Monday, October 16, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Deadspeak 2 by Ruth Bainbridge

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly chosen commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


DEADSPEAK2. The chilling new entry in the Deadspeak Mystery Series

Things look different when you're dead.

It’s Halloween and a group of teens throw a party at Harbinger Falls’ most celebrated haunted estate. It’s all fun and games until a session with a Ouija board guides the partygoers to the body of a young girl hidden in the attic.

Detective Kimberly Trent is assigned the case and quickly discovers that all is not as it seems. First, there’s the connection between the death and a string of petnappings terrorizing the neighborhood. Then there’s the suicide note that only leaves more questions than answers. A visit from Kimberly’s ghostly friend Griff Lindon sheds an unwelcome light. It seems she’s had a run in with the newly deceased who tells her she’s been murdered.

This is the second in The Deadspeak Mysteries. The entries are meant to be read in sequential order and do not standalone. In each book, you’ll find a new murder for Kimberly Trent to solve. You’ll also find the continuing search for who murdered Kim’s sister Elizabeth. Each book will take you closer and closer to finding out the identity of The Hex Killer, the serial killer who ended Elizabeth’s short life. It will also bring you to the heart of the evil that’s come back to life to wreak revenge.


“A missing cat, sir?”

The shower with Max had turned into a lot more than earning a gold star in good hygiene. The afterglow of lovemaking stayed with her throughout breakfast, and the drive to work. It lasted right up until her talk with Captain Brody Walcott.

He never failed to quash thoughts not related to work.

What the hell was up with him anyway? How dare he propose such a ridiculous idea? After she’d helped solve the biggest case in Harbinger Falls’ history, he wanted her to find a cat?

“Not one, Kim—several. And not just cats. Dogs and cats are disappearing with regularity and people are not happy.”

“Tell them to call Animal Control,” she lashed.

“Animal Control deals with strays, not family pets that are stolen.”

It was a joke. It had to be a joke. She searched his dark eyes, but there were no signs it was.

“I don’t care! Give it to Cinder!” she blurted, tossing the picture of Smoky across the desk. It skidded to a halt at the roughened hands of her illustrious leader.

“Kim!” The angry tone shot through her; she bolted upright in her chair, “I know you think you’re a big detective and that this is beneath you, but there’s been over thirty dogs and fifteen cats abducted since September. There’s no accurate record since officers on this force have the same attitude you do.”

“And what attitude would that be, sir?”

“That pets aren’t important and that the police only deal with important things. Well, pets are important! Especially now that a few missing pets have turned into a pandemic.”

“Sir, I understand that they’re important to the family, but—”

“Detective Trent, do you really think you know everything? Read up on the statistical link between abuse of animals and serial killers, then come back and tell me your opinion.”

“Then you think—”

“What I think is that we either have a dog fighting operation or—”

“Or?” she prodded as he paused and took a swallow of black coffee.

“Or that a very sick individual in our community may develop into something way more terrifying."


Born in the idyllic, sleepy town of Ithaca, NY, Ruth Bainbridge has been a lover of mysteries for her entire life.

Ever since a child, she has consumed detective stories at regular intervals, becoming enamored with all the superstars of crime. She loved nothing more than to match wits with the likes of Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Thomas Pitt, Lord Peter Wimsey, Richard Jury, and Edward X Delaney, becoming inspired by their brilliance. Hoping to emulate her writing idol’s achievements in dreaming up such characters, she started composing her own short stories.

However, life interfered with her plans of becoming the next hopeful to try a life of crime—on paper at least. Devoting herself to her marriage and the raising of four children, the empty nest syndrome gave her the impetus to return to her first love—murder.

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Straight Browsing frim the Library: Travesty of Justice by Heather Butler

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Heather Butler will be awarding a paperback copy of the book (North America Only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Samuel, a strong black African man, Nicole a beautiful white woman, that has mystical visions meet in the year of 1999, in the city of Halifax, a small university town in the heart of Nova Scotia. They are living in a society that has been torn with racial tension for centuries. They struggled with discrimination, and are facing too many obstacles.

Samuel, now a medical doctor, is working hard to gain access to his chosen profession. He knocks on many different doors asking for just one chance, to demonstrate his capabilities as a qualified doctor, but his efforts and knocks go unanswered. When they appeal to their government for help and intervention; it is then that they will discover a conspiracy, which will nearly destroy their lives. As Samuel and Nicole work hard to overcome the injustice that is thrown at them. Samuel realizes he is out of time, and the secret he has buried for years from Nicole, can no longer be hidden.

This true-life story called Travesty of Justice, will touch you on a human level, allowing you to look beyond the color of one skin, and see two people, their minds, their hearts, and hear their cries, as they fight for courage and strength, in a society that goes to extraordinary measure to deny access.


A tear rolled down Nicole’s cheek, as she looked around the empty room. She could still feel his presence, even those she could not see his face. Everything she had struggled to gain, was now gone, it had all vanished in a blink of an eye. With every tear that rolled down her cheek, she cried for the loss of their unborn child, for the hand she used to hold, for the love that still lived in her heart, but was now gone from her life. It had all disappeared into thin air. And she was left trying to understand why. Why didn’t they give him a chance, why hasn’t any of the doors they had knocked been answered? Why was the world so cold? Why did people judge others so unfairly? What gave them the right to deny, someone access to their careers, just because they didn’t study here. If they have the skills and knowledge, and it’s proven they did, then why wouldn’t they play fair? Didn’t they realize how many people lives, are left broken by these protective barriers they put in place. That they are denying, fair and equal opportunity for someone that deserve it, and also to those that are in need of the skills.

Heather Butler Designer and Owner of The Butler Collection of Jewelry. Author of Travesty of Justice, a compelling drama romance novel, and Thoughtful Moments, a book of inspirational poetry. Heather was born in Nova Scotia, but began her career in the Toronto apparel Industries, where she worked for over 10 ten years. With a talent eye for colors, and good sense for style, she quickly worked her way to the top, managing mutli -million dollar operations. Heather began her jewelry career in 2000, designing jewelry, which was showcased on Canadian shopping channel, under the trade name Unban Chic. She was also the on air sale person, for this line of jewelry, for several years. In 2012 Heather founded The Butler Collection, and worked in the company full time. The Butler Collection is a contemporary, and sophisticated fine line of gemstone jewelry, which reflects the modern women of today. Her signature collection is intricate bead work of rare exotic gemstones, pearls and crystal in sterling silver and gold. These one of a kind designs, and limited edition pieces are, distinctive, imaginative, colorful wearable piece of art. The Butler Collection jewelry has been worn on the red carpets, and awards show of, The Juno’s, the Academy of Television and Film, The Canadian Music Awards, and short film Crystals awards. The Celebrities that’s have worn The Butler Collection are, Taylor Swift, Catherine Zeta Jones, Michelle Wright, Terri Clark, George Canyon, Amber Marshal, Kira Isabella, Caroline Dawn Johnson, just to name a few. The Tag line for The Butler Collection - (We design jewelry for the woman, who loves to be beautifully different.)

Our mission is to provide beautiful high quality handcrafted jewelry at an affordable priced for women across Canada. The Butler Collection endeavors to maintain new unique jewelry to keep our existing customers returning, and purchasing additional jewelry. We design with current seasonal colors, and fashion trends in mind. Our target market is women 30 to 70 age range, celebrities, business women, corporate executives, tourist’s boutiques, gift shops, galleries, fashion stores, as well as the wedding and special occasion market. Heather published her books in 2016, and have gotten great reviews for both books, and is presently working on the sequel to Travesty of Justice, which is called” The Magic in the Little Gemstone Kiosk “. Many churches and schools, often read from her book Thoughtful Moments.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Straight Chatting from the Library: Snakes Don't Run by Ed Lin

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ed Lin will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

Grinny by Nicholas Fisk. It was such a creepy book, the first book that really scared me. I read it back in grade school and then decades later, I recalled the horror of it in a dream. I Googled it and discovered that I wasn’t the only adult haunted by reading it as a kid.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words (not including the title).

Snakes Can’t Run is about chasing something that might be your own tail.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading The Butcher’s Wife by a Taiwanese writer, Li Ang. It’s a collection of stories and the title novella is about violence unleashed by by years of chauvinism.

What books do you have on hold at the library?

I really like myths and legends so I have Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange on hold. It’s the English translation from a single and ancient manuscript in a library in Istanbul. I understand that it’s in the tradition of The Arabian Nights.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Many, but my worst may be that once I buy a book, I don’t feel pressured to read it. I have actually borrowed books that I already own in order to give myself a deadline to read before I have to return it to the library!

E-Reader or print? and why?

For books, print works for me because I read news and keep up with social media on my phone and computer. I want to disengage from that aspect of the world when I step into a book.

One book at a time or multiples?

Multiples. I like to shift gears.

Dog-ear or bookmark?

Neither! I like to remember the page numbers where I left off. If I can’t figure it out eventually, then I’m probably not into the book!

When do you do most of your reading?

On the train. With all the woes of the New York City subway system, I have had so much unplanned reading time, it’s been great and horrible!


Set in New York City in 1976, Snakes Can't Run finds NYPD detective Robert Chow still haunted by the horrors of his past and relegated to tedious undercover work. When the bodies of two undocumented Chinese men are found under the Brooklyn Bridge underpass, Chow is drawn into the case. Most of the officers in his precinct are concerned with a terrorist group targeting the police, but Chow's investigation puts him on the trail of a ring of ruthless human smugglers who call themselves the snakeheads. As Chow gets closer to solving the murder, dangerous truths about his own family's past begin to emerge. Steeped in retro urban attitude, and ripe with commentary on minorities' roles in American society, this gritty procedural will appeal to fans of George Pelecanos and S.J. Rozan.


The mind is a funny thing. After I got on the wagon and fell in love with a girl, I started seeing my father out in the streets. I didn't literally see his ghost walking around, but I'd see his nose in profile on another guy's face. Sometimes I'd be walking behind someone who had his slouchy shuffle, his spotted ears, or the back of the head that looked like an elderly porcupine with spikes gone soft and white.

One time, a hand reached out to my shoulder and touched me exactly where he used to touch me from his chair after dinner to ask me to get him a beer from the fridge.

Of course it wasn't my father. It was an older guy who wanted to know if I was the guy whose pictures used to be in all the Chinese newspapers. The man was almost completely bald and had two light brown spots on the top right of his head that looked like an imprint from a woman's high-heeled shoe.

He called me the Sheriff of Chinatown. I tried to get away from him as soon as possible, but he was one of those people who liked to say good-bye and then ask another question just when you're about to part. The guy ended up grabbing both of my hands twice before I was able to make the corner and get away. I checked that my wallet was still in my pocket, though, just in case he had been working me with a partner. I guess he was genuinely glad to meet me.


Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can't Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.


Buy the book at HarperCollins.


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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Christmas Wedding Swap by Allyson Charles

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. A randomly drawn commenter will win a $25 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



Allison Stuart has always been the odd-woman-out of her family. She wears her jeans a little too tight, colors her hair a little too blonde, and instead of going into medicine and law like her sisters, she runs a diner. She’s also the only single sibling left. And while she won’t change her style, and her meatloaf is to die for, thank you very much, she wouldn’t mind her share of wedded bliss. So she makes an early New Year’s resolution: No more meaningless flings.

Drop-dead sexy Luke Hamilton is everything Allison has sworn off. His only serious relationship has been with his five-star restaurant, Le Cygne Noir, in Chicago. When he’s threatened by a lawsuit, Luke decides to hide out in Pineville, Michigan, until the statute of limitations runs out. The small town is filled with Christmas charm, but he can’t imagine living there. Heating things up with the hottie who owns the local diner would make his exile bearable—if he can convince her to give up her ridiculous resolution . . .


“Is this restaurant a step down for you?” Allison asked sweetly. She twirled the tip of the cleaver in a circle. “Is my kitchen not up to your usual standards?”

Luke appeared to have more balls than brains. He stood firm. “A kitchen can always be improved. Yours is no exception.”

He was giving her an ulcer. Allison’s stomach grumbled in complaint, and she knew just how it felt. There were some things that just weren’t done, and criticizing your boss’s kitchen was one of them. “Hasn’t anyone ever taught you not to piss off a woman holding an eight-inch blade?”

“That’s a solid piece of advice,” Delilah said in agreement.

Luke threw his hands in the air. “Fine. I think you’re making a mistake, but it’s your restaurant.”

“I’m glad you remember that,” Allison said.

Luke’s lips twitched, and he rocked back onto his heels. “I’d heard your nickname was the Tyrant, but I couldn’t see it till now.”

Allison spluttered.

“I mean it as a compliment,” Luke said. “You don’t let anyone push you around. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.”

Luke traced a finger along the slick metal surface of the counter, his eyes hot, and Allison felt it as though his finger danced along her spine. She could see in his expression that he meant it. He did find her take-charge attitude a turn-on. And damn if that didn’t make her go a little weak in the knees. Still, she couldn’t let that claim go unchallenged.

“My name is n—”

“No?” Delilah jumped in.

Luke chuckled.

Allison’s jaw grew stiff. If she could incinerate people with the heat of her glare, her restaurant would be down two cooks. They’d be nothing but little piles of dust. “Not no. And not Tyrant. My employees love me.”

Peals of laughter rang through the kitchen.

Allison wagged the knife in the air. “Delilah, that advice about being nice to the woman holding a knife? It goes for you, too.” Spinning, she hammered the cleaver into her cutting board, the blade plunging a quarter inch into the wood. She stepped back, and the cleaver stood upright, quivering in its new slot. With a pointed look at her cooks, she stormed to her office.

The hoots of amusement behind her back rather diminished the effect of her exit.


Allyson Charles lives in Northern California. She’s the author of the "Pineville Romance" series, small-town, contemporary romances published by Lyrical Press. A former attorney, she happily ditched those suits and now works in her pajamas writing about men’s briefs instead of legal briefs. When she’s not writing, she’s probably engaged in one of her favorite hobbies: napping, eating, or martial arts (That last one almost makes up for the first two, right?). One of Allyson’s greatest disappointments is living in a state that doesn’t have any Cracker Barrels in it.


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Monday, October 9, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Devil's Gamble by Michele Arris

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions to reveal the cover for Devil's Gamble by Michele Arris. The author is awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



Sienna Keller saw how men used her mother, and from an early age she swore she’d never allow it to happen to her. So when she meets smooth-talking billionaire Gavin Crane, who uses his connections to help her art career, she resolves to keep things strictly professional—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Gavin might be the son of the head of the Kavanagh organized crime family, but he wants no part of that life. It’s important to him to prove to Sienna that he’s a good guy. But when she winds up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, he is driven to exact revenge. His father agrees to provide security to watch over her as well as find the man who shot her, but at a cost—Gavin must come back into the family business.

As Sienna begins to let her guard down around Gavin, seeing the kind, caring man he’s always wanted her to see, his secrets begin to pile up. Has she done the one thing she vowed never to do—trusted her heart to the wrong man?


Award winning author, Michele Arris, writes steamy contemporary romance.

Michele is always plotting out her characters’ next move. Even when she’s not seated in front of her laptop writing about strong-willed, professional heroines and the complex heroes who strive to have them, she’s plotting scenes in her head. “I love to write story where my characters are guaranteed their Happily Ever After.”

In her spare time, Michele enjoys reading all types of romance genres. She loves paranormal romance as well as historical romances, enjoys watching period classics (Little Dorrit, The Buccaneers, and Persuasion to name a few), actually looks forward to working out, is a holistic enthusiast/vitamin junkie, and spending time with family and friends – simply enjoying life.


The book is on pre-order at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, BAM, Google Play, or Kobo.


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Straight from the Library: Keepers of the Stone by Andrew Anzur Clement

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Andrew Anzur Clement will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Setting my characters against actual places and cultural facets that I've learned about during my travels. Keepers of the Stone is part historical fiction, part fantasy and part a travelogue that takes the already international (and interspecies) cast of main characters clear across three continents. Along the way, they encounter various locales, cultures and brands of mysticism. They must reconcile the differences between them -- and amongst themselves -- if they are to determine the final objective of their quest. The plot opens in the middle of the action; much of it was inspired by stories, legends or even locations that I 'picked up' along my own journey since leaving my home town six years ago.

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

I'm just going to put this out there right now. I was inspired to write Keepers of the Stone while reading a Polish language sequel to my favorite novel -- In Desert and Wilderness written by Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1910 -- during the 2015 migrant crisis. In Sienkiewicz's work, Stas and his friend Nell are kidnapped from their home in Egypt and overcome many adventures together in the African wilds. Sienkiewicz puts Stas forth as an exemplar of 'Polishness', attributing many of his feats to the pride he places in his Polish identity, despite the fact that -- born to an exile -- he's never been there .

When reading the sequel, Stas, Nell and the Lost Jewel of India by Leszek Talko, I was interested to see how a more modern author would address such issues. They basically weren't addressed. Malka was introduced here too. But, who she really was remained a mystery, as did the purveyance of the jewel. When I finished it, I was bit by an unyielding inspiration. The urge to come up with my own answers. Thus, these two books serve as the partial back story to Keepers. My novels are intended to be read without having to read ether of the two 'preceding;' books. Their authors did have a notable influence on the Genesis of the Keepers of the Stone trilogy.

More generally, I'd have to include something that isn't strictly a book. I'm a huge Star Trek fan. Though it, I've been introduced to the outsider perspectives that other species and shape shifters can have. If my themes ever seem too heavy? Just remember that one of my characters is a shape-changing black cat with a sardonic comment ready for every situation.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I'm currently working on Voyages of Fortune, the sequel trilogy to Keepers of the Stone. It picks up with our main characters from Keepers roughly two years after its main action ends. But, it's about a lot more than that. If Keepers opens up a fantasy universe starting from one girl on a horse, Voyages of Fortune goes even further. It's a time travel plot that spans over 120 years from late 1880's Eastern Europe, to 1920's Asia, to the Indian ocean circa 2004. The characters -- including Alma Karlin, a real-life Slovene writer and adventuress -- are embroiled into the deceit, intrigue and obfuscation of a power struggle that began in medieval Europe over five hundred years ago. If part of the plot in Keepers is complex, there's a lot to keep you guessing Voyages.

Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Yes. On this point I think that I can give two main tips for how to get around it. One more general and the other a bit more specific to my case:

First, go on a trip. As I've mentioned above I get a lot of inspiration from the places I've traveled and the experiences I have there. But, there's another reason why I recommend this. Having an hours long bus or train journey is a great way of forcing yourself to just sit down and write. Often I find that with writers block, this is the hardest step. Ideas will come together in your head once you start writing.

Second: Ever had something piss you off, not go your way, or just generally make you feel aggravated by your environs? Use it. Sit down and take the aggression boiling inside you out on your keyboard (figuratively, of course). I'm not exactly a teller of lighthearted, heartwarming stories; there's a desperately discontented soul-searching angst that permeates much of my books. This is probably why I find that this technique works best for when I've come up with the idea for a chapter, but just can't seem to work up the motivation to hammer out how it's going to look 'on paper.' I even find that I do some of my best writing during such situations. Still, every writer is different; I imagine that this approach may not be the best for everyone. Go with what works for you.

Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different?>

Yes! The change happened when I sat down to write Book 2 chapter sixteen. It was one of the most fun experiences that I had while writing Keepers. Without (I hope) giving too much away, I'd planed to have one of the characters change sides at that point in the plot. But when I started writing with that intention, it was as if I literally started having a full on debate with two of them -- Bozhena and Stas -- in my own head. The abridged version went something like this:

Me: "Oh come on , guys. This is the point where you change sides and you eventually agree to work with her. I get it that you're aristocracy and you aren't inclined to trust her because of it. But, can you both just go along with it? please? "

Bozhena: "What?! I am royalty. There is no way that I would be prepared to submit to anyone without certain assurances of authority in the matter."
Stas: "And after all she's done there's no way in hell I'm about to trust her, especially with how she's acting now."
Me: *Sighs* "Great. So I guess 'change the story' it is then."

All joking aside, this epiphany did make the ending more poignant and unpredictable. It also sharpened Bozhena's persona into one of a more fully fledged individual.

So really, 'Stas and Bozhena.' Thanks.


Keepers of the Stone. Book One: The Outcasts

In a far corner of the British Empire, a mysterious girl gallops away on a horse, fleeing for her life. Malka has sacrificed everything to protect an all-powerful stone from falling into the hands of the malevolent Urumi. The last in a Sect of thieves, the girl is a trained killer. But will her lethal skills be enough to defeat the Shadow Warriors and their superhuman abilities?

 The fate of the stone may depend on Stas, a courageous youth born into exile from a country that is not on any map. Nell, his friend since childhood, has been caught up in the Dark Order's evil designs. The young outcasts must confront demons, real and imagined, with the help of mystical new allies. Their journey will take them to distant lands and change their lives forever.

Keepers of the Stone. Book Two: Exile

Stranded on the American frontier, Malka must stop at nothing to safeguard the all-powerful stone. She has come under the protection of a snarky felinoid – a shape-shifting girl who traces her lineage back to the court of Vlad Dracula. They must rescue with Henry, the American orphan whose thirst for knowledge could help decipher the clues to the next
leg of their journey – if the Urumi don’t kill them first.

 Alone in yet another strange land, Stas mourns the unthinkable loss of his friend, Nell. Cryptic messages offer new hope. But the Dark Order has devised another strategy to outwit the band of misfits. Plans are betrayed and alliances are formed as history points to the final objective of their quest.

Keepers of the Stone Book Three: Homecoming

Stas and his companions have made their way to the partitioned homeland he has never visited. He dares to hope that Nell may be alive. The doomed princess Bozhena vows revenge on the Shadow Warriors, who have enlisted Malka’s most bitter enemy in their latest plot to control the powerful stone.

With the help of a streetwise gypsy girl, the unlikely travelers must outwit the Urumi and deliver the stone to its final destination. All they have to do is put aside the differences that threaten to tear them apart. The secrets of the past hold the key to the history of the future.


“Who are you?” the man asked, looking behind himself in surprise. Inside the kitchen, some of the other staff were moving to see what was going on in the lobby. That could not be allowed. The kitchen employee turned back to find himself looking down the barrel of a six-shot revolver.

“I’m the one who’s pointing a gun in your face. Let me in. Now,” Stas demanded.

The man seemed to hesitate for only a second before stepping aside, placing his frame against the open door. Holding the weapon with both hands, Stas edged forward. In front of him, he could see the kitchen. It was a rather dark space. Various dishes sat on the stone counters in different stages of preparation. Most of the staff looked at him with stares of fear and shock. When Stas used to dream of coming to his family’s home city, this was just one more way in which it had not at all been the experience he’d had in mind.

There was a sudden yowl, followed by the sound of a foot impacting with flesh and a body crumpling to the floor. Stas glanced back just long enough to see that Liza – now in her human form – had taken down a younger man, about Stas’s age, with a side kick. He had been waiting beside the doorframe, apparently intending to attack the Slav from behind with a butcher’s knife. Kneeling quickly, Liza retrieved the cutting tool, which was smeared with blood from some kind of beef or pork meat. Standing in the doorway, she raised it up to a point beside her head. The felinoid turned the blade towards herself as she inspected it briefly, before allowing the ends of her lips to curl slightly upwards, while jutting out her lower jaw. Concurrently she nodded twice, as if deciding that this would do nicely.

“Let’s move!” the felinoid barked at Stas.


Andrew Anzur Clement departed his native Los Angeles at the age of nineteen, with a curiosity for far-off lands. He quickly discovered an insatiable wonderlust that has led him to live, work and study in many fascinating places around the globe. Now in his late-twenties the unabashed opera fan is based in Europe. He continues to travel and read widely, finding new inspiration in the places he discovers. In his ‘other’ life Andrew is an academic researcher, focusing on nationalism and identity formation. He enjoys including insights from his research in his books and the characters he inhabits. 


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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Straight Browsing from the Library: Just off the Path by Weston Sullivan

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Weston Sullivan will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Hansel never asked to be a hero. He never wanted to fall in love with Rapunzel, Queen of the East. He didn’t ask to be raised by Gothel the Wretch, and he certainly never wanted to be credited for her arrest. But more than any of that, Hansel never wanted to lie: but he did. He lied about everything. He thought that he was done with it all when he and his sister Gretel retreated into the woods to reclaim their land, but he should have known better. Hansel needs to find a way to fix this, otherwise he will be responsible for Grimm’s destruction, or that is what he thinks. As Hansel isn’t the only liar in Grimm.


The Queen

Hansel felt like he was in a pot of boiling water while he waited for Rapunzel. One second he was plotting ways to sneak from the castle, and the other he was imagining himself at her table, drinking tea.

The minutes seemed like days, and he was certain a month went by before he heard movement behind the large doors at his back. It was the unmistakable sound of royalty—Rapunzel’s shoes echoed throughout the throne room. By the sound of her footsteps, he could tell she was taking small, noble strides, like the Queen she was. Each collision of her heel to the floor coincided with the thud of Hansel’s heartbeat, until she drew nearer when his heart was doing double time. Finally, after a few agonizing seconds, he could see the top of her head from his place at the maw of the staircase.

She stopped and looked at them as they stood at the place between her throne and her city. Hansel gulped. It had been five years since he’d last seen her, and she’d grown more beautiful with age. She was about as tall as he, and was draped from head-to-toe in a solid white dress, the bodice of which clung perfectly to her shape. Her legendary hair was woven into a thick, rope-like braid and placed delicately over her shoulder, hanging all the way down to her kneecaps.

When she saw them, she smiled, her white teeth set against rosy lips. Her eyes were done up with golden flecks. In paintings, she was always depicted as young and soft, but in reality, she had jagged cheekbones and a diamond-shaped head, with large, pouty lips that drove Hansel mad. Her eyelashes were full and long, an expression of her femininity.

She held her smile as she descended the stairs, holding the train of her dress. Each step she took was slow and deliberate, and she fixed her eyes on the two of them. Taking the last step, she walked toward Hansel. For a second, he froze, lost in her golden-brown eyes. He shook himself out of his stupor and bowed to her.

Laughing, she said, “There’s no need to be so formal, Hansel.” She hugged him.

It was as inappropriate to hug her back as it was for her to hug him in the first place, but he placed his hand on the small of her back and felt nauseated by the sensation. He was disappointed when she let go, but to his surprise, she stepped back and placed her hands on his cheeks.

“You’ve grown up,” she said. “And what a man you’ve grown up to be.”

Rapunzel lingered for just a second, and then turned to Gretel, smiling warmly. After a brief hesitation, they walked toward each other, arms extended outward. They embraced for a moment, then Rapunzel stepped back and examined Gretel the way she had Hansel. She made a face, like the smell of rancid meat had carried through an open window, and proceeded to run her fingers through Gretel’s hair. “It’s so nice to see you both,” she said, pushing stray hairs out of Gretel’s face.

Stepping back, Gretel crossed her arms. “I’m sure that you have a good reason for all this?”

Immediately, Rapunzel’s smile faded, and her eyes fell. She began to fidget with the train of her dress nervously. “You just got here,” she said to Gretel, regal but aware of the girl’s tone. “There’s no need to go into all of that so quickly, is there?”

“As a matter of fact, there is,” Gretel stated. Seeing that she’d made the Queen uncomfortable and feeling the shift in power among them, she stepped closer to her, her voice insistent.


After graduating with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of South Florida in 2017, Weston Sullivan moved to New York City to live and write in the heart of the industry. In late 2016, he began working as an intern in the submissions department of BookFish Books. His short story, "On the Hillside", won the Anspaugh Award for Fiction in February of 2017, and his novel, JUST OFF THE PATH, is due for release in early September. 

He likes to believe that he is in charge of his own destiny, but at the end of the day, he knows that he was born to serve his two beloved cats.

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