The Edge of the Map – No. 3

Welcome back to my Thursday roundup of edgy reading, carefully timed to enable my followers to queue up their Kindles with a selection of intriguing journeys through time, space, and corridors of the mind!  First let me express my gratitude to my growing audience.  On the heels of Sunday’s post, The Firefly Connection, the blog passed 2,000 visits.  This is over six months, which puts me on track to reach 4,000+ in my first year.  That’s an average of about 11 per day, which is very satisfying, given what I’m doing here.

Now, before I offer you a list of books you can buy, I’m going to bring you a story you can read for free, and a link to a lot more of them.  Richard Schulte gets a lot of air time on my Sunday blogs due to his Cool San Diego Sights blog, and his generosity with the material he posts there.  But his other, perhaps first love is the crafting of elegant slice-of-life short stories which he shares on his other blog, Short Stories by Richard.  His latest offering is Here We Go, a story about a child embarking on his first train ride . . . and maybe a great deal more, if you listen just right.  Here we go:

“Maybe I love trains because they’re a lot like life,” explained a father to his young son. The two sat together on the City Park Railroad, waiting for the short ride around the duck pond to begin. “You’re always moving forward, seeing something new–”

The small boy looked excitedly out the window.

He wondered what he would see.

He knew he’d see a whole lot of ducks floating out on the calm green water, and fishermen on the muddy banks casting their lines hoping to catch a prize bass.

He knew he’d see the short wooden pier jutting into the pond, and the bench near the end where he and his father had fished last summer.

He knew the train would eventually go over a bridge. His father had promised there was a bridge. It spanned a small creek that bubbled down into the pond through a patch of cattails.

And then the train might turn to follow the creek.

Looking out of the train’s window, waiting for his short journey to begin, the boy imagined the branches of willow trees fluttering over the sparkling creek. And dappled sunlight on long leaves. And a flock of blackbirds rising. And, as the creek wound upward into the nearby hills, a curtain of pine trees ahead.

Then the train might enter the pine forest.

And black towering trees would close all around, like a place in a dream, wind-whispering, wind-whispering.

The boy thought of stories he’d been told.

His father had been a young man hiking alone in the forest. Miles from home. He had heard the faraway sound of a wild turkey. He had turned to follow the call. It is rare thing to see a wild turkey. A very magical and lucky thing. His father had plunged forward through the deep forest, over slippery autumn leaves, pushing aside tangled branches, always turning, because that wild call kept shifting, from direction to direction, distance to distance. No, he never found what he sought. But he had found his way home.

And the story of how his very old grandfather, for one instant, had glimpsed a rare white deer in the forest. Nobody else in that forest ever had. It was a chance encounter. Pure white. Like new snow. And then the vision had melted into shadow.

That magical deer was said to have vanished into the same dark trees where the boy’s great grandfather had faced a raging grizzly bear.

Perhaps, thought the young boy, he might also see a grizzly bear.

Then the train might emerge from the forest, climbing, winding, chugging over slopes of naked rock to high levels beyond the wildest turkeys, deer, bears. The cloudless sun, now so close, would shine brightly as the boy stared out the train’s window down upon a small patch of green forest and an endless world of hills, lakes and ponds scattered like shining pebbles below.

And then he would reach the highest mountain’s summit.

Suddenly the train rumbled and lurched.

“Here we go!”

© 2018, Richard Schulte

I didn’t seek permission to repost it, and if Richard asks, I will of course take it down at once, but the purpose of putting it here is to help a very deserving, and too-modest author gain some readership.  There are a lot more like this on his web page, deep, subtle, layered with nuance, and riveting on multiple levels.  Most of you read and follow my blog because you’re interested in the art of literature.  Richard is a master painter on a rather small canvas, and he deserves to be read.  Treat yourself, then, to some fine reading, and get to know an old-school gentleman of the first order.

~~~

Indigo

Indigo by D.C. Belga.  What do time travel, invisibility, ruthless assassins, mind-control, insanity, witches, artificial intelligence, drones, a plague, and a blue dog have in common?  Indigo – this seventh juggernaut in the Pseudoverse Series – is one-third science fiction, one-third horror, one-third fantasy, and one-hundred percent astounding historical fiction.  During the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and some suggest even today, several million people have been unwillingly snatched up off the streets, drugged, and tortured at the hands of the American CIA, the Canadian government, and the Russian KGB for the purposes of producing an actual “Manchurian Candidate.”  Inside Indigo, we introduce you to Harmony Gemma Wells, Granddaughter of the infamous science fiction writer H.G. Wells, kidnapped for programs initially devised by DARPA and called by the CIA Bluebird, Artichoke, MKUltra, MKDelta, and MKNaomi.  These mind-control experiments go horribly wrong very quickly for the victims of these heinous experiments deep inside their satellite lab in Moscow.  Will Harmony escape and finally find peace of mind and possible retribution as ruthless assassins are sent to track her down using her own invention, MOTT?  The Russians unleash a monster upon themselves as Harmony’s genius, Steampunk attitude, DMT, invisibility, her dog Chronos, and her own broken psyche in the aftermath of these experiments all help guide her towards her ultimate goals, vengeance, and sanity.  Take a wild ride with us as we introduce a brand new cast of colorful characters, her dog Chronos always at her side who likes to “take a bite” out of evil, and a government agency who might or might not be who they claim to be.  This is the incredible, raw, gritty, and enthralling mind-ripper, Indigo.  99¢ on Kindle.

WarriorsFools

Warriors and Fools by Harry Rothmann.  Warriors and Fools is not just another book about the Vietnam War.  It is different from most.  Unlike some others, the author is a veteran of that conflict, and a retired military officer with nearly thirty years’ service.  He has spent much of the last three decades studying the war and taught a course on Vietnam at a prestigious senior military war college.  This book is also different from others because it is a story not just of the American decisions and actions during the war.  This Vietnam War story uses the latest, ground breaking research and released documentation of the war from the Communist Vietnamese side of the conflict.  Consequently, the book delves deeply into the decision making, strategies, motives, and goals of the North Vietnam leaders as they waged their war for unification, first against the French and then against the Americans.  The book also uses memoirs, interviews, and oral histories of former South Vietnamese leaders and combatants to discover their views on their struggle to form a new nation free from communist aggression.  Warriors and Fools is both broad and deep in scope in its narration of the Vietnam War story.  It takes the reader from the White House’s oval office and Hanoi’s Politburo room, to the Pentagon’s and North Vietnam Army’s command centers, to Vietnam’s mountain and rice patty battlefields to show the determination, deceit, foolhardiness, mistakes, courage, and horrors of war from the views of both sides.  While it examines multiple participant views, overall the book seeks to answer one specific question – why did the US fail to achieve its principal objective to defend South Vietnam from communist aggression?  The story’s findings and conclusions are neither orthodox nor revisionist.  Those trying to gain insights on how American civilian leaders lost the war that its military could have won, or how the US Congress, Press, or Antiwar activists convinced the Public to stop its support will be disappointed.  None of these traditional ‘answers’ on why the US lost are really valid.  Rather, as this story explains, the answer is much more linked to human factors, interactions, and relationships.  In this case, the interrelationship between American civilian and military leaders and advisors was extraordinarily divisive and dysfunctional.  So much so that it resulted in flawed, timid policies and foolish strategies that led to defeat.  Moreover, that troublesome interrelationship was primarily a result of mistrusts, misunderstandings, and misperceptions on their roles, responsibilities, and what they thought would lead to a positive end to the war.  In addition, primarily because they were either ignorant of the nature of war or overconfident from their past experiences, civilian and military policymakers ignored or misunderstood their enemy.  Warriors and Fools should be of interest to those who served in the war, and serious students and teachers of this event and period.  It is not intended as light reading, or for someone trying to get just a brief understanding of what happened there and in America at the time.  $9.99 on Kindle.

SeventhGuard

The Seventh Guard by Francis Halpin.  A severely sarcastic and disgruntled Best Buy employee, Robert Lowden, unravels a new fate, far beyond his frustrating existence as a repair agent.  After discovering a mysterious message hidden in the underpinnings of our everyday world he feels compelled to follow it . . . wherever it may lead.  Robert embarks on a dangerous and fast-paced adventure that tests the strength of his relationships and his physical and mental fortitude, while a menacing opponent works to end his journey and his life.  99¢ on Kindle.

OutTime

Out of Time by Ernesto H. Lee.  “When your past calls, don’t answer.  It has nothing to say.”  Unless your name is Sean McMillan – in which case you had better answer and listen carefully.  Out of Time is the first in a series of books that introduce the reader to Sean McMillan, “The Dream Traveler.”  McMillan is a detective assigned to a cold-case squad, but he is no ordinary detective.  With a unique ability to travel back in time through the medium of his dreams, finding evidence and solving a long forgotten murder should be a foregone conclusion.  However, Sean soon discovers that changes to the past to influence the future can have unexpected and deadly consequences.  The past is not the past, the future is not set and nothing in life is certain.  Open your mind and join the “Dream Traveler” on his journey back to the past.  $2.99 on Kindle.

Gargoyle

Gargoyle by Christopher Slayton.  By day Victor Fortune, heir to his family’s wealth and assets, was an industrious businessman.  But by night he was the Gargoyle, a masked vigilante who spent his nights protecting his home city of Chicago.  One night while off duty Victor and his brother Elijah find themselves opposed by a dangerous group of people led by a man known as the Judge.  Together Victor and Elijah fight off the ambush, but at the cost of Victor’s life.  With Victor dead, Elijah finds himself taking on his brother’s responsibilities as the Gargoyle, and discovers the harsh learning curve of what it takes to be the vigilante.  But in the midst of adjusting to his second life Eli must rise to the occasion of being more than a man in a mask, but a hero, or die trying.  Free on Kindle [reg 99¢].

Bishop12thAve

The Bishop of 12th Avenue by Ray Lucit.  When you grow up on the violent streets of a dying world, the first thing you learn is to mind your own business.  So when eighteen-year-old Jacob Walker stumbles across three federal agents torturing an old man by a church, Jake can’t explain why he bothers to rescue the old guy.  As he lay dying, the old man makes a strange sign with his hand, and after mumbling something in an ancient language, he slides a ring on Jake’s finger.  What Jake doesn’t know is that he is now the last hope for a group of believers, or Churchers, living outside the dying city.  Even now forces are massing to destroy the strangely naïve Churchers, and although Jake knows nothing of bishops, gods or churches, any chance that this remnant can survive will depend on The Bishop of 12th Avenue.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world suggested by centuries of Christian prophesy and legend, The Bishop of 12th Avenue tells of a desperate fight for survival, an epic battle between good and evil, and a young leader’s struggle to understand the difference.  99¢ on Kindle [reg $3.99].

Entangled

Entangled by J. Evan Stuart.  Sometimes things can happen that alter your life forever.  For eighteen year old Connor Evans it was being framed for the murder of his parents.  Being on the run and evading the local authorities who are convinced he is guilty, Connor knows it’s only a matter of time before he is caught.  His only hope lies with a young detective brought in to look over the case.  For twenty-four year old Detective Sonya Reisler, an unexpected visit from Connor leads her to open her own investigation into the murders.  As Sonya tracks down the evidence she needs, she finds the real danger may not be from getting too close to the actual killer, but getting too close to Connor.  As the lines between what she should do and what she wants to do become blurred, Sonya puts her career at risk to prove Connor is innocent and finds their fates have now become hopelessly entangled.  With time running out, Sonya and Connor learn the killer is planning to strike again and the price needed to pay to stop him may be more than careers and freedom.  It may cost them their lives.  $2.99 on Kindle.

Read the review that put me onto this here.

Cult

The Cult by Grant Griffin.  Before the cult, John Stevenson lived a life full of girls, parties, and friends; something many high-schoolers can only dream of.  However, that was before the cult.  The cult took everything from John in a single night; they killed his parents, kidnapped his sister, and most important of all, stole from him his own identity.  Now, robbed of his treasured youthfulness, John holds the capacity for one thing, and one thing alone… revenge.  The police might of let the cult get away unscathed, but John has no intentions of doing the same.  However, when the time comes for such a bloody war of revenge to be waged, John meets Amy… causing John’s desperate situation to be flipped on its head completely.  This leaves him with a single choice; give in to his overwhelming desire to find the people who wronged him, and avenge his family’s death, even if that means jeopardizing Amy’s life; or find comfort in his new-found love, and turn away from his almost certain demise if he stays on the path of vengeance.  99¢ on Kindle until Sunday [reg $2.99].

CantBuyMeLove

Can’t Buy Me Love by Martin Humphries.  It’s the sixties, and London might be swinging, but not for our girl, Edith.  Raised in a miserable home full of anger and hate, life for poor Edith seems to hold little hope.  But she finds plenty when she teams up with her older gay cousin, Ronnie, who makes her his mission with a plan to re-shape her into the fabulous young woman he knows she deserves to be.  Once free of her father and her weak, defenseless mother, her transformation is swift and dramatic.  Suddenly, life is an exciting adventure, full of twists and turns, as Edith’s coming of age becomes a roller-coaster ride of glorious highs and frightening lows, including a father who comes back to haunt her.  But where will it take her, and how will it end?  Who will win, and who will lose?  This special Can’t Buy Me Love bonus edition offers the first two of six volumes in the The Cost of Loving Series.  If you like stories of success over adversity, family dramas and sexual diversity, then you will love Martin Humphries’ bitter-sweet voyage of discovery through some of the most exciting years in living memory.  Years chock full of changes of every kind, when being gay usually spelt trouble with a capital T.  Free on Kindle [reg 99¢].

And that’s 30 for today.  Join me Sunday when I’ll be talking about my life post-retirement, and the options available to me going forward.  See you then!

 

The Edge of the Map – No. 2

Greetings, friends and followers, and welcome back to the home of edgy fiction.  Before I get into this week’s books, I want to drop a quick update here:  My new project, working title Roswell Avenue, has surprised me in a most pleasant way.  The outline is growing and becoming richer with detail by leaps and bounds.  I haven’t had a project draw me in with this level of engagement and enthusiasm in over a year, maybe several years.  I don’t know, well, yes I do know how this will affect Stingaree.  It will slow it down, as Roswell vies for its share of the limited hours in a day, but I will not abandon Stingaree.  There are too many people who like it, and I have far too much invested in it to toss it aside, but at this point I’m thinking about dividing calendar weeks between the two.  There’s still quite a bit of sorting out to do there, so for now I’ll return to the blog.  I have quite a bag of goodies for your consideration today, so without further ado, let’s journey past the edge of the map and see what the true innovators are doing this week . . .

~~~

USAEliminated

USA: Eliminated by William D. Nash.  Jack Slater has chased UFOs his entire life – and now, he’s found one!  It’s real, it’s abandoned in an alien hangar – and it’s in perfect condition.  As the director of a governmental agency that studies aerial phenomena (OSAP), he knows he’s just discovered the find of a lifetime . . . and he wastes no time learning to fly it.  But as Jack and his OSAP colleagues explore the saucer’s secrets, the world watches as a deadly meteor plummets to earth, leaving a devastating path of destruction in its wake – including two important space stations.  Too late, it becomes apparent the meteor is a missile, apparently fired by the Russian Federation.  Detonating, it releases a terrible bio weapon, seemingly beyond the capabilities of Russia’s current weapons technology.  The alien technology Jack has discovered is the only hope of survival for the United States.  But that technology has appeared at a suspiciously convenient time, in Jack’s opinion.  What are they dealing with?  Is humanity truly at war with itself or is an alien external force playing a deadly game determined to see the USA eliminated?  $3.99 on Kindle.

WhiteWomanBlackHeart

White Woman, Black Heart by Barbara Miller.  Barbara often found herself saying, “the stork dropped me at the wrong house” only to find she was repeating her mother’s words.  In this riveting memoir exploring race relations and social change, Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum, told her, “you may be white but you have a black heart, as you understand my people and feel our heart.”  He suggested to International Development Action that she take on the Mapoon project and played matchmaker by introducing her to Aboriginal teacher and Australian civil rights movement leader Mick Miller.  The Mapoon Aborigines were forcibly moved off their land by the Queensland government in NE Australia in 1963 to make way for mining.  With an effective team behind her, Barbara helped them move back in 1974 to much government opposition which saw her under house arrest with Marjorie Wymarra.  It also saw Jerry Hudson and Barbara taken to court.  In helping the Mapoon people return to their homeland, she found her home as part of an Aboriginal family, firstly Mick’s and later Norman’s as she remarried many years later, now being with her soulmate Norman about 30 years.  It is a must read for those interested in ethnic studies and political science as an isolated outback community whose houses, school, health clinic, store and church were burnt to the ground rose from the ashes and rebuilt despite all the odds.  It is a testimony to the Mapoon people’s strength.  $3.99 on Kindle.

AuntEnid

Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire by Karen J. Carlisle.  Daemons, fairies, magic; it’s all real!  The Otherworld is bleeding through cracks into our world.  And Adelaide is ground zero.  Something is coming.  Something dark – trading souls for passage.  And only one person stands between The Dark and the fate of the world.  Aunt Enid is just your average seventy-something year old.  She loves to cook, is a regular at bingo and spends hours in her garden, talking to her army of garden gnomes and fussing over the colour of her hydrangeas.  When people start disappearing, her great niece, Sally, is drawn into a secret world and soon discovers her great aunt is a Protector Extraordinaire.  Aunt Enid: Protector Extraordinaire is the first book in The Aunt Enid Mysteries, the first series in The Otherworlds Chronicles$2.99 on Kindle.

fear-is-in-the-air

Fear is in the Air by Eva Newermann.  Kinky, charming, flight attendant and serial killer falls in love with an astrophysicist and they discover they both carry alien DNA.  Takes you on a wickedly funny ride around the world.  The book is colourfully illustrated with paintings by the author.  $1.99 on Kindle.

MatterOfTemperance

A Matter of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance.  “Hello, is anyone there?  This is Ichabod Temperance, transmitting from the year 1875.  Do you read me?  Oh my Goodness!  We’ve got trouble, y’all!  Ever since that strange comet passed our world, not only have there been more than just an overwhelming amount of steam and spring inventions popping up all over Earth, but there also have been uncanny monster sightings as well.  Well, almost sightings, as these inter-dimensional, over-legged, eyeball-clustered beasties are nearly invisible to the human eye.  That is where my own enhanced inventiveness has gotten me into misadventure as I alone have created a device that allows me to see the hippo-sized craw-daddies.  Maybe Fate had a hand in my goggle development, for it led to my meeting the most beautiful girl in the world.  Now it’s up to me and Miss Plumtartt to save our planet from being gobbled up gone!”  The first in an ongoing series of delightfully quirky adventures, A Matter of Temperance is sure to appeal to those who like their fiction as far from center as it gets.  99¢ on Kindle.

EscapeOspreyCove

Escape to Osprey Cove by Luisa Marietta Gold.  What Doug finds in the secret compartment of his new red Corvette will forever change his life.  It will also change Catherine’s. Doug and Catherine come from two different worlds.  Catherine’s world is one of privilege and wealth.  Doug grew up dirt poor and full of envy of others who had the things that he wanted but could not have.  His goal was to one day have all the things he coveted.  Their worlds collide when Catherine, VP of a large New York City marketing firm, hires Doug.  As soon as Doug learns of Catherine’s wealth, he sees Catherine as his ticket to all the things he covets.  After a whirlwind courtship, they are married.  Poor boy meets rich girl should have resulted in “happily ever after,” but not exactly.  Doug quickly learns he also covets independence.  Events begin to unfold in each of their lives.  For Doug, it is his mysterious discovery in the secret compartment of the Corvette.  For Catherine, it is a business meeting with Alex Droxell at the Osprey Cove Lodge.  When Catherine enters the beautiful and serene lodge, it’s as though she is entering another place and time.  The lodge is an escape from the nightmare she is living back home.  Follow the twists and turns of Book 1 of the Osprey Cove Lodge Series.  Follow Doug and Catherine’s story to see if there is a “happily ever after” and with whom.  Free on Kindle [reg. $2.99].

ScionsOfAzazyel

War in Heaven by R.K. Wheeler.  The oldest of the archangels was Satanel who became Satan after he was cast out of heaven.  Satan was followed by his twin brother, Sandalphon who was known among men as Odin.  Another set of twins, Raziel who was known as Zeus and Jophiel who was named by mortals Poseidon, followed.  Odin, Zeus and Poseidon came to earth to battle Satan, where they were worshiped as gods of the old world.  Next were born Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel, “The Faithful.”  Finally, Zadkiel, Camael, Sachiel and Azazyel, “The Unvaliant” were born.  These last four archangels remained neutral in the War in Heaven.  As they refused to take up arms to fight Satan and his followers, they and their legions were later cast out, but not into Hell.  The Scions of Azazyel saga begins with War in Heaven.  $2.99 on Kindle.

PostApocalypticSociety

The Post-Apocalyptic Society by Stephanie Kato.  The Nelson family and their allies are still marching forward in a dystopian environment.  Danger is just a normal part of their world.  Along the way, the Nelsons will encounter a mad scientist and his bizarre creations, ruthless desert bandits, and genetically engineered humans who might put the entire Steampunk culture in grave peril.  Fortunately, the Nelsons still maintain hope and perseverance.  How long can they survive in a nation that’s falling apart? $3.99 on Kindle.

ConnorsGambit

Connor’s Gambit by Z. Gottlieb.  Brad Johnson, a lone witness to a UFO sighting becomes an alien target and quickly finds himself on an off-world adventure, relying on his skills to survive an intergalactic war.  As Brad struggles to understand the conflict between the aliens, as well as his place in the universe, he learns one group threatens Earth’s security and the other wants something entirely different.  All Brad wants is to return home to his family, but not until he embarks on the greatest adventure of his life.  99¢ on Kindle.

And that’s the roundup for this week.  Join me Sunday for a look at a couple of live-action shows, and how I think they’ve impacted my writing.  Read well, and write better!

The Edge of the Map

This post inaugurates a new feature of Riding the Blimp, a weekly roundup of interesting books I’ve encountered in my travels.  These books will be titles that I’ve found interesting, some because I’ve read them, some that I plan to read, and some I may never read, but because the blurbs are intriguing, I want to pass them along to my own audience.  The title comes from a statement I’ve made many times, and which I’ll try to paraphrase in some coherent fashion here:

The big publishers are called “the big publishers,” because they are on an obsessive quest to recreate the Last Big Thing.  It’s the independents, the self-published writers beholden to no editor, who are out there beyond the edge of the map, exploring the uncharted reaches that the big houses will be claiming they discovered ten years from now.”

Yes, indies are risky.  They can be an unedited mess, but you can use features like Amazon’s “Look Inside” preview to determine whether the author is crisp and coherent, or has no business writing a grocery list.  Be a smart consumer, and lose your fear of indies, because they are out there writing the challenging material that a serious reader craves.  My goal is to help you find some good reading, but first an update.

In last Sunday’s post, Ladies’ Man, I mentioned a blog post from another site that I had found interesting, perhaps interesting enough to jump start my stalled writing “career,” but that the owner of the intellectual property had not answered my inquiry about using it as a launching pad for a new book series.  Well, Tuesday night his reply came in, and it was a resounding “feel free!”  So now it can be told . . .

The original post appeared on the Nerd Lunch blog on October 2nd, 2010, and so impressed me that I remember it eight years later.  The challenge between the three famous Nerds of the blog was to each propose two ideas for new shows for the SyFy Channel which would be voted on by the readers and a winner crowned.  Jeeg, perhaps the most . . . eccentric of the Nerds . . . yeah, that’s the word . . . proposed Roswell Avenue, a show following the adventures of Rick Borden, a private investigator who finds a gig with a Seattle agency that investigates “unusual” cases, such as a werewolf who thinks his wife is cheating on him – with the vampire down the street.  With a whole cast of eccentric supporting characters, this supernatural/horror/comedy series could be just the thing to make it new and exciting again.  With the creator’s kind permission, we shall find out together.  First, though, Chameleon, then Broken English, then Stingaree;  I have to ensure that my word is worth something, after all!

And now, for all that Good Reading I’ve been promising . . .

~~~~~

DeceptionsLies

Deceptions and Lies by P.E. Sibley.  One terrorist, six hostages, a single bombing… nothing out of the ordinary for task force operatives Alexandra Lansing and Mark Praed.  With one exception; this request comes from the High Council on Kyree.  An appeal from Kyree for task force help is peculiar enough for a planet where non-violence is practiced by all its citizens, but the Council is very specific in their choice of task force personnel:  Mark Praed.  Praed is baffled by the request.  This is the same planet where his birth to a well born Kyreen female caused a galactic scandal, forcing his human father to flee Kyree with his half-human infant.  The operatives travel to Kyree and meet with the High Council’s leader, Dame Ruthanon.  Her orders are clear: the hostages are to be released and the terrorist captured, all without the use of violence.  Alex and Praed are soon caught up in something more devious than the straight-forward capture of a terrorist.  Nothing is as it appears, and what should have been a simple operation turns into a tangled mess of falsehoods, secret associations and hidden agendas.  $2.99 on Kindle.

Puzzled

Puzzled by P.J. Nichols.  Peter, an exceptionally clever junior high school kid, is pulled into an adventure where he and a few friends have to solve a series of very challenging riddles and puzzles.  Peter’s mind, which has an amazing talent for problem-solving, is needed to save the world.  This adventure sure is a big change from what Peter typically deals with in life:  He gets called geek and nerd by everyone in the cool group.  He tries to hide his love for learning, in a hope to stick out a little less.  He fantasizes about a girl who is out of his league.  Peter and his friends must solve every confusing riddle and challenging puzzle they face.  If they can’t, a powerful supernatural being will cause immense destruction and devastation.  For 9 thru teens.  99¢ on Kindle.

SecretsSynergy

Secrets at Synergy by Jodi Ashland.  A company she didn’t want.  A romance he didn’t plan for.  An embezzler who’s willing to cover his tracks with blood.  Jade is a college senior without a care in the world.  At least, until her grandmother wills her the family business.  After a financial audit reveals an embezzler in the company, her new resentful coworkers refuse to help.  The only person she can trust is Bryce, her COO and long-time crush.  But when the paper trail leads to a string of suspicious deaths, their hunt for fraud turns into something much more dangerous.  When half the company was passed over for the COO promotion, Bryce knew there’d be a target on his back.  So he wasn’t about to give them any fuel to sabotage his career, especially violating the work policy that expressly forbids office relationships.  But when Jade and Bryce start working overtime to save the company, Bryce longs to mix business with pleasure.  After the embezzler takes a personal shot at Jade, he’s torn between his desire to protect the woman he loves and the job he can’t live without.  To save the company from the deadly conspiracy bleeding it dry, Jade and Bryce must bring down the embezzler before they too are in the red.  Secrets at Synergy is the first book in the compelling U-District romantic suspense series.  If you like corporate intrigue, eccentric heroines, and blazing chemistry, then you’ll love Jodi Ashland’s high-powered romantic mystery thriller.  Free on Kindle (reg. $4.99).

LosersInSpace

Losers in Space by Scott Pixello.  Training astronauts requires a nation’s brightest and best.  But what happens when the world has no brightest or best?  Just a washed-up pilot, a young computer programmer and a garbage collector?  It’s not exactly rocket science.  This is science-fiction but not as we know it.  £2.69 on Kindle.

GrailGrimoire

Grail of the Grimoire by J.S. Sterling.  In the 12th century, sixteen-year-old Cassandra is likely to be burned at the stake if anyone finds out what she can do.  So the only magic she allows herself is used to hustle dice games from unsavory characters too cowardly to fight in the Third Crusade.  When she is kidnapped and brought to the Vatican’s secret library, the Grimoire, Cassandra finds that her place in the world is as the next leader of the Pope’s coven of sorceresses – to be held captive among the books forever.  Her only way out is to retrieve the Holy Grail from Jerusalem before it can be used by Richard the Lionheart or Saladin to create a magical army that could conquer the world.  Along with her brainy young tutor and a mysterious Muslim fighter, Cassandra will find much more in the Holy Land than just a cup.  Perhaps too much.  $2.99 on Kindle.

And that’s the roundup for this week.  Join me Sunday for an exploration of the strange phenomenon known as deja vu, both its use as a character device, and a discussion of how it has affected me personally and the conclusions I have drawn about it.  Until then, read well, and write better!