Book Tour: Midnight’s Star by Shilpa Surgi #contemporaryromance @BookReviewTours @shilpaauthor

Meet Dev Arya & Avni Desai

Visually impaired author and current flavour of the Indian literary scene, Dev Arya, has not just triumphed against the odds in his life, he’s annihilated them. He’s got fame, fortune and floozies in abundance. And yet, he’s lonely.
Cafe owner and only child to her differently abled father, Avni Desai is broke, heartbroken and a true survivor. But no matter how hard she hustles, she’s still struggling to stay afloat.
And then, one day, Dev walks into her cafe… and everything changes for both of them. From excellent tiramisu to earshattering singing, from dramatic friends to accident prone sexcapades, they embark on the ride of a lifetime.
Will it all be worth it though? Will two broken souls find a way to heal each other? Or do the fractures go so deep that there is no way for either of them to find the love they so deeply crave and yet can’t seem to have?

Read an Excerpt from Midnight’s Star

She sounded…warm. I’d gotten into the habit of identifying people by the way they made me feel. This determinedly cheerful, husky voiced café owner definitely made me feel warm. She was also honest. Her tiramisu was exceptional.

Across the table from me, I heard her spoon scraping the bottom of her own plate. At least she wasn’t one of those girls who was on a perpetual diet. I could never understand people who existed by just sniffing at their food and then swallowing one tiny nibble of it.

“You were right,” I said. “Your tiramisu is amazing.”
“I know,” she replied. “Actually, pretty much all of my stuff is amazing.”
“So modest,” I murmured, amused at her confidence.
“Except for my carrot cake.” She sounded perplexed.
I grinned. “I’m sorry but in my opinion carrot and cake are two words that shouldn’t go together.”
“Right?” she exclaimed. “And yet, people love it. Mine tastes pretty awful. I’m still trying to figure out why.”
“Why?”
“What do you mean why? I make horrible carrot cake. That’s why.”
“So,” I shrugged. “Don’t make carrot cake. Make something else. Something that you’re awesome at.”
“A menu of only tiramisu would be a bit restrictive, don’t you think?”
I laughed. Her sarcasm had me feeling lighter and more free than all the cloying sweetness I was usually surrounded by.
“I’m Dev Arya.” We hadn’t even gotten around to introducing ourselves to each other.
“Avni Desai. Nice to meet you.”
I smiled. There was something about her voice that made me want to wallow in it.
“So what do you do, Dev Arya?” she asked now.
“I’m an author,” I said, twirling my cane and waiting for her to make the connection. I usually didn’t want people to recognize my name and fawn all over me but some small childish part of me wanted to impress this woman.
“Hmm. What kind of books do you write?” she asked.
My cane froze. “What kind of books do I write?” I repeated. Was she for real? I was currently one of the most recognized names in the commercial fiction world.
“Psychological thrillers,” I said and waited for the squeal of recognition.
It didn’t come.
Disgruntled, I shifted in my seat. “Thank you for the company but I need to go now.”
She pushed her chair back. “I have to get back to work too. It was nice meeting you, Mr. Dev Arya. Good luck with your bride search.”
I grimaced. “It’s more my mother’s bride search. Anyway, good luck with your ex boyfriend thing,” I said lamely. How exactly did you describe what her ex had done to her? And I was supposed to be a writer and good with words. I mentally rolled my eyes.
I heard someone come up at that moment. Two someones, if I wasn’t wrong.
“These are my friends, Sehar and Diana and this is Dev Arya,” she said,
“I know. It is such an honour to meet you, Mr. Arya. I’m Sehar and I’m a huge fan.”
The voice was sleek and smooth. She sounded like expensive crystal, I reflected.
“Me too. I’m Diana. I’ve got a minor role in the OTT adaptation of your book, Just one more.”
An actress. She sounded like it too. If Sehar was crystal, Diana was champagne.
“Oh,” Avni said, sounding strange. “You’re a big deal?”
I grinned. “Clearly not a very big deal if you’ve never heard of me.”
“I don’t really read books.”
My heart stopped. “What kind of monster doesn’t read books?”
Sehar and Diana started to laugh.
“Not everyone is a reader.” Avni sounded miffed but I was enjoying teasing her.
“I don’t think we can eat Tiramisu together again,” I said, consideringly. “I have standards to maintain.”
Did she just growl? It certainly sounded like it but her friend’s laughter drowned it out. I decided not to push her any further.
“So, Diana, what role are you playing in Just one more?” I asked, trying to change the topic.
There was a brief pause and then she said, “The dead body.”
Uh. I wasn’t sure how to respond. The dead body appeared on my first page and just lay there while the detectives poked and prodded at it.
“I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job,” I said, finally.
“Oh she will,” Avni said, matter of factly. “She’s very good at lying in one place and not doing anything.”
The three of them erupted in a riot of bickering and heckling. I let it all wash over me and soothe the sting of the earlier rejection. Everything felt a little warmer and brighter in that moment.

About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats – corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter

Book Tour: The Maharaja’s Fake Fiance by Alisha Kay #contemporaryromance @alishakayauthor @BookReviewTours

A scandal-averse Maharaja.
A free-spirited actress.
What do you get when throw them together and add a fake engagement to the mix?
Depending on whom you ask, you either get a match made-in-heaven or a royal disaster.

Nivy Sharma knows exactly what she needs – the freedom to be herself and follow her passion. Guess what she doesn’t need? A tailor-made husband.
When her meddlesome mother tries to throw her into the arms of a mom-approved suitor, Nivy runs the other way.
Right into the arms of the man who shattered her heart.
His Highness Veerendra Singh can recognise a pain-in-the-ass when he sees it. Especially when it falls into his arms.
Even if said pain-in-the-ass has legs that go on forever and lush lips that just beg to be kissed, Veer vows to run the other way. As he did once before…
But, when the marriage-minded princess of Tejpur sets her sights on him, Veer runs back into Nivy’s arms to propose a fake engagement.
When ‘fake’ starts to feel very real, Nivy and Veer have to decide what is important… long-held prejudices or the chance for a life with the only person they’ve ever loved.

Will this be their second chance at love or will their broken past ruin their hope for a shared future?

Read an Excerpt from The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée

NIVY

There was a soft knock at the door, and Munshi Ji entered, with a trolley containing three cups, a big pot of black coffee, milk, sugar and a huge plate of chunky chocolate chip cookies.
He served us our coffee and just then, Veer walked in.
“Pour me a cup too, Munshi Ji,” he ordered.
I avoided Jessie’s amused gaze and smiled at Veer. He smiled back at me. We kept smiling at each other until we were pelted with bits of chocolate chip cookies.
As one, we turned to glare at Jessie who was doubled over with laughter.
“Would you miss your sister if I pushed her out of the window?” I asked with narrowed eyes.
“Not at all,” replied Veer, promptly.
Jessie ignored my threat and smiled innocently at Veer.
“Veer, do you have any plans for dinner?”
He shrugged.
“No. Why?”
“Because Anika wanted to dine with you guys today. Just you, her and Nivy.”
I choked on a cookie crumb.
“What! Why?” I yelped, while Veer stared at Jessie in horror.
“She wants to get to know you better. I think she just wants to mess with Nivy, though. Have fun,” she said, sweetly.
“I’m not hungry,” I announced.
“You will be, by dinner time,” she replied.
“Not if I go on a fast. Don’t you royals have all sorts of weird customs? I’m sure we can find some obscure text that says that the Maharaja’s fake fiancée can’t eat anything until she does some sort of penance,” I said, grasping for straws.
“I think dinner with Anika is penance enough,” said Jessie, with a laugh.
That girl was enjoying my misery far too much. I snarled under my breath as I tried to think of a way out.
“Alright. I’d like to borrow the Devgarh sword please,” I begged.
Veer shook his head.
“While I’d love to see you swing it at Anika, you can’t. It’s too heavy. Your delicate arms wouldn’t even be able to lift it off the wall,” he said regretfully.
“Can I pay you to swing it on my behalf?”
“A true Rajput doesn’t raise his hand to a woman, even if he’s convinced that said woman is actually a chudail in disguise,” he said softly.
Something went melty in the region of my heart, but I ignored it stoutly.
“Umm, if you guys could stop making sheep eyes at each other, I have a solution,” suggested the pain in our collective asses.
“And you let me go on and on about the Devgarh sword?” I snapped at her.
“It was funny,” she said with an uncaring shrug.
Veer held me back as I lunged at his sister.
“What solution, Jess?” he asked, running a soothing hand down my back.
I allowed him to lead me to the bay window, and we sat down together. I acted as if I couldn’t feel his hand holding mine.
Jessie stared at our joined hands pointedly for a second and then started talking.
“You could take Nivy out for dinner,” she suggested.
◆◆◆

VEER

“Done,” he replied.
Jessie stood up with a squeal.
Veer refused to analyse why he’d agreed so promptly. He was just trying to keep Nivy out of Anika’s way. It had nothing to do with the fact that he wanted to spend as much time as he could with this maddening girl before she went back to Mumbai and forgot all about him. And it had absolutely nothing to do with how right her hand felt wrapped around his.
“Veer, I’m not sure this is such a great idea,” Nivy whispered.
“It’s better than spending time with Anika,” he whispered back.
“But…”
“It’s not a real date, just a pretend one. Think of it as two friends sharing a meal,” he said, with his fingers crossed behind his back.
“Fine,” she conceded.
Jessie clapped her hands.
“I’ll make all the arrangements. You guys just go and have fun,” she said, skipping out of the room.
“Jessie, wait,” he called, but his sister had already left.
Veer turned to Nivy in confusion.
“Why is she making arrangements for our date?”
“Date? I thought it was just two friends sharing a meal?” she asked with her arms crossed over her chest.
Veer grinned at the sceptical look on her face.
“Of course, it is,” he said as innocently as he could.
She looked so adorable when she scrunched her nose disbelievingly that he was tempted to kiss the tip of it. Of course, if he did give in to that impulse, she’d punch him in his nose, so he finished his coffee in one gulp and set the cup down.
“Ring the bell when you want all this to be cleared,” he said and left the room before he did something stupid.
Meet the Author:

Alisha Kay is a Delhi based writer, who writes romances set in India.
She doesn’t hold with the concept of damsel-in-distress, which is why her heroines are spunky women with a sharp tongue and the ability to rescue themselves. Her heroes are hot men who are woke enough to find that independence irresistible.
The Maharaja’s Fake Fiancée is Alisha’s first book.

Instagram * Twitter

Book Tour: Catnapped by R.J. Blain #UrbanFantasy @RJ_Blain

Catnapped
R.J. Blain
(Magical Romantic Comedies, #14)
Publication date: May 11th 2021
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Urban Fantasy

When someone steals Diana’s cat, a former lab animal rescued from death’s door, she calls on one of the most dangerous beings in the universe for help. Cutting a deal with the devil isn’t the smartest move, but there’s no way in hell she’ll abandon Mr. Flooferson the Magnificent to his fate.

Teaming up with the son of a demon, an angel, and one hell of a woman might push Diana to the limits of her courage and sanity. Unless she wants to sell her soul to the devil, she must cope with her new partner, make the most of a bad situation, and find out who stole her cat and why.

What she learns will forever change humanity–and lead to a battle destined to forever change the heavens and the devil’s many hells.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

MY REVIEW – 4 stars!

What would you do for your beloved kitty? Diana is willing to do anything, even if it means making a deal with the devil. The story builds with one earth shattering revelation after another. By the end, Diana—and the world— will never be the same. The characters were colorful and well-written. Even though I haven’t been reading this series, I didn’t feel lost. Overall, it was an entertaining read and I enjoyed every minute of it.

*Dislcaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Book Tour: Hunting the Beast by W.T. Watson #urbanfantasy @WTWatson2

 

Hunting The Beast

W. T. Watson
 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Publisher: Beyond The Fray Publishing
Date of Publication: March 5. 2021
ISBN: 978-1-954528-02-4
ASIN: B08Y76T3QF
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 64,934
Cover Artist:  L Douglas Hogan
 
Tagline:  Werewolves, cryptid creatures and a protagonist straight out of the pages of lore! 
 
Book Description:
 
An ancient evil stalks the Adirondacks…
 
A ghost hunter is faced with events she has never seen before…
 
A private investigator is not at all what he seems…
 
When Zachary Collins agrees to help the head of Buffalo Paranormal Investigations with a hostile haunting, he has no idea he will be immersing himself in the hunt for an ancient monster or that the monster may be hunting him.
 
Zach will need all of his skill, both magical and mundane, to keep his client alive and to survive Hunting the Beast. 
 
 

Excerpt

Stakeouts are not the most interesting part of my jobs but, on this night, the surveillance duty was alright. It was warm for an October night in Buffalo and Chippewa street was alive with a number of interesting characters. I took a sip of the hot Jamaican Blue I had picked up from the local coffee shop and scanned the street again, trying to parse a werewolf out of the crowd of students and young professionals
moving up and down the street.

I’d been told by one of the local witches, a frequent information source, that she had seen a wolf that she did not recognize from the local pack at The Palmero, the local metal bar. Now, it was possible that Alonso Martinez, the Buffalo Pack Alpha, had inducted a new member but, if so, I should have been informed. I am, after all, the
Buffalo Region’s Black Dog and I am responsible for enforcing the Charter, the laws
of the Otherworld, on the werewolf population.

Whether Alonso was holding out on me or we had a rogue wolf in our midst, I needed to know about it so I had been watching the Palermo for several evenings, hoping to encounter the mysterious werewolf.

I had finished my third cup of coffee and was beginning to think that this night was a wash when I spotted the wolf. He had come around the corner from Delaware slowly. He was a young man of average height incongruously wearing aviator shades in the dark night. It was not the silliness of the sunglasses at night that cued me; it was
the fact that as soon as he got close to the human crowds people formed an
unconscious ring around him.

Humans have worked hard to become rational beings, to ignore the things that go bump in the night, but they have not evolved so far that they do not recognize a predator in their midst. The boy did not even have enough control to damp his inner carnivore so that he could mix with human society. That made him a rogue and my job now was to bring him in.

I exited the car slowly, conscious that sudden movement might alert the werewolf and moved across the street. Even an untrained wolf had uncannily sharp senses so I checked to make certain the wind was blowing in my face before moving closer to my target. I had dressed in black so I blended with the Goth crowd outside the Palermo until I was directly behind my subject. Speaking softly enough that nonhuman ears could not hear me, I murmured, “ Listen carefully and do not move. I know what you are. Stand quietly and I promise you that no harm will come to you . . . 

About the Author:
W. T. Watson is a coffee addict and writer of both fiction and non-fiction.
He infuses his work with his expertise in cryptozoology, monster lore,
magic, Forteana and the paranormal. W.T. brings a unique shamanic and magical
perspective to all of his work after over 30 years of exploration in these
topics. When he is not writing or reading about monsters, he can be found
outdoors allowing his dogs to take him for a walk around his neighbourhood in
Kitchener, Ontario.  He lives with his spouse, Stacey, in a townhome that
would be jammed with books if it weren’t for e-readers.  
 
 
 
 

Book Tour: The Virus of Beauty by C.B. Lyall #YAfantasy @cblyall @GoddessFish

The Virus of Beauty

by C.B. Lyall

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GENRE: YA Fantasy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BLURB:

Ugliness is power, and the Virus of Beauty is spreading causing panic throughout the witch population.

Wilf Gilvary is a teenage wizard who is terrified of using magic. When his father dies under mysterious circumstances, Wilf is plunged into the middle of a political struggle between the witches and wizards in the Magical Realm. He’d rather play soccer than practice magic, but he’s forced to make a choice between the life of a normal Hong Kong teen and one of wizardry after a powerful virus begins to decimate the witch community. The cure is spellbound in a journal Wilf inherited from his father and when his friend Katryna contracts the virus, Wilf understands that he must overcome his fear of magic to unlock the journal’s secrets – but will it be too late to save her?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT

The tattoo pulsed. He shoved the hand into his pants pocket and continued threading his way through the store’s cluttered shelves of T-shirts, Laughing Buddhas, shot glasses, and Happy Cats. The sinking feeling in his stomach grew.

A sharp pain shot up his arm.

“What the…?”

A rumbling groan echoed around the store. He glanced towards the alcove housing the Mages Crystal. His eyes widened as the mirrored surface glowed red. A loud crack pierced the air like a ball smashing through a window. He ran for the supply closet and forced his six-foot body inside.

Quartz exploded across the room from the crystal’s center.

He felt a whoosh of air next to his ear as he slammed the door shut. He switched on the closet light and stepped backward into brooms and mop handles that banged the back of his head. A large piece of polished quartz, still vibrating from its violent impact with the wall, reflected the shock in his gray eyes.

Thuds echoed in the tiny room as projectiles impaled the door. He touched his ear, but seeing no blood on his fingers, exhaled. That had been too close.

Several seconds passed before he braved stepping outside. The store was filled with colliding rainbows as sunlight hit the debris. Wilf blinked rapidly. Crystal daggers studded the closet’s wooden door. All he’d done was look in the crystal’s direction, but his father would blame him for this disaster.

“Wilf, is that you?” Reginald’s shout was followed by a creaking sound from the basement stairs.

Wilf bolted for the front door. His shoes crunched the broken glass. He jerked open the door and the bell gave a traitorous jingle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Carolyn Lyall was born in Stockton-On-Tees, United Kingdom. As a child Carolyn growing up in Northern England in the sixties Carolyn loved sports, reading and amateur dramatics. She joined a renaissance group, practiced the broadsword and dreamed of visiting other worlds. Her passion for what could be drove her forward when faced with everyday struggles. Her first memorable skirmish with gender inequality came at nine-years old when she was told that only boys were allowed to play soccer. In response, she simply refused to do any classwork until they changed their old-fashioned policies. She won that battle.

At the age of 18, she took a role as typist for a nursing school in Middlesbrough. She then moved to London and enrolled in night school. She was quickly recognized for her ability to fit in anywhere and for not being afraid to push back on the predominantly male leadership. She eventually became a project manager in software development and micro-computers, bridging the gap between computer programmers and management.

Her dream to travel was finally realized in 1990 when she moved to New York City, USA with her husband and the first of three sons. This was the steppingstone to a lifelong adventure that has taken her and her family to India, Belgium and Hong Kong.

Raising her family in multiple countries around the world, she saw that each move, while a shock, was an opportunity for her sons to redefine themselves against new challenges and different cultural norms. Now, that her sons have left home, Carolyn has used her passion for the fantastic to create a world where every day gender inequalities are at the forefront of a world ending conflict. She shares this story through the eyes of a young man who is suddenly thrust into this new world along with all of his own woes and prejudices. The introduction to this world is in Carolyn’s debut YA fantasy novel, “The Virus of Beauty,” due to be released July 31, 2019 under C B Lyall.  

Carolyn has published two short stories in an annual anthology by 25 Servings of Soop. She wrote a number of articles for the American Women’s Associates Magazine.  Fueled by her love of the works of Terry Pratchett, Sarah J Maas, Cassandra Clare, Brandon Sanderson and others, Carolyn has completed a number of writing courses, which included a Master Fantasy/Science Fiction writers course with Gotham Writers’ Workshop, a YA Voice class and Advance Novel Writing course at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.

Website: cblyall.com

Facebook: @CarolynBLyall

Twitter: @cblyall

Instagram: @carolynlyall

Amazon buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Virus-Beauty-Book-1-ebook/dp/B08NF1L94T

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FOLLOW THE TOUR

Book Tour: Brushed Off by M. Lee Musgrave #murdermystery @pumpupyourbook

As emerging socialite Camille strives to be accepted into LA’s elite, its hottest artists are being murdered and she doesn’t realize she is the key to the mystery…

By M. Lee Musgrave

Title: BRUSHED OFF
Author: M. Lee Musgrave
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 186
Genre: Murder Mystery

Artist James Terra and his married lover Nicole find themselves in a tangled web while searching for the killer of LAs hottest artists. Homicide detective Cisco Rivas ask James for help with LAs zany art community. The case quickly turns into a quagmire of intrigue and vicious jealousy amongst the dazzling talent and wealth of schizophrenic Los Angeles. James wants Nicole to leave her husband. When another artist is murdered, she joins the hunt for the killer. A leading art collector is attacked. Cisco is pressured by influential city movers and shakers. Young emerging socialite Camille is up to her neck in strife so James and Nicole make a deal to protect her. Cisco discovers a smuggled exotic drug used by all the suspects including a stealthy porn star. James keeps everyone from knowing his health is precarious. The killer and a secret accomplice targets James, Nicole and Camille.

 

“Who is killing the contemporary artists of L.A.? Why are they shoving paint brushes down their victims’ throats? Who’s next on the killer’s list? In Brushed Off artist and public-TV art show host James “Sketchy” Terra finds himself smack in the middle of things, racing to help his homicide detective buddy unravel a puzzle as urgent as a splatter painting and as complex as an M.C. Escher drawing. Lee Musgrave’s swift and energetic novel pulls its readers through the studio doors into a brash and entertaining world of big ambitions, bigger egos, love and sex and secrets and shady wheeler-dealing. Calling on his long experience as an artist and curator as he cruises from the beaches and bars and galleries of L.A. to the hidden havens of the Santa Monica Mountains, Musgrave creates a compelling collage of mystery-novel action and art-world exposé as he paints a portrait of the Art of Murder.”

—Bob Hicks, two-time Pulitzer nominee and Senior Editor, Artswatch  (orartswatch.org)

“Brushed-Off is a unique, atmospheric work of Los Angeles mystery fiction. Not only does author M. Lee Musgrave provide an engaging case, which ends in an explosive climax, but he also paints a vivid portrait of the city’s beautiful but dangerous art scene from an insider’s perspective. A welcome addition for those who enjoy contemporary L.A. noir.”
— Rick Treon, award-winning author of Deep Background and Let the Guilty Pay

Brushed-off by Lee Musgrave paints an interesting and revealing series of passages about the Los Angeles art scene. The opening picture of LA’s beach community, its oddball characters, mixed with homeless wanderers draws the reader into this story as Sketchy and Duie (his dog) discover a friend dead under a pile of destroyed paintings and a totally wrecked studio. Sketchy, an artist-videographer, and his homicide detective friend set off to find answers. More suspicious deaths in the art community pressure the duo to find the killer. Looking for a link to the murders, Sketchy takes the reader deep into the lives of the artists, collectors, and beautiful people who inhabit this world of creativity. With his video documentary work as cover, the threads he discovers unravel a tapestry of crime that only an artist could perceive in the glare of so many colors.

Musgrave uses a number of conventions to depict details of color, texture, and location to convince the reader that this is a plausible tale told by an observant artist. The twist of a detective using a well-connected artist to investigate leads plays well in this adventure. Musgrave takes the reader on trips through LA and its several neighborhoods with Sketchy chasing leads, dead ends, and discoveries. He hides the motive for murder until the final segments and this lets the reader enjoy the scenes he composes in this montage of Los Angeles from its world renowned beaches to the mansions overlooking them. Brushed-off is an enjoyable mystery, especially for fans of the art world.

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Cecil Brewer, critic Readers Favorite

The gathered early morning beach crowd seemed excited yet strangely aghast. The thought occurred to me that perhaps a street artist had left another fourletter graffiti epistle on the exterior of Brice’s studio. The last one had been extremely insulting to him and you could still see a ghost image of it under the gray paint which had been hastily slapped over it. As I got closer, no new graffiti was in sight so I scanned the swarm of joggers, strollers, and assorted exercise enthusiasts and spotted old Mac sitting on the curb near the front. He’s the unofficial street gleaner around the hood and lives in the alley beneath some stairs. Gesturing for Duie to stay by my side, I approached the old man.
“Kind of early for you, isn’t it Mac?”
His right hand rose slowly to mop his leathery face. He lifted his head, strained to focus his watery blood-shot eyes and spoke in a low, sadly earnest manner.
“He was always good to me. You know, one of the few who would share like you do.”

Even with the more than usual layers of dirt on his face, it was obvious he was distraught. He had spoken more words in one sentence than I had ever heard him utter before.
“Do you mean Brice? Did something happen?” I said.

Apprehensively I sat down beside him on the awkward concrete. Mac dropped his hand and looked directly at me. Perhaps for the first time I noticed how aged he really was.

“I was passing by, you know, working the street, looking for little favors people leave for me. You know. Like you do.”
His voice was more somber as he fondled the buttons of his multi-stained khaki shirt.

Embarrassment rushed across my face. The most I had ever given him was the tattered Macintosh he had worn for the past two years. He is never seen without it. In fact, that’s why everyone calls him Mac. None of us ever bothered to ask him his real name. It was a way to be friendly without causing discomfort or getting too involved.
Shamed, I stood up. A strange brew of anxiety and curiosity led me through the small group near the door and straight into Brice’s studio. Duie rushed in behind me as my olfactory receptors signaled something peculiar wafting from inside. It was a bizarre mixture of paint fumes and a grotesque unrecognizable spice. Duie even sneezed.
Brice was never a tidy artist, but a quick glance revealed the normal casualness of his studio was now in complete chaos. A strong feeling that I was intruding crawled up my back.

“Who does he think he is?” someone behind me said. I wanted to answer, but somehow I knew my voice was not the one I wanted to hear.
Paintings were thrown everywhere. Many had broken stretcher bars and holes clobbered through them. The scene looked as though a small tornado had come through the open skylight, had a kick-boxer fit, and left without disturbing anything else in the neighborhood. Every quartsized canister of paint Brice owned had been opened and its contents generously distributed into a Pollock-like camouflage that covered everything.
“Surely Mac didn’t do this?” I whispered to Duie as he instinctively leaned against my leg. “No, Brice maybe, but not Mac.”

Every artist goes a little wacko once in a while. Maybe Brice was dueling with a yellow scalene and things got out of hand. My notion was answered before I could exhale.
Beyond the turned over easel, sticking out from behind more broken paintings were two aged Teva sandals dappled with a rainbow of paint splatters. The heels were together, the toes akimbo. I froze in place as Duie tiptoed toward them with his neck stretched and nostrils flared.
As I stepped carefully around the disquieting pile, trying not to disturb even the smallest fallen brush or blob of paint I saw a mass of oozing gunk. It was Brice, on his back. His arms were at his side and his face was covered in thick, gooey globs of Hooker’s Green.
He looked exhausted, as though he’d copulated with every painting he ever sired. Even though the pile of canvases, paint canisters, and brushes covering him was a mess, for one sharp yet fleeting moment it impacted my visual cortex as if the scene was an intentional edifice.
My eyes focused on his contorted mouth. It was open and overflowing with an ugly mixture of green paint and dark red blood. In the middle, where his tongue should be, was a smidgen of gold. It’s very familiar blunted form was instantly recognizable. I bent down for a closer look. I was right. It was the handle end of a number 15 size brush. You could still read the manufacturer’s code number peeking through a smear of green paint.
Hoping Brice might take a big gasp of air if I removed it, I reached my hand forward and instantly felt a stout vise grip my shoulder.
“Don’t,” a voice of authority said.
It was Cisco. I stood straight up, perhaps a little too quickly for I felt a brief twinge of vertigo. I call him Cisco. His real name is Francisco Rivas, police Detective Rivas.
“You know better than that,” he said.
I suddenly felt weary as the colors surrounding us swirled like the merry-go-round at the pier and the vise moved to grip my arm. I could even hear the faint tinny sound of mechanical music as if it were far off in the distance or at least buried deep within my memory.

Cisco’s focused stare at my anesthetized face caused the illusory music to quickly fade and the circling kaleidoscope to resume its previous resting place. I began to feel lucid again, but my frame of vision felt shaken and quirky.

“Go outside, Sketchy,” he said in an almost inaudible voice. “And take Duie with you.”
With faded breath, I uttered, “He may still have a chance.”       Cisco glowered at me again, gestured toward the door and put his hands on his hips, revealing his badge and gun. The move was an obvious signal for me to leave. I did.

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2ZzWiCj

Check out my book at Goodreads!

Author/Artist, M. Lee Musgrave holds a Master of Art degree from CSU, Los Angeles. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for Arts Fellowship. His artwork has been in solo and group exhibitions world-wide. As a Professor of Art and curator he organized hundreds of exhibitions involving artists, collectors and a variety of related enthusiast. Those many experiences and his ongoing personal art activities inform his writing about LA’s exciting art community.

Website: www.leemusgrave.com

Facebook: Lee Musgrave | Facebook

Sponsored By:

BOOK TOUR — Entanglement: Quantum and Otherwise by John K. Danenbarger #crimefiction @danenbargertw

Entanglement: Quantum and Otherwise

By John K Danenbarger

Genre: Literary Crime Fiction

About the Book

They look like the perfect family. 

But every family has its secrets.

Can we ever know the people we love?

Imagine flipping through old family albums. The faces are familiar; their true stories lost to time—half-forgotten family anecdotes woven together by generations of proud aunts and kindly grandmothers conceal more than they reveal.

“Entanglement” explores the blank spaces in our family trees.

The lives of eight souls intertwine in a sprawling family history. The family story is a legacy of addiction, kidnapping, crime, and murders unresolved and unforgiven.

Enjoy this epic achievement in the experimental tradition of David Mitchell and Ian McEwan, with the darkly exotic undertones of books like Mexican Gothic and The Cutting Season.

Excerpt

Glacial ice. Layered. Thick. Forming after the bewildering storm in her head and creeping up her spine. The courier’s delivery from Joe Tink lies like a white patch of snow on her desk. Being alone in her office, she doesn’t have to explain to anyone why she is waiting for it to melt. But it doesn’t. Finally, with curiosity spreading like hoar-frost, she feels forced to open this unwarranted denunciatory thing in front of her. To decide if she should leave.

Your father is dead.

That’s it? She’s vexed. Almost angry. What’s with this couriered letter? He could just as easily have called her from Bangor. Always had. They were close, weren’t they? Closer than normal.

Besides, she had long hoped her father would kill himself.

But Joe wrote more. Pages and pages.

This late-September afternoon, in some sort of unfamiliar circuitous telepathy, Geena has been thinking about Joe—Pickled Tink Joe—more than usual. She was reminded of him earlier by two different women in her Kansas City office asking Geena about the fall season back in New England, presuming that she knew all about New England and its leaves.

You know, Geena, how beautiful it must be!

With Geena’s children out of the nest and her ex a near-forgotten fugitive from marriage, she had moved to a smaller apartment in Prairie Village, west of Kansas City, to live alone, but rarely feeling alone. Her two boys, or more probably their spouses, dependably call about visiting her with the grandchildren during holidays, and neighbors in the building complex drop in daily to see if she needs anything.

While early on in younger years if she had lived there in Prairie Village—if she would have had time to think—she might have found this neighborly spontaneity a bothersome lack of privacy. Now, in her fifties, she loves this place and the midwestern populace who go nowhere. No New Englander had ever seemed as outgoing and optimistic as these Kansas busybodies. And, although Geena found that the religious tethering of the Bible Belt could be a nuisance, she has several local social friends who are comfortably unbridled and who distract Geena from her shrouded pathos, often recruiting her into playing bridge on Sunday afternoons and in occasional local tournaments.

Geena would never tell any one of these people, or anyone else for that matter, how she had grown up seeing the fall season as death-and-dying. Invariably depressing. Kansas is nosy neighbors, but still, New England is the epitome of fall presenting itself in all its dispiriting glory. In New England she had thought she smelled the dying in the rotting leaves, and she had heard death’s unambiguous footsteps in Maine’s ice and snow, inwardly cringing with the sound of each bone-crushing footfall in the long, dark winters.

Or maybe not. Maybe the winters are not the reason at all. Maine reminds her, in overkill, of the past, the shivers of buried darkness, ruining sleep. Anguish, grief, agony. Words that mean nothing compared to the reality.

Thus, many years ago, when offered a full-time position after temping in Kansas City during college, she decided to continue living in Kansas, away from New England. Geena is running her own construction consulting business, her towering height underscoring her authoritative presence, both for her few employees and for her clients. She has made sure her office staff have only seen her as a stoic engineer, a just but distant boss. Thus, the arrival of Joe’s letter forces her to leave the office as if struck by a sudden illness, which is, in fact, substantially true. She has escaped—not remembering the drive home—to hide her soul in the bedroom corner with her mother’s memories, in the few things she has kept: the cushioned chair—a maudlin carver chair she would never have bought—and the dorm-room lamp, as stringent as its droll Ikea name, that her mother bought Geena years ago.

Lost in the bedroom corner to scrutinize this bewildering letter, she doesn’t remember having ever screamed before, but at the end of this letter, she has screamed. Now crying quietly, the soft reverberations of her emotional outburst, Geena feels a punishing sensation sweeping harshly over her with the intensity of a squalid wind, a punishment for all things hidden inside her.

About the Author

John was a merchant marine captain, sailing the New England coast (including round-trips to Bermuda), and now writes literary crime fiction. He spends much of his creative time in Italy with his wife.

Facebook: http://bit.ly/danenbargerfb

Twitter: http://bit.ly/danenbargertw

Amazon: http://bit.ly/danenbargerjohnk

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/entanglementgoodreads

B&N: http://bit.ly/3kP5aha

Book Tour: Unnatural by Deven Greene #thriller @pumpupyourbook

  

 

A gripping and unique fast-paced medical thriller… 

 

 

 

By Deven Greene

 

Title: UNNATURAL (Erica Rosen MD Trilogy Book 1)
Author: Deven Greene
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Pages: 292
Genre: Medical Thriller

 

BOOK BLURB:

Dr. Erica Rosen is perplexed when she sees a young Chinese girl with blue eyes in her San Francisco pediatrics clinic. The girl’s mother, Ting, is secretive, and Erica suspects she has entered the country illegally. Later, Erica encounters Ting’s son and discovers he has an unusual mutation. Erica learns that Ting’s children underwent embryonic stem cell gene editing as part of a secret Chinese government-run program.

The Chinese government wants to murder Ting’s son to prevent others from learning about his unusual mutation and the secret gene-editing program. At Ting’s urging, Erica heads to China to expose the program and rescue the infant Ting was forced to leave behind, all while attempting to evade the watchful eye of the Chinese government.

 

 

A compelling and richly woven story, perfect for those looking for their new favorite thriller! 

The UC San Francisco pediatric clinic is a lively and bustling facility where every sort of injury and infirmity has been seen, diagnosed and treated. That is, until the day a Chinese migrant named Ting brings her daughter in for an evaluation. The striking girl is truly an anomaly, bearing genetically impossible bright blue eyes. Dr. Erica Rosen presses Ting for information, but Ting is paranoid, evasive and overly protective of her family’s privacy. Things become more puzzling when Ting ends up in the ER with a wounded young son and insists that someone is trying to kill the boy. Shocking test results, a second attempt on the boy’s life and a missing phlebotomist are just the beginning of a riveting tale of government conspiracy, medical mystery and dangerous close-calls.

Unnatural is a flawlessly written medical thriller that focuses on a Chinese mother who will sacrifice everything to save her children. Erica is a bold protagonist who follows her instincts to some amazing discoveries. The narrative is driven by intelligent dialogue and a clever, yet heinous, plot. The cultural aspects between Ting and Erica feel authentic and the technical medical language is just complicated enough to feel genuine without becoming difficult to read. Deven Greene has created a truly gripping international thriller with just the right amount of humanity and compassion.  Unnatural, the first in the Erica Rosen MD Trilogy, is a compelling and richly woven story, perfect for those looking for a new favorite thriller!

–Indies Today 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1 

Exiting the restroom where I’d been unsuccessful in removing the vomit stain from the front of my white coat, I’d barely taken two steps before my physician’s assistant spotted me.  

“There you are, Dr. Rosen, you’re in room nine next. Here’s a clean coat.” 

“Thank you, Martha, you read my mind.” I shed my soiled coat, grabbed my stethoscope and other items from the pockets, and tossed the garment to my assistant. She handed me a clean white coat which I slipped on, all without missing a step as I strode toward room nine. We’d done this drill many times, synchronizing our moves for maximum efficiency. I often imagined my coat-switching exercise must be similar to refueling a jet in the sky. After I’d filled my pockets with the items in my hands, Martha removed my nametag from the dirty coat and handed it to me. I attached it to the upper pocket on my clean coat with the alligator clip. “Who’s the patient?” 

Martha smiled and held out a clipboard for me. “Evan Fields and his mom. Forearm laceration.” 

Continuing to walk, I grabbed the clipboard. “Thanks.” Martha started to speak, but I interrupted her. “I know, I know. Room nine.” 

Martha, a stout woman in her late thirties with short brown hair and a pasty complexion, slowed down, letting me approach the waiting patient on my own. When I reached the door to room nine, I knocked twice to let Evan and his mom know I was about to enter, then stopped. Obvious waste of time, I reminded myself. I slowly opened the door to the small, cluttered exam room, the familiar Shrek poster the first thing that greeted me. Pushing the door farther, I saw Evan sitting on the firetruck exam table, his mother seated in one of the two adult-size chairs. The two children’s chairs were empty.  

As usual, my jaw tightened a bit upon seeing the computer terminal, like the others found in every exam room. It sat innocently enough on a small table with a faux wood top near the sink. The best thing one might say about the computer is that it united all physicians practicing in the clinic and in clinics and hospitals across the country. Male, female, black, white, brown, tall, short, progressive, conservative, they all hated the computer, the bearer of the despised Electronic Health Record, or EHR. After two years in the clinic, you’d think I would be used to it, but I wasn’t. I still resented its intrusion into the time I spent with my patients and their parents. Instead of having a comfortable discussion with that now almost passé element known as eye contact, I needed to spend most of my appointment time sitting before the terminal and typing. Resigned to postponing my long-planned ax attack of the computer, I logged in and quickly confirmed Martha had made sure all the necessary information such as patient’s name and age, parents’ names, address, insurance, and reason for visit was up to date. 

Evan and his mom looked at me and smiled while I signed “Hello.” They each responded with a reciprocal sign. Both Evan and his mother are profoundly deaf. I was the only clinic doctor or staff of any sort proficient in American Sign Language, so it was always up to me to see the severely hearing-impaired patients, something I enjoyed. 

Evan was holding a bloody washcloth over his left forearm. His mother was signing furiously, informing me that Evan had fallen while climbing a tree, and cut his arm on the sprinkler below. I signed to Evan, requesting to take a look. He peeled away the washcloth, revealing a ragged two-inch gash on the lateral aspect of his forearm. I conveyed that I needed to clean the area and put in a few stitches.  

I left the room to get a suture kit, returning a few minutes later to find Evan sitting on his mother’s lap. “He’s afraid,” she signed. 

I explained it would only hurt when I injected the numbing medicine, and when we were done, I’d give him a dollar bill he could use at the dollar store a few blocks away. That’s all the encouragement Evan needed. I anesthetized the area, cleaned it, and put in five stitches. When I was done, Evan’s mom signed that she was proud he was so brave. I spread antibiotic over the wound and handed the boy a crisp dollar bill—one of six I had in my pocket. Most days I needed at least three to coax my patients into submission for various procedures. 

I broke away to sit on the stool facing the dreaded computer so I could enter information about the visit. I usually spoke to my patients as I typed, often just small talk. My inability to sign while I typed made me hate the EHR even more. After I finished typing, I instructed Evan and his mom how to care for his injury. Mother and son motioned their thanks, I handed Mom a printed set of wound care instructions, gestured goodbye, and backed out of the room.  

Martha wasted no time in finding me. “Five-year-old girl in room four for kindergarten physical. New patient. Good luck with that one. Mom has heavy accent. Chinese, I think.” 

The UC San Francisco pediatric clinic was always busy. In addition to the myriad clerks, physician’s assistants, nurses, and doctors rushing through the halls, there were the patients and their entourages. Each small visitor was accompanied by a parent, sometimes two, often with one or more siblings or a grandparent. Between the ages of two and eight, patients and siblings frequently ran through the narrow hallway, not mindful of anyone or anything in the way. 

Making my way to room four, I dodged three-foot-high twins running in front of their mother, the colorful LEDs on the soles of their shoes flashing erratically while they laughed and bumped into the legs of strangers. According to the clock above the clerk’s station, it was 11:30. Two patients behind already, I picked up my pace, brushed back the stray hairs that had escaped my low ponytail, noticed the name tag on my coat that read “Erica Rosen, MD, Pediatrics,” was crooked, and knocked on the door of room four. 

From within, I heard the muffled voice of a young woman. I barely made out, “Come in.” 

I straightened my name tag and before opening the door, glancing up in time to see the clinic director, Dr. Gabe Lewis turn the corner and walk in my direction. As usual, his white coat was clean and pressed, his hair looked ready for a photo shoot, and he looked more like a TV doctor than a real one. 

Avoiding eye contact, I pushed hard on the door and walked in. The door slammed behind me. 

“Hello, Ms. Chen,” I said, consulting the clipboard. “I’m Dr. Rosen.” 

I gazed around the familiar room with torn posters of SpongeBob SquarePants, The Little Mermaid, and Minions. The two adult-size chairs were empty. An attractive, thin young Asian woman with short hair sat in one of the little chairs, a small child on her lap with its face buried in her chest. The child had straight shoulder length shiny black hair. 

Damn, I thought. Martha didn’t get the kid stripped down to her underwear. Only took her shoes and socks off.

The woman seemed nervous, unable to speak for a few seconds. When she finally spoke, it was with a heavy Chinese accent. “This Wang Shu, Doctor. I Ting, his mother.” 

“Pleased to meet you,” I said, happy my roommate, Daisy, had exposed me to her parents and their heavy Mandarin accents countless times. Over the years, I had developed an ear for understanding their speech. 

“Hello, Wang Shu,” I said in my winning pediatrician’s voice, smiling. “How are you today?” 

The child didn’t move. “He shy,” Ting said. 

Knowing Asians pronounce “he” and “she” the same in their native tongue, the inappropriate gender reference didn’t surprise me. 

“I understand you’re here today to have Wang Shu’s kindergarten physical form filled out.” 

Shi. Yes.” Ting reached into her purse and handed me a two-page form, folded in thirds. 

I took a moment to examine the form. It looked familiar, resembling many I had filled out previously. I sat in front of the computer and checked the EHR. Other than the patient’s name, age, address and mother’s name, her chart was blank. It wasn’t unusual to have patients with no medical insurance. “Has Wang Shu had her vaccinations?” I asked. 

“Shi, yes. Everything. He have very good medical care. The best.” 

“I’m glad to hear that. Do you have some documentation?” 

Ting looked at me blankly. 

“Papers that list her vaccinations.” 

“We come from China. He get them there. I not have papers, but I know he get everything. Very excellent medical care.” 

“Wang Shu doesn’t start school for over a month. Can you have the information sent to you?” 

“No. Not possible.” 

“You must have shown documentation when you moved here. How long have you been in this country?” 

“Two month.” 

“You speak English very well for someone who’s been here such a short time.” 

“I study hard.” 

“Since it was only two months ago, you should still have the documentation of vaccination you showed to pass the health inspection when you came here.” 

“I not find it.” 

“If you don’t get the documentation, we’ll need to revaccinate her. Without proof of vaccines, she can’t go to school.” 

“Oh. He no like more vaccine. But no choice.” 

This woman seemed intelligent, clearly educated enough to speak English and know about vaccines. But something didn’t seem right. “I have to ask you this,” I said in my gentlest tone so as not to alarm her. “Did you enter the US illegally?”  

Ting burst into tears. 

I grabbed a tissue and handed it to her. “It’s okay. You can tell me. I won’t report you. But if you came here illegally, I’m going to insist that Wang Shu also have a TB test.”  

“I know he not have TB,” Ting said, her tears now a slow trickle. “He very healthy, never around people with TB.” 

“Well, she needs the test. I can’t put other children at risk.” 

“No, no,” Ting said, still sniffling. “He have BCG vaccine.” 

The BCG vaccine is given to protect people from TB in countries like China, that have a high incidence of the disease. When a TB skin test is given to people who have had a BCG vaccine, the test is often falsely positive. I turned to the child. 

“Now, Wang Shu, I’m going to have to examine you,” I said, wondering if the child understood a word I was saying. “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt.” 

I got up from my seat at the computer, picked up Wang Shu and placed her on the exam table. For the first time, her tiny face was exposed as she looked straight at me. Black hair cut into short, straight bangs across her forehead. Light olive skin. Typical Asian features, with a small nose and epicanthal folds in upper eyelids. I almost gasped. Light blue eyes.  What I was seeing was not possible. 

 

About the Author

Fiction writer Deven Greene lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Ever since childhood, Deven has been interested in science.  After working as a biochemist, she went back to school and became a pathologist.  When writing fiction, the author usually incorporates elements of medicine or science. Deven has penned several short stories. Unnatural is the first novel the author has published.  

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

Website: https://www.devengreene.com 

Facebook: https://facebook.com/devengreeneauthor