Thursday, April 16, 2020
Date Published: January 2018
Sonny Galas is an only child being raised by his mother-a widow---and the loving help of his grandfather, also widowed. Living in a Santa Monica apartment complex owned by 'Grandpa' all is well and average for this close-knit family until a certain French family come into the picture, in need of a place to rent. They soon show their colors in various ways, topping it off by slapping a suit on their patient, kind landlord. Sonny's family sees no better option than selling their only asset-the apartments-and getting far away from their Lawyer-packing tenants. Far, as in 'leaving the country', and this is where their true adventure begins. South of the border becomes their new home.
From their journey through third-world narrow roads, small towns where no English is spoken, to long, hot unending desert roads and through humid coastal towns they continue toward their big city destination, Guadalajara, where their life begins and they encounter everything and everyone from kind helpers to con-artists and crazies and from strangers to good friends, both Mexican and American. From young boy to teenager, as the years pass, Sonny sees it all: his family's ups and downs, the country's ups and downs with its own political third-world corruption, and his own transformation from a simple boy in a new country to a growing youth, fully fluent in Spanish; a devilish yet fun-loving teenager now with roots firmly planted and sprouting happily in his new home, his new country. From the adventures and joys of boyhood with his friends and pals to the wild days through grade school, junior high and high school with the opportunities given him as a bi-lingual kid to living through the set-backs that could trouble any family-Mexican or American-even scare of the faint of heart, he takes it all in; after all, now he's Mexican. The fiestas, the friends, the awesome busy modern streets of Guadalajara in the early Seventies to the early Eighties, Guadalajara, the country's capital of Mariachis.
Publisher: DOA Enterprises
A dark version of "The Wonder Years," Frank Vaughn Killed by his Mom is "The Great Santini" written by Homer, careening through a coarse world of racism, adultery, abandonment, and even the occasional hope.
It’s summer, 1965. School's out and Butch's birthday is in a few weeks. Perfect; three months of freeze tag, hide and seek and riding his bike way past dark. Well, maybe not completely perfect — Frank Vaughn, a classmate, is beaten to death by his crazy mother for leaving a report card at school. On top of that, Dad is touchier than ever and Mom sadder, so best to hide out next door with his best friend Tommy reading X-Men and hoping for that birthday GI Joe.
But in one night, Butch's summer explodes and he’s now riding across a turbulent and changing Dixie in a white Rambler station wagon, at the mercy of a manic depressive and wildly violent Dad. Like a crewman on Ulysses' ship, Butch encounters a one-eyed evil grandfather, a 12-year-old Siren, the lotus-eaters of Alabama…and Frank Vaughn. If Butch ever sees his beloved sister, Cindy, again, it'll be a miracle. If he's alive at the end of the summer, it'll be a bigger one.
Butch sat on the porch watching the girls skip rope:
“Frank Vaughn, killed by his mom
Lying in bed alooone,
She picked up a bat
And gave him a whack
And broke his head to the booone
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…”
…and so on.
Cindy reached the twenties before snagging a toe, but Frank's mom couldn't have hit him that many times. A lot, but not that many.
Immortalized in skip rhyme. Amazing. It had been what, only a week? Frank was still on TV. Pat Jarrod, the Channel 7 news anchor, was all grim last night while narrating the film of Frank's dad escorting Frank's mom, very pretty in a silk dress and beehive hairdo, into the Lawton Court House. Mr. Vaughn was wearing his class-A uniform and dark glasses and looked like the President of Vietnam, and his wife looked like Mrs. President of Vietnam.
"They're Filipino," dad said.
Could've been a state visit, except no one was happy.
Butch had been surprised when Frank's dad helped Mrs. Frank up the courthouse stairs.
Odd. He should be really mad at her, but there he was, being nice. The girls weren’t being nice; they were making fun of Frank, which wasn’t right. Wasn’t like it was Frank’s fault or anything.
Cindy was in again and the others—Lynn and Debbie, Carlafromdownthestreet, Maria and Joseph (who might as well be a girl), and some random passersby—were doing their best to trip her up while staying on the Frank call. You'd think they'd get tired of it, go on to “Spank” or “Battleship,” but no. Butch should go over and tell them to stop, but that would invoke the deadly kid "Ewww!" response and its follow-up, "Go away, you big baby, we'll do what we want!" and even Cindy would join in because this was the herd, although she'd be gentle. He'd be humiliated and might get his suit, the same one he wore to Frank's funeral, dirty, which meant a beating and not going to Dale's graduation.
Best to stay here.
Graduation. Sure making a big deal. All of them dressed up, even Art, with some put-together shirt and skinny tie that wasn't a suit at all, something Butch, with great delight, repeatedly pointed out. Cindy had on a flowered dress with a yellow silk belt and mom had brushed her red-blonde hair until it was full and fluffy and floated like a cloud, as it did now inside the rope…twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six. She wouldn't get dirty.
Never did. Even when they had mud ball fights and slid head first, screaming and laughing, down the crap hills piled up by the bulldozer guys building apartments near the ball fields, only Butch came back with twenty or thirty layers of dirt hiding his identity. She was untouched. She was perfect.
She was beautiful.
Butch watched her, and his heart soared and knew he was lucky to be her brother…okay, adopted brother. All the boys wanted to cut the string on her finger but she wouldn't let them, and all the girls wanted to play with her, just her, but she played with them all, no favorites, her laughter ringing up and down the hallways of B.C. Swinney Elementary.
Because of Cindy, the bullies more or less left Butch alone and the other kids tolerated his goofiness. In any other family, that'd be enough. But she favored him, him, over the smart, handsome boys who pursued her on the playground and the sophisticated girls who called her on the phone. Butch was her sole companion when she ran through the alley and over the crap hills. They rolled down the slopes together until they were so dizzy that earth and sky blurred and then they lay on their backs and made things out of clouds and said their secrets and never, ever, told on each other. She didn't call him stupid or spaz or any of the other names everyone including dad did; she covered for him, even made him look better than he was to the other kids. Even now, somehow she’d disentangle him if he went over there and screamed at the girls for making fun of Frank. Without her, he’d be dead.
Just like Frank.
Tommy walked up the mile-high steps onto the porch and scooted Cha Cha, who lay next to Butch, out of the way. The dog smiled good-naturedly as Tommy sat down and handed Butch a Journey Into Mystery, “To Kill a Thunder God”! Good cover with the Destroyer on it and Butch flipped to "The Crimson Hand," one of the Tales of Asgard. He'd already read it, but he liked to re-read things he liked, and the Norse myths fascinated him. Tommy had X-Men #12, “The Origin of Professor X”! and Butch glanced over. His copy was in the house. He and Tommy had bought probably the last two left at Carl's Drug Store, thank God, before someone else got them. Good issue, but he wasn't sure which origin story, Professor X's or Juggernaut's, was the more compelling. Juggernaut was magic, not a mutant. That made him hard to defeat.
“You wanna read this one?” Tommy had caught his glance and shook the X-Men at him.
Yes, but Asgard first.
Butch finger-waved it away, already back on the Hand. Tommy grunted and turned to the page showing Juggernaut at Professor X's feet, helmet off, surprised by a Professor X-guided Angel attack. Butch abandoned Asgard for Juggernaut’s terrified face. There’s always a weakness. Just had to find it.
"Why you all dressed up?" Tommy asked.
"Oh," Tommy nodded and looked at the girls. Tommy was in sixth grade now but, next year, moved on to middle school. Next week Butch turned ten, double-digits at last, teenagery mere scattered months beyond, a birthday of grand implications heralded with cupcakes and ice cream and singing and presents and maybe, please God, that longed-for GI Joe. Butch looked forward to it with all the twittery anticipation of a Christmas morning. But their mutual promotions might have a dangerous effect on their friendship.
Tommy lived right next door, very convenient for a best friend, and there were hardly two hours straight in the day that Butch wasn't at Tommy's or the other way around. They played army, with Tommy the Americans and Butch the Germans, or Civil War, with Tommy the North and Butch the Rebs, or Marvel, with Tommy as Dr. Strange or Reed Richards and Butch as Dormammu or Doctor Doom. Occasionally, Chuckie from two doors down joined them when he wasn't in trouble, or Dale (funny that he had Butch's sister's name) from across the street when he was visiting his aunt. But those were interludes Butch really didn't like because, invariably, Chuckie or Dale teased Butch about something stupid he did or said and Tommy let them continue until Butch cried and went home.
The best times were right now, side by side, reading Marvel. Tommy got him started a few years ago, dragged Butch and his weekly quarter off to Carl's. "Don't buy baseball cards, jerko, lookee here!"
Tommy had spun the magazine rack to a slot containing a Fantastic Four #1 with that big green thing coming out of the street.
Butch liked Batman, and Sergeant Rock and the tank haunted by the ghost of General Stuart in GI Combat, but this! He bought the FF and a Two-Gun Kid and still had one cent left over for bubblegum with a Luis Tiant and Tug McGraw inside to trade later.
So who’s the jerko, jerko?
They had raced to Tommy's back porch and Tommy read the comics aloud because Butch couldn't read yet. First grade was still months away, and he hadn’t gone to kindergarten like Cindy and Art. If it hadn't been for those comic books and Green Eggs and Ham, Butch wouldn't have had a clue what a letter was, much less whole words, when he walked into Miss MacDonald's first-grade class that fall.
Now, look at him. He read as well as Tommy, maybe better. Butch had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer five times already, loving each pass-through. Miss Hale, the most beautiful second-grade teacher in the world, had read it to them during story time. Enthralled, Butch had pestered her to do so again, and she asked, "Would you like to read it for yourself?"
"Maybe a little advanced, Butch, but if you think you can do it …"
He sure did think he could do it. Hadn't he blasted through the SRAs, didn't he swap Happy Hollisters with the third graders and wasn't he a Marvel True Believer? She lent him her copy and he finished it in a week, and Miss Hale was so astonished she gave it to him when school ended. He could read anything now, couldn't he?
Call me a bookworm, dad, I don't care.
But all that was in jeopardy. If there was one group of kids with which middle schoolers had no truck, it was elementaries … like Butch. Butch wouldn’t ascend to seventh grade until Tommy was already in ninth, one year away from high school, and ninth graders had even less truck with seventh graders. Their friendship was aging out. It was more than likely that this summer was the very last time that he and Tommy could, or would, remain the best of friends.
That prospect gave Butch the chills, and he glanced apprehensively at his very best friend in the entire universe and, oh my God, look at this, Tommy was still on the girls. Butch frowned. Tommy had the narrowed eyes that dad got whenever he looked at bent-over girls or girls walking by in their bathing suits. Butch always looked away feeling guilty, even though he didn't understand why. Dad, though, stayed on them; smiled, too.
Wait. Wrong word—'leered,' yeah, that's it. An ugly word. But appropriate.
About the Author
D. Krauss resides in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. He has been, at various times: a cottonpicker, a sodbuster, a librarian, a surgical orderly, the guy who paints the little white line down the middle of the road, a weatherman, a door-kickin' shove-gun-in-face lawman, a hunter of terrorists, and a school bus driver (and a layabout, don't forget that). He's been married for over 40 years, and has a wildman bass guitarist for a son.
Advanced Healing Spells
(Ember Academy for Young Witches, #3)
Publication date: April 15th 2020
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Keeping my head down shouldn’t be too hard… Right?
Unhappy with how everything with the Amazons went down, the Slayers are now investigating Ember Academy.
But not me. Not as long as I keep my head down.
Which would have been a hell of a lot easier if students hadn’t started dropping unconscious.
No one knows how to wake them, but I have ways to find answers that they don’t
The question is if I risk it with the Slayers watching me so closely…
Especially when it would mean reaching out to the very criminal the Slayers are trying to find.
ADVANCED HEALING SPELLS is the third book in the Ember Academy for Young Witches YA Urban Fantasy Academy series. If you love kick-ass heroines, Sapphic slow-burn romances, and magical boarding schools, you’ll love this latest fast-paced series in L.C. Mawson’s Snowverse.
EXCERPTThere are lots of things that I’d gotten disturbingly used to since finding out that I was a Witch.
First and foremost probably being the fact that I’m a Witch.
But spending my dream-time psychically linked to an ancient Witch who almost killed me was definitely up there.
But it’s okay, we got past that.
It was an accident, and she was trying to help lift the curse she left on me.
And I was helping, given that there wasn’t much else to do when I arrived at her tower at night.
“Wait, hang on, stop,” I said as I realised what she was doing.
“What?” she said, huffing as she placed one hand on her hip, the other holding marigold flowers.
“You have to dry them first. You never use fresh marigold in a dermal solution.”
Maria ground her teeth a little, but she did pull out her wand.
“How are you considered one of the greatest Witches of history and you’re this bad at potion-making?”
“Because it takes too long,” Maria admitted as she waited for her drying spell to work.
I grimaced. That would work, but not as well as letting them dry naturally.
“I take shortcuts because I don’t have the patience for the long way, and then my potions are never that strong.”
I took some more marigold flowers from her supplies and removed them from the preservation spell, putting them out to dry.
This potion wasn’t going to be strong enough the way she was making it, so I might as well set up the next one now.
“At least you’re aware of your pitfalls.”
“Being one of the greatest Witches of history demands it. Especially if you’re neurodivergent. You can’t succeed when you don’t understand your limits, Amelia. Pushing past them will only harm you in the long-run.”
I folded my arms tight across my chest. “What if you don’t like thinking about the fact that you’re not good at something?”
She turned and gave me a reassuring smile. “Then that is understandable. But that’s one of those pitfalls that you really do need to acknowledge.”
I leaned back against the table I was standing next to. “Yeah, I guess…”
“For example, if you hadn’t acknowledged that you struggle with Light magic enough to have difficulty casting healing spells, you would have kept pushing yourself to succeed in using traditional healing spells, rather than focusing on your connection to Nature.”
“I don’t struggle with Light magic.”
Maria raised an eyebrow.
“I stopped you from freeing your coven by focusing on Light magic.”
“I didn’t say that you can’t access it at all, I’m just saying that you seem to be favouring Dark magic. And why are you arguing? I thought you wanted to be a Dark Witch so that you could go to the Underworld and get your sister’s protection.”
“I just don’t want to end up like you.”
“I’m not a Dark Witch.”
I frowned. “Wait, you’re not?”
“No, I’m not Dark or Light. It’s not a binary, Amelia. You can draw from both. Or the odd Witch like you can draw from Nature.
“I’ve never been a fan of thinking of it in the binary anyway. ‘Dark’ and ‘Light’ were just terms that Witches made up because the Demons and Council of Light demanded that we be one or the other to work with them.”
Some say she's an ancient creature of nightmare that was unleashed from beneath the ocean, come to devour the souls of men. Others say that she's a cosmic being from the beyond the stars that has taken corporeal form to learn our ways for some unknown end...
In truth, L.C. Mawson lives in a tower in the middle of a haunted forest, far from civilisation and is definitely (probably?) not a witch who curses those who trespass upon her land. And she definitely cannot turn into a dragon that flies over cities in the dead of night and whose cries are often mistaken for an approaching storm. Where did you hear that? That's absurd...
The only contact she has with humanity is publishing a book once a month, which is definitely just for fun and not part of an ancient contract with a trickster god.
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I Would Never…But If I Did
Maria Ann Green
Publication date: April 10th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Taryn Sams doesn’t believe in love. Period. Every time she’s gotten close, her happiness has been ripped from her, proving once again the only thing worth believing in is the inevitability of her own – and others – screw ups.
For Austin Wright, Taryn is the one who got away. But really, if he’s honest with himself, he pushed her away, with one hard shove. He did the one thing he told her he never would do, and shattered both of their hearts. But it’s been years since then, and somehow Austin and Taryn found a way to be friends, albeit dysfunctional ones.
Theo Evans is the other man in Taryn’s life. He’s also Austin’s best friend. But, to be fair, he’s been in love with Taryn longer. He accepts Taryn as she is, broken, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to be the one she chooses in the end.
Taryn isn’t the only one with someone else in her life. Austin has a girlfriend he’s trying to see a future with even though she can’t live up to those that came before. Yet they keep coming back together like magnets, unable to resist the pull to each other. Taryn continues her relationship with Theo while starting up again with Austin, willing to give him one more shot though not willing to let go of Theo just yet. While juggling the two men, she’s hoping that her once-bitter heart will eventually open up and tell her who to choose, hoping that she isn’t deluding herself yet again about what’s real and what’s possible.
Can love win Taryn over, or will she screw up her own life yet again, and the lives of at least three others in the process?
EXCERPT:“I would never cheat on her, but if I did, it would only be with you.”
His stupid, insensitive words, from who-the-fuck-knows how long ago, a lifetime—from a couple girlfriends ago—feel more and more like I imagined them. And still, I can’t let go; they rattle and clank but just won’t leave. So I tip the bottle of booze back, taking another long pull. And I shouldn’t be surprised when I have to bite back both the gag and mouthful of saliva that follow way too quickly. At this point, it’s almost instant. But I am. Though, after some quick swallowing and a violent shudder, I’m pretty sure it’s not coming back up.
I don’t even know why I’m thinking about him, about that, I forget what brought it up this time. But something always does, and, every time, those memories lead to nights like this.
Looking between the bottle in my hand and Maicy eyeing me like I’m a glass on the edge of a shelf, too close to falling, to shattering, I can’t take it. I just can’t. No thank you.
So I take another drink, intending to get drunk.
Maria lives in Minnesota despite the frozen winters. Actually, she prefers snow drifts and icicles over summer and all that sweat running everywhere. She lives with her husband and little family, which includes a couple lazy cats who make great lap warmers. You can usually find her whishing that she lived in a secret cabin in the woods where she could be a hermit reading and writing all of the time. Instead she lives the suburban life where she pretends to her neighbors and the other moms around that she doesn't swear like a sailor, have hidden tattoos, and love a good glass bottle of wine. She absolutely believes in unicorns and ghosts and hopes vampires and monsters are real too. She's a coffee-in-the-morning and wine-in-the-evening kind of person, preferably with a nap in between. Maria prefers cats over dogs, books over people, and late nights over early mornings. She probably shouldn't talk to anyone until she's had her first cup of coffee. And if you ever want to hang out with her, you'll have to be game for a horror movie or just a quick run to target for two (hundred) little things. Also, you couldn't pay her to be in her twenties again; Thirties is where it's at. She's a creative, mouthy, introverted, proud bisexual, highly-sensitive INFJ, Slytherpuff, dork with a sweet-tooth.
Maria devours books, reading mostly in bed or listening to audio books in the car. Writing has been one of her passions for pretty much her whole life. So creativity is a necessity for her, always. After working in the mental health field for almost a decade, she's now living her dream as a stay-at-home writer, kiddo wrangler, professional snuggler, and constantly-tired-person. When it comes to her writing, she specializes in dark and twisted thrillers or gritty, angsty contemporary romances. But no matter the genre, she always prefers writing deeply flawed characters with dysfunctional relationships. She's pretty sure the whole "unlikable character" thing is a conspiracy because every character she loves have been labeled this way. Ridiculous. And because of this, she's pretty much found it impossible to write anything without at least a little mayhem.
Maria was once told she painted with her words, and that phrase stuck with her - because writing really is an art, and good stories are true masterpieces. She's always trying to grow and improve in her craft, shooting for a masterpiece of her own someday. And she plans to write forever because writing gives Maria the ability to disappear into new worlds and create people within twisting plots, all from the comfort of her couch. She will always believe that though not every story is for her, and her stories aren't for everyone, every story has a reader.
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Title: Gin's Tonic
Author: Olivia Owen
Genre: Contemporary Multicultural Romance
Release Date: April 16, 2020
What began as a series of misunderstandings catapults into urgent need, as Gin finds herself forced to make an impossible choice, staying faithful to memories of the past or living for the future.
I’m not who I used to be.
Losing them turned me into someone I don’t even recognize. I’m not even sure I want to know that person.
So I ran.
But that was just a change in longitude and latitude.
When I met Roman, my insides were a twisted, decayed, knife-edged thing I was sure no one would ever want.
But he took every crushed bit of it and demanded more.
He’s as scarred on the outside as I am on the inside, but somehow, we fit together like two jagged pieces of the same fractured puzzle. Our tortured pasts brought us together—then ripped us apart.
Falling for him was inevitable. So was losing him.
Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, but maybe…girl gets nothing at the end.
Happily ever after just isn’t meant for people like me…right?
Gin’s Tonic is a steamy, angsty, mature, small town romance featuring a Chinese-American heroine who is stronger than she knows. This is the story of a perfectly imperfect woman and the tall-dark-and-brooding hero who proves to her that love after loss is possible.
Olivia Owen is new to the world of writing romance novels (long time reader, first time writer). Every once in a while, she finds it is necessary to push out of her safe little box and do something that kind of scares her. This is definitely one of those things. She has a soft spot for bulky, brooding male leads and the awkward, relatable women those guys just can't help but love. In her free time, she can be found cooking with just a bit too much butter, contemplating having Lasik surgery to increase her chances of survival during a zombie apocalypse, and (much like her novel’s heroine) having coffee in her garden while conjuring up happily ever afters.
Title: Afraid to Hope (Ancient Passages, Book 2)
Author: Sutton Bishop
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Adventure Romance
Release Date: May 14, 2020
Cover Designer: Ally Hastings, Starcrossed
Covers Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.
From the author of Afraid to Fall, comes a sexy new standalone romantic adventure.
Archaeologist and INTERPOL contractor Dr. Natasha Jordaan is on a dangerous mission to recover artifacts looted from Morocco—the home of her past and her heart. Trained, competent, and proven, the last thing she needs is a brash, infuriating babysitter, no matter how sexy he is.
Former special forces Bane Rua wants this starched-up professor in every way a man can have a woman, and he always gets what he wants. His duty might be to protect the beautiful doctor and recover the relics, but no one ever said he couldn’t have two assignments.
* For Mature Audiences Only * Smoking Hot Adult Sexual Situations *
Sutton Bishop enjoys having a foot in both worlds—real and make-believe. She has degrees in forensics and anthropology and a minor in world history. Her writing is inspired by her travels and life experiences. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, their four kids, and a passel of pets.
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