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Review & Giveaway: The Catch by Lisa Harris

THE CATCH

U.S. Marshals Series #3
by
LISA HARRIS
Fiction / Christian / Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: April 5, 2022
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
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Everything hidden is eventually found
After a harrowing attempt on a judge’s life at the courthouse, Deputy US Marshals Madison James and Jonas Quinn are tasked with finding a missing woman and an endangered child in connection to the murder of the judge’s wife. What seems like a fairly straightforward case becomes hopelessly tangled when the marshals discover that the woman they are searching for is not who they think she is.
Madison and Jonas are forced into a race to find the woman and the child before the people who want her dead discover her location. And in a final showdown that could cost her everything, Madison will come face-to-face with the person who murdered her husband.
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Review

The Catch by Lisa Harris is the first book that I have read by the author and Book 3 in the U.S. Marshals Series. I am always a little nervous jumping into the middle of a series like that, but Harris quickly soothed away those feelings with her excellent exposition. The first chapter opens up with the perfect combination of dread and anticipation. With just a few pages, I was hooked.

Harris effortlessly transitions the reader from a tense opening chapter to a lighter (though also somewhat tense) scene where we meet our heroine, Madison, as she teaches her sister how to rock climb. I like the use of the activity as a metaphor for trust and though maybe a bit on the nose, a metaphor for falling in love as well. The scene is very cinematic as the character comes down from the high of physical exertion and the events leading up to this point are crashing down around her.

By using a third person point of view, Harris is able to give us insight into the feelings and thought processes of each character that we follow. With the exception of the opening chapter, the reader is normally following Madison or Jonas as they attempt to unwind this intricate case. What starts out as a deceptively simple case of jealousy and murder, each chapter reveals a new clue or character that makes the story twist and turn in very unexpected ways.

Classified as a Christian mystery suspense romance, The Catch is certainly all of these things and more. I know that some readers are put off by overly religious books, but this one is not in your face spouting Bible verses. I think that if you enjoy romance in your mystery books, this one has a lovely touch of hope for new beginnings to balance the high stakes adrenalin rush of action and deceit.

Lisa Harris is a USA Today bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta. The author of more than forty books, including The Escape, The Chase, The Traitor’s Pawn, Vanishing Point, A Secret to Die For, and Deadly Intentions, as well as The Nikki Boyd Files and the Southern Crimes series, Harris and her family have spent over 17 years living as missionaries in southern Africa and currently are living there.
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Gets the full U.S. Marshals series
(The Chase, The Escape, The Catch)
& a tote bag.
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Review & Giveaway: The Bones of Amoret by Arthur Herbert

THE BONES OF AMORET
by
ARTHUR HERBERT
Genre: Mystery /Suspense
Publisher: Stitched Smile Publications
Date of Publication: April 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 323 pages 
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In this enigmatic follow up to his critically acclaimed debut novel The Cuts that Cure, Arthur Herbert returns to the Texas-Mexico border with this saga of a small town’s bloody loss of innocence.
Amoret, Texas, 1982. Life along the border is harsh, but in a world where cultures work together to carve a living from the desert landscape, Blaine Beckett lives a life of isolation. A transplanted Boston intellectual, for twenty years locals have viewed him as a snob, a misanthrope, an outsider. He seems content to stand apart until one night when he vanishes into thin air amid signs of foul play.
Noah Grady, the town doctor, is a charming and popular good ol’ boy. He’s also a keeper of secrets, both the town’s and his own. He watches from afar as the mystery of Blaine’s disappearance unravels and rumors fly. Were the incipient cartels responsible? Was it a local with a grudge? Or did Blaine himself orchestrate his own disappearance? Then the unthinkable happens, and Noah begins to realize he’s considered a suspect.
Paced like a lit fuse and full of dizzying plot twists, The Bones of Amoret is a riveting whodunit that will keep you guessing all the way to its shocking conclusion.
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Review

The Bones of Amoret by Arthur Herbert is one of the most satisfying mystery books that I have ever read. Too often I have been able to solve part (if not all of) a mystery by the middle. But Herbert is the master of twists and turns, as well as cooking up some delicious red herrings that are too tempting to ignore.

But even more tantalizing than the thrill of finding out the who and why behind the seemingly senseless murders, the cast of characters provide so much color, even in the midst of somber situations. Herbert’s talent for writing witticisms with a West Texas drawl make characters like Noah Grady spring to life. And his tendency to write things as he sees them in his mind’s eye translates into a truth that is not always pretty.

While there is love and friendship in this book, there is certainly a whole host of hate and vengeance. If there were ever a time to learn the lesson that in order for there to be good, evil must exist, this book would definitely be a candidate for a case study. It would also open up questions about what lies in the middle ground, I imagine.

Given the way that this book ends, I fully expected to walk away with some scars. But there is something in the way that Herbert writes that makes me accept that things are not as simple as right and wrong, good and bad. That every human has two sides of the same coin within them and that it only takes a split second for one side to emerge triumphant over the other.

Even more than a great mystery, I love how this book is a snapshot of West Texas in the ‘80s. One could argue that the social and racial tensions of those days are still prevalent. I don’t know if that was Herbert’s intent, but it’s a sobering thought, nonetheless. I can’t recommend this book enough to all the mystery readers out there. I hope to read more of this author’s work in the future.

Arthur Herbert was born and raised in small town Texas. He worked on offshore oil rigs, as a bartender, a landscaper at a trailer park, and as a social worker before going to medical school. For the last eighteen years, he’s worked as a trauma and burn surgeon, operating on all ages of injured patients. He continues to run a thriving practice.
He’s won multiple awards for his scientific writing, and his first novel, The Cuts that Cure, spent ten days as an Amazon #1 Best Seller. His second novel, The Bones of Amoret, will be released on April 1, 2022 through Stitched Smile Publishers. Arthur currently lives in New Orleans, with his wife Amy and their dogs.
Arthur loves hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to email him at arthur@arthurherbertwriter.com.
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Review & Giveaway: The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story by Julie Gianelloni Connor

  The Baby with Three Families

THE BABY WITH THREE FAMILIES,
TWO COUNTRIES, AND ONE PROMISE
An International Adoption Story
by
JULIE GIANELLONI CONNOR
Illustrated by Saman Chinthaka Weersinghe
 
Genre: Children’s Fiction / Picture Book / Adoption 
Publisher: Bayou City Press
Date of Publication: December 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 40 pages 
 
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The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is a children’s book designed to be read by parents to a child adopted from a foreign country. The story is first recounted from the perspective of the parents in the USA, who are very sad not to be able to have a child. The perspective then switches to that of the biological mother, who realizes that she does not have the wherewithal to raise a child. She makes the difficult decision to give up her baby. Next readers learn about a foreign adoption agency, to which the biological mother surrenders her child. The adoption agency identifies foster parents to take care of the baby temporarily. The foster parents give the baby a temporary name.

The parents in the USA begin researching international adoption possibilities and connect with the foreign adoption agency. The parents begin the adoption process and have to go to a school to learn how to be adoptive parents. When the foreign adoption agency matches the USA parents with the baby, the USA parents fly to the foreign country, where they meet the baby and the foster parents at the adoption agency. They find out that the temporary name given to the baby by his foster parents is one of the names they have selected for the baby. Their last requirement in the foreign country is to secure a visa for the baby from the U.S. Embassy.

With the baby’s visa in hand, the parents and baby return to the United States, where they are joyously greeted by their dog, their friends, and the baby’s new grandparents. When the parents tuck their baby in at night, they tell him his story—that he has three families, two countries, and a promise for the future to visit the country of his birth when he is older.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
Children’s Picture Book First Place Winner, 2021 North Texas Book Festival Awards
 
“Clearly laying out some of the key reasons, factors, and steps in the emotionally complex process of overseas adoption, this book delicately explores the subject, making it a great launching point for conversations between parents and children.” Self-Publishing Review
 
“International adoption is a complex topic, but under the dual, in-depth focus of author Julie Gianelloni Connor and illustrator Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe, the story comes to life to teach all ages about the emotional and organizational process involved in joining a child to new parents.” Donovan’s Literary Services
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Review

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story by Julie Gianelloni Connor is both heartwarming and informative about the adoption process. It is the perfect book to share with children who have been adopted or who are part of families that plan to adopt a child one day. The colorful illustrations by Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe are the perfect cross between cartoon and realistic, which will appeal to readers of all ages.

I read this book with my nine-year-old son who is not adopted, but he was interested to read the book because one of his cousins was adopted from China as a toddler. As we read, he wondered aloud how a baby could have three families, to which I replied, “Well, let’s read on and see.” Throughout the reading of the story, he peppered me with questions about whether his cousin’s experiences matched those of Baby Alejandro’s.

Perhaps because he is an older child, he wanted me to flesh out characters a bit more. He wondered how old the birthmother, Luz, was and who Alejandro’s birthfather was. I explained that the author made a choice not to share those details and maybe she didn’t know them herself. (I later told him that like many similar experiences that people have throughout their lives, it is the details that differ slightly. But at the very core, important things like love and family remain the same.)

Before reading the back of the book, I was a little confused by the choice to not identify the country where Luz was from. While I now understand the author’s intent to allow readers to insert the flag of their own child’s country, I don’t think it works well on one particular illustration since it clearly shows the flightpath between somewhere in the U.S. to Central America. (Imagine putting a Chinese flag on Central America. It’s a little odd!) Or perhaps a family from the U.K. is reading this book to their child who comes from Africa.

My son and I enjoyed the story and when asked what he thought of the illustrations, he said that they were nicely drawn and that he liked the colors that the artist used. I liked the flow of the story and thought that the book was laid out well. I think this is a great book to gift to adoptive families and would make a nice addition to the bookshelf in childcare and education settings as well.

Julie Gianelloni Connor is an award-winning author and retired senior Foreign Service Officer. Her first book, Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, not the Hike, garnered no. 1 status on Amazon in both the category for new books on hiking and walking and the category for Spain and Portugal. It subsequently went on to win a silver medal in the eLit national competition as well as being selected as a finalist by Self-Publishing Review (SPR). She released her second title, a children’s book, in 2021. It has just won first place in the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival. The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise tells an international adoption story. Her short stories have appeared in four anthologies. 

Julie is the owner and publisher of Bayou City Press (BCP) in Houston, Texas, which focuses on travel writing, Houston, history, and international affairs. Julie writes a weekly newsletter for BCP updating subscribers about activities. She founded BCP after spending 33 years as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, first with the U.S. Information Agency and later with the U.S. Department of State. She had nine overseas assignments in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. In Washington, DC, Julie worked on a variety of matters, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation to narcotics control to women’s issues. She has one son and two cats, Halloween and Charles Augustus V. 
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Blitz & Giveaway: Ghost Agents by Nita DeBorde

GHOST AGENTS

by
NITA DEBORDE
Categories: Science Fiction / Cozy Mystery / Paranormal / Texas History 
Series: The Ghost Agents Trilogy
Publisher: Mabelonia Press
Date of Publication: July 31, 2021
Number of Pages: 309 pages 
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An organization that has operated in secret for centuries… a mystery that threatens to burn it all to the ground… and she’s the only agent who can stop it…
To the residents and tourists of Galveston Island, Claire Abelard is the friendly young woman who works at the local candy store by day and leads ghost tours of the island’s haunted locations by night. They don’t realize this persona is a cover for Claire’s real job as an agent of the Bureau for Historical Preservation, a clandestine organization that monitors and assists energy projections, or the entities more commonly known as “ghosts.”
When projections begin disappearing from around the island, Claire worries that history may be repeating itself. She launches a dangerous investigation and uncovers a sinister, arcane organization whose agenda threatens not only Galveston’s ghosts, but everything she has worked her whole life to protect.
The truth behind the disappearances rocks Claire’s world to its core and shows her that ghosts aren’t the only things that can come back to haunt you.
Nita DeBorde is a published author and teacher from Houston, TX. Writing and teaching are her two major passions, though traveling and being dog-mom to a crazy Staffordshire-Boxer mix named Mabel are high on the list as well.
Nita has taught high school French for more than 20 years and absolutely loves her “day job” job (about 95% of the time). She loves to travel, and not surprisingly, France is her favorite destination, though her home state of Texas runs a close second.
She is also a huge history buff, which comes through in her fiction writing, and particularly in her latest novel, Ghost Agents, a genre-defying, cozy paranormal mystery with a little sci-fi and romance thrown into the mix. Ghost Agents: Revelations, the second book in the Ghost Agents Trilogy, is slated for release in March 2022.
Nita’s first novel, Project Lachesis, is currently available in both Kindle and hardcopy format from Amazon.com.
Her first published work, a Christian allegory titled Lessons from the Meadow, was published in December of 2013 under the pen name A.M. Ward. Stay tuned for more titles by A.M. Ward in the Christian fiction genre.
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Review & Giveaway: Out of Temper by Amber Royer

OUT OF TEMPER

Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 3
by
AMBER ROYER
Categories: Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuth / Romance 
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: February 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 264 pages 
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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?
Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?

One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?
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Review

Out of Temper by Amber Royer is the third book in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series, but it is the second book in the series that I have read. After reading and thoroughly enjoying the first book, Grand Openings Can Be Murder, I knew that I had to get my paws on this one when presented with the opportunity to review it. I just wish that I had realized that I had not yet read the second book, 70% Dark Intentions, before cracking this one.

But that’s okay, because a good writer can fill you in so that you’re not floundering around confused, no matter what book you pick up in the series. And Royer is an excellent writer. She has fulfilled my expectations of a fun read filled with delicious chocolates, adorable furry sidekicks, colorful characters, and a conjecture that is tantalizingly just out of reach. Admittedly, the mystery in the first book had been easy to solve, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around why the killer did it. In this book, the victim wasn’t a cup of tea, so it wasn’t hard to imagine the many plausible scenarios that could have gone down.

Yet Royer had me convinced at least three times that I had finally nabbed the killer, and I was wrong each and every time. Just when you think that Felicity is about to uncover the final piece of the puzzle that will confirm your hunch, new clues will come to light that will send you spinning in a completely different direction. The intricate web of circumstances that ties this book to the other two is what really excites me about reading each installment of the series. Not to mention, I am dying to find out which love interest our amateur sleuth will end up with. I’m Team Logan all the way, just in case you were wondering.

I hope that Book Four has Felicity flying around in a plane with Logan to some exotic place to find obscure cacao beans and/or flavor combinations. I also would like to see tighter copy editing in the future. There were quite a few typos throughout the book. Maybe not enough to distract from a great mystery, but they were there and quite noticeable.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery read. As someone who usually savors the details in books, I am happy to report that the only place that Royer holds back a little is on gore. Other than that, prepare to drool a little when Felicity demos chocolate making… or perhaps when we catch Arlo or Logan sending longing glances in her direction. Either way, settle somewhere cozy with a snack or yummy beverage and enjoy the book.

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs. If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.
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Deleted Scene & Giveaway: Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg

BEFORE THE ALAMO:
A Tejana’s Story
by
FLORENCE BYHAM WEINBERG
Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas History 
Publisher: Maywood House
Date of Publication: September 17, 2021
Number of Pages: 296 pages
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Emilia Altamirano, half Otomí Indian, half pure Spanish, is born in 1814, the year after the Battle of the Medina River, where her father fought as an officer in the Mexican Royalist Army. She grows up in Bexar de San Antonio unacknowledged by her father, raised by her Otomí Indian mother, and “adopted” as an unofficial ward by José Antonio Navarro, hero of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico. She learns to read, write, and acts as a page for the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She learns nursing during a cholera epidemic and later tends the wounded on both sides during and after the Battle of the Alamo. She survives, but as a Tejana, Spanish-speaking, and a loyal citizen of Mexico, she faces an uncertain future.

PRAISE FOR BEFORE THE ALAMO:
“Yesterday, I finished Before the Alamo, figuratively gasping for breath…Thank you for a joyful experience, so helpful in this time of disillusion and anxiety.” – reader Marti Nodine
Deleted Scene

From Before the Alamo: A Tejana’s Story

By Florence Byham Weinberg

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This episode followed Emilia’s encounter with the Comanche boy and her report to her mother. She is six-going-on-seven and shows her character in the midst of calamity. The flood of 1819 was a historical event, just as catastrophic as I depict it here. I got the details from the governor’s report as I worked in the Alamo Archive. Oddly, the Internet does not record that event as one of San Antonio’s catastrophic floods. Flood reports begin with the one in 1921. To find the earlier one, google “San Antonio flood of 1819.” Why did I delete the episode? Because, although it shows Emilia’s character, I had just done that with the episode of the Comanche boy. This episode did not further the plot, so out it went. Below is the first half of the deleted scene.

 

 

Before the Alamo

Episode cut from Chapter Two

 

Summer came. June weather was increasingly hot, and no rain had fallen since the end of the second week. July threatened to be even more unbearable. Flies swarmed through the kitchen windows, attracted by moist food smells; all sorts of creeping insects appeared, also in the jacal and even in the stone house, looking for cool shade. The river level fell, but typical for Béxar, humidity remained high.

María and Emilia went to bed on July 5, perspiring in the foggy air rising from the river. Far to the north, they could hear the growl of thunder.

“Maybe it will rain tonight, Mamá.”

“Maybe. But it has thundered before, and not a drop of rain here.”

They drifted off to sleep, but Emilia awoke when a blinding flash of light illuminated the jacal, followed almost immediately by an earth-shaking boom. She rose, trying not to disturb her mother, who had slept through the noise. She padded to the door and pulled the cowhide curtain aside. All was silent, and then a few huge raindrops began to plop into the dust beyond the threshold. Dawn light showed gray in the east. She was on her way to lie down again, when she felt the earth tremble beneath her feet. The hair on the nape of her neck and on her arms stiffened. Now she could hear a roar.

“Mamá! Mamá! Wake up! Something terrible is happening!”

María sat up, eyes wide, staring around her. “What’s that roaring?”

Then, abruptly, something struck the side of the jacal with great force and just as quickly rushed through the door. Water! Rushing, powerful water.

“Come, m’hija, we must warn our people in the house!”

They found they could not run the short distance to the back entrance; the force of the water was nearly irresistible. It reached their knees before they got inside the door.

“Señora Carmen! Juan Andrés! Get up! Flood! Water everywhere!” They ran through the rapidly filling house.

Andrés appeared in his nightshirt, sloshing toward his wife’s bedroom. “Come, Carmen, get up! We must save ourselves!”

The water now was knee high inside.

Carmen came to the door, a simple shift pulled over her head. “What shall we take?”

María shouted over the noise of the rushing water, “Yourselves. Nothing more!”

Andrés stopped long enough to pull on a pair of trousers, grabbed up Emilia, and ordered his wife and María to follow him. They heard a cracking sound from behind the house, over the continued roaring. María had made her way to the back door. “The jacal and the kitchen! The water swept them away.”

Juan Andrés shouted. “Out the front door! Now!”

He managed to keep his feet, carry Emilia, and somehow support his wife, the least able to withstand the current and debris hurled against them. He looked wildly for something solid to climb on.

“There’s no… way to reach… the old mission.” He gasped. “Look! That live oak… at the end of the street.”

They struggled in that direction, Juan Andrés and María keeping Carmen upright in rushing water halfway up their thighs and rapidly rising. Emilia wrapped her arms around Juan Andrés’s neck as he fought the current and batted away floating objects that became projectiles. They headed for the huge oak tree on Real Street. Its horizontal limbs drooped five feet above the water, so it should be easy to climb. Unless…

By some miracle, they reached it and Andrés perched Emilia in the crotch of a limb, then lifted Carmen beside her. Next, he turned to María, who had expected no help from her ‘master.’ A second low-bending branch offered a refuge, and she leaped, using the current to boost her, grasped the branch, and with the strength of desperation, pulled herself up until she lay with her body along the branch. Andrés joined her and their combined weight bent the branch within a few inches of the flood.

Andrés gasped. “We must… climb higher.”

Emilia gave a little scream and pointed. A dead body, a man, floated under them, dressed in a nightshirt. His face torn and disfigured by a collision with something—perhaps the wall of a stone house—he floated on too quickly for them to identify him. Emilia, in shock, did not cry.

By now, the sun had risen, illuminating the bizarre scene through heavy clouds, and they could see their town amidst the waters that had filled the valley of Béxar like a huge cup. Hardly anything other than the church still stood, and it, too, seemed heavily damaged. Jacales had been swept away, and the adobe buildings were melting ruins, collapsing before their eyes. Some stone houses were damaged worse than the church, walls partially tumbled or tumbling down, the mortar between the stones melting. Worst of all, they could see many bodies of the drowned, both human and animal. Any horse, cow, sheep, pig or goat that had been enclosed in a barn or tethered, had drowned. The water still rushed swiftly as it drained southeastward toward the Gulf, and the bodies of man and beast alike bobbed along downstream toward a salty grave. Here and there they could see another tree, loaded like this one with survivors.

Florence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch as well as a farm and travelled with her military family during World War Two. After earning a Ph.D., she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written four books in the Pfefferkorn historical mystery series, three additional historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs, horses, and conversations with great-souled friends.
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Day 7 of the @ENIGMASERIES #ShortStory Journey

WELCOME to DAY 7 of the @ENIGMASERIES

#ShortStory Journey Dec 8th to Dec 15th

#GIVEAWAYS Available 

Please leave a comment below for a chance at a free gift

Gifts available for Day 7 are two ebooks of the featured short story plus one ebook of the newest release Hidden Target. That’s 3 winners.

Author Insights

Multiple generations of the R-Group focused on helping those impacted by oppressors, power seekers, and thieves who steal wealth at the expense of the average person. The primary goal for this group is maintaining a high ethical ground when choosing the path for solving the problems. Jacob Michaels, a continuing character in the Enigma Series and one of the leaders of the R-Group, learned this from his grandfather, Wolfgang

The series as stories set in contemporary times where technology is todays weapon of choice. They were however founded by three men during World War II who fought tyranny at the hands of the Germans. Wolfgang was a founding father of the R-Group.

As authors, we received many questions about our cyber heroes and how they take the battle to their enemies. Jacob and Wolfgang often discussed the right choices to make on behalf of their private clients and the countries they serve. When Jacob learns more history of the R-Group, he discovers it is easy to see right from wrong at multiple levels.

When Jacob and his team mates take the leadership roles, he worries about sharing enough information in meaningful examples with the next generation. In The Enigma Beyond, Jacob held a heartfelt conversation with Wolfgang.  Jacob wonders what more he can do to instill the value for the next generation of the R-Group to maintain their integrity. YouTube link: https://youtu.be/Q-pprbk4-iY

This conversation led us to create a short story and then release a complete novella in 2021 to learn about the original men who escaped Poland in 1939. These men risked their lives to stop the German military machine. Out of Poland – Novella is a gripping tale that vividly paints the picture of war, pride, hope, and death for a country without support from its allies.  Out of Poland is about how great things come out of extreme adversity.

About the Short Story

Beneath the storm clouds of a deadly war, three men need to unlock the secrets to redeem the world.

The setting is Poland—1939. Germans are marching toward Warsaw, crushing everything in their path. The Polish people feel the crush of their defensives and their brave cavalry. Fighting against the Nazi military machine is a death wish realized all too clearly.

Death, destructions, pillage, and woman brutalized at the hands of soldiers with no honor marks the invaders’ path. As much as the citizens of Poland pray for a different outcome, everything they have known, loved, and grown up with is gone.

Three young men take on the task of finding and extracting the German military communications device, Baby, kept under heavy guard. Polish patriots die to aid the three in getting the information and then fleeing with the prize. The race is on as the Germans try to match wits with the clever patriots who risk detection at every turn.

Ambassador Ferdek Watcowski insists that his son Ferdek with Wolfgang and Tavius, flee with the families while there is still time to reach a border. Their goal—escape with Baby intact.

Hitler’s forces so outclass Poland’s military that survival is key to fighting another day. Facing great peril and odds against their survival, the men resolve to make a difference so those who died helping them would not have sacrificed in vain. They vow to undertake a lifetime of fighting tyranny.

Successful survivors must look ahead.

We consider this the prequel to the Enigma Series. It is available on Amazon https://bit.ly/OOPolandN  We look forward to your review and comments on our short stories.

About the Authors

Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey are co-authors of the award-winning Enigma Series. Their characters demand that their stories are told. The storytelling began with a few heroes, then expanded to those with self-serving motives. We love storytelling and hope readers enjoy learning  more about our shorts. Looking forward to your feedback and reviews of our stories.

Breakfield is a technology expert specifically in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II his­tory, travel, and cultural exchanges. Charles is also a fan of wine tastings, wine making, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.

Burkey is a25+ year applied technology professional who optimizes technology and business investments for global customers. She focuses on optimized customer experiences. Rox loves interviewing authors, writing white papers, reviewing books, and loves creating fiction.

Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with men and women, young and experienced adults, and bring a fresh new view to technology threats of today. Please visit their website, look around, and grab some free stuff https://www.EnigmaSeries.com.

Find us and Follow us

Website:      https://www.EnigmaSeries.com

Blog:           https://EnigmaSeries.com

https://RoxBurkey.com

LinkedIn:     https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlesbreakfield  and

https://www.linkedin.com/in/roxanneburkey

Twitter:       @EnigmaSeries and @1rburkey

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

YouTube:    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Vz4x5ctTnx3yUhZk1OJkw

For the other stops on this tour click here  https://www.enigmabookseries.com/

Thank you for visiting. Please leave your comment below for a chance to win.

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Review & Giveaway: Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell

SCATTERED LEGACY: MURDER IN

SOUTHERN ITALY
Annalisse Series, #3
by
MARLENE M. BELL
 
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
 
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To outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code

Link to the video trailer on YouTube
Review

Scattered Legacy by Marlene M. Bell is an exhilarating read filled with suspense, history, romance, and beauty. While I have not had the pleasure to read the first two books in the series, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the characters’ backstories through Bell’s excellent exposition skills and shifts in point of view. With each passing chapter, my resolve to go back and read the first two books grew stronger when a particular tidbit stoked my interest.

From the beginning, you have to wonder how Annalisse isn’t a private detective instead of an art gallery owner. But then you realize that as an antiquities valuator, she must use excellent observation skills and have the talent to find obscure details through deep research. The opening chapter gives us a sneak peak of her complicated life, which makes you a little less jealous of her cushy job and amazing boyfriend who is about to whisk her away to Italy.

Bell wastes no time throwing us into the action. From an attempted burglary to the family name being dragged through the tabloids, our lovebirds jet off to Italy in the wake of a strange message that involves a blackbird of some sort. There is a lot of intrigue percolating and while you have to assume that all of the strange events are related somehow, we definitely do not have enough details to tie them all together yet.

The author has a nice pace to her writing and allows us to luxuriate in the beautiful sights and scents of walking through Bari. She somehow makes a meal as simple as bread with sliced meats sound utterly delectable. But don’t worry, our travelers also partake of other authentic fare such as seafood, soups, bread, and pasta when they’re not finding dead bodies or getting tailed by the mafia. While Bell spares no details on the setting or Annalisse’s inner conflicts, I’m glad that she treads lightly when describing murder scenes.

While you do not have to read the first two books to enjoy this one, I would say that if you can, do it. I definitely plan on reading them as I await the next installment of the series. Spoiler: There’s a bananas cliffhanger ending that made me groan in disbelief. So exciting!

Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo, and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

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1st SUPER GRAND PRIZE ($425 VALUE): Patricia Nash leather bag; Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Puglia Region of Italy; Orecchiette Pasta from the Puglia Region; Weekly 2022 Engagement Spiral Calendar; Silver/Gold Italy Coin necklace on 18” silver chain; autographed copy of Scattered Legacy; $50 VISA gift card.
2ND PRIZE & 3rd PRIZE – Signed copies of Scattered Legacy.
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Promo & Giveaway: The Big Empty by Loren C. Steffy

THE BIG EMPTY

by
LOREN C. STEFFY
Genre: Western / Rural Fiction / Small Town
Date of Publication: May 25, 2021
Number of Pages: 304 pages 
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When Trace Malloy and Blaine Witherspoon collide on a desolate West Texas highway, their fender bender sets the tone for escalating clashes that will determine the future of the town of Conquistador.
Malloy, a ranch manager and lifelong cowboy, knows that his occupation—and his community—are dying. He wants new- millennium opportunities for his son, even though he himself failed to summon the courage to leave familiar touchstones behind.
Witherspoon, an ambitious, Lexus-driving techie, offers a solution. He moves to Conquistador to build and run a state-of-the-art semiconductor plant that will bring prestige and high-paying technology jobs to revive the town—and advance his own career.
What neither man anticipates is the power the “Big Empty” will wield over their plans. The flat, endless expanse of dusty plain is as much a character in the conflict as are the locals struggling to subsist in this timeworn backwater and the high-tech transplants hell-bent on conquering it. While Malloy grapples with the flaws of his ancestors and his growing ambivalence toward the chip plant, Witherspoon falls prey to construction snafus, corporate backstabbing, and financial fraud. As they each confront personal fears, they find themselves united in the search for their own version of purpose in a uniquely untamable Texas landscape.
PRAISE FOR THE BIG EMPTY:
“The Big Empty” captures a moment when Big Tech seemingly promised everything. By turns funny and painful, Steffy’s story builds like an accelerating freight train, reaching a fast-paced climax.”
The Epoch Times
“Like the titular land itself, Steffy’s novel is uncompromising in spotlighting the strains that the drive toward material achievement puts on the individual in the face of nature’s whims.”
Southern Review of Books
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Stoney Creek Publishing Group (Currently 25% off)
GuestPost

LIFE IMITATING ART IMITATING LIFE –

OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT

GUEST POST BY LOREN STEFFY

Originally published July, 2021, on the author’s blog

Perhaps I should have used a rocket company instead of a semiconductor manufacturing plant.

I found myself thinking that earlier this month, as all eyes were on West Texas for the launch of billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket.

I started writing my novel, The Big Empty, almost 20 years ago, and the idea of a rocket factory in West Texas would have seemed even more over the top than a chip plant. Besides, I knew what chip factories were like. I had toured several of them, and I covered the semiconductor industry.

While my brother is in the private space business, the idea of making the outside company moving into the tiny town of Conquistador an aerospace firm never occurred to me.

At any rate, all this came rushing back to me with the Blue Origin launch, in part because of some excellent reporting by my old paper, the Houston Chronicle. Andrea Leinfelder has a thoroughly reported series on the impact of the private space on small-town Texas. She takes a deep look at both Boca Chica, Space X’s launch site in far south Texas, and Van Horn. The Van Horn piece, in particular, sounds eerily familiar:

This town, like a thousand other rural communities, has seen agriculture diminish and infrastructure deteriorate. Its local improvements often depend on grants. And with Blue Origin’s higher-paid workforce, the town no longer qualifies for citywide grants reserved for low- to moderate-income communities. Residents talk about the tight housing market and problem-plagued water system.

Still, people are excited to see what comes next, with the possibility that Van Horn will become a major launch site for space travelers.

Those were many of the same ideas I tried to capture in The Big Empty. It was what I saw first-hand in the late 1990s when, as I described in my recent guest essay for the Chronicle, I found myself on a sprawling West Texas cattle ranch to cover a tech story.

I’ve always been fascinated with how people live in different environments. When I visit a new place, I like to see what life is like for the residents. I’ve found myself driving through neighborhoods in the interior of Maui and walking through the residential streets of Riyadh (against the “advice” of my government handlers).

Of course, the issues facing small towns in Texas — and across the country — have been going on for decades. But with the Blue Origin launch in Van Horn, I was struck by the old idea of life imitating art (not that I’m ascribing the “art” tag to my book, but you get the point).

In a way, it’s happening again. I’ve been working on a sequel to The Big Empty, which could be described as “a billionaire comes to town.”

Sound familiar?

Loren C. Steffy is the author of five nonfiction books. He is a writer at large for Texas Monthly, and his work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. He has previously worked for news organizations including Bloomberg and the Houston Chronicle, and he is a managing director for 30 Point Strategies, where he leads the 30 Point Press publishing imprint. His is a frequent guest on radio and television programs and is the co-host of the Rational Middle podcast. The Big Empty is his first novel. Steffy holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. He lives in Wimberley, Texas, with his wife, three dogs and an ungrateful cat.
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Blitz & Giveaway: Under the Texas Mistletoe by Karen Witemeyer


UNDER THE TEXAS MISTLETOE

by
KAREN WITEMEYER
Genre: Holiday Fiction / Christian Historical Romance / Novellas
Date of Publication: August 31, 2021
Number of Pages: 304 pages 
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This historical romance novella collection presents “A Texas Christmas Carol,” where a town’s wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors. It also includes “An Archer Family Christmas.” When the Archer clan gathers for the holiday, they encounter an unexpected request for help that will require all their effort and a Christmas miracle to see them through. In previously published “Gift of the Heart,” a widow uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local resort owner. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love this Christmas.
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Voted #1 Reader’s Favorite Christian Romance Author of 2019 by Family Fiction Magazine, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes.

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Autographed copy of Under the Texas Mistletoe
+ a decorative Christmas sign;
Three Winners:

Autographed copies of the book
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