Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Murder in the Neighborhood—the story of the first mass shooting in the US by Ellen J. Green #TrueCrime


Murder in the Neighborhood—the story of the first mass shooting in the US
Ellen J. Green

Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Thread Books, Hachette UK
Date of Publication: 4/28/2022
ISBN13: 9781909770706
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 85k
Cover Artist: Thread books

Book Description: 

On 6 September 1949, twenty-eight-year-old Howard Barton Unruh shot thirteen people in less than twelve minutes on his block in East Camden, New Jersey. The shocking true story of the first recorded mass shooting in America has never been told, until now.

The sky was cloudless that morning when twelve-year-old Raymond Havens left his home on River Road. His grandmother had sent him to get a haircut at the barbershop across the street—where he was about to witness his neighbor and friend Howard open fire on the customers inside.

Told through the eyes of young Raymond, who had visited Howard regularly to listen to his war stories, and the mother trying to piece together the disturbing inner workings of her son’s mind, Murder in the Neighborhood uncovers the chilling true story of Howard Unruh, the quiet loner who meticulously plotted his revenge on the neighbors who shunned him and became one of America’s first mass killers.

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Excerpt:

That September morning started much like any other. Camden, New Jersey, the sparkling little sister of Philadelphia, connected by the high arches of the Delaware River Bridge, was waking up to heat nearing the mid-seventies—by nine o’clock the humidity was sitting high above the city, waiting to descend.

Cramer Hill, a small section of Camden, bound by the Delaware River to the west, the Pavonia Train Yard to the east, State Street to the south and 36th Street to the north—a grid of streets twenty-four blocks long, and about five or six blocks wide contained within—was about to draw the focus of the world but nobody knew it, not that morning at nine o’clock.

River Road cut a swath through Cramer Hill where open-bay trucks rumbled through all day long, overloaded with tomatoes headed for the Campbell’s soup factory a few miles away. The clearly visible cargo was only held in place by wire mesh caging along the sides. The loud engine sounds called to children to get out of the street, to stand and watch, waiting for a tomato to break loose and fall into their small hands. They were often rewarded when a bump in the road threw a few of the greenish-red fruits into the street.

The smells of the river wafting in, the sounds of the boats, the hint of tomatoes cooking at Campbell’s, the smoke from the stacks of Eavenson and Sons soap factory a mile away—it was all there. But mostly it was the shoemaker’s pungent aroma of tannery oils, the lingering, savory fragrance from Latela’s Italian luncheonette on the corner, the endless din of Engel’s bar across the street, and the music that poured out of its doors after the sun went down that filled every home.

Five businesses shared one side of the small block—a cacophonic mix of a pharmacy, a barbershop, a cobbler, a tailor and a cafĂ©. The other side only had two: a grocery and a bar. Most of the owners lived there, nestled in their small apartments above their establishments. They all knew each other well enough on that small stretch of River Road. Enough to pull a chair out onto the sidewalk on summer nights for a chat. Enough to get a drink at Engel’s now and again. Enough to keep an eye on things and on each other. But not one of them saw it coming. Not the Pilarchiks, the Hoovers, the Hamiltons, the Zegrinos or the Cohens. They’d safely shared that space together for years, but not one of them was spared.



About the Author:

Ellen J. Green is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Ava Saunders novels (Absolution and Twist of Faith) and The Book of James. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, where she earned her degrees in psychology, and has worked in the psychiatric ward of a maximum-security correctional facility for fifteen years. She also holds an MFA degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Born and raised in Upstate New York, Ms. Green now lives in southern New Jersey with her two children.

Website https://ellenjgreen.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/ejgreenbooks

Amazon Page https://amzn.to/3Hnikh2

Newsletter Sign Up https://ellenjgreen.com/newsletter/  






Catch Me If You Can by Ifeoluwa Babatunde #PsychologicalThriller


Catch Me If You Can
Ifeoluwa Babatunde

Genre: Psychological Thriller
Date of Publication: April 26, 2022
ISBN: 9798819411285
ASIN: B0B188N1RP
Number of pages: 253
Word Count: 40,000

Book Description: 

Catch Me If You Can is a unique and thrilling suspense novella that tackles themes of mental illness and murder. When the shy and quiet Nigerian American student Victoria stumbles into Eli at school, a friendship begins to blossom that pierces her loneliness and quiets the mental illness that lurks just beneath her awareness. But when she uncovers a shocking secret about Eli, it forces her into an impossible choice that will change her life forever.

Roped into a morbid pact to unleash their destructive urges and bring death to innocent victims, Victoria spirals into a twisted cycle of murder and mayhem. With Eli by her side, the pair feel unstoppable. But their actions can’t go unnoticed for long, and as the Law begins to close in on their trail, Victoria grows increasingly unstable. Her mental state teeters on the brink – and it will only take one small push to tip her over the edge. 

Perfect for anybody who loves thought-provoking suspense novellas that are filled with twists and turns, Catch Me If You Can is an imaginative read that will satisfy morbid curiosities and leave you with something to ponder.



Excerpt

There is a vivid boundary that distinguishes the normal from abnormal, and the typical from atypical. If the setup is altered and the circumstances become unusual; often then, the behaviors cease to belong to the category of normal. Fascinatingly, the world of abnormal is less exposed, but once it lays bare in front of the human brain, there is no possible escape to the normal world.

It is mostly believed, that things that are avoided for a longer time soon suffer the fate of becoming rotten and useless. Similarly, the human brain is that vital organ of the body that stays in the normal world only if it is given constant social interaction. It gets upset if not given the optimum condition to thrive in. Once it is obstructed in creating such connections, it goes into a deep recess. Then, after searching to interact with the normal world for a long time, a moment comes when the brain accepts the defeat and then starts cooking up strategies to wrestle with the world that shirked it. The human brain, after a long time’s effort, learns to live on its own and, then, even if the normal world wants to embrace it again, it resists the urge. Rather, it starts living in a different dimension; a dimension that is a miraculous creation of one’s brain; a dimension that cannot be viewed by a normal eye. A dimension that takes refuge in alternatives.

Nevertheless, a human brain is naturally hardwired to interact and develop connections and links with the world in which it lives; these connections are vital for the brain and the heart to develop and maintain feelings for other human beings. To understand such atypical working of the brain, it is imperative to develop a sight that can discover and unveil the unusual. It is because the brain is practically implemented by the eyes. The congruency of the brain and the eyes is key to normal human functioning; the eyes see what the brain wants to see. Likewise, it is very much possible that what the brain instructs the eyes to see is not what a normal brain would normally instruct. Therefore, the perception of the world depends upon the way the brain perceives things.

With the change in perception, the world becomes a different place to live in. Widely, the perception cuts into two halves; the one being the normal perception and the other - the abnormal perception. The owners of each can only see the world that comes along with their insight; understanding the other world is merely a task impossible for each of the clashing views.

A very obvious human psychological notion believes that if a person is impeded on his path to the destination, he resolves to find an alternative path; a path that can make a person feel like he is smoothly going down his way to that destination. Likewise, the human brain, when unable to grow in normal conditions, starts looking for alternate ways and those alternate ways often lead to a different world.

The curtains were drawn tight and not a single ray of light was able to fight its way inside the room. The room was encompassed by darkness with a small fluorescent tube as the only source of light that diffused throughout the whole room. Yet, the sharp light flowing out of the tube was falling directly into the baby’s eyes, making her weep in annoyance. Her small, dark hands and feet were flailing frantically, and her face had gone pulpy red, crying. Some painful minutes slipped past when a lady clad in an all-white suit and black ribbons appeared at the door, looking horrified as ever.

The wailing was now a harsh echo, and the baby was about to lose her breath. Hurrying along into the room, she gently stroked her small curls and inserted a nipple in her mouth. Seeing her flooding eyes, the maid quickly turned off the switch

It was her fourth birthday and her parents had bought her a piano; she was not happy to see it.

The previous year she was gifted a set of children’s books, and she had clearly told her parents to buy her a bicycle the next year. Riding a bicycle was her favorite sport; at least her brain told her so. However, the parents had decided not to heed her request whatsoever. They always told her that she would get sick if she journeyed outside to ride. She was astonished to see other children playing outside, all immune to sickness.

She had cried a lot that day, but her tears never affected her parents and all she could do was take her piano and go back to her room. Entering, she looked at the closed window. She was in thought for a few minutes, dumping the piano in the box that lay under her bed. The box had many such toys; all of which she hated. It was filled with toys that she never played with.

The sun was beaming beautifully that day. The light, fluffy clouds hung low as if they were about to squeeze through the closed window. She was watching the view with her slender fingers curling around the cold windowsill. It was about mid- noon and the kids were all coming out in groups to play. Every day, she used to see them come out and play for hours upon hours until sweat would melt their sprightly vigor. All the children bore the happiest of smiles and at times, they would look up at her, beckoning her to play with them. All she would do was blink away in utmost surprise and then draw the curtains tight. After going straight to her bed, she would take long breaths as her heart would start somersaulting with a wild desire to go outside and play. Thinking for a minute, she would jump out of the bed to seek permission from her parents. But then something in her heart would stop her from going, and she would come back to her room, crying in little hitched breaths.

She was a young girl now, average as the rest; a broad nose perching on her dark face and eyes that had a river of indifference in them. She would always keep her mouth from smiling; she thought she had no reason to smile. Today, she strolled past the closed window and watched boys and girls laughing as they walked outside. A woman jogging past the busy road watched her smiling, and, as usual, after receiving no smile in response, she moved on. Getting such smiles from the people outside was not anything new to her; at first, she would get apprehensive, but now she felt nothing. She would often give people a heart attack by staring blankly at them. Looking outside the window now failed to bolster any kind of desire to move outside. Probably because she had learned to adjust to her routine.

There was a tall mirror that ran down from the top of the gray wall to the full length. Her mother had bought her this mirror when she turned thirteen. It was her favorite thing in the room. At times, she would stand in front of it and stare for hours, until her sight turned dizzy.

In her home, she had just her mom and dad. Most of the time, Mom would be busy in the kitchen and Dad would always be out for work. This meant there was no one else but her mirror which had promised her utmost companionship. Once, her mirror had suffered from a small crack, and she had cried quite a bit. Her father took it to a shop and fortunately, as the crack was in the golden frame bordering the mirror, it was fixed up. She had never been so happy in her life.

The day her mirror came back to her, she made up her mind to protect it with her life. And she had. She had also taken out the presents she once dumped into the box; there was a piano, a set of books, some flowers, plastic figures, and things like that. Her mind had learned to seek the happiness which she had previously thought could only be achieved by going outside, in the things that were in her room. Now, she did not bother to draw away the curtains and look out the closed window.


About the Author:

Ifeoluwa Babatunde is a passionate author and dedicated wordsmith who loves to craft gripping stories that force readers to think. As a Senior Data Analyst and college professor by day and a writer by night, Ifeoluwa enjoys nothing more than a good thriller or horror novel, and she hopes to capture her readers’ imaginations with exhilarating books that are intertwined with thought-provoking themes. 

A first-generation Nigerian American and current PhD student, she enjoys reading mysteries, psychological thrillers, and all things horror.

Catch Me If You Can is her debut novel. 








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Monday, June 27, 2022

Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil by Isra Sravenhear


In the dark spell series Her Dark Soul, Isra casts a spell to shield herself from the human eye. 

She summons a dragon and takes his power before ---------- and then everything around her turns back. 

But it turns out this spell has one tiny flaw as one human could still see her. 

But is it possible he was more powerful than her and simply kept that quiet? 

Making her think that her spell had issues when in fact he just simply couldn't be covered by it. 

Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil
Dark Lore Vampire Conspiracies 
Book One
Isra Sravenheart 

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Isra Sravenheart
Date of Publication:  11/5/2022
ISBN: 979-8410497251 
ASIN: B09M61Y4HN 
Number of pages: 217
Word Count: 64.940
Cover Artist: RJ creatives 

Tagline: Trust me. Actually don't. This forbidden rendezvous could cost Sabine her life.

Book Description: 

Sabine Nevemone has just moved to the small quaint town of Gloomvale to start a new life after being dumped by narcissistic boyfriend Oliver Rein.

Sabine has landed herself a job at Bad Brews coffee house, where she is working for the handsome rogue Tristan Roseblood. A mysterious handsome devilish vampire who always gets what he desires.

At first, Sabine could not believe her luck that she’s gotten a job so fast but things in Gloomvale aren't all they seem. Tristan is a powerful man and he knows it.

Sabine is reluctant to comply when Tristan forces her to come on an errand with him, which almost results in both her and Tristan getting killed because an old enemy catches up with Tristan. Tristan patches Sabine up telling her she’s in a very dangerous world and it would be best if she got out of town for her own sake. Sabine refuses to leave. This proves to be a fatal mistake on her part.

“You can’t get close to me. Get out while you can. I’m not a good match for a sweet thing like you. Trust me. Actually, don’t.” He warns her.

The only trouble is now Sabine is in too deep. She’s falling for him. Hard. But when Tristan rebuffs Sabine and she falls straight into his mysterious brother Laurence’s arms, it can only spell disaster for all concerned. Sabine then gets herself in real trouble when she's bitten on her way home. Will Tristan find her in time or will she die alone?

USA Today Best-Selling Author Isra Sravenheart brings us into the intense world of Tristan Roseblood. A vampire with a dark past only trouble is when Sabine stumbles into it, she too becomes entwined in his chaos. A paranormal romance jam-packed with suspense and intrigue and two charming vampires to boot.


Excerpt:
            Sabine

A new day. A new dawn. I'm Sabine, and I'm all alone here in this secluded wilderness. Gloomvale. A quaint little town that I've just moved to because, quite honestly, I had no other choice. My delightful ex-boyfriend Oliver took great pleasure in humiliating me, and let's face it, he reveled in it. It was absolutely enthralling to him. All because he'd discovered I am a witch. But here's the clincher. I'm not even that good at it. I barely know even the most basic spells. I'm terrible at making potions. I truly suck at mixing up herbs to create tinctures, and as for my despicable failure at casting love spells… let's not even go there, okay?

I’ve done this more than once. I’d never attempt it again. It was so stupid because I didn’t know what I was messing with. You know how you get that one big crush on someone who you know for a fact will virtually never date you? Yeah, well, that was the case with me and Oliver until I started weaving magic into the equation. And I get it right? Bad move. Yup, especially when he becomes a mega control freak who can’t handle things unless he’s in the know every three seconds.

I’m descended from a long line of witches and I should know better. But I'm a sucker for attention.. Heck, I fucked up. This wasn’t just the result of one spell. It was lots of little spells and while I admit I should have just allowed nature to take its course; I was really into Oliver and it sucked because he wasn’t really that invested in me. I was that dumb, naive, insecure girl that thought. He’ll play it cool. It won’t take much for him to come running over when I start throwing the right spell into the mix. Erm that was one of the craziest things a girl could ever say about a man. If he wants you then he’ll chase you until it kills him not to have you. I wish I’d taken the hint with Oliver, though, because I was determined to pursue him no matter what the cost. Which was only my self esteem and confidence being filtered out of me. But I guess what’s past is past right? After that, well, I left the magic stuff alone as I’d done enough damage.

Eventually we got to this level of a relationship where things were cool, almost simmering to steamy, with enraging tension that surged out every now and again, but it wasn’t ever romantic. We’d be casual. Dating, just not so much with the actual commitment aspect. Oliver didn’t want people to know about us. There would always be some kind of excuse. Like oh, my mother would frown upon it because of this or that. He’d come up with something to avoid us going public, so we had settled for this mundane life where I’d like to have thought we were happy but really we were skeltering over the edge. I really loved him, though, so I desperately did anything I could to hold onto the hope.

The point is I didn't ask for this, but Oliver made it so that there was no other way. He had shunned me, so the only alternative was for me to skedaddle and fast. Painquel wasn't the greatest village to live in. It had its faults. But the beach was stunning when a full moon rose and night delicately covered the midnight blue skies just enough so those tiny twinkling, silvery-white stars were visible above you. The people? Oh goodness me. Terrible. They just were the most mundane morons you could ever meet. Everyone was so focused on making ends meet and the latest goings-on with the government and this and that. It was just so pitiful, you know? The way humanity desperately clung to these mediocre things that didn't even mean anything was just baffling to me. I never really understood the way they documented their lives up to the last bagel and chai latte to try and prove to the world that they were living something that was worth it.

But I was the optimistic type. The spiritual one. Devoted to all that mindfulness stuff and making a go of it. Trying to be happy. Putting all my energy into making every moment count. Otherwise, what's the point? I'd been hiding my dark secret for years. Ever since I was around twelve years old, I'd known that I was a witch. It shouldn't have been this big dramatic secret, but unfortunately, it was. Give or take around eight generations. But witchcraft was in my family on  my great-grandmother’s side  who I'd never met but I had seen pictures of Geraldine. She lived during the first World War and was formally accused of witchcraft, so when Oliver had dramatically announced my deep secret to all who would listen, needless to say, I was a little freaked out. Thankfully the days of burning witches are long behind us, but here we are.

I was  about to start my first day properly living in Gloomvale. I was lucky. I managed to find an apartment and a job in the same week. You could say that it was miraculous, but stranger things have happened. I was a newbie in a secluded town cut off from the rest of civilization, so I was extremely blessed that Bad Brews Coffee was even hiring. But the boss was in dire need of someone to bake the cakes and pour the drinks as his last barista had vanished without a trace. I haven't met Tristan Roseblood yet, but apparently, he's quite the looker. Dangerously smart too. I envision him looking major dapper in a suit, but again, I only had my imagination to create just what he might be like. I’m rather adept at baking, having had to adjust to my own gluten intolerance. And so, I often conjured up tasty sweet treats designed to bewitch the eyes and tantalize those salivating taste buds. So when I found this quaint coffee house that was strictly gluten-free, I had to chuckle because the chances were one in a million. Seriously, everything is vegan these days. It's like a plague. I know people are health conscious, but damn that's just a little extreme for my tastes.

Ten o'clock in the morning. Friday. I've downed the last of my lukewarm coffee. I've tied my deep red mahogany hair into a tight bun. Hey, it brings out the green in my eyes. I'm getting ready to walk out the door and take the ten-minute stroll to Bad Brews, where I'll finally get to meet Tristan. The walk isn't terribly unpleasant, and the sun is gently shining down, which is ironic for October, but an Indian summer is promising. Finally, I get to the bend just down the road, where the large cherry blossom tree stands just beyond Bad Brews.

I'm about to walk in through that blood-red door. This Tristan guy must have eccentric tastes. As I walk through the red door, I am surrounded by dark violet walls and bright white lights that are almost too much for me to handle.

It's like something out of a hospital room. You'd think with the boldness of the red that he'd have simmered down when it came to the lighting. I was staring over at the jet black and purple tables and chairs when suddenly I spotted him out of the corner of my eye.

He's smirking at me from behind the counter. He really was as devilish as I expected. A sharp black tailored suit jacket and trousers, probably Armani, a white shirt with the collar raised up slightly, and a dark blue tie hanging loose around his neck. His dark brown, almost black, hair is delicately tucked behind his ears as his sideburns distract me while I find my gaze locked into those bewildering dark brown eyes of his. They are like dark chocolate, but inside there's a shade of blackness within them as though he's not quite what he seems. A little bit of a dark side, but what's new? We've all got one of those. I resist the urge to say something as I don't want to speak out of turn. After all, this is my new boss, and I want this day to go off without a hitch. If such a thing is possible.

“Finally. You are here. I was starting to get worried for a moment.” Tristan scowled at me as he stood impatiently waiting for me to take the initiative. “Oh, you're not sure what you're supposed to be doing? Girl. I'll have a coffee. Three sugars. Black as my soul,” he orders as he steps back, waving his hand towards the coffee machine, indicating that I need to go over to it and get going. I reluctantly force a smile, thinking, Oh God, he's arrogant, as I plant myself in front of the machine, grabbing some coffee beans and placing them inside before I switch on that magnificent red button that's beaming at me like a beacon.


About the Author:  

Isra is an eccentric author whose heart resides with the dark fantasy but also the paranormal genres. Cats and coffee are her main interests. She's also a pretty badass witch and often envisions new adventures involving dragons, witches, warlocks and really likes villains.

https://amzn.to/3zqkL0n

https://linktr.ee/israsravenheart

https://twitter.com/ISravenheart

https://israsravenheartblog.wordpress.com/

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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13754513.Isra_Sravenheart



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The Magic of the Lamp by Lorelei Johnson #FantasyRomance



The Magic of the Lamp
The Tantalising Tales Collection
Book Eight
Lorelei Johnson

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: June 24, 2022
ISBN: 9798433798182
ASIN: B09VYMX625
Number of pages: 201
Word Count: 50,018
Cover Artist: Lorelei Johnson

Tagline: A headstrong princess, an ambitious sorcerer, and a forbidden love that could ruin them both…

Book Description: 

A headstrong princess, an ambitious sorcerer, and a forbidden love that could ruin them both…

When Princess Jasmine returns home after fifteen years, she's determined not to choose any of the suitors her father has lined up for her. 

She doesn't need a man to rule her kingdom.

Jafar has fought tooth and nail for everything he has and he never sets his sights on something he can't have.

Until her.

But the princess must marry a prince.

When the mysterious Prince Ali enters the palace stirring a curiosity in the princess, Jafar's jealousy in uncontainable. But when the choice before him is love or power, will he fight for the woman he loves or cling to the power he so desperately craves?

 The Magic of the Lamp is the enticing eighth book in the Tantalising Tales Collection. If you like forbidden romance, sizzling tension and happily ever afters, then you’ll love Lorelei Johnson’s seductive twist on this fairy tale.

Each book can be read as a standalone



Excerpt:

‘And here I thought you’d arranged all this for me,’ she said, pouting gently.

‘Shame on you, Baba, using this as an opportunity for political manoeuvring.’

The sultan laughed heartily. ‘Do you see how clever she is, Jafar? I dare say she would make any man a formidable wife.’

‘Indeed, your majesty,’ Jafar said. She suspected that was his usual response when he wished not to comment on a subject.

‘This is a party, and you are young. You should be dancing!’ the sultan exclaimed.

As if they’d been waiting for the sultan to make such an announcement, she saw men fidgeting in their seats, eagerly watching, waiting to pounce on her, to claim her first dance and perhaps her heart, though she knew they cared not for love, merely the throne and the power of the sultan. She was a bonus, like a brilliant golden bracelet to hang on their arm, ornamental and only for their own personal enjoyment.

‘If you wish to see me dance, Baba, then I shall,’ Jasmine announced, smiling warmly at her father even as she was cringing inside. But she need not play their little game, she would much rather play her own.

She rose from her seat and walked around her father’s chair, stopping in front of Jafar. He looked up at her with suspicion, not exactly the reaction she’d expected but it would suffice. ‘Will you not dance with me, Jafar?’

Jafar seemed lost, it was the first time she’d even seen him unsure of himself and she found it amusing, though she kept her amusement to herself as best she could. Jafar looked over at the sultan who waved him away happily, already starting on his next piece of lamb. She knew he wouldn’t dare refuse her, as it would be a great insult to the sultan if he did.

With barely concealed irritation, Jafar stood and took Jasmine’s hand, leading her to the dance floor as the whispers of those attending swirled around them. ‘Are you looking to start a scandal, Princess?’ he asked when they were out of earshot.

‘A scandal? Why, I’m merely dancing with an old friend,’ she said innocently.

He raised his eyebrow at her. ‘You didn’t take to the matrons’ teachings, then,’ he said, a statement, rather than a question as they traded positions on the floor, turning around each other but always remaining at a distance. This was Jasmine’s favourite dance, though she’d never told anyone.

‘How do you know what they taught me?’ she asked challenging him. The music moved her body, and her hips rolled tantalisingly as she slowly closed the distance between them.

‘You know your father did not intend for you to dance with me. There are many men here tonight he wants you to acquaint yourself with,’ Jafar said, changing the subject.

‘You haven’t changed at all, still as stiff as ever,’ she said, turning her back to him, rocking her hips as his hand slid around her waist, the heat of his touch slipping through the sheer fabric there, sending a thrill through her body.

‘And you as untameable as ever,’ he answered, his voice neutral. Nothing seemed to faze him. She found herself wanting to ruffle that perfectly still surface of his, elicit some reaction from him, some genuine emotion. ‘Why did you choose to dance with me?’

She spun around in his arms and he dipped her before spinning her and pulling her close again. He was merely following the steps of the dance, playing the role required of him. Something about that left a bitter taste in her mouth. ‘Because you’re the only man here who doesn’t want anything from me,’ she answered honestly.

‘Ah, so you wish to correct that, do you? You want all the men in the room to be in love with you?’ he asked darkly.

She glared up at him, then spun away. Rolling her hips sensually to the music, she held one arm out, curling her finger at him, a look of sheer confidence on her face. When he was once again close enough to speak to, she said, ‘You’re still an arse, I see.’

His eyes widened in surprise, not enough to notice unless you were looking for it.

‘I’m surprised that a princess would use such language,’ he said, tsking at her behaviour.

‘Are you? I thought you said I was untameable,’ she countered. He spun her a final time, pulling her against him as the music came to an end.

About the Author:

Lorelei Johnson is an Australian romance author, primarily writing Paranormal Romance and Fantasy Romance. She graduated from Flinders University, where she studied English Literature and Creative Writing before she discovered her degree was useless and she hated studying in an institution. She went into administrative work where she learnt just enough business sense to start publishing her own books.

Lorelei is fuelled by caffeine and sarcasm, priding herself as a true 90's kid. She labels her self-publishing as an antiestablishment, but really she's just a chicken who decided to avoid the gatekeepers altogether and enjoy the freedom to write whatever the heck she likes. Through her writing, she likes to explore the many facets of love and revel in a little magic and a little smut, of course.

Website: www.loreleijohnson.com

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Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/loreleijohnsonauthor/

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BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/lorelei-johnson


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20839912.Lorelei_Johnson



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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Vampire Musings: Articles and Short Stories Compiled by Bertena Varney

 


Vampire Musings


Join 16 vampire fans and writers from around the world for their musings on vampire music, movies, fun facts, and even mesmerizing short stories. This book will make you feel like you are in a room with friends discussing the various vampires that each of you love spanning from aristocratic vampires, to primal monsters, to the Twilight vamps. So, sit down in your comfy chair, turn on the vampire music provided in this book, pick up that Bloody Mary, and escape to a world full of vampires. 

There is a recount of the life of Anne Rice, reviews of books, movies, and television shows, a look at vampires as religious figures, romantic stories, and traditional stories of the vampire. 

Each of these stories holds intrigue for fans of creatures of the night. 

Contributors include: Audrey A’Cladh, Azurdee Garland, Bitten Twice, Bertena Varney, Carrie Rogers, Isabella Gibbons, Jacqueline Gibbons, Kathryne LeFevre, Kyle Germann, Mary Jackson, Matthew Banks, Phaedra Walker, Roxanne Rhoads, Selah Janel, Simon Bacon, and Stavros Cockrell.

These contributors range from a 12-year-old actress, to college professors, librarians, paranormal romance authors, and even those that live the life of a vampire.

The cover art was created by Stavros while showcasing the model Xamie wearing fangs from Kaos Kustom Fangs, LLC. The model is both alluring but dangerous. She is a great representation of the book and the various stories that are told within.

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#VampireMusings #Vampires #VampireFiction #DiscussingVampires #LetsTalkVampires #Fangs #VampireLore #VampireMovies #VampireMusic

THE INDIGO by Heather Siegel #YAFantasy #MagicalRealism


THE INDIGO
Heather Siegel 

Genre: YA magical realism, fantasy, paranormal mystery
Publisher: Stone Tiger Press 
Date of publication: 6-1-2022
ISBN: 979-8-9858240-2-5
ASIN: 979-8-9858240
Pages: 250
Word count: 68,000
Cover Artist: Rob Carter

Tagline: Stay connected

Book Description: 

Jett, a 16-year-old girl librarian from New Jersey, does not believe the neurosurgeons that her mother is brain dead. For one, her mother’s comatose body seems like an empty shell, as though she has left the premises of the hospital room. For another, there was that split-second weird time Jett swore she lifted out from her own body and travelled to an indigo-colored, starry space, where she felt the presence of her mother.  

The bad news is that only her friend Farold believes her. The good news is that he is a quantum physicist in training and has some ideas about how to help Jett get back “up there.” Also, did someone say handsome quantum physicist who may or may not give off a more-than-friends vibe?

As Jett's caretaking Aunt threatens to pull the life support plug on her mother, Jett must find this mysterious indigo place again and return her mother to her body before it’s too late, while staying connected to her own “empty shell” below-- a feat made more difficult when antagonistic otherworldly forces intervene. 

Offering astral projection cosmology with lifecords, parallel universes, and wormholes, THE INDIGO is a wild trip through one person's consciousness "above," their interconnected reality "below," and the psychological and fatal dangers of being disconnected from both.

The book is a clean read with light romance recommended for ages 13-16, and for anyone who enjoys magical realism and paranormal mystery. 


Excerpt Quantum Meeting:

Day 787. I sponge Mom’s stringy arms and pronate her elbows. Suction saliva from her white gums, careful not to disturb the psst-psst of the breathing tube. I attach cotton-ball-size muscle-stimulation pads, all forty of them, to her biceps and triceps, her deltoids and extensors, her flexors and hamstrings. As the pads pulse against muscle atrophy, I crayon Chapstick on her lips, rub cream down her pointed nose and waxen cheek skin, brush her dark hair splayed over the starched pillow. I leave the waste bags for the nurses but check the connections out of habit — the tubes to the catheter and colostomy bag, the one to her nutrients. Then I sit, holding her hand, pretending to talk to her for the sake of passersby, even though I know she’s not listening.

Not even in the room.

Her body is an empty vessel. A coat on a hanger waiting for her arms to slip in. A mollusk on the beach, abandoned by its host. An empty carton of milk I’m here to make sure they don’t throw out.  

Because when I find her — and bring her back — she will need her container.

They’ve told me it’s dangerous to think this way. Psychologically damaging, Aunt Margaret has claimed. A byproduct of grief, the therapists have said. Denial is a natural defense mechanism, Dr. Horn has counseled. “But we can’t ignore the reality of what the scans tell us.”

He means the X-rays of Mom’s gray folded matter. The regions of her brain that still incite spontaneous reflexes — causing her arm to jerk here, her leg to twitch there. “All seemingly normal manifestations of brainstem function,” he’s told me repeatedly. “But should not be confused with actual brainstem function. Without which she has little chance of waking up.”

I can’t fault him for thinking this way. The guy’s a neurologist — his business is brains.
But I know there has to be more to us than our bodies and brains.
Call it what you want — a consciousness, a soul, a spirit, a light being. It’s the thing countless comatose patients swear gave them the ability to live whole other lives while on respirators. The thing that philosophers and spiritualists spent their lives writing about. The thing that makes us who we are. And maybe even fuels the brainstem.

And Mom’s brainstem went missing two years ago the moment she crashed her car.

An accident, Aunt Margaret had said on the phone. Black ice. A telephone pole. Coming to pick up you up in five. . . .

I flew down the stairs of our apartment and rushed into intensive care, still in my red plaid pajama bottoms, dried toothpaste stuck to my cheek. Mom lay behind a wall of glass, and I heard fragments: Her chest had banged into the steering wheel. Glass shards had lodged in her cheeks. She’s lucky to have made it out alive.

But define “alive.”

For a week, I watched machines automate her breathing, feed her, monitor her. I felt numbed, stunned, dazed. Most of all, empty. Like something in my chest cavity had gone missing, its hollowness threatening to suck my heart and lungs deeper inward.

I thought it was coming from me.

Then one night, following Dr. Horn’s delivery of yet another brain spiel — this one replete with pictures of axon and dendrites that looked like tree branches — they let us through the glass wall.

I plunked into the pink pleather chair and held Mom’s limp hand in mine; ran my thumb over her beige polish, chipped from washing beer glasses at Sharkie’s Bar and Grill. The emptiness opened like a black hole, and I yearned for my best-friend sister-like Mom, just 17 years older than me. The woman who wore my jeans and tried on my life, from basketball tryouts to friendship blips. The woman who let me inhabit her dreams of traveling the world.

“How much tragedy can one family take?” Grandma Eloise was saying. “First, I lose one daughter, and now another?”

“I know, Mom, I know.” Aunt Margaret sniffled.

They were speaking of Grandma Eloise’s oldest daughter, who had died as a teenager — Mom’s oldest sister. And I had sat there, unsure of what to say. Not only because there seemed to be some kind of dark cloud hanging over us, but because they barely noticed I was in the room.

So, when they decided to go to the cafeteria, I said, “I’ll stay here, then.”  

Aunt Margaret turned, her yellow, roller-set waves bouncing like in a retro TV commercial. “Jett, I’m sorry. Did you want to come with us?”

“It’s OK. I’m good,” I said, because I knew they were just trying to salve their own pain, even though you couldn’t have paid me a million dollars to eat a bite of food in that moment.

So off they went, leaving me and Mom and my emptiness, and because everything felt so empty, I climbed into bed with Mom, spooned to her side — admittedly feeling sorry for myself in this new orphaned state — and blubbered away into her bony shoulder.

Her respirator lulled me into a sleepy state, and my mind drifted, thinking about her running off as a teenager at 17 — just a year older than me now — to marry a guy outside the enclave of this small town. Then that got me thinking about my dad, the man I barely got to know, but whose hands for some reason I could see peeking out from his electrician’s coveralls: coppery skin freckled like mine with wispy red hair, as he meticulously spliced the wire of a lamp cord. Cut before the damage. Splice by twisting. See his hand twisting a lightbulb in, electricity zipping through its filament. We can travel as fast as this . . . in our sleep. . . . We can meet in Hawaii, where the sand is black, and the rocks are as large as grapefruits.

 I must have drifted off then, Mom’s empty container against mine, the respirator wheezing rhythmically, everything hazy and meshing and sucking me under.

Just think of where you want to go, my dad said, still coming to me in snapshots. His freckled hands on a tabletop. Suntanned face. Fiery hair. A woman beside him laid down cards splattered with ink. Palm trees swayed outside, and contentment purred in my chest like a vibration.

Deeper and deeper I drifted under, as darkness surrounded my eyelids and tunneled around me, churning into a black liquid — the way dreams work — until it ended in a circle of purple-blue light large enough to fit through.

I poked my head through and found the air was watery, indigo-colored, and pocked with millions of crystalline white stars. I wanted to climb through the hole and swim out into the starry space. But when I looked up, I saw rectangles hanging in the sky.

They were outlined in what looked like glitter — the kind I recognized from my childhood drawings, when I’d outlined geometric shapes with glue and glitter and blown the excess off. And inside were movielike images:

Palm trees in one.

The stairwell to Mom’s and my old apartment in the other.

Where do you want to go? My father’s voice sounded again, only this time my chest tightened and pulled, as though there was a rope attached to the center, and I suddenly got scared feeling . . . wondering . . . knowing. . . .

This wasn’t a dream.

I was somewhere outside of myself.

Definitely not in my body.

And Mom . . . she wasn’t in bed at the hospital. She was behind that rectangle . . . that door.

I could sense her, alert and awake, black hair not splayed on a pillow, but tucked behind her ears and parted down the middle, revealing a white line of scalp; cheeks not waxen and pale, but flushed from moving around the kitchen . . . pulling me to her.

But because it all felt so real, and because I didn’t know what would happen if I did dive through that hole, I jerked my head back. And the next thing I knew, I was yanked backwards and my whole body stung as though I were a human rubber band snapping back.

Just in time to find Aunt Margaret back from the cafeteria, shaking my shoulders.

“Jett, Jett, wake up,” she called.

“Should I call someone?” Grandma Eloise asked.  

My eyes popped open, and they gasped.

“You scared us, you were in such a deep sleep,” Aunt Margaret scolded. “You’re not supposed to be in bed with her.”

“I went to find her,” I tried to explain. “Mom isn’t here. . . .”

“What? Nonsense.” Aunt Margaret said. “You were having a bad dream.”

“Honey, we are all under tremendous stress,” Grandma Eloise said.

“But there are doorways up there,” I insisted. “We have to find her and bring her back. . . Look, there’s no one inside.”

“Honey, we don’t know what you are saying,” Grandma Eloise said.

“Jett, this is hard enough on all of us.” Aunt Margaret’s tone steeled.

My mistake, I’ve come to realize, was continuing to insist, back at Aunt Margaret’s, and for months afterward, describing all I could remember, and lugging home research and stories from the library about people leaving their bodies: about the idea that a person could ostensibly be in two separate places at once.

“That is absolutely enough. I will not have that kind of nonsense talk in my house,” Aunt Margaret snapped finally, and the next thing I knew I was seeing Dr. Karr, a grief counselor, and being asked to review more charts from Dr. Horn. And when a year later, I still wouldn’t relent about the purple hole and the doorway to Mom, and the fact that anyone can tell she is simply not in this room, the grief counselor suggested medications, and eventually whispered to Aunt Margaret terms like “grief delusions” and “detached from reality.” This led me to understand two things:  

Not only can I not convince people to open their minds, as a minor in the State of New Jersey, 10 minutes from the state’s largest psych ward, I need to watch it, or I might never find Mom.


About the Author: 

Heather Siegel is an award-winning writer and creative with interests in the arts and animal welfare. She teaches academic and creative writing, holds an MFA from The New School University, and lives with her family in Southern Florida.