Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?



"It's Monday! What are you reading?" is a fun meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey. This is where we share the books we have read the last week and our reading plans for this week.

Read and Reviewed



Book/s for Review


Message from a Hidden Past by Jos Rogiers


Currently Reading: 


Different species. Mortal enemies. It'll never work, but they'll die trying.

Autumn Rossi thought she was a normal teenager. Suddenly, she can outrun every critter in the forest, making her wonder if she’s even human.

When the new guy at school, Zack de Luca, witnesses a questionable scene, he unfairly pins her as stuck-up. He acts like he hates her, yet he keeps bailing her out of trouble. Not only is Zack both insufferable and irresistible, he seems to sniff her anytime he gets close.

As passion flares between them, Autumn isn’t sure which is more dangerous: her psycho ex-boyfriend, or falling for Zack — who’s risking his life just by being near her.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Spotlight: B. Lloyd's GREENWOOD TREE


Greenwood Tree
by B. Lloyd



Blurb

‘Well, what do all mysteries have?' said Aunt Isobel. 'Money, mistresses, and murder.’

1783 – and Lichfield society is enthralled by the arrival of dashing ex-officer Orville; he charms his way into the salons, grand houses and even a great inheritance from extrovert Sir Morton. 

1927 – and detective writer Julia Warren returns to her home in Lichfield to work on her next novel. Initially she hopes to find plot material from the past and set it in the present. Aunt Isobel, while making preparations for the annual midsummer ball, has managed to root out an old journal from 1783 which might prove a source of inspiration. Once Julia starts reading her ancestor’s journal she becomes absorbed in solving the mystery surrounding officer Orville. Detective fever takes over, and she moves from reality to legend as events from the past seem set to re-enact themselves in the present, and she finds herself unravelling more than just the one mystery. Who was Orville? Who was the agent, Oddman, set to spy on him? And who is helpful Mr Grenall ? 

Pagan gods don’t walk away just because you stop looking at them. The Gronny Patch sleeps. Perhaps it dreams. Or perhaps not …

A complex, multi-layered story unlike any other, full of whimsy, horror, and mystery, shifting between the centuries and from source to source, until all the threads are finally drawn together by the imperturbable Miss Warren.


Excerpt

‘Where is Bunty?’

‘Collecting some friends of hers from London, she said,’ supplied Aunt Isobel. ‘I hope they aren’t those rather noisy young people she brought up last time, but still, it is meant to be a party.’ 

‘Oh I should think they are I mean Bunty only likes noisy people: saves her doing a lot of the talking.’ Charlie could produce a lot of nothing verbally for a good deal of the time and then suddenly come out with a perceptive line when you least expected it. 

The leaves of the weeping fig began to tickle Julia’s neck; she shifted, and glanced back at the journal. ‘And you mentioned a mystery about one of the two sisters . . . I don’t remember ever hearing about that before.’

‘Yes, I wish I could be more helpful; I probably wasn’t paying enough attention at the time—it was something to do with the Journal, however, I do recall that much.’

‘I wonder what that could have been.’

‘Well, what do all mysteries have?’ said Aunt Isobel. ‘Money, mistresses, and murder.’
 ‘Goodness—murder as well? That would be handy.’

‘Oh well, I don’t know in this case in particular—although, come to think of it, an unexplained death did play a part, I believe . . . but as I say, I wasn’t all that attentive as a girl.’

Julia looked at the journal again. More and more it beckoned her to steal away with it and open its pages. ‘Did you say there were some more letters as well?’ 

‘I’m sure there must be. We can have a look this afternoon if you like. Do you need paper, by the by? I think I put some in your room, but it may not be sufficient.’ 

‘You did. It’s plenty to be going on with. If I need anything I can pop down to the village.’ 

Julia returned upstairs as soon as it was socially acceptable to do so. She enjoyed Aunt Isobel’s company enormously, but the little leather-bound journal kept slipping into view every other second. She made the honourable excuse of getting ready for the evening. It wasn’t anything grand, some old friends and relatives—notably, cousins Crewe (Anne and Richard from Fradley), and distantly related Frank from Morton Manor, with a few extras thrown in. She still puzzled over the inclusion of Mr Grenall, but put it down to her aunt’s ardent appreciation of anything or anyone connected with roses and peonies; together with her anxiety always to mix with locals as much as possible. 

She sat down on the bed and opened the journal to look at the first entry.


“March 25th 1782
A cloudy, sullen day; everyone much out of spirits, and disinclined to be entertained; a little improved towards evening, when a game of piquet was suggested. Robert returned late from the Warringtons and enlivened us with the latest news and gossip. There is to be a performance at Blufflap Manor soon, it seems likely we shall be invited—a comedy of sorts; Mrs Gently is failing fast and is not expected to see out the spring, and Mr Warrington has bought a new horse. Aside from this, little of any consequence was said.”

Julia felt absurdly disappointed by this start, and read on quickly. The next entry involved a walk in the morning and a visit in the afternoon from Mrs and Miss Drayton, where again ‘little of much consequence was said’; the entry after that described the ill-effects of a cold and the tedium of gruel. Julia began reading at random April the sixth, (outing in a carriage) May the 20th, (shopping in town), July 14th, (tea with the Draytons) until she stopped suddenly, feeling slightly nervous. She was looking for something and she didn’t know what it was. Ideas? Situations? That was why she had come home, and why she had been so eager to go through everything in the attic. That was supposedly why she was sitting on the bed, rifling through this little leather book when she should have been getting ready for dinner. But she didn’t feel it was that so much. It was annoying, but she couldn’t define her feeling. Her reviews described her as a perceptive and analytical writer, but these qualities appeared now to have deserted her completely. She decided to take a hold of herself and work her way through until she found what she was searching for. On she raced, turning page after page: Autumn saw chills and common colds in and out, winter was taken up with preparations for Christmas parties, dances and festivities, followed by uncertain weather and the blessed arrival of Spring.

The word came to her as she reached the entry for March 30th 1783. Recognition. She was searching for something to recognise. Finding a word for it only served to make her feel even more unsettled.

“March 30th 1783
Last evening at dinner there was some talk of the efficacy of sleep for certain disorders, Father’s friend Dr Gout making one of the party; this led to talk about dreams, and their meanings. Our brother Robert complained of having slept ill the night before; Mary, ever curious, would ask what he had dreamt of. ‘Oh stuff,’ he said vaguely, and took some time to be drawn out as he holds no great faith in the theory that dreams can have any significance for the life and actions of the sleeper. After many questions however she got it out of him that he had dreamt of trees and wind, and seen a face in a bush with leaves growing out of it. Father said that he must have taken too much cheese at table; the doctor seriously suggested that it foretold a visitor’s arrival. On further describing the kind of trees he had seen, and the general type of landscape, Father cried out: ‘Why, that’s Gronny Patch, Robert—have you been walking there recently?’

‘Not to my knowledge, sir,’ replied Robert, surprised. 



‘Not trysting with young maids there? Take a care not to let your secrets out with your dreams!’ continued Father in high spirits, intending to make us all laugh—and indeed the suggestion of Robert taking any such steps for anything of the kind, when he has us girls always so particularly under guard, as it were, like some anxious sheep-dog, really did entertain us a good deal.

Later Charlotte, Mary and I speculated as to what manner of visitor might be expected, if the Doctor’s prediction should prove true, Mary naturally hoping for some young gallant with a good fortune. Charlotte wondered if tidings were to be brought, recalling stories she had heard of premonitions and dreams which portended death and the like, until Mary begged her to stop, as it was past midnight, and put her in mind of a Gothic tale, so she should never get to sleep.

I own to being unsettled as a result, and can only blame myself for the result: a late repose, broken early in the morning by a dream in all its details the double of Robert’s. I was walking in a copse, with wind about me, and, going round a tree, saw directly ahead, a face with leaves and branches growing out of its mouth and ears. I awoke in a great fright as daybreak was slipping through the shutters. I have refrained from asking Robert any more about his own dream today; it is probably best forgotten. However, I have decided to record only such incidents as these in future, and avoid as much dross as possible. This should make a great saving of paper and a more entertaining record.”

Julia read it through twice, feeling she had at least reached the beginning of something. The clock in the corridor outside chimed seven. Drinks, and then dinner. Julia snatched a dress out of the wardrobe.

About the author:

A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal ...

After studying Early Music in Italy followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia. 

Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people's works (for no visible reason that she can understand).

At present exploring the mysteries of Northumberland, although if there is a place she could call true home, it would be Venice…while the fields of Waterloo hold a certain resonance for her as well…


Author and Book links
http://about.me/B.Lloyd
http://lloydanon.wordpress.com

For those who enjoy Twittery:
Do drop by @AuthorsAnon as she enjoys a chat
(Warning: Please expect occasional bouts of nonsense).

Amazon UK (pre-order) 
Hardcover 
Paperback 

Amazon US (pre-order) 
Hardcover
Paperback 

Waterstones 
Pre-order page on the publisher’s website

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: My Mother's Secret by J.L. Witterick



My Mother's Secret: Based on a true Holocaust story

Author: J.L. Witterick

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: iUniverse (March 25, 2013)
Amazon Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 561 KB
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: iUniverse (February 4, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Link

Note: I received a review copy of this book free from Westwind Communications. The review posted below is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  


My thoughts:


My Mother's Secret tells the story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena. While Franciszka and Helena were real Holocaust heroines, most of the characters and events depicted in the story are fictional. During Hitler's invasion in Poland, Franciszka and Helena hid two Jewish families and a young German soldier all in their home for more than a year. Franciszka's son also helped the Jews during this difficult time but later met his death while transporting a wagon full of supplies to the Jews hiding in the forest.

Franciszka Halamajowa
I hate seeing/reading depressing movies/books. I actually stopped reading/watching Jodi Picoult's and Nicholas Sparks' because of the tragic storylines. However, there is one that I cannot resist reading/watching. Hitler's Holocaust stories. After having seen Schindler's list and Life is Beautiful (Italian) films, I took special interest in reading Holocaust stories. 

In reading My Mother’s Secret, I was given (again!) a chance to reflect the life I’m living. Would I be able to help other people knowing that helping them could lead to the death of my own family? Francisza risked her life and her daughter’s to save other people. She knew if the Germans found out about the Jews hiding in their house, they would kill them. But it didn't matter. They were so brave to provide help to people who asked for it. It was really inspiring yet terrifying. 

When Helena's long time German boyfriend proposed to marry her, Helena had to choose between her happiness and the lives of the Jewish families living with them. This is the part  where Helena almost chose happiness:

Franciszka to Helena:
“Helena, there are three kinds of people in the world. One that would have seen the suffering cat and not have given it a second thought. Another that would have seen the same cat and said to themselves, ‘Oh, isn’t that a pity,’ before continuing about their business. Finally, there is the kind who sees the suffering, feels the empathy, and then goes one step further by taking action to help. That is you. You didn’t leave the cat there to perish. I am proud that you are my daughter. Think what a wonderful place the world would be, if everyone was like that.” 
Heart breaking. . . . choosing between what you want and what is right. . .  

Considering this is a debut novel of the author, I thought it was well- written. If I didn’t read the part in the book where the author told the readers how the book was published, I would have never guessed this was her first. I highly recommend this book, like any other Holocaust stories, My Mother's Secret is totally life-changing. The story will definitely remain with me for a long long time.


About the book:
Franciszka and her daughter are unlikely heroines. They are simple people who don't stand out… that is, until there is a crisis. In 1939, the Nazis come to Poland and start to persecute the Jews. These are unreasonable times when providing shelter to a Jew has become a death sentence. Despite this, both Franciszka and her daughter hide Jewish families and a German soldier in their small home. For all of them to survive, she will have to outsmart the German commander and her neighbors.

When you look at a piece of steel, can you tell whether it is the ordinary kind used to make forks and knives or whether it is the superstrength type used to construct bridges and high-rises? The honest answer is no. You cannot tell until you apply extreme pressure. People are like that.

This story is a reminder that there are no profiles for courage and character, and that who we become is always a personal choice.

This is my first book, but it feels like something that has been waiting for me for a while.

I just had to be still enough to hear it. As the words flowed and formed, shaping ideas in their dance, it felt divine.

Writing was a process far more intimate than I could have predicted. To be authentic and honest, it is your own life that you draw upon and so, telling a story reveals the truths that reside in your own heart.

I loved creating this story. To be able to say that anything is possible if we connect with each other through kindness, understanding, and courage—and to do it with reference to true events—well, that was exhilarating.

If this story somehow manages to touch you, if it somehow manages to remind you of your own humanity, then I will be incredibly happy.

Living with gratitude,
J. L. Witterick

About the author:
J.L. Witterick always wanted to write a book that would make a difference. She found inspiration to do so based on a true story of courage that occurred during the Holocaust. A child of poor immigrants, she learned empathy, compassion and kindness first hand and wrote it into this story. Now an accomplished investment professional, she has decided to donate proceeds of the book sold at Indigo/Chapters to the Love of Reading Foundation, which buys books for children who cannot afford them. She remembers buying used books from the Salvation Army for 5 and 10 cents when she was a child. J.L. Witterick lives in Canada.
jenny@mymotherssecret.com
mymotherssecret.com

Guest Author: Jessica O'Gorek


Inspiration behind the Gemini Rising series: 

Being raised in the American Indian religion gave me a huge sense of our responsibility towards the earth but also a first rate education on the disgusting things humans can do to each other. I wanted to take that knowledge and use it to paint a picture for whoever reads the books, young adult or older. There are so many unknown factors out there and people are scared. My honest opinion is that we should be scared. I think that is the only way we would ever change our ways. Super storms, rising sea levels, melting polar icecaps, earth quakes in Virginia, mud slides and sink holes in California, all of these events must mean something. Either the earth is trying to shake us off, or warn us that our time here is limited. 

I waiver between this theory and the theory that the human race is so self-destructive, we will probably end up exterminating ourselves without any help from outside sources or the planet. So the only way for me to feel like I’ve made a difference, no matter how tiny, is not to try and protest oil drilling, join the EPA, write congress, or study environmental science, it’s simply to write. All the other stuff is beyond me. But I can write a good story, especially when it pertains to something I am passionate about.

I must also lend a little credit to Stephanie Meyer for inspiring me with Twilight and the Host. Although our books are nothing alike, my love of her characters sparked my own imagination and led me to developing my own super-heroes. 

Blurb: 

Mother Earth, wounded by the human race and its disregard for her resources, will recruit human souls to serve Her and turn against humanity. A rising force festers; Gemini, a clan of paranormal beings will systematically possess and destroy towns, cities, and states. Amidst the chaos, a forbidden relationship between Onyx, a lead Gemini, and Violette, a human, begins. They will both find themselves in the middle of a revolutionary war that will either save, or destroy our world.

Links:
Blog / Twitter / Facebook 

Everyone Has Spare Humans... Excerpt Chapter 5 

“Give me my brother! I know you have him!” The shy little girl was now screaming at him, her fists pumping the air, but he paid her no mind.
It was always easier to leave out the details. Tork always said there was nothing worse than a room full of hysterical captives. Bad enough to be human, but add in the adrenaline and the fear of the unknown, they became that much more insufferable. He ignored their pleas and timid curses, pulling the door shut with a thud, cutting off their curious stares. Someone yelled out they were hungry and he hesitated a little, trying to remember what hunger was. Ah yes, the need for food. The youngest of his clan, Sapphire, usually fed them three meals a day: canned food, all stolen from the local country store. He had no need for food and didn’t keep any around. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thursday Trailer: Grains of Truth by Lydia Crichton


Grains of Truth
by Lydia Crichton

Paperback: 382 pages
Publisher: Barringer Publishing/Schlesinger Advertising (May 1, 2013)
Amazon Link

Synopsis:

In her debut novel, GRAINS OF TRUTH (Barringer Publishing/May 2013) author Lydia Crichton married her love and fascination for Egypt's history in a character-driven page turner that blends romance, suspense, and espionage in one woman’s quest for justice, love, peace, and redemption.

When rigid pacifist Julia Grant is manipulated by U.S. Intelligence to take part in a covert mission in Egypt to help foil a major terrorist plot, she is torn between saving lives and becoming a pawn in her government's political agenda. As her mission unfolds, Julia finds her heart torn between a married Egyptologist and a charismatic arms dealer. Romantic complications ensue and when her contacts die along the Nile, Julia realizes that she has become the center of a deadly plot, spun by passion, intrigue, and the clashing of radically diverse cultures and beliefs, including her own.

"GRAINS OF TRUTH is a taut, well-written, action packed story – an intelligent romantic thriller that never loses its focus as a high entertainment story." ––LARRY MYLES, RED INKWORDS

For more information on Lydia Crichton, please visit: www.lydiacrichton.com.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Author: J.L. Witterick


‘My Mother’s Secret: Based on a True Holocaust Story’

Heroic Acts to Safeguard Jews During WWII Revealed in ‘My Mother’s Secret’

My Mother’s Secret is set in 1939 after the Nazis invaded Poland and started the persecution of the Jewish population. It is based on the true Holocaust story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena, who risked their lives by hiding Jewish individuals and families, as well as a German soldier, all acts punishable by death. With courage and cleverness they outsmart the Nazis and their collaborating neighbors.

My Mother’s Secret is a powerfully written story with a strong message about finding good in the midst of the most unbelievable evil. It will continue to resonate with readers, young and old, for many years to come. The book has been chosen to be used as curriculum in studies by Middle East exchange students and was awarded Rising Star stature by iUniverse.

“My Mother’s Secret is heroism defined. It is just so much more cherishable because it is a story based on fact.  We are indebted to J.L. Witterick for sharing this book with us,” says 
Grady Harp 
Top 50 Amazon Reviewer


“In My Mother’s Secret, a new level of heroism is revealed … heroism where no ‘wow’ or admiration was given.  True heroism is when no one sees or knows!  A truly inspiring and breathtaking book.”
Rabbi Chaim Boyarsky

“J.L. Witterick paints a vivid picture of the world of Franciszka Halamajowa, a heroine in Nazi-occupied Poland who, with her daughter Helena, harbored Jews despite the mortal danger. A moving and captivating portrait of that terrible period.” 
R. Gissin, Consul General, Toronto and Western Canada
Consulate General of Israel

All proceeds of the book sold at Indigo/Chapters, the largest book chain in Canada, will go to the Love of Reading Foundation, which buys books for poor communities.  And, each month for the next year, proceeds of books sold through other channels will be going to a different charity.  

My Mother’s Secret (ISBN 9781475962581, 2013, iUniverse 196 pages, $8.95 paperback, $18.95 hardcover, available on Amazon. Visit the author’s website for more information: http://www.mymotherssecret.com)

About the Author
J.L. Witterick always wanted to write a book that would make a difference. She found inspiration to do so based on a true story of courage that occurred during the Holocaust. A child of poor immigrants, she learned empathy, compassion and kindness first hand and wrote it into this story. Now an accomplished investment professional, she has decided to donate proceeds of the book sold at Indigo/Chapters to the Love of Reading Foundation, which buys books for children who cannot afford them. She remembers buying used books from the Salvation Army for 5 and 10 cents when she was a child. J.L. Witterick lives in Canada.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Speak (August 4, 2011)
Amazon Link

Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

My thoughts:

It's definitely 5-star for Anna and the French Kiss! Loved this book... SO. MUCH. I initially thought it was a bit teen-ish, that the story is superficial with the teen love being the center of the story. Glad that it was more than that. 

Anna Oliphant believes she's living a perfect life in Atlanta. She has Bridge, the coolest best friend ever and recently, she met the guy of her dreams, Toph. They're almost in a relationship but the romance was cut short because Anna's father, the award-winning novelist, wanted to flaunt his wealth by shipping her off to one of the best boarding schools in Paris. Instead of getting excited, Anna hated it. She doesn't want to leave her old school, not interested in meeting new friends and the fact that she will leave her 3 y.o. brother ... oh she hates her father!

On her first night in Paris, she met Meredith. She seemed cool but when she started talking about her other friends, she didn't think she'd fit with them. She still felt alone and miserable until she met Etienne St. Clair, an English/American guy with an attractive English and French accent. She's falling in love with Etienne but she can't let him know as he's already taken.

Oh, Etienne St. Clair. Eh-t-yen.... Eh-t-yen. . . You'd go completely gaga over him. Beautiful boy, sweet, charming and the way the author describes the accent - perfect! I also love that this is a French-themed book.
I immensely enjoyed the part where Etienne tours Anna in Paris. The story is basically about Anna and Etienne's teen-ish love but what sets it apart with any other books I've read in the past is that the book also focuses on friendship and family. The author provided background stories for each of the character. It was nice to know them all. I read the other day that there is a companion book for Anna and the French Kiss - definitely looking forward to reading that too! I highly recommend this book and I'm sure your money is well-spent on this one.

About the book:

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more.  So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris-until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true.  Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?


Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt.


About the author:







Stephanie Perkins has always worked with books--first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. She and her husband live in the mountains of North Carolina. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

Blog Tour and Giveaway: P.C. Zick's TRAILS IN THE SAND

Celebrating and Remembering Earth Day 
By P. C. Zick

I wrote the novel Trails in the Sand as a way to remind us of how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go to protect those things most precious to us. I’m glad I did because many readers have told me after reading the novel that they’d forgotten all about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that plays a role in the novel’s plot. I also wrote the book as a way to pay tribute to Rachel Carson and all she did to bring awareness to the widespread use of DDT in this country.

Imagine a world where the birds no longer sing from the treetops; imagine a world where the trees no longer tower above our heads; imagine a world where life is death. Rachel Carson imagined that very world as she delved into the research for Silent Spring. In the first chapter “A Fable for Tomorrow,” Ms. Carson paints a bleak canvas for what happens in a town where the stillness in the air and sky and ground is caused by man’s attempt to unsuccessfully control nature.

“No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves,” she wrote.


Rachel Carson and Silent Spring are credited with creating the modern environmental movement that resulted in the Environmental Protection Agency and brought awareness to pollution. The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, came in part as a public response to the gargantuan oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969. 

Ironically, on the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, news of another oil spill began trickling into the media. The Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught on fire on April 20, but no one paid much attention until the rig collapsed and massive amounts of oil began gushing out of the Gulf of Mexico. By the time the oil well was capped, four months later, BP’s disaster became the biggest offshore oil spill in our country’s history.

From Trails in the Sand – News reports on the oil spill

Ten days into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, oil continued to gush into Gulf waters at 5,000 barrels per day with no solution in sight for capping the powerful well. The slick spread to one hundred miles in length and forty-eight miles wide.

Bird conservationists began shouting for action as the oil made its way to sensitive nesting areas for seabirds, shorebirds, and migratory birds. The timing coincided with the birds’ breeding and nesting season as the oil pushed its way toward their prime habitat off the coasts of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. 
Many of the birds in those areas were already on the Endangered Species list. Some folks worried about the brown pelican, recently removed from the list because of its increasing numbers, but now getting ready to nest on beaches dangerously close to the moving oil slick .

Louisiana declared a state of emergency on April 29 as the oil slick neared the state’s fragile coastal areas, threatening its natural resources.

As the oil continued pushing out of the earth unabated, wildlife officials worried about the sea turtles. These ancient creatures from the sea would soon surface and come ashore to lay eggs in nests all along the Gulf beaches.

Let’s vow on this Earth Day to remember what we’re celebrating so we never face a Silent Spring.




Trails in the Sand Blurb: 

A Family Saga Filled with Love Triangles, Sea Turtles, and an Oil Spill

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets - secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline's love for her late sister's husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.


Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

About P.C. Zick: 
P.C.'s Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

P.C. Zick began her writing career in 1998 as a journalist. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. She describes herself as a "storyteller" no matter the genre.

She's published four works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Prior to 2010, she wrote under the name Patricia C. Behnke.

She was born in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1980. She now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband Robert.
Her fiction contains the elements most dear to her heart, ranging from love to the environment. She believes in living lightly upon this earth with love, laughter, and passion.

"This is one of the most exciting times to be an author," Ms. Zick says. "I'm honored to be a part of the revolution in writing and publishing."

Where to purchase Trails in the Sand
Amazon - Kindle / Amazon - PaperbackGoodreads

Trails in the Sand Tour Page: 
http://worldwindvirtualbooktours.weebly.com/tour-trails-in-the-sand.html




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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Spotlight: Adrian W. Lilly's RED HAZE


Red Haze 
Toxic Friendships Book One
by Adrian Lilly

Kindle Edition
File Size: 446 KB
Print Length: 238 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Link

About the book:

Something sinister is happening at Grove University...

Some nights the woods on the edge of campus glow with a spectral, shimmering red haze. Marne Montgomery knows—she’s seen it.

She also saw a figure in the haze. He beckoned to her and then vanished.

Marne laughs off the incident until her roommate, Sara Murdock, shows her a picture of a student. The one Marne saw in the woods.

But he’s been dead for more than a year.

Suddenly, Marne and Sara are tangled in a secret that threatens their college careers—and their lives. Their only hope is to find the cause of the red haze…

Before someone else dies.

Red Haze is a haunting psychological thriller that hovers between the spectral and the natural, blurring the lines between remembrance and regret, dedication and obsession, justice and revenge.


Excerpt 

Prologue: Last Fall

Brad Rogers tightened his tie as he pushed through the front door of the Rho Epsilon Delta fraternity house and skidded down the steps to the street where his car was parked. A hangover pounded across the front of his head, and he was running late for his internship. The sun only hinted at rising, tinting the clouds above him a pale pink, and gloom hung in the early morning haze. He stepped in a puddle from rain the night before and felt the water splash up on his calf. “Shit.”

His internship, mandatory as a business major, was a bit of a pain in the ass as far as he was concerned. He had done his best to avoid morning classes only to be in an office at eight in the morning. He figured he would have enough of that once he graduated. He shook his head in disgust and started the car. He rubbed his bloodshot eyes and ran his hand over his short, brown hair before throwing the car into gear. 

The wipers slapped across the windshield in a slow beat, clearing the light drops of rain that gathered on the glass. The row of sorority and fraternity houses pulled away into miniature dollhouse versions in his rearview mirror as Brad pulled onto a main thoroughfare. He fiddled with the radio as he coasted to a red light. He looked at the clock: 7:55. Being five minutes late isn’t such a big deal.

By lunch, his headache had subsided and his half day at the office was over. The owner of the company had felt differently about being five minutes late, and Brad was still fuming about getting his ass chewed. But, he needed a letter of recommendation after college and it counted toward his grade for his business class. He decided he would make an extra effort not to drink before his next day at the office. But it’s rush week—what do they expect?

As Brad stuck the keys in the ignition, he noticed a piece of paper on the passenger seat. It was folded in fours. He picked it up and flipped it over. Trust no one was written on the paper. 

Brad huffed and shook his head and unfolded the paper. His jaw tightened as an image printed on the paper bore into his eyes and the night it captured tore through his brain. He could feel the cold of that January night. He could feel his swollen jaw. He could feel the tracks of the tears on his cheeks. He could feel the panic that shook his body coursing through his veins—again. 

A still from a video was printed on the sheet. The video showed Brad, ringleader of the hazing on the night a student, Wes German, died. 

Brad folded the sheet back up and laid it on the seat and folded his hands in his lap.

He turned suddenly and looked in the backseat. It was empty. But it’s in my car!

How did it get in my fucking car? Brad thought: Was the door locked just now? He didn’t notice but he always locked his car, or so he thought. He doubted the note could have been there this morning and he didn’t see it. But he had been in a rush and hung over. Was the car locked this morning?

And last night—it was a blur. A group had hit a couple bars in town. Who had been in his car? Reg. Kip. A couple of pledges. Their names wouldn’t come to him right now. “Think. Think.” He hit the steering wheel.

Trust no one.

Was this a warning—or advice? He wondered. Brad looked around to make sure no one else was in the parking lot. He snatched the paper and unfolded it again. The image showed him so clearly. His mind brought the night into sharp relief. He followed Wes into the woods and found him disconnecting a camera from a tree. Brad had never seen the footage on Wes’s camera. Was this it? But Reg had destroyed it, or so he told Brad. 

Trust no one. 

Reg had been in his car last night. Brad knew that for sure. Shit! Reg has been my best friend since junior high! Brad tried to start the car but his hand was shaking too much to get the key in the ignition. Would Reg and Staci be doing this? Would they try to find their way out of what they had all three done? The thoughts tumbled through Brad’s mind, making him feel both betrayed and betrayer. Brad’s instinct was to confront them. Beat it out of them if he had to. He felt the rage build within him. He clenched his hands around the steering wheel. They had told him to hide the body. It was their idea. His headache roared back to life as blood pounded in his temples. His mouth felt dry and pasty. Panicked gasps caught in Brad’s tight throat, made him feel like he was suffocating. He pulled on the knot of his tie and puffed out his flushed cheeks in a great exhale. Brad took a slow, deep breath and waited. He clenched his eyes closed and counted silently. What if it isn’t them? What if someone else knows?

Trust no one.

Brad took another deep breath and stuck his key in the ignition. He had to figure out who sent the letter without letting anyone else know he received it. He had to find the sender of the note and stop him. At all costs. 

~January~

Spring Rush Week

Chapter 1: Thursday

An obsidian silence unfurled around Marne Montgomery as she stepped out of earshot of the Greek side of campus. Her heels clicked on the sidewalk, a sharp crack in the night air. Marne cast her eyes from side-to-side, suspicious of the shadows washing toward the sidewalk, like the ocean at night. Beacons of halogen lamps dropped halos of light onto the path, cutting the darkness that crept from the woods between campus and Greek Row.

Marne shivered and pulled her sweater tighter around her shoulders. The night had grown colder while she was at the Alpha Pi Omega house, attending her first activity of rush week. The event had been only slightly demeaning: the sisters perused the rushes and decided who could stay and who should not bother. Marne found herself hoping, partially, to be let go; however, she feared her boyfriend, Brad Rogers, would have something to do with her success. Brad was president of the Rhos, Rho Epsilon Delta, basically the older brother fraternity for the Pi’s. Brad had encouraged Marne to rush; he was “sure she’d get in.”

The event was billed as an opportunity to learn more about the sorority, but, in reality, was a chance for the sisters to scrutinize rushes and decide who would be asked to pledge. Marne had watched as hopefuls—some who actually thought they had a chance but never did—took pamphlets and eagerly asked questions and listened with keen interest. For Marne that was the most dreadful part, watching others who desperately wanted to fit in and knowing how rejected they would ultimately feel. 
Staci Gallagher, a senior and self-appointed queen of the sorority, had led a presentation on the history of the sorority. Photos of famous alumna were sprinkled with tedious trivia about the founding, past, present, and future of the sorority. Marne had spent much of the presentation imagining herself on a beach, bathing in the sun. She had become so engrossed, she could almost smell the salt air, hear the gulls call. 

Marne tossed one last glance back at the sorority house. Staci seemed a little too involved in her success for Marne’s tastes. Any attention or involvement from Staci was too much as far as Marne was concerned. If asked, Marne would have lied and said she liked Staci, though she could easily pinpoint a number of traits she hated: Staci’s obsessive concern for her looks and banal tastes in food and clothes as well as the fact that Staci seemed completely apathetic to any suffering besides her own. But Marne’s distrust and animosity went deeper. Marne knew that inside Staci lurked a truly malicious being wrapped and covered in a sticky, gooey, girly fa├žade. 

Greek Row, where all the fraternities and sororities stood, was separated from the sheer masses of the campus by a river and stretch of thin woods that split the Grove University campus. The woods—about three acres wide—ran along the river where warehouses and businesses once stood. Old corner stones and even rusting wrought iron fences from buildings littered the woods. Such finds felt haunting, mysterious, like an archaeological dig, though the history of the street was well documented. The buildings had been destroyed by fire, though Marne couldn’t remember when. The river, seemingly small, had once been a channel for commerce. Now a recreational path wound along the edge between the river and woods and connected to a state forest on the other side of campus. How the world had changed! Marne thought. 

When stepping out of the Pi House, Marne considered visiting Brad, then asking him to walk her home, but decided against it. The night was seeping away quickly and she had some reading to do; she wouldn’t be able to drag herself away from him in any time shorter than an hour.

Besides, the moon was full and cold and quiet of the night felt like comfortable companions. The lights and vociferous joy of the Greek side of campus dwindled behind her as she followed the path away from Greek Row and into the woods.

Silence cloaked the woods. During the summer, she imagined the woods alive with bird calls and scurrying animals. Tonight, the night was crisp and clear and the wind still. Her footsteps crunched on the gravel path. A gray haze hung to the edge of the woods and filtered across the path ahead of her. As she approached, the fog dissipated, like a mirage chased and never found, though when she looked behind her, she could no longer see Greek Row through the haze. 

Suddenly, in the near woods, a sound startled Marne. Footsteps fell, loud, and trampling. She fumbled in her pocket for a can of Mace—you could never be too careful, rapists abound on college campuses—and she cursed herself for not walking with it in her hand. She directed her eyes away from her pocket to the origin of the noise.

She saw nothing. 

Her hand slid from her pocket freeing the can of Mace. Marne turned, looking in all directions. Around her, slowly at first, the haze crept toward her, enclosed her like a slowly moving fist. She unintentionally gasped as the night grew noticeably colder within the fog’s grasp. Marne shivered and hugged her arms to her body. She trudged onward.

The thick haze blinded her. She couldn’t see the bend in the path that signified that she was nearing her side of campus, but she could hear the bubbling of the river, so knew she must be near. Her feet clicked off the gravel and onto the wooden bridge. 

She walked to the edge of the bridge and peered into the water just a few feet below. Mist clung to its surface but she could see the turbid swirls of the river below her. Now, the river was at a winter low and it wound its way through campus, as it did during the summer, as an innocent, delightful addition to the campus. The sound of it was soothing and the woods around it offered a place to picnic in the shade. 

But in the spring, the river would swell menacingly. Over the years, several students had died in the river, trying to swim, often drunkenly, when they shouldn’t have. The deaths had even spurred a campus legend that a madman was hunting students and drowning them. But, the deaths had happened over so many years, the killer would now have to be in his seventies and incapable of luring a young, fit man to his doom like a Siren. The idea of stumbling across the folded clothes and shoes of a fellow student on the shore, and knowing that the student’s body would later be dredged from the river was disconcerting, and was the stuff of urban legends, but toxicology reports always confirmed the obvious: drunken stupidity.

Marne’s roommate, Sara Murdock, had written an article for the school paper just the year before after another young man had died in these very woods after a night of drinking—according to the article. Marne squeezed the railing and shivered. Listening to the river now, Marne felt it hard to imagine the torrent it could become and the toll it could take, as it bubbled over the rocks, splashing and ceaselessly seeking a place to run. Marne felt like that at times; she felt that she was constantly seeking the next place to run. She had felt that way since her brother, James, had died. She wanted to run from her last horrible memories of him, of his blood, his gasping for breath; she wanted to run from what it had done to her family: her medicated mother and alcoholic father; she wanted to run from the obligation she felt to fill the deep, gaping chasm left by his absence. Most of all, she wanted to run from her guilt. She should have saved him.

Marne felt the heavy melancholy that dangled above her head at all times straining to break free and crush her. She swiped at the tears on her cheeks. Suddenly, she shivered violently as the night grew damp and cold around her and she felt someone standing next to her.

She looked behind her. Marne gasped.

The mist hovering at the edge of the woods swirled and radiated red. A red glow emanated from somewhere within the woods and reflected on the countless water droplets that hung in the air, turning the mist sinister, surreal. The light pulsed, turning the mist red again, then faded, and pulsed again, in quick, repetitive bursts that colored the night like a beacon. “What the hell?” She stepped away from the bridge and back onto the gravel path. The gravel crunched under feet. 

Marne took another step into the mist. She felt her feet slide in the wet grass as she stepped off the path. A slow moving figure trudged through the mist along the edge of the woods. “Hello?” She called. Marne stepped closer to the woods, her Mace raised. The figure was a young man, about her age. He paused and glanced back at her; their eyes locked. He hesitated only a moment before parting branches and vanishing into the red haze.

“Wait!” Marne called. “Oh, God, please, wait!” She took a few timid steps into the woods then stopped, resting her hand on a tree. Around her, the mist stopped glowing. As the red glow retreated deeper into the woods, the mist became the simple, pale-gray it had been when she started into the woods. The boy was nowhere in sight.

Shaking, Marne stepped back onto the path. She glanced back over her shoulder and peered into the still woods. The haze hovered between the trees, motionless, colorless. The waters below her continued to murmur. She trudged onto the bridge, her footsteps hollow and heavy on the wood, her heart pounding. Once across the bridge, she sprinted away from what she had seen.

Chapter 2: Friday

The haunting quiet of the campus shifted over Marne with the cold January air. Most students would return to Grove University the following week, when the semester began. Rush Week, when hopefuls visited various sororities, ran the week before the semester started. 

Walking through a campus not yet alive with the hum of students bustling to classes or chattering on the walks felt like a stroll through a long forgotten city. Though frost glittered on the grass and cold air slithered across her cheeks, Marne remembered the feeling of an abandoned Pueblo she had seen when she was a child on a family vacation. She and James sprinted through the sand, kicking up dust, and talked about the children who must have played there hundreds of years before them. Then they stopped, silent, and grasped the creeping eeriness that swept an empty, abandoned landscape. Though they had not told each other what they were thinking, Marne always felt that James shared her sentiment. 

Empty spaces from that day forward reminded her of that one quiet moment. 

Despite the cold, Marne stopped in the quad, near a fountain turned off for the season. The outstretched arms of the fountain’s stone maiden loomed above her, casting a V-shaped shadow on the pavement. Marne closed her eyes. She embraced the quiet, the aloneness. Concentrating, she could hear muffled laughter, and traffic, farther still. A tear slid from under her closed eye, and she instinctively reached up and swiped it, leaving a cold, wet smear on her cheek. 

Marne opened her eyes to the harsh white morning light and grimaced. Still three days until the campus would be filled with students, including Sara. Marne missed Sara. The winter break felt long and arduous at her house. Marne had not looked forward to the holidays. Her parents threw their annual New Year’s Eve party. Every conversation, every moment shared with her parents felt like glass crackled and ready to shatter. Marne tired of watching her father slug down scotch and her mother pop prescription pills. Her family had become a farce and only she could see it.

Rush Week for Marne became an early escape—one encouraged by her mother. Her mother, Tabitha, was a Pi alumna, making Marne a legacy. Her mother reveled in the idea of Marne following in her footsteps. 

“Why are you standing in the cold?”

Marne startled, though she recognized the voice. “Hey, Kip.” Marne smiled. Kip was a member of Brad’s fraternity. “I was just enjoying having the campus to myself before next week.”

Kip shoved his hands in his coat pockets. “I bet you’re not even checking out any other sororities.” Kip spoke with a bravado she could tell he did not feel, parroting Brad and the other fraternity brothers he worshipped. Marne detested Kip.
Marne chuckled. “The Pis are the only sorority.”

Kip nodded. “Good to hear.” His awkward smile split his lips. “I like the idea of you as our kid sister.”

The words stung her. Marne’s eyes narrowed, stern. “I’ll never be your kid sister, Kip.” She closed her eyes and turned her back to him dismissively. “Never forget that.” 

She listened as his hurried footsteps retreated. She wondered, only momentarily, if Kip would mention the run-in to Brad. Marne smiled again, feeling the cold air tiptoe across her face.

The need for the next three days to pass shivered across Marne’s skin and she hugged herself. She walked toward her dorm to dress for the next event of Rush Week.

* * * *

Marne was studying her face in the mirror, applying make-up, when someone knocked at the dorm room door. “Just a moment,” she called. The knock was unexpected, as the campus was still mostly deserted. The urban legend about the murderer in the dorm room and the dying roommate knocking for help popped into her head. Marne rolled her eyes at herself and walked to the door. “Who is it?” She asked before opening the door.

“Brad. You expecting another guy?”

Marne eased the door open and leaned her shoulder against it, blocking him from entering. “Maybe I already have another guy in here,” she said coyly. 

“Then I’ll have to kick his ass.”

Marne stepped aside, letting Brad in. ‘Don’t get any funny ideas. I’m ready for the sorority meeting tonight.”

Brad chuckled. “I just stopped by to walk you over.” He smiled. “But, now that you mention…”

Marne slapped his chest playfully. “I’ll get my coat.” She walked across the room and looked in the mirror again.

Brad stood by the door and a disapproving look crossed his face. “Sara’s side of the room is so”—he paused looking for a word—“proper.”

“Sometimes I think the only reason you want me to join the sorority is so we don’t room together anymore.”

“It’s a perk. True that.”

Marne pulled her coat on. “Why don’t you like Sara?”

“She’s a bad influence.”

“Ha!” Marne huffed. “Sara? A bad influence? I study more because of Sara.” Marne shook her head. “No, you don’t like Sara because she’s smart.”

Brad raised his hands in mock defense. “Hey! I know you guys are BFFs.” He rolled his head back and forth. “I just think she’s a troublemaker. And she’s not as smart as she thinks she is.”

“No? Why do you say that?”

Brad pulled Marne close and kissed her on the nose. “She can’t stand me. How smart is that?”

* * * *

Marne stifled a yawn and turned her head discreetly. A projector cast images of smiling children on the wall as Staci beamed about the money the sorority raised in the previous year for the Ronald McDonald House. The meeting tonight was to acquaint would-be Pis with the ebullient and charitable nature needed to be a member. The charitable acts, Marne admired; Staci’s self-congratulatory tone she did not. 

A sister flipped the lights on and Staci continued. “Our theme this year is ‘One Planet. One World.’ All of our charitable causes revolve around the environment.”

Sisters and hopefuls alike clapped as Staci troubled to appear humble. A smug smile pinched her face and she said, “Feel free to mingle.”

Staci saddled up to Marne at the hors d’oeuvres table. “So what did you think?”

Marne raised her napkin to her lips and dabbed. “I found it rather informative. I wonder how you decide on a theme for the year.” She knew asking questions was good. It made her seem interested.

“I’m so glad you asked that!” Staci’s face split in a too-large-to-be-sincere smile. “We have a charity committee, but we vote as Sisters.”

“Very democratic. I like that.”

Staci nodded. “You’re a sophomore now.”

“Yes.”

Staci shook her head. “So, why didn’t you rush sooner? Your mother was a Pi after all.”

Marne was prepared for the question. “I really needed to focus on scholastics. I had a fear freshman year would be tough—and it was.”

“Hmm.” Staci ladled Marne a cup of punch then ladled one for herself. She asked, “Where did you go to high school?”

“I went to an all-girls Catholic school. Saint Drausinus. It’s about an hour from here.”

Staci chuckled. “You’re practically a townie.” She leaned in conspiratorially. “But I won’t tell anyone.”

Marne met her gaze. “So is Brad, remember.”

“Well, he’s from the city.”

“So am I.” Marne rolled her eyes. “Well, the suburbs.”

Staci snorted. “Duh.” She sipped her punch. “Brad went to a boy’s school, didn’t he?”

Marne nodded. “Yeah. Saint Eustachius.” 

“I can see why you worried about your freshman year. Brad’s on the five year plan.”

“So, we’ll find out this weekend if we’re going to be asked to pledge?” Marne changed the subject diplomatically. 

Staci trailed her fingers across her throat absently as a syrupy smile cut a thin line across her face. “Yeah, but you have nothing to worry about.”

“There’s always something to worry about.” Marne sipped her punch and gazed over the rim at Staci. 
Staci held her gaze a bit longer than Marne felt comfortable with, so she turned away. She could feel Staci’s eyes still on her, an unasked question stagnant in the air. “Are we going to the Rho’s party?” Marne asked evenly.
Staci smiled. “As soon as we’re done here.” Staci swept her hand over the table. “Be a dear and help me start clearing things.”

Staci, Marne, and a few other Pis and rushes trudged into the cold night air toward the Rho House. The jubilant group chattered and laughed down the sidewalk. Bass and clamoring music from competing parties rumbled down the street and seemed to collide and wrestle over them. As they approached the Rho house, the sound of their music became deafening, drowning out all competing noise. 

* * * *

He watched from the woods. Silent. Still.

Darkness and cold drifted away, unknown to him. Hours ticked by and he waited. Branches, brushed by the wind, clicked against the trunks of trees. The phosphorous glow of the street lights washed the street and the students, huddled in bunches as they walked down the street, in ghostly white. This time of night felt real to him. Made him feel real. 

Peals of laughter and hooting broke the silence of the night. As a door opened, music boomed onto the street and light danced on the faces of the newcomers to the party, a group of girls. Brad stood in the doorway in silhouette, welcoming the new partiers. His brusque baritone voice rose over the noise with a hardy welcome and drunken laughter.

The watchers’ eyes narrowed as hatred flooded his veins. 

As the door closed, the shard of light from inside closed to a crack and died. He raised his hands to his mouth and blew on them to warm them. 

One night, they would make a mistake. And he would be ready. 

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