Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox

I downloaded this book for FREE the other day. Many moons ago, I used to be a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I read great things about this book, so I figured I would give it a shot. The book is still listed as FREE right now.

BLURB: It's never a good day when an ancient demon shows up on your toilet bowl. For Lizzie Brown that's just the beginning. Soon her hyperactive terrier starts talking and her long-lost biker witch Grandma is hurling Smuckers jars filled with magic. Just when she thinks she's seen it all Lizzie learns she's a demon slayer-and all hell is after her.

Of course that's not the only thing after her. Dimitri Kallinikos a devastatingly handsome shape-shifting griffin needs Lizzie to slay a demon of his own. But how do you talk a girl you've never met into going straight to the underworld? Lie. And if that doesn't work how dangerous could a little seduction be...?

COVER: Love it. Great color scheme. Awesome weapon and just what I think Lizzie would be wearing based upon the first chapter if she was going to go kick some demon's butt. The addition of Lizzie's pet on the front cover is a nice touch.

FIRST CHAPTER: It's Lizzie's 30th birthday and she has plans to celebrate with her friends. Problem is, she opens the front door and her long-lost biker witch Grandma locks her in the bathroom. Things quickly go from bad to downright scary.

KEEP READING: Oh, yeah. I forget how much I enjoy sharp, witty stories because I don't read them very often. Lizzie is a turning thirty single gal with a fair amount of attitude. She's been tossed some lemons in life and she has a job that barely makes ends meet, so you want to cut her a break for not welcoming Grandma with open arms. This chapter has a fabulous cliffhanger. Let me tell you, this book made want to dig out my Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs and start a marathon viewing.

File Size: 384 KB
Print Length: 305 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0505527693
Publisher: Angie Fox (December 18, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

I downloaded a free version of this book for my Kindle. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Recent Kindle Downloads

Check out some books I recently picked up for my Kindle.

Piper Anderson has been given a fresh start in the picturesque town of Edenville, North Carolina. But her plans of settling into a normal life are derailed when she witnesses a prominent judge in her community committing a violent assault. Running from her own past and fueled by a passion to make the judge answer for his crimes, Piper is forced to decide if she’ll play by the rules or achieve justice in her own way.

Complicating things further, Piper finds herself fighting a powerful attraction to rookie cop, Bobby Wright. Although she’s increasingly enamored with Bobby, his staunch belief in the justice system is in stark contrast to her own. She may not share his opinions about the effectiveness of the law, but she certainly can’t deny how safe she feels when she’s in his arms or how every kiss leaves her desperate for more.

For Piper, the idea of finally living an ordinary life with a man to love is tempting. However, fate keeps placing the judge, quite literally, in her path. Will she decide the only way to win is to be as wicked as the judge, but with righteous intentions? And more importantly, will Bobby choose to let her go, or follow her as she crosses the line and takes justice into her own hands?

As of right now, listed as FREE!

It's never a good day when an ancient demon shows up on your toilet bowl. For Lizzie Brown that's just the beginning. Soon her hyperactive terrier starts talking and her long-lost biker witch Grandma is hurling Smuckers jars filled with magic. Just when she thinks she's seen it all Lizzie learns she's a demon slayer-and all hell is after her.

Of course that's not the only thing after her. Dimitri Kallinikos a devastatingly handsome shape-shifting griffin needs Lizzie to slay a demon of his own. But how do you talk a girl you've never met into going straight to the underworld? Lie. And if that doesn't work how dangerous could a little seduction be...?

As of right now, listed as FREE!

Actor Drew Jameson is a rising star and a target of the tabloids. When he meets Morgan Dawson, the best libel attorney in the business, sparks fly. But first impressions aren't always what they seem in this sweet romantic short story by best selling author Kathleen Fuller.

Listed right now for only 99 cents!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Spotlight: Boyd Taylor, Author of The Hero of San Jacinto and The Antelope Play

Set in present-day Austin, Texas, budding historian Donnie Ray Quinn stumbles upon an old letter in the musty bowels of the Texas State archives. Donnie has discovered Sam Payne’s not so valiant capture of Mexican leader Santa Anna during the Battle of San Jacinto. His findings are published in the local monthly magazine, Texas Today.

The article eventually becomes fodder in the gubernatorial race between Democratic upstart Bob Braeswood and Republican favorite Sam Eben Payne V, the great-great-grandson of the not so valiant Texas hero. Braeswood is intent on exploiting the past, while Payne will do anything to suppress it. In the ensuing battle, Donnie finds his beliefs, not to mention his relationships, stretched to the limit. Will he side with money and power or truth and integrity?

Taylor takes us on a scenic tour of Austin events and sights through the eyes of our 28-year old drunken playboy protagonist without asking his reader to deal with the atrocious Austin traffic.

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press (September 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615662471
ISBN-13: 978-0615662473


When Austin native Donnie Cuinn accepts a job as an associate in a Texas Panhandle law firm, his boredom and disdain for Velda, a sleepy Texas town, is forgotten when he gets caught up in a struggle over water rights, possible radioactive contamination of the nation’s largest underground fresh water supply, and the violence of an invading Mexican drug cartel. Along the way, Donnie learns to respect the local rancher, whose brother is at the center of the troubles, and to come to terms with the violent death of his young Mexican wife.

Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press (July 31, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989470709
ISBN-13: 978-0989470704

Read an excerpt:

The full moon cast shadows from the bare trees that lined the gravel road on the other side of the cattle guard. The winter wind had died down into its midnight quiet, and the cold air was settling over the arroyos, covering the low indentions in the ranch land with a light frost. A black Cadillac SUV pulled up by the cattle guard. Two men jumped out of the back of the SUV. They wore heavy coats and their hats were pulled down low on their heads. Without speaking, they pulled the motionless man out of the back seat, bumping his head on the hard dirt. “Ten cuidado!” one said. “Lo queremos vivo.”

The man moaned. They took him, one by the shoulders, the other by the feet, and tossed him onto the road in front of the cattle guard. They stripped off his boots and socks and threw them in the back of the Cadillac.

“Vamos!” one of them said. They jumped in the SUV and drove away quickly; its black outline disappeared down the country road.

The sun was barely visible over the eastern plateau when the man awoke, shivering from the cold. He struggled to his feet. He hopped across the cattle guard in his bare feet and cried out in pain. When he was finally across, he rested a minute. Then, breathing heavily, he began his walk up the gravel road. He wiped blood from his nose and mouth, held his broken left arm with his right hand, and slowly walked home.


The address read, “Don R. Cuinn, Attorney at Law,” so it had to be for him. Don looked at the legal-size envelope and sighed. He recognized the scrawled Las Vegas return address. What now? He tossed the unopened envelope on the pile of documents that Faye had stacked neatly before leaving the office the night before. When the envelope hit the stack, the papers scattered.

He ignored the mess and swiveled in his worn leather chair, passed on to him when Jake got new stuff, and stared through the dusty window at the brown Texas Panhandle landscape. From his aerie on the top floor, the fifth floor of Velda’s tallest building, he could see the end of town to the north where it gave way to the flat land and canyons and dry creeks that stretched to Canada. He couldn’t see his apartment, back to the east, toward the Country Club, and it bothered him. Why do I care?

He couldn’t admit it bothered him because Jake, the Rosen of “Rosen & Associates” had the prime corner office, with windows to the east as well as the north, from which he could keep an eye on all of Velda that mattered: the business district, the city hall, the courthouse, the old residential district, the winding parks and dry creek, and the leafless trees. Not to mention the new developments, both of them, where wealthy Veldanians had built McMansions too big for the lots, like overweight teenagers with their exposed bellies overflowing their jeans at the Arcadia Theater or the mall in Amarillo.

But Don R. Cuinn, the associate in “Rosen & Associates,” could only see to the north, and like everything else today, it grated on his nerves.

Don could not see to the south, thank God, so he didn’t have to look every day at the old warehouse district and railroad tracks, the recently repainted depot reclaimed as a half-assed museum, where the early days of Velda were trumpeted to the five visitors a week. In a good week, he thought. The days when Velda was an important stop on the railroad; when early settlers came to try their luck raising cotton or wheat on the unforgiving Panhandle plains; when most of the farmers were ruined by flooding rains followed by unbelievable drought, forced to sell their land, in which they had invested their life savings, sell it for pennies on the dollar to cattle ranchers. The ranchers, over a decade or two, ended up with most of the land in Velda County, and with the land, the oil money when the boom came.

South of the tracks were the Flats, with its shanty towns and trailer parks, where Velda’s Hispanics and its few blacks and its oil field trash lived uneasily next to each other, huddled against the north wind all winter. And, during the rest of the year, were unable to escape the ceaseless southwest wind or the acetic acid fumes blown over them from the Crackstone Industries’ chemical plant.

Lovely, Don thought.

He shivered. The cold wind leaked into his office, even with the windows painted shut. There was no way to open them in the summer and fall, when the weather was mild and dry and the wind was light enough to be enjoyable. Almost. He selected an old wool sweater from the various pieces of outdoor clothing he kept on the hook behind his door. He put it on, and his corduroy jacket over it, but he was still cold. He had never been this cold growing up in Austin.

He thought of the warm days in Beaumont, where he got his diploma mill law license. Why did I leave? Oh yes, no job. Not even an offer. Law firms knew the worth of a J.D. degree from the Jefferson Davis School of Law. . . warm weather... an image of Mexico City flashed through his mind. Not that. Don’t think about that. Not for an instant.

In a former life, Boyd Taylor was a lawyer and an officer of a large chemical company. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, Kitty.

Boyd welcomes inquiries and comments from his readers, who may contact him through:

Katherine Brown Press at kbtpress@ymail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheHeroofSanJacinto

Visit the author's blog at http://boydtaylorblog.wordpress.com/

H. Peter Alesso's Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space Book Blast and Giveaway

As the last star fighter in squadron 111, Midshipman Henry Gallant is on his way from Jupiter to Mars. With the United Planets' fleet on the verge of annihilation, he can expect no help as he passes through the asteroid belt and threatening aliens. With so much uncertainty about the aliens’ capabilities and intentions, analyzing the captured computer equipment in Gallant’s possession could prove crucial.

The fate of Earth could rest on the abilities of Midshipman Henry Gallant. Unfortunately, it is his abilities that have been much in doubt during his tour of duty. In an era of genetic engineering, he is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. His classmates and superior officers have all expressed their concern that he will not be up to the demands of the space service. Only bright and attractive junior officer Kelsey Mitchel has shown any sympathy for him. Now as his navigator on the last fighter in squadron 111, her life as well as a good many others, depends of Henry Gallant.

Purchase your copy:


As a scientist and author specializing in technology innovation, H. Peter Alesso has over twenty years research experience at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). As Engineering Group Leader at LLNL he led a team of computer scientists and engineers in innovative applications across a wide range of supercomputers, workstations and networks. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a B.S. and served in the U.S. Navy on nuclear submarines before completing an M.S. and an advanced Engineering Degree at M.I.T. He has published several software titles and numerous scientific journal and conference articles, and he is the author/co-author of six books.

Visit Peter’s website at www.hpeteralesso.com.

Pump Up Your Book and H. Peter Alesso are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash!

Here’s how it works:

Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. This promotion will run July 1 – 26. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter and announced on July 27. Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win. Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Midshipman Henry Gallant in Space Book Blast


Monday, July 1
 – Inside BJ’s Head
Monday, July 1 – My Devotional Thoughts
Tuesday, July 2 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
Wednesday, July 3 – Miki’s Hope
Friday, July 5 – Books Books the Magical Fruit
Monday, July 8 – 4 the Love of Books
Monday, July 8 – Janna Shay
Tuesday, July 9 – Literary Winner
Wednesday, July 10 – Sapphire’s Book Reviews
Thursday, July 11 – Margay Leah Justice
Friday, July 12 – Literarily Speaking
Monday, July 15 – Review From Here
Tuesday, July 16 – Naturally Kim B
Wednesday, July 17 – The Dark Phantom
Thursday, July 18 – My Cozy Corner
Friday, July 19 – The Writer’s Life
Monday, July 22 – Beyond the Books
Tuesday, July 23 – Authors and Readers Book Corner
Tuesday, July 23  – God’s Light in Me
Wednesday, July 24 – My Book Addiction and More
Thursday, July 25 – Lori’s Reading Corner
Friday, July 26 – The Book Connection

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First Chapter Review: The Book of Helen by Sherry Antonetti

The first chapter of this historical fiction fantasy novel was submitted to me for review by the author.

BLURB: “Everyone thinks they know what happened in the Trojan war and afterwards, but no one ever bothered to ask me.” –Helen of Troy

Helen of Troy starts over at 65, trying to reestablish herself and hopefully, leave behind a legacy that doesn't simply focus on how she became the most famous woman in the world.

COVER: Nicely done. The ancient feel, the font, and the color scheme blend together well.

FIRST CHAPTER: It is the night of King Menelaus' funeral when his widow, Helen of Troy, learns her stepsons, Megapenthes and Xenodamos are seeking to take over her throne. A late night meeting of the council has been called. Will they vote that the Spartans show strength against the Dorians as Megapenthes and Xenodamos suggest or will they agree to Helen's plan to take time to devise a strategy? Helen's future hangs in the balance.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Though I know very little of this time period and Helen of Troy, author Sherry Antonetti has created in this first chapter a great hook filled with intrigue, deceit, and the unknown. Helen not only is coping with the loss of her husband, but she also learns her stepsons will stop at nothing to take over her throne. Will she be betrayed by the countrymen she has served for so long?

The Book of Helen totally captivated me. I'm eager to see how this one turns out.


I received the first chapter of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Outside of Eden Book Blast & Giveaway with Merry Jones

“Evil can dig in its roots anywhere and can take on many forms. Smart people know that. Kenahara.”

July. Israel. Iraq War vet and graduate archeologist Harper Jennings doesn’t believe in the Evil Eye. So when Hagit—the woman assigned to show her and her fourteen-month-old baby around Jerusalem—drags the pair of them into a market to buy charms to ward off evil, it isn’t the bad luck Harper fears but the market itself. Close, dark and crowded, the place worries Harper, and when an American mand seems to be in trouble, it is only the presence of the baby that stops Harper from wading in to help.

Later, to Harper’s dismay, she leans that the man she’d seen has been murdered. So when she’s invited to take part in a dig fifty miles away, while her geologist husband Hank takes part in the international symposium on water shortages that has brought them to Israel, she accepts. It will be safer away from the city and the market, she thinks. But Hagit, who’s coming along to look after the baby, disagrees. She is convinced that the Evil Eye has caught sight of Harper, and that it will follow her wherever she goes…

Read an excerpt:

All around her, women prayed, their heads bowed and covered. Some stuffed pieces of paper into small cracks and crevices between rocks. Harper Jennings stood at the Western Wall of the Old City in Jerusalem, holding her hand flat against a stone block in the structure. It felt rough, sturdy, solid. Ancient. It had kept its place for over two thousand years, outlasting invaders, empires, cultures, gods. Harper pressed her fingers against it, less interested in the bustling women around her than in the inanimate wall, its past. Who had cut the stone, hauled it, placed it there? And what had it seen—worshipers, warriors, centuries of change? How many other hands had touched it? Millions? Her hand on the stone, Harper felt connected to all of them, a chain of hands and shadows of hands, linked by a rock through ages.

But Harper couldn’t linger; Hagit had the baby, and she didn’t know Hagit very well. Following the practice of the other women, she moved away from the wall without turning her back to it, a sign of respect. When she was sufficiently distant, she looked around and saw Hagit and Chloe, holding hands, waiting for her.

Harper went to them, swept Chloe up, got a joyous squeal.

“Did you put in a prayer?” Hagit nodded at the wall.

“A prayer?”

“In the cracks. Didn’t you see? People put prayers on paper and leave them in the wall.”

“I saw them,” Harper tussled Chloe’s curls. Kissed her warm round cheek.

“I’ll wait.” Hagit held out a pen and scrap of paper. “Go—Put it between the stones. Write down a prayer and leave it there. It’s supposed to be like a—a what do you call it? A mailbox? No--Like Fedex for God.”

Harper laughed.

“Even if you’re not religious, it wouldn’t hurt--”

Book Details
Genre: Suspense
Published by: Severn House
Publication Date: July 1, 2013
Number of Pages: 216
ISBN: 9780727882646


Merry Jones is the author of the Harper Jennings thrillers (SUMMER SESSION, WINTER BREAK, BEHIND THE WALLS, OUTSIDE EDEN), the Elle Harrison suspense novel THE TROUBLE WITH CHARLIE, the Zoe Hayes mysteries (THE NANNY MURDER, THE RIVER KILLINGS, DEADLY NEIGHBORS, THE BORROWED AND BLUE MURDERS). She has also written humor (including I LOVE HIM, BUT…) and non-fiction (including BIRTHMOTHERS: Women who relinquished babies for adoption tell their stories.) Jones’ work has been translated into eight languages and she has been published in GLAMOUR, LADIES HOME JOURNAL, CHILD, NEW WOMAN and PHILADELPHIA MAGAZINE. A teacher of writing at Temple University for twelve years, Jones has promoted her work on local and national radio and television. She is a member of The Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and The Philadelphia Liars Club. An avid sculler, Jones lives with her family outside Philadelphia.

Visit the author online at http://merryjones.com/. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MerryDDJones and friend her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/merry.d.jones.


For this tour the author is hosting one giveaway with multiple winners.

One winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card & a different winner will receive a copy of Merry's book, Outside Eden.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: Traveling for Love: Searching for Self, Hoping for Love by Becky Due

An emotional journey of one woman rediscovering herself awaits readers in Traveling for Love: Searching for Self, Hoping for Love by Becky Due.

After fourteen years of marriage, Amanda ends up on her own and no longer sure of who she is. At forty, she's divorced, childless, and living with a roommate. How did she even get here? And what is she going to do to find herself again?

I have such mixed feelings about this book. Amanda's plight makes her sympathetic, but her actions made me feel more annoyed than sorry for her. She kept trying to fix the problem by being with another guy--usually for the fantastic sex--than dedicate time to focusing on how she got to where she was and where she wanted to be. I'm not saying that's unrealistic, but I think I would have found her more sympathetic if I were twenty years younger and less settled in my own life.

If the entire book had been as strong as the final six chapters, I would have loved it. Instead, I walked along with Amanda as she narrated a story of crazy relationships, sex in cars, and hookups while on vacation that went nowhere. And though the reader is supposed to witness Amanda's transformation, they actually aren't privy to much detail of the year in which the transformation begins to take place. Chapter 17 leaves Amanda back at home after a trip to Grand Cayman where she spent time with a man named John. The next chapter is a mere two and quarter pages long that talks about the year she spends alone focusing on herself and her family rather than finding love. Then it's back to another vacation and another guy.

But again, I have to say, I truly enjoyed how the author concluded the book. That last vacation changes everything for her, even if Amanda didn't know it right away. And the final chapter recaps how those relationships with various men brought her to where she finds herself at the end.

The majority of the reviews for Traveling for Love during this virtual book tour have been great, so perhaps I was just too far away from this character's situation to appreciate all she was going through. I would like to read another book by this author to see how it compares.

Paperback: 178 pages
Publisher: Becky Due an Imprint of Telemachus Press (December 8, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937698173
ISBN-13: 978-1937698171

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Interview with Mingmei Yip, Author of The Nine Fold Heaven

Kensington author Mingmei Yip believes that a novel should be entertaining, but also give something more. Her newest novel, her fifth, is The Nine Fold Heaven, coming out July, 2013. It is the edge-of-the-seat drama of a woman spy and nightclub singer who undertakes an emotionally wrenching and dangerous journey to reunite with her lost lovers and her baby she was told was stillborn. These are not her only near-impossible challenges – she has never given up hope of finding her parents’ murderer.

Mingmei’s previous novel Skeleton Women is about Chinese femmes fatales: a nightclub singer and spy, a magician, and a gossip columnist. All must scheme to survive the gang wars in the lawless, 1930ies Shanghai. Her debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion is the story of the last Chinese Geisha, = who finds the courage and the determination to escape her fate and attain happiness. Her second novel Petals from the Sky, a poignant Buddhist love story, is about wisdom, compassion, and, above all, when to persist and when to let go. Her third novel Song of the Silk Road is an adventure-love story about an older woman and a younger man traveling through some of China’s most desolate places in search of a three million reward.

Besides writing, Mingmei is an accomplished musician. A professional player on the Guqin, Chinese zither, she was recently invited by Carnegie Hall to perform in “A Festival celebrating Chinese Culture.” As a visual artist, she held a solo exhibition of her Goddess paintings at the New York Open Center Gallery to great acclaim and frequently conducts workshops on Chinese calligraphy. Venues have included the City University of New York, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also taught Taichi at the International Women’s Writing Guild. She has lectured extensively on Chinese art and culture at Oxford University, Columbia University, Beijing University, University of Paris, Amsterdam University, Vassar College, Williams College.

Mingmei is also a children’s book writer and illustrator. Her Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories is one of Tuttle Publishing’s bestsellers. Her second children’s book, Grandma Panda’s China Storybook, also by Tuttle, came out in 2013.

Visit Mingmei at www.mingmeiyip.com to learn about her books, music, paintings and calligraphy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilkRoadRomance.MingmeiYip
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Mingmeiyip

Where did you grow up?

Hong Kong, when it was still a British colony. Although being Chinese was a disadvantage in those days, the mix of cultures made it an exciting place to grow up.

When did you begin writing?

When I was eight. As a child I was left to spend a lot of time by myself but I happily made up stories and befriended the characters in them. Then one time when my mother and I were on our way to a Chinese opera performance, I saw the crescent moon and blurted out: “Ma, look, the moon is like my clipped fingernail!” Mother shot back: “Wah! Mingmei, you’ll be a writer someday!” So I began to dabble in writing and got my first essay published when I was fifteen. After I got ten dollars for this, I made a grand gesture of inviting my classmate to a feast of dim sum.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

Mostly during the day when my mind is fresh. I rarely write at night, only edit what I’ve written during the day. I believe even small amount of time adds up, so whenever I have a few spare moments I try to sit down and write. Sometimes, when I need to clear my mind, I practice my instrument.

What is this book about?

It is the story of a nightclub singer and spy who undertakes an emotionally wrenching and perilous journey to reunite with her lost lovers and the baby she was told was stillborn – and to discover the secret of her parents’ murder. It’s about living for love – and for revenge!

What inspired you to write it?

I think it’s Tolstoy who once said that for a family a beautiful daughter is like an egg laid by Satan. I was so intrigued by this saying that I decided to write about smart, stunning women who use their beauty in pursuit of ruthless schemes. What they did is told in my fourth and fifth novels, The Nine Fold Heaven and Skeleton Women.

I am fascinated by the ability of resourceful women to rise above terrible circumstances.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

The three skeleton women, or femmes fatales, Camilla the singer-spy, Shadow the magician, and the gender-ambiguous gossip columnist Rainbow Chang. Each of these beautiful, talented, and scheming women has to use all their wits and charm to survive their harsh fate amid the gang wars in the 1930ies, lawless Shanghai.

Another character I really like is the gangster head’s tough and ruggedly handsome bodyguard Gao, who fiercely loves and protects Camilla, his ruthless boss’ mistress. He is what the Chinese call an “iron man with a tender heart.” What woman would not fall for a man who will love and protect her, even at the expense of his own life?

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

No success will come without hardship and challenges, this is the inevitable yin and yang of life. We must expect and prepare for both. I would say that my road to publication, as for so many other writers, was anything but smooth. I’ve had my share of rejections and other frustrations. But now I have the satisfaction of my novels having been translated into nine languages and I receive fan mails from all over the world. This encourages me to keep writing more and to tell the stories of the unfortunate women who were forced to be silent. My next novels will be about an embroiderer, a Chinese witch, and a concubine who became a society lady.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

No. I consider myself very lucky that I have basically achieved what I aspired to in my life. My parents were very poor, but they arranged for me to have piano and painting lessons from a very young age, most important, they always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. And I am grateful for my husband, Geoffrey Redmond, who is patient and accommodating to my eccentricities – though he has some of his own – and to my long writing hours, and months of living on Chinese take-out!

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Most brick-and-mortar stores as well as online bookstores like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I think the best way to promote my work is to write as well as possible.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Read voraciously, take grammar courses, and go to learn and network at writing conferences. Only after you’ve read a lot can you tell if your writing is up to standard.

What is up next for you?

I am now writing my sixth novel Needle of a Thousand Beauties, a story about a ghost-bride who escapes to become an embroiderer.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I am very happy that my novels have been translated into nine languages so far and that Chinese translations have come out in Taiwan and will soon appear in mainland China.

Come along with an ex spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about Nine Fold Heaven and Mingmei Yip at http://www.mingmeiyip.com and get your copy of this exciting and exotic novel at http://www.amazon.com/The-Nine-Fold-Heaven-Mingmei/dp/0758273541/

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Words/Topics That Will Make You NOT pick up a book

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

  1. New Age: Simply not my thing. I've read a couple books in this genre, but my beliefs are different and I don't truly enjoy them.
  2. Snarky: I don't mind reading a book with a snarky character, but I don't want the overall tone of the book to be sarcastic--very ironic coming from the queen of sarcasm. 
  3. Fantasy: I like the occasional fantasy novel, but overall this is a genre I don't care to read much of.
  4. Paranormal: Another genre I don't actively seek out. I like some of them, but not my usual read.
  5. Foreign: I prefer books set in the United States. It's a strange quirk, but this is where I live and the setting I enjoy most.
  6. Futuristic: Historical fiction will grab me much easier than something set in the future.
  7. Fetish: I never want to read a book where someone's fetish is part of the plot. 
  8. Dark fiction: There might be an occasional novel in this genre that I'll read, but I used to enjoy this genre much more when I was younger.
  9. Popular: This will sound crazy, but I'll rarely read a series that is wildly popular. No Twilight, no Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe it's because I don't like to be a follower, but anything that is talked about constantly and making headlines is something I actively avoid--at least until the hullabaloo dies down. The only exception to this rule was The Hunger Games, and even then, I only read it because my daughter wanted to and I didn't want her to read them alone because she was too young.
  10. Roaring Twenties: Now, this might change depending upon how much I enjoy the new season of Downton Abbey, but this is an era I've never had an interest in reading about. Actually, there seems to be a gap in my historical fiction loving years. I like historical fiction from Colonial times up through the 1890s, but then don't usually read anything from 1900 until World War II begins. I never really thought about it until drafting this post. How strange.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Spotlight: Dateline: Atlantis by Lynn Voedisch

DATELINE: ATLANTIS is a contemporary fantasy featuring a female Indiana Jones who dives underwater and accidentally discovers what just might be the lost world of Atlantis. After she and her photographer document fabulous pyramids and other structures under the Caribbean sea, they return to their newspaper in the Los Angeles area, only to have all their evidence stolen. The sea rolls back and reclaims the buildings, and the photographer is kidnapped by unknown criminals.

The simple news assignment becomes more complicated with each turn and takes the Amaryllis Lang (pen name: Amy Quigley) to Chicago, Florida, Mexico and the Bahamas.

An ever-skeptical reporter, the Amaryllis Lang finds that her search for humanity's first family (in the possible Atlantis) dovetails with her own search for her own lost roots. Long ago someone murdered her archeologist parents—and they may be the same villains who are working against her own efforts to bring the Caribbean discovery to light.

In the midst of the tension, a testy romantic triangle develops. Plus, the pressure never stops as editor Noel Wright III keeps badgering her for a Pulitzer Prize-winning story. After escaping the villains' traps with her life intact, Amaryllis emerges a more open-minded adventurer, a better journalist, and an adventurer who is never afraid to let a historical find change written history.

Read an excerpt:

She dives underneath the waves. Next to her is the tip of a giant stone structure. It widens as it plunges down to the ocean floor, filling her line of sight. She surfaces and swims toward the top of the rock. Amaryllis fights for breath as the waves roll up toward her chin and away. She dives again. The structure is a pyramid, without a doubt. It can’t be a natural formation. Its lines are too regular. The stones used to fit the pyramid together are huge—twenty-ton boulders at least—yet they are meshed with knife-edge precision. She can’t get her fingernail between them. Another thing occurs to her: this pyramid is not built in steps, but is smooth-sided like the monuments of Egypt.

She bobs up and down, diving and surfacing for a quarter of an hour, finding more impossible things. These walls, unlike those of the Maya structures they found on land, are still smooth. They are weathered and pitted, but not covered over with barna- cles and seaweed. She sees the remnants of writing carved into the rock near the top, but can’t tell what language it is. It has neither the pictorial intricacy of Maya glyphs nor the simplicity of Roman characters. It has a modern aspect, clean and stylized, proportionally balanced, as if it were a font designed by an adver- tising agency. Yet, some of the figures recall the ancient themes of the American Indians: swirling vortices, men with large heads, hunting dogs. The most prominent of all symbols is a cross in- scribed with concentric circles.

Amaryllis’ strength is nearly gone, but she dives once more if only to give the fullest of reports to her cohorts sleeping back onshore. She slips below the surface and feels along the eastern wall, pulling herself down. She is looking for a dark square she glimpsed before, gaping and black. It yawns at once before her, its edges wavy in the ocean swells. A sea turtle darts in front of her, and she constricts her lungs. She streaks to the surface, gulps a huge lungful of air and immediately she’s at the opening again. Seconds disappear as she measures the portal. It’s just big enough to slip through, but will she be able to get back out? A shining gem illuminated by a sun ray catches her eye. She swishes inside.

With lungs screaming, she scans a tiny chamber, carved from top to bottom with ancient writing. Gold glints from porticos on the sides. A painting is still visible on the ceiling. A carved hand, claw-like and strong, rests on a pedestal in the center of the space. The red hand holds a stone so beautiful, she can’t bear to leave it. In the filtered sunlight that passes through the door- way, the gem dazzles like Venus in the night sky. The morning star—the guide that Amaryllis can rely on. She grabs the jewel.

Through the door, up to the surface, sucking in the air—she’s free.

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Published by: Fiction Studio Books

Publication Date: April 2, 2013

Number of Pages: 277

ISBN: 978-1-936558-57-5

Purchase Links:  

Lynn Voedisch is a Chicago writer who had a long career as a newspaper reporter and worked for 17 years at the Chicago Sun-Times. She also freelanced for many other publications, both in print and online. She lives with her husband and pet cat three blocks from the Chicago border. Her son, a new attorney, lives in the city. Her hobbies are tennis, tai ch, an promoting the appreciation of literature.

Visit the author online at:




Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Spotlight: Of Words and Water - 2013 Anthology

Water. Many of us take it for granted. With the turn of a faucet, an endless supply runs across our hands, douses our face, fills our pots, kettles, tubs and swimming pools. We depend on the life-sustaining qualities of water for everything from the essential to the mundane, to refresh our bodies and quench our thirst, to clean ourselves, our clothes, our automobiles and even to maintain our lawns. For us, the fortunate ones, safe water and sanitation is an integral part of our daily lives. Could we survive without it?

Roughly one in ten of the world's population do not have access to safe water. Two in five people do not have access to adequate sanitation.(*) WaterAid is working to change that. Since 1981, the international non-profit organization has been transforming lives by helping the world’s poorest communities help themselves.

Of Words and Water is a collection of water-themed works from authors around the globe, all of whom wish to contribute to WaterAid’s invaluable efforts. Our work is given freely: if you enjoy it please give generously to share the gift of clean water, the gift of life.

(*)WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Report 2013 update

Published: June 28, 2013
Words: 57,530 (approximate)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301113965

Available as a FREE download from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/330936

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Spotlight: Art of Steampunk, Revised Second Edition by Art Donovan

Welcome to the world of Steampunk: a fantasy vision of nineteenth century Victorian England imbued with today's technology, resulting in devices and contraptions that seem to have sprung from the mind of a mad twenty-first century scientist.

A new book from Fox Chapel Publishing, The Art of Steampunk, Revised Second Edition, examines the captivating and dynamic aesthetic of this emerging genre through the creative vision of today's most innovative Steampunk artists.

Author Art Donovan curated the world's very first museum Steampunk exhibit at The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University in England. The original edition of The Art of Steampunk profiled 17 extraordinary artists from that event. Now the world’s foremost interpreter of Steampunk is back, with new artist profiles in a revised and expanded second edition of his book.

Donovan takes a fresh look at what is happening in Steampunk today. He shows us startling new works, created since the time of the Oxford exhibition, by breakthrough artists like Ann Pedro, Anna Dabrowska, Camryn Forrest, Evelyn Kriete, Filip Sawczuk, Jessica Joslin, Mikhail Smolyanov, and Sam Van Olffen. Their creations exemplify some of the very best in contemporary Steampunk art and design. Each artist sets the standard for his or her involvement—be it jewelry, sculpture, lighting, painting, or digital art.

No longer satisfied with the plastic design of today's mass-produced products, these artists are crafting a romantic new standard for modern goods by applying the characteristics of Steampunk. Their "extraordinary devices and ingenious contraptions" consist of everything from sculptures and timepieces to light fixtures and motorcycles, with every piece demonstrating hours of painstaking work and unlimited devotion. Readers will find that many of these artists are as unique and colorful as their masterpieces, often adopting alter egos of Victorian mad scientists and world explorers, allowing themselves to become fully immersed in the imaginative and exciting world of Steampunk.

Art Donovan was born and raised in New York City. With more than 30 years of experience in the art industry, he creates pieces for Donovan Design, a company created with his wife, Leslie, that specializes in handcrafted lighting fixtures and illuminated sculptural objects. Their client list includes Tiffany & Co., Benetti Luxury Yachts, the Four Seasons, Disney Cruise Lines, and countless private restaurants, casinos, and residences around the world. Donovan’s Steampunk journey began several years ago when he encountered it online. It touched upon some favorite interests— history, science, and science fiction—and was unlike anything he had seen before. Since curating the world’s first museum Steampunk exhibit, Donovan continues to make highly demanded Steampunk light fixtures while constantly working to bring the genre to the attention of others.

Visit the author online at http://artdonovan.typepad.com/

Guest Blogger: Joel Savage, Author of Overseas Chronicle: The Rome and Amsterdam Experience

Overseas Chronicle: The Rome and Amsterdam Experience is another suspenseful, thrilling epic from Joel Savage and inspired by true events. Savage explains how, as an illegal immigrant in Europe (before becoming documented), he survived the hostile harsh conditions and mafia gangs of Rome, Italy, by sleeping at rough places including the central train station and the notorious pantanella, an ex-Pasta factory, which harbored all criminal activities.

He tried and made it to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, only to realize that he had arrived in a country whose hard immigration policies and liberal laws on drugs like marijuana had taken its toll on many illegal immigrants, by turning them into junkies and alcoholics.

Eager to get documents, he made a wrong move that landed him behind bars. One may never know the experience of being an illegal immigrant until reading this comprehensive and vivid account of Joel Savage’s experience in both Rome and Amsterdam. Overseas Chronicle: The Rome and Amsterdam Experience, is a book of pain, anguish and sorrow, written with passion.

Overseas Chronicle: The Rome and Amsterdam Experience 
By Joel Savage

Everyone has objectives, but not everything goes as planned for those who want to achieve something unique in society. I am one of them. I missed part of my education after the sudden death of my father. It occurred to me that if I really wanted to further my education, the only option was to travel to Europe. I wasn’t greedy, thinking that Europe makes one rich overnight, but I had an idea that if I succeeded to integrate legally, I could follow my dreams since they have the best educational facilities and good teachers.

Upon arrival in Europe, I realized that going to a foreign country could be very difficult in regards to financial aspects and visa applications, but nothing was more difficult than gaining legal immigrant status in a foreign country. Like Paul’s missionary journey to Rome, I found myself sleeping in rough places, including the central train station and a deserted food factory. Rome might be a strong Catholic city but they view foreigners, especially blacks, as people from an unknown, strange planet.

At the mission houses amongst other foreigners, we continuously witnessed the abuse of young boys by the priests and the constant stealing of money from our letters that passed through the mission’s office, because we had no resident address. In Rome I went to a school run by the ‘Caritas’ [Charity] under the umbrella of the Vatican City. I could read and write Italian very well but that didn’t help to facilitate my status as a legal immigrant. The continuous degradation, racism, and discrimination forced many immigrants from Africa to leave Rome as illegal immigrants, but I stayed hoping for the best; however the situation never changed.

After working as a house boy to an Italian journalist, I saved enough money and moved to Amsterdam, leaving behind a year-old child and my wife in Africa. Holland is a multi-cultural country and far ahead in development and integration. Unfortunately, the hard immigration policies and liberal laws on soft drugs have encouraged others to do hard drugs, thereby taking drastic effect on many people including illegal immigrants. I saw the disastrous effects of drugs on many, but they turned blind and pretended they didn’t know what was going on because free sales of drugs is a like a catalyst which sustains the tourism industry.

This was something I wanted to avoid, and the only way to prevent falling victim to depression and drugs was to fight for my documents after almost four and half years as an illegal immigrant. One thing I didn’t understand was the drug issue. The Dutch drug force in the past and present had successfully arrested drug couriers in the city and Schiphol, the airport, but the coffee shops sell drugs, including marijuana, to customers without impunity. Who then supplies drugs to the coffee shops? This was a question I never found the answer to.

I never encourage crime or violence. I fear these two acts, and therefore, try my best to live a clean life. But in order to upgrade my status to legal resident, I was involved in a serious crime, leading me behind bars. A Surinamese woman collected money from me with the promise of helping me get my papers. I didn’t know her but I trusted her. According to the police, she was a criminal preying on illegal immigrants. I was thrown behind bars for several days while my passport was with the immigration police. It was likely they were preparing my documents to be deported, as I foresaw my deportation to Africa to be very close.

One day while behind bars, I had no bath and food for the whole day, even though every day the cell was opened for me to wash myself and be served food. The next day when they served me food, I asked them why they had failed to give me food the day before. The officer thought I was joking, but he quickly realized I was speaking the truth. According to him I was a very quiet person, therefore the officers on duty failed to realize that there was someone in the cell. Because of this mistake, they gave back my passport and set me free. Today I am a married Belgium national with three children.

Joel Savage was born at Cape Coast, in the central region of Ghana, on January 19, 1957. He had his secondary school education at both Ebenezer Secondary School and Accra High School in Accra, Ghana. In 1985, whilst living in Sierra Leone, he became a naturalized citizen, therefore losing his nationality as a Ghanaian.

In his life time, he was much influenced by his father, who was a veteran journalist. His father’s influence propelled his flair for writing at a very tender age. At school, he wrote numerous articles for publication. After secondary school, he followed a short course in journalism at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra to acquire more experience and writing skills.

As a freelance writer, Joel wrote feature articles for the Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times, and the Weekly Spectator in Accra, Ghana for a certain period. He is now a prolific writer and an accredited card holding member of “Vlaamse Journalisten Vereniging” (Flemish Journalists Association) in Belgium. He lives in Antwerp, Belgium with his wife and three children where he freelances for newspapers, magazines, and television.

Visit the author online at http://www.joelsavage.com/

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coming in August 2013: St. Catherine's Crown by S. Martin Shelton

1917‐ Empress Alexandria understands that the Bolsheviks will soon topple the Czar. She charges her godson, Kirik Pirogov, to carry the imperial crown of Catherine the Great and a cache of Romanov jewelry to a secret czarist refuge in western China. Alexandra informs her youngest daughter, Grand Duchess Anastasia, of the escape route necessary to carry on the Romanov Dynasty.

Kirik and Anastasia make perilous journeys across Siberia via the Trans‐Siberian Railroad. Their story is told against a background of revolution, their hardscrabble life in the Russian village, constant fear of the Cheka (Soviet secret police), and unscrupulous treasure‐hunters.

Read an excerpt!

The Romanov family rushes to dress and pack a few personal belongings. When the family arrives in the
cellar, the Cheka sergeant tells them that their transportation will arrive shortly. A guard brings a chair for
the Empress. For a moment, Alexandra’s heart fills with hope. If the Czech Legion and White Army are so
near, rescue might be imminent. Soon they might all be free, on their way to England. She was right, she
thinks, not to send Anastasia away on her own. Now the family will be together. She puts an arm around
her youngest daughter’s waist. Thanks be to God.
Suddenly a squad of Cheka soldiers with their rifles at port arms marches single file and at double
time into the cellar. After the last soldier is in position, the first sergeant commands, “Squad, halt! Right
face.” The soldiers turn to face the Romanovs. After a moment, the sergeant shouts, “Squad, ah‐ten‐hut!”
The sound of rifle butts hitting the concrete floor reverberates throughout the cellar.
Several minutes later, Major Vasili Yurovsky enters. He is the senior Cheka officer in the area. He
wears the summer grey short‐sleeved tunic uniform with red piping and his major’s pips on the
shoulder boards.
“Present. Arms!” commands the first sergeant.
The soldiers bring their rifles to the present‐arms position to salute their commanding officer.
In return, Major Yurovsky returns a snappy hand salute.
The Czarevich, Alexi, giggles in delight at the military prompt.
However, fear and concern race through the rest of the Romanov family. Alexandra knows exactly
what is happening. The Czar, Anastasia, and her three sisters wonder what this military demonstration has
to do with their rescue by the Whites or the Czech Legion.
“Order arms!” commands the sergeant. The soldiers return their rifles to their right side. The
pounding of the rifle butts hitting the concrete floor sends chills through the Romanovs, causing them to
wonder what is happening.
Yurovsky orders Alexandra to stand. She stares with smoldering hostility at Yurovsky. But, no
longer enjoying the resources of royal status, she complies. After a moment or two she slowly moves a few
paces to her left, next to Anastasia.
With his arms akimbo, Yurovsky walks down the line of the imperial family. He stops in front of
each person and looks intently into their eyes. All but the Empress turn away from him. Summoning all her
courage, she returns her most imperious glower of disdain. He smiles faintly at her feeble attempt
at bravado.
The Czarevich is dressed in his sailor uniform. Maintaining proper military protocol, he salutes
Yurovsky. The major stares at him contemptuously and does not return the salute.
Major Yurovsky turns to the first sergeant and snaps, “On my orders!”
“As you say. Sir!”
Yurovsky moves to the cement steps and climbs three. “Port arms!” he shouts. He surveys the scene
to ensure that the Romanovs are positioned correctly and that his soldiers are ready.
Satisfied that the staging is correct, Yurovsky commands, “Fix bayonets!”
There is a loud clanging of metal as the soldiers snap their bayonets onto their rifles.
Anastasia now understands with crystal clarity the task that her mother assigned to her so long ago.
They are not going to be rescued, and she and her family are going to be murdered by the Bolsheviks. An
overwhelming fear of death engulfs her. Her family is in this cellar for an execution. She fights to be brave
and to hold back her tears. Her mother cannot help her.
“Load!” The soldiers pull back the bolts of their rifles, then jam the bolts forward, loading a round
into the rifles’ chambers. The metal‐on‐metal clicking sends a vibration of horror through
the cellar.
The other three daughters begin to sob and make the sign of the cross as they realize their fate is
death. Alexandra commands, “Be brave. You are Romanovs. St. Nicholas will guide you.”
The Czar has been standing silently, as if he were in a dream. Aroused by the loud clicking of metal,
he exclaims, “What!”
“Aim!” The riflemen select the nearest target.
The Romanovs see the loaded rifles with bayonets pointed at them. Their fate is all too clear.
Cries. Screams.

ISBN: 978‐0‐9892861‐1‐4
August 2013, Lamplight Press
Ingram, Amazon, Barnes & Noble
Paperback & Digital

Retired Naval Captain S. Martin Shelton’s 40+ years of military service, including active duty in the Korean and Vietnam wars, required that he travel throughout the world, with particular emphasis on the Far East. Shelton has an extensive background in Soviet and Chinese studies which fostered his interest in the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik’s regicide of the Czar, Empress, and their five children, and the burgeoning Soviet Communist régime. Shelton’s particular interest in China focuses on the chaos during the 1930’s.

Shelton explores Russian History in his blog, and authored, St. Catherine’s Crown, an historical novel begging the question: What if Anastasia survived?

Visit the author online at http://smartinshelton.wordpress.com/

Book Spotlight: Slingshot by Matthew Dunn


by Matthew Dunn

on Tour June 25 - July 31, 2013

Book Details:
Genre:  Fiction
Published by: William Morrow / HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780062038029

Purchase Links:


Master spy Will Cochrane must catch a missing Russian defector as well as one of Europe’s deadliest assassins in this action-packed follow-up to Sentinel, written by real life former field officer Matthew Dunn.

Will Cochrane monitors the nighttime streets of Gdansk, Poland—waiting for the appearance of a Russian defector, a man bearing a top secret document, who Will believes is about to step out of the cold and into the hands of Polish authorities. But suddenly everything goes sideways. The target shows up, but so does a team from Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) hell-bent on keeping the man from walking. Then, in a hail of crossfire, a van speeds into the melee and snatches the defector out from under them all. Everyone wants the man and the codes he carries—but now he’s gone and it’s up to Will and his CIA/MI6 team to find him before the Russians.

Will tracks both the missing Russian and his kidnappers, believing the defector has his own warped agenda. But soon it’s apparent that the real perpetrator could be someone much more powerful: a former East German Stasi officer who instigated a super-secret pact between Russian and US generals almost twenty years ago. An agreement, which if broken for any reason, was designed to unleash the world’s deadliest assassin.

Then Will learns that the Russians have tasked their own ‘spycatcher’—an agent just as ruthless and relentless as Will—to retrieve the document. Now Will knows that he faces two very clever and deadly adversaries, who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Berlin, 1995

Each step through the abandoned Soviet military barracks took the Russian intelligence officer closer to the room where men were planning genocide.

Nikolai Dmitriev hated being here.

And he loathed what he was about to do.

The barracks were a labyrinth of corridors and rooms. Icy water dripped over the stone walls, covered with paintings of Cold War–era troops and tanks; the air was rank with must; the officer’s footsteps echoed as he strode onward, shivering despite his overcoat and fur hat. Previously, the complex would have housed thousands of troops. Now it resembled a decaying prison.

He turned into a corridor and was confronted by four men. Two Russians, two Americans, all wearing jeans, boots, and Windbreakers, carrying silenced handguns. The Special Forces men checked his ID and thoroughly searched him. It was the seventh time this had happened as he’d moved through the barracks. Two hundred Russian Spetsnaz operatives and an equal number of U.S. Delta, SEALs, and CIA SOG men were strategically positioned in the base to ensure that every route to his destination was defended. Their orders were clear: kill any unauthorized person who attempted to get near the men in the room.

The men motioned Nikolai forward.

Reaching the end of the corridor, he stopped opposite a door. Extending his hand to open it, he hesitated as he heard a high-pitched noise. Glancing back, two rats in a stagnant pool of water and grease were ripping skin and flesh off the dying carcass of another screeching rat, neither predator attempting to fight the other for the meat; instead they seemed to be cooperating. He wondered if he should turn around and leave while there was still time. Everything about his presence here was wrong. But he was under orders.

He entered.

It was a large mess hall. Ten years ago, he would have seen long trestle tables and soldiers eating their meals. Now it was bare of any furnishings save a rectangular table and chairs in the center. Graffiti covered the walls, most of it crude, deriding the Soviet Union. Cigarette smoke hung motionless in the stagnant air. Rainwater poured from cracks in the high ceiling onto the concrete floor.

Sitting on one side of the rectangular table were a U.S. admiral, a U.S. general, and a CIA officer. Opposite them were two Russian generals. Between them were two files, and ashtrays. None of the men were in uniform; the presence in Germany of America’s and Russia’s most powerful military commanders was secret.

As was the presence of the intelligence officers. Nikolai himself was Head of Directorate S—the SVR’s division with responsibility for illegal intelligence, including planting illegal agents abroad, conducting terror operations and sabotage in foreign countries, and recruiting Russians on Russian soil. The CIA officer at the table was Head of the Special Activities Division—responsible for overseas paramilitary activities and covert manipulation of target countries’ political structures.

At the head of the table was a small, clean-shaven, middle-aged man with jet black hair. Dressed in an expensive black suit, a crisp, woven white silk shirt, and a blue tie that had been bound in a Windsor knot, the man removed his rimless circular glasses, polished them with one end of his tie, and smiled. “Always late for the party, Nikolai.”

Nikolai did not smile. “A party requires salubrious surroundings. You’ve chosen unwisely, Kurt.”

Kurt Schreiber nodded toward the vacant chair next to one of the Russian generals. “Sit, and shut up.”

Nikolai said with contempt, “You’ve no authority over me, civilian.”

Kurt chuckled. “When you and I were colonels in the KGB and Stasi, you’d have called me comrade.”

Nikolai sat and nodded. “Different times, and I’d have been lying to your face.”

Kurt’s shrill, well-spoken words were rapid: “The Russian premier chose me to chair this meeting. Not you.” He placed his manicured fingers together. “That is telling.”

“I agree. It tells us how low we’ve stooped.” Nikolai looked at the Americans. “Have the protocols been drawn up?”

“They have.” Admiral Jack Dugan nodded toward the Russian generals. “It took us two days.”

General Alexander Tatlin lit a cigarette. “It was worth the effort.” The Russian exhaled smoke. “The results are precise.”

“Seems to me,” CIA officer Thomas Scott said, eyeing Nikolai with suspicion, “that you’re not comfortable with this.”

Nikolai laughed, his voice echoing in the bare hall. “How can any sane man be comfortable agreeing to this?”

“Kurt Schreiber’s idea is brilliant.”

“It’s psychotic.” Nikolai looked at Schreiber and repeated in a quieter voice, “Psychotic.”

U.S. general Joe Ballinger pointed across the table. “Schreiber’s right. The act has to shock the fuckers into submission. Man comes at you with a knife; you defend yourself with a gun. Trouble is—we haven’t got anyone on our side of the fence who’s got the balls to do another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. So we make the decision, and it’s a sane one—as uncomfortable as it may make us.”

Nikolai frowned. “You haven’t reported the true meaning of the protocols to your president?”

The U.S. commander shook his head. “Nope, and we’re never going to. Nor are subsequent presidents going to find out.” He gestured toward his two American colleagues. “We’re the only Americans who’ll know the secret. No one else stateside would ever agree to this plan.”

“And that’s because they lack my . . . imagination.” Kurt withdrew two ink pens, handed one to General Leon Michurin and the other to Admiral Dugan. “Signatures, please.”

The Americans signed a sheet of paper inside one of the files; the Russian generals did the same in their files; they exchanged documents, countersigned, and moved both files in front of Nikolai.

The SVR officer stared at the two files. All that was needed to make this official was his signature on both documents.

“Nikolai, we’re waiting.” Kurt’s tone was hard, impatient.

Nikolai looked at the men opposite him; ordinarily they were his enemies. He pictured the two large rats, feasting at opposite ends of the third rodent.


The Russian intelligence officer shook his head. “This is wrong.”

“And yet the alternative isn’t right.”

“If I sign this, millions of people could die.”

“Not millions, you fool.” Schreiber smiled. “Hundreds of millions.”

Nikolai couldn’t believe this was happening. He’d always hated Kurt Schreiber. The man was undoubtedly highly intelligent, but also untrustworthy, manipulative, and cruel, and since the collapse of East Germany he had made millions through illegal business ventures. Now he had the ear of the Russian president, and that made him more dangerous than when he’d been a Stasi officer. “How can you live with yourself?”

Schreiber shrugged. “I view the deaths as necessary statistics. I suggest you do the same.”

Nikolai was tempted to respond but knew there was no point.

Schreiber would not listen to reason.

Pure evil never did.

Nikolai gripped the pen, momentarily closed his eyes, muttered, “Forgive me,” and signed both documents.

“Excellent.” Kurt reached across, grabbed both files, shoved one at the Russian generals, the other at the Americans. The former Stasi colonel smiled. “The protocols for Slingshot are now in place, ready for use should ever the need arise.”

“Great.” General Tatlin stubbed his cigarette out. “So now we can get out of this shithole.”

“Not yet.” Kurt placed his hands flat on the table. “How can we ensure that no one in this room ever reveals the secret of what’s missing in the files?”

Thomas Scott huffed. “Slingshot won’t work if one of us talks. We’ve agreed that.”

Kurt stared at nothing. “We have, but we need more than agreement.”

“What are you proposing?”

“Insurance.” Kurt looked at the men before resting his cold gaze on Nikolai. “Time can erode a man’s resolve. But fear can keep him resolute.”

“Speak plainly.”

Kurt nodded. “One day, one of you may wake up with a crisis of conscience and decide that he can no longer carry the burden of this secret. That can’t happen. So, my solution is simple and effective. The Russian president has authorized me to activate an assassin. He will be deployed as a deep-cover sleeper agent, and his orders are to kill any of you”—he looked at the CIA officer and smiled—“who talks.”

General Tatlin lit another cigarette and jabbed its glowing tip in the direction of Schreiber. “You expect us to live our lives with a potential death sentence hanging over us?”

Schreiber interlaced his fingers. “Yes.”

Dugan laughed. “Take a look around this base, Schreiber. We’re the kind of men who like to have impenetrable security wherever we go.”


“Damn right.” The admiral’s tone was now angry. “Send out your assassin, for all we care. But you’re going to need better insurance than that.”

“There is no better insurance.”

Nikolai wondered why Schreiber looked so smug. “Who’s the assassin?”

The sound of rainwater striking the concrete floor seemed to intensify as Schreiber momentarily closed his eyes. “You know of him by the code name Kronos.”

“Kronos!” Nikolai’s stomach muscles knotted. “Why was he selected for this task?”

Before Schreiber could answer, General Ballinger asked, “Who the hell is Kronos?”

Nikolai looked at the American commanders as he began to sweat. “He was a Stasi officer, tasked on East Germany’s most complex and strategic assassinations. Since the collapse of communism, he’s been on the payroll of Russia. He’s . . . he’s our most effective killer. One hundred and eighty three kills under his belt. Always successful.” As he returned his attention to Schreiber, he felt overwhelming unease. “Why was he selected?”

Schreiber opened his eyes. “Because the Slingshot secret is so vital. We needed our very best assassin to ensure that”—he swept his arm through air—“no amount of impenetrable security can protect a man who might betray us.” Schreiber checked his watch and looked toward one of the far corners of the mess hall. In a loud, clipped tone, he called out, “Show them.”

Nikolai and the others immediately followed Schreiber’s gaze. At first nothing happened. Then, movement from within the shadows at the corner of the room.

A big man stepped into the light.

Standing directly underneath one of the streams of water pouring down from the ceiling.

Was motionless as he allowed the icy rain to wash over his head.

His handgun held high and trained on them.


Schreiber smiled and looked at the others. “Not only did Kronos get past all of your men, he did so with very precise timing. I ordered him not to enter this room until one minute ago, so that the contents of our discussion would remain confidential to only the men around this table. Since then, he’s been pointing his weapon at you.”

General Michurin slammed a fist down onto the table. “How dare you make fools of us!”

Schreiber responded calmly, “It wasn’t my intention to make fools of you. Rather, to demonstrate to you that you do indeed have a potential death sentence hanging over you.” He darted a look at Kronos. “Give them what they need.”

Nikolai felt fear course through him as he watched the German assassin take measured steps toward the table, his gun still held high. Though Nikolai was one of only a handful of SVR officers who was cleared to know all about the Kronos operations, he didn’t know the assassin’s real name. Moreover, this was the first time that he’d been in the presence of the man. Kronos was well over six feet tall, muscular, had black hair, and was wearing clothes identical to those Nikolai had seen worn by the base’s protection detail.

Kronos lowered his weapon, withdrew a piece of paper from his jacket, tore it in half, and slapped one piece of paper on Admiral Dugan’s chest before moving to the other side of the table and doing the same with the other bit of paper on General Michurin.

Schreiber spoke to the Americans. “I suggest you bury your paper deep in the vaults of the CIA.” Then to the Russians, “Put yours in the SVR vaults.” He cupped his hands together. “Never combine them, unless there is reason to do so.”


“One of you needs Kronos to put a bullet in your head.”

“You . . .”

“Enough, admiral!” Schreiber composed himself. “The relevance of the two pieces of paper will be made known to you if the need arises. Until that time, Kronos will vanish. No one, not even me, will know of his location. He’ll wait for years, decades if necessary, until he is . . . needed.”

Thomas Scott shook his head. “Our men have been here for three days.” The CIA officer felt disbelief. “And when they arrived, they searched the entire base.”

General Ballinger shrugged. “There’s no way he could’ve penetrated the base today. He must have entered the complex before our men arrived and hid in a place they failed to search.”

“That’s the only possible explanation.” Admiral Dugan pointed at Schreiber. “Next time we’ll be more thorough.”

Schreiber grinned, though his expression remained cold. “Kronos—show them where you were two and three days ago.”

The German moved around the table, placing a photograph each in front of the Russians and Americans. Incredulity was on all of the men’s faces as they stared at the shots.

Each showed the inside of their homes in America or Russia.

A local newspaper clearly showing the day’s date.

And Kronos pointing the tip of a long knife toward family photos.


Kronos retrieved each photo, placed them in a pile in the center of the table, and lit them with a match.

Schreiber watched the flames rise high. “Our meeting is concluded. You will take the Slingshot protocols back to your respective headquarters. You will secrete the torn papers as instructed. You will keep your mouths shut. Otherwise, my assassin will find and kill you.”

Kronos stepped away from the men, hesitated, then turned to face them. In a deep voice, he said, “Gentlemen, I left all of your men alive, though I must apologize for the harm I had to cause some of them.”

Then he disappeared into the shadows.

Author Bio:

As an MI6 field officer, MATTHEW DUNN recruited and ran agents, coordinated and participated in special operations, and acted in deep-cover roles throughout the world. He operated in environments where, if captured, he would have been executed. Dunn was trained in all aspects of intelligence collection, deep-cover deployments, small-arms, explosives, military unarmed combat, surveillance, and infiltration.

Medals are never awarded to modern MI6 officers, but Dunn was the recipient of a rare personal commendation from the secretary of state for work he did on one mission, which was deemed so significant that it directly influenced the success of a major international incident.

During his time in MI6, Matthew conducted approximately seventy missions. All of them were successful. He lives in England, where he is at work on the fourth Spycatcher novel.

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