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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WHAT FREEDOM SMELLS LIKE by Amy Lewis @AmyLewisAuthor #Memoir #Marriage #Women

They have a special room on the ICU for people like me, so you don’t bother the other patients and visitors. Isolating the freshly widowed makes sense; I wouldn’t want to be around me either at that moment in time. You wouldn’t even know the room exists unless you need it. About a hundred square feet, a love seat sat on one side and two chairs on the other. There were two corner tables one holding a phone and on the other a small digital clock. The room had no magazines or TV as this wasn’t a waiting room. It was a mourning room, a breakdown room, a scream out to heaven because clearly God didn’t hear your prayers room. It was a break the news to the others room. It was a room for everything that everyone else didn’t want to witness – a parents losing child room, a children loosing parents room and in my case, it was a widow’s room.

I sat down onto the loveseat and tried to breathe. In and out. Innnn and Outttt. Innnn and Outttt. My head had a constant low level buzzing preventing me from holding a thought. Dad sat down next to me and held my hand tightly.

“Sweetheart” he whispered, “we need to make some calls.”

Calls. Calls. Calls. The word calls starting buzzing along with the noise in my head.

“Do it for me. Please. I just wanna sit here.”

He started by phoning Barbara. I had the awareness of him talking to her, but I don’t remember hearing the words. He hung up the phone. Decisions needed to be made. A young nurse walked into the room shutting the door behind her. I had never seen her before. She sat down next to me and put her arm around me.

“You know honey, in my experience with these things, it’s important for you to go in and see the body.”

The hair on my arm stood up as I heard her say the body. He was no longer a he. He was now just the body.

whatFreedomSmellsLike

Diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder, Amy struggled with depression and an addiction to sharp objects. Even hospitalization didn't help to heal her destructive tendencies. It took a tumultuous relationship with a man named Truth to bring her back from the depths of her own self-made hell.Amy's marriage to dark, intriguing Truth was both passionate and stormy. She was a fair-skinned southern girl from New Orleans. He was a charming black man with tribal tattoos, piercings, and a mysterious past. They made an unlikely pair, but something clicked. During their early marriage, they pulled themselves out of abject poverty into wealth and financial security practically overnight. Then things began to fall apart.
 Passionate and protective, Truth also proved violent and abusive. Amy’s own self-destructive tendencies created a powerful symmetry. His sudden death left Amy with an intense and warring set of emotions: grief for the loss of the man she loved, relief she was no longer a target for his aggression.

Conflicted and grieving, Amy found herself at a spiritual and emotional crossroads, only to receive help from an unlikely source: Truth himself. Feeling his otherworldly presence in her dreams, Amy seeks help from a famous medium.

Her spiritual encounters change Amy forever. Through Truth, she learns her soul is eternal and indestructible, a knowledge that gives Amy the courage to pursue her own dreams and transform herself both physically and emotionally. Her supernatural encounters help Amy resolve the internal anger and self-destructive tendencies standing between her and happiness, culminating in a sense of spiritual fulfillment she never dreamed possible.

An amazing true story, What Freedom Smells Like is told with courage, honesty, and a devilishly dark sense of humor.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Amy Lewis through Twitter

Lethal Journey by Kim Cresswell @kimcresswell #ReviewShare #BlogTour #Thriller

Lethal JourneyLethal Journey by Kim Cresswell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The predictability and lack of build up in some scenes were not my favourite parts of this story but overall I think Eric and Lauren were a good match that were able to invoke emotions in the reader.

Mystery, sex and romance are all good things to have in a book but I did feel as if the sex and romance overshadowed the mystery more than once.

In Chapter 12 when Eric reflects on Pete being injured and Pete’s wife, Judy rushes in to see him, this was the only scene that had me truly connected in the book because you were able to feel the confusion and disastrous significance of the incident. This was a good attempt at a thriller and there were many parts of the author’s writing that I liked. It just wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked it to be.

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads UK Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my book review. This book review is based on my thoughts, opinion and understanding of the book. This book review does not reflect the opinion of other book club members.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 27, 2014

HUSH #Excerpt by @KimberlyShursen #AmReading #Thriller #BookClub

Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 21

Twenty-eight-year-old Ann Ferguson covered her ears to avoid the imminent, deafening roar.

“Pass the salt, pass the salt, pass the goddamn salt!” the crowd shouted, waving hands overhead as Buffet’s “Margaritaville” resounded through the speakers.

Just another typical Friday night in downtown Minneapolis—the lighting in Donita’s Pub dim, the air thick with pheromones while blenders zapped ice, lime, and tequila into margaritas.

“Feisty crowd tonight,” Jess said to Ann, pushing her long, naturally curly, strawberry-blonde hair behind one ear.

“Always is.” Ann took a sip of white wine.

Stiletto heels, form-fitting jeans, lips lacquered in hot pink or ruby red mingled with Brooks Brothers’ suits, dress shirts, and silk ties. Looking for soul mates or one-night stands—all the hoopla bored Ann.

“This thing tickles.” Ann lifted up the sticky-backed, fake hair and scratched under her nose.

Noted for their creative fundraisers, tonight the money collected at the door of the bar to purchase faux moustaches would go to prostate cancer research.

Ann leaned back against the paver brick wall of the renovated warehouse. Standing room only, members of generation X and younger were squashed shoulder-to-shoulder, rear end to rear end.

Ann pushed her bangs back off her forehead. It was only last week that she’d held her breath as her thick, dark, shoulder-length hair was cut into a pixie. Dark eyes raking the room, she wished she was home curled up on the couch, watching a movie.

Jess cocked her head to the side. “You need to get out more.”

“And you need to find another playmate.”

Ann and Jess had lived together for three years, and though polar opposites, they’d become best friends. Growing up in a small town in southern Minnesota, Ann offered the pragmatic side of the friendship while Jess added the excitement. At five feet two, Ann was small boned and petite. Jess, with her full hips and robust breasts, towered over Ann by a good six inches. Unlike Jess who enjoyed showcasing her breasts with low-cut, scooped necklines, Ann was comfortable in her faded jeans and tank tops.

“Picture, ladies?” A roaming photographer asked, decked out in a white shirt and red bowtie.

“Absolutely.” Jessica squished her cheek against Ann’s, a margarita glass clasped in her hand. 

“Photographer from Minneapolis-St.Paul Magazine,” Jess whispered.

“Great,” Ann said sarcastically, “my parents will be so proud to see their daughter in a bar.”

“Hey.” The deep voice startled her, and Ann turned around quickly. “I hope you don’t think I’m too forward, but you look familiar.”

Jess tapped Ann’s knee nonchalantly.

Ann stared at the handsome man blankly. “I don’t think we’ve met.” However, there was something familiar about him. Dark hair parted to the side, a few strands fell casually over his forehead. He grinned, giving way to a dimple in his right cheek.

“You come here often?” he asked.

“Second time.” Men had come up and struck up a conversation when Jess had dragged her to a bar before. But, just like the others, once this hunk found out Ann wasn’t into one-night stands, he’d move on. Ann took a sip of her wine, and the phony moustache toppled into her wine glass. “Oh no.” 

Feeling her cheeks grow warm with embarrassment, she quickly reached into the glass and pulled out the sopping wet hairpiece. She wrinkled her nose. “Disgusting.”

He grinned, his dark eyes settling into half moons. “Oh…so, that isn’t real?” he asked poker-faced.

She shook her hand until the small fluff let loose of her finger and fell to the floor. “I forgot I had it on.”

“Whoa! There’s my song,” Jess said excitedly and started to shoulder her way through the crowd to the strobe-lit dance floor.

Ann watched Jess disappear, knowing she’d purposely left her alone with this stranger. She wasn’t good at this and, again, wished she were home.

“Ben.” He offered Ann his free hand, the other wrapped around a Samuel Adams.

Ann pointed at her ear and shook her head, signaling she couldn’t hear.

He leaned into her. “Ben Grable,” he said over the noise.

“Ann,” She slipped her hand into his, eyeing him. Suit coat draped over an arm, his tie hung loose around the open collar of his light blue, dress shirt.

“You wanna dance or—” He got out before someone shoved him, spilling his beer down the front of his shirt, droplets falling to Ann’s sandals.

“Whoa”—she picked up her foot—“that’s cold.”

Ben took a few steps back, brushing the beer off his tie. “Sheesh, I’m sorry. You okay?”

Where had she seen him before? She waved a dismissing hand. “I’m fine, but this noise is a killer. I think I’m going to call it a night.”

“Wanna get a burger or something?” Ben blurted.

“If you’re asking if I will go with you in your car,” she said, raising an eyebrow, “the answer is no thanks.”

“If I am asking you to go two doors down to grab a burger,” Ben asked with a sheepish grin, “what would the answer be?”

“Sure.” Her eyes lit up. “If it’s quieter than here, I’m game.”

Ben followed her through the maze to the dance floor. After Ann found Jess and told her she was leaving, Ben put his hand in the small of her back, sending a tingle up her spine.

Groups of men and women passed them on the sidewalk—their inebriated laughter echoing through the brightly lit streets.

A foot taller, Ben looked down at Ann. “You must think I’m pretty cocky just walking up and introducing myself.”

“Actually, I’m glad you did. Definitely not my scene.”

“Well, you looked as uncomfortable as I was.”

Ben opened the door of the tavern for her. Tally’s was crowded but not nearly as loud. Peanut shells speckled the black-and-white tile floor, and men wearing denim shirts and cowboy boots waited for a turn at a video game. A trio of middle-aged women with painted on smiles huddled together on the barstools, their puffy eyes darting from man to man. The aroma of burgers and onion rings filtered through the long, narrow space, making Ann even hungrier.

“Not much ambiance here,” Ben apologized as the shells cracked beneath their feet.

“But a much tamer crowd.”

Ben stopped at an open booth. “This okay?”

“Perfect.” Ann slid in.

“Want a beer or something?” Ben asked, sitting down across from her.

Ann thought for a couple of seconds. “I’d rather have a Coke.”

“Me, too. Diet or real?”

“Diet?” Ann made a face. “Yuck.”

“I’m with you.”

“What can I get you two kids?” a waitress asked, her weathered face giving away her age.

“Two real Cokes”—Ben glanced at Ann—“and this young lady is starving.”

“I would love a cheeseburger, American cheese, medium-well,” Ann said. “And is that onion rings I smell?”

“Yes, ma’am.” The waitress smiled proudly. She folded her arms over her red-and-white checked shirt. “Best in Minneapolis.”

“Great,” Ann said. “Oh…and ranch dressing on the side.”

The waitress turned to Ben.

“Exact same thing for me,” Ben told her.

Ann leaned back in the high-backed booth. “Most guys take their burgers medium-rare.”

“Not into E-coli.”

“Smart man.”

“So,” he said, locking his hands together and placing them on the Formica tabletop, “what’s your story?”

Ann waited for the waitress to put the drinks in front of them. “Do I have to have one?”

“Everyone has a story.”

No one had ever asked what her story was. For some reason, Ann didn’t feel as uncomfortable as she usually did when she first met someone. She tilted her head back, her eyes focusing on a stain in the ceiling. “Pediatric nurse. Raised in Worthington—”

“Ah…the turkey capitol,” Ben said casually.

Ann’s eyes grew wide. “How’d you know that?”

“Big turkey fan,” Ben answered with a straight face.

“You are not.”

“Love their combs.”

Ann giggled. “You’re putting me on, right?”

“I was in Worthington for a conference once.”

“There was a conference in Worthington?” she asked as she tore the wrapper off the straw.

“On that one, I’m not fibbing. Had to take a class.”

She raised an eyebrow. “In…”

“Law.”

Ann wrapped her hand around the soda glass, not taking her eyes from him. “You’re a lawyer?”

“Hello?” Ben grabbed his tie and waved it a few times. “Don’t I look like one?”

“Do they all look alike?”

“According to all the lawyer jokes, we do,” Ben said.

The waitress served the burgers and onion rings with two sides of ranch dressing. “Anything else?” 

The older lady put a hand over her hip.

“Mustard,” Ben and Ann said at the same time.


hush

Soon after Ann Ferguson and Ben Grable marry, and Ben unseals his adoption papers, their perfect life together is torn apart, sending the couple to opposite sides of the courtroom.

Representing Ann, lawyer Michael J. McConaughey (Mac) feels this is the case that could have far-reaching, judicial effects -- the one he's been waiting for.

Opposing counsel knows this high profile case happens just once in a lifetime.

And when the silent protest known as HUSH sweeps the nation, making international news, the CEO of one of the top ten pharmaceutical companies in the world plots to derail the trial that could cost his company billions.

Critically acclaimed literary thriller HUSH not only questions one of the most controversial laws that has divided the nation for over four decades, but captures a story of the far-reaching ties of family that surpasses time and distance.


*** Hush does not have political or religious content. The story is built around the emotions and thoughts of two people who differ in their beliefs.

EDITORIAL REVIEW: "Suspenseful and well-researched, this action-packed legal thriller will take readers on a journey through the trials and tribulations of one of the most controversial subjects in society today."

Katie French author of "The Breeders," "The Believer's," and "Eyes Ever To The Sky."

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Thriller
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Kimberly Shursen through Facebook and Twitter

WITNESS TO MY HEART #Excerpt by @LoniFlowers #AmReading #Contemporary #Romance

“So, how long have you been out of the Army?”

“A little over a year.”

“Did you leave when David did?”

Max stretched his arm across the back of the bench behind me. “We left at the same time; but, no, David chose not to re-enlist when his term was up. I wasn’t given any options.”

That seemed kind of harsh. Unless he was fighting or being disruptive—which I could definitely see—why couldn’t he re-enlist? “Dishonorably discharged?”

“I guess you could say that.”

“What did you do to warrant that?”

“I didn’t do anything.” What is this? Fifty Questions?”

“It’s however-many-questions-you’ll-answer,” I said nonchalantly.

“Oh, I see. And can I play this game too?”

“I guess it depends on what you ask.”

Max pivoted towards me and his right leg pressed against mine. “Okay, let’s get right down to it. What are you hiding from?”

My eyes bulged wide with disbelief. How did he know? I was no different around him than anyone else. “What? What are you talking about? Who said I was hiding from something?”

He smirked with amusement. “Denial. It’s okay. I get it. Tell me why you were so scared in the lobby? You never showed that kind of fear towards me before.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about. And I wasn’t scared. I couldn’t see your face temporarily because of the bright glare from the sun. When you grabbed me, it startled me.” As if I would confess everything to him just because he asked. Yeah, right.

“You know, you can’t ask me questions and expect answers, if you’re not willing to offer up anything in return.”

He was right.

It wasn’t fair. I should have known better than most people how hard it was to conceal personal facts about your life, and if Max didn’t want to share his, I should have respected his choice.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I hoped to ask you some basic questions. You know, favorite color, favorite dessert, dog or cat, what you do for a living… those types of things.”

“Well, you haven’t asked me those questions. But if you must know, I don’t have a favorite color. I don’t do pets. They’re a responsibility I don’t want or have time for. And I work for a buddy of mine in St. Louis as a private investigator. It’s nothing like a full-time career, however, just whenever he needs me. I don’t need the money, but it doesn’t hurt to get paid doing easy jobs; and it keeps my mind focused on other things.” His finger curled around a lock of my hair as he shifted beside me.

“You forgot one,” I mumbled, enjoying his aimless tugging on my hair.

“What?”

“Dessert. What’s your favorite?”

“Strawberries… and whipped cream, if it’s around. Lots and lots of whipped cream.”

I was about to bite into a carrot stick, but stopped with it halfway to my mouth. His words seemed to drip from his lips. If he had leaned in a few more inches and kissed me—minus the carrot—I would have let him. He was only a few inches away, and I caught his eyes flickering from my eyes to my mouth. My mouth watered, imagining how strawberries and whipped cream would taste from his kiss. I licked my lips… and ate the carrot.

He leaned against the bench with a sly grin. “Does that about answer all your questions?”

I recovered as best I could and peeked at my watch. “I supposed it’ll do for now. I have to get back.”

Max stood and held his hand out to pull me up. “Until next time,” he said, walking me to the passenger side of his car.

Settling in the seat, I gave him a curious glance, not knowing if that were a question or a statement. I answered with, “Maybe.” I still wasn’t sure what to think about Max. He was an asshole one minute, a comforting savior the next, and pure sex-on-a-stick twenty-four hours of every day.

Witness to my Heart

Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.

Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.

Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.

Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.

Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
More details about the author
Connect with Loni Flowers through Facebook & Twitter



Friday, September 26, 2014

FORTY 2 DAYS (The Billionaire Banker) by @GeorgiaLeCarre #Excerpt #Erotica #Romance

I hear the soft, thick click of the door behind me, and turn around to face him.  He stands there, tall, dark and throbbing with sexual tension.  God!  How I want this man.  A rough sound rumbles in his throat.  I recognize it.  Blind, earth-shattering desire.  It has been a long time since I heard it.  Makes me rock on my feet.  He shoots out a hand and pulls me hard towards him.  My body slams into his.
I have the impression of stone—unmoving.  It will break, but it will never bend.  But I can bend.  I mold my hips into his.   His erection is thick and hot against my stomach.  The rawness of it awakens that great beast inside me.  Greedy, relentless thing.  It wants more, it wants it all, and it wants it right now.  Intoxicated by the smoldering fire in his eyes my hands snake up his chest and twine around his neck, but his strong hands come up and untangle mine.  He catches them in his and takes them behind my back.  His clasp is a firm handcuff.
Very deliberately he holds me away from him and lets his half-lidded eyes rove my parted mouth, my breasts—thrust out towards him and heaving, down my body, to my legs.  His eyes lift again to meet mine.  I am impossibly aroused.
‘I had half a dozen fantasies of what I wanted to do to you when I got you naked.  Tame sex is not one of them,’ he says, as he plucks out the pins in my hair and flings them away.  Released, my hair falls all around my face and shoulders.
‘My beautiful whore.  Once I was good to you and you kicked me when I was down; now you get what you deserve.’
Without warning he grips the two sides of the high collar of my lovely dress and rips it into two.  I clutch the torn ends of my ruined dress together and stare at him in shock.
He looks down at me, breathing hard.  Strangely, he is as cold as ice.  My mind is in unbelievable chaos.  I have misjudged the extent of his fury.  Underneath the fa├žade of calm he is seething with anger at what he perceives to be my duplicity.  I want to cry at the wanton destruction of something so beautiful, but in fact I am too shocked to cry.
‘Dress only in what’s in the box and meet me in the bedroom,’ he commands curtly, and walks away from me.

Beyond the seductive power of immense wealth lies… Dark Secrets
Devastatingly handsome billionaire, Blake Law Barrington was Lana Blooms first and only love. From the moment they touched his power was overwhelming. Their arrangement quickly developed into a passionate romance that captivated her heart and took her on an incredible sexual journey she never wanted to end.
The future together looked bright until Lana made a terrible mistake. So, she did the only thing she could… she ran.
Away from her incredible life, away from the man of her dreams, but she should have known a man such as Blake Law Barrington was impossible to escape. Now, he’s back in her life and determined that she should taste the bitterness of his pain.
Shocked at how rough the sex has become and humiliated that she is actually participating so willingly in her punishment, she despairs if she will ever feel the warmth of his touch–the solidity of his trust again? And even if she can win his trust, loyalties are yet to be decided, and secrets to be revealed–secrets that will test them both to their limits.
Will Lana be able to tear down the walls that surround Blake’s heart, and break him free of the brutal power of immense wealth?
Can Blake hold on to Lana’s heart when she discovers the enormity of the dark secrets that inhabit the Barrington family?
Lana has always believed that love conquers all. She is about to test that belief…
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Erotic Romance
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author
Connect with Georgia Le Carre on Facebook & Twitter

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shadow Journey: A Mrs. Blackstone Story by S.D. O'Donnell @sdodonnell #AmReading #Fiction #TBR

I sit in the gazebo, alone. No cup of tea. No neighborly conversation to help fill the silence. Haunted by 85 years worth of musings, I watch the sun set and feel my age.

A November breeze kicks fallen leaves across the hillside and I’m happy I have on a heavy shirt since I’ve forgotten my shawl. I brush tears off my cheek before the wind can chill them.

Today is an anniversary. Not a good one but one that has come and gone 35 times. Only a few are left who remember the significance of this date. Only I have ever known the truth of it.

The weight of that truth grows heavier the closer I get to my own end. Maybe some part of me feels guilt and wants the release of confession. More likely, the weight comes from vanity. I don’t want the most significant event in my life to never be known, even though I will never speak of it while alive.

The last rays of sunlight disappear behind the peaks as I reach a decision. I'll expose my secret on paper and leave it for my friends Saul and Jayne, the two people most likely to care when I’m gone. This way, they can remember the whole of who I was, the worst along with, I hope, the best.

Shadow Journey

Love ... Loss ... Secrets

A Haunting Psychological Read

She starts alone.

"I SIT IN THE GAZEBO, alone. No cup of tea. No neighborly conversation to help fill the silence. Haunted by 85 years worth of musings, I watch the sun set and feel my age."

She ends alone.

And exposes a closely-guarded secret of 35 years in between.

˃˃˃ Meet Mrs. Vera Blackstone

First introduced in the thriller Deadly Memories, she quickly became a well-loved character -- even though she isn't the main one. But you don't have to read Deadly Memories before you enjoy this novella.

˃˃˃ Warning

This story will make you think and stays with you long after the last word is read.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Short Fiction
Rating – PG-13
Connect with S.D. O'Donnell on Facebook & Twitter