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Friday, March 25, 2011

The End of Marking Time: Book Review and Interview with CJ West

Last year, I read a book called The End of Marking Time by CJ West. This book is very well written and impossible to put down once started. It’s difficult to say much about this book without spoiling the plot, so be warned: The interview with CJ West that follows may contain some spoilers, but I have tried to keep them to a minimum. If you’re worried about this sort of thing, skip the description that follows. Better yet, read the book first and then read my interview with CJ. The End of Marking Time is a fantastic thought-provoking story. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com (see my Book Rating Scale).

Story description, from Amazon.com: “Gifted housebreaker, Michael O'Connor, awakens inside an ultramodern criminal justice system where prison walls are replaced by surveillance equipment and a host of actors hired to determine if he is worthy of freedom. While he was sleeping, the Supreme Court declared long term incarceration to be cruel and unusual punishment and ordered two million felons released. The result was utter chaos and the backlash from law-abiding citizens and police departments reshaped the United States. Felons now enter reeducation programs where they live freely among the population. At least that's what they think...”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Children's Author Spotlight: Julia Donaldson

Jack is 3 1/2 years old now, and we have enjoyed a great many books together. Thanks to some great children's authors, Jack is developing a great love of reading. I want to share some of our favourite books with you, so that you can continue to inspire your little ones to read.

One of my son's favourite authors is Julia Donaldson. Her books are also fun for moms and dads to read. The stories are very clever. The writing is rhythmic and full of fun rhymes.

Julia Donaldson has worked with 11 different illustrators to produce more than 40 picture books. She also writes books for older kids, plays, poems and songs. Check out Julia's web page to learn all about this wonderful woman who so clearly adores children. We were introduced to Julia Donaldson through the Gruffalo series (The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child), illustrated by Axel Sheffler.

The Gruffalo
Product Description from Amazon.com:
A mouse is taking a stroll through the deep, dark wood when along comes a hungry fox, then an owl, and then a snake. The mouse is good enough to eat but smart enough to know this, so he invents . . . the gruffalo! As Mouse explains, the gruffalo is a creature with terrible claws, and terrible tusks in its terrible jaws, and knobbly knees and turned-out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of its nose. But Mouse has no worry to show. After all, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo. . .
This story teaches kids that size and strength are no match for wit and creativity!

The Gruffalo's Child
Product Description from Amazon.com:
One night, the Gruffalo’s child wanders into the woods to search for the Big Bad Mouse. But instead, she comes upon a small mouse in the woods . . . and decides to eat him! But wait, what is that? A shadow of a very large, scary creature falls on the ground. Could it be the Big Bad Mouse after all?
This story demonstrates to kids that things are not always as they seem. Once again, brains win out over braun! 

Charlie Cook's Favourite Book
Product Description from Amazon.com:
Charlie Cook has a favorite book. It’s about a pirate, who also has a favorite book . . . about Goldilocks, who also has a favorite book . . . about a knight, who also has a favorite book. . . . This hilarious pattern continues throughout the story, right to the surprising conclusion. Told in rollicking rhyme, this tale is sure to please the read-aloud crowd.
I love his book. It has a sing-song rhythm to it, and shows lots of different characters enjoying books. Great reading inspiration for young kids!

Monkey Puzzle
Product Description from Amazon.com:
"I've lost my mum!" "Hush, little monkey, don't you cry, I'll help you find her," said Butterfly. But somehow Butterfly keeps getting it wrong. Will monkey ever find his mum.
This story is really cute. Kids learn about specific features of animals, and the differences between them. 

Room on the Broom
Product Description from Amazon.com:
The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch's hat, then her bow, and then her wand! Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom. But is there room on the broom for so many friends? And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon?
This one is a great selection for Hallowe'en, but is also fun year-round. It teaches kids that doing good deeds often leads to great friendships. Just as we help others in need, others will be there for us to lean on when we need help.

Visit Julia Donaldson's picture books page: http://juliadonaldson.co.uk/picturebooks.htm

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More than fifty bargain books - Just $0.99 each!

Recently, I posted a list of books that I have either read or plan to read that were priced at just $0.99 last week. If you missed it, you can find that list here: Read an E-Book Week specials. Some of these books continue to be priced at $0.99, but others may have gone up in price.

There are so many more great books available for less than a dollar. There was such a positive response to my last post, with several people choosing to support those authors and snag a great deal in the process, that I decided to spread a little more of the love. Here is another batch of books (more than 50) available for just $0.99! The first two books are one that I have read and enjoyed. The next two books are in my To Be Read (TBR) collection. Please note that I have not read or sampled any of the other books in this batch yet, but they are ones that looked interesting to me. To better understand which books you will enjoy, take a look at the product descriptions below from Amazon.com. Click on a book title to see reader reviews and to purchase the book.

I hope you find something you will enjoy on this list.

Please double check the price before making your purchase as prices can change at any time.

The End of Marking Time - by CJ West (rated 4/5 stars by me)
Gifted housebreaker, Michael O'Connor, awakens inside an ultramodern criminal justice system where prison walls are replaced by surveillance equipment and a host of actors hired to determine if he is worthy of freedom. While he was sleeping, the Supreme Court declared long term incarceration to be cruel and unusual punishment and ordered two million felons released. The result was utter chaos and the backlash from law-abiding citizens and police departments reshaped the United States. Felons now enter reeducation programs where they live freely among the population. At least that's what they think. In reality they are enslaved to an army of counselors and a black box that teaches them everything they failed to learn from kindergarten through adulthood. Michael believes he's being tested by the black box, but what he slowly begins to realize is that everything he does is evaluated to determine whether he lives or dies.

Out of Time: A Paranormal Romance - by Monique Martin (rated 3/5 stars by me)
Professor Simon Cross has spent his life searching for evidence of vampires and avoiding emotional entanglements. When a mysterious accident transports Simon and his new assistant, Elizabeth West, back in time, Simon finally finds both the proof that he's been looking for, and the romance that he hasn't.

In 1920s Manhattan, there are more than mobsters vying for power in the city's speakeasies. Will Simon and Elizabeth's developing relationship survive the vampires' teeth? Will they survive to make it back? Or will they be forever out of time?

The Merry-Go-Round, a romantic comedy - by Donna Fasano
When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn’t chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.

Radium Halos (A novel about the Radium Dial Painters) - by Shelley Stout
Radium Halos is historical fiction based on the true events of the Radium Girls: a group of female factory workers who, in the early 1920s, contracted radiation poisoning from painting luminous watch and clock dials with radium paint. Our narrator is Helen Waterman, a 65-year-old mental patient who worked at the factory when she was 16. She tells us her story through flashbacks, slowly revealing her past, the loved ones she's lost, and the dangerous secrets she's kept all these years.

"While the subject matter is intense, the tone of the novel is surprisingly light. Thanks is due to Helen who adds humor through her naive and bluntly honest outlook." 

Live Free or Die (The Granite State Mysteries) - by Jessie Crockett
Life in tiny Winslow Falls, New Hampshire is pretty darn good until an arsonist decides to ruin everyone’s Christmas.

The way volunteer fire chief Gwen Fifield sees it, her life in rural New Hampshire is as good as it can be. Sure, she’s gained twenty pounds and her property taxes have skyrocketed, but her basement didn’t flood this year and the general store started delivering pizza.

All things considered, Gwen’s got no complaints….that is until she finds a body sizzled like a sausage in the smoldering remains of the Winslow Falls museum.

When an artifact from the museum is traced to an immigrant family, most local residents are quick to blame the outsiders. But clues from the past convince Gwen that the town she’s always trusted is harboring a home-grown murderer.

Summer Secrets - by Barbara Freethy
UPDATE: Price has gone back up - now $2.99.
Eight years ago, Duncan McKenna and his three daughters won a punishing around-the-world-sailboat race. Though Kate, Ashley and Caroline McKenna are haunted by the journey's aftermath, they support their beloved father in keeping its ugly truths hidden. Then reporter Tyler Jamison arrives on idyllic Castleton Island, claiming he wants to write a story about the race. Tyler is actually bent on learning which of the McKenna girls gave birth to a child during it-a child illegally adopted by his brother, who may lose a custody battle if the identity of the birth mother isn't discovered. While Kate and Tyler circle each other in mingled suspicion and sexual attraction, her sisters struggle with Duncan's alcoholism and their own demons. Events reach crisis point during a sudden summer storm that forces the family to confront their fears and lies. Some improbable plot contrivances mar the novel's realistic texture, and the girls' support of their father's destructive dreams often seems disturbing rather than devoted. Despite these lapses, Freethy's (Love Will Find a Way, etc.) zesty storytelling will keep readers hooked, and the sisters' loving but prickly interactions will make anyone with a sibling smile.

Implant - by Michael Wallace
Neurosurgeon Julia Nolan places cortical implants into the brains of field operatives to record data from their auditory and visual cortices. One of her subjects, an operative named Ian Westhelle, suffers a psychotic break and kills his handler before he can be recovered.

Julia tracks Ian to an asylum where the CIA warehouses insane former soldiers, scientists, and others with security risks too great for conventional psychiatric wards. Agents from the national intelligence directorate discover her snooping and target her for elimination.

A collaboration between award-winning writer Michael Wallace and international bestselling author Jeffrey Anderson, Implant is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep readers guessing until the final, chilling conclusion.

Michael Wallace's State of Siege is also just $0.99.

Hardly Knew Her - by Laura Lippman
New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman has been hailed as one of the best crime fiction writers in America today, winning virtually every major award in the genre. The author of the enormously popular series featuring Baltimore P.I. Tess Monaghan as well as three critically lauded stand-alone novels, Lippman now turns her attention to short stories—and reveals another level of mastery.

Lippman sets many of the stories in this sterling anthology, Hardly Knew Her, in familiar territory: her beloved Baltimore, from downtown to its affluent suburbs, where successful businessmen go to shocking lengths to protect what they have or ruthlessly expand their holdings, while dissatisfied wives find murderous ways to escape their lives. But Lippman is also unafraid to travel—to New Orleans, to an unnamed southwestern city, and even to Dublin, the backdrop for the lethal clash of two not-so-innocents abroad. Tess Monaghan is here, in two stories and a profile, aligning herself with various underdogs. And in her extraordinary, never-before-published novella, Scratch a Woman, Lippman takes us deep into the private world of a high-priced call girl/madam and devoted soccer mom, exploring the mystery of what may, in fact, be written in the blood.

Each of these ingenious tales is a gem—sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, always filled with delightfully unanticipated twists and reversals. For people who have yet to read Lippman, get ready to experience the spellbinding power of "one of today's most pleasing storytellers, hailed for her keen psychological insights and her compelling characterizations," (San Diego Union-Tribune), who has "invigorated the crime fiction arena with smart, innovative, and exciting work" (George Pelecanos). As for longtime devotees of her multiple award-winning novels, you'll discover that you hardly know her.

Fleeing Famous (SpellBound Cafe) - by Moxie Baker and Laura Freed
Fleeing Famous, loosely based on true events, is the often funny, mostly quirky story of how one woman finds her destiny (and assorted muffins, cakes, and pies) on the road she takes to avoid it. For Moxie Baker (not her real name), growing up the daughter of a famous Rockstar and a 3 time Oscar winning mother, life was no picnic. Moxie longs to escape the celebrity shenanigans of her dysfunctional parents and spoiled wanna- be reality star sister, Harper.

When Moxie accidentally finds herself in Sugar Hollow Harbor, a sleepy town that promises: “You’ll find sweetness in our shadows,” she decides to reinvent herself. Ah – but the truth, and Moxie’s sister, threatens to expose Moxie and unravel her new, delicious life.

Fleeing Famous launches the Spellbound Café fiction series: Stories about the magic of food, the power of friendship, and the mysticism of fortunate events.

Not What She Seems - by Victorine E. Lieske
Steven Ashton, a billionaire from New York, and Emily Grant, on the run from the law... and when they meet he can’t help falling for her. What he doesn’t know is that interfering in her life will put his own life in danger. Not What She Seems holds you in suspense from the moment you begin down the path of murder and romance.

The View from Here - by Rachel Howzell
The View from Here focuses on the beauties and hardships of marriage; the betrayals and promises made between husbands and wives; and the grief of one woman haunted by secrets.

Nicole Baxter has always tried to control every element of her life, but that control is slipping away. She has issues. Abandonment issues. Marital issues. Conception issues. And she thinks her house in the hills is haunted. It doesn't help that her husband Truman spleunks and climbs, making her worry more with each adventure he takes. As the two grow apart, Nicole makes decisions that may ultimately shatter her fragile marriage.

Her life changes on the afternoon she receives a phone call from the harbor. During a scuba dive, Truman disappears. No one -- not his diving instructor, not the Coast Guard -- can find him. Is he still alive? Or is grief making her believe the impossible? 

Sugar & Spice (A full-length crime thriller) - by Saffina Desforges
It's every parent's worst nightmare: A child fails to return home. As hours turn to days, all they can do is hope. Some children never come back...

Sugar & Spice is a ground-breaking new crime-thriller set against the background of Britain's fragmented criminal justice system, with the key protagonists the mother and partner of a murdered child.

Inspired by a news story of a man who begged a Judge to give him a longer sentence, because he knew he would harm another child if released without treatment, Sugar & Spice is meticulously researched, asking the questions society prefers not to have answered. At once disquieting and challenging, Sugar & Spice is car-crash reading.

Read more at Amazon.com.

Her Secret Bodyguard - by Misha Crews
When a Special Forces veteran is hired to protect a Malibu playgirl, sparks fly faster than bullets. But will they live long enough to realize they're falling in love?

In an exciting twist on her timeless tales of heart and home, author Misha Crews sets her latest story in Los Angeles, playground of former model Blake Sera. Although she's not yet thirty, jaded Blake is sure she's seen it all. Until she discovers that the man she's been living with is up to his neck in the murky underworld of crime. When Special Forces veteran Caleb McKenna is secretly hired to protect the glamour gal, he's sure that Blake is just another pretty face whose only interests are sunning, funning and shopping till she drops. But soon he realizes that there's more to her than big blue eyes and a killer smile. Can they survive their passion? Can they survive at all?

The Naked Gardener - by L B Gschwandtner
Artist Katelyn Cross loves Greg Mazur and he loves her. He wants to be married but a previous relationship that went sour has made Katelyn overly cautious about any permanent commitment. And what about Greg’s first wife? He lost her to cancer and Katelyn worries that he’s only looking for a replacement. What’s a girl to do? Canoe down a river with five gal pals, camp out, catch fish, talk about life and men. The problem is, a river can be as unpredictable as any relationship and just as hard to manage. On their last day, when the river turns wild, the women face the challenge of a lifetime and find that staying alive means saving themselves first while being open to help from a most unlikely source. As Katelyn navigates the raging water, she learns how to overcome her fear of change in a world where nothing stays the same. When Katelyn returns to her garden, she’ll face one more obstacle and the naked gardener will meet the real Greg Mazur.

Wet Desert, a Novel - by Gary Hansen
Grant Stevens, a mid-level manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, only wanted to build dams. He never imagined he would be swept into a desperate race against an environmental terrorist bent on restoring the Colorado River by blowing up the dams. Left temporarily in charge of the Bureau, Grant must react when the first dam is attacked. He faces the unthinkable task of mitigating the massive flood roaring down the Colorado. The flood will eventually threaten the mighty Hoover Dam, and if Hoover fails, the other dams downstream will fall like dominos. Working with the FBI, Grant uses his engineering skills, river knowledge, and plenty of gut instinct in an attempt to outmaneuver the terrorist. The chase will lead all the way downstream to the Gulf of California in a cat and mouse game where the stakes are high and the potential for destruction is enormous.

Whitney Award Finalist. Compared to Tom Clancy by Meridian Magazine.

We Interrupt This Date - by L.C. Evans
Since her divorce a year ago, Susan Caraway has gone through the motions of life. Now she is finally coming out of her shell. Just when she decides on a makeover and a new career, her family members decide she's crisis central. First there’s her sister DeLorean who has come back from California with a baby, a designer dog, and no prospects for child support or a job. As soon as DeLorean settles in at Susan’s home, Susan’s son Christian returns from college trailing what Susan’s mama refers to as “an androgynous little tart.” Then there’s Mama herself, a southern lady who wrote the book on bossy. A secret from Mama’s past threatens to unravel her own peace. But not before Mama hurts her ankle and has to move into Susan’s home with her babies—two Chihuahuas with attitude. Susan would like to start her new job as a ghost tour operator. She would like to renew her relationship with Jack Maxwell, a man from her past. But Jack isn’t going to stand in line behind her needy family.

The Scrubs - by Simon Janus
UPDATE: Price has gone back up - now $1.99.
James Jeter, the notorious serial killer with a sixth sense, holds court inside London's Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He's the focus of the "North Wing Project." Under the influence of a hallucinogen, Jeter can create an alternative world known as "The Rift" containing the souls of his victims. Pardons are on offer to inmates who'll enter The Rift. Michael Keeler has nothing to lose and little to live for. He's sent into The Rift to learn the identity of Jeter's last victim.

It's a mission where the guilty can be redeemed, but at a price...

Simon Janus is the horror identity for the award winning thriller writer, Simon Wood. The Scrubs was first published in hardback and paperback in 2008.

Simon Wood's Road Rash is still just $0.99.

A Chance for Charity (The Immortal Ones) - by S.L. Baum
If you live LONG enough... love (and danger) will find you.

A new family has just arrived in the isolated mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. Welcome the Johnstons - Jason (a doctor), Rachel (a designer), and their niece Emily (a current High School Senior).

Emily has lived the life of a quiet loner in the past, trying to go unnoticed. But with Telluride being such a small and welcoming town, she finds a group of friends at school almost immediately. When Emily meets Link (another new transplant in town) her world turns upside down. She doesn't understand why she feels a magnetic pull toward him, or why she unknowingly lets her guard down around him. Link is just as confused by his own need to be with her.

Emily knows she is playing with fire. She should be doing whatever she can to keep herself isolated, to keep Link from getting too close. Danger has a way of finding Emily's family - that is what keeps them on the move. They arrive in a new town every few years - it is safer that way.

Because... Emily isn't really Emily... her real name is Charity - and Charity has an even bigger secret. Charity and her family are not like other people, they have "skills" that mere mortals cannot begin to comprehend.

Before long, Charity is struggling with the reality that her two lives are coming closer to each other with each passing day. Soon Link will find himself wrapped in a supernatural world that he never knew existed - and discover that mortals are not the only beings that walk this earth.

Death of a Cure (A Thomas Briggs Novel) - by Steven H. Jackson
We know them as humanitarians. Of this we are sure, we are certain, their calling unimpeachable. They have forsaken success in industry and in government that was surely theirs just for the taking. This personal sacrifice is for us. More importantly, for those we love. They are servants of a greater good. In return, we entrust them with our time, our talents and our money -- all we can give. They move the hearts of our children, our friends and our coworkers all of whom enlist sponsors that contribute even more money based on miles hiked or biked along traffic laden thoroughfares. We look to them to lead us from the heartbreak -- the overwhelming emotional devastation that cripples us as our lives derail when someone we love is struck down by a cruel and life-robbing disease. We hold them to a higher standard. They are better. We need them to be. They are the caretakers of our hope.

But is our dream of a cure really their mission? Have we been deceived? Could it be a cruel duplicity, a personal deceit, phenomenal in its audacity, yet nothing more to them than an evil means to a selfish end? A falsehood perpetrated against the trusting, abetting positions of power. Our hope blinding us from the truth. Have the lifestyles, the position and the money become their true motivation? Have they come to see the disease, our enemy, as their benefactor? How far would they go to protect the enemy?

Life is But a Dream - by Cheryl Shireman
In this stunning debut novel by writer Cheryl Shireman, the main character, Grace Adams, is a woman who faces an uncertain future. Despite the fact that she built her life around them, and without her ever noticing, her daughter and husband have created lives that no longer include her.

The novel begins with Grace waking from a nightmare alone in a cabin on a secluded island in Michigan. Her beloved home, a beautiful grey Cape Cod with a white porch and gigantic hanging baskets of dark magenta petunias, has been repossessed. Her marriage has fallen apart after her husband lost both his job and his mother.

Waking in the cabin, frightened and alone, Grace reviews her life and feels as if it no longer has meaning. She gets up, walks through the woods to the edge of the lake, and while standing on the pier and looking into the water, decides to kill herself. She cannot swim and has, literally, surrounded herself with the option of death.

As the novel progresses, Grace tries to compose a suicide note to her soon to be ex-husband and determine the best method for taking her life, including some that are a bit comical and impractical. Like life, the process of suicide is more complicated than Grace had imagined.

The reader is introduced to Grace’s family through a series of flashbacks. Laney, her independent daughter who is hiking in the rugged Colorado Rockies. Matt, her soon to be ex-husband who is struggling to rouse himself from a crippling depression. In addition, Grace’s life becomes more complicated as she builds relationships with some of the people who live on the lake, including the beautiful but mysterious Nick Brandt who shows up on her doorstep unexpectedly. As she contemplates her fate, Grace makes a startling discovery that changes not only the course of her life, but also forces her to take action in ways she could never have imagined.

The novel is written for women and through a woman’s point of view. Like the main characters in the novels of Elizabeth Berg, Grace is easy to identify with and easy to understand; for at some point, we have all felt the emotions she is experiencing. Thought provoking, sometimes frightening, and often funny, Life Is But a Dream is the story of a woman redefining herself and taking control of her life as she struggles to understand her present circumstances. It is the story of the power of love, the devastating consequences of depression, and the strength of the human spirit.

FAUSTINE (Bonfire Chronicles Book One) - by Imogen Rose - UPDATE - 03/22/2011: Now priced at $3.99.
Who is Faustine? When Faustine Spencer was five years old, she discovered a secret that changed her life forever. At twelve, her parents sent her to Bonfire Academy in Switzerland to ensure that she received the training needed to control her increasing powers.

Three years later, Faustine returns to Manhattan. All she wants is to be a typical teenager, at least, one that's part of the in-crowd at her Upper East Side High School. When drop-dead gorgeous Ryker, her long-time crush from the Academy, finally notices her, she couldn't be happier.

However, her desire for a normal life is shattered when her father, a prominent sovereign, disappears after naming her as his successor. Her siblings begin to disappear, and Faustine finds herself in the midst of a power struggle. With her life in danger, Faustine must learn to follow one of Bonfire Academy's most important rules: Trust no one.

The Innocent - by Vincent Zandri
Getting caught is simply not an option.

It's been a year since Jack Marconi's wife was killed. Ever since, he's been slipping up at his job as warden at an upstate New York prison. It makes him the perfect patsy when a cop-killer breaks out--with the help of someone on the inside. Throwing himself into the hunt for the fleeing con, Jack doesn't see what's coming.

Suddenly the walls are closing in. And in the next twenty-four hours, Jack will defy direct orders, tamper with evidence, kidnap the con's girlfriend--and run from the law with a .45 hidden beneath his sports coat. Because Jack Marconi, keeper of laws, men, secrets, and memories, has been set up--by a conspiracy that has turned everyone he ever trusted into an enemy. And everything he ever believed in into the worst kind of lie.

Vincent Zandri's Godchild is also just $0.99.

Last Exit In New Jersey - by C.E. Grundler
Nice young ladies from the Garden State really shouldn’t be dumping bodies at sea. Then again, 20 year-old Hazel Moran is anything but your typical Jersey girl. Raised aboard a schooner and riding shotgun beside her father in their old tractor-trailer truck, there's little on the road or water that she can't handle; it's her people skills that need work. Normally that isn’t an issue – behind the wheel of a Kenworth most people tend to leave her alone. But when Hazel and her father become the targets of some unsavory characters hunting for her blue-haired cousin, their stolen tractor-trailer truck and a delivery that never arrived, she knows it's time to heed a lesson learned from her favorite hardboiled paperbacks: playing nice will only end in tears.

For ten sweltering days Hazel navigates the Garden State's highways and shorelines, contending with a suspiciously wealthy stranger, white trash, Born Agains, appliance salesmen, an unstable stalker and his curiously troublesome companion. It'll take all her ingenuity, not to mention some fishing tackle and high voltage, if Hazel hopes to protect her family and unravel this tangle of greed and betrayal. And anyone who gets too close, no matter their intent, will discover just how dangerous shy little Hazel truly can be as she sets in motion a twisted plan to uncover the truth, settle some scores, and if possible not wind up dead in the process.

Somewhat hard-boiled, slightly noir, Last Exit in New Jersey is an offbeat tale that travels from a Delaware Bay ghost-town to metropolitan north Jersey, where boats and big rigs set the scene for danger, suspense, dark humor and an unlikely bit of romance.

Simon's Choice - by Charlotte Castle
"But Daddy, who will live with me in heaven?"

Doctor Simon Bailey has everything a man could ever want. Then his beautiful daughter is diagnosed with Leukemia. He can almost accept her impending death. He can almost accept the fact that he will have to live without her. But he cannot stand the thought of his little girl having to face death alone. He answers her innocent question in a moment of desperation, testing his marriage, his professional judgment and his sanity to the limit. As cracks form in Simon's previously perfect family, we wonder, as do his loved ones ... will he really make the ultimate sacrifice? Combining poignant moments of both humour and pain, 'Simon's Choice' is a penetrating account of parenthood at the sharp-end.

The Pigtailed Heart - by Ruth Francisco
In the gritty mean streets of 1940s Los Angeles, ex-detective Jack Clayton has few illusions—he knows all about L.A. corruption. Yet when the great defense lawyer Jerry Giesler asks him to track down witnesses for L.A.’s latest sensational murder trial, the murder of Doris Dazey by her husband, a prominent Hollywood doctor, he can’t resist.

As soon as he starts to investigate, people begin to die. Jack tumbles into a tangled web of deceit that takes him from the jazz dives of Central Avenue, to Venice Beach, to San Pedro, to Hollywood clubs catering to “twilight men,” and into the arms of a siren so dangerous she could set off the whole powder keg.

He uncovers a haunting parallel between the death of actress Thelma Todd and Doris Dazey, and finds connections to the L.A. crime syndicate, eugenics clinics, and international sabotage, all which threaten the pre-war efforts of the Roosevelt administration.

Based on a true criminal trial and years of research, this sweeping, rip-roaring saga lives and breathes the hardscrabble times of pre-war Los Angeles: glamour, gambling, political corruption, and the explosive appetites of a thriving young megalopolis. 

Seven Days From Sunday - by M.H. Sargent
In this fast paced thriller, Iraq’s top terrorist makes two promises – a kidnapped American contractor will be executed on a given date, his body dumped in Baghdad’s Green Zone and a major attack will occur in seven days.

Working desperately to find the American and thwart the impending attack is an elite 4-man CIA team which includes an attractive female doctor. But they can only watch helplessly as the terrorist and his masked henchmen behead the American during a live video feed carried on the Internet.

What they don’t know is that one of the masked men is not a terrorist, but completely innocent. He is an Iraqi pharmacist who has infiltrated the group. His only objective – to find his missing fiancée, who the terrorist has also kidnapped.

After the beheading, he is free to go. But little does he know that his girlfriend will bring the American head to the Green Zone, and inside the dead man’s mouth is evidence linking him to the terrorist.

With the clock ticking, the CIA team knows that their only chance to stop the terrorist rests with the pharmacist and his beautiful fiancée. But can they really be trusted? 

Wind to Water - by David Hamershock
Wind to Water is a deeply absorbing love story. The first chapter grabs the reader's attention with an affecting account of a two-manned military aircraft that is tragically shot down over Iraq. The ensuing chapters focus on the pilot's brokenhearted fiancé, Maryn. Even after nine years, she is still struggling to say goodbye to the soldier she loved with all her heart. She knows that it's time to get on with her life, but in order to do that, she must first say goodbye to her past. She decides to do that by way of a vacation to Australia. As part of a group tour, Maryn meets Grant, a marine biologist from California. The two feel an instant liking to one another, but neither is sure how to proceed. What follows is a tender telling of how love can not only break a heart ... but it can also mend one as well.

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, a Paranormal Romance (Jolie Wilkins Series, Book #1) - by H.P. Mallory
A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead. A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover. A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches. The Underworld in a state of chaos. Let the games begin.

Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend.

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand.

The sequel, Toil and Trouble, a Paranormal Romance (Book 2 of the Jolie Wilkins Series), is just $2.99.

Fifth Avenue - by Christopher Smith
Look beneath all the power and all the wealth that represents New York City's Fifth Avenue, and you'll find greed, blood, revenge. In the best-selling thriller "Fifth Avenue," each intermingles within a revered society that is unprepared for what's in store for it when one man finally strikes in an effort to destroy another man for murdering his wife thirty-one years ago.

Louis Ryan is that man. George Redman, his wife, two daughters and their close friends are his targets. Both men are self-made billionaires who came from nothing to stake their claim to Fifth Avenue. But when Louis Ryan hires an international assassin to literally rip the Redman family apart, a series of events that can't be stopped catapults them all through a fast-paced, hard-edged thriller in which nobody is safe.

Secrets are revealed. Sex lives are exposed. The Mafia get involved. And George's two daughters, Celina and Leana Redman, come to the forefront. More than anyone, it's they who are caught in the throes of their father's past as Louis Ryan's blind desire to kill them all takes surprising turns in his all-out effort to see them dead.

Circle City Blues - by Susan Wells Bennett
When the love of his life leaves him for an online knight, Declan "Mac" MacDougal moves through the seven stages of grief while crisscrossing America: rescuing damsels, advising the lovelorn, reading fantasy fiction and trying to decide where he wants to pull of the road and live his life again. On the way he loses his best friend, a set of wedding rings, his money and possibly his mind, but learns the road to recovery is the next exit after The Circle City Blues.

The Father's Child - by Mark Adair
John Truman, a bright, introverted, college student belongs to the New Dawn...he just doesn't know it yet. The 300-year-old, Oxford-based, secret society designed him, created him, and built their organization to interface with him. They cannot survive without him; he cannot survive without them. All he wants is to get through today; all they want...is to rule the world.

Four Years from Home - by Larry Enright
Tom Ryan -- firstborn of five children in a large, Irish Catholic family, smart and acerbic, a cheat and a bully -- calls himself the future king of the Ryans. There are other opinions. His mother calls him a holy terror. Mrs. Ioli calls the police on him. His father says that had Trouble been a saint, that would have been Tom's middle name. But his parents, neighbors, peers, and siblings all must bow down before him or suffer the consequences. Just ask the Christmas turkey leftovers he buried in the side yard.

Harry, the youngest Ryan, was the shining star of the family. Bright, sensitive, and caring, he was protected by parental radar, called by God and Grandma Ryan to the priesthood, and was in Tom's eyes, a brown-nosing little punk who had become a threat to his kingdom and the primary target of his search and destroy missions.

Then Harry changed. He abandoned his vocation and quit the church, and when he left for college, he left for good. He never called. He rarely wrote. His picture disappeared from the mantle. It was as if he had ceased to exist and his shining star had been but a passing comet. The enemy had retreated and Tom's war was over.

"Four Years from Home" begins on Christmas 1972 during Harry's senior year at college. The Ryan family has gathered without Harry for another bittersweet holiday celebration. When an unexpected and unwelcome gift arrives, the family demands answers and Tom Ryan, bully cum laude, must make a reluctant journey of discovery and self-discovery into a mystery that can only end in tragedy.

Written by the son of Irish Catholic immigrants, "Four Years from Home" redefines brotherly love in the darkly humorous and often poignant actions of its principal skeptic, Tom Ryan.

Least Wanted - by Debbie Mack
Stephanie Ann "Sam" McRae's busy, but orderly life as a Maryland lawyer takes a chaotic turn when two clients are accused of murder. A poor, black girl is accused of killing her mother. A young man suspected of embezzlement is accused of murdering his boss. The cases collide in a bizarre way involving girl gangs and computer pornography.

Sam ventures into the heart of DC's suburban ghettos to find answers. A maniacal killer who'll do anything to hide them stalks her. After a nearly disastrous confrontation, Sam must do business on the run. As the body count grows, Sam races to learn the truth and clear her clients before she becomes the next victim.

Debbie Mack's Identity Crisis is also just $0.99!

The Heat (The Big Bad Wolf Series) - by Heather Killough-Walden (NOTE: This title is $1, not 99 cents.)
Lily St. Claire is a simple, if beautiful Southern girl who has no idea what she is in for when she decides to move back to her home town in Louisiana after a decade of being away. But between the two very different alpha werewolves who instantly begin fighting to claim her as their mate and the serial killer who has her in his sites, she's about to find out.

The sequel, The Strip (The Big Bad Wolf Series), is also just $1!

Many of Heather Killough-Walden's other books are also on sale for just $1. Check out: The Chosen Soul, The Game, Hell Bent, and Forever Neverland.

Dating A Spy Isn't All Fun And Games - by Markee Anderson
Ex-beauty queen contestant Lauren McDonald is thrust into the spy underworld when her boyfriend's job starts to seep into his personal life, making her the conduit for the transfer of information from one enemy to another. Her life can never be the same again when she agrees to marry her boyfriend and become an agent, just to save her life and the United States. But the odds are against her, and those dreams of a peaceful married life go right out the window when she finds out the true mission of the enemy.

Moon Dance (Vampire for Hire #1) - by J.R. Rain
Mother, wife, private investigator...vampire. Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack that changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire. Now the world at large thinks Samantha has developed a rare skin disease, a disease which forces her to quit her day job and stay out of the light of the sun. Now working the night shift as a private investigator, Samantha is hired by Kingsley Fulcrum to investigate the murder attempt on his life, a horrific scene captured on TV and seen around the country. But as the case unfolds, Samantha discovers Kingsley isn't exactly what he appears to be; after all, there is a reason why he survived five shots to the head.

The Sequel, Vampire Moon (Vampire for Hire #2), is just $3.99.

Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse Series #1) is also $0.99, and the sequel, The Mummy Case (Jim Knighthorse Series #2), is just $3.99.

Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1) - by Amanda Hocking
When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.

With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - a world both beautiful and frightening, and Wendy's not sure she wants to be a part of it.

The sequels, Torn (Trylle Trilogy, Book 2) and Ascend (Trylle Trilogy, #3), are both just $2.99 each.

Amanda Hocking's My Blood Approves is also just $0.99.
The sequels, Fate (My Blood Approves, Book 2), Flutter (My Blood Approves, Book 3) and Wisdom (My Blood Approves, #4) are just $2.99 each.

Saving Rachel (A Donovan Creed Crime Novel) - by John Locke
What if the best morning of your life suddenly turned into your worst nightmare? Sam Case is about to find out. Saving Rachel is the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress...and the one he rejects must die. But wait--all is not as it appears to be. In fact, nothing is what it appears to be!

Saving Rachel is a scary, funny, roller coaster ride through hell, with twists, and turns that will slap your face and suck you in!

Many of John Locke's other books are also just $0.99. Check out: Wish List, Lethal People (A Donovan Creed Novel), A Girl Like You (a Donovan Creed Novel), Lethal Experiment (A Donovan Creed Novel), Now & Then (a Donovan Creed Novel), and Follow the Stone.

Elfhunter: A Tale Of Alterra, The World That Is (Tales of Alterra, the World that Is.) - by C.S. Marks
A Tale of Alterra, The World That Is

Elfhunter is the first of the tales of Alterra, The World That Is. It concerns the quest of an unlikely pair of heroines, Gaelen and Nelwyn, who are Wood-elves of the Greatwood Forest. They are hunter-scouts in the realm of King Ri-Aruin, and they have sworn to protect their woodland home, but they are drawn into a quest to defend all the Elves of Alterra as they seek to destroy the 'Elfhunter', a monstrous entity intent on exterminating the Elves until none remain. Along the way, Gaelen and Nelwyn are joined by other interesting characters as they make their way through the realms of Alterra in pursuit of the Elfhunter, whose true name is 'Gorgon'. What headstrong Gaelen and her gentle cousin do not know is that Gorgon is in league with the Dark Power, and that the forces of Evil have forged an entanglement between Gorgon and Gaelen herself. Now she and all she loves are in jeopardy, and only an inspired plan put forth by Orogond, a mortal man, can save her.

Winner of 2008 Reviewer's Choice Award: 'Best Fantasy'; 2009 'Best Series'.

Fire-Heart (A Tale of Alterra, The World That Is) and Ravenshade (A Tale of Alterra, The World That Is) are both just $2.99.

The Shaman: Science, Nature, Prophecy - by Mark D. Longo
A group of American businessmen has disappeared in the jungles of Guatemala. The government blames guerrillas but the locals have a different theory. They believe the "Guardians of the Forests" have reawoken and are now taking their revenge on humanity. Unaware of these developments, nature documentary filmmaker Jared Foster and his anthropologist friend, Christopher Burgeis, depart for Guatemala to shoot footage for Jared's latest project. Their trip becomes an odyssey of discovery during which they explore vast expanses of geography and mind. They must put their newfound knowledge to the test when they reach their final destination for it is there, among the crumbling ruins of the Petén wilderness, that they learn the truth about an ancient prophecy of apocalypse. Nature, it seems, has indeed found a champion and it is no longer the rainforests that are in danger.
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