garage. The two grabbed sponges, buckets, and soap for washing cars. They filled the buckets with water and scrubbed Mrs. Hutchinson’s car.  “I wish we had another babysitter,” muttered Alyssa.   “What was on the piece of paper?” asked Hailey.  Alyssa told her.   “Who wrote it?”  “There was no name on it. Just ‘anonymous.’”  A girl whistling turned Alyssa’s attention away from the car. She leaned her head toward the sidewalk and saw her friend from grade school, Madison Jennings, riding her scooter.  “Hi, Alyssa,” said Madison. The wind blew her long dark-brown waves across her face. She stopped at Alyssa’s driveway, and her hair went limp. Hailey and Alyssa ran up to greet her and ask how she’d been.  “I just moved onto Draco Drive a few days ago,” Madison referred to a road off Orion Street.  “So how do you like the middle school?” asked Alyssa.   “Oh, I go to Catholic school now,” said Madison. “What about you?”  “Hailey and I are homeschooled now,” said Alyssa. “I never got to tell you.”  “That’s okay,” said Madison. “So you guys want to come over to my house on Saturday?”  “What time?” asked Alyssa.  “I’ll ask my mom and let you know,” said Madison. “Okay, bye, guys. Nice seeing you again.” She rode back in the direction she’d come from as Hailey and Alyssa waved goodbye to her.  After washing the car for another ten minutes, Alyssa and Hailey cleaned up and walked back inside. A snore suggested to Alyssa that Mrs. Hutchinson slept. Huh? She never napped while babysitting.  Alyssa strode toward the living room and saw Mrs. Hutchinson asleep on one of the couches. Hailey followed her. “Why is Mrs. Hutchinson sleeping?”   “I don’t know,” said Alyssa.  “Can you show me the note?”  Alyssa nodded and led her up the stairs. She opened her door but gasped at what she saw. The note that she’d left on her bed was gone.  “Where’s the note?” asked Hailey.  “It was right there,” Alyssa pointed to the bed.  But another piece of paper appeared onto the mattress. Alyssa picked it up and read it.
Hello again, Alyssa,
I have put your babysitter to sleep to reveal magic to you. You’ll find out why she is sleeping later. Anonymous
 “Not again,” mumbled Alyssa. “Why won’t they say their name?” She showed the note to Hailey.  “Let’s go call my dad before anything happens,” said Hailey.
 How much worse could this get? Alyssa thought as she followed Hailey down the stairs.
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About the Author

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Sunayna Prasad has published a few books between her late teens and her mid-twenties. She has won a Pacific Book Review Award for her novel, Wizardry Goes Wild, which will return as a new edition, like From Frights to Flaws. Sunayna also has a blog on different creative and entertaining topics, including writing and fiction. It is called “Sunayna Prasad’s Blog”.
Aside from writing, Sunayna also likes to cook, do art, and watch videos online. She has graduated from college in May 2017 and is looking to continue more writing as well as hold a graphic design job soon. Sunayna lives on Long Island, NY.
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Shrill Dusk

 

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Urban Fantasy
City of Magic, Book 1
Release Date: January 4, 2018
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Charley is a cleaner by day and a professional gambler by night. She might be haunted by her tragic past but she’s never thought of herself as anything or anyone special. Until, that is, things start to go terribly wrong all across the city of Manchester. Between plagues of rats, firestorms and the gleaming blue eyes of a sexy Scottish werewolf, she might just have landed herself in the middle of a magical apocalypse. She might also be the only person who has the ability to bring order to an utterly chaotic new world.
This is the first book in The City Of Magic series.
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About the Author

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After teaching English literature in the UK, Japan, and Malaysia, Helen Harper left behind the world of education following the worldwide success of her Blood Destiny series of books. She is a professional member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and writes full time, thanking her lucky stars every day that’s she lucky enough to do so!
Helen has always been a book lover, devouring science fiction and fantasy tales when she was a child growing up in Scotland.
She currently lives in Devon in the UK with far too many cats – not to mention the dragons, fairies, demons, wizards, and vampires that seem to keep appearing from nowhere.
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Reprobation

 

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Reprobation
Crime Thriller/Mystery
Date Published: 16th October 2018
Publisher: Crooked Cat
 
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Are You One Of The Elect?
Dr. Helen Hope is a lecturer in eschatology – the study of death, judgment, and the destiny of humankind. She is also a Calvinist nun, her life devoted to atoning for a secret crime.
When a body is found crucified on a Liverpool beach, she forms an unlikely alliance with suspect Mikko Kristensen, lead guitarist in death metal band Total Depravity. Together, they go on the trail of a rogue geneticist who they believe holds the key – not just to the murder, but to something much darker.
Also on the trail is cynical Scouse detective Darren Swift. In his first murder case, he must confront his own lack of faith as a series of horrific crimes drag the city of two cathedrals to the gates of hell.
Science meets religious belief in this gripping murder mystery.
Excerpt
In this scene Deaconess Margaret Mills, a figurehead of the Sisters of Grace, subjects the congregation of St Michael’s Church to one of her threatening sermons. Sister Helen’s feelings about the Deaconess are beginning to change, and at the end of the service, she tells her first lie.
‘All of us are sinners. All people are conceived in sin and are born children of wrath, unfit for any saving good. Inclined to evil! Dead in their sins! Slaves to sin! Without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit, they are neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature, or even to dispose themselves to such reform. I say again, All of Us Are Sinners!’
This last sentence was said with such venom and volume that several members of the congregation who were sitting in the front pews visibly recoiled. Deaconess Margaret Mills always began her Wednesday evening sermons from the pulpit, in a gentle voice tinged with a hint of menace. She would build gradually, moving from the pulpit to the floor, a crescendo of portentous threats as her whole body would come into play. She was a natural performer, with eyes widening and narrowing at just the right moments, catching individuals so that they wanted to look away in shame but couldn’t. Her voice would range from ominous low to shrieking high, the gentle Northern accent sounding impossibly grand in this part of the world. There was no comfort to be had from her sermons, only the fear of God struck into one’s heart, and this was the appeal. For the residents, for the visitors, for Helen. Most of the congregation loved the firebrand thrill of the performance, the horror-film quality of the fear. But for Helen, the fear was real, visceral. She craved this punishment, this constant, caustic reminder of her sin. After some more fire and brimstone, the Deaconness softened and brought kindness, a sweet manipulation for her audience.
‘Yes, all of us are sinners. And nothing brings the beauty of Jesus Christ to sinful people, believers, and unbelievers alike, as powerfully as God’s own Scriptures. The Scriptures are the basis of our teaching, of our Gospel, for the word of God is the only word. And we do not question the word of God. From this comes our happiness’.
She smiled for a moment then suddenly, spectacularly, turned up the anger again.
‘And to those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of just reprobation, we reply with the words of the apostle ‘Who are you, O man, to talk back to God?’
Her eyes were wild now and ranged from one person to the next in fury. St. Michael’s Church was small, more of a chapel than a church, having been built originally to serve only the Argarmeols family and their employees. There was no division between the nave and chancery, and no room for aisles flanking the nave at its edges. Therefore there was no escaping the Deaconess’s wrath as she stalked the pews, allowing herself to be an eager vessel for the bitter rage of the Calvinist God. The majesty of this church interior lay in its absurd height; in typical Victorian Gothic style, it had been built to aspire to the sky, drawing the eye upwards and reminding the worshipper how very far above him his God was to be found.
‘God’s plan cannot be changed; God’s promise cannot fail; the calling according to God’s purpose cannot be revoked!’
She sighed with theatrical exhaustion, closing her eyes and raising her hands in supplication, before wringing them and returning to the pulpit. She was disappointed with her flock, this rabble of hopeless candidates for heaven. She looked from one face to the next, expectant. The Deaconness taught religious education part-time in a local private school, and Helen, sitting in her usual position on the front pew, sometimes amused herself at the thought of the terror she must instill in those teenagers.
‘May God’s son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives gifts to humanity, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err, silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching, and equip faithful ministers of God’s Word with a spirit of wisdom and discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up of their hearers. Amen’.
At the end of the service, Helen waited as the small congregation filed out in a silent purge, wrapping their coats against the cold autumn evening, Helen approached Margaret who was collecting her papers together at the altar.
‘Deaconness?’
Margaret spun around. ‘Yes, tell me.’
‘Would it be ok if I took the car overnight tonight?’
Margaret’s eyes and body language betrayed a momentary flicker of disappointment – she had been hoping Helen might ask something else.
‘I thought I might go and see my mother.’
‘Are you sure that’s a good idea, Helen? You’ve tried very hard, but it only seems to upset you every time. Has something happened?’
‘No, no, I… just think it’s important to keep showing I’m there for her, you know.’
‘Of course.’ There were those hands on Helen’s shoulders again. ‘Drive safely and come and see me tomorrow when you return, let me know how it went.’
‘I will Margaret, thank you. And may I take some money from the kitty? I think we need petrol.’
About the Author

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Catherine Fearns is a writer from Liverpool. Her first novel, crime thriller Reprobation, was published by Crooked Cat on October 16th, 2018. Her second, Consuming Fire, will be out in February 2019. As a music journalist, Catherine has written for Pure Grain Audio, Broken Amp and Noisey. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Toasted Cheese, Succubus, Here Comes Everyone, Offshoots, and Metal Music Studies. She lives in Geneva with her husband and four children.
 
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Lizzy’s Kiss

 

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Psychological Romantic Suspense
Date Published: November 21, 2018
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Lizzy Adams spent the summer pining for Tyson Smith, the sexy security agent whose instruction at a safety seminar saved her life. Now, every man she meets is measured against the absolute awesomeness of the brawny black man with the soulful eyes, the baritone voice that whispers over her like a velvet caress, and a smile that turns her knees to jelly. Now she just had to get him to notice her.
Tyson Smith had a lot of respect for Lizzy Adams, the spunky teacher who freed herself from the clutches of a deranged miscreant who’d wanted to take her hostage. But his concept of her wholesome ‘girl-next-door’ image was challenged the night she showed up at a company barbeque dressed as a flirty cowgirl. Always the gentleman, he managed to keep his eyes off her assets as she strolled around the farm. His mother had raised him better, but there was no denying that she was every man’s ‘American Beauty’ fantasy. But the night he’d shown up at her doorstep to help her out altered their relationship forever. Between the fear in her eyes and the baseball bat perched on her shoulder, his protective side surfaced, and he handed her a piece of his heart.
Their whirlwind romance is threatened when a man from Lizzy’s past attacks her. Sam Clark wants vengeance for his son. He blames the jurors from Jason’s trial for Jason’s death and crafts a hit list. But killing Lizzy, the scrappy survivor, is harder than he thought. After Sam fails at his first attempt on Lizzy’s life, he resolves to kill her before he’s forced into hiding. He just has to get past the big, black man who appointed himself Lizzy’s protector.

 

 

Review

A Main character who is easy to relate to and understand. Lizzy really appeals to the reader and you care what happens to her throughout the novel. I really liked the romance aspect of the novel. These two met under different circumstances and both had different opinions of each other. They both had to learn who the real person was underneath. 
This is definitely a Romantic Suspense novel that will make you think and keep you guessing, while delivering on the Romance.
About the Author

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Karen Tjebben lives in central North Carolina with her wonderful husband, twin daughters, and two hamsters. When her girls left for kindergarten, Karen discovered that she needed to fill her days with something, and that was the beginning of her new career in writing. She loves to create worlds filled with unique characters that she hopes will delight and raise goose bumps on her readers. In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband and seeing the world through her daughters’ eyes.
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The Center Cannot Hold

 

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The Center Cannot Hold
Mystery/Thriller
Date Published: October 2018
Publisher: Writers & Editors
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In the depths of winter, Cedar County is on occasion literally frozen in place. Roads are impassable; the area schools are closed for days at a time. And the bad guys and gals, they’re hunkered down like everyone else until the weather breaks. But this winter isn’t the usual. There are arson and murder. The iniquities of some particularly unsavory ancestors are being visited upon the current generation.
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About the Author

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Aaron Stander spent most of his adult years in the Detroit area, where he taught English and trained writing teachers. In 2000 he and his wife left college teaching positions and moved permanently to their cottage near Traverse City. Aaron is the author ten mysteries set in northwest lower Michigan. He is also the author of numerous articles, stories, poems, and reviews, and the host of Michigan Writers on the Air on Interlochen Public Radio. When not writing or thinking about writing, Aaron spends a lot of time kayaking along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
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